Fidget & Dot: The Beginning

Eliana and I were out to dinner after her evening eye check up and she started looking at me funny. Turns out I was staring at my food with a stupid grin on my face and a glazed look in my eyes. Oh. And I was nodding occasionally, like I was listening to an invisible conversation in my head.

"Mom?" Eliana had her head cocked to one side, examining me. I'm figuring she was trying to determine if it was polite to ask me if I'd taken my meds this afternoon.

"What?" I looked up her, my eyes clearing a bit. She was annoying me. She had just interrupted the book writing itself in my head.

"So... have you taken your adderall?" She was still eyeing me. Amused, but probably glad she's chosen the back booth while I'd ordered our food. No one else could see me.

"Yes. I mean, no." I dismissed her with an impatient hand of my hand. "I'm writing a book. Well, actually, it's writing itself in my head. I've been working on it for a while now, but I only had the main character and her best friend in my head. I don't know why, but I can literally see the book in my head now."

She smiled, relieved. Mama hasn't lost it, after all. Then she asked me to tell her what I was seeing in my head. This is how you know she's being raised by a writer.

"The main character is named Kateri Ramirez. She's 10 and her nickname is Fidget. She had high functioning autism/asperspers. And her..."

"Oh my god, mom! Eliana interrupted me. Her eyes were dancing with excitement. "Are you serious?"

"Yep! And her best friend is Dorothy and her nickname is Dot. I don't know her last name yet. I think Dot might have ADHD."


I grinned. This felt good.

"Yep!" I nodded. "We don't get that a lot, do we? Anyway, you know those Dork Diaries books you love? How they are written like it's a diary? Well, Figdet and Dot start a blog, with their moms' help, and alternate writing blog posts. So, instead of chapters, the book is a series of blog posts." 

Eliana had a stupid grin on her face. I beamed.

"Is Fidget homeschooled? And Dot could go to public school?" Eliana asked me. She looked hopeful.

I shrugged. "Not sure yet. That could be a good thing in the story. Anyway, now you know why Iooked like I was having a conversation in my head. Because I was."

"Can I be your beta reader?" Eliana asked me.

Yep. She's a writer's kid, alright.

"No. I'm kidding. Like I wouldn't ask you? Now finish up. We gotta get home. I've got a book to make happen." 

I blinked.

"Well, after I do the laundry. The dishes. Pack up Etsy orders for shipping tomorrow. Finish that essay I started today. Pitch the essay. Walk the dogs. Pay bills online. Not get lost on Facebook with stupid quizzes. And make daddy's lunch for tomorrow."

Eliana burst out laughing. "Yeah. Okay. You got this, mom." 

That Time I Referred to Rick Najera as Motivational and Not an Asshole


And when I say traveled, I mean four hours driving from my home to Portland, Maine, for the hotel that happens to be located right by the Amtrak depot, an overnight stay at said hotel, two hours on a bus the next morning, and then six on a train into Penn Station. Eliana travels with me. Score for Team Crazy Mexican Homeschooling! Kiddo was so excited to see the New York City skyline it made me a bit teary to think about packing up for the Land of Moose and Snow, but turns out we both love living in the Maine tundra as much as we love our little forays into Places Normal People Live. So it all works out in the end.

We had just arrived at Penn Station. How warm is it, she wanted to know. So I told her. 50 degrees. Back home it was was 27 and look like the tundra. After looking around a bit, maybe weighing her options, she made up her mind. Mom, she says, do you mind if I take off my fuzzy sweater? I answered by taking off my own.  While we exchanged sly smiles at the New Yorkers rushing by bundled in their winter layers, because we left winter in the back of my Yukon which was parked in the hotel lot back in Portland. All we brought with us? A fleece pullover and a spring rain trench.  'Cuz we're hard core, that's why.

