Notes · · Hermosillo

Oompa, Oopma, Boom, Boom, Boom

Not at all as heartwarming as Queen Elizabeth's holiday message of community this year. Definitely longer than the President-elect's lonely, angry fisted little tweet.  It's Christmas 2016.

At the exact moment our winter vacation begins, Hiram and I get on a bus and travel through the night to our family in Hermosillo.

During the day on Christmas Eve, presents are bought and wrapped at the department store. People stand in line for an hour to get gifts wrapped. I wonder out loud if it wouldn’t be faster for them to just wrap the packages themselves. “It’s free," someone says.

Well, there you go.

When my mother-in-law asks how we should prepare the turkey this year. Hiram and I break into laughter.

“What?” She asks. “What!?” She insists.

“Every year you ask us how we think we should prepare the bird. Then at the last minute you make it exactly as you always have. It’s delicious. But it's not how we would make it and it cracks us up that we have this conversation every year.”

“Well this year, you guys can do everything. Make it how you like. I’m not touching it."

Hiram and I go downtown to the beauty district and see our barber here. We get the haircuts we want. I forget to ask about my eyebrows. We stop back in after lunch to have the wandering tumbleweeds on my forehead corralled.

Me at Estética Valenzuela

We go for a walk around downtown. I want to see what is happening with the Radiomotores car parts and toy store since Alejandro passed away. We arrive at the shop, press our noses to the glass windows long enough to get a glimpse of the chaos inside — garbage and empty display cases and more garbage — and immediately three bicycle cops arrive wanting to know what were are doing there.

“Someone reported you guys here behaving strangely.”

“That’s interesting to me,” Hiram says. “We haven't been here ten seconds. That’s hardly enough time for us to get here, for someone to see us, for them to contact you, and for you to arrive.”

“Maybe it was someone else then,” says the officer. Then his eyes do that I’m scanning your pockets while trying not to lose eye-contact with you thing officials do. “What are you doing here?"

“I'm visiting from Tucson. I am taking pictures of things downtown,” I say, in my tourist Spanish, holding up my camera.

Strange behavior indeed.

We head back to the car. Along the way I buy a stick pony for my niece. If I were a three-year-old, I would want a stick pony. Honestly, I would still like one. I’m not embarrassed by that, but our place is crowded with stuff as it is; there's just no room for a stick pony in our lives right now. I hope my niece will enjoy the stick pony I have always wanted.

At home, Mom has the turkey prepped and ready to go in the oven. “I have the turkey ready. All you guys have to do is put it in the oven. What time do you think it should go in?”

Hiram and I look at each other.

“What time is mass?” I ask. “What time will you be back?”
“What time will we be back?"

Every year since I started spending Christmas with Hiram and his family, I have gone to Christmas Eve mass with them. The joke is—it’s only sort of a joke though—the joke is that if I want to eat dinner with the family, I also have to go to mass. But this year I insist and don't go.

I can’t say I am ever in the mood for mass, but I usually end up enjoying it. The carols remind me of happy times when I was a kid and, because they’re in Spanish, my first Mexican Christmas in Cuernavaca. There is the part of the mass where you turn and wish complete strangers peace and shake their hand. Also, there are often guitars and bells in the mix. If that's not enough to keep me from being bored, there are always people to watch. If all else fails, I pretend the Spanish language sermon is actually being given in Latin and I am trying to understand it.

This year we were going to a mass given by a priest whose delivery I’m not crazy about. It wasn't to be the hippie Jesuit with the illegally parked car that is blocking the gate to the parking lot and needs a jump. And it wasn’t to be the Spaniard who texts while he’s giving his sermon about gratitude and cold cow spit. It was to be a priest who I can never tell if it's him or his congregation who falls asleep first.

What's worse though is the two statuettes he has representing the baby Jesus. There is a dark-skinned Jesus that resembles the majority of the people in the congregation. Then there’s the blond-haired, blue-eyed baby Jesus that looks more like the Aryan kid on the Kinder brand chocolate bars at supermarket checkout stands everywhere here.

After the mass, the little statues are lifted from their plaster of Paris mangers and walked through the chapel so everyone can wish the “newborn” a happy birthday. Pious old women snatch up their toddler grandchildren and elbow their way through all of the other grandmothers and grandchildren to give Blonde Jesus a birthday kiss.

Meanwhile, an altar boy giggles uncomfortably as he carries Brown Jesus around the chapel to arm’s length fanfare: Everyone including the priest on his microphone, jokes how sad it is no one shows poor Brown Jesus any love. “Haha!”

