De Mini Says Top songs of 2013

I’m not into music as much as before. Mainly because my time is spent with the daughter watching “Daniel Tiger” and reading, working, going to the park and washing dishes every now and then. But this year I feel like making my own top songs of 2013 because De Mini Says So:

10. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell, “Get Lucky”

I’m listing this song because it was impossible to ignore. Not because I really liked it but it’s one of those songs that was everywhere and it got stuck in my head more than twice. This year was all about dance songs, with the 70s and 80s just invading every aspect of culture. Then my partner said it applies to tired parents that have to wait until the child(ren) go to sleep to “get lucky” and the song suddenly had a completely new meaning.

9. Fall Out Boy “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”

I know. I should not like this song. I first heard it when I saw the video and I was disgusted. Especially coming from an album called “Save Rock and Roll,” I mean pretentious much? Then I heard it when it came out on “The Originals” teaser from CW and it was over. So now this song reminds me of Klaus and I can’t help myself.

8. HAIM, “The Wire”

I’d heard of this band but didn’t really think to check them out until they came out on SNL and I was pleasantly surprised. Their performance was full of quirky faces that earned them some criticism because “it made them look ugly” according to twitter mentions. Because I mean, a woman performing can not look ugly people! It’s just not rock and roll! Wait… Oh yeah guys make weird faces when they’re playing all the time and it’s no big deal. Anyway, the song rocks and these ladies rock and they remind me of The Cars a little.

7. Grouplove “Ways To Go”

This is one of those songs that I don’t really get into at first but somehow they make me curious about and then I realize it’s pretty good.

6. Fitz and The Tantrums “Out of My League”

This song is infectious, so 80s but done the right way and it’s just a cute song that makes me happy. Don’t hear it too often though, it will get ruined quick.  

5. La Santa Cecilia “Monedita”

Most of the songs on my list are in English but like I said I haven’t really been connected to the music world and for “rock en espanol,” radio only plays the really really famous acts. Anyway, I did manage to find La Santa Cecilia after I kept seeing their name mentioned everywhere from my musically inclined friends from facebook so I checked them out and this is their catchiest song but it’s also full of content and is a critique on consumer society that is willing to go into debt to “look good”. Their song “Ice El Hielo” deserves honorable mention as well, especially because of its lyrics that describe the hardships of immigration.

4. The Neighbourhood “Sweater Weather”

Every other state hates on Southern Cali because we have the sun all the time and people wear shorts in December. My partner and I always talk about leaving because it’s overcrowded but we have to admit the weather is great. We loved leaving in Long Beach and will go back there once we have enough money but we rarely went to the actual beach, so I loved that line in this song: “I hate the beach but I stay in California with my feet in the sand.” Sand is kind of messy and then there’s lots of people but leaving close to the beach is still nice.

Musically this song is also quite delightful. The old school feeling and beat is calming and breezy.

3. Capital Cities “Safe and Sound”

That electric drum in the beginning is just hilariously awesome. I would have made fun of this song if this was say 1999 but it isn’t and it’s time to dance! I like to dance, I may not like electronic music much but this is fine. I can dance this all night.

2. Lorde, “Royals”

There’s an old world feeling to Lorde’s voice. I don’t know how she accomplishes that given her young age but I applaud it. I was surprised to like this song because I don’t really like rap but my partner reassured me this was not rap but rather more like dub so that’s much better. It’s also basically just pop but I’ve made my peace with liking pop, because I do believe there is good pop and this is a good example. Either way it’s a great song and the lyrics aren’t bad either. In fact one of the reasons I don’t like a lot of rap is because all they talk about is precisely because of everything Lorde criticizes in this song and it doesn’t just happen in rap of course, any rock star that starts talking about how hard it is to be rich and famous and decadent isn’t attractive.

1. Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?”

My partner told me about this song first because he knew I would like it but I didn’t really pay much attention. He knows what I like more than I do sometimes. It’s this weird thing that happens when you spend too much time with someone. Anyway, I love this song, it’s the best Arctic Monkeys song I’ve heard. I feel like they have certainly improved their sound. That guitar riff is just killer. It is certainly the best song this year.