The only SNAFU occurred when my original babysitting plan went out the window because that's just how shit works. Instead of a relatively easy drop-off in the Bronx, Eliana and I ended up taking a train to upstate NY to meet a Wendy DelMonte, my forever friend whom I now owe a pony, who drove an hour and a half south from Connecticut to pick up Eliana for the night. My child had the time of her life because Wendy and her kids are fabulous and that two-minutes I had on the platform before jumping in the return train for the hour-and-a-half ride back so I could haul ass yet again to my hotel to drop off my Too Much Luggage, shower off the travel stink, and change just in time to get lost on the way to the venue and show up an hour late?  Yeah...those two minutes may be the only time I actually breathed that day.

Meet Dennis Sanchez, the genius behind MVM Events. He's the lucky guy smack in the middle between me and the only white chick in the room. That's Sarah Fader and I think it's important to note we became friends because I saw an update about Three Year Olds being Assholes and was all It's Like you KNOW Me and this is probably also a good time to mention that she'll tell you she's Jewish and that isn't the same thing as white.  I'm not disagreeing. I'm only stating that it wasn't the Not White chick's face I had to work my ass off to make visible while editing this photo.  Also? You can step away from the tanning bed now, Dennis.  You're *welcome*.


This girl is hereby nominated as President of Any Fan Club Ever Created in My Honor Should I Become Important Enough for One. Her name is Joyce and you should follow her on twitter and instagram (@hvnlee) because I just made her important.  And yes, thanks, my therapist says I'm making major strides on that self-confidence thing.

I spoke. Dennis spoke. Rick spoke. And after calling Rick a motivational asshole and only stuttering three times, there was much merriment at the after party (I drank water because allergies suck), and then I went back to the Hotel from Hell to not sleep because security couldn't figure out the door I was pointing to was actually mine when I called about my key not working. I woke up at 2 p.m. after going to bef at 5 a.m. and suddenly it was time to drag my Too Much Luggage back to the subway and the train for the hour-and-a-half ride to upstate NY to meet Wendy and pick up Eliana just in time to go back the way we came, hop another bazillion subway trains once in the city, and make our way to the Bronx to meet up with another friend for the rest of our stay.

So many subway stops. So many flights of stairs to drag my Too Much Luggage up to catch the next train. My Jawbone Up band tells me I clocked an average of 23k steps per day while in NC. But this?

And these guys? They all made me want to plan a trip devoted to interviewing the subway artists and performers. There are so many stories to tell.

Eventually we made it to the Bronx. My friend Heiddi was worried I'd be worried because Bronx and Perception. I smiled. Then I reminded her I might *live* in Maine but I'm *from* Detroit.

A surprise planned for the next day meant pulling out the stick on nails I had brought home from BlogHer 13 and Eliana had saved for a special occasion. Girlfriend was all kinds of proud of these nails -- which, by the way -- she made sure every person on every train *knew* she was wearing fake nails because she was fancy.

We hustled from train to train to take our kids to a surprise involving The Story Pirates and were delayed when these guys swarmed my kid. So I took a picture. Then the minion pointed to his necklace which says "Tips".  Heiddi said this is why she doesn't stop for these idiots. The minion stopped pointing to his necklace after I pointed out they may wanna reconsider baiting the impressionable children of bitchy mothers until they've collected the requisite cash from said bitch mom.  Heiddi nodded. Detroit, right?  Detroit, born and bred.

This is, obviously, a first-grader. At least, that's what they script says. The Story Pirates were worth the throwdown with Strawberry Shortcake. We will be returning.

A stop at Jennifer Esposito's gluten-free bakery was in order. I bought what I can't eat because I'm allergic to ALL the Things, but even the non-gluten free were impressed. Also? Thank you to Victoria for hiding my iPhone until I frantically returned in search of my sanity. Jennifer? Victoria totally gets a raise.  Victoria? *You're Welcome*.

photo 3(1)

photo 5(3)

Leaving New York for upstate for our final stop and New York wins. She gave up naps at 15 months. I may have to move. Or at least visit regularly.


