That Time I Compared Santa to Chocolate

  Photo by Pauline Campos

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

Photo by Pauline Campos

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

Photo by Pauline Campos

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

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Heiddi Zalamar

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

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

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

So let’s get to that interview!



Heiddi Zalamar

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Heiddi Zalamar: I prefer strawberry.

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

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

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

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

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

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

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

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

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

HZ: You do, my love.

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

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

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

HZ: Color all the way.

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

HZ: Fest, Chingonafest!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PC: What's your favorite dish? Why?

HZ: I already answered that.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

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

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

HZ: Oh I let it melt.

PC: One Latina stereotype you despise?

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

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

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

PC: Describe your perfect day.

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



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

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

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

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

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

Forward, always. Together... stronger.

Get Ready for #BodyThanks


Are you ready for the #BodyThanks twitter party?

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

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

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


Every Day


Mama, let's buy flowers for Miss Jessica.

No, baby, not today. Let's wait a bit, okay?

I'll use my money, Mama. Do I have enough?

She hands me her little wallet containing her little allowance out of her little purse. The sign on the basket next to us says $3.99. Buttercup has exactly $4.

Yes baby, but why not wait until Valentine's Day?

She blinks at me before making the choice for herself. She reaches into the basket, selects a pretty bunch of flowers for her preschool teacher, and sets it next to the milk we are buying.

Every day is Valentine's Day when you love someone.



Happy Effing Valentine's

Remember when I sent a Christmas card of my daughter unknowingly flipping off the camera to my husband's sixty-year-old co-worker? I know. Classic, right?

I'm not much of a football fan so while The Husband watched the Super Bowl and I messed around online, I had the brilliant idea to spread the love.

Why limit the fun to just one holiday? Am I right?

So here you go, world. My gift to you.

Buttercup can now flip off your Valentine, thanks to the greeting card I just set up on Zazzle. Think about it. Everyone boring sends roses.

Your welcome.

Memories. Captured.

"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.

"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?"

"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."


"We're here!"

"Where's here, Daddy?"

"Our surprise."

"So I can make a snow angel now?"

"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."


"Yes, you do."


"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."

"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?"

"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."

"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?"

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

"What would you like for Christmas?"

"A special doll that's just for me!"

"Merry Christmas!"

"I love you, Santa!"

"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!"

"Am I making  good snow angel, Daddy?"

"The best."

"I want to make it smile."

"I think it already is, baby."

"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."


This post was written in response to a sweet little linkup at These Little Waves for my friend Galit Breen.



Mappy Birthmas (to me)

I was born on December 26, 1977. I should also point out that my mother went into labor with me after Christmas Eve dinner on December 24.


I am surprised she is still talking to me.

Seriously. I was in labor for 12 hours and I promise you that I'll be throwing that in Buttercup's face when she gets all teenager-y and hormonal and demands to stay out past curfew because her friend's all have much cooler mothers than she does.

Anyway, I'll be blowing out the candles on my 33rd birthday cake sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free pumpkin mousse this year. Which goes to show how much has changed in the last year.

Other things to celebrate?

*My ass-tau has been reclassified as a J-Lo.

*I finished a book. As in, I wrote a fucking book. Which also means I didn't have time to read one.

*I've made peace with my ego. Bring on the rejections.

*I've been rejected. Many times. Which means I moved way beyond the realm of dreaming and ventured into that of actually doing.

*Years and, okay fine, decades of angst regarding me and my kinky curlies Mama gave me are done and over with. Can you say MEXI-FRO?

*I met The Bloggess,sat next to Kendra on a plane,  hung out at Rudolpho Anaya's house, had lunch with Rick Najera and his lovely wife, and was told that my manuscript didn't suck by the amazing Demetria Martinez.

*And? Twitter brought me TBFF Juliette and @HC_Palmquist and @NL_Gervasio. I know. You guys are welcome for meeting me, too.

*I gave up sugar and gluten and found my waistline. Newscaster says? Parade at 11.

*Did I mention I wrote a book?

*Or that the number of candles I will be blowing out this year doesn't bother me in the least? It'd probably because I adopted a new mantra. Can you say, "I don't give a shit?"

Next year is almost here. A little part of me is always going to be looking back and focusing on what I could have done and where I think I should be by now, but I'm okay with that. Because that little voice is just going to push me to try harder in my new year and the New Year to follow.

Mappy Birthmas to me.

A fiesta in my head

IMG00094-20100504-2312 I grew up speaking Spanglish, think in English, and thought I was adopted until I was 13 because I'm the only female in my family over 5 feet tall. That's when my fourth sister shot up to my level and made me breathe a huge sigh of relief I wasn't going to have to look for my real parents and become the subject of some crazy documentary.

My Spanish has no regional dialect, which makes it easy for native speakers to know I'm American-born and my English is sometimes confuddled with words I cannot say without an accent (hello pina colada!) to confuse everyone else. And by the way, I roll my "r's" when I say the word "three."

Remember Chi-Chi's? Aside from it being a "Celebration of Food," the commercials were also reason enough for my sisters and I to fall down laughing as kids because we weren't allowed to say the word. It might have meant food to you. But in our house, chi-chi's was just another word for "boobies." And Cinco de Mayo? Yeah, we never celebrated it.

I wear a religious medallion and make the sign of the cross before doing anything that can alter the history of the world, like stepping on a scale or driving past a cemetery, but I only drag my ass to church on Easter. I have tias, tios, and just said good-bye to my Guelo (Gramps) when he joined my father and Guela (grammy) in el cielo last month.

And I didn't really know anything about my culture aside from the world my family surrounded us in until I took a Mexican History class in college. I wasn't the only first-generation representative in that room. And I wasn't the only one who felt a huge surge of cultural pride shoot through every fiber of my being when I read Victor Villasenor's Rain of Gold. Nor was I the only one in class to go out, buy the book in Spanish, and hand it with shaking hands to someone who meant the world to me.

My dad got that copy. And now I have it, as well.

I'm not going to the bar today. I'm making spaghetti for dinner...not tacos. But that's because I don't need a holiday to be who I already am.