Memories: Revisited

December. 2011.

I haven't born stopping by much lately, but today made me realize that I need to. 

It was something random I needed to find; some obscure reference to something I'd written or photographed - and I found it in my archives. What I also found was the reason I started this blog to begin with - a place to capture my words and images. A catch-all for the organized chaos of moments and things that mattered then, matter now, and maybe matter tomorrow. 

She was so little then. In the memories I tripped over in my rush to get back to to today. If no one else ever reads the words I write here, that's okay. I'd forgotten the reason I'd started. And then I found this post about our first trip to Williams, Arizona, for The Polar Express. We were living in Tucson at the time.

If I never do anything else right for the rest of my life, I did this. A memory preserved in small bits; to have and to treasure for always. 

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Think she’s old enough?”

Doesn’t matter.

“Think she’ll like it?”

Of course.

“Think she’ll…”

“DADDY!!! Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU!”

Yeah, she’ll appreciate it.

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Where are we going, Mama?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“But I don’t like surprises.”

“So we stay home.”

“That’s now that I said.”

“So it’s a surprise.”

“Where are we going, Mama?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“I see snow!”

“Isn’t it pretty?”

“Can I make a snow angel, Mama?”

“Maybe later.”

“After we get to our surprise?”

“Yeah, baby. After we get to our surprise.”

“Daddy, Mama said I can make a snow angel after we get to our surprise.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“We’re here!”

“Where’s here, Daddy?”

“Our surprise.”

“So I can make a snow angel now?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Enjoy your stay and your train ride to the North Pole.”

“The North Pole?”

“The North Pole.”

“Will Santa be there?”

“Of course. You may even see him on the train.”

“I GET TO SEE SANTA ON THE TRAIN?”

“Yes, you do.”

“I GET TO SEE SANTA ON THE TRAIN!”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Mrs. Clause can see you now.”

“Are you a real elf?”

“Are you a real girl?”

“Your ears are pointy.”

“That’s because I’m a real elf. You’re cute.”

“That’s because I’m a real girl.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Would you like to be my honorary elf?”

“But I’m a girl.”

“Girls can be honorary elves.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Just hold my hand and wave the first train off. Think you can do that?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Smile and wave, sweetie.”

“I am.”

“Not at me, you silly goose. Smile at the passengers on the train!”

“I’ll wave at them. But I’ll smile at you.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“We’re going to see Santa”

“Yes, baby. It’s our turn now.”

“Then I can make a snow angel?”

“You are adorable.”

“Can I be an adorable snow angel?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Hot! Hot! Ooh, we got it! Hot! Hot! Hey, we got it! Hot! Hot! Say, we got it! Hot chocolate!

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“What would you like for Christmas?”

“A special doll that’s just for me!”

“Merry Christmas!”

“I love you, Santa!”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Mama! It’s SNOWING!”

“I see that.”

“Now see me dancing in the snow!”

“I see that, too, baby.”

“Can we take the snow with us, Mama?”

“No, but I can take a picture of y0u dancing in the snow with us.”

“Take more, Mama. Take more!”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Am I making  good snow angel, Daddy?”

“The best.”

“I want to make it smile.”

“I think it already is, baby.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“There’s snow on my manos, Mama.”

“Yes, I know.”

“My butt is wet, Daddy.”

“I figured it would be.”

“My legs are cold, Mama.”

“Makes sense to me.”

“Can we stay here forever, Daddy?”

“Forever? No. For now? Yes.”

“For now is so pretty. Thank you for for now.”

December 5, 2011.

(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.

Volume, Visibility, and Buses, Oh My!

Not So Fine Print: blah blah blah Sponsored Post blah blah blah Full Disclosure blah blah blah That Thing About Any and All Opinions Being My Own. Moving on...

Ellen_On_Zeusvision1-1024x682

Volume and visibility.

The first refers to how much noise we are capable of generating when combining our own voice with our community to bring notice to a particular message; the second is specific to how many pairs of eyes follow the yellow-brick road to the land of Oz. Enough noise and you re-energize your existing audience and hopefully expand your reach with a few new voices. Enough eyes and you see the difference between a ripple and a wave.

The wave, y'all, is when one of your social media friends texts you excitedly because your links have started showing up in Facebook shares from her IRL friends. The wave is what happens when momentum starts working for you, turning that snowball you've been working on and turning it into a straight-up avalanche. That's when you no longer have to bust your ass and begging your friends to help promote your blog post, new book, new product line, or otherwise fabulously fantastical idea, because the ginourmous  bus that just drove by in the middle of Times Square with your blog/book/or otherwise fantastical idea all over it...

...and now you know what validation feels like.

I'm proud to announce that Zuesvision Public-- the company that prides itself on leveling the advertising playing field for the little guys -- has selected Aspiring Mama to take part in it kickstarter awareness campaign. In exchange for a blog post sharing the Zuesvision message with you, I get two weeks of bus-sized Aspring Mama ads wheeling their way through high traffic areas in both LA and NYC. II'm not an idiot, so I said yes, but I'm also a hard-ass when it comes to being convinced to sponsor up the blog, so I think it goes with0ut saying that any and all words written on behalf of Zuesvision are my own, right?

(This is the part where you come in.)

Here's the thing, y'all...we all know that it takes more than hard work and busting our asses to make an actual go of whatever it is we feel we are called to do. An advertising budget and/or pure dumb luck tend to play a big part in who we are talking about and who's talking about us. Whether it's building a successful nonprofit like my friend Denisse Montalvan with The Orphaned Earring, getting your glitter on with a new product line launch with a major retailer like my girl, Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. Crafty Chica, or selling the hell out of their book like friends Rick Najera with Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood and Mercedes Yardley with her new release Pretty Little Dead Girls, or if it's big dreams of bringing your bling to the front lines like my friends Jessica Mazone and Lucy Ball, the struggle is the same: We can write the hell out of the blog posts and share the links on our social media channels like the seasoned social veterans that we are, but we only have so much time to devote to being all self-promotional and shhhtuff.

None of it matters if no one bothers to click the links. We are busy and we'd love an intern and imagine the day when we can afford a reliable assistant to keep us (mostly) on track and of course we don't have time to click every link from the very friends we'd support at the drop of a hat if we knew they needed it (without having to click the links, of course). So here goes nothing...

I want Zuesvision to succeed. I want to see their kickstarter campaign bring it all home and cheer when the company announces the addition of more digital billboard buses to their fleet. Why? Because we need Zeusvision just as much as they need us. We raise our chances of success when we join forces and who doesn't think that ginourmous buses inching its way through Times Square with your $99 URL-containing ad aren't a good idea?

Exactly. 

So pay attention, because I'm about to play hardball.

This is the part where I ask you directly to click the link to Zuesvision's kickstarter campaign. 

This is the part where I ask you directly to donate $5, because five bucks gets you a single 30-second ad on a bus. (If all the $5 spots are taken, this is the part where I tell you to team up with friends to pool funds for one of the larger sponsor spots because...)

This is the part where I ask you directly to gift your ad spot to a worthy cause. Go with your gut, but I'd like to suggest donating that ad spot you just bought Denisse Montalvan of The Orphaned Earring. She is doing incredible things and this is so much easier than scaling a mountain and shouting myself hoarse on her behalf.

And this is the part where I say thank you. 

Let's see what we can accomplish together, Internet. I believe in you.

Hashtag MultiCulti 2014

Photo Credit: Google It's time to celebrate the Everything, y'all. More specifically, it's time to celebrate the Everything that we are as individuals and the diversified fabulousnesses (shut up- it's called poetic license) that makes BlogHer the thriving community we love.

