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Showing posts from 2016

A Toast to the Stayton's

(tapping on glass to get guests attention)

Hello!Good Evening,

For many of you who don't know me, I 'm Yasmin, one of Sarah's closest friends. In fact, if we had had the chance to chose siblings, I would have chosen Sarah. And, I know that if Sarah had decided to have a maid of honor, that would have been my role. And now, for the sake of sparing my feelings, I know she won't deny that.

(pause for audience laughter)

So, I want to say a few words about Chris and Sarah. I want to make this quick. because this night isn't about us. It's about this couple and everything they've done to organize this celebration. Many times, weddings lose focus, and I want to bring the focus back on them and the path that led them here, together, with us this evening. First, I want to thank you for having us be a part of your celebration.

(Sarah and Chris nod and smile at guests)

When Sarah first told me about Chris, we were sitting in my living room drinking margaritas.  She sh…

Switching Hats

All summer long, I've been a writer. I developed a schedule where I woke up at 8am every day, went to my boxing gym, came home by 10:15, had a protein shake, and wrote. I would write until almost 5pm. Some days were more productive than others. Even when I couldn't write, I refused to leave the seat in front of my computer. This often caused the hubs to hate my writer's block because I often You Tube'd DIY home improvement projects for us to complete on the weekend.

Now the summer is over. Now, I am no longer a writer. I am a professor. Repeat. I am a professor.

We all play different roles. For example, I am a

daughtersisterauntwifeniecefriendwomansisterinlawbestfriendcoworkerreaderelpasoan
writer. 
I am always all of these things. But this summer my main focus was being a writer. I've never had that opportunity before, and I liked it. It sort of made me re-remember why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. And although that isn't over, I have to switch h…

I only found myself

Last night, I dreamt you. I dreamt you were an old man. You were the kind of old man I’d never imagined, though. Your hair had gone white and your barrel-shaped body thin, deflated.
You came up to me in a Kmart, a place I never shop, and asked if I recognized you. I didn’t. The only thing that gave me a hint it was you was the stark difference of your brown skin against a straw like white beard.  
                “I’m sick,” you said.
                “What do you want me to do?” I asked.
                “Be with me. Be there. For me," you said.           
How could you ask that of me? Laughter bubble up at the base of my throat. How could you?  Even in a dream, why would you ask that? My breath heaved until I was bigger. Full of anger. I looked up as if looking for God in the sky, but I only found myself. I created this dream.                 “You stopped being there for me 30 years ago,” I yelled.
The words oozed from my mouth and held all the black fetid water that comes…

Sunday en Segundo

Sunny spring Sundays always brought the people out of their red brick apartments. The rows of doorways popped open and screen doors kept the flies out. Opened windows let in the fresh breeze and sunlight. The neighborhood knew to take advantage of it because there were only a few days like this in El Paso’s spring before the winds came.
            El Freddy walked down 3rd Street toward Stanton.  He’d just left from La Bowie where he ate a warm empanada. He’d passed on the cafecito even though he thought it always made the piña of the empanda taste sweeter, but it was too warm for café.
            As he walked, he passed some vatos who were riding around the barrio on their tricked out chrome blinding bikes. El Freddy nodded as he passed them and he heard their laughter as one of them hit the curb and almost wiped out. El Freddy didn’t laugh but just smiled. In the alley, he heard the sounds of chavitos as they kicked a worn soccer ball shirtless and barefoot up and down toward make…

She was Fierce

I once knew a woman who was fierce. She stood at the helm of her ship every day, dark hair flowing in the ocean breeze ready to face whatever the sea held for her.  She manned her ship in the vast open ocean and always managed to keep the small ship from capsizing. The ocean, not always friendly to sea goers, seemed to regard her with respect.  She worked hard on her ship and even when waves and storms crashed against the sides of the boat, she held quick to helm in even the darkest skies. 
At night, she would stare up at the stars and plan for what was next. The pinhole lights against the stark black background held all the wishes she made every night. She lived like this for longer than anyone knew. Her boat was always moving back and forth across the sapphire seas. Until a storm that not even she could handle rolled in unexpectedly. The bright blue skies shifted into darkness. Try as she might, the boat capsized.  She fought and swam but the waves threw her to and fro. Hours late…

¿Y la Prieta?

My grandma, Ita, called me Prieta. She called me this because my skin is toasted brown. When I was born my mom says I was light skinned, but she knew “que iba ser morena” because the inside of my little baby thighs were already darker than the rest of me.
In the sun, I turn a darker brown. I get even more Prieta.
It was a term of endearment. My sister, who has a light complexion, was called guera or guerinchi. When I tell people who don’t speak Spanish what Prieta means, dark or the dark one, their eyes open wide and a small gasp escapes. I see the offense they feel for me sprinkled on their faces like the freckles I will never have. When I try to explain, the offense still shadows their eyes.
That is the problem with Spanish. Wait, maybe, that is their problem with Spanish. Even when I explain, they are suspicious. Their faces ask, “Is this true?” as if I am setting them up for a joke. But how can I explain the cultural and literal meaning of a word at the same time?

