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Showing posts from 2015

On Writing Me

My great friend and unofficial editor gave me The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr a couple months ago. In reading it, I found a quote I immediately liked and felt as if she was speaking directly to me. “No matter how self-aware you are, memoir wrenches at your insides precisely because it makes you battle without very self—your neat analyses and tidy excuses.”No truer words have ever been spoken. It’s been three years since I really began to focus on Por Un Amor and each time I think I’m done there are more questions than answers. I think a part of me wants to be done because I’m tired of having my insides wretched, or to be honest, maybe there are aspects that haven’t been wretched enough. In a novel where I want to focus on my Ita, there is a light that inevitably wants to shine on me because I am as much a character as she. I am just as important even though I want to stay backstage and let her bask in the limelight. I have to learn to be in the light and also be the stage hand pulling …

2015 Thanksgiving Thanks

I am thankful for...
1.  My new dog Faustino who has warmed my heart towards pets again after saying goodbye to my beautiful Drew-b this year. 
2. My husband who supports me through every crazy idea I have and won't mind that Faustino the dog came before him on this list. 
3. My sister/mom who is/are a pain in the ass and likes to fight with but can't stay mad at me too long. 
4. My uncle who texts me every morning to say good-morning even when he knows I'll be sleeping. 
5. My lovely small  but close knit group of friends who don't let lapses in time and/or distance change our friendships. 
6. My job. I worked very hard. It showed me that patience and my stubbornness paid off. I have felt a little lost this semester because I got so used to having a bone to chew on, but I will learn to have a new goal. 
7. I'm thankful for goals. 
8. My time off that I will use to brush the cobwebs off my writing brain. 
9. The stack of books that have been patiently waiting on my nightsta…

A Red and Orange Kite

Last night after a long [insert slew of obscenities here] day, I went to yoga. I almost didn't go. The warm comfort of pets, my home, and the couch seductively called to me as I sat in a sea of red lights and traffic. They were both so tempting that I almost escaped the highway three exits sooner, but I stayed strong. I gave myself a pep talk on the benefits of losing myself in my Utkatasana's, Virabhadrasana II,and Savasana's.
As I sat in the car, repeating the benefits of attending, the day kept butting in and replaying itself like a short film on a loop. I spent most it angry and/or frustrated. When I was younger, anger always served as a fuel for me, but not as I've grown older it just drains me to the points of exhaustion. I am a shell of myself even as I smile and make small talk with the people around me. Today, in fact, I am shell. I am a browned husk floating around campus berating myself for losing my temper. At moments like these, I am thankful for my retail …

I Should Be Grading

I should be grading, but I don't want to. Outside, the sky is varying shades of grey. The clouds are a tightly, knit sewn quilt blanketing the city. This is odd for "The Sun City", but unlike most I enjoy chilly weather, rain, and what the clouds bring.

I should be grading, but I keep ignoring the digital stack of papers. The semester is at week 10 and the students who are going to "get" it have already proven themselves. The "not taking this seriously" have disappeared like the mice who inhabited my office for the first month of the semester. I'm still not sure of the "I'm gonna buckle downs". I stay hopeful, but not too much, so it won't hurt as much when they too disappear.

I should be grading, but the weekend is calling. Saturday is Halloween. I always love Halloween, but this year I have less zest in my pep. Yesterday, I suggested to my husband we dress up as Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. We just need blond wigs. He said, &…

The Bathroom Remodel

The last two weeks have been filled with weekend warrior type activity. We are remodeling our half bath. It all started with painting. I wanted to change the color to a bright yellow instead of the aged rose I had first painted it.

Things happen when I get started on a project. The "things" that happen are, I often get carried away. I start thinking bigger and better and, and, and...I know this about myself. I just get so damned excited that my brain starts working a mile a minute and it wants to go. I get lofty ideas that in the end usually end up being amazing (well, if they didn't, this wouldn't keep happening. now, would it?) but mid-point I question myself. It often takes until the mid-point for this to happen.