Last year my jaw hit the floor when I was asked to cohost the first ever #MultiCulti community party with Ananda Leeke and Dwana Delacerna. To say I was honored is an understatement. To be asked to return as cohostess for the same event with the same amazing women is flat out just fucking amazing.

And yes, thank you very much for asking. I am quite proud I made it to the end of the second paragraph before dropping my first F Bomb.

The success of the MultiCulti cocktail I dreamed up -- with The Husband's help, of course -- was just the icing on the proverbial cake that I'm probably allergic to. The cocktail, actually, is the reason I'm writing this. You see, I didn't just throw alcohol in a glass and ice it without thought before tossing it back and calling it good. (Although that's not entirely a bad idea.) No way, y'all. The MultiCulti was all about celebrating all that makes us who we are and the cultures and cultural identities we call our own. The cocktail had to reflect that. And then it had to actually taste good. I've got standards, y'all. As a former waitress and bartender, my street cred was totally on the line.

Here's what I came up with:

BlogHer MultiCulti Cocktail

Non-Alcoholic Version

Equal Parts:

* Coconut Water

* Pomegranate Juice

* Blueberry Juice

*  Apple Juice

* White Grape Juice

* A splash of club soda

The Breathalyzer Version?

* Add two splashes of Malibu Rum

So why this particular mix? So glad you asked, Internet.

* Coconut Water is and has historically been a popular drink in the tropics, especially India, the Brazilian Coast, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Caribbean.

* Pomegranates are considered to have originated in the vicinity of Iran and have been cultivated since ancient times. Today the pomegranate is also grown throughout the Mediterranean, Africa, parts of southeast Asia, and in Arizona and California here in the United States. It's also important to note that the pomegranate was introduced to Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769.

* Blueberries and are native to North America with Michigan and Maine coming out on top.

* Apples originated in Central Asia and have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. The saying "As American as apple pie" didn't exist until European colonists showed up on American shores. Apples also have a major role in Norse, Greek, and Christian traditions and mythology.

* Grapes have a pretty impressive history dating back up to 8,000 years ago in Western Asia. And the oldest winery was found in Armenia dating to around 4000 BC. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics show grapes cultivated for wine, and historians tell us that Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans grew purple grapes for both eating and wine production. Eventually, grape cultivation made its way to other regions in Europe, North Africa, and North America.

* Rum has a hefty history and plays a part in the culture of most islands of the West Indies as well as in the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland. It's been associated with The Royal Navy, the principal naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces, as well as piracy. Rum also was used as a form of currency to help fund organized crime, slavery, and even the American Revolution. Today rum is produced everywhere from Belize and Colombia to Australia, Canada, and Fiji.

See? Awesome, right?

Now, I can't say what's in store for the MultiCulti at #BlogHer14, because we're still in planning mode. One thing I can say, though, is that the MultiCulti is not our party. It's yours. We want you to own this party.

How do you do that?

* Hashtag the hell out of #Multiculti on your social media channels in the days leading up to the party

* Write  blog post sharing what multiculturalism means to you

* Give a nod to The Year of the Selfie by posting a #multiculti pic celebrating the Heinz 57 mix that makes you...you

* Tweet me with a favorite song (or 10) for a chance to have it included in the official #multiculti playlist we will be jamming to during the actual party

* Check out BlogHer's Community Party Plan for Friday, July 25. We'd love to see you!

And, of course, join me and the growing #chingonafest community during our weekly Wednesday night twitter chats, at 10 PM, EST. We'll be talking about the importance of celebrating diversity in our personal (and social media)! I may even have a surprise or two to give away during the chat. Use #BlogHer14 #MultiCulti & #Chingonafest in your tweets, and follow me, Ananda, and Dwana for some fun conversation! The #chingonafest hashtag may be culturally specific, but the spirit behind it is universal. That means we all get to play together in the sandbox.(Click here for my Latina Magazine column that lunched #chingonafest!)

I'm looking forward to so much in the coming week, and I know you are, too. For now, enjoy a look back at last year's beautiful faces and take a moment to just breathe before The Crazy officially kicks off.

Cheers, y'all!

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#ChingonaFest Fridays: Carol Cain

 Welcome to WEEK 13 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 it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies?  Lorraince C. Ladish made me look bad two weeks ago (but only because she looks so good and Elisa Camahort Page shined last week because that's what happens when you're Made of Awesome.

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’s featured Chingona is …Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel.

 Cain is an amazing force on the internet, sharing her passion for discovery in food and travel on her award-winning site, Girl Gone Travel. Trust me when I say that if you aren't already following, that you should be.

And now? It’s time for the interview!

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Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?  

Carol Cain: Chocolate…and a little nutty, like me.

 PC: And the tone of this interview is officially set. I like it. Favorite book and why...

CC: The Illiad because I first read it in college and was so engrossed by the story and how beautiful it told. There are tons of others: Like Water for Chocolate, In The Time of Butterflies, but that is one of my all time favorite.

PC: I love Like Water for Chocolate! I may re-reading that one soon. What's your favorite quote? 

CC: “It’s not that I’m fearless. It’s that I hate being afraid.” It’s actually my own, and a mantra I tell myself over and over to find courage when it fails me.

 PC: You are *so* #Chingonafest material. I KNEW it. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

CC: Ahhhh…loaded question. And, no. I suppose that others will, and have, thought I am because of my strong will, and confidence and outspokenness. But I am not much of a follower and I don’t really love labels, nor the expectations that they set for you. Though there are many feminists of color, I don’t really feel like the movement speaks for me and my lifestyle. That’s not to say I don’t support the women’s movement and female empowerment. I just want to be able to walk around barefoot  and pregnant while doing laundry and making dinner, and my husband supports me and my children and not get shit for it. I want to live my life however I please without having anyone tell me I am lacking in representing any group or movement. So I just don’t claim to and owe no one anything in exchange.

PC: *Nodding head* Sugar Jones had a similar answer in her interview. She basically said Yes, but as defined to suit her own definition. I'm down with that. And I get it, too, now that I am being referred to as a Latina feminist here and there. The label doesn't really fit, but it does sometimes and, oh hell...back to Why Carol Cain Kicks Ass, yes? Describe yourself in third person…

CC: Carol really hates describing herself in the third person.

 PC: I think we should have recorded this one and saved it for the podcast I'm eventually going to make happen. Points for perfectly timing that deadpanned response. Tell me, who inspires you?

CC: My mother. She was the strongest woman I ever knew. I wish I had time to grow into my own womanhood long enough to tell her that.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

CC: My children.

PC: I love how you share your family with us on social media. Every time I see your boys in a photo, I see their love for you in their eyes. And the kicker is..it isn't sappy, which is surprising, because it *should* be sappy...which just makes it even more awesome. Right? Now...Do you dream in color or black and white?

CC: Color most of the time, but sometimes in sepia.

PC: Pretty sure the Sepia thing is a new one over here. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…

CC: Confident and brave.

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

CC: According to the media, there is only one kind of Latina…or two. She’s fashionable and really pretty and delicate and is an amazing cook and really sexy – without even trying – and just charming as hell. And Latinas play into that and it sucks. I'm an adventurous, tomboy, non-fashionista Latina.

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

CC: You can do it, and when you can’t it’s OK too.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

CC: Walking barefoot along the shores of Puerto Rico as a little girl.

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

CC: English, my first language. Unless I’m angry…than it’s Spanish all the way.

PC: Right there with ya, sister. What's your favorite dish? Why?

