Dimelo on Aspiring Mama

The Laundry List is long and overwhelming my frazzled brain as I fight my way to something vaguely resembling Normal after last week's trek to Los Angeles. (The flights were great and the Lifestyle Bloger Network Conference was fabulous, by the way.) The official recap comes in a day or so, but for now, I'm sharing an Almost Latina Magazine #Dimelo Question with you because I bet The Husband $5 that this ain't going viral to illustrate how much I suck at Reverse Psychology.

Don't get all flustered, y'all. The question came in too late to be relevant for online magazine publication, so I cleared publishing the text here with my editor earlier today. Ypu're Welcome.

Dear Pauline,

My prima and I read your #Dimelo column all the time and would like to ask you to settle an argument between us. We watched the Academy Awards and have been debating about Sean Penn's "offensive" joke while presenting Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu with Best Picture.

I think it was funny and a big deal is being made over nothing. Mi prima says I'm wrong and that the green card comment was offensive no matter what Inarritu told reporters Why was it a big deal and why are we all still talking about this?

What do you think?

Sincerely,

The Punchline Police

 

Dear Punchline,

You are referring, I assume, to SeanPenn's "joke" while presenting long-time friend Alejandro GonzalessInarritu with Best Picture for Birdsman during the 87th Annual Academy Awards . Upon seeing Inarritu's name as he opened the envelope, Penn cracked what may end up being the singularly most over-examined joke since the first time anyone asked about the chicken and why it crossed the road. For those who may live under a rock, Penn lit up racial insensitivity sensors when he said of his longtime friend, "Who gave this sonnifabitch his green card?"

Social Media exploded with cries of racism while I laughed my ass off remembering all of the highly inappropriate jabs I've traded with close friends over the years because that's what friends do. A personal favorite is the time I made a big show of emptying the silverware drawers in a good friend's kitchen because his dad liked making cracks about Mexicans and silverware.

No, don't get offended on my behalf because that, Senorita Punchline, is exactly the problem here. The way I see it, if Inarritu is good with the green card joke, then so am I. There's no point in getting our collective 'chonis in  a bunch if Inarritu himself says there's no reason for the outcry.

But who's right? What about those who say it doesn't matter what Inarritu says because the joke was offensive to an entire culture? I'm going in swinging here, Punchline, and probably going to do my own fair share of offending when I say this: The gay white guy hosting the show may have raised a few hackles poking fun at everybody, but he gets a pass because NPH is a card-carrying member of an oppressed minority. As for the rest of us? I think we need to stop taking everything so seriously. -- Laughter is good for the soul

-- P 

 

Pauline Campos is Latina Magazine's #DIMELO advice columnist and founder of the #ChingonaFest community. Email her your questions at dimelo@latina.com. Connect with her on her blog, www.aspiringmama.com, follow her on twitter: @pauline_campos, and learn more about #ChingonaFest by following on instagram and tumblr.

 

 

 

 

#ChingonaFest: The Backstory

Photo by Pauline Campos

As a first generation Mexican-American, I was raised to keep my thoughts to myself and put the feelings of La Familia over my own. Considering the emotional baggage I’ve been packing since childhood, I’d say that line of thinking didn’t turn out so well.I’m a mother now and my daughter is feisty and brilliant and wonderful. I want to raise her to be a Chingona the Mexican slang term for “bad ass bitch“. It’s a word steeped in history and controversy (and one you most certainly do not repeat in polite company or within earshot of your tios because Aye, Dios, y'all ), but it’s a word author Sandra Cisneros made a case for  in HBO’s Latino List, and one I've come to embrace. I want my daughter to grow up to be the kind of woman who respects herself and others, stands up for her ideals, and celebrates all that she is without feeling the need to apologize for it. Put in plain English, my end goal is for my girl to grow up to be the kind of woman the word  “bitch” is used as a compliment to describe. A real chingona.But this little chingona of mine isn't going to be the bitchy, self-centered, jerky kind, if I have anything to do with it. Instead, my goal is to raise m'ija to be the kind of hell-raiser that radiates sass, self-confidence, independence, and doesn't take sh*t from anybody...but in a totally respectful way. I want to raise a hell-raiser who is respectful of herself and others, yet stands up for herself and what matters no matter what anyone else thinks.I want my daughter to know she has a voice now and that what she says today matters so that tomorrow she won’t think to look for validation outside of herself. I want her to feel and recognize her own value because it took me far too long to realize there are certain things we can only find within ourselves. I want for her to understand that the village is probably doing something wrong, even with her best intentions guiding our every choice. And I want her to know she can speak her mind, even if what she has to say goes against the culturally accepted norm.So far, I'm pretty certain The Husband and I are on the right track. She's seven and has been proudly mismatching her entire wardrobe since she was two, perfected the side-eye around kindergarten, and has no qualms about telling you what exactly she has on her mind. I don't have solid numbers, but I imagine it's not an every day occurrence for field trip-tears and a mommy/daughter heart-to-heart to result in mami writing her Latina Magazine #Dimelo advice column about the exchange. The odds are probably a lot smaller that said column would result in the  creation of a community and podcast encouraging women to find and embrace the unique power of our voices while encouraging the next generation to do the same.

Through the #chingonafest hashtag and twitter, instagram, and Facebook accounts, I share sassy sayings (They say Chingona like it's a bad thing...) and empowering life-lessons with like-minded Latinas. The #ChingonaFest Fridays feature on Aspiring Mama is your primer to the Latina bad-asses leading and inspiring with their own brand of special -- and lemme tell ya -- there's nothing quite as liberating as finding your tribe and knowing you're not the only one dropping well-placed F-bombs into random conversation while bucking those pesky cultural norms. I'm on week 25 of the weekly feature and am proud of having featured inspiring Latinas such as BlogHer's Elisa Camahort Page and Lori Luna, #365feministselfie founder Veronica Arreola, and Latina Lifestyle Blogger Collective and national conference founder Ana-Lydia Ochoa-Monaco. (To submit nominees for future #ChingonaFest Fridays -- and tossing your own hat in the ring is always encouraged -- just tag me on instagram or Twitter with the hashtag, or simply email me at chingonafest@gmail.com.) And the #ChingonaFest Project Podcast picks up where the Friday blog feature leaves off with plenty more Spanglish sass and interviews with Interesting People, Actual Conversation with fellow #Chingonas, and Interesting Content Very Probably Not Suitable for Sunday Dinners con la Familia.

Of course, this line of thinking is not just meant to empower mothers of daughters. Hell, you don’t have to be a mom to get in on this party, either. If you’ve got sons, you’re raising the boys who will become the men who will love the women our daughters will become. Teach them and guide them on their path and show them why there’s nothing better than a relationship in which both parties are equal partners.

No kids? No problem. You are an aunt, a prima, a friend, teacher, a sister. You are an inspiration and the motivation to work harder and do better and never give up. The next generation is looking to you just as they are looking to the rest of us. That makes you part of my village. If you are the kind of woman who takes BITCH as a compliment, welcome to the party.

(Best of) #ChingonaFest Fridays: Ana-Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

Welcome to WEEK 25 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Ane Romero and  and Veronica Arreola from an Orphaned Earring were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is not afraid to say exactly what she’s thinking. And I’m not just saying that. Agree or not, you can’t help but respect the kind of attitude that makes Ana-Lydia Ochoa Monaco a true Chingona. Ochoa Monoca is a blogger and founder of the Latina Lifestyle Blogger’s Collective (and the conference of the same name). Connect with Ochoa Monaco on Twitter and instagram.

So let’s get to that interview!

 

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anaochoamonaco

Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Ana- Lydia Monaco: Can I get both…like a soft serve ice-cream…maybe dipped in chocolate and served on a waffle cone?

PC: – Okay there, J.Lo. I’m getting you’d be the diva telling the event managing team handing your concert venue that your dressing room is unacceptable and WHY THE HELL DID THEY NOT REMOVE THE GREEN M&Ms LIKE YOU DEMANDED, YOU PATHETIC LITTLE PEONS, AmIight? No, it’s okay. That  self-satisfied smirk on your face  i kind of a giveaway. What about your favorite quote?

AM: Before I tell you which quote it is, let me tell you how I became aware of it: I was having major problems work many years ago. My boss, using his small brain instead of his big brain, was promoting the laziest and less qualified woman in our team. Being the person I am, I noted his indiscretion and brought it up to HR. I didn’t back down. That helped me gain the trust of my client and the HR team, but major hate from both that woman and my boss. A few days later after venting with a dear friend about this situation, she mailed me a card with a magnet that had this quote printed on it: “Stand by your convictions, even if you’re the last person standing.” That magnet changed my life.

PC: You wave that diva card, Ana. But you should get it laminated if you’re going to be showing it off this often. No, you are welcome. I do it because I care. So, who inspires you?

AM: That’s a hard question to answer because my inspiration comes from many places, people, and the most random situations and things. Like right now. At this very moment I have The Voice playing the background and both my laptop and Princess Maya (my Boston) on my lap. Hearing the passionate voices of regular people pursuing their dreams inspires me. My husband working late while I’m at home pursuing my dreams inspires me to be the best that I can be to make him proud; and to show him that all his hard work is worth it.Having a mother that not only survived stage three cancer, the death of the love of her life (my father), cared for her mother that has Alzheimer’s (my grandma), and has gone through so much to raise four children in an upper middle-class family inspires me. The ocean breeze that wakes me up most mornings, the sound of the waves, the priest in my church, my young college colleagues, the future…all of this, and so much more, inspires me and drives me to do better.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

AM: I dream usually in black and white, but most recently my dreams are literally a

Technicolor rainbow of colors and sounds. Someone told me that the reason my dreams are so vivid is because I am pursuing my actual dreams.

PC: Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

AM: Thank you. Can I have another. :)

PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

AM: Since I don’t biological kids, I hope that my stepdaughters realize that my advice and suggestions were given in the spirit in seeing them reach their full potential.

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

AM: You are going to hate me when I saw this, but I really despise Spanglish. Now that I got that out of the way, I promise to tell you this if you keep it a secret from my Real Academia Espanola-thumping family: I think in English.

PC: *blinks* I won’t tell anyone. No one reads what I post here anyway, so..um..I think you’re good. Also? I think in English, too. Unless I’m saying “pina colada or Antonio Banderas. Those come out with the accent whether I want them to or not. What’s your favorite dish? Why?