Because my life is a sitcom without the laugh track.  11:00 p.m. and still 100 miles from home after various stops for eating and car sickness and more eating because throwing up left her hungry but eating made her car sick again.  Then of course, there was Starbucks two hours ago because Obviously and me not making her go potty and the child with the bladder of a camel decides she must pee and she must pee NOW. She told me to pull over. In the middle of a deserted freeway where moose and Random Wildlife live, because she wasn't kidding.  I'll squat, she said. She didn't, I observed.  We changed her, bagged up her wet clothes, and as settled back in to drive. Just as my own bladder reminded me that I'd knocked back two trenta green teas and maybe I should consider squatting.  I opted for getting the hell out of whatever scene Stephen King was writing before the evil clowns showed up and held it until we got to the only rest stop between nowhere and home.

And now we are home and slowly getting back on track and there is much snow and no subways and I'm firing my dogs for not noticing the herd of deer leaping through the backyard as they circled for a spot to do their thing. Also, stick around if you're new. That #mexicaninmaine hashtag will start to make a lot more sense.

The End.



I forgot to mention that Rick sent me home with three copies of his book, Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood. One is mine, so step off and we can still be friends.

The second I gave to Ana Roca-Castro because I know Latism stands for all that Rick discusses in his book. I can't wait to hear what she thinks.

The last, y'all, I saved for you. Or...well, one of you, at least.

Picture Proof that I actually HAVE the book in my possession. The line for My New Best Friend forms *here*.

Rick Najera's autograph. Related: My favorite things are Starbucks Iced Green Teas, ponies, and MAC Russian red lipstick. Priority consideration will be focused on those who try to buy my love. *Nods head*

To enter for your chance at the book, here's the not-so-fine-print:

* First let's make sure everyone knows I am incapable of kissing ass so a free book isn't going to buy anyone a flowing review. If I don't like it, I'm simply not going to mention it. End. Of. Story.

* The rules:

**Leave a comment on this post. It can be anything as long as anything includes your email so I can contact you if you win. Bonus points if your comment actually pertains to the discussion at hand. Giving a damn is always nice.

** Share the following on your social media channels and leave me a separate comment for each share with the URL:

Check out this post by @pauline_campos: Enter to win an autographed copy of  by  

** Deadline is midnight, EST, April 22.

And that's it. I'm excited to share this book with all of you and am live-tweeting quotes as I read a chapter each night. Which means that yes, I love #AlmostWhite.

So...who's in?


The Year the World Grew

I live in a small town.  

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

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

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

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

In Which We Travel the Solar System

We're finishing up a lesson in social studies and geography for Eliana's Oakmeadow homeschool lesson this week. The idea was to pick a destination on a map and take a roadtrip following the planned route. We've already learned how to use a compass, find our way to and from the neighbor's with it, located our town and county, and made a drawing of the state of Maine, so I wanted to make this one fun. My neighbor, Joan, happens to be a teacher (and the grandmother of Eliana's new BFF, Lucy), so my original idea to drive to the children's museum as scrapped when Joan suggested we make the drive through northern Maine's solar system model. One road. Multiple points on a map. And the girls get to speed through the entire solar system scaled down to a 40-mile long route in one afternoon?

Bring it.









Joan told me the earth rotates at 6,040 miles per hour and orbits at 67,06 miles per hour. At its core, the solar system rotates at 514,000 miles per hour and the Milky Way at 1,340,000 miles per hour. That means that if we could travel as fast as the universe, we could circle Earth on foot in about two minutes.

A half tank of gas. 80 miles round trip just for the solar system route plus the drive home. Two best friends laughing-shrieking-sometimes fighting-sometimes perforating our ear drums with excitement when the next planet came into view. It was incredible. It was exhausting. It was unforgettable.

And also exhausting.

Lack of wine and the inability to drive faster than the car in front of me makes me wish I was the Milky Way.

Introducing Eliana Mercedes, Blogger Child


A conversation with Eliana, my almost-six-year-old.

