Casa Latina Home Expo: I'm SPEAKING!

   

casa-latina-blogher-logo-featuredWhen one door closes...Another opens.

My head is still reeling from my recognition as a 2014 Top Bloguera and subsequent passing on attending this year's pre-LATISM conference retreat for the 100 blogueras due to time and distance. I'm sad to be missing out on this year's event, but excited that Fate decided this weekend was going to be worth writing home about, anyway.

As of this very second, I have no idea where I am staying once we arrive or how we are getting there, but come hell or high water, I'm booked to speak at the Casa Latina Expo Home Expo in New York on  Saturday, Nov. 15. The event, co-produced by BlogHer (and featuring many of my Latina blogging and social media amiga-friends like Kathy Cano-Murillo, Jeannette Kaplun, and Helen Troncoso! From start to finish, the entire event looks like a winner and I am all kinds of excited to be a part of it.

I'll be speaking on the 3:45=5 p.m. panel on Getting Recognized with Jeannette, Mercedes Sanchez, and Mariela Dabbah. The panel will focus on how to become a multi-media entrepreneur and market yourself as an expert in your niche. And pardon me while I go pack my big girl 'chonis, 'cuz wow.

I'll figure out the logistics sometime between now and 3 p.m, on Saturday. Until then, let's stick to one syllable words and very short sentences.

Yep.. much better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pieces of Truth from #BlogHer14

This is what six hours to the airport look like.

Before blogging and columnist deadlines -- I was many things. I was a daughter, a sister, a college student, convinced of the fact that everything was going to be just fine because I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going.

My official business travel buddy. And no, those are not *my* business cards she's handing out. Girlfriend is networking for her *own* blog.

The plan was to get my degree in communications with a concentration in journalism because the small university I attended was too small for a dedicated degree. I'd write for a paycheck during the day and head home to pound away at the keyboard, writing the stories that would be rejected until they weren't, and then I'd pound away some more, rearranging small pieces of truth into the sentences that would turn into the paragraphs upon which my story would stand.

Petty sure it's my kid here who introduced me to BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone.

I'd be brilliant. I'd be relatable. I was going places, Goddamit. Until $45 exchanged hands in a generic apartment kitchen with a generic psychic who told me a lot of things I forgot and one thing I remembered. California, she said, was off-limits. She couldn't tell me why or give me more than a vague why, except to say that Something Bad would happen should I wiggle a pinkie toe over the state line, so it was best just to stay the hell away.

I know. She's adorable. I know I love her. I'll remember her name in a minute, I promise.

Now, I'm not sure if it was The Boyfriend who became The Fiance who became The Husband's reaction that sealed the deal, or if it was the social media friends living in the danger zone I would eventually make -- after surviving myself, graduating from college, working as a newspaper reporter, getting married, not getting pregnant while everybody else was popping out babies, and finally  growing our little second chance at raising ourselves inside of me -- but suddenly, where I was going became irrelevant. I suddenly realized I only knew what I wasn't doing and where I wasn't going. Who knows what would have happened had I decided to ignore my psychic directive while utterly convinced of its power. It didn't really matter if I stubbed my toe, lost all my luggage, or if Kurt Cameron grew up to be a giant asshole and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen turned out to be tabloid train wrecks because I wasn't taking the blame for any of it. I stayed away. I couldn't be blamed should The Big One finally hit and California fell right off the ends of the Earth.

This is how you take a bad-ass selfie with youyr kid and Sarah Fader...

“Shit.” That's what I said when I saw the BlogHer announcement that 2014 would be celebrated where it all began. That would be San Jose, California. Obviously, we had an Issue.

 

I figure the odds of getting me, Lizzie, and Alicia to stand still long enough for another one of these shots is up there with me remembering what I was doing five minutes ago...

“Shit what? What's what?” The Husband said. After I filled him in on the news, he, too, became pensive. Shit. He said that.

And then we both sighed, defeated by a giant Maybe from a psychic who still needed her tarot card directions. I'd been planning to apply as a speaker and was prepping our pitch with my 2013 MultiCulti hostesses to bring the party back. I had a lot riding on another giant Maybe.

Just so we are clear, Latinas come in every shade and shape and I'm just gonna shut up because my kid and Alicia's kid are the Spanglish Bobsy Twins.

“You're going to be pissed at yourself if you don't even try,” The Husband told me.” If you don't get the stuff you're applying for, you stay home and we all live Happily Ever After.”

“And if I get it?” I asked him.

I wanna be my kid when I grow up...

 “I drop you off at the airport and up your life insurance policy. Either way,” The Husband said,” it's kind of a win-win for everybody.”

I glared at him while Sugar Jones Facebook-messaged back to my frantic #CaliCurse with threats to follow me around with a burning sage bush just in case and I laughed.