For the husband, he questions me almost immediately, mostly because he knows he will have to help me. He wants to catch my balloon head with its lofty ideas by the string before I float off too far and suddenly my idea is the size of the Good Year Blimp. …

Sopita

Sopita is a really simple food. It can be found in most ethnic food aisles. Small dry pasta shaped like letritas, semillas de melon, and conchitas, When I was younger, I could never cook it correctly. It always came out under cooked or overcooked, salty or flavorless. Now, I can cook it with minimal effort. I throw onions in a pan and saute it until most of the pieces turn a golden brown. While it's browning, I open a short can of tomato sauce, so it's ready to pour in. I learned to do this after burning the small alphabet and onion pieces so dark I had to thrown them away. It had been a long day, and my last bag of sopita.

Sopita is a simple food. My husband doesn't like it. The one time I did make it, as a side to a thin sirloin steak topped with chile, tomate, and cebolla, he looked at the plate oddly. I didn't understand. Now, I rarely make it. Usually, I only cook it when I know that we are having separate dinners. My favorite meal is picadillo con sopita. I mix …

Because Life Happens

I like lists. I make them to have the satisfaction of crossing things off once I've completed the task. The lists range from simple tasks like "go to grocery store" to "finish story". I write things down, I have an app called Color Note, which has fallen by the wayside for good old paper and pen, and I have specialized lists for things like the grocery store. Lists make my life complete, at least I think.

For the past month, on my list there has been "post on blog" and each time I think, "I'll do it right now." In this case a list has not helped me. The sad part about it is, that I've missed my posts. I miss my inner Carrie Bradshaw voice talking and mussing about things. So the questions is, why haven't I made time?

1. I had family in from Colombia for three weeks.
2. I took a vacation to Phoenix.
3. I got new wonderful job I'm elated to have.
4. I've been trying to work on my chapbook a (tiny) moment in time and revisio…

Get Up Stand Up: Book Suggestions

Last week, I visited a class to speak about some of my writing, the process, and The Danger of a Single Story. I was asked many wonderful questions about my work and also about books I've read that kept in line with the idea of standing up for oneself. The normal thing that always happens when I'm asked this question is my mind goes blank. All the titles of wonderful books I've read disappear as quickly as my dog, Sami, eats her meals.

So, below I've put together a list of books I think are important. I will probably stray from the topic, (I apologize in advance, Rich)  but I will give it my best.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley  I can't remember how old I was when I read this book, but I was definitely in my 20's, (I think) and I was blown away, by not just the writing, but the idea. For a length of time in my life, I was obsessed with Utopian society books. Huxley seemed to capture something not as dark as Orwell's  1984or Rand's Anthem, but it still c…

Digging Through the Dust

For the past month, my sister and I have been cleaning out a dusty storage unit my mother had filled with nothing and everything. Painstakingly, we have gotten up early, gone to the unit, and dug through boxes of my mother's life. We've found old photos, jewelry, socks, clothes, out-dated workout equipment, broken glass, and layers upon layers of El Paso desert dust that settled upon things we'd forgotten about.

We'd get there clad in workout gear with white rubber gloves and sunscreen ready. I've suffered two sunburns on my back and shoulders, 20 sneezes, one stubbed toe, many sore muscles, and countless memories as we reminisced with the things we found. I took pictures of my favorite navy blue vans with Nirvana lyrics scribbled on the side from high school. I took home a cast iron pan, shish kabob skewers, and a marble cutting board. We donated countless things and threw away many others. Last Saturday, we finally finished.