The Problem with September

I was going to post a blog about our gardening this summer but I am so depressed about Rafa Saavedra’s death that I have to postpone that.

It’s weird because part of me just needs to make this post Spanglish, because that is what Rafa wrote, that’s what he lived, that’s what i learned from him.

I remember going to a cafe in Mexico City and finding Moho magazine, a literature magazine full of very disturbed stories, not all of them good. Saavedra’s story “Vomito en el Freeway” (I vomit in the freeway) impressed me so much. He was a citizen of Tijuana in what TIME magazine has named MexAmerica, the informal country in between Mexico and the US where people speak between English and Spanish with no trouble at all. I was taught it was sacrilege to mix languages together, pocho was just a never, but Rafa didn’t care about that. He’d cross the bilingual border over and over, didn’t care who’d follow, but he would always hold out a hand in case you wanted to join.

It pains me that such a great writer is now gone. I’d even dare to say he influenced my writing so much. At one point he was my favorite writer, in college when I’d love reading “El problema de enero” (The problem with January) every end of January like religion. I really wished I had met him in person, maybe even taken an awkward picture with him.

He was one of the first writers in Mexico to cross the cyber border and make a place for himself among the vines of the interweb, nestled between what is now modern blogging. A true cybernaut. You’ll be missed Rafa Dro (that was his DJ name, because writing was only one of his passions).

Dystopian worlds and midnight kisses, with fangs

I’ve been falling down the YA hole for a while now. Recently it’s gotten worse. It all started when I saw the “Twilight” film. I have a thing for vampires, which I’ve explained here. But I only started reading it because I really liked the movie. I enjoyed reading the saga, it reminded me of my awkward teenage years, which is when I read lots of vampire books and wished for a boyfriend. I know there’s a lot of problems with the series, I’m not going to defend it. I’m not a “twihard,” I just enjoyed reading it. Now please let’s move on.


Then time passed and at first “Hunger Games” didn’t appeal to me because I thought like many that it was a rip off of “Battle Royale,” which I had seen and did not enjoy much. Then my dad said I should watch it and since he usually recommends good  movies, I did. I was completely and utterly blown away. I think I got the book the next day.

The story may not be new, but the way to tell it is. Turns out there is a novel by Stephen King  under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman called “The Long Walk” about a dystopian society where 100 boys must walk until they die and there is only one winner. It was King’s first novel and was published in 1979 (Although Carrie was pusblished in 1974, King has stated he wrote “The Long Walk” first).

The difference is that King wrote about boys, and Suzanne Collins wrote about a girl (and boys but mainly a girl). “Battle Royale” was also based on a book by Koushun Takami, published in 1999. So who ripped off who? Don’t know, don’t care. the point is “Hunger Games” brings girls to the fighting arena, so to speak.

This is what I think set my fangirl hormones in motion. Scott Mendelson wrote an interesting article in Forbes about how simplicity in marketing for a film can make or break a franchise. What I found most intriguing was his argument that “young-adult literary adaptations could well-be the female-skewing blockbuster alternative to the boy-centric superhero films that dominate multiplexes.” Of course, women should have their own superheroine movie, but even Wonder Woman  can’t get a break in the silver screen (except in animated form, like on “Flash Point Paradox,” where she is both terrifying and amazing).

What ultimately drew me to read “Divergent” was not that it was “the next Hunger Games,” but that it was part of a world where I could geek out about. They were in Comic-Con, where sure even “Breaking Bad” was there, but somehow the world of fandom felt inviting. I’ve always been a little intimidated by comics for some reason although I’ve read a few (X-Men and American Vampire), but I prefer reading them in bulk. Trilogies and sagas are a little more my style. Of course, I do feel awkward when most of the fans are much younger than me. But I figured if my husband is not embarrassed when he pulls out his Superman wallet, why should I be embarrassed to wear my mockingjay necklace?

I had stopped reading fiction since college, and after that I think my world revolved around music and friends so much that I lost interest in reading. YA has reconnected me with my old love of reading.