CC: Rice and beans…with avocado salad. Yum.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough?

CC: For me I assume, cause really who gives a shit. And yes. I’m enough.

PC: BOOYAH, bitches. 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?

CC: My mother. Sushi and Malbec because I so much to tell her!

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

CC: Ahh…that’s just you, girl.

PC: My mother always told me I was special. *shrugs* One Latina stereotype you despise?

CC: That we are sex-obsessed. That we all want to have children and get married. That we all know how to cook. That we all like fashion and heels and make up.

PC: Okay, I said one...but each single piece adds to the stereotype as a whole. I'll just shut up now. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

CC: That family is everything to us. For the most part, this is very true. Familia sobre todo.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

CC: With my family at home or traveling. I enjoy them so much.

 

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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 with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. Two besties made a bet on who I would say is right. For the record? They were both wrong.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com. Don't worry. I promise to give you a kick-ass code-name that doesn't rhyme with your own.

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Who likes Pretty Pictures? My art and #ChingonaFest related snazziness are available by clocking the following links:

Etsy - #MexicaninMaine

Etsy - ChingonaFest

Zazzle - ChingonaFest (make sure your filter is set to moderate because Zazzle says I'm a badass.)

Society6 - Pauline Campos

And because I like you so much...

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! 

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

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Lisann Valentin

  Welcome to WEEK 8 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama! I had technical difficulties last week and wasn't able top get back online early enough to make it happen on Friday, but I'm back and I brought my chingonas with me.

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 Tiasand 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? Jenni Rivera and her partner in crime, Jesenia the Comedian, 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 a good friend and incredibly inspiring force. Her name is Lisann Valentin and as a writer, director, actress, and practicing attorney, she's also really good at making my resume look like shit. I'm not mad at Li, though, because it's not like she's doing it on purpose.

I think.

Lisann's website has all the background you'll want to check out (It's okay...I'll wait....)

And you can check out her blog and follow her on twitter here.

And now for the interview!

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Lisann Valentin

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Lisann Valentin: Vanilla Swiss Almond (Häagen-Dazs)  Nom Nom Nom.

PC: You look innocent enough. Figures you'd have to be difficult. It's okay. I like difficult. So...Favorite book? And why?

LV: I have so many! I just love falling into stories. For the sake of this interview, I’ll pick two very different books. The first is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’ve read and re-read this book the most. I picked it up at a pivotal time in my life.

I also really loved reading The Hotel New Hampshire by John Iriving. It was an amazing, crazy, and at times uncomfortable read. Kind of like me. It’s a keeper.

PC: Eat, Pray, Love is my bible and I refuse to watch the movie for fear of hating Julia Roberts for ruining the book for me. As for being an uncomfortable keeper, I think I love you now. What's your favorite quote?

LV: Never never never give up. –Winston Churchill

PC:  Do you consider yourself a feminist?

LV: I refer to my nuclear family as Amazon women – as in warriors -  so what do you think? ;-)

PC: No way, sister. My blog. My interview. You're the one who gets to think. At least until I have more coffee. Also? Wonder Woman is Mexican, so BOOYAH, BITCHES. Now...Describe yourself in third person...

LV: Lisann Valentin is a force to be reckoned with! She is a successful, vibrant and truly authentic person whose life is an inspiration to anyone who has ever dared to chase a dream.

(Gotta throw that out into the Universe!)

PC: The Universe sometimes needs the slow pitch. I'm thinking of buying it a tee... But I like your moxie. Who inspires you?

LV: My mother and my sister both inspire me. My mom is a retired computer engineer, an interior designer, and DIY enthusiast. My sister is a singer/songwriter, fashionsita and an artist. As you can see we like wearing many hats. They are both truly courageous and talented women. They’re the kind of women who own a room and are immediately adored by everyone because of the beautiful inner light that they radiate. I love them beyond words. They truly inspire me to be stronger and to dream bigger.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

LV: Young people, especially within the Latin community. I think there’s still this idea that in order to be successful we must walk a certain path. But I think success is subjective. As long as we are doing what we love, as long as we have found our dharma in this world, then to me that is defined as success.

To inspire others to dream big, (I mean really big) and to reinforce the notion that it is within their grasp is so very important to me. I remember when I taught fifth grade I stood in front of that room and told my class that each and every one of those children could be whatever they wanted to be. I was not only a lawyer but also their teacher and from their neighborhood. If could do it, why couldn’t they?

We can be more than just one thing. Our paths can zig zag, and the more they wind and curve the better. As we grow we can actually change our minds and pursue new goals and dreams!

I just want to plant that seed and if my life is the example that inspires the growth of these dreams, then I can ask for nothing more.

PC: I love that you say we can be more than just one thing. You have no idea how hard I'm laughing right now. Also? Can you say Mexican-American mama-writer-wife-with-mad-Spanglish skillz AND ADHD? *Exactly.* So, do you dream in color or black and white?

LV: In color – vivid colors. I write my dreams down. I analyze and interpret my dreams. And they have a habit of coming true.

PC: Ever dream about the lottery? Don't answer that. And stop ignoring my text messages, dammit. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

LV: Bad-ass.

PC: You are always allowed to play in my sandbox. Wait. Why did that sound dirty? And really uncomfortable? How's that for a bad segue into the next question on your feeling about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

LV: Ahh… how my answer to this same question has changed over the years. It’s a hard question to answer as an actress because I understand the struggle that people outside of the industry don’t necessarily get to see.

On the one hand, we come in all different shades, shapes and sizes. I think that overcoming that hurdle (that notion that to be Latina means to look one certain way) will take more time. So the more of us out there showing the world our diversity, the better.

But there are stereotypes that I embrace, such as being portrayed as passionate and strong-willed. These are traits that are very true to who I am.

Now will I not play a role because of the job a character has in a particular story? I don’t know. I will say this – it’s always about that character and what I can contribute to the role and to the story itself.

The more of us that are in the media that strive to create authentic stories, the more the landscape will change. We have the power to create that change more so now than those who blazed the trail before us ever did. But we shouldn’t sit and criticize those that are actually out there doing something. Divided we accomplish nothing.

So you will not hear me bash Sofia Vergara, Eva Longoria or Jennifer Lopez. They are powerhouses. They are smart.  They grab opportunities by the balls and I respect that. They’re Chingonas who I’m sure have more up their sleeves than we can even imagine.

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

LV: Dancing in the rain while barefoot in Puerto Rico. I was about 11 years old with my little sister and we were laughing and loving every minute of it while my mother looked on, smiling, from the balcony of our house. When my island tugs at my heart, I remember this and I smile.

PC: That sounds like one memory to alway hold on to. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

LV: M’hija, all of the above.

PC: And this is why we are friends. What's your favorite dish? Why?

LV: I make a mean eggplant parmesan. That’s my favorite because my guests will always go for seconds. And ever the hostess, I truly enjoy feeding my guests.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

LV: Hell yes! Identity is such a personal thing and I’m very content with who I am as a woman and a Latina. I will not let anyone define that for me, as much as they may try.

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

LV: Uh yea, or else I would choke on those chocolate covered almonds.

PC: You are so my people...

 

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine and be sure to send me your questions todimelo@latina.com.

Check out my Zazzle Shop for Sassy Spanglish Digital Quote Prints and sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter (Look at the sidebar, y’all)! Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

Braver (Together)

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Let’s talk about Being Brave.

Not with a sword, but with our voices. Maybe we use a pen. Maybe we click, clack away on a keyboard, looking up only every now and then at the words born onto the white screen before us. Maybe we are Brave with our voices or a maybe it’s with a paintbrush.