AM: I am proud foodie, and as such I could in no way pick a single dish. Although I can admit to this much: Truffle. Truffle on anything will make even toast and butter taste like the God kissed your tastebuds.

PC: I was wondering how long I was going to have to wait for a reference to Jesus appearing on a piece of toast. *crosses off bucket list* Do you feel “Latina enough”?

AM: My blog is called Cabeza de Coco. A little tongue in cheek reaction to something I have been called many times over: Coconut (Meaning, brown on the outside and white on the inside. Does that make a Latina or not Latina enough? Not sure. But it makes me me.

PC: I’m officially in love with you now. And I totally knew the coconut reference already. I’m married to one and raising another. We might not be “doing” the “being” Mexican enough part right for some people, but I’m pretty sure you’re my spirit animal so I’ll just hsut up now. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AM: Lick, lick, bite with my lips, and swirl in my mouth to make sure all my tastebuds explode with the yumminess of the ice-cream flavor.

PC: Oh, the SEO on this answer alone is going to be fucking fabulous. One Latina stereotype you despise?

AM: One? Only One? Thats hard. But, I will start with a big secret. As a Mexican-American, the stereotype dictates that I (should) love, breath and die by Mariachi music. As a Tapatia, Mariachi music should be the music to my soul. As me, plain ‘ol Ana Lydia, I feel nada, zip, not a tingle when I hear the stuff. I am not a fan.

PC: I’m not judging.  Also? I hate lengua. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

I will never forget when my my boyfriend (who is now my husband) told me that “Latinas are good wives.” My claws came out. “What do you mean?” I asked, as he listed every single 1950’s housewife stereotype: “They cook, clean, take “care” of their man.” I hate to admit it, but he was right…and it gives me great pleasure to do so.

PC: Are we the same person? Describe your perfect day.

 AM: In a perfect world I would wake up when my body told me to wake-up, not when the alarm buzzed or my husband nudged me to cook for him. We wake up together, shower together, everything we want to wear is found clean and wrinkle-free. I have a good hair day, my skin glows, I have every single make-up color I need and want. My makeup is flawless. My outfit? Perfect and on point. My hubby says I look hot. He looks mighty hot himself. We do everything together: Shop, cook, see a great movie, go to the beach and watch the sunset before heading back home to cuddle on the couch. (p.s. after typing this I realized that a perfect day has nothing to do with work – but has everything to do with my relationship.)

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week's reader asks how to handle the relationship she believes is hurting her. Check out my response and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun'll come out tomorrow, y'all..

Who likes Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

 

 

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always.

Together… stronger.

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Ane Romero

It’s WEEK 24 for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, I took a look back at my interview with proud feminist Veronica Arreola  and this week, I'm (hopefully) back on track with a new interview! It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

This week's Featured Chingona is an amazing woman I met at the LATISM conference a few years ago when she spoke on a mental health panel I moderated. She is a nationally recognized and award winning mental health advocate, speaker, and trainer She received her B.A. in Political Science and M.P.A from New Mexico Highlands University, where she served as the first female elected Student Body President and was appointed to the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. Ane is trained and certified in suicide prevention through the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and has provided training services for schools, communities, including on the Navajo Reservation. And if that's not enough, An also was crowned Miss New Mexico n 2005, she was crowned Miss New Mexico and competed at the national Miss America Pageant.

Check out Ane's blog and follow her on Twitter!

And on to the interview!

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Ane Romero

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Ane Romero: Caramel. I’d eat a shoe if it was covered in caramel.

PC: And I'll call this proof that beauty queens like food. Hell, I'd eat a shoe covered in caramel. Probably why we get along. Favorite book and why:

AR: Oh, this is tough. I absolutely love books, but if I had to pick one it would be “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” by Henry Miller. It’s a series of short stories and essays about his philosophy on life and a book that I “grow into” as I get older and every time I go back to it I learn something new.

PC: Ya know? I think we need to start a ChingonaFest Book Club. Oprah's had her 15 minutes and ya'll make me want to pick up a new book with these great answers. What's your favorite quote?

AR: Some of my favorite quotes is a line from Vince Lombardi’s “What It Takes To Be Number 1” speech.

“Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.”

To me it’s a reminder that when you do something with good heart, pure intention, and give your all—you will never lose even if you don’t “win.”

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

AR: If wanting equal opportunity for women (or men) to live, lead, and fulfill their dreams makes me a feminist, then sure I guess I am.

PC: Describe yourself in third person.

AR: Well, in 7th grade my history teacher told my dad that I was a, ”firecracker” after I noted that I did not like the term “minority,” because to me it meant less-than and I was no less than anyone else in the room. Then again I was called this in college when I spoke out against the proposal to raise tuition. Some might say “firecracker,” but I like to think more “fireworks.” J Okay…I don’t think I correctly answered this question?

PC: No you sucked at it and it's beautiful because it's honest. I'm totally smiling now. Who inspires you? Those who have overcome adversity in their life and never give up on their dreams.

AR: Who is it you hope to inspire? I would hope to inspire youth, by letting them know just how important and valuable they are. I don’t think our society does a good job at appreciating young people and what they have to offer. I would also like to inspire others through my work in mental health and help breakdown the negative stigmas that often keep people from seeking help. As my former boss Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, says “there is no health without mental health.”

PC: I agree and this is such an important topic in the Latino community. Let's keep working together on this, yeah? But first, do you dream in color or black and white?

AR: Color and sometimes glitter…

PC: Glitter and caramel and word tangents. I do believe I'm in love with you. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

AR: Let’s be friends and do you have Instagram" (because you know any Chingona has a great Instagram).

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

AR: The depiction of Latinas has come a long way, but we still have much more to overcome. The day we have a Latina version of Olivia Pope or with a role as the President of the United States, then I will really feel like we have arrived.

PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

AR: Empathy. I would want them to know that this quality will enable them to see the beauty in others and with that will follow an appreciation and respect for life.

PC: I think I'd like your kids. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

AR: The car broke down and so my mom had no other choice, but to carry me in the snow to the babysitter. As I wrapped my tiny arms around her neck I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of pride and love. My mom has and always makes the impossible possible.

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

AR: I think in “feelings,” if that makes sense? I always try to be conscious of my words, but sometimes nothing really captures the meaning like Spanish. I mean, try translating Mana’s song, “Vivir sin Aire” in English and all the umph just totally goes out the window, but in Spanish it’s a pure masterpiece.

PC: Kind of like "Sana, Sana Colita de Rana" makes no damned sense in English but in Spanish it's all MY BOOBOO STOPPED HURTING MAMA! Right?  What's your favorite dish? Why?

AR: My favorite food is a hot dog with mustard, but my favorite dish is fried papas (potatoes) with thinly sliced onions and red New Mexican chile. I love this dish because whenever I eat it, I know I’m home.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

AR: This is hard to answer, because I have never been anything other than Latina. Our culture has so many facets that you can’t just lump it all into one mix. I think that too many times there is this assumption of what “being Latino” is, but none of us who are Latino will ever fit neatly into a “box.” We are linked by a common thread, but I believe the intricacy of our culture is what really makes us who we are. So at the end of the day, I would say yes...even if there is so much more for me to learn.

PC: Wow. Ok, so Ane wins the Internet with that answer. Love it! You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

AR: My great-grandmother Ane, whom I am named after. We would eat ribs from Silky O’Sullivans. I first tried these ribs on a trip to Memhis, TN and they were so delicious I literally got teary eyed. I would probably pair them with Capuline wine (choke cherry wine) and apple pie made from the apples in her orchard. I never got to meet her, but any time someone talks about her their face lights up. She use to play the harmonica and loved music. She and my great-grandfather built their house with their own two hands, which still stands today. She was independent, strong willed, admired, and respected. Being named after her, I have always felt a sense of responsibility to live a life that would make her proud to carry on her name.

PC: I want in on this meal. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AR: Hmm…I never really gave thought about it. Probably because if and when I do eat ice cream it’s usually annihilated in seconds.

PC: Especially if served in a shoe covered in caramel. One Latina stereotype you despise?

AR: All of them. Being from New Mexico I can’t tell you the absurd things I have heard whenever I travel elsewhere. The top one being, “what part of Mexico are you from.” The look of confusion on some faces when you note that New Mexico is a state is always classic. I once had to literally show a clerk where New Mexico was on a map, because she said the store could not accept “foreign” driver licenses as proof of ID. She called her manager, who immediately apologized to me. I laughed so hard I cried. J

PC: So I was in the the fourth grade when I realized New Mexico was part of the United States during a social studies report and I was SO mad. I'm still getting over it. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

AR: That we are all “great cooks.” I can’t cook to save my life, but if others assume that I can because I’m Latina, well then who am I to ruin their dream?

PC: Describe your perfect day.

AR: May 30, 2015. That is when I get married, so it doesn’t get much better than being surrounded by all the people you love…and cake. Oh how I LOVE cake!

PC: Is it caramel? And where's my invite? *winks*

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know if she is aiming high enough with her dreams.

Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always.

Together… stronger.

Remembering When: A New Day

This post was originally published on Janyary 17, 2013. Two years later and I'm still working on my new beginning. And I'm okay with this because it means I haven't stopped trying.  

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A strange thing happened today. I didn’t notice it right away, of course. There was no dramatic realization. No being struck by a figurative lightning bolt. It was more like the rising of the sun…

Slow. Steady. And something that, when you stop to think about it, shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Sleep has been fitful and restless and mostly non-existent. I was lucky to wake up in time to get Buttercup to her morning pre-ballet/tap class. I didn’t bother bringing a book to read. She upgraded me, you see. A few weeks ago, when she first started, I was timidly asked to remain downstairs in the waiting room while she danced. I’m embarrassed, Mama. Instead of allowing herself to fully relax and enjoy herself with her fellow dancers, I think she had been too focused on my opinion of her performance.

So I waited. And eventually, she asked me to leave my book at home.

I sat in the dance studio with the other mothers while the dancers sues-sused and tapped their happy little hearts out. We smiled and laughed as our daughters delighted in the movement their bodies allow and reveled in their own conspiratorial giggles. We clapped, as a proper audience should at the end of a worthy performance, when the teacher announced the end of the class. Then we helped our happy girls change out of their dance attire and into their street clothes and made our way across the studio to go on with the rest of our days.