I should mention that my reading level is higher in Spanish, because yes I know I’m too old to read and geek out so much on YA. Since English is my second language I’ve realized by reading a passage of Divergent in Spanish that it doesn’t grab me as much in my native language. I don’t think I would have finished the first book if I had read it in Spanish. In fact I remember I tried reading Harry Potter in Spanish and I couldn’t read more than the first page. Although it might have been the subject matter. Magic is just not my cup of tea. Dystopian and vampires are pretty much my areas of interest.

Illustration of quote from Divergent (Veronica Roth) created by Zack Hopeful

Illustration of quote from Divergent (Veronica Roth) created by Zack Hopeful

I just finished reading Delirium (the first  and second book, Pandemonium) and I really liked it. The idea that love can be a disease is interesting. I certainly think it can be, when it becomes an obsession.

Which brings me to why I started writing this blog post at three in the morning while I should have been sleeping since I have to work tomorrow. Instead I’m obsessing about sappy lines and authoritarian governments.

I really really love the combination of decaying societies and midnight kisses. I loved reading “1984” and “Brave New World” in high school but romance wasn’t a big part of them. I didn’t really care for romantic scenes back then though. I was a much more intellectual person then, or so I thought. Maybe I’ve just gone soft over the years. They were both also from the male point of view, so I really like that there is so much speculative fiction out there now with “strong female characters” and so strong, in the case of Bella, for example. Either way, female characters are making their mark in dystopias and fantastic worlds and I could not be happier.

The only adult book I’ve read recently is “Truth in Advertising” by John Kenney which I enjoyed very much. So if anyone has a suggestion for non YA books that are kind of disenchanted with society but still searching for meaning and maybe being hopeful then please let me know. Or recommend more dystopian love, either way.

FCC will release Low Power FM stations to non profits

The Federal Communications Commission will accept applications from local non profit organizations to acquire licenses in the FM radio frequency. The applications will be accepted from October 15th to the 29th, 2013.

Further details can be found here:FCC LPFM details

today’s links: Riot grrrls, Spanish, Turkey

I use facebook to share a lot of articles, but I don’t post on my blog as often as I should. So I thought, why not just combine some of those links in one post and stop posting so many links to articles on the fb?

So here’s my first attempt.

Lot’s of stuff coming out about the riot grrrl movement lately. There is a new documentary about Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna called “The Punk Singer” and there is the book “The Riot Grrrl Collection,” which this article (LA Times) describes in detail.

Here’s an article (LA Times) about the new book “The story of Spanish,” which offers a glimpse of the history of the Castilian language that has evolved as more tongues have used it around the world.

Turkey protests take a quieter stance, starting with one man. You can see pictures and timeline here. (NPR)

These are some links for now.

Julieta Venegas’ Moments

The other day I was lamenting myself because I no longer find the same excitement for music as I used to. There are so many new bands that I don’t even bother to even check out and I think it’s because I’ve reached a musical climax or plateau where nothing seems good anymore. Or that I’m showing signs of old age. Or that old phrase that there’s nothing new under the sun. Then I heard Venegas had released a new album and that it was better than the vapid and unsavory “Si” and “Limon y Sal”.  I actually hadn’t even bothered to listen to “Otra Cosa,” which she released in 2010, because the reviews were not particularly impressive. Well, I told myself, I will check it out, with an open mind and only because after “Bueninvento,” which is her best album and an excellent compilation of breakup songs, her happiness didn’t impress  me in her next albums when she had found love and happiness, but her Unplugged album showed her musical skills and good collaborations with other musicians. She produced better versions of ‘Lento’ and ‘Algo esta cambiando.’ Before you say those albums are just more pop and there is nothing wrong with that, I should say that I know good pop and I think her Unplugged collaborator Natalia Lafourcade does it better.

Musically, I think “Momentos” doesn’t explore anything new, like she heard Foster the People and put some synthesizers to work. She didn’t go too far from her line of work and didn’t venture into places that would be ridiculous for her but I don’t feel there’s much difference between each song, particularly the first half of the album. However, her lyrics have certainly evolved and before I listened I hoped for that delicious bitterness which makes “Bueninvento” a strong drink but I was amazed by her maturity, instead of receiving rage, she took the long road and did not say what is “’Nothing important.” Maybe now that she is a mother she has a better perspective of what is truly important. I’ve heard that happens. ‘Vuelve’ is one of the best songs for her honest lyrics and social commentary, something new for her. Her body of work is mainly introspective.