The Real Life of a Freelancer: Too much for an hour-long panel. Throw me a book deal and we may just scratch the surface. I promise to even let other people share their opinions and stuff.

"What if I get psychic clearance,” I asked Sugar. "New psychic. New reading. If I'm in the clear I go. If The End is Nigh I stay home?"

"Deal."

Go Cavs! Only took me and Erin until BlogHer12 to figure out she was a senior when I was a freshman at the same metro Detroit High School.

I told the voice on the phone that she could be my Sylvia Brown. Five minute in to our phone conversation, Dr. Lauren Cielo from Gaiam TV, had already won me over. She is warm and genuine and her laughter is rich and comes from deep within. She made me want to laugh with her...at least until she told me that my fist psychic was right.

"Say what now?"

 

Here' your future, Internet. Meet Hala, Princess of Spain, and Aspiring Eliana. You're *Welcome*.

Dr. Lauren went on to explain that the original psychic hadn't misread me. Instead, she had basically reiterated the energy I had been giving off at the time. I'm not sure if my Energy and Aura had been playing a random and totally subconscious reel of the entire state of California sinking to the bottom of the ocean, but the lesson here, I think, was that what we sometimes mistake for Fate is oftentimes the culmination of our own perceived realities. Because I finally had a reason to question my path again instead of just blindly following along like a character in a book, I had changed my fate. Laugh if you must, but I asked Dr. Lauren to double check and she did, bless her sweet soul, after which she conformed she had "cleared" away what would have happened had I not challenged myself. The new forecast showed only open doors and many, many return trips to California in my long-term future, she said. There was plenty more to the reading, but this is the part that mattered. It's the part where I refocused on where I was going instead of where I wasn't.

My #multiculti sisters, Ananda and Dwana. Serious love, y'all...

There was a long flight after an epic journey to the airport via car and bus. There was a little girl winning at social networking with her own business cards every chance she got. There were hugs and squees and selfies and there was me speaking on a freelancing panel and hosting a party with good friends celebrating our diversity and I am so very grateful for all of those things that were because self-doubt is sometimes a good thing if it makes us re-evaluate a future we have mistaken for an absolute.

Best quote of the entire conference? Rita Arens speaking on what a book deal does to change your life: "Unless your a dick, it's not changing anything." And this is why Rita gets a Christmas card this year....

I am still many things. I am a writer, a wife, a hell-raiser who has realized it's better not to set my sites on the finish line, but rather, move the mountains in my way and let the cleared path take me where it may. I may not know exactly what I'm doing or have a fucking clue as to what I'm doing when I get there, but I think that's the point of it all. I'll wait for tomorrow to get here in its own due time. For now, I'm just going to enjoy today.

The Year the World Grew

I live in a small town.  

My chiropractor is my pastor, the closest Starbucks is a two-hour drive, and my 17-pound dog once tried to go bear-hunting at 2 a.m. I stopped him in time, but if my dog could have spoken to me as he self-righteously huffed his way back into our house, I'm pretty sure he would have insisted that he could have had him and it was my fault we weren't having bear for dinner tomorrow night.

Thanksgiving marked our first anniversary of our new life in Northern Maine. Last year we ate a turkey dinner at the local truck stop. This year we ate with friends as our kids played together in the basement. Last year we knew almost no one and purposely drove anywhere to see and talk with other people. This year, I haven't been able to catch a breath during the last week because our little world has grown.

We added a new friend today in this little world of ours. Her name is Josephine.

Eliana insists on calling her Josephina. And Josephina doesn't seem to mind at all.

The Beginning of Another End (In List Form)

* We stayed up all night cooking for our tiny Thanksgiving with new friends.

* Eliana decided to help Mama with the split ends I've been meaning to cut but haven't had the time.

* Thankfully the child has so much hair that it was next to impossible to see where she actually snipped off a good three inches of her curls.

* She's still grounded until she's 40.

* Pumpkin pie is possible even if you are egg, gluten, grain, soy, corn, and dairy free. And it's fucking fabulous.

* The Christmas tree is up.

* The Elf on a Shelf Eliana has named Etsy (shut up, she's clueless) has arrived for a month's worth of Hide & Seek.

* Naughty elves and crafty elves and Smore-Making elves are not allowed in my house unless they come with a house-keeping elf to clean up after, a blogging elf (with it's own elf-sized smartphone and laptop) to document the shenanigans, and a creativity elf who'd sole responsibility is to think up and set up tomorrow's escapade.

*There are presents to buy and wrap and mail, Christmas cards to order and address and send off.

* Tomorrow we decorate the tree. In four weeks we wake up to Christmas morning and surprises from Santa. In five we welcome a new year.

* Sometimes I stay awake at night just to hold on to a few extra pieces of today before it fades into tomorrow. Right now, that's exactly what I'm doing.

Redefining Flowers

 

My mother's birthday is tomorrow. She'll be 55.