That’s when I saw my reflection in the studio mirror. I barely registered what I was looking at….there were too many things to do and think about to concentrate on the size of my ass or what my hips looked like. Hear that? Taking the time to criticize myself would have been a luxury. Buttercup was asking questions and we needed to go to Target and The Husband needed me to pick up a few things at the grocery store before we headed back home and I was trying to remember what they were and…hell. If I don’t have time to read a book or watch trashy T.V. or sleep, do I really have the time to stand in front of a mirror and pick myself apart?

And more importantly, is that how I want to spend the few precious moments I do find for myself? Self-criticism and self-directed body hatred as LUXURY like fine velvets and expensive champagnes and rare jewels and days like tomorrow when I can stay home all day in my pajamas and don’t have to bother with a bra?

I met my own eyes in the mirror once more before leaving the studio and that’s when I saw myself through the light of the new day and realized I had sat in front of a mirror for an hour and only concentrated on my daughter, her happiness, and how I hope she grows up stronger than me.

The woman looking back at me in the mirror was smiling now. Maybe because she realized feelings weigh so much less when shared with others who understand.

Am I fixed yet? No. But it’s a new day.

And that’s a start.

 

The Prompted CopyCat: Second Edition

It's time for the Second Edition of the #PromptedCopyCat here on Aspiring Mama.  For those of you just joining in, the premise is a simple one: we start with an image and a story. I'll post one of my original pieces for you to replicate in your own style with your choice of medium and include a writing prompt that ties in to the artwork. You'll have one week to complete your art and short writing from the prompt (500 words or less), and post both completed works on your website, blog, instagram feed, or Facebook account. I don't want this limited to the blogosphere, so I'm open to sharing and connecting on any platform that appeals to you. The Prompted CopyCat is nothing formal. Just an idea to pass on and join in on if it calls to you. Every week I'll post my own completed writing from the previous week's prompt so you know I'm here to play with y'all, too, before posting the new art and prompt combo. Think of it as a living, guided artist journal. Or an illustrated writing journal, depending on which identity you feel more drawn to.

Last week's art and writing prompt asked you to recreate (or create your own spin on) one of my newest doodle pieces, titled Storybook Love, created on an old book page. I asked you to write a short love story, the one you see in your drawing. As promised, here is my own.

Storybook Love by Pauline Campos

"His legs were too skinny. That was her first thought. But he seemed nice enough. And his eyes did this cute wrinkly thing in the corners when he smiled. Alicia liked that.

But the leg thing...

"He has no ass," Alicia's sister said as he walked by the table she and Alicia had set up with linens and silverware.

It was a slow night at the family restaurant, which was why Alicia had arranged to meet with her potential prince charming near the end of her shift. She figured all her options were covered his way. She had the kitchen to disappear to if a quick escape was needed and her brother and sister could pick him out in a lineup if he decided to hide the crazy until the second date. But if all went well with tonight's introduction, her date would at least know which restaurant not to bring her to for a romantic evening.

Her sister, Daniela, smirked as she rolled silverware into linens for the next shift. "I can't believe you asked Prince Buttless to meet you here. Mom and Dad aren't exactly going to offer to pay for the wedding when you tell them you met this one on the Internet."

"This one?" Alicia rolled her eyes. "Dani, you say that the way Dad asks me what I'm going to do with the next stray dog I find. And besides, I knew Mom and Dad were taking the night off. Besides, I met the last one on the Internet, too."

Dani snorted "Yeah, and that turned out just dandy, didn't it?"

"Well," Alicia said, laughing at the memory. Her ex-boyfriend, forgetting where he was, had kissed her in full view of the kitchen. Her father put an end to that nonsense when, mere moments later, he personally delivered a steaming plate of huevos rancheros to their table. The crowning touch, of course, had been the silverware wrapped in what turned out to be a freshly printed Urban Dictionary page explaining exactly why the dish served as a very descriptive warning to keep his hands to himself.  Alicia hadn't been surprised never to hear from him again. "Okay, so not exactly. But who knows? Maybe this one will be different."

This One, who also happened to be the tall, dark, and handsome kind that made Alicia go weak in the knees, was heading back to his seat at the bar, He had one arm hidden behind his back, and on his face, his smile was strained.

"Is everything okay? Alicia asked.

He handed her the small bouquet of brightly colored flowers he had gotten from his car. "These are for you. But can you tell me why the waiter was taking pictures of my license plate?"

***

And now, here's the new assignment: Show me the words at the center of your universe. This piece started out with acrylics and a paintbrush before morphing into my visual reminder of the mantra I repeat to myself as needed. As a rule, I photograph each original for print sales before manipulating the image until I'm happy with the result. I went heavy on saturation and vibrancy in this one and the final punch was the text.

Feel free to copy what you see here (it's best to start with a pencil before moving on to painting), or give the entire thing your own personal spin. All I ask is that you draw a sun, add the words you see here (or better yet, words that make you feel strong, and write 500 words or less on why the words you selected have meaning.

The rules are simple:

1- Always play nice. We are here to create a community, which means we always play nice in the sandbox.

2- Please link each week's prompt on Aspiring Mama when sharing your work online.

3.Use #PromptedCopyCat on twitter and social media outlets like instagram (which doesn't allow for live links).

4. Leave a comment linking to your work and completed prompt in order for me (and hopefully others) to find and support your efforts.

I'll be back next week with my completed prompt and the next Prompted CopyCat assignment!

Hope to see you then!

 

 

Submitted

This Artist/Writer/Photographer thing is still new territory for me. Fear wasn't the only reason I held back from just running with it all because, and let's be honest, it's gonna be a bitch redesigning business cards. I'll deal with that later, though. For now, it's Show and Tell time because I spent entirely too much time making Scrunchy Faces I never selfie'd while over-thinking the Artist Statement portion of a recent art show submission. I apologize to Instagram for robbing you of the chance to point and laugh.

I'm sorry. I'll try to do better next time. I promise.

 

Image by Pauline Campos

As a mother, I strive to teach my daughter that she can go anywhere...do anything. I want her to know that it's more important to create her own space rather than try to fit in. We moved to Maine two years ago and do not blend; our olive tones made more obvious by the white snow covering the ground for most of the year. But we are creating our space. In this photo, my daughter, 7, stands in a barn beneath the princess pinata made by a local woman, also Mexican, for her birthday party. She is fierce, focused, and stands tall, daring anyone to question her presence, her choices, her right to wear that crown or the cape she says makes her royalty. In this moment, she has claimed her space.

 

Photo by Pauline Campos

As the founder of the #chingonafest community, I strive to empower Latinas to embrace (and celebrate) their true selves and voices in the face of cultural dictates telling us to do otherwise. As Latina Magazine's #Dimelo advice columnist, I made some waves of my own when a conversation with my daughter turned into a column on Latina.com called "5 Ways to Raise a Chingona". And as the mother watching this girl grow sure and strong, I hope she never loses the spirit and determination that I was lucky enough to capture in her eyes and her stance when the flash went off.

 

Autobiography by Pauline Campos

I was running behind so I forgot to copy and paste this one but basically I said lots of words and then wrapped it up with "This is my story told on canvas." The end.

 

 

#SheSePuede by Pauline Campos

My goal and my purpose is to inspire women to embrace and celebrate our voices while forging our own paths -- and inspiring the next generation to do the same -- despite a culture dictating we do otherwise. I am the daughter of a Mexican-born father and was raised by my village, including my parents, tias, tios, and Abuelo. I am the mother of a second-generation daughter who is being raised by the girl who grew up to break away from the accepted in order to find myself. I am Chingona. #SheSePuede. Because alone we can, but together, we thrive.

 

(The Best of) #ChingonaFest Fridays: Veronica Arreola

 

It’s WEEK 23 for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, I took a look back at my interview with Dr. Helen Troncoso and it was fabulous. Today, the Fabulous continues with proud feminist Veronica Arreola sitting in the hot seat once again. (And yes, for those of you who are actually PAYING ATTENTION, I backdated this post cuz FRIDAY but obviously it is NOT Friday. This is called Full Disclosure and probably has something to do with Using My Authentic Voice. You're Welcome.)

It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Veronica is a a force to be reckoned with. By day, she runs a women in science & engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Research on Women and Gender and by night she’s a PhD student in Public Administration. I’m assuming that means she earned her veteran blogger stripes (and became a social media addict while doing the public speaking thing) when she should have been sleeping. Oh, and that #365feministselfie thing the entire internet is talking about? Yeah, Veronica founded that, too.(Of course, I’m posting the daily selfies because I like words that start with the letter “F”.)

And on to the interview!

 

photo(11)

Veronica Arreola

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Veronica Arreola: Vanilla bean.

 

 

PC: So you’re a rebel and don’t like boxes, then. *nods head* Can you tell me what favorite book is and why?

 

 VA: This is like asking me to choose my favorite child! Oh wait, I only have one. Damn…still, you can’t ask a bookworm this.

 

 

PC: I should have seen that one coming. Okay, let’s go three for three. What’s your favorite quote?

 

VA:  “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” Bella Abzug

 

 

PC: Alrighty then. Um, and now for the obvious. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

VA: OF COURSE!

 

 

PC: Good. You had me worried there for a minute. Let’s talk about who you hope to inspire.

 

VA: My daughter. She is everything that I had hoped to have as a daughter. Smart, witty, strong, athletic, caring and with an eye on justice. It is an honor to be her mom. Watch out world!

 

 

PC: Sweet. When she’s old enough to say Chingona without getting grounded, send her my way, will ya? But back to you…do you dream in color or black and white?

 

VA: Technicolor. When I was a kid, I often got dreams and real life mixed up. I’d swear things happened and my mom would have to explain that I dreamt it.

 

 

PC: Why am I not surprised? Okay, so, let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

 

VA: VIVA!