Even though it’s not as intriguing or as interesting as I’d like, it’s better than her other pop albums and I hope to see better development of the electro pop element in her next album. In other words, good job Julieta, keep trying. Thanks for waking me from my musical slumber.

The Menstrual Cup

I’ve been reading a lot about menstruation lately. About how we have considered menstruation as a shameful process for a long time that would be best not to have at all in our lives. I remember the terror I felt when my mother informed me what would happen with my body every month and when it finally happened, the terrible shame I felt going to the store to buy pads with my cousin. I also remember the disgust I felt when I found out about the menstrual cups. The idea of having to introduce it with my fingers and get them full of blood seemed revolting, until one of the videos where a woman explained how to use the cups I heard her say “it’s your own blood, get over it,” which made reconsider this issue which has been handed down from generation to generation that our blood is dirty, that we can’t talk about it or even mention it, much less touch it. It is certainly a bodily waste fluid, however I think our attitude towards menstruation is a little extreme and the use of the menstrual cup has made me question all this.


It’s my third month using the menstrual cup and it’s been a learning process. From learning how to put it on, to knowing my own body even more. The YouTube videos have been useful, but the actual practice has been the best way to learn, because each of our bodies is different.
I felt the need to use the cup not just because it’s more environmentally responsible but also because every pad out there available at most stores has some sort of “thermo control” chemical or component that literally sucks everything out of you and can even affect your Ph balance. I understand the smell is unpleasant but I think damaging my Ph is taking it one step too far.  I used to think the itchiness I felt after my period was over was normal until I read that it’s caused by the “thermo control” that ends up sucking up more than it should from my vagina. I never felt comfortable using tampons and I thought the cup would be uncomfortable too, but once I learned how to put it on, I have not found it uncomfortable at all. I still sanitary panty liners (found some natural ones online) but as my training wheels come off I’ll be pad free pretty soon!

I strongly recommend using the cup, it’s intimidating I know, I bought just in the middle of one of my cycles but I decided to wait until the next one because I was too freaked out. But as I’ve gotten more comfortable with it, I really find it is more in line with my body. It will save you money, it’s eco friendly and somehow I feel it has made me more comfortable with my cycle.


I finally got myself a bike. The wrong one for the hills of Los Angeles’ streets, but at least it’s pretty… Anyway I got it a week before the Luna Ride, and I knew I should have tried it out before and ride around the streets a little more before going out on a long ride but to be honest I’ve been scared. Scared of cars and streets and I don’t know how people do it on a daily basis! I have a cousin who lives in Mexico City, one of the world’s craziest urban jungles and he braves the streets on a bike. I can’t even think about going down the street by myself in this more subdued urban jungle of East Los Angeles or even the suburban jungle of Ontario. So I went looking for some bravery on the Luna Ride, or as the Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade would say, some ovarian power. There’s a reason their slogan is “Ovaries so big we don’t need no balls.” It is an all female, and female-identified bike crew, who also finish their rides with community meetings about social issues. This time the ride would end at East Side Café with a talk about the Zapatista movement.

I honestly thought that if I was just too tired I would tell them I was going to stop somewhere and call my husband to pick me up. But the Ovas weren’t having it. When they say they leave no one behind, they mean it!

The ride started out in Pershing Square, and though I was trembling and I felt so scared I also felt excited and just wrapped in this safety blanket of sisterhood bonding and all those warm fuzzy words I read about but never truly experienced until now.

About 25 women headed out from the Square onto Sixth Street, as one of them blasts music from their ipod snuggled inside a ukulele and street lights flash all around us. It’s all a blur of lights and night, people standing, looking at us ride out, a male voice yells “Boooooo!,” taunting us, some ladies yell back “Whose streets? Our Streets!”