We are Brave when we share our truth with others. We are Braver Still when we know we are not alone.

Jenn Marshall calls it Finding Our Brave. I call it Writing Without a Filter. Whatever you call it, the premise is the same, whether we write about our personal struggles with bipolar or eating disorders or sexuality, we are brave when we share that which others can connect with and know they are not alone.

What’s my Brave?

I’ll be honest. I’m only halfway home when it comes to fully embracing it. But that’s the beauty of Being Brave. For each of us, Bravery means different things and we are each defining the term for ourselves every time we sit down to share a new Something Personal about ourselves.

Me? I’m a life-long recovering bulimic with compulsive eating tendencies. I’m ADHD and sometimes will do circus tricks if you give me coffee when my brain is moving faster than my medication can work. I have anxiety issues that tend to spike when my ADHD is in high gear and suffer from dermitillomania. That last one is a fancy word for the OCD scab-picking condition I didn’t know wasn’t just a stupid habit I couldn’t break until last year. I’ve suffered from depression, attempted suicide, and founded a website to help myself while helping others learn that nurturing our self-worth and self-image is the key to recovery for many of the demons we deal with daily.

Am I fixed? Hell no. Am I on my way? Today I am. I’ll let you know about tomorrow when it gets here.

How do I manage to Be Brave and share these words with the world? Because I have to. Because I want to. Because I need to.

Because I had to find my Own Brave on my journey and wish I could have known people like Jennifer Marshall when I was looking for someone else to Be Brave with me. I just wanted someone to relate to.

Together, we can be Braver, and isn’t that the point?

 

** This piece was recently published on I Am Ballsy. (Because, yeah, I am.)

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Sugar Jones

Welcome to WEEK 5 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. How's your Easter weekend so far? Mine currently involves trying to get ahead on my #Dimelo column for Latina so I can be slightly less crazy -- for a minute, anyway -- and possibly unpacking the suitcase from my trip to New York trip, which is still sitting in the middle of my living room. And no, you are not allowed to ask when I vacuumed last. But enough about me. Let’s get back on the Spanglish Bitchfest Wagon, shall we? 

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. 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? Lori Luna and Helen Troncoso 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's featured Chingona is Sugar Jones? I met Sugar way back when at my first blogging conference in Phoenix. My friend Becca Ludlum invited me to carpool with her to Tiffany Romero's Bloggy Bootcamp and I'm still thrilled I said yes. Sugar is total Chingona material. She's worked as a Brand Ambassador for Nintendo, Invisalign, Vicks, and Verizon and on amazing campaigns for Ford, Harley-Davidson, Kodak, Stella Artois, and many others. As a recognized face on the San Diego social media scene, Sugar has been called upon to speak on television and conferences about the growing medium and the technologies she uses to bring her lifestyle stories to life. As a Blogger and Mom, she has been featured on various San Diego news stations, talking about family, food, fun, and travel. Check out her blog, Living the Sweet Life

And now! Time for the interview!

 

 

Sugar Jones

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

 

Sugar Jones: Rocky Road 

 

PC: Always gotta be difficult, I see. Probably that's why I like you. Favorite book and why?...

 

SJ: Bird by Bird. I love the book, but the way I came about discovering it makes it extra special. I was living in a tiny hippy town in Marin. One Saturday, I was walking around the downtown area. Didn't take long at all, but the shops were great for lingering in. I found a little shop that had a table of books that were signed by local authors. After reading the back cover, I thought, well this sounds cool. I later found out just how cool it was to have that extra bonus of having it signed by Anne Lammot herself.

 

PC: *Jaw on Floor* A SIGNED ANNE LAMMOT BOOK? Woman, I'll totally always let you refer t me  by my first name in public no matter how sort of famous I get if you hook me up! We can talk about the specifics later. For now -- What's your favorite quote?:

SJ: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~ Anais Nin 

 

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist? WAIT...SIGNED BOOK! Did you enter to win the signed copy of Rick Najera's Almost White? 'Cuz you should totally do that. Feminist, back to the thing about being a feminist. Are you?

 

SJ: I have a hard time with this. I feel very strongly about being a strong, competent, adventurous woman, but I don't feel that I'm being weak by wanting to enjoy certain domestic duties. I embrace what it is to be a woman, but I don't identify with the women that feel that we've been wronged somehow. You work with what you've got. 

PC: I'm totally with you there. I'm perfectly happy with doing the dishes as long as The Husband stops trying to make me learn how to change the oil on my truck. But I'm not about to submit to anyone, unless the act involves a byline and a paycheck. Pretty sure the word means something slightly different to everyone. Moving on...Describe yourself in third person.

 

SJ: She's really funny and cool, but man... do NOT piss her off! 

 

PC: Okay. You win at this question. Who inspires you?

 

SJ: I don't know that one person inspires me. I'm inspired by the simplicity and awesomeness of nature and I'm always reminded that while in this life experience, I am the star of this movie in my head, I am really just a very tiny speck in the Universe. 

 

PC: Yeah, but it's the movie inside your head that counts, sister. Who is it you hope to inspire?

 

SJ: People that want to live the sweet life... even through the caca.

 

PC: And that, boys and girls, is today's Spanish lesson from Ms. Sugar. Repeat after me: Caca means shit. Good. Now everybody ask Ms. Sugar if she dreams in color or black & white?

 

SJ: I dream in Technicolor 

 

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

 

SJ: ORALE! 

 

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

 

SJ: I once wrote about a character on a cable show. I was, at the time, on the blogger network for this cable channel. They were not happy that I criticized the one Latina character they had for one episode. Her name was Marisol, she worked at a bakery, and her white army husband beat her. Yeah... awesome. It's either that or a hot skinny Latina that looks great in heels and thousand dollar dresses. I don't know... I kinda gave up on the media ever getting us right.  

 

PC: I mentioned Rick Najera's book and the contest right? Because Latino representation in Hollywood and diversity is the topic. No pressure or anything, but I'm gonna be pissed if you don't enter. Anyway...  One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

 

 SJ: Never feel bad about being weird and never settle for normal. 

 

PC: It's like you KNOW me. I love it. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

 

SJ: My Tio Keco caught a bird in a park once. I thought it was the coolest thing. Then he let it go, and I was so pissed! I cried so hard! He laughed at me and said, "You can't keep the bird in your hand. They need to fly!" 

 

PC: That one made me smile. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

SJ: Spanish and English. We live on both sides of the border and I'm training myself to think and speak in Spanish more. My daughter and I watch Gossip Girl with the subtitles, so I'm learning how to be really devious in Español, tambien. Cuidado, Chuck y Blair

 

PC: I don't even know I'm speaking Spanish when I'm frat party drunk. Which never actually happened, Readers Who May be In College. That wouldn't be a good example to be sharing with impressionable young minds. Instead, let's focus on the next question. What's your favorite dish? Why?

 

 SJ: I love a nice bowl of beef Phó. I know... you were expecting menudo, right? Well, that, too.

 

PC: At this point I have learned to not expect the expected from you. Do you feel "Latina enough"?

 

SJ: Sometimes, but it's usually when my family is teasing me about my Spanish. It always seems to get harder to speak when I'm in front of them. Son muy criticones.  

 

PC: I know exactly what you mean. Also I have no idea if you even said that right, so it's all good. Next! 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?

 

SJ: It's a toss up between my Nana and my dad. I miss my Nana and I really didn't get to spend any time with my dad. I loved hearing their stories. I would be happy to just sit an listen to them again.

