La Chismosa

La Chismosa

La Chismosa outdoorsMy mom calls my blackberry “la chismosa.” In Spanish, that word means “one who gossips” or “tells on something.”

My mother christened my electronic device with this name because it’s how I communicate with people at all hours of the day. It’s what I go to the minute I have news of work, news of home, and news generally.

We’ll be sitting at the breakfast table and I’ll announce “such and such just died.”  We’ll be at the mall and I’ll say, in my best Katie Couric voice, “there’s been an earthquake somewhere.” My mother will look at me and shake her head in disgust while saying, “como me cae mal esa chismosa.”

I suppose chismosa is as good a name as any to give to this device. I tried to use the literal Spanish translation for blackberry for a while. But, whenever I referred to “mora” my mom thought I was talking about breakfast fruit.

So, for now, I suppose “la chismosa” it remains.

© Laura Genao 2006

Trying to Tighten That Belt

Trying to Tighten That Belt

I’m bored, therefore I shop (yes, even though Christmas has officially ended and no, not because I’m looking for deals). 

Today’s trip to the internet mall was for a belt buckle and t-shirts. 

Electrickid.com–Got a dancing monkey belt buckle and one reading, “EvilKid.”  I’m not edgy enough to wear a skull on my belt buckle and I don’t have anything that matches a rubber ducky belt.  I do, however, have qualifications for the wearing of the buckles I did buy, since I have been accused of being a monkey and evil.

2Bhipbuckles.com–Was intrigued by a few other buckles: Trailer and Alice in Wonderland.  Somehow, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear my British History and Literature background on my belt.  Really, it just wouldn’t seem right to bring up research papers done about the 1860s meaning of the story on any occasion when I’d be wearing the buckle.  As for the trailer, we weren’t that poor.

Threadless.com–Still deciding between “Acute Invasion,””Pessimistic or Optimistic,” and “mmmh . . . Delicious.”  T-shirts like these always serve as great reminders of people’s creativity.  Plus, they make me smile.

© Laura Genao 2006

Christmas Eve Comedian

Christmas Eve Comedian

My favorite thing about large family Christmas Eve gatherings is their ability to provide material for smart alecks.  

The best line of this year’s gathering came late in the evening, after the 73-year-old matriarch expressed her hope that we’d all live through 2007 in order to make it to next year’s gathering for tamales.  A 20-something grandchild, ignoring the obvious reference the woman was making to her own mortality, yelled, “and just to make sure, make the tamales tomorrow and leave them in the freezer.”  Laughter erupted and the spectre of mortality was banished for the evening.

Ay que familias.

© Laura Genao 2006

Found it in the Sunday Paper

Found it in the Sunday Paper

Great essays in the SundayStyles Section of the NY Times.

Jewish in a Winter Wonderland–A Jewish woman’s essay on discovering holiday decorating joy.  “I love that as soon as I told a Catholic friend what I was up to, she invited me to a gingerbread-house decorating party.  How fun is that?  And why wasn’t I invited before?  What does a gingerbread house have to do with Jesus?”

Close Enough for Momma, Too Close for Me–A gay son’s essay on moving in to care for his 82-year-old mother.  “And there I lay, as close to the edge as possible, listening to my mother’s breathing while gazing out the windows at the lights and the street and the neighbors’ windows beyond.  I tried not to think of the fraught weeks and months ahead, of days and nights that would turn out to be filled with more indignity, suffering, closeness and grace than I ever could have imagined.  I thought only:  ‘I can do this.  I can.  But tomorrow, first thing, I’m buying new shades.'”

Bad Car-ma

Bad Car-ma

A few nights ago, I was awakened by what sounded like a blaring alarm.  It wailed and wailed and echoed through the hills in my Northeast L.A. neighborhood.  I wondered if someone’s house was being broken into.  I wondered if another car in my neighborhood was being vandalized.  I got paranoid, so I woke up to go look out the window.

Upon a quick scan of the street, I saw my second car—a 1991 Mazda Protege–sitting at the curb.  “My car doesn’t have an alarm,” I thought, so I went back to bed.

That pesky alarm kept sounding.

This time, I went outside (yes, I know that’s why people in horror flicks get killed) and realized my Mazda was outperforming what even I thought it was capable of, by blaring its horn more loudly than any SUV I’ve ever seen.

I pulled on the horn pad.  Nothing.  I punched the horn pad.  Nothing.  I fiddled with wires.  Nothing.  I tried to pull out fuses.  Nothing.  I finally just turned on the “Protege” (or in my play off the Spanish, “Protector”) and the horn stopped.

I went back to bed.  An hour and a half later, the car again demanded my attention.  I again performed the crazed pulling, tugging, running around ritual. 

This time when I punched the horn pad, the car stopped and I hated that brute force was the only way to shut my car down.

Being a resourceful woman, I went to my computer and googled “Mazda” and “horn” and “Protege.”  And, as if a miracle of the modern world, the “Car Talk” guys had done a segment on the problem. 

It seems that this week’s cold snap, where evening temperatures dipped into the 30s and low 40s, made certain parts of my horn contract.  That then causes the horn to blare. 

Click and Clack suggested pulling wires or replacing the horn–but, despite their usefulness in identifying the problem, I still can’t figure out which wires to pull and I don’t have time to get the horn replaced.

So, until the mercury rises, I’ll just be resourceful and pull the fuse when I get out of the car and replace it when I get back in (turns out the horn fuse also controls the brake lights).  The act should amuse my colleagues and unnerve the security guards at work, but hey, when you have to get around, you do what you can.

© Laura Genao 2006