My father's death anniversary is tomorrow. That makes things awkward. It probably always will.

Six years ago my father went into the hospital for heart surgery. All signs were good that he'd be in the hospital recovering and bitching about the crappy Thanksgiving meal and begging us all to sneak him in some of the good stuff. But signs can sometimes be misinterpreted. Or maybe they weren't and fate just decided to throw us a curve ball.

Either way, our family stood beside his bed while he took his last breaths. Then I caught my mother before she hit the floor.

They'd been married 30 years and he'd just turned 50 that year. I know that because I was just 6 weeks short of my 30th birthday when he died. I'd always kept track of my parents' anniversary and ages by adding 20 to my age for the anniversary and my dad's birthday and then subtracting one to get my mom's age.

That's how old they were when they got married and welcomed me into the world before the ink dried on their wedding certificate at the courthouse. Nineteen and 20.

So young, everyone said when my mother dropped me off at school.

So young, everyone said when she became a widow, quite unexpectedly, at 49.

I want to send her flowers for her birthday but flowers make me think of death. I want to send her something sparkly and frivolous but that makes me think he's been gone long enough for it not to hurt so much anymore. It's the same struggle every year. And I still feel guilty for being thankful no matter what day Thanksgiving falls on now. Pretty sure I always will.

The year my dad died, Thanksgiving happened to be the day before his heart stopped working and my mother celebrated her 49th birthday. Ying and Yang and good balances with bad and the world spins round and round. It's Thanksgiving week in 2013 and I learned of one friend losing an uncle just moments before I learned another lost her home and everything she owns in a house fire last night. Even her purse.

I breathe. And I remind myself that for every bad thing in this world, there is good. And that the good balanced out the bad. That equation works both ways. For every last day, there is a tomorrow.

Flowers. I'll buy her flowers, dammit. Flowers mean spring and life and a cheap vase my mom is never going to use again but never get rid of after the bouquet finally gets thrown away because she will always see it and know that is the vase her birthday flowers came in.

And she'll smile every time.

 

Get Ready for #BodyThanks

 

Are you ready for the #BodyThanks twitter party?

Tonight is the night and August McLaughlin and I are so excited to start off the holiday season with an evening dedicated to supporting each other and honoring all that we are.

Click here for party details and be sure to register by adding your twitter handle/URL on the linky to be eligible for prizes!

Spread the word, share the link, and let’s get #BodyThanks trending together. The holidays are difficult on those with body image, self-esteem, and eating disordered thinking (both active & recovering). Share the #BodyThanks love and we can join each other in a kick-ass show of support. Simply copy and paste this link to tweet, Facebook, pin, tumble, & Google + the #BodyThanks event for all it’s worth!

 

Because Cookies Fix Everything

There's more I need to write about. Other things I'd like to write about. But for now, it has to wait.

Every four hours, Eliana gets to sit tight with her nebulizer to control an extended asthma flare. It started two weeks ago with low-grade temp that she couldn't shake until recently.

She's complaining of leg pain and woke up at 3 a.m. because It Hurts, Mama. When I finally got her settled back into bed at 5 a.m., I watched her work to keep her legs straight because They Need to Be Straight, Mama, But They Hurt.

This morning she asked me if she has dry skin on the palms of her hands. I held her little hands in mine and they were soft and warm and her fingers curled into my own. "No, Baby," I said. "Your hands feel just right."

She frowned. "But they hurt, too. I wanted them to be dry so your lotions would fix it."

On the way home from errands this afternoon, I heard her tired voice from the backseat of the truck.

"Mama? I just don't feel like myself right now."

I know, little girl. I know.

Your daddy had growing pains, I say. And I tell her how he grew so fast his legs needed to be in casts to ease the stress on his bones. Eliana is going to be a tall girl (shes already over 48 inches at 6 year's old) and she's growing fast, just like both The Husband and I did. But I can't relate to growing pains, even if I was 5'1'' at 8-years-old and at my full adult height of 5'6'' by my thirteenth birthday. I just didn't feel them. Not like this girl.

I've watched her go from Silly and Happy to Listless and Grumpy so many times in the same day since this started that I'm not even phased when she switches extremes anymore. Thankfully, she just ate her first solid meal of the day at 6 p.m. (a bowl of black beans because she loves them so much and rubbed her belly to prove it) and she's back to herself. She asked for a chocolate chip cookie (gluten-free, but not paleo because I don't have any made right now) and I said yes.

And the cookie made her smile.

Monday we see her pediatrician to discuss asthma maintenance. I've made a note to discuss the growing pains. Until then, she gets cookies because seeing her smile makes me feel better.