Haha? There’s so much that can be said about this thing with the Baby Jesus statuettes. Be my guest. For me this year, it’s enough to say I'm not up for being there for it.

So I don’t go to mass. I stay at home and make mashed potatoes.

By the time everyone gets back from mass, the food is ready. We make a toast, eat dinner, tell stories, eat even more. We share stories about Christmas where we everyone at the table is from: Here in Sonora, in Mexico City, and in Arizona.

Fireworks outside signal it's midnight. Christ is born. Time to open presents. Time to say thank you and fib about liking the clothes you just got. Time to smile for pictures. Time to try and stay awake just a little longer.

After the guests leave and the dishes are washed and the open bottle on the counter is finished off, Hiram and I walk out onto the patio to see if it is still raining. Nope. We’re stuffed and exhausted and regretting the second piece of pie. There are still fireworks going off and and banda music in the background. Oompa, oompa, boom, boom, boom. It is almost 3:00 in the morning. We wish each other a Merry Christmas.
“Merry Christmas, Churro.”
“Merry Christmas, Pipo."

Then we turn, look up at the sky, and fart for thirty seconds straight before going inside to bed.

Notes · · Hermosillo

Annual Holiday Misophonia Post

Misophonia is the gift that keeps giving. And smacking, snapping, popping, chomping, crunching, sucking its teeth, slurping, burping, licking its fingers, and standing in front of you talking with a mouth full of food.

Gum Head

Gum Head at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo by Chris Clogg

Notes · · Tucson

The Invention of America

I have been agonizing over just the right Christmas card to get you guys this year. It's not easy. I was hoping to find something as clever as that hilarious meme you shared recently about how if so many people had bought Fifty Shades of Grey then they couldn't sincerely be offended by some very successful businessman bragging about grabbing women by the hooha. Haha! So true. Which reminds me: Did you buy the book or wait for the movie?

Anyhow, many of the cards say nothing at all about Christmas and most of the others are about some immigrant baby and his virgin mother. As if. Sad.

There also seem to be no Driving Miss Daisy themed cards with Sharpton or Obama as Hillary's driver. Get it? Those are so funny and not at all offensive. I'm not sure how they'd make it about Christmas though, I guess.

Oh well, know that I tried!

Books on a shelf

Notes · · Tucson

Please and Thank You

Waiting for a marriage license

Waiting for our marriage license in San Diego

Facebook is an awkward and uncomfortable place to be talking about many of the things a family may or may not have not talked about before. But it happens. Facebook is also most likely where I will find out what's on the minds of you immediate and extended family who, over the years, have relied on it to keep in touch and reconnect. It has meant a lot to me when some of you have expressed your support for my and Hiram's equality and our pursuit of the same opportunities you, our parents, and their parents have had. Thank you. When you have reached out like that, please know you have warmed my heart.

Thank you to the sister who went out of her way years ago when she first met Hiram and told us that if we ever got married, "You have to include me in the wedding." Thank you to a niece for being part of the LGBT Straight Alliance at her school. Thank you to the return missionary cousin who messaged me, “By the way, I am gay too.” Thank you to the cousin and aunt who, after we reconnected because of Facebook, called and said they always knew I was gay and always loved me just the same. Thank you to the in-laws who "Like" or leave enthusiastic comments on the "Hiram & Richard" photos we share. And thank you to those family members who keep me in the loop on their kids' graduations and new jobs and other important events of the people in the families you have created.

All I really have is please and thank you. Thank you for being courageous enough to stand by us in spite of the angrier voices and personalities of our religious and political communities when that is the case. Thank you for reaching out and showing your support those times when it is just the right thing to do even if it isn't the comfortable thing to do.

I am gay. The person I have loved for the last ten years and eventually cried tears of joy with when we were able to marry two years ago is an immigrant. What is at stake in this election for the family we are creating is all frighteningly real to me. Please be on the right side of history here. Please do the right thing and do not vote for a candidate who encourages you to fear immigrants, who has promised to appoint justices who would invalidate our marriage, and who just in general appeals to anger instead of love.

Notes · · Tucson


Korean fabric dragon sculpture

As a child, I enjoyed the David Bowie song, Fang. When it was on the radio I sang along: Faaa-ang! What you bite you have to swallow, Faaa-ang!

Notes · · Tucson

The Albatros Cinema Club

Albatros Cinema Club

I have something to offer here at the end of 2015. I was on Mexican buses for six or so hours just about every Saturday or Sunday this year. That gave me at least five hours, fifty-nine minutes and thirty seconds each weekend to jot down all the videos selected from hard disks full of video files the Mexican government has authorized its bus drivers to choose from. Or Sony or Warner Brothers.