How do I tell th…

Somewhere Between Blue and Elated

Sunday was the first day that I was able to relax since finishing the first draft of book two of the YA series, Love Letters, I'm writing. My bestie from another mama was in town. My bestie editor, reader, confidant had just returned from a trip to O Canada! Sunday I rested. I watched movies. I  got sucked into Netflix series Love.  I didn't want to do anything, but I wanted to do something. D asked if I wanted to go to the pool, and I did want to go, but I didn't want to get dressed, pack our pool gear, drive to the other side of town, then back. I stayed on the couch.

Monday, I pressed snooze instead of going to boxing. Two days in a row, I broke my 30 days of fitness goals. I slept in the with Faustino the dog and watched DVR'd Bones episodes. D left for work. I was annoyed with myself for still not wanting to do anything, but still didn't want to do anything. I took a shower. I put my phone on silent. The world was loud. I thought about writing and my hands pre…

The Hummingbird at My Window

For the past week and a half, a hummingbird has visited me throughout the day as I write at my rectangular kitchen table. She swoops in and out around the banisters of the backyard porch and smells the herbs from the hanging garden.

I don't have a nectar feeder for her, though. So, I wondered what she was doing visiting me every morning. I watched as her wings fluttered faster then I could see instead of writing. As each day passed, I found I'd space out in the direction of the sliding glass window trying to figure out what my characters were going to do next and hoping she would come visit me again.

All day yesterday I wrote and wrote trying to meet a deadline for my editor. My hands ached after several hours, but then I saw the hummingbird and how her wings flapped, and I typed more. Later, I noticed, after she fluttered around, that she rested on one of the branches of the Mulberry in the back yard. Her tiny body moved left then right. Left then right. On a break, I went ou…

A Gypsy Told Me So

I was 17 when I visited my best friend in San Francisco. We'd know each other since elementary school and as a birthday gift, she got me a plane ticket to see her. I'd never been to California and everything I saw amazed me and looked better than anything we had at home. We were walking down the hilly streets of the city when a gypsy lady stopped us.  "Palm reading?" she asked.  It was the first time I'd ever seen a gypsy in person. Large hoops, a scarf purple scarf tied around her head, and a mole on her chin. I shook my head.  "I'll read yours for free," she said point her gnarled finger at me.  I looked back at my friend, up and down the street that suddenly seemed empty, and held out my hand. What the hell? It was free?               She stared and the dips and valleys of my palm and the deep dark lines that have always made my hands looked older. She looked up and said, "You have a writer's hand. It can tell great stories..."           …

Conversation with a Stranger

"What's it like?" he asked, "What's it like being a writer?"

I wasn't sure if he wanted my truth or his. I smiled.

"Your mind must always be in this creative state. Everything is inspiration. It's amazing."

I nodded. I let him answer. He was writing the scene. Not me.

"I wanted to write. You know? I have these ideas. I just never could get them out. I can never find the time. I don't know how you do it."

My smile grew. I didn't it to slip from my face as easily has his insult had passed through his lips.

"What do you do?" I asked.

"Me? Oh, I work in insurance. Keeps me busy. Good pay," he shrugged.

I smiled again. I wanted to tell him I'd always been interested in insurance. I think he wrote those words for me, but I went off script and smiled at someone across the room. He turned. His smile disappeared for a moment, then the corners of his mouth retracted into a different kind of grin.

"A fri…

The Art of Perfection

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about perfection. I've been thinking about our desire to strive for it, my desire to strive for it, even though I know I'm far from it. I think about the things I have done wrong, (I know it's wrong to dwell in the past) the friends I have hurt, the times I drank too much [insert alcohol here], the times I miss spoke, the times I was rude, lost my temper, yelled....

The list goes on. 

But, here's the thing, I know I am not perfect. So, why does my brain strive for 90° angles and coordinating colors? Why does it think of how else to improve the space in my office, the color of the walls in my home, the words in this line...
I want to use psychology and blame my mother, but I know the only person who is hard on me is me. 

This past weekend, as I sat with my lovely friend Sarah, she said, "I'm not worried about anyone putting pressure on you. I'm worried about you putting pressure on you." 

I opened my mouth to protest but…

Tortilla de Harina

I had an odd morning today. I went to a translation appointment for a job I forgot I had. In El Paso, most people can get by with a little of either Spanish of English, it's hard not to, those who don't, well, I think they're just lazy, but...I'm drifting. I got a call yesterday to translate what I thought was a doctor's appointment. I didn't want to. I declined forgetting they had my info. "Please!" the woman on the other line pleaded, "There's no one else who can do it". I begrudgingly agreed. Although anyone who knows me, knows my Spanish is hit or miss. Shhh... don't tell them.

So, this morning I got up and let GPS lead me to a house in the lower valley off Delta. I was confused. The only other time I had taken an appointment, it had been at a doctor's office. I stayed in my car and called the number provided. I was, in fact, there to help a home insurance adjuster with a roof claim. SHIT! 

My mind scrambled to think of all a…