 

 

 

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

 

VA:  Hijole! The sad thing is that I think of the awful representations first. SNL’s Cecily Strong’s continuing to play the ditzy Latina, Sofía Vergara’s Gloria on “Modern Family” is like a Latina Peg Bundy without Peg’s sharp wit and then there’s a new Latina character on “The Walking Dead” who looks to be drawn by a 13-year-old boy. ENOUGH! But then we go to the news part of the media and we see Latinas like Maria Hinojosa and Soledad O’Brien, who show our intelligent side. Thank goodness for America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson making movies with strong and intelligent Latina characters..or at least not a stereotype of a Latina which the rest of us have to dispel over and over.

 

 

PC: hmm..I see your point, but I also loved Peg Bundy. But it was probably the sharp wit thing. Anyway, NEXT! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

 

VA: To keep exploring the world.

 

 

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

 

VA: Hard to choose just one! Why do you do this to me, Pauline? OK, so my dad always had pick up trucks when we were kids. I loved riding in the back, especially when he didn’t have a cap on the back. It was heaven. I vividly remember my girlfriends & I tagging along while he want to the auto-part store. We piled in with my boombox, turned up the music and sang all the way there and back.

 

 

PC: Oh that makes me think of my Guelo’s station wagon and the seats that flipped up and telephone poles with signs with phone numbers for the “Yunk Yard.” *sighs wistfully* Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

VA: English

 

 

PC: Yeah, unless I’m drunk (and I mean like College Frat Party levels), I think in English, too. So what’s your favorite dish? Why?

 

VA: Cheese enchiladas con mole. My mom use to make the best enchiladas. When I moved out of my parents’ home, I started my now 20+ years of trying to replicate her recipe. No canned mole for my mom’s enchiladas. And since she died 11 years ago, my quest for that perfect recipe so my daughter has the same memories keeps me going. BTW – Anyone know where I can get some California Chile powder?

 

 

PC: Going out on a limb here, but California sounds like a good place to look. What? The door..it was RIGHT THERE. You can glare at me later. For now, I wanna know if you feel “Latina enough”?

 

VA: Not really.

 

 

PC: WHAT? You so NO and leave us hanging? That was just mean. Let’s see what you do with this one: Describe your perfect day.

 

VA: A warm day, full of sunshine, cool breeze, then climbing up a tree. I’ll find a comfy nook, then settle in to read a good book. These perfect days happened almost every day when I was a kid. Now I substitute biking to a park with my family. Still toting a book along.

HT: That we’re family orientated.

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know if her husband's lack of sexual desire for her means he's cheating on her.  Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always.

Together… stronger.

The Prompted CopyCat: First Edition

I am the queen of ideas but pretty much suck at implementation. I'll be honest: the only reason I'm trying to score a ginourmous book deal is because how else am I going to afford to hire all the people who brilliantly do all the things I forget to? For now, I'm happy to wave the shiny new ideas I do manage to move from the THOUGHT IT UP pile to the GOT THE T-SHIRT pile proudly, like the $1,000 lotto ticket I once held in my hand and managed to not lose. Today's Shiny New could be a giant fail or a quiet success, and both are okay with me. I just want to give it a shot and see what comes of it.

My friend Cecily, a brilliant writer and (she doesn't realize this yet, but she is also a very talented artist) and I had a conversation the other day about doubting ourselves and undervaluing our own talents. It's human nature, we both know. And human nature sucks sometimes. But back to the Shiny New, which is an idea I've been dreaming up since the first time I realized that I had Actual Artistic Ability. I've wanted to somehow combine writing and art and provide a place and a space for the many talented writerly artists I know (and those I hope to know). I also wanted to make sure that whatever I came up with allowed for all levels to participate -- from the basic beginning artist or fledgling writer to the accomplished and successful.

On instagram, I'll often see friends post pictures of their beautiful creations (almost always with a big and slightly bemused I did THIS smile) after a fun evening at one of those painting events where you get to drink and laugh with your friends while creating something beautiful on canvas. I live too far off the beaten path for that sort of thing, but I love the idea of self-doubt (I am no artist!) being quieted by sheer joy, togetherness, and perhaps a bit of wine. I think that's why these group painting events are so successful, really. After you sign up with a friend or two and arrive, probably thinking you wasted the money because you can't draw a straight line, you realize you already spent the money on the participation fee and you are already there and what the hell...may as well have some fun, right?

The beautiful thing is that most of the others are thinking the same and they dive in when you do, because even if you think you can't do it well, you may as well have fun with it. Right? And then you step back and you are smiling and bemused because you did it and you love it and look at that, you just got 67 likes on instagram!

I live too far away from civilization for any kind of writer's group, too. My friend Mercedes is a fantastically talented horror writer and I am in awe (and totally jealous) of the constant support and obvious camaraderie shared by her writing group friends in my Facebook feed. They have things like word wars where one will say something like Okay Gang, I've got 30 minutes on the clock! Go! And then they will all report back on the same thread in 31 minutes with the number of words written within the timeframe. They make each other remember that the dream takes work and sometimes that work means forcing the words from our veins because how else will they appear 0n the page? They build each other up and talk smack and laugh and cry with each other because the writing life is a roller-coaster just as often as it is a Bill Murray Ground Hog Day marathon.

I want that.

I want all of it.

So here's what I'm thinking. An image and a story. I'll post one of my original pieces for you to replicate in your own style with your choice of medium and include a writing prompt that ties in to the artwork. You'll have one week to complete your art and short writing from the prompt (500 words or less), and post both completed works on your website, blog, instagram feed, or Facebook account. I don't want this limited to the blogosphere, so I'm open to sharing and connecting on any platform that appeals to you.

The Prompted CopyCat is nothing formal. No official forms to sign. No fee to be paid. Just an idea to pass on and join in on if it calls to you. Every week I'll post my own completed writing from the previous week's prompt so you know I'm here to play with y'all, too, before posting the new art and prompt combo. Think of it as a living, guided artist journal. Or an illustrated writing journal, depending on which identity you feel more drawn to.

I'm going to forgo linkies, at least for now, because I'm not quite sure how this is going to play out yet, but I do ask that participants do a things for us to be able to connect with and support each other on our respective journeys:

1- Always play nice. We are here to create a community, which means we always play nice in the sandbox.

2- Please link each week's prompt on Aspiring Mama when sharing your work online.

3.Use #PromptedCopyCat on twitter and social media outlets like instagram (which doesn't allow for live links).

4. Leave a comment linking to your work and completed prompt in order for me (and hopefully others) to find and support your efforts.

That's basically it. For those of you interested in joining in, here's your first assignment:

Valentine's Day is on my brain because the jewelry ads are telling me I need more shiny things. So we start with doodles and hearts.

Storybook Love by Pauline Campos

I did this one with ink on a torn out book page. Used book shops and garage sales are great places to score deals on pages it won't hurt your wallet to doodle on. Another option is to raid your own collection of books. Instead of getting rid of the ones your don't read, try using it instead as a starting place for your art.

I prefer to rip the page out before doodling, that way I only ruin one page if I decide what I end up isn't what I intended it to be. And while I started out with zentangle books, I usually end up veering off into another direction, so now I tend to just put the pen to the paper and look up when I feel it's time to stop. For this week's Prompted CopyCat, you are welcome to try replicating this image, or go wild and see what you come up with on your own. As y0u can see, I like swirls and curves and I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to clean lines. But if you are copying or merely using this as a starting point, remember that this is yours to create with the eyes you see. Art is not supposed to be perfect. Embrace what you see and how you see it.

As for the writing prompt? Tell me a love story. It can be any genre, but please try to be respectful of the fact that Prompted CopyCat is meant to be an open community, so no 50 Shades stuff, okay?

I'll be back next week with my completed prompt and the next Prompted CopyCat assignment!

Hope to see you then!

ChingonaFest Fridays: Helen Troncoso (Take 2)

Welcome to WEEK 22 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring MamaIf you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you’re my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you’re one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON…) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Jessica Mazone and Heiddi Zalamar  were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

This week, I'm doing a little throwback to my week 4 Featured Chingona, my good friend Helen Troncoso, because girlfrfiend just had a birthday and gotta show some love, right?  Troncoso, who is a doctor and title-holding beauty queen, has her heels firmly dug into the feminist camp. Helen has been featured pretty much everywhere (including Latina Magazine as a Top Ten Health & Fitness Blogger) Her most recent endeavor is as co-host of a new show,“El Bien Estar del Hogar con Casa Latina”, on V-me TV, the first national Spanish-language network to partner with American public television, and the fourth largest Spanish network in the United States. This show will follow Helen as she will work with women to transform their health and lives. Catch up with Helen on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and check out her site for some healthy motivation.

 

And now! Time for the interview!

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Dr. Helen Troncoso

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Helen Troncoso: I'm not a big ice cream fan, but when I indulge I'd rather go for something more fun like butter pecan.

PC: Okay then... *pushes The Box Helen Doesn't Like to Be Put In to the side*. Let's try this one...What's your favorite quote?

HT: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream" by C.S. Lewis. I found that many times we as women tend to get caught up in other people's dreams and forget about the ones we made, for the good of the family or the relationship. In my case, I totally reinvented my life and health just 4 short years ago. To make a long story short, I left an abusive relationship, broken engagement and had to move to a new state and start all over. I was scared sh**less, and yes there were lots of times when I didn't want to get out of bed, but I did it.

PC: Starting over can be a huge pain in the ass. Go You for making it happen. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

HT: Feminism is defined as, "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities."  I know some may not consider a woman who has done beauty contests a "feminist" but I do! Beyond equal rights, I believe a woman should have the right to choose what's right for her life. Feminism is not a, "zero sum game" as Nancy Redd once said. It's not about having to look or act a certain way so that other people can feel comfortable labeling you. We have certainly made strides as women in many different fields, but, it's no surprise that we still have leaps and bounds to go. Whenever I talk to young women, I always tell them to support their fellow sisters. We have so many other people coming down on us, that we need to stop the attacks and division amongst us. How are we supposed to tell women "si se puede" when our own words and actions don't reflect that.

PC: Yes, people will bitch because that's what people like to do. I, for one, am all for going against the grain. Feminist Beauty Queen? Why not? Now, describe yourself in third person.

HT: Helen is probably the most determined and hard-working person you will ever meet. She's also one of the most sensitive women ever. She's a dreamer and a doer who completely reinvented herself and is fearlessly living the life she always imagined.

PC: You said "probably". I say "Definitely". Who inspires you?