“Why are they booing us? Because we’re all women?” asks the young lady riding next to me, who is also riding with the Ovas for the first time.

I am close to the first riders, but soon I start lagging behind, by the time the first hill rolls by I’m done, or at least my defeating mind thinks I am. I hear encouraging yells, “Come on girl, you can do it!,” “Keep going!”

We’re somewhere in L.A. I can’t see the names of streets, I can only focus on pedaling forward, trying to breathe, trying not to die. I’m not athletic, I don’t like running, I don’t like going to the gym, but this is as fun as it is exhausting. I feel the cold air rushing to my face, taunting me as it is encouraging all at the same time. It’s good weather for a run like this, a little chilly but not unbearably so, and the rain that forecasters warned about has decided not to make a cameo for the time being.

Another young woman stays behind with me. It’s Irma’s first ride with the Ovas too, but she’s been riding for 11 years, she suggests I put my seat up, because she notices my knees are bending too much. I bought a kid’s bike because I’m so short and with my last bike I basically had to jump out of every time I had to stop. It might have been a big mistake, but once they help me with the seat, riding is a little easier.

I keep going, still the last one. Maryann, on of the official members of the Ovarian Psycos and in charge of outreach, tells me I should yell “Wait!” or something but I feel too embarrassed. I know most are experienced riders, even if they haven’t been on the Luna rides, they know their bikes, they know the streets and they know what they’re doing. I don’t know if they want speed, but I know it’s getting late and I don’t want to slow them down. But still, they stop, and they wait. “Is everyone here?” “Not yet!” “Ok! Let’s roll!” and off we go, into nearly empty streets and hills.

We stand on a red light on the right side lane, then a car behind us screeches its breaks and makes us move closer to the curve. “Is everyone ok? That was scary!” asks someone. My guess is the driver got scared. I know what it’s like to see bike riders from the driver’s side and honestly not know what to do. Cars and bikes are starting to share the road, but it’s going to take a while before they start to understand where their limits are. It might take some laws and more bike lanes to shake L.A. out of it’s car culture.

I remember once getting out of the parking lot at work downtown, and heading towards the left lane, almost hitting a bike rider. He turned to me and looked as if I had willingly cut him off. I honestly didn’t see him. He wasn’t wearing anything bright enough for me to distinguish him from the urban landscape, he had blended into the street so seamlessly I wasn’t aware. Ever since then, I have become more aware of bike riders. I think that’s another part of the puzzle. Cars and bikes struggle to communicate, sometimes in a fight for street control, sometimes to look out for each other.

“Get a gear bike, if you’re serious about riding, it’s the easiest in the hills of L.A.,” suggests Josie, a mother of two who’s been riding for 11 years. It’s her first Luna ride, but she got rid of her car 4 years ago. “Honestly, it’s f—– hard! I mean it’s been glorified, but in reality riding everywhere is hard. If it rains, I have to think about how I to take my son to school,” she says. I honestly wouldn’t get that far. My new year’s resolution is to use my car less, but I don’t think I would get to the point of not using a car. I do definitely admire those who have taken the leap, or those who have never even bothered to ever buy a car. My friend Adam and my cousin Carlos are two of those kinds of freaks. Just kidding, I say that lovingly, they know that.

When I told people I was selling my car, some would instantly ask “But how will get around?” their confused and perplexed faces seemed to be asking, “But how will you breathe?” Yes, this is L.A. and cars still rule the streets, but there’s a new generation of bike riders that are challenging that. I did get another car, but I also got a bike, of course I didn’t get the right one, but it’s a process.

There’s another pit stop in front of a Zapata statue, or at least that’s what the other womyn say it is, I can’t find a plaque that states it but it’s a Charro riding a horse. I have no idea what street it was, I was trying to find my water and not faint. (Womyn is how many new feminists write women, because it removes the “men” part and it still reads as the dictionary-accepted spelling. I have also read wombyn, making reference to our wombs.)