Supply & Demand: Return of Kings, Dating Girls with Eating Disorders, & My Response

Warning: This post -- and the links contained within -- contain possible triggers for those with eating disorders and body image issues. For that reason, I am purposefully placing the image associated with the original piece I'm commenting on below the fold. It's been 48 hours since I first learned about the much-talked about Return of Kings post entitled Five Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder. Highlights include nuggets of wisdom like She's a Cheap Date and She's Fragile and Vulnerable. I won't lie; I read it three times. Not because I wanted to, mind you, but because the first two reads were almost blind. Like a gawker driving by a bad car accident, I couldn't take my eyes away from that they had just seen. My eyes had kept locking on the image of a woman in a little read dress and stilettos, hunched over a toilet with her fingers in her mouth, ready to force a purge.

Since it's publication last week, the site's publisher has issued a response to the resulting backlash. I'll give you a spoiler here and tell you now that the non-apology is almost worse than the original post, but (sadly) that is to be expected. ROK does not endorse eating disorders, they say. Rather (and this is the part where ROK pats themselves on their collective backs for their good graces) they proudly boasts their encouragement of America's single men not to "pass" on eating disordered women just because they have an illness.

Well, shit. Why didn't they say so in the first place? Silly people...we over-reacted!  Stigma = bad. Seeking out and preying upon the fragile emotional state of a woman in crisis = good!

I call bullshit.

But before anyone assumes I'm calling out the ROK site for piss-poor justifying the publishing of 5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder, let me make one thing perfectly clear: Every single one of you 134k who liked this piece on Facebook get an equal share of the blame for providing the market.

Just like the media can't take the all of the blame for causing eating disorders, ROK cannot (and should not) be the sole focus of your outrage for trivializing them. While every one of the 5 reasons makes me cringe for fear of their impact on actively eating disordered women (and men) reading them, we must remember that without the demand, the supply eventually fades away.

Let me put it this way:

* Glossy magazines and emaciated models, headlines shaming celebs for gaining weight and praising them for their unrealistic thinness, and Hollywood approved diet pills and crazy fad diets...all of these topics (and more) are on a never-ending loop that keeps being re-written because we keep buying them.

Conclusion? We are part of the problem.

* ROK and 5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder is disturbing (at best) and triggering (at worst). And while ROK's very existence makes me wish the internet came with a giant mute button, the site is incredibly popular with a loyal fan base that has given them the platform to continue publishing pro-fat shaming writings and stories like the one we all happen to be talking about now.

Conclusion: We are part of the problem.

People like this, y'all. And I don't just mean those who may have liked or otherwise shared the post in order to share in the outrage. I mean LIKED as in By Golly, That's Brilliant! That, my friends, is a very sad commentary reflecting right back on today's society. Then again, so is the fact that ROK received death threats because of 5 Reasons and its publication. To those of you who thought that little gem was the way to go, don't help. Just sit down, shut up, and let the rest of us finish this fight because you're not doing us any favors.

I'll be honest; when I sat down to write this my intention had been to list all the ways 5 Reasons is hurtful, harmful, and even dangerous. I was going to tell you about my failed attempts at anorexia (except for that one time I made it 4 months on just one apple and a single slice of cheese every day), but Rita Arens did an incredible job discussing anorexia and why ROK crossed the line in this BlogHer piece. As a woman who would most likely be singled out by ROK as a Fatty with No Self Control should they see this post, I was prepared to speak about Bulimia, binging and purging, and the emotional ship-wreck I was during that time period that guys I was dating hadn't realized was part of the package.

That's what I was going to do, but then I sat down to write and this is what happened.

If you've suffered through or are currently dealing with an eating disorder, the world is not made up entirely of assholes. There are plenty of us good-hearted souls who are here to help. Rita listed her email in her BlogHer post encouraging readers to reach out should the need help.

I'm here, too.

Aspiringmama@gmail.com.

 

 

Butterflies for Everyone!

If you're new to the blog, I'd like to welcome you with a little bit of awesome. As a pre-holiday thank you to my readers (and a little reminder to ourselves to be thankful for the bodies that carry us through our days) I've decided to make the Girl Body Pride Strong Like Butterfly anthology free on Smashwords through Sunday.

The anthology contains the work of many Girl Body Pride writers like Shoshana Rachel, Elan Morgan, and Jessie Sanfilippo, along with novelists Therese Walsh and Mercedes Yardley. Each story shared speaks to women struggling with body image issues. And each story is so beautifully told.

I'd like to invite you to take this opportunity to get your free copy of Strong Like Butterfly and, of course, to pass the information on to your friends. And please, know that I look forward to your thoughts after reading the book. It was an honor editing this collection. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I still do.

A Picture

I had words to share. But then my kid got sick. It's probably bronchitis and Monday means a trip to the pediatrician. Poor kid sounds like a circus seal when she coughs right now.