HT: All of those women who fearlessly continue to go after their dreams, no matter how many times they may have failed, or how crazy their ideas may seem.

PC: I'm a fucking mess, which -- if you connect the dots inside my head -- means I inspire you. This is where you lie to me if I'm wrong.  Everybody else does. So, who is it you hope to inspire?

HT: Any woman who feels like she may have gotten off track and wonders if her dreams can really come true. Women who can't recognize who's staring back at them in the mirror. I'm there to tell them sometimes God's rejection is blessed redirection.

PC: Redirection is a good thing. Do you dream in color or black and white?

HT: I don't dream often, but occasionally I do dream like what can best be described as a black and white film.

PC: I like black & white. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...

HT: Pa'que tu lo sepas!

PC: Orale, mujer! How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

HT:I don't think we're represented correctly, but I think that applies to all women. I don't thinker should bash Sofia Vergara (who is actually an amazing business woman) or think to be successful you have to be just like Sonia Sotomayor. We have enough labels and boxes people (our families) put us in, that we need to stop doing it to one another as women. If we want how we're represented in the media to change, then we need to do more than get mad for a few moments and then forget about it.

PC: You're damned right about that. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

HT: My dad is truly my best friend, and I don't ever take for granted our relationship. I grew up knowing that I was loved, and that I could do anything, and he would always be there right by my side.

PC: I love hearing that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

HT: All of the above. English is definitely my dominant language, but I'm finding myself speaking Spanish more so nowadays. It's all good! If I'm tired or you're a good friend and you won't judge me, you'll probably hear my crazy Spanglish.

PC: Is there any other kind of Spanglish? Exactly. Now, what's your favorite dish? Why?

HT: Pollo guisado. To this day there is not one restaurant, or another person that can make it as good as my mom! It's the ultimate comfort food.

PC: *Sigh* I miss my mom's homemade flour tortillas. Do you feel "Latina enough"?

HT: I think I've come full circle. I grew up in Long Island, and went to high school where I could count on one hand the number of Latinas. My "Latino" experience was limited to my family members. It wasn't until years later that I began to understand how amazing being a Latina was! It's not about speaking Spanish (although that's important to me), nor is it the color of our skin. It is about our culture and traditions and the intangible things that make us Latinas.

PC: *Nods head* One Latina stereotype you despise?

HT: That we have tons of children out of wedlock. Hello! No kids, and if that's how the Universe wants it, not having them until someone puts a ring on this finger.

PC: I'll let Beyonce know. Last one! One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

HT: That we're family orientated.

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to make the boy she likes realize she exists…. Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun'll come out tomorrow, y'all.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always. Together… stronger.

#ChingonaFest: More than We Are

An Artist Trading Card of mine. Make your dreams a reality. I'm not new here. In fact, I'm what some of you may refer to as a veteran blogger (but I'm not really. I know a few who've been doing this way longer). But before I was a blogger with a column in one of my favorite magazines, I was a writer with a dream.

It was a simple dream, really. I was eight when I decided I was going to write books one day and maybe 10 when I dug my (obviously clueless) heels in and selected Canadian middle-grade author Gordon Kormon as my basis for having my own books on the shelves by the time I was 13. That's how he did it and it seemed simple enough. Write a full-length middle grade novel for an English assignment and blow the socks off my teacher who would then prep the manuscript for me to send to publishing houses and wait for the offers to start rolling in.

Seemed easy enough, right? Seemed would be the key word here.

An original Ink Drawing: Show of Strength

I could lie and say I totally rocked my pie in the sky three-Year- Plan but it wouldn't even be a good lie. And to be honest, I'm pretty sure the chocolate-flavored angst that followed the year I turned 13 and realized I had failed at life, consequently sending me spiraling into my first midlife-crisis, is the kind of angst every good writer needs tucked up inside. This is the kind of inner-artistic-creative-crazy IAMTHEBESTWRITEREVER tempered, naturally with Doubt (IAMTHEWORSTWRITEREVER) and a smidgen of necessary self-righteousness (thoseASSHOLESdon'tknowTALENTDammit!), that I think most writers would refer to as our inner drive. It's the source of our creativity and the reason we keep going when agents tell us our platform sucks because a platform that doesn't exist usually does. As do the platforms that aren't big enough to guarantee 10,000 copies sold if a publisher were to bite.

Sleepy Moon Series: Moon # 4 of 15.

Honestly, it's pure ego that keeps those of us with vision boards and high school classmates to impress at the next reunion from just saying Fuck It and changing our name to Snooki before querying again because platforms mean name recognition and publicity, not innate writing ability and Stop Looking at me Like That. I didn't  say I think Snooki can't write or ask the Gods of all Things Literary why agents don't just stop telling us that we need anything other than a reality show, a bump it, and a good spray tan because Really? No, my friends. I didn't say anything of the sort.

That would be unprofessional.

*Nods head solemnly*

Another ATC/ACEO card. I love making these and using bits of Kathy Murillo's paper from her Michael's line in my work.

What I said was that I didn't get a book deal the first time out the gate 'cuz I was 13 and nowhere near ready to be published. What I did get was secure in my identity as a writer. I called my friends at 11 p.m. at night on school days with my newest essay on Life and All Things Hormonal, freshly typed out on my new typewriter, and read to them the words that formed the path I was (and still am) dead-set on following. That's all well and good, except that in telling myself I was a writer, I inadvertently also told myself that I was only a writer.

Imagine my surprise when I sat down just last year to hand draw a set of animal note cards for a homeschool lesson and The Husband -- all sweet and surprised-like -- told me that my drawing didn't suck. High praise, you guys. High praise.

But it was enough to send me into an entirely new direction, complete with watercolor pencils and acid-free drawing paper and an etsy shop in which I sometimes remember to post my latest little creation. Even with art being commissioned by friends and strangers alike and the occasional sale from the artsy things I did manage to post, I still had a really hard time referring to myself as an artist. And don't even get me started on the inner-struggle I wasted five minutes on regarding the Being a Photographer thing. I am a writer, remember? I couldn't possibly be more than that because that's all I had ever allowed myself to be. Until, at least, I accidentally remembered I wasn't too shabby at this drawing and painting and mixed media thing and stopped telling myself I couldn't be more than I thought I was.

Original Mixed Media: Autobiography by Pauline Campos

We can all be more than we are because we already are more than we realize, usually. All we need to do is own our own potential.

And if that doesn't work, I suggest talking to yourself like you would your crazy talented and inspiring BFFs who you swear to God you are going to bitch-slap if they don't stop minimizing themselves and their talents and just say Thank You for once because Dammit, that's what you do when someone pays you a compliment, already. Honestly, it's like we can't create enough variations on the "I look good? But look at this ASS! No way, Bestie, YOU LOOK GOOD!' 'Really? BUT THIS TUMMY FLAB!'" bullshit we seamlessly fall into when trying to compliment our Best Amigas. Why can't we just learn to shut up and take a fucking compliment?

Good Hair Day. Photo by Pauline Campos

We can pay them forward all day long and we mean them when we say them to the women we care about. Which makes me think I had the "Stop Defining Yourself Through Other People's Eyes" thing wrong. Maybe we need to do the exact opposite, if the Other People are the ones telling us that we are Beautiful, Smart, Important, Talented, Funny, Inspiring, and Chingona to the hilt, that is. Maybe it's the perspective change that we need because we've been brainwashed to always see ourselves as Less Than because Celebrating Ourselves is seen as improper and stuck up  --  which is complete and utter bullshit, y'all.

Bull...

Shit.

So maybe the trick is to start with changing the inner dialogue and swapping our own internal Critical Tia for that of a good friend. Look in the mirror and let HER tell YOU why you are All Things Fabulous. You'll know you're doing it wrong if you suck at being a friend and tell your besties that they suck at that thing that they secretly think they might be sort of good at. If that's the case, I'm betting your friendship circle totally gets bigger if you give my way a try. You can thank me later.

A Mile in Her Shoes. Photo by Pauline Campos

Obviously, I eventually got over myself -- at least in this particular case -- and that was a good thing. I'm still a writer. But now, I'm more. And I like it that way.

Now it's your turn. I don't often ask for comments on my writing here, but the point of this Aha! Moment of mine is that we all could use a reminder here and there to swing our hips a bit more confidentially and to stop playing the Humble Card because Self-Pride is entirely underrated. Whether you are a proud member of the #ChingonaFest community or a writer, blogger, or fledgling underwater basket weaver, you are always more and capable of so much more than which you give yourself credit. Always Celebrate Who You Are. No One Else is Going to Do It For You. That's one of my most popular Chingonafest quotes, and for good reason. We are too often told that , as women and, for many of us, as women of color, that we aren't supposed to be anything but humble and unsure of ourselves outside of cultural and societal dictates.

I'm a writer. An Artist. A Mother. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Photographer. Friend.

I'm creative, driven, bull-headed, caring, bitchy, sarcastic, and sassy.

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I'm that and I'm more and I'm ready to be open to the possibilities of what and who I may become tomorrow and proud of who I was yesterday, just as I am of myself and my capabilities today. And this is where I leave the ball in your court.

Tell me, amigas...

Who are YOU?

 

ChingonaFest Fridays: Jessica Mazone

Welcome to WEEK 21 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you’re my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you’re one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON…) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?

It's also important for me to mention the Chingonafest podcast Patreon Fundraising page. Think Kickstarter but for writers and you've got the basic idea. In order to get the podcast going on a regular basis, I need your help. With a minimum commitment of $1 per episode, you can help move our community to a a whole new level. Feel important yet? 'Cuz you are.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Writer and New York therapist Heiddi Zalamar and Ana-Lydia Ochoa- Monaco from Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective  were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is the talented woman behind Tejana Made Designs. She owes me a bitchin' hand-tooled leather cuff because we've been talking about one forEVER, but I'll let that slide for now and focus on why she's fabulous.

For starters, stop by her blog and read her latest post because she's talking about depression and divorce and pulling herself from out of the gutter that many in our culture pretend doesn't exist. Hats off to Mazone for speaking up on these important topics. Eventually, Jessica and I will get off our respective asses and officially release an official #ChingonaFest line of leather cuffs, but for now, we will just put the pipe dreams back on the backburner and get to that interview, shall we?

(Don't forget to check out the Tejana Made Etsy shop and follow Tejana Made Designs on twitter!