 

PC: Tell your dad to being your nana as his Plus One. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

 

SJ: I turn the spoon over and put the ice cream right on to my tongue. Straight to the tastebuds!!!  

 

PC: Cut out the middle man. Fucking brilliant. One Latina stereotype you despise?

 

SJ: That we all look a certain way. I hate hearing "You don't LOOK Mexican." I always respond with, "Well, I AM Mexican, so I do look like a Mexican." And then I say something about not having a leaf blower must confuse them or something snitty like that. 

 

PC: Snitty is good. I don't "look" Mexican, either. I'm too tall. My hair is too kinky. I'm not balancing ten kids and that leaf blower you fucking borrowed without asking me...again. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

 

SJ: Our SPICINESS!!!!!  

 

PC: That's my fave, too. Describe your perfect day.

 

SJ: A day at the beach with my family... my kids, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, people related by rumor... my mom is there, pero no me esta fregando con su OCD. The guys with the snack carts come by and we have plenty of pesos to buy as much ceviche tostadas and chicharrones con chile y limon that we want. And later that night, we have a big ol' bonfire and fall asleep in our sleeping bags under the stars.

 

Essssooooooo...

 

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine and be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

Check out my Mexican in Maine Etsy shop for Sassy Spanglish Digital Quote Prints and sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter (Look at the sidebar, y’all)! Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Veronica Arreola

It's week TWO for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, Pili Montilla graced the blog as the first Chingona and it was fabulous. Today, the fabulous continues with proud feminist Veronica Arreola sitting in the hot seat. 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!

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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.

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out this week’s Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine (this week’s reader says she's twelve and that love hurts like hell. Yeah, y;all. I KNOW...! Send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

#Chingonafest Fridays: Pili Montilla

Welcome to a new weekly feature on Aspiring Mama. I'm calling it #Chingonafest Fridays because 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. Pili Montilla, an EMMY award-winnig TV host & producer of the music show "Te Para Tres (Tea for Three) with Pili Montilla",  decided to make me look good by agreeing to go first. Pili is also an entertainment reporter, actor, blogger, lover of music, and considers herself a "life absorber".

Told you she's a chingona. I'll give you a minute to go do that liking and following thing on Facebook and twitter (and twitter.)

Ready?

Good.

Now it's time to get on with that interview.

Pauline Campos: What's your favorite quote?

Pili Montilla: “Un ‘NO’ te acerca más a un ‘SI’.” (“A ‘NO’ gets you closer to a ‘YES.’) My dad tells me that every time I don’t book a job. It reminds me that a ‘No’ is not equivalent to failure. Instead, this quote teaches me to be patient, that everything happens for a reason and at the perfect time.

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

PM: I’m the youngest of three girls. My mom raised the three of us to be feminists, yet she really doesn’t practice feminism. She’s always depended on my dad and she never pursued a career.

I am certain that for those exact reasons she was so adamant about us finding something we were passionate about and pursue a career around it. My parents have never pushed us to get married or have kids. Quite the opposite! It was very clear that we should grow up to be independent, strong women. They succeeded!

So, I definitely have an inclination towards feminist ideals, but I am pro-equality more than anything else.

PC: Describe yourself in third person...

 PM:Pili is a hard working, disciplined Latina who dreams big, but is clear that dreaming is not enough. She knows it takes sweat and tears to make dreams reality. She’s also a bit of a goofball. She makes the weirdest, funniest faces when she’s alone in front of the mirror. She’s opinionated, which has it’s pros and cons and has definitely gotten her into trouble. If there is something Pili feels passionate about, it’s music. This girl LOVES her música! She feels most alive when dancing at a live concert.

 PC: Great. You're writing the bio for my book jacket when the time comes. Sounds like you're pretty confident. I like that. Where do you draw that strength from? Who inspires you?

PM: Those who fearlessly go in full pursue of their dreams. 

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

 PM: Through my music show “Té Para Tres con Pili Montilla” I’ve created a space where up-and-coming artists can truthfully open up and tell their story while also sharing their music. It is through their heartfelt stories of failures and triumphs that I hope to inspire others. My biggest reward is getting messages on our Facebook page of fans that have watched the show and tell me that they are back to pursuing their passion because they were inspired by the stories presented on the show.

I hope to continue giving these artists a chance to share their talent with the world. Their work undoubtedly inspires others. 

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

 PM: Fuerte.

PC: I'll take that and a bag of chips. Speaking of strength,how do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

PM: I don’t think we’re represented in the media. At least not in a truthful manner. There is a perception of what Latinas are like that is being represented in the media, but that’s mostly stereotypes of Latinas.

Look at Sofia Vergara for example. Exaggerated accent and curves, fake tan and died hair. Like her, I am a blonde Latina but she has had to dye her hair dark to get more roles. I refuse to do that (¡Y mira que me lo han preguntado!) Why? Because I am not going to succumb to stereotypes. Instead I want to break them.

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

PM: I was brat when I was 8 years old. I mean, a big time malcriada. I misbehaved that whole year, so instead of los Tres Reyes Magos bringing me a bike,  I got “carbón” (charcoals) and a floor full of camel pee.

 I learned my lesson.

PC: Sounds like it. I may need to talk to your mother about parenting lessons in being a hardass. And I think I've got the answer to my next question, but I'll  ask anyway. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

PM: I’m all over the place. Spanglish is definitely by strongest language (Yup, I am trilingual!) However I usually think In Spanish when speaking in Spanish and in English when speaking inglés. 

 PC: What's your favorite dish? Why?

PM: Tostones. Why? Two words: Fried plantains. 

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

 PM: Oh si. I feel super Latina. With this gringa look and all, I am as Latina as Latina’s get. I’ve never ever questioned my “Latinahood”. I’m truly blessed to have been born in Puerto Rico and have been raised in such a colorful and interesting culture.

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

PM: I usually chew it, but that’s because I like ice cream with things in it. You know, like Heath Bar crunch, nuts, granola and all that yumminess.

PC: Right. I chew the plain stuff. Ayway....Gimme one Latina stereotype you despise?

PM: That we all have big butts. I’m still waiting for some junk in my trunk.

PC: I'll gift you some of mine. Now for one Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

PM: Being loud. We let ourselves be noticed. I am extremely proud of being Latina and loud. By nature we are happy people. We love to laugh, dance, drink, eat, have a lot of friends and talk. We are very animated human beings. And we’re loud. AND I LOVE THAT!

PC: Your perfect day.

PM: “Sun is shining, weather is sweet...make you wanna move your dancing feet!”  Bob Marley.

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingoaFest. And don't forget to check out this week's Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine (this week's reader wants t know if he dumped her because she wasn't ready for sex)!

In Which I Introduce The Maybe List

 

Item #598 for which I am thankful: The Maybe List.

Thursday was spent with new friends at their home. We ate and then gabbed upstairs while we let the kids run loose in the basement playroom until it was time to leave. Eventually realized we had overestimated our children's ability to reason without supervision, which I realize is Incredibly Obvious, but there was wine in our glasses, people.

The marker on the walls and the small piles of curls were found on the basement floor right about the time we were saying our good-byes and bundling up in the winter coats. Thankfully, my child has the kind of hair most adult women can only dream of -- and so much of it -- that that it actually took me a good 30 minutes of searching to find the section she lopped off when nobody was looking. She says she was trying to help me save time by trimming her split ends herself, so I took the hint and gave her that trim I've been meaning to do and haven't had time for because life always seems to be on fast-forward these days.