The picture I took before she woke up on Sunday morning. Myy 11-year-old dog, Finnigan, watching over her while she slept and Eliana with her arm huggging his furry backside. He only cuddles when he knows your sick. She only cuddles back when she's her defenses are down. This picture is probably my parenting equivalent to catching a glimpse of Haley's Comet zooming by.

 

 

(Twice) Upon a Time

I'm not cheating. I'm reminiscing. There's a difference.

I was curious about the first November for Aspiring Mama. It's been a while since I've looked in the archives, and even then I didn't go back to the very first few months. In November is 2009, Aspiring Mama was just 4 months old. In the muddlings of a brand new blogger and always writer trying to find my way, this is what I saw...

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a middle-aged mother who was long passed being mistaken for a beautiful young maiden.

This mother had traded in her ability to sing woodland animals into helping her whistle while she worked, her penchant for taming even the most wild of the beasts, and her magical coach and footmen for a humble life with The Man She Loved and a Child for whom she’d give her last breath, along with piles of dirty laundry waiting to be done, dishes that just wouldn’t wash themselves, and an ass that magically expanded at the mere sight of food.

It was a mundane existence, but one filled with its own inspired moments. For the love of the Child could not even compare to the perks her Fairy Godmother once provided. Dreams of princes, beautiful ball gowns, and happily ever afters might have been nice while they lasted, but this mother understood that her place in Reality was one she could take great pride in, even if that place was a precarious one and sure to drive her as insane as her crazy Step-Sister who spent her days in a padded room trying to shove her size 10?s into a size 5 glass slipper.

“Who wears a glass slipper, anyway?” the mother wearily sighed. Forget the mere idiocy of the thought and the smell of nasty foot sweat sure to come part and parcel with wearing the damned things, but if it broke? Good Heavens! How unsafe it would be in her humble home for The Child while she cleaned.

One night, the mother dreamed. She dreamed vibrant colors, swirling images, and magic-filled words. She woke to hear The Child crying for her and tucked her dream away for just one more moment, one more day in the land of Reality, and tended to The Child’s, filling her sweet head with visions of singing mermaids, beautiful princesses, and houses built of candies.

Her own dreams could wait. For just a little while longer.

 

This post originally appeared with the title Once Upon a Time on Aspiring Mama in November of 2009.

Congrats to This is My Brave!

We did it. You did it.

I really don't give a damn how cheesy I sound because I am thrilled to announce that This is My Brave just ended a successful kickstarter campaign to produce a live performance of the same title. The focus is ending the stigma of mental illness and that, my friends, is a cause I'm all about supporting.

Check out their Thank You video here...

...and from me to you?

Thank you for making This is My Brave a reality. It's not my project. But that doesn't matter.

What does is the community, support, and joint voices working together.

That, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

 

Hashtag: Forgiven

The funny thing about blogging everyday  vs. blogging when Something Big Brewed Itself Into a Blog Post is that the second version requires far less thought. Maybe I dropped 1,200 words in 30 minutes on whatever soapbox I had climbed on that particular day, but they were 1,200 coherent and dedicated words that freed my brain to concentrate on Everything Else for an extended period of time. Since my work responsibilities have increased I've had a few months where blogging once a week was an accomplishment, but that also meant that I only thought about my blog four times in 30 days.

I may have missed some of the fun stuff, but it was also liberating as hell to not be mentally married to Hitting Publish every day.

Because of NaBloPoMo I'm back on the daily What Do I Write About Today bandwagon and I'll be honest...I like it just about as much as I hate it. I'm capturing bits and pieces of myself on the blog like I used to but I'm also missing out on other things...like sleep. I haven't been able to stick to my exercise routine for the life of me, either. And I apologize if you happen to think I have time to talk on the phone. That number is for texting only, people. Who has time to talk???

There's the job and homeschooling and extra-curricular activities and then sometimes The Husband wants to have sex and instead I'm waving him off because #NaBloPoMo means 30 days of blogging and I Just Need to Link This Post Up Here and Tweet that there and then do a rain dance to increase my chance of comments over here... And before you know it I'm eyes glazed over on Pinterest (because all portals of the Internet lead to Pinterest) and he's asleep and I owe him a lot of sex right now...

You guys? What's the hashtag for December? Because if it's #NaBloBlowMo, he may just forgive me for November.

 

F-Bombs, Secrets, & More Random Facts

1) I hate spiders.

2) If all the Disney Princesses tried to take out Wonder Woman in a fight, I'd put money on Wonder Woman. Hands down.

3) Real shredded coconut “tastes” like paper to me. Shut. Up.

4) When I am out in public here in Maine and make eye contact with another minority, they give me the Nod of Acknowledgment.

5) I always nod back.

6) Strangers can read anything I write. I’m not afraid of you judging me.

7) It took me a long time to get comfortable on my own blog to drop an F bomb. And look at you still reading, you naughty, naughty person, you….

8) It was liberating as hell when it finally happened.