Me: Baby? What do you think of when I say the word "beauty?"

Eliana: Beast.

Me: I like it. But let's think of things you think are beautiful. What are the first five things you can think of?

Eliana (thinking): Flowers. And butterflies. And Princesses.

Me: Anything else?

Eliana: Yep. Love. And people's spirits. That makes them beautiful.

This will be my daughter's first transcribed post as a contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team. She talks. I type what she says. Or maybe vlog it. It all depends on if she's feeling like a rock star or a writer when it's time to work like Mama.
And this is the bio I wrote up for her.

 Eliana Mercedes is the daughter of The Husband and writer Pauline M. Campos. Up until now, she has been known online simply as Buttercup. But this homeschooling first-grader is now a blogger, which means Eliana Mercedes looks better in a byline. She has no idea what that means yet and only hopes it includes the chance to adopt a baby beluga and visit Disney World one day.

I'm kind of proud. Kind of scared. And maybe a little crazy. But keep in mind that this child does not watch TV with commercials and has no concept of the media trying to brainwash us all into a singular concept of beauty. That's exactly why I cannot wait to see what she has to say next.


Why Punching the Gas Station Attendant in the Face is Not A Good Idea



People are nice here. Like Hey There's a Candy Store and a Little Downtown Movie Theater and Let Me Know if I You Need Me to Plow Your Driveway nice.

So far, we have had two neighbors stop by to introduce themselves (and by neighbor, I mean the ones 1/2 mile down the road) and drop off cookies they baked that we can't eat and I'm YOU BAKED US COOKIES AND WANT GAVE ME YOUR PHONE NUMBER IN CASE OF EMERGENCY and we've lived in subdivisions where the houses were close enough to hear the neighbor fart without ever knowing their names, so basically I just said thank you and then apologized for not putting a bra on before 3pm since I hadn't been expecting people to be all Howdy, Neighbor. But it keeps happening. So far, the only lesson I'm getting out of this is to out a bra on before noon. Just in case.

Our driveway is 1/4 mile long. The neighbor who dropped off the cookies I threw away while still braless lives down a road just as far from her home. So Buttercup and I went over to visit yesterday and the mile long walk back and forth too the place of our PE for the day. We can do downward facing dog tomorrow after we get back from driving to that city where Stephen King lives so we can buy too much food at Sam's club and take pictures with a hopefully not shitty-looking and mostly sober mall Santa. Friday we meet up the local senior center for Christmas caroling with the homeschool group and then I try and talk the local paper into maybe running some of the words I've written that don't contain questionable language on a regular basis and call it a column.

We had an ice storm yesterday. The mailman drove the mail to my porch. Just because it was a nice thing to do. But I was braless (it was before noon, people) and will need to find a suitable way to thank him later for making up for all of the assholes in the world. Maybe I'll give him the cookies the other neighbors keep dropping off for us.

Monday was a snow day. I had no idea since I homeschool so we drive out to the skating rink only to find it closed. Instead of losing the day, I emailed the homeschool group and basically invited ourselves over for a playdate with whoever was free. I got three responses. The lady who actually has text messaging on her phone won. I've also decided all friendships made from here on out will be dependent on if me talking on the phone is a requirement because who does that? She also happens to be the wife of a pastor so I promised to limit the amount of times I say dammit because I like making good impressions like that.

I had a co-worker of my husband's call to say hello. She homeschools, too. She's also Mexican. We both kept asking the other to confirm the fact that we are Mexican AND homeschoool because normally that's not, well, normal...and all of our family members think we are insane. So basically, we bonded. But she only has email and no text messaging, so I may have to arrange for an intervention on her behalf since I actually like her and ignoring her voice mails will only make me look bad.

The gas station have employees who do the full service thing. I now I mentioned that in another post but the urge to yell CAR JACKING ATTEMPT and mace the sweet teenager trying to earn some money for college is still there.Instead, I make up for it by tipping them and driving off before they figure out I'm from Detroit.