Before she went to bed, I made a big deal about a text message notification I'd just received and hammed it up with wide eyes and "Oh my..." and waited for her to ask me what the message was.

"It's Santa," I told her, straight-faced and owning that time-share in Hell I'm probably earning. "He wanted me to tell you something."

"What?? WHAT???" Eyes wild and hands clasped to her chest, Eliana stared up at me. "WHAT IS IT? WHAT DID SANTA SAY, MAMA?"

"He said he's not amused." I sighed dramatically. "I wonder what he means by that?"

My child looked worried. I tried not to look smug.

"He knows," she said.

"I'm betting. That's probably why he just moved you to The Maybe List."

"What's The Maybe List, Mama?" Her voice was squeaky. That happens when she tries playing poker with Mama and Mama calls her bluff.

"You've never heard of The Maybe List?" I feigned surprise. "Oh well, that's as it should be, of course. It's not exactly... public information."

Eliana was now more curious that she was worried. A secret Santa text message with potential spy-worthy information? Could it get any better? Still, I waited for her to make the next move.

"I promise to keep it a secret, Mama. You can tell Santa I said that."

So I did. Or not. I was actually sending a tweet and told her it was a text and then I "Oh My'd" again when enough time had passed for a response to seem realistic. "Just told him," I said. "Santa says I can tell you. But remember -- this is top secret stuff."

And she promised again and I gave an official looking nod. "Okay then. Everybody's heard of the Naughty and Nice list, yes? Little girls and boys who are kind and caring and thoughtful and listen to their mamas and daddies are rewarded for their good behavior choices with gifts from Santa. Those who are rude and mean and selfish are left with nothing but a piece of coal in their stockings, and that sounds like a pretty horrible Christmas morning, doesn't it?"

Eliana nodded solemnly. "Cutting my own hair was pretty naughty, wasn't it?

"Well, you were trying to help me, which is thoughtful. But you tried cutting your own hair with adult scissors and it wasn't naughty, exactly, but it wasn't the smartest thing to do. You're lucky you didn't have to get more cut off to even it out, little girl."

She blinked. I blinked back.

"So...I'm on The Maybe List, then? What's that mean?"

"Well, it works like this," I said, thinking it all up as I went along, "kids on the nice list get gifts from Santa. Kids on the naughty list get coal. But the kids on The Maybe list don't find out until Christmas morning if they get anything at all..."

"WHAT?"

"Okay, so here's how it works, I said, "Nice means if you ask Santa for a drum set that's gonna drive mama crazy, you might get it anyway because Santa has been paying attention to all your good choices throughout the year. Naughty means mamas and daddies could tell Santa how their rude little child should get another chance and get his or her gifts anyway because it's Christmas but Santa won't budge.

"Well, the Maybe List," I continued, "works like this: Santa likes you. He thinks you're a smart kid. And he wants to bring you a few special things you've asked him for. He's not putting you on the Naughty List for the hair cut, but he isn't quite sure about the Nice List, either. That means he's leaving it up to me. I'm gonna be up when he walks through that front door and when he does, carrying all of your gifts, he's going to ask me if he gets to leave them. If I say yes, well, hello Christmas! But if I say no, Santa has to turn right around and take that bag of presents right out to the sleigh again to pass out to other boys and girls."

"Wait a minute," she said, "You are in charge of Santa?"

"Only if you're on the Maybe List. That means for the entire month of December, I'm the one who's gonna be making my list and checking it twice. And if you try really hard and make good behavior choices, I'll high five Santa on his way to the tree."

"Like not cutting my hair and not not sharing my iPad with my friends?"

I nodded solemnly. "Exactly."

I gave her a minute to process. Obviously, this was a lot to take in.

"Okay..." she began, "but does this mean the milk and cookies aren't for Santa anymore?"

I hid a smile in the hair she had cut as I kissed her forehead and tucked her in to bed. "We can talk about that one another night."

 

 

Kim Kardashian's Unlikely Champion

 

photo(191)

 

Disclaimer: I'm not on Kim Kardashian's radar. I'm not even a blip in her world.

I'm also not a fan of reality T.V., think that Honey-Boo-Boo is a good idea on any level, or appreciate what Snookie did to my brain when I tried reading her book (Hey, I was curious.) Nor do I give a damn if Kim is in a bikini selling fat-burning pills or fully dressed and eating actual food. I might have issues with naming the baby North when her last name happens to be West -- mostly because... just...seriously?.... -- but that's a topic for a different post.

Just so we are clear, though, I don't keep up with the Kardashians. Unless I happen to see it in a cover story while checking out at the grocery store, I don't see it at all. I'm just not interested in the People Being Famous for Being Famous thing.

What I am interested in, however, is coming to terms with the fact that I'm finding myself defending Kim from society and the expected walk of shame any celebrity mom is subjected to via magazine cover story wars if she isn't showcasing a taut tummy in a skimpy bikini six weeks after pushing the baby out her hoo-ha. Trust me when I say I never thought I'd hear myself say anything that sounded like "Just leave the poor girl alone, dammit." Not about a Kardashian, anyway.

And yet, here I am. It was a given the moment I laid eyes on the headline. "Kim's Body Struggle." In Touch Magazine  added commentary such as "I Need to be Skinny Now!" and "The Struggle to Stop Eating for Two!" to make it all the more dramatic because if it's not sex that sells, drama is a reliable back-up. Even when the drama is bullshit.

Click! Comment! Repeat!

When I see something of interest, be it a guy juggling flaming sticks on a unicycle or a magazine that pisses me off, I get the iPhone out of my bra, snap a picture, and post it to instagram and the rest of my social media outlets. And I did just that while strangers wondered why I didn't just buy the magazine I was holding in my hand.

If you follow me online for five minutes, you'll know where my brain is pretty quickly. Body Image and working to help women see the value in themselves independent of the scale, bullshit BMIs, and Other People's Perceptions are big on my list. In my work (and as a lifelong recovering bulimic) I've come to learn that self-image is the great equalizer for us ladies. Doesn't matter if we are filthy fucking rich and famous, dirt poor and not, tall and thin, or short and Plus Size at a Size 10 and Up. We all have issues. We all have fat days. We all think we could be better/look better/be skinnier/weigh less and we've bought into society's bullshit message that we aren't good enough until approval is granted.

Glory & Lady Balls

We bitch the media tells us we aren't good enough just the way we are and then we buy another copy of People with a headline and a bikini telling us how we, too, can starve ourselves stupid in six weeks or less. We are obsessed with celebrity baby bumps and get pissy if we don't get our regular fix of Bump Watch because They Are Famous and We Must Glorify. Then we turn around and snicker when magazines go after Kim Kardashian or Melissa Joan Hart or Jessica Simpson for having the balls to eat food in public.

And we wonder why the rest of us are so fucked up? Why our daughters are asking us if they need to go on a diet instead of if they can please have some ice cream on a hot summer day? Or why we can't look in a mirror without picking our reflections apart? It's all a giant snowball that keeps rolling downhill, gathering more negative bits as it gets bigger and faster and rolls down the slippery slope heavier than it was just moments before. And giant snowballs suck.

Especially when we pretend they don't.

The Unlikely Champion

I might not be on the Kardashian Christmas card list, but I'm also not going to ignore comments stating that Kim deserves the backlash (and I did get a few of those.) Yes, I get that she made her name a household one with her body and that men are pissy that their sex symbol is currently preoccupied with motherhood and redefining normal. But that doesn't means Kim deserves to be ridiculed for being human any more than the rest of us do.