9) Sometimes I have to pretend temporary amnesia when I write here & my column because now that my family knows what I do, the pressure is on, y'all.

10) I swear like a sailor but blush when people say that P word that rhymes with hussy (Hint: smartasses who try leaving comments containing that word will be deleted. Me and my virgin eyes can’t handle it, so don’t try it.)

11) I’m thinking of starting a podcast but am wondering if I have a voice for blogging.

12) I never got  pregnancy/labor amnesia. So we got a new puppy. Since my ovaries hate me I guess I don't have to worry, anyway.

13) Related? Only people without kids can say that raising a puppy is like having a child. We used to say it all the time. Then we had a child. All I’m saying is rubbing your kid’s nose in their pee spot on the carpet might not work out so well for you, so I’d advise against being stupid.

14) I was 5’1" when I was 8 years old. My mother is 5,1", which means I was wearing her pants in the third grade. Which also means I have only grown 5-inches in 27 years. Wow, that's depressing.

15) My mother brought me home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking.

16) There's a reason I prayed for a summer baby, y'all.

17) I was left standing on my porch, dressed for the senior year Homecoming dance, with mascara-stained tear tracks in my blush, when I realized the high school friends who had invited me to “go stag” with them never showed to pick me up.

18) I had my first kiss with my first boyfriend at 16 years old.

19) I speak really good Spanish when I’m drunk.

20) I never have time to get drunk.

21) My Spanish usually sucks.

22) My mother dressed me as a clown for Halloween one year and combed my Mexifro out into an afro and sprayed it to look like a wig. She must have done a really good job. I spent the entire Girl Scout party beating Brownies off my head as they all tried to yank my wig off so they could try it on themselves.

23) I hate clowns.

24) I had a reverse boob job when I was 24. The Husband looked like a proud new father when he told his friends that his wife’s former GG’s were now cute and perky DD’s.

25) Eliana fit in one of my old bikini cups when she was born. (Like you wouldn’t have tried?)

26) You know that scene in the original Blade movie where the vampires are in the underground club dancing in wild abandon as the sprinkler system showers them in blood? Yeah…that’s the song The Husband and I were introduced to at our wedding reception.

27) #26 was my idea. The Husband is still grateful.

28) I didn’t know MTV existed until I was 14. i also didn’t realize that our car radio played anything other than Mexican music or oldies stations. My social life? Sucked.

29) I’m the oldest of five girls. The youngest two are 10 and 11 years younger than me, and Mom used to make me wake with the crying babies at night and still go to school the next morning.

30) My mother is an evil genius.

31) I hate it when people refer to how big my daughter is. She’s tall, assholes, not big. Can we talk about how big you are now? Oh right, that’s not polite.

32) Milk makes me sneeze. A lot. Which makes me miss ice cream.

33) Bananas also make me sneeze. Which just makes me weird.

34) This is my third blog. The first two were me trying to write what I thought other people wanted to read.

35) Are you still reading?

36) My goal in life is to make it onto Graham Norton's couch & the Top Gear track. I've got a think for BBC.

37) I typo. A lot. Deal with it.

38) I have ADHD and wish people knew that the condition doesn't just mean I'm forgetful.

39) I homeschool and wish people didn't assume that means my child is locked in a closet all day. We at least let her out for five minutes of sunlight every day. Twice on Sundays.

40) I once yelled at my sister for closing the car windows with my fingers in them after I told her to close the window and left my hand there.

41) I met The Husband online when online dating was still something to whisper about.

42) I was the Mexican Princess Searching for her Prince.

43) Chuck it up, people. Chuck it up.

44) I queried 45 agents before I got signed.

45) My agent never saw my query.
46) I'm Latina Magazine's advice columnist only because I didn't think I was going to get the job. Think about that one.
47) I write first and think about sharing later.
48) I never self-censor words that need to be written. I decide if they should be shared after. But I always write them.
49) I choked on water once. In a cup. Sitting at the kitchen table. Yes, I am that talented.
50) The End

The Stupid Sister

Can I call your sister stupid? No? Does that bother you? I'm not sure why, seeing as how you don't even like your her. You tell anyone who will listen and rarely go home for holidays. What? What was that? Oh, so you think your sister is stupid? So what's the problem? Why is it that, even if you agree wholeheartedly with my sentiments, that it seems somehow inappropriate for anyone other than yourself to comment on the obvious lack of intellect with which your loved ones were gifted?

You're mumbling. I didn't quite catch that? Oh, you don't know why? That's just the way it is? You don't take too kindly to others doing the name calling? She's your family, not mine? I can think it but I'd better not say it?

Okay then. I'll play nice. But turnabout is fair play, my friend. I'll respect your right and your family and keep my jokes to myself if you can stop being an idiot about a teensy weensy little issue I happen to be dealing with, myself. I have to admit that I'm even embarrassed to be bringing it up, but I guess it's better to get it all out in the open, right?

