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Xazmin Garza

Fa la la? Nah, not in my head

The blame goes to every department store, radio station and cable music channel that started the "Silent Night" loop early this year. That's the only way to explain why inside my brain, in early December, lives a little drummer boy walking in on his mommy kissing Santa Claus as chestnuts roast by an open fire.

Program gives former prisoners fresh start, new hope

Meet Lincoln Allen, 33. The state of Nevada took him away from his unfit mother when he was 12. He became a foster child and went on the run shortly after. By the time his father cleaned up his act and took his son under his wing, 14-year-old Lincoln wasn't just smoking crystal meth, he was cooking it, too. His first of four prison sentences came at age 18 for check fraud.

Outside the polls, a stomach churns

Last Sunday morning my husband and I sat watching, not college football highlights on ESPN, but campaign lowlights on "Meet the Press." As the political experts traded talking points, I wondered if my fingernails would taste better dipped in maple syrup.

Democratic convention memories from mom

If you watched the political conventions, you may have wondered how long it would be before the delegates raised their lighters in the air. You may have suspected Oprah took the stage and asked audience members to look under their seats. Everyone looked so moved, so celebratory, so damn happy.

See, see! MJB connected with me!

When my husband and I watched Chris Rock's stand-up show live four years ago, I swore the famous comedian, and my biggest celebrity crush, made eye contact with me. He took in his standing ovation, bowed his head in appreciation, and locked gazes with yours truly. At least, I'm pretty sure he did.

As time goes by, current turns classic

My close friend recently celebrated her 40th birthday in New York City with a group of girlfriends. In doing so, she realized what we all painfully realize at some point or another: Music from her heyday is now considered "old school."

Lost education jobs shake our classrooms, and our future

I recently came across an old letter from my little sister. Just seeing an envelope with postage, an address that didn't feature a single "@" symbol and her crooked cursive served as a blast from the past. Times - and communication systems - have changed since she sent that letter in 1996, but her cause certainly hasn't.

Rivals on the field, and on the couch

The closer the college football season gets, the more unsettled my house becomes. My husband's alma mater, pride and joy and some would say reason for living, Michigan State University, faces my mom's alma mater and the major college of my birthplace in Idaho, Boise State University, for their season opening game Friday.

Even in little city, we're in our element

A trip to a little city in Idaho is a tough sell for a Las Vegas man with little vacation time. When it's the birthplace of his wife and the home to most of her extended family, however, he doesn't have to be sold on the city - just the people. That's how I saw it, anyway.

Amazing last-place finish at Olympics

Athletes at the London 2012 Summer Games have had us spectators in awe the past two weeks. We get used to that every four years. But South Africa's Oscar Pistorius inspired a new kind of amazement. A double below-the-knee amputee competing against the world's fastest in the men's 400-meter semifinals race can drop jaws a little lower, raise eyebrows a little higher.

Girl Scout's honor really is

Some girls grew up with the pinky-swear system. The act of linking fingers and locking eyes with someone meant, without a doubt, their word could be trusted. Others engaged in the oath of "putting it on" something of unparalleled value to remove all doubt from the subject at hand. "Put it on your first-adopted Cabbage Patch Kid," "Put it on your Punky Brewster hi-tops" - that kind of thing.

Woman who escaped cancer works to help others

When Lisa Goldberg's daughter, Devon, started school, the then 39-year-old decided to return to work. Her husband, Derek, urged her to find a passion, rather than a time card to punch. Stellar advice, but in the process of taking it, Goldberg was diagnosed with cancer.