 

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Photo courtesy of www.tejenamade.com

#Chingonafest Project Interview Questions

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Jessica Mazone: Chocolate because it's a girls best friend

PC: This is why we are friends. Favorite book and why:

JM: Ooh...This is a tough one. I am a huge speculative fiction fan so I'm going to with Ink by fellow Latina Sabrina Vourvoulias. It is an exceptional book that discusses immigration, segregation, and rebellion in a Cybertech world. Plus, she has plenty of badass Chingona characters who have to save themselves.

PC: I think you need to assign my reading list, Ms. Mazone. What's your favorite quote?

JM: Right now...it's what my mom told me when we were discussing the Chingona cuff. I asked her if anyone had ever used that term in a derogatory way towards her. She said that it happens often  but she always answers the following way:

No creo....soy Chingona.

I am always answering this way from now on.

(I don't think...I *am* Chingona).

PC: Okay so this is probably an obvious question now but, do you consider yourself a feminist?

JM: Yes.

PC: I'd have bitch-slapped you had you responded with a no at this point. Describe yourself in third person.

JM: Opinionated, artistic, maker of leather things, and lover of embroidered cowboy boots

PC: Not really third person but I'm a week late publishing this 0ne so we will call it a draw. Who inspires you?

JM: The wonderful network of women I have met working online. Each and every one of them inspires and motivates me to be a better version of myself as cliche as that sounds. Even when I want to give up, they are there. A text or a phone call away to bounce ideas or just vent.

PC: Let's start a Chingonafest Textline. Cuz phone calls are just so..all-encompassing, right? But we can discuss that later. For now, who is it you hope to inspire?

JM: Students in the rural town I grew up in. I want them to know that the poverty we face there isn't permanent and that we are the key to reviving our communities. We have the tools at our fingertips and all we need is the desire.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

JM: Color because it's more fun.

PC: And you say that like it's a choice. Interesting....,Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

JM: Fearless

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

JM: I honestly believe that we need to relinquish the idea that one Latina can represent the meridian of Latina subsets in our culture. Even though we may have Spanish to unify us, it's regional dialects and cultural nuances are what makes being Latina so beautiful.

As a pretty assimilated Latina, I would like to see more characters who happen to be Latino instead of Latino being the character. Does that make sense?

PC: Hell yes, that makes sense. I've got that novel I'm working on. Maybe you need to be my writing coach and threaten me with bodily harm after I hit publish here. Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

JM: Don't be afraid to go against the norm. It's not about pleasing me but finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are and utilizing them to create the career you want.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

JM: I lived on a ranch for most of my childhood and teen years so bonfires were one of those things we always did. We would sit in front of mesquite fueled fires that filled the air with a sweet stench that permeated your clothes and hair. We talked about our dreams, ff escape, of lost loved ones, and broken hearts. I actually miss it sometimes.

PC: Dude. I'm allergic to your childhood. Keep the mesquite the fuck away from me. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I'm just allergic to being Mexican. *glances up at the heavens* (Sorry, Guela!) But forget me. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish, Jess?

JM: English and Spanglish

PC *blinks*: Isn't that the same as Spanglish? No, don't answer that. What's your favorite dish? Why?

JM: Kung Pao Chicken. I don't get to eat it very often but I have this strange love affair with Asian  food... especially takeout.

PC: Are you kidding? I'm pretty sure the Chinese place we ordered from when I was a kid played did a Mexican hat dance every time we called with an order big enough to feed 20 of us from my sisters to my tios and cousins. Mexicans can put down some eggrolls, amiRIGHT? Anyway, do you feel "Latina enough"?

JM: Hell no. I don't speak perfect Spanish. I say y'all often. I would dare to say I'm too Pocho to be Latina. This break in my identity is what forced me to fully embrace my unique Texas Mexican...ahem Tejano upbringing.

I grew up as a ranchero, a vaquero, a cowgirl if you will. Complete with blingy butt jeans.

PC: Gimme a sec...

*Looks up "Pocho"*

*Laughs because this is about the time Jess is wondering why the hell her phone is asking her what Pocho means*

Girl, I'm not even a Tejana and I say y'all like it's going out of style. As for the blingy butt jeans, well...it's okay. We all have phases like that we'd like to forget. Although I'm going to go out on a limb and say that blingy butt jeans will never be as bad a fashion choice as sequenced Uggs on anyone over the age of 10. As for not feeling Latina enough...here's an eggroll. That should help.

You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

JM: Gloria Anzaldua, the author of La Frontera/Borderlands. She is an iconic Texas Feminist writer. Her words made me realize that it was okay for me to feel divided as a Mexican American.

For dinner we would eat some good old fashioned Ranch cooking. Cabrito Guisada, Tripas, and of course Mesquite smoked Fajitas with Fresh tortillas and aguacate con Chile Picin. I don't drink wine so an ice cold Budweiser would have to do.

PC: I'm both hungry and allergic to your answer. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

JM: I live in South Texas so ice cream meets a rapid death and most times I'm slurping it like an amazing chocolate soup

PC: I lived in Tucson for four years. I chewed my ice cream then, too, but I think that just makes me weird. One Latina stereotype you despise?

JM: The Virgen and the Malinche paradox. Essentially, it breaks down to the Virgin and the Whore and feeds the one-dimensional characteristics of the Fiery Latina sexpot. I'm tired of non-Latino men ask me if I'm a good cook and if its true that Latina women are there to serve. Apparently, I have to be a great lover, an exceptional cook, and look like a Salma Hayek/Sophia Vergara hybrid. No mama, that's just too much work.

PC: You got that right, sister, One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

JM: Strength. We have a silent strength that binds our families together and in my family it was the matriarchs who were the glue, the center, the sun.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

JM: Spending the day on a wrap around porch with a good book.

PC: Sounds beautiful. Any eggrolls left?

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to make the boy she likes realize she exists.... Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And be sure to join me on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST for the weekly #Chingonafest twitter party. (I’ll get back to you on the podcast soon!)

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always. Together… stronger.

Rinse. Lather.

Repeat.

That Time I Compared Santa to Chocolate

  Photo by Pauline Campos

My sink is full of dirty dishes. The house is not Santa Spotless as is my usual. I have tons of gifts still to send out and even more missing from under my tree. I lost our magic Santa key so I told the child I texted Santa the code to the lockbox we save for dog sitter. I didn't bake one christmas cookie. I only sent out 15 christmas cards. My usual is 50. It's hard work dragging your ass out of bed when there's no other place you'd rather be, what with missing friends and autoimmune hell running the show.( I got an answer, by the way: psoriasis. The rest of that story will have to wait for another post another day.) But it's work that must be done when you're not the star of a one woman show. And my costars demand Christmas cheer and holiday magic. This is good, because I am doing Christmas even though I'd rather be binge watching bad movies and eating too much ice cream. Pretty sure that depressive, self-indulgent luxury is one every person who agrees to cohabitation loses as soon as Yours  becomes Ours. I'm even telling myself the cluttered mess of a house and the dirty dishes are progress because Instead of staying up until 4 am to scrub the house clean just so I could say I did,  I'm leaving them as they are.

Photo by Pauline Campos

My plans include wrapping a forgotten gift, writing a tiny goodbye note from her Christmas elf in sparkly gel pen in teeny tiny writing, and climbing into bed with The Husband and the child who was too excited to sleep, because Obviously Mom, Who Can Sleep On A Night Like This? She can, Obviously and Thankyouverymuch, tucked up between heartbeats that sandwich her own. Its the only sound loud enough, I think, to soothe her into an instant dream.

Photo by Pauline Campos

The dishes can wait. I've got sleepy hugs waiting. This is progress. Santa, like chocolate, understands.

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Heiddi Zalamar

Welcome to WEEK 20 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you're my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you're one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON...) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Ana-Lydia Ochoa- Monaco from Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective and Myrah Duque of Cupon Mamacita-fame, were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is good friend Heiddi Zalamar, a mama raising two boys to be chingones (because Obviously, right?). Zalamar is a licensed therapist and deals primarily with low-income families in New York, while simultaneously fielding text messages from me, because my own therapist was smart enough not to give me her cell phone number. Zalamar is also a writer, blogger, and the New and Unpaid, Totally Appreciated, Bad Ass Volunteer #ChingonaFest Social Media Manager. YAY, Heiddi!

So let’s get to that interview!

 

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Heiddi Zalamar

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Heiddi Zalamar: I prefer strawberry.

PC: Well, well, well, Senorita Sassy..,.Strawberry it is. So, what's your favorite book and why?:

HZ: I have favorite books at different times in my life. Probably one of my all-time favorites is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

PC: I obviously need to get out more. Or start a Pinterest board consisting of the ChingonaFest Book Faves, so I can at least feel slightly productive pinning the books I have yet to read. *sigh* Moving on...What's your favorite quote?

HZ: Ooh, I live by many quotes, but if I had to choose one it is “I can do all things with God who strengthens me.”

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

HZ: Yes. I feel that I should be able to live my life and raise my kids without being required to repeat the same traditions just because my parents said so. I want to do things my way because I have good reason to.

PC: I think I'm making you a soapbox for Christmas. Describe yourself in third person.

HZ: Heiddi is an amazing, strong, resourceful woman who has a great heart, but doesn’t see herself as this wonderful person that others see. She has a hard time accepting her awesomeness and needs to remind herself often. Either with inspiring quotes or talking to her Chingonas.

PC: And I love your answer to that. We're here when you need us. Who inspires you?

HZ: You do, my love.

PC: *Blushing* You say all the pretty things, Heiddi. But who is it *you* hope to inspire?

HZ: Kids/teens like me who grew up thinking that no one was on their side. And other moms who need a boost in their self-esteem. And the whole world.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

HZ: Color all the way.

PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

HZ: Fest, Chingonafest!

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

HZ: I feel that Latinas can be a strong force in society if we can be united. Unfortunately, we are separated by whether or not we are US-born or foreign-born and class. As for the media, not all Latinas are cleaning women or sexy bombshells. Many of us do different things – therapists, social workers, teachers, lawyers, advocates, doctors, supreme court judges, etc that are NOT shared in media.

PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

HZ: For them to know that they have the choice to live out their dreams.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

HZ: I just shared this today with my co-workers, having crab picnics on my living room floor with my parents and younger brother. It was as much about preparing the meal as it was eating it.

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

HZ: 75% English; 25% Spanish – Mi Mami’s quotes tend to pop up often.

PC: What's your favorite dish? Why?

HZ: I already answered that.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

HZ: Sometimes, I don’t. I feel like I don’t know enough about my heritage as a Boricua/Equatoriana. I also feel that I need to speak to my kids in Spanish more often.

PC: Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

HZ: Oh I let it melt.

PC: One Latina stereotype you despise?

HZ: That we can’t speak English. Pisses me the hell off.

PC: Tell me how you really feel...KIDDING! How 'bout one Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

HZ: That we want to take care of everyone. Hence, my desire to inspire the world.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

HZ: My perfect day would have me on a sandy, white beach, my lounge chair at the water’s edge with an umbrella for shade and one in my drink. With my bff next to me and the kids with their amazing Tia Pauline. Ha!

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to survive the familia holiday drama without losing her mind. go ahead...tell me you don't relate (without laughing!)! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6.More designs and products coming soon!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And be sure to join me on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST for the weekly #Chingonafest twitter party. (I'll get back to you on the podcast soon!)

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always. Together... stronger.

Catching in the Rye (in Spanglish)

If The Catcher in the Rye had a sequel based on a Spanglish-speaking Mexican-American homeschooling, allergic to everything, eating-disordered writer mama of one, I’d be a happy girl. Because then, at least, I could just hand people a copy of the book when they ask how I’m doing.

‘Fine?” That’s usually a lie.

“My cat just got ran over, thanks for asking,” could possibly be the truth, but when people ask other people how they are doing, no one really expects an honest answer if honesty means replying with anything other than “fine.” Except  I don’t have a cat. I do have three dogs, though. And a kid. And two websites and an agent and a manuscript sitting in a file because I don’t have a platform big enough to stand on and wonder if I ever will.

This isn’t a Poor Me post. Don’t get your violins out, folks. This is a Truth post; one in which I step out behind the bullshit and tell you that fine is a lie and that I miss my nonexistent cat because I am, in short, a fraud. Not the Push Up Bra and Spanx Coming Off On the Third Date kind of fraud, mind you, but the Holden Caulfield kind in which I find myself standing in the middle of the high school cafeteria, holding my lunch tray, not sure where to sit because I have no idea where I really belong.

I preach body pride and self-acceptance because for some of us, we can't do the work required to care for ourselves if we don't value ourselves. I encourage you to find your inner chingona, redefine your path on your own terms and to celebrate the hell out of her because no one else is going to do it for you. I say thing like Love Yourself As You Are NOW and Our Daughters are Counting on Us to Get (and Keep) Our Shit Together (And I mean them...for you). I want to mean them for me, too, and I figured that if I shouted it long enough and often enough from my soapbox that I’d start to buy my own bullshit, but that hasn’t happened yet.

That, my friends, pisses me off.

I want to connect and inspire and feel validated for what I say and what I do and what I am hoping to become and I see so many others doing exactly that while I sit back and cheer them on, not sure what I’m doing wrong to keep missing the boat or if the boat’s going to bother coming back to the dock again to give me another chance. I want to speak to women on the same journey and let them know it’s okay to be where we are right now as long as we keep trying because that’s what matters. I want to organize inspiring workshops and a regular conference for women to focus on fixing the mess inside of our own heads because our kids aren’t going to believe in their own self worth if they constantly see us tear ourselves down.

It’s the old airplane analogy: No point in passing out from oxygen deprivation while trying to get our kid’s mask on first if the cabin depressurizes. The only way we can truly be effective role models is if we fight every maternal instinct and put ourselves first for fucking once. Once our heads are clearing from the oxygen-deprived fog can we be there to ensure our children are breathing, safe, and secure in the knowledge that Mommy has her shit together. And this Mommy is busy focusing on raising a future self-respecting bitch who (I hope I hope I hope) will never second guess putting her happiness before society's complex.

Maybe, I think, the boat is on to me. The boat knows I’m a fraud and frauds are not allowed on board. Only passengers who are truly at ease in their own skin who don’t look for and rely on approval and validation outside of themselves are allowed on this boat. I’m not there yet. I used to be. I will be again. But right here, right now, I’m a self-destructive mess who’s best bet it is to just let it all hang out because it’s the truth and it needs to be said.

I don’t have The Answers. I’m not standing at the Finish Line waving the Official Flag of Self-Acceptance because I haven’t run my own race yet. What I do have is a burning desire to share the crazy idea that it’s okay to be a fucking mess. It’s okay to have bad days and worse days and throw a party on the good days because they are so very worthy of celebrating. It’s okay to not love yourself (but want to) yet and it’s okay to talk about the bad in public because if we don’t then no one else will and the world will just continue to assume that “Fine” is the only acceptable answer to be given when they ask how we’re doing and that’s really just a giant disservice for those of us who need to know it’s okay to celebrate The Journey because The Destination is just a little too far away right now.

I’m not fine. In fact, I’m a royal fucking mess. My ADHD and anxiety are triggering my seven-year-old’s anxiety into fodder for her therapy appointments which happens to fall under the Mexicans Don’t Talk About That Sort of Thing category because it’s uncomfortable and much easier to sweep under the rug with the rest of our emotional baggage (like  the whispers about how pregnant the bride really was at the last wedding we went to while we collectively pretended to believe she wasn’t because it matters even though it really shouldn’t). It’s why I told The Husband I wanted yellow gold when he asked what kind of ring I would like when he was fishing for engagement ring hints because that’s what my family wore. It took me ten years to admit I hated yellow gold and really wanted platinum because that shit doesn’t work for me anymore, either.

Away with the rug. Let the dirt fly. And when the dust settles, I’ll still be standing here holding my lunch tray because I’m not sure where to sit because no matter where I choose, I feel like everyone else will judge me for my choice even though none of that should matter. But it does.

And I hate that.

I most decidedly do NOT have my shit together. You need to know that. It’s okay to be a royal fucking mess. You need to know that, too.  I miss my imaginary cat and I have very real cellulite and I have a sweet tooth and a closet eating habit. I don't sleep enough and I am never on time unless a deadline and a paycheck is involved (or someone else is driving the bus.) My yoga mat is my zen place and I'm working my way back to being brave enough to step into the raging quiet inside my head (I'm almost there). I make sad things funny and funny things funnier because that’s how I deal.

I'm almost 37 years old and sans The Husband and the child, the words you see and the words you hear could be the same words I wrote when I was seven, 17, and 27.

All of this is today’s truth.

Now tell me…

How are you doing?

An Accident and a Miracle

Wishing Her True Girl Body Pride

She was two when she first asked me where babies come from. Without knowing where I was going to go with it, I pointed up and watched her her head tilt up for her eyes to focus on the night sky above.

"The stars," I said.

Her entire being lit up upon hearing these words and she snuggled up against me "Tell me more, mama."

A wish sat upon a star, looking down at the world below.

A woman sat in the cool night air, her head tilted up at just the right angle for the wish to watch as she closed her eyes and began to move her lips, speaking words the wish could feel but could not hear. When the woman stood up and went back inside her home, the wish smiled in that way that only wishes do. If the woman had come back out and looked up at the sky in the exact spot where she’d been looking just moments before, she would have been awestruck to see how brilliantly the star now twinkled against the night sky. For it’s a little-known fact that a star’s ability to shine is directly related to the happiness the wish sitting upon it is experiencing.

I don’t remember not knowing that my mother was a senior inb high school when she got pregnant with me. Or that she got married right after graduation and had me instead of letting her parents talk her into an abortion.

I don’t remember not thinking I was an accident. That I was never meant to be. That her life could have been different.

I hold my daughter close and tell her that she was meant to be.

 

The wish’s star was positively glowing.

It was finally her turn.

The wish had lost track of how long she sat upon her star, joyously watching as other wishes were called upon each night. When it was their turn, each wish would smile and wave to those still waiting to be called upon. And then, once they were, in the moment just before they stepped off their respective stars, they’d shine brighter than any other in the sky. And then the wish would fall, leaving a trail of light in its wake as it made its way down to the earth, ready to become someone’s something.

 

I wasn't planned. I wasn't wished for.

I just…was.

Maybe a wish would become a playful little puppy for a sweet little boy, or perhaps a wish would imaging what it would become as it fell, purring to its heart’s content as its dreamer got fitted it with a pretty pink collar. Or maybe a wish was meant to be a rainstorm for a thirsty flower, or maybe a wish trailed off into a beautiful nothingness, its only calling from its dreamer being the precious opportunity to see a falling star.

 

I’ve never felt that accidentally coming into existence gave me the right to feel worthy of the air I breathe or space in which I reside. Keep in mind that my mother never made me feel guilty for being born. She loves me and the four surprises that came after me. We all know that. I just can’t shake the feeling that I never should have been and that’s not her fault. It’s just the way my brain works.

 

 And while all the forms a wish might take once breathed into life are great and noble, this wish was making her star positively beam from the happiness radiating from within, for hers was a very special journey.

 “What kind of journey was it, Mama?” the little girl asked her mother, already knowing the answer and smiling a sleepy smile as she began to fall into a dream.

Because once upon a time an accident purposely wished on a star and a miracle happened. I thank almost every day for being my wish. usually as I am tucking her into bed at night. She thanks me for wishing her true. And then she smiles as she drifts off into dreams.

 

A Thanksgiving Transcription

An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends List:

I wanted to thank you all for helping me sort out the Cooking of the Turkey in the Roaster Thingy that goes on the Counter minus the Rack Thingy I couldn't find. You are all geniuses and I wanted to let you know our little dinner turned out wonderfully.

Or not.

Actually, the tutkey turned out okay. The pre-dinner conversation was fucking fabulous. I'm a writer, so obviously, the evening was a total WIN.

Keep in mind that the following transcription is mostly true because totally true would mean I KNEW it was going to be this good and I'd have had my phone on record and that would mean I'm psychic and why would I be bloging FOR FREE THEN? So, let's jump on to the convo, shall we?

The sweet potato casserole I made that never made it onto instragram. I must be slipping.