I'm not trying to be overly sensitive. But you know about the bulimia and the body image issues and the whole body image cheer-leading train I've jumped on, right? I'm not here just to blow sunshine up other people's asses, my friend. I'm here to help me by helping others because that, in that Circle of Life Kind of Way, helps me continue to help because that's usually how this shit works; Yin & Yang and all that jazz.

So when I see careless social media updates making light of eating disorders, even if they aren't meant to hurt my feelings because you'd never dream of doing that, I get a bit pissy. And then I get pissy that your words got under my skin because if I'd never stuck my fingers down my throat to let the feelings I couldn't deal with just fucking escape already, I'd probably be laughing with you and everyone else who doesn't get it. I'm jealous that you don't understand and can laugh.

I'm mad that I do and I can't.

I'm not 'bulimic'. I'm a 'conscientious recycler of edible organic material.' -- says Nobody In Particular.

I had to read that twice to make sure I understood it. Then I got mad. And even madder still when I realized I wanted to ask you if you ever actually had been bulimic because if you are or were or were planning on starting tonight, then, in a darkly comedic and self-deprecating kind of way, your joke would be funny. It would be...

...acceptable.

Can you maybe follow up with a disclaimer? No...actually it's probably better that you don't. I'm not sure how either answer would make me feel. If you made the joke because Bulimia is your stupid sister, I will smile and laugh with you.

Secret Hand Shake In The Club.

If Bulimia isn't even a distant cousin, I'm happy for you for not ever having dealt with the emotional hell that comes with internalizing everything to the point of food and self becoming the enemy. But I'm also pissed because that means you called my stupid sister stupid.

Even if she is.

 

Calling all Idea Peeples...

Yes, I spelled "Peeples" like that on purpose. You can call it  typo. I call it Creative License.

I'm ignoring the laundry today to tell you about something pretty spectacular. If you've been following the blog for a while now, you know I'm a veteran BlogHer attendee (I've been to three now) and even got my feet wet on the Party Hostess front last year in Chicago with Ananda and Dwana at the MultiCulti. I left Chicago with the resolve to get my shhhhtuff together and finally put my name in the hat for speakers when the time came for 2014. (I might be a vet but I've never applied to speak at BlogHer. I know. I'm a slacker.)

Now? It's time.

But I'm not writing to tell you about me...that was just the long and overly wordy lede (cuz that's how us crazy journalist types spell lead) to get to the important part where I light a proverbial fire under your ass and tell YOU that BlogHer wants to hear your ideas.

Every. Single. One.

BlogHer is an incredible network of bloggers and writers and I'm thrilled to be a part. I'm even more excited to encourage you to start mentally packing that suitcase of yours with too many shoes for too few days for the 10th annual BlogHer. In 2014, I'll hopefully see you in San Jose, California. Oh, and do let me address those doubts making you do that wrinkly-nosed face thing right now...

But I'm New to Blogging

So? We all started somewhere. Some of us have a clear view to the finish line when we start up and some of us kind of shuffle along until we figure things out. (I'll be honest. I was not in the first camp. Related? I used to have a blog written from my dog's point of view. He's the only one pissed off that I let that one die.) New to blogging or not, you have a voice and that voice is important. And? It could just be the voice that someone else need to hear.

I've Never Spoken Before

So? Go ahead and tell me you tell your kids not to bother trying to ride their bike without the training wheels. Or that the next time you slave over a brand new recipe for your family and they turn their noses because it's New & Different that you just say Oh You Guys and chuckle while you nuke up some mac 'n' cheese. Or that you aren't gonna bother trying for that promotion at work because...well...you get the idea. Also? If you ever gave a book report presentation in elementary school, or said "Bartender? Make that a double!" (note: preferably not in elementary school)...then you've spoken publicly and I win.

No One Knows Who I am

Really? Are we back to the But She Has More Followers Than Me on (Insert Social Media Channel Here)? Cuz here's the deal on that: the numbers don't matter to anyone but the bosses at the publishing houses (I know, trust me.) When it comes to Life, Love, BlogHer, & Everything Else? They don't matter. Maybe only your 2 best friends and your mom read your blog and think you're brilliant because you are. Maybe you have 50 twitter followers or 3 Facebook Likes. And maybe the rest of us are being cheated of your brilliance because you don't believe your fans when they say you should apply to speak about the Incredible Idea you have. And maybe you need to stop being mean and just share already. Please and thank you.

But BlogHer is for (Insert Preconceived Idea Here)

Think you're crowd isn't represented? Think again. Am I wrong? Speak up and be the first of your tribe to roll out the red carpet and get the party started. Think BlogHer is just for mom bloggers? Or just for women? Wrong again. Conference organizers strive to provide as diverse a program and speaking roster as possible and that, my friends, means everything from the personal to the political to the technical and the professional. When you check out the call for ideas, you'll see topics like craft, style, activism, identity, and A Whole Lot More. *Ahem* on the MultiCulti, y'all? Exactly.