We start rolling again. I don’t know how I’m still going, but I am. Then another hill comes. That’s it. I get off. I know I won’t make it otherwise. Albert, who I’m assuming is womyn-identified since it’s supposed to be a womyn and womyn-identified only ride, stays with me this time. “Use your heels, that’s where your strength is, use your thighs” he says. Or is it she? I don’t know… I don’t ask. I can’t even breathe. Whatever comes up… must gloriously come down. Finally the down side of the hill, but wait, now it’s too fast. I’m not used to the back pedal, my old bike had hand breaks. Slowly breaking. I’m so glad I didn’t fall.

We hit a gas station, some go in for snacks. That’s when Irma, Josie and her other two friends say goodbye, they’re hungry and there’s no food where our final stop will be. I consider staying at the gas station and calling the hubs. I check the map, we’re only supposed to be a mile away. Just one mile. I call him anyway but tell him to meet me there. I can make it. Somehow just one more mile seems possible, and I really want to get to the finish line. So I keep going. We keep going. It’s nothing really, except it’s still hill. This is why I’ve never loved L.A. I like L.A., but unlike most of Mexico City, where I grew up, it’s all hills. I don’t even like driving in hills, it’s this fear I have. San Francisco is out for me. We get to East Side Café, where womyn from the collective group ARMA will talk about the Zapatista uprising. I can’t even believe we got there. I can’t believe I did it!

Before the talks starts, Maryann thanks all of us for staying and being there. She thanks me, even though I feel self-conscious and embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up. “Sorry I kept slowing down.” “No, this is why we do this,” she and Gloria say, another official member of the Ovas.

Without Irma’s, Josie’s, Albert’s and Maryann’s help, company, conversation, and encouragement, and without all the companionship of all the womyn on the Luna Ride, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Still, once we sit down to hear the womyn speak, I feel like weak sauce. I’m almost falling. Then Gloria, sitting next to me, starts passing some hot cheetos, trail mix, peanuts, gummy bears. Whatever, I’ll eat it. I start being able to breathe again. Suddenly, sitting down listening to the ARMA womyn I feel it. This indescribable sense of magic and peace, something that could only happen under the full moon and I feel my strength coming back. Or is it mine? It’s all of ours’.

Virtual fundraiser launched for Ovarian Psyco Cycles Brigade Documentary

Indepent filmmakers have launched a kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about the Ovarian Psyco Cycles all-female bike crew and community group. Their goal is to raise $10,000 by February 23. “In East Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos are not only a bike crew, they are a new generation of women of color building a movement,” reads the fundraising platform. I have not been to any of their rides, but hopefully I can make it to their Saturday ride. I’m very curious about them and given that co-producers and co-directors Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle have received support from the Independent Television Service (ITVS) Diversity Development Fund, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), I imagine there’s many who will be interested in their story. If you would like to check their trailer and give your contribution here is the link:

Who’s to blame? Everyone

I just came across this headline on Yahoo: “School shooting: Who’s to blame?” and it prompted me to say: everyone. Everyone wants children to be protected but no one takes the extra step, everyone is afraid to step in and help out when help is needed and it starts from there. Why do I say that? Because first of all, mental health is at the bottom of the budget at the federal, state, and local level and if we look at the need, there is a picture of despair. Even if parents ask and beg for help, there are simply not enough resources to help them out.

I worked at a mental health clinic for children for four years at the reception desk, and the number of calls we would get from desperate parents asking for help was three times more than what the clinic had budget for. Case workers had to make sure the situation was beyond the point of desperation to be able to offer an appointment, which meant many preventable cases were left to their own devices.

I’m all for better gun control, but if the general health system in the country is still generating controversy, there is even less space to debate on mental health. People don’t want to pay for other people’s healthcare, yet many of the problems that our society is facing today are due to health problems, including mental health. Many of our homeless people need medication, many of our children need help dealing with ADHD, autism, you name it, there is an illness named after it. Some illnesses are mental disorders, others are neurological disorders, either way there is no budget to help out all those in need. Many times with simple therapy treatment and medication, children can grow up and have healthy lives, but everyone needs to be involved in the treatment, that means parents, teachers, doctors, and yes, even tax payers, because sooner or later another tragedy will sadly occur and once again we will be asking who’s to blame.