Several family members showed up and w…

On a Jet Plane

When I was a senior in high school, my boyfriend worked at a 7-11.  He worked graveyard shifts,  but he wouldn't sell me beer. Instead, I went to the store after I was done with friends, buzzed, and wandered around the aisles.  I should have known then the person who constantly checks is the person with a guilty conscience. 
The first time I did it, he didn't get it. I walked down aisles filled with Doritos and Lay's, my arms spread wide singing,  "I'm leavin' on a jet plane..."
"What are you doing?" he asked.
I kept singing, "don't know when I'll be back again. "
"Are you leaving?" he asked.
"It's a song."
I looked at him all disheveled in his red 7-11 apron and wondered what I was doing here. It was 4am. The night was turning indigo. Maybe it was time to go.  
"I don't like it."
"It's just a song," I answered. "But it's late." I reached for my small clutch on …

2015 Summer Reading Challenge

I debated doing this, but now I'm jumping in. Let's see if I can do it! Summer Reading Challenge Rules: 1) Pick 15 books that you would like to finish this summer--any genre, any size. This list doesn't have to be at 15 right from the start. It will grow as the summer continues. 2) Of the 15 books, designate 3 that you recommend to co-participants. (After you've read them, of course). 3) Of the 15 books, 3 of the books must be from recommendations by other participants. 4) Post your 15 book list somewhere with a link so that co-participants can link you on their webpages, tumblr pages, or blogs. 5) Hold yourself accountable by posting commentary about a book you've just read. Commentary can also take the form of something creative or artistic. 6) The Challenge Ends August 31st. Have fun.
***** My list (so far): 1. Lunch in Paris- Elizabeth Bard 2. How to Read Literature Like a Professor-Thomas C. Foster 3. Before the End, After the Beginning- Dagoberto Gilb 4. Sudden Fi…

Keep Track

Dear Seniors,

Goodbye's have never been my strong suit. Usually, I only have students for a semester, so it's a weird, odd feeling to say goodbye and good luck to a group of students I spent most of my Saturday's with and met a year ago this summer.

I wasn't sure what to do to celebrate the end. Cupcakes and snacks seemed cliche (and we only have 30 mins for our last class), so I thought about what I would want to know if I could go back and give advice to baby-face-me. Then, I remembered this song that came out when I graduated, and I remember thinking it was so profound! I looked it up as I'm writing this, and it is still pretty profound except now that I'm older I think, "Oh, yeah, that is totally true!"

Each of you have twenty different people telling you what to do right now. I don't want to be twenty-one. This moment is probably going to be one of the biggest, scariest moments of your life, up until now. Note, I said up until now.  For those…

April 8, 1994

This week I sat down to watch Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. In fact, we kept HBO especially to watch the documentary. (As I write this I can hear my sister mocking me.) I sat down and knew it would be sad, that I wouldn't like some parts, but I was still excited to watch and didn't realize that I'd forgotten just what 1994 had been like.

I was 13 years old when Kurt Cobain's body was found. He disappeared on April 5, 1994 and was found on April 8th, my birthday.That day, I sat in my living room on a multi-colored bean bag (it was the 90's after all) and watched MTV nonstop. Even though no new information would be released, I stared endlessly at the screen replaying parts of the Unplugged show. Kurt Loder interrupted with "Breaking News" that was really just a loop of things I already knew. I heard Courtney Love's grief filled boogery voice crying as she read Kurt's suicide letter and felt as if I was a part of the crowd shown on the TV, even if I …

Isn't It Pretty?

"Isn't it pretty to think so?"

She threaded her fingers into his hair. It was dark and smelled musky like it needed to be washed soon. She rested her nose on the top of his head.

"Pretty to think what?" he asked.

"To think that this," she gestured with a shrug "will not last."

He pulled away from her,"But I wanted it to last."

He looked at her, eyes wide and clear.

"This is the worst day of my life. Why do you think it's pretty?"

He pulled back even further the lines of his face etched deeply between his brows.

"I just thought--I mean it's pretty to think there will never be another moment like this again. Even if it's horrible, it's pretty to think you can never lose him again. The way you feel will never happen again."

She looked at him and reached out again, but this time he pulled away and pressed his back firmly against the worn brown couch.