The Scene: Thanksgiving, Somewhere in Maine with Lots of Snow and a few Moose, 2014. The Husband has returned from work and dinner is *not* ready to go as he'd hoped.

Him: turkey smells great. How long till we eat?

Me: 2 hours later than you are hoping.

Him: Why?

Me: Because I got it going 2 hours later than you told me to.  Obviously.

Him: What the hell, woman? Can we start with the pie, then? I only ate half my lunch to save room.

Me: No pie. I was too busy asking FB if could cook the turkey in the Roaster Thingy that goes on the Counter minus the Rack Thingy I couldn't find. Don't worry, 27 friends liked my confusion and 19 commented, which is the only reason you aren't giving thanks for peanut butter and jelly right now.

Him: Twenty-seven, huh?

Me: Or five. Whatever. The Queen of Spain says I'm good. That's all anyone needs to know.

Him (checking the turkey): UPSIDE DOWN? You put the turkey in Upside Down? Who DOES that? And what does Facebook have to do with my lack of Pie?

Me: I had to wait for people to COMMENT, yo. You know how the Internet works, right? And what the hell? Upside down? What are you talking about?

Him (speaking deliberately and now enunciating every.single.syllable lest he scare the jumper off the bridge):  Wait. The Queen of What? Pauline, look at the turkey. Can you tell me where the breast went ?

Me (indignant): I went to high school with royalty. Jealous?

Him: Not really. Just hungry. The breast? Show me. (Calm down, people. He was pointing to the turkey.)

Me: (Looking. Processing. Y'all might wanna thank The Husband for not making you wait ... ): Ummmm...

Him (reaching into flip the bird over): It's RIGHT HERE, babe. (And yes. He pointed. Multiple times. As he turned the bird "right side up", his eyes saw something else apparently even the manliest of men already know, and when he picked his jaw up from the floor, he said...) and so is the plastic. (Dramatic pause) ...and all the bits normal people pull out of the Turkey before stuffing it.

Me (meeting his raised eyebrow with my own): We agreed we weren't stuffing the Turkey.

Him: That's all ya got?

Me: Is it edible?

Him: Yes, thank God.

Me: Exactly. And now that we've acknowledged the true meaning of today, do me a favor.

Him (grinning): Yes?

Me: Shut up, sit down over there, and give your little girl a kiss. I've got a conversation to transcribe before we eat.

END SCENE

Prologue: I didn't finish baking till 9. They had a few store bought cookies for dessert. and yes, the upside down turkey was delicious

 

Half the Equation

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She almost threw up on the way to Penn Station. Too many sites and too many late nights had taken their toll on my seasoned little traveler, but it couldn't be helped. My work in the city meant 50 minute train rides to my friend's place in the Bronx and by the time her head hit the pillow the day of my speaking gig, we were well past normal bedtime hours. Seven more stops before our stop, but the she was swaying on her feet, fighting to keep her eyes open and trying not to gag. We got out at the next stop.

This is how I found myself sitting on a subway platform, back to the wall, and my luggage serving as arm rests while an overly tired and extremely nauseous child slept with her head on my lap. We sat with my legs wrapped around her and I waited while she slept because I could always catch a later train home. It was that, or figure out how to carry the girl who didn't complain once about how far we had to walk or how much she had to carry no matter how tired and hungry she was. Growing six inches in a summer and losing four baby molars in about as many weeks is enough to kick anyone's ass.

I yawned because I was tired, too, but I had my badass lipstick painted on and my clothes clearly stated that I don't often find myself sitting on the floor of a subway station so my child could rest because it was that or aiming for the cheapest pair of shoes on the train.

No one wants to be that mom.

I didn't make a lot of eye contact with anyone. They were in a rush and I was tweeting and Facebooking and taking far too many selfies for the blog post I knew I would be writing later. "Hey, remember that funny story about the time I almost fell asleep on the train to Penn Station. mama?" I imagine Eliana slapping her thigh and laughing just a bit loudly in that way that will remind me that she is only seven going on 17. It will be funny later, I figure. Most likely starting from the moment I sit my ass down in coach the train ride home. The stories worth telling are never funny during.

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There is something magical about New York, unlike anything I have ever experienced elsewhere in that you could find yourself sitting on the cold cement platform watching the 2 trains stop and go and pick up and drop off. It's a novel kind of privacy I actually enjoy during my short visits. I might live in the backwoods of Northern Maine but I'm originally from Detroit. I know how the game is played and the first rule is to avoid eye contact if you want to avoid conversations about the weather and why you don't speak better Spanish. Truth be told, I didn't feel like answering questions about my face or swollen knuckles. There's something to be said for regularly exposing my body to an allergen that I didn't know was an allergen for seven years straight. For a moment, I marvel at the fact that I didn't kill myself by accident tripping over a random coconut a long time ago.

I knew I looked like hell. But I thought it didn't matter because I was (mostly ) having a good day and I was wearing my badass lipstick and I wasn't ashamed to be seen. Until A woman offered me a phone number for help me because the program she was recommending had helprd her to find the strength to leave her abusive lover. I wanted to cover my face. Instead, I replied in halting Spanish with assurances that my husband doesn't beat me and that the face she was eying doubtfully looked the way it did because of extreme food allergies. I thanked her for caring enough to reach out while silently screaming at her inside of my head for stepping out of the cultural norm calling for everyone to pretend the bride at the latest family wedding isn't already six months pregnant. We play the game and talk behind each others backs because it would be rude to point out the baby born just three months later isn't some kind of miracle premie. This is what I ecxpected, but I'm instead being sized up by an elderly Latina who doesn't give a shit about societal norms or why so many of them suck.

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I'm too busy being embarrassed by the face I forget other people will ask me about to press further about my domestic "situation" to take the card she was offering me. I think we could have become friends. The woman looked doubtful and gently  stroked her own nose, as if she could feel the discomfort she saw and this was how to soothe the hurt. Raw and red with inflammation, I briefly wondered if Rudolph maybe has the same allergy and if Santa carries his epi pen ... just in case.

The woman left On her train. And then I made $105.

The platform filled and emptied again and again and I waited my little girl out because a week in NYC is enough to kick anyone's ass and she did it with growing pains and visits from the Traveling Tooth Fairy. One man risked missing his train to run to me and hand me a $5 bill.  You didn't ask me, he said. But go but yourself and your daughter something. And I said thank you to the closing  doors of the man's train because he was handing me money one moment and on the train in a blink and I didn't know what to say because I didn't know what it was exactly that people saw when they looked at me. I was the well-groomed stray cat sticking out in a sea of the dirty and streetwise. I obviously Belonged to Somebody and maybe the $100 bill another man just handed me would help me be found. Lord knows I wouldn't hand a nickel to the outstretched hand attached to the toothless begger reeking of filth and whiskey just hours later. Maybe a sandwich. Maybe two, if he would smile in appreciation like the last homeless person I have my lunch to, because there's a difference in asking for help and asking for a boost to get drunk and stay there. I'm betting those nice people who thought I needed saving figured I looked like a sure bet. Their act of kindness wouldn't be wasted because I wore good leather boots and $16 per tube lipstick and took too many selfies with my new smartphone, just so I could delete all but 4 when I finally found the words I needed to write this out.

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I know I was exhausted. Adhd doesn't lend to restful nights when traveling and no sleep. Having only minimal safe foods to eat until back on my own turf didn't help in the clarity of mind department and my attempts to shrink into myself so as to avoid a total breakdown should one more good Samaritan dropping money in my lap were a total and obvious fail. I was looking down at the very platform on which I sat, holding my kid and trying to figure out why I couldn't process how I felt when two pair of black boots appeared within the frame of my lashes. The police officers only wanted to ask if I needed help because they had been told, by more than one person, that I might. I can't say if they mentioned my face and the history they imagined went with it. Maybe I was fleeing from a hell I've never lived with all I could carry. Maybe my little girl was the reason I found the strength to leave. Please ... help that woman, I imagine the cops are told by people normally too in a hurry to see  the roses they've stepped on, much less stopping to smell them. She doesn't belong down there, they might say. She can be saved. They smiled down at me. I saw  concern and compassion and I tripped on my words as I gave the fastest version I could of the truth, hoping it would be enough for them to leave because I was about to break from the weight of concerned questions and the  pitying glances that made me wonder if I'll believe myself the next time I say something inspirational like You Define Your Own Worth and Ignore the Haters because self-perception is only half of the equation that makes up our own realities. The cops smile and wish me luck with the sleepy kid because I was believable because it was my truth and not a well-meaning stranger's misplaced kindess. I am grateful. The bits of dignity I have left are so close to fraying. I need them whole. I need me whole. We have a train to catch to Penn Station, and if she wakes up right about...now... I see lashes fluttering ... we won't even have to run with our Too Much Luggage and tired legs and feet. And then she was up and standing and a bit wonder-struck because she is the girl who gave up napping at 12 months old who today was so tired she slept on her mama's lap on the platform for the 2 train.

I'm thankful she will only know what i tell her, after we are seated on the train taking us north, because few things rattle a child more than seeing a parent cry. I will tell her pieces of truth because she knows when I'm lying but not when I'm selectively eliminating truth from that which I share with her. I'm tired and hungry, and that I just needed a minute and I'll be just fine. She nodded and hugged me close, reassuring herself more than me, but I didn't mind because one day she won't want me to hold her close. She is smiling at me, beautifully self-assured and confident in herself in my love. She is my rock, this girl is, and I wondered which one of us is actually teaching the other to celebrate our Chingona spirit and owning our worth.

She squeezed me tighter for just a moment before asking if she could move across the isle to spread out and play on her iPad. I nodded before closing my eyes. When I looked up a few moments later and our eyes locked, she giggled. I know I am loved. She smiled at me and suddenly I could breathe because I can see myself through my daiughters eyes and I am beautuful and strong and her everything. Because she sees me, I am no longer ashamed.

 

***

 

I wanted to add a note here at the end to tell you that I still have the $105 in my wallet. I'm not quite sure what to do with it. The logical first step is to determine if the hundred dollar bill is real. If it proves to be, I'm going to pay the kindness forward. I'm not sure how yet, but I am sure this will all play out just as it is meant to. I promise to share more later. For now, the story is shared, the words free from the cramped space in my skull, and I've got a date with a turkey needing to be stuffed. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for validating me and the words I share.