I'm not talking down to anyone who thinks like this because I used to think like this. To be honest, She Knew What She Was Getting Into did (see also: Big Girl Panties) did cross my mind more than once. But I caught myself. If this is the mindset, then only models & all of MTV should be subject to this type of backlash. And strippers, porn stars, Hugh hefner's girlfriends, and Hooters waitresse, too.

But it's not just them. It's all of us. We are all held to the  standard photo-shopped ideal of perfection. Kim Kardashian may be today's news based on (perceived) lack of sex appeal, but we are all dealing with the trickle-down effect. I am not a fan of the kardashian clan, but I'm not telling Kim she should have expected the media backlash and deal.

That's not fair to her. That's not fair to any of us.

 

Behind Every Set of Nice Cleavage.....

When you can finally tear your eyes away from Evelyn Lozada's fabulous set of chichis, take a gander at the text near the bling on her left wrist (or stage right, for you fancy folk).

I think this is my first tease appropriate to write home to the family about. Don't tell anybody, but they're talking about me on page 32. Which I think may be my new favorite number now and for forever. Or at least until I see where I landed in September.

Ohmygawd, y'all... Latina knows my name. And I'm allergic to alcohol.

Dammit.

 

Don't Knock What You Don't Know: Paleo defined

I'll play nice in the multi-dietary sandbox as long as you don't hit me upside the head with the bucket first.

Vegans, vegetarians, the gluten-free, and the So Allergic to Everything that it's Actually Comical are all welcome in my house. Granted,  the meal I serve you is going to be paleo-friendly -- because that's what works for us -- but by virtue of the lifestyle, the meal also will be gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and processed-crap free. It's also going to be soy-free, corn-free, and...

...why are you leaving? I promise that the meal I prepare will be planned carefully in that the veggies and fruit sides won't be all slopped together so as to rub the fact that I enjoy eating dead animals in your face. And, because I'm pretty talented in the kitchen, it's all going to taste pretty damned tasty, too.

Yep. That's right. I said veggies. And fruit. Why are you shocked? Did you honestly think I was living off of slabs of bacon and  hotdogs and calling it a health revolution? Because I'm not. I'm allergic to beef and pork and am so allergic to soy, grains, and corn that eating chicken or bison that wasn't strictly grass-fed makes me break out with horrific eczema. My diet? Wild-caught white fish and salmon, kale, asparagus, unprocessed coconut products, and the occasional avocado. That's it. I can't even tell you the last time I ate anything that tasted like meat and I'd probably shank Ronald McDonald for a burger if I didn't know I'd end up regretting it later.

So why are my paleolithic panties in a bunch? Because my friend Chloe has written and published a blog post flat out calling the paleo diet stupid. We (us crazy paleos, mind you), don't know our science and like to eat meat with a side of meat flavored meat, which apparently is Crazy Talk. I'm not asking anyone to jump down Chloe's throat or bitch-slap the friendly vegetarian at the local Whole Foods, I'm just asking you to shut up, read Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution in the name of Research, and then come back to me so we can have an actual conversation because I'm no going to waste my time arguing with anyone who likes to form their opinions without bothering to get educated first.

I promise I'm not trying to convert you. I make it practice to not throw I EAT PALEO, MOTHERFUCKERS in anybody's face. Instead, I show up at get-togethers and neighborhood barbeques and even birthday parties with food for me and my kid so we can hang out with the rest of the world while singing Kumbaya and braiding each others' hair. If you ask me about it, I'll tell you. If you express interest, I'll tell you more. And if you're like my friend Joan and think I am my own best argument for why Paleo, is in fact, the very opposite of stupid, you're welcome over for a bi-weekly cooking day in which we go to town making everything from dairy-free chocolate bars (because coconut oil is ahhhh-mazing) to grain-free breakfast crumble (made with nuts, almond flour, coconut flour, and dried fruits) to my homemade version of the pricey Lara bars to sweet potato chips. But I'm not converting anyone to anything because trying to convince someone to The Dark (& Obviously Meaty) Side when they have no interest in it is about as productive as trying to talk The Husband into not being hard-headed.

(A little aside: I went paleo a full year before he did because I learned, through trial and error, that I just felt better when free of dairy, grains, sugar, and soy. I tried telling The Husband once why maybe he might want to look into this whole thing and then I went about my business packing up his very non-paleo lunches and cooking up two dinners every night. He came home one day not too long ago with These Guys I Work With Are All Doing This Paleo Thing And I Think I Need to Get Robb Wolf's Book now.  One Amazon order and four hours later, he made my want to smack himself upside the head with the nearest slab of ribs.)

I'm not going to throw all of the statistics and research at you that supports the paleo diet because this is a blog post and not a book. Robb Wolf already has that covered. So if you want to know exactly why I would have gone paleo even if I had never been diagnosed as allergic to all grains or dairy, read his book. I will, however, tell you that paleo is not stupid or a diet made up of only meat. And I'll tell you that although I still have a ways to go in the journey to true health, I've come far enough already to know I'm on the right path.

Maybe paleo isn't right for everybody. I'm not going to force bacon you, I promise. But as a woman who has everything wrong with her working the right way only when following the paleo protocol, I'll be damned if anyone's going to tell me that paleo isn't right for me and mine.

Thank you, Chloe, for your post tonight. Conversations die when only one side keeps talking.

 

The Wrap-Up: Edition 2

It's only week 2 and I've already changed the name. But we're BACK, and that's the part that matters. This week has been complete and utter hell and the short story starts with the picture of my eczema rash in the last post and ends with me laughing when The Universe threw another monkey wrench in my plan for sanity by adding Adderall and Xanax to my Allergens list. No, I don't think it is possible to make this stuff up.

But I'll save the rest of this story for Monday. Each week The Wrap Up is published will be thanks to sponsors. The profit leftover after I self-medicate with caffeine by drinking my weight in Canadian coffee will be pooled to lobby Target and Starbucks to make my life Suck Less by opening stores up here & not making me drink Canadian coffee all the time.

I’m actually only half-kidding.

And finally, thank you to The Superficial Hippie for sponsoring this week's Wrap Up. She's the BFF, y'all. And she kicks ass at the Making Awesome Crocheted Blankets thing. Check out her etsy store, buy a blanket, and you can thank me later.

 

Let's get this week Wrapped Up, shall we?

On Girl Body Pride

Beth Bartlett bites back at controversy in The Other Extreme: Photoshop & the Fat Suit Controversy.

Guest writer Christine Macdonald shares her words on suicide & prevention in Knots.

Kelly "MochaMomma" Wickham with another brilliant Manifesto: The Giant Ball Pit of Life.

 

 

 

Pin this, asshole

Because everybody needs a good table for proper cocaine snorting

 

 

And finally, some Awesome by Other People

GDRP Empress on Coming out of Your Shell (Just buy the BlogHer ticket, already)

The Bearded Iris talks Business Cards & shows off a lovely set of Business Card Holders

Jenny Chiu of MommyNaniBooboo on Burning the Box of Definitions.

 

Interested in sponsoring the next Wrap-Up or nominating a Post Written By Someone Other Than Yourself for a mention and a link? Shoot me an email for details. I promise to come up for air while pinning and zulily-ing like a mad woman to take a look. Totally.

 

In Which We Gave Her a Byline for Her Birthday

 

And it's official.

After much discussion with The Husband and a big nod of excitement from the child, we decided to jump into the Deep End (I'm already there, anyway).

Buttercup, the girl child who has grown up online in pictures and in stories shared because she is part of my own, is now Eliana Mercedes. And Eliana Mercedes is now an official contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty TV site, just like Mama.