"I can't believe--I mean I understand bu…

Dear Ita,

Dear Ita,

I finished your book this week. I don't want to add to it anymore. I think you don't want me to add to it anymore either because as I wrote "Sabor a Mi" came on twice and so did "Por Un Amor". "Por Un Amor" came on just as I was finishing, so I'll take the hint. I think we're both tired. Also, I think you don't want me to share anymore of your life.

I want you to know that I needed to share those things though, to show how much you still loved even after everything you'd lost.

Sometimes when I think of us, it's in stages. When I was little you and Mom were my whole world. Later as teen, I owned the asshole genes from our family like a proud scrape on my new Vans. I was annoying, and standoffish, and well an asshole. I'm sorry for all the times I was a jerk and/or rude. As an adult, I was always working. I remember you would always make me refried cheesy beans at the drop of hat. How did you always have beans made?

Books I Love: A Post for Readers like Daisy

Recently, I was asked for the title of the post that featured my favorite books, and I realized I didn't have one. So, this week's post is going to list some of my favorite books in no particular order, but I will separate them by genre and why and...nevermind. Without further ado books that have made an impact on me. 

Favorite Book as a Pre-Teen
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Why? Because it's amazing. It has a sprinkling of everything the mind needs at that age (or at any age). I loved Meg and her family. I loved that she was a smart/brave girl in a world before Katniss.

Favorite Recent YA Read
The Smell of Old Lady Perfume by  Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
It's a version of a slice of home. Although I couldn't relate to all of it, I know someone who knows someone who's experienced some of those situations. I also like supporting local authors. If you sprinkle El Paso in your book you're good in mine. 

Favorite YA Anthology
The Curiosities: A Collection …

"At Any Rate, That Is Happiness..."

"At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great."

The old woman looked down at the small brown constellations sprinkled on her hands.

"But weren't you lonely?" the kid asked.

She smiled, small, but it stayed in her eyes and lit them brighter than the flicker of fluorescent lights overhead.

"How can you be lonely if you are a part of something bigger than yourself? Everything I've given has been for something better, greater. My acts will live longer than I ever will."

This time she stayed quiet and the kid down at his hands, the skin taut and smooth. In the background he heard the garbled voice over the intercom, "Next stop Meridian Plaza".

"I'm not sure what you mean, or even if I understand, but--"

He looked back at her hands and reached, cradled them in his. The skin was warm. She looked up surprised. He searched the small creases lining her face, some deep and shadowed, others light an…

We Don't Need No Education...Um, Yeah You Do

This morning I saw a video titled "If We Treated Teachers Like Football Stars," of course I watched it and laughed. "If only" were my thoughts. Later at school I was talking with a friend and he asked, "You really want to teach, don't you?" and I nodded. Yes, I really do want to teach. Never ever ever ever did I think I'd want to be a teacher. I left my last life because it didn't have any meaning. I felt as if I wasn't doing anything important. Now, although some days are rough, I do feel as if I'm making a difference.

Now, I can go on and talk about why I'm being selfless and improving students lives, but that would be a lie. Not a complete lie, but a little white one. I don't help all students. That's not because I don't want it, it's because they don't want it. They sit there the whole semester with a bored and or smelling shit face, and I can't do anything about it. Instead of griping with other facult…

Dear Colombia,

I want to tell you that before ever visiting you, I misjudged you. I misjudged all the things about you, and this year when I visited you again, I was still surprised. Even though I get annoyed when I see El Paso  misportrayed in movies, I still thought that perhaps Hollywood had the right idea about you. Now, I know that you are greener and richer than I could ever imagine. That while I'm there, I keep thinking, "How will I remember all of this vividly, in technicolor?"

Colombia, I love the endless green and the trees, your mountains, and roads that wrap around them like loose yards of ribbon. I love the vendors selling brightly colored fruits I'd never seen before, hotdogs sprinkled with potato chip slivers, hamburgers filled with so many things the buns are two distant cousins, golden brown empanadas stuffed with meat and potato goodness, aguacates the size of dinosaur eggs... all sprinkled on corners and sidewalks all around Medellín.  I also love the way these s…