You have probably seen all of these films, but I still actually have to work my way through them as some sort of make-up assignment. For some reason at the time it seemed more important to catch up on podcasts and reading, the latter also being known by its Sonoran colloquialism motion sickness.

But if those things aren’t important to you anymore and you are ready to spend a few hours living life as if you were in a hermetically sealed movie theater with air thickened by a strange cinnamon air freshener or if you just want to start 2016 as if you were rolling down a dangerously cratered highway with stunning views of cardons and the Sea of Cortes at exactly 90 kilometers per hour while migrating plastic Coca Cola bottles peck at your feet, I hope this playlist will help you to be the best passenger bus cinema club curator you can be.

Left BehindDec 13Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
VacationDec 13Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
PixelsDec 13Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
The LoversDec 13Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
ArbitrageDec 10Tijuana >>> MexicaliABC
Machu Pichu DocumentaryDec 10Tijuana >>> MexicaliABC
Grudge MatchDec 10Mexicali >>> Puerto PeñascoABC
La Historia de Mis Manos (music video )Dec 10Mexicali >>> Puerto PeñascoABC
Letters to JulietDec 10Mexicali >>> Puerto PeñascoABC
Jack Ryan: Shadow RecruitDec 10Mexicali >>> Puerto PeñascoABC
America’s SweetheartsDec 05Sonoyta >>> TijuanaTufesa
BlendedDec 05Sonoyta >>> TijuanaTufesa
The EqualizerDec 05Sonoyta >>> TijuanaTufesa
The Best OfferDec 05Sonoyta >>> TijuanaTufesa
VacationNov 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Left BehindNov 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
PixelsNov 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
The LoversNov 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Drive HardNov 15Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
The GiverNov 15Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Begin AgainNov 15Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
The Right Kind of WrongNov 15Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
A Long Way DownNov 07Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
The Imitation GameNov 07Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
LaggiesNov 07Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
DivergentNov 07Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
The GiverNov 01Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Begin AgainNov 01Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
The Right Kind of WrongNov 01Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Step Up - All InNov 01Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Russell MadnessOct 25Nogales >>> Santa AnaAlbatros
Marco MacacoOct 18Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
InsurgentOct 18Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Ex MachinaOct 18Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Halo NightfallOct 18Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Black or WhiteOct 10Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Halo NightfallOct 10Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
With This RingOct 10Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Guardians of The GalaxyOct 10Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
DivergentOct 04Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Abajo el TelónOct 04Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
NightcrawlerOct 04Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
God’s Not DeadOct 04Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
InsurgentSep 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Five Flights UpSep 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Ex MachinaSep 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Black or WhiteSep 26Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
With This RingSep 20Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Guardians of The GalaxySep 20Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
The Imitation GameSep 20Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
LaggiesSep 20Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Guten Tag RamónSep 12Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Hunger Games - MockingjaySep 12Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Drive HardSep 12Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
The GiverSep 12Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
The CobblerAug 22Nogales >>> Santa AnaAlbatros
The CobblerAug 16Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
God’s Not DeadAug 16Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
InsurgentAug 16Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Mom’s Night OutAug 07Nogales >>> HermosilloAlbatros
Russell MadnessJul 12Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Cody The RobosapienJul 12Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Mom’s Night OurtJul 12Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
HoursJul 12Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
NebraskaJul 02Santa Ana >>> NogalesTufesa
Assault on Wall StreetJun 28Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Last VegasJun 28Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Case ClosedJun 28Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
TranscendenceJun 28Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
The GiverJun 28Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Drive HardJun 20Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
The GiverJun 20Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Begin AgainJun 20Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
God’s Not DeadJun 05Nogales >>> CaborcaAlbatros
A Long Way DownMay 16Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
The Imitation GameMay 16Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
LaggiesMay 16Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Cody the RobosapienMay 02Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Last VegasMay 02Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Assault on Wall StreetMay 02Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
¡A Volar Joven!May 02Puerto Peñasco >>> NogalesAlbatros
Drive HardApr 25Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
The GiverApr 25Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Begin AgainApr 25Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Home RunApr 11Nogales >>> Santa AnaAlbatros
The GiverMar 28Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Drive HardMar 28Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Begin AgainMar 28Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Filipino Kickboxer Fights TerroristsFeb 28Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Case of YouFeb 28Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Walk of ShameFeb 28Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Assault on Wall StreetFeb 28Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Mom’s Night OutFeb 14Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
HoursFeb 14Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Summer in FebruaryFeb 14Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
¡A Volar Joven!Feb 14Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Summer in FebruaryJan 31Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
¡A Volar Joven!Jan 31Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros
Draft DayJan 31Nogales >>> Puerto PeñascoAlbatros