 

I'm excited. So is Eliana. She's already telling people she's a famous writer and had a business meeting with Mama and Miss Holly and the Other Writers on the computer because that's what famous writers do. At least, that is, until bedtime and the babysitter interrupts to get Lil Miss Famous upstairs to settle in for story time and dreams.

I'm also proud. Holly is an amazing woman on a mission very similar to my own. Eliana and I are now part of an incredible team of contributing writers representing every stage from childhood and beyond. Each of us has our own stories to share and our own views on beauty and what it means to us and how that view has been shaped by our experiences and Other People's Opinions.

My kid wears cowboy boots with a princess nightgown, superhero cape, and a tiara to go grocery shopping because she feels like it and couldn't care less if you think she should have gone incognito and dressed it down to blend in. That confidence (and accompanying attitude) is a beautiful (and shoot me now, people, because OHMYGAWD) and incredibly frustrating thing. I've got a fine line to walk when it comes to helping her hold on to this spirit and independence while making sure she grows into an older version of the little person she is now, complete with the flare for the dramatic and the Going Out in Public In a Tutu Because What You Think Has Nothing to Do With How She Feels About Herself thing. Sometimes, that means trying not to lose my shit because my job isn't to break that spirit, but to make sure she grows to celebrate it (even if said spirit sometimes needs a time out so Mama can cry because this is SIX and the idea of hormones and teen years makes me want to stick a straw in a bottle of wine and go to town.)

You can think I'm crazy. And maybe I am. But I'm going to pat myself on the back, take a page from my daughter's unwritten Book of How to Be a BadAss, and feel pretty badass myself for being one half of the parenting superhero team raising the little girl with the unshakable foundation that got her that byline on Speaking of Beauty.

Let the games begin.

Suicide, Stigma, & Why Society Needs to Grow Up

  Photo credit: Thinkstock

Paris Jackson survives a suicide attempt and the Internet laughs. So I put on my red lipstick just because I felt like it and told a story of my own in my weekly online Latina advice column.

 

Game on, says society. Paris Jackson is a rich little brat with nothing better to do than get media play, right? And then those of us with morals and feelings and heart and personal experience sit back and watch with horror as the Internet explodes with comments actually lamenting the fact that Paris failed at her attempt to kill herself.

 This is where I dust off my soap box, grab my microphone, do a sound check, and ask the world one simple question:

 "What the F*** is wrong with all of you?"

Suicide is steeped in stigma and misunderstanding. Those who keep their pain so secret that a suicide attempt shocks even their closest confidants are the ones who the judgmental will refer to as selfish for not thinking of the loved ones left behind.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not trying to be brave. Instead, I'm sharing a story that needs to be told in order to add to a conversation that needs to continue. Read the full column on Latina.

OMYFUCKINGGAWD (& I Mean That in a Good Way)

You guys? It just happened.

the secret I've been sitting on for MONTHS now is finally out. I'm okay. I'm excited. I'm honored. I'M FREAKING OUT.

But I've got my Xanax, a supportive husband, and a group of friends I've made in the 6 years I've been blogging for free to lean on while I try not to pass out.

Because. This. Just. Happened.

My heart is pounding. In a good way. My heart is racing. In a good way. My brain is in Crazy mode. But that part is actually normal.

All I can say is this makes up for high school AND validates all the time I spent tweeting, blogging, networking, and working in my pajamas sans bra, (and not sleeping because who has time for that?) in order to make my dreams become reality.

Thank you, Latina, for believing in me. Thank you, my husband, for being my sugar daddy while I worked to one day be able to buy you pretty things and boy toys. Thank you, little girl, for understanding that mama needed time to work so she could do so much more for you and help you realize your own strengths by seeing that hard work and perseverance pays off if you never give up.

Thank you all for being part of my journey. I hope you buckle up and settle in for the ride of my life.

The Happy Fat Ass with Another Opinion

 

Of  course I have an opinion.

The Husband and I were wandering the local BAM bookstore in Bangor just a few days ago. It was my first time in the store and I fell in love. Tons of great books, gift ideas, and more for prices we couldn't beat online. That's how we shop -- usually with our smart phone in one hand and the item we are interested in the other.  More often than not, we end up finding whatever it is on Amazon for cheap and go on our merry way. This time, we left BAM with a bag of goodies and can't wait to go back.

But this isn't a sales pitch or a sponsored post I'm trying to slide by you by any means. Instead, it's time to turn our focus to the little nugget of WHAT THE HELL? that smacked me right in my Complex as we were about to leave. A hardcover book by a best selling author (her other book tells us how not to look old, by the way) with the chipper title that dares to tell the world How Never to Look Fat Again: Over 1,000 Ways to Dress Thinner--Without Dieting! It was sitting proudly in the Last Chance Clearance section for a steal at only $6, considering it's a hardcover. Tempting as it may have been to jump at the bargain price, me and my happy fat ass decided to take the iPhone out of my bra, snap a picture, and tweet, Facebook, and instagram my thanks to the author for giving me something to write about.

I am not new to the book publishing world. While I may not have a book on the shelves (yet, because I've got to stay positive, right?) I do have many friends who do. I understand that titles get changed, manuscripts revised so many times that what is put on the shelves might not even vaguely resemble what the author started with, and that platforms and sales on previous books make or break the next deal. And since there's obviously an audience hoping to not look like their age sans plastic surgery with the Best Selling Author subtitle info on the cover of this bad boy, I'm not at all surprised to see the author got a new deal. Also? I happen to love the publishing house and have many of their titles.

That being said, I also have an opinion about Other People perpetuating the idea that THIN and SKINNY are the ideal and that FAT and CURVY are labels to be ashamed of, which is utter bullshit.

The title makes me want to run crying into the nearest grocery store for a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

But it gets better, people. The Amazon description includes little snippets like:

The new groundbreaking style-guide from the bestseller author on how to look 10 pounds lighter, 10 years younger and 10 times sexier every day, all year--in summer, winter, at the gym, even in a swimsuit!

You'll never get dressed the same way again once you discover:

*smart, easy ways to hide arm flap, a big bust, a muffin top, back fat, Buddha belly, a big booty, wide hips, thunder thighs, and heavy calves-and that's only half the book.

*which fabrics, colors, and styles make women look fat

*absolutely the best shades, shapes, and brilliant buys to make the pounds invisible

Also included in the Amazon description:

The book is organized by issue, such as big bust, muffin top + back fat, and Buddha belly. While some of the topics may seem wacky at first (Are your brows making you look fat? and Hiding fat with your bag), a careful read will reveal that Krupp's advice—delivered in just the right knowledgeable-yet-commiserating tone—makes excellent sense. When it comes to clothes and the female figure, the author understands how proportion, balance, and color make the difference between lumpy and lovely, frumpy and fabulous.

Someone hold me. I AM THE TARGET AUDIENCE. Muffin top? check! Buddha Belly? Hello! Back fat? Well, it depends on the bra and the day, but I've been there. But last time I checked, calling your intended audience FAT and alienating those of us with a bit of attitude who are working to accept and love our bodies in an effort to feel good enough about ourselves to take the right steps to the healthiest we can be? Yeah, not the best tactic.

Pardon me, if you don't mind. I'm off to analyze my eyebrows to figure out if the arch make me look FATTER because that's obviously a thing. Oh, someone let Santa know I need a huge purse for Christmas. If I'm doing the wrong by celebrating my curves and body type as they are, and I obviously am, then I need a fucking huge handbag to hold strategically to hide the parts of me that offend while out in public.

Now...where the hell are my tweezers?