What If I'm Not Selected????

Put on your big girl panties and suck it up (after your chocolate fudge brownie sundae, of course) and then try again in 2015. BlogHer is a Giant and Enormous network of bloggers. Maybe your idea doesn't get chosen but maybe it's because too many of you listened to me and applied and there just wasn't enough room. In that case, I'm sorry. Sort of. In any case, you never know unless you try.

WHAT IF I'M SELECTED????

I know, RIGHT? BlogHer is a Giant and Enormous Network of Bloggers and Now You're Gonna Be Front and Center and OHMYFUCKINGGAWDTHEPRESSURE! It's okay. Breathe. Have a nice drink (or two.) Pretend the eager audience is on the other side of a computer screen during a Google HangOut, and you'll be just fine.

I promise.

 

Things That Happened Today

* We woke up late and almost didn't make our family photo session

* Which was taking place at on our own property.

* Luckily, Crystal The Photographer is just as patient with with Kids Who Like to Roll Their Eyes Too Much as she is Writers Who Forget to Sleep.

* This was good because we haven't taken Pictures Not With a Smartphone since 2008.

* I should mention the photo session was outside.

* This only matters because some of you might be impressed.

* Although I'm not sure that the big deal is about 30 degrees & light snow is.

* Especially since we were outside for two hours.

* The best part?

* Going inside to relax after only to learn the dog rolled in moose poo.

* Again.

* And then again right after she got the first bath of the day.

* We dried ourselves off after the second bath and drove an hour to a 2-year-old's birthday party.

* And on the way we waited patiently for the Moose that wanted to get to the other side of the road.

* I'm sensing a theme.

* And now I want a burger.

On Raising a Chingona

First things first: Chingona is a controversial Mexican-slang term for badass chick. And by controversial, I mean Vanilla Vs Chocolate or Which Way You Hang Your Toilet Paper roll controversial (Scroll down to see the column debate on Latina's Facebook page.) That's just so you have some context for the rest of this post. I know. I'm considerate like that.

So why am I talking about chingonas and general bad-assery today? Because I wrote about wanting to raise one in this week's Dimelo column on Latina.com.

My daughter, whom I love dearly, has been driving me absolutely batty lately with her attitude and yanno what? I'm equally cheering the girl who stomps her feet and sets her lips with a determination so fierce that I know she will be just fine when she needs to stand her ground as an adult...just about as much as I am preparing myself mentally for the In Between Stage.

That would be everyday between today and, say, her 21 birthday.

It's gonna be interesting, that much I can tell you.

People might think I'm crazy for wanting to raise a chingona -- for celebrating her attitude and her sense of self -- and that's fine. Think what you want. Eliana comes from a long line of strong women -- of badass women -- who don't take shit from anybody and always follow their own path. And when you stop to think about it, our junior high history books are peppered with stories of the badass women -- who paved the way yesterday for the tomorrows they wouldn't see.

Amelia Earhart comes to mind immediately. And so do Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman. Rosa Parks was pretty badass, if you want my opinion. And so were Ann Frank and and Gloria Steinham.

Malala Yousafzai is another shining example of female empowerment and bad-assery. She's been through hell and now stands strong as one of the most inspiring female figures alive today. That's badass, y'all. That makes Malala and all the Malalas before and those not yet born were, are, and will be chingonas.

I thank them for their spirits and example as I navigate the rocky road between sanity and losing my damned mind while raising a girl into womanhood with the sense to embrace the baddass, the bitch -- within.

Sandra Cisneros (a Chingona herself if there ever was one) said everything I want to never forget in this clip from the HBO Latino List documentary. I'll leave you with the clip. Also? Someone remind me I wrote this in ten years when she's 16, will ya?

A List of Randomness

 

* It's 11:08 p.m. and I'm just logging in to write today's post.

* That's probably going to happen a lot in the next few weeks.

* I called my editor a polecat today via text message.

* This is funnier because I in my head I had typed "Best Mom Ever" & that's not what happened.

* The Husband & I took Eliana to the Discovery Museum today for a Family Field Trip.

* I should mention we drove two hours each way because we live in the boonies.

* She graduated to second grade recently (we homeschool) & a celebration was in order.

* Then Daddy kicked her booty in one of those table soccer games.

* Better yet, he even cheered when he scored while I stood back & smiled.

* I drove by a dog walking on the sidewalk because I had too many things to do, hoping he didn't cross into the street

* Later, I drove by the same area & a friend had a sign up on a tree in front of their house. It said "Found Dog."

* It's 11:21 p.m. now.

* There's so much more to do before I sleep.