So I'll Tell You (Y Te Digo)

This is what getting your groove back looks like, I think. BFF Heather is blogging again (CAN I GET AN AMEN?) and came up with an idea to build a poem from her writing playlist. It's crazy good, and you should click here to read it

Of course, I had to try to get in on this bandwagon of awesome. I seriously got goose bumps as this came together. 

 

So I'll Tell You (Y the digo)

 

I heard that you were talking shit

And you didn't think that I would hear it

you with your penchant for spontaneous advents,

For sticky and raspy, unearthed and then gone,

I can be an asshole of the grandest kind,

 

and you're still here.

We heard the fireworks, 

rushed out to watch the sky

happy-go-lucky 4th of July,

How can you live in the Northeast?

Y te digo

Soy sangre de me tierra

but that 

doesn't mean I’m plain. 

Loca. Loca. Loca.

I’m crazy but you like it. 

 

 

Songs Credited:

HollaBack Girl/Gwen Stefani

Bees of My Knees/Alanis Morisette

Everything/Alanis Morisette

How Can You Live in the Northeast/Paul Simon

Mujer Latina/Thalia

One Girl Revolution/Superchick

Loca/Shakira

 

 

 

Rick Najera & a New Shade of Green

  photo (4)

So, this one time I went to New Mexico for my first writing conference ever and I met a lot of people and one of them was Rick Najera. He doesn't remember it, he tells me, but that's okay with me. I'm lucky if I remember what I said five minutes ago, so I won't guilt-trip Rick into paying f0r my therapy sessions to make up for him forgetting me like that. 

Then, this other time, the internet proved the nay-sayers wrong. Turns out the world-wide web is just as round as the world itself. Rick Najera showed up in my tweet stream when somebody else retweeted something he happened to tweet when I happened to be around to see it, and then I found myself on a train to to NYC to speak at his #AlmostWhite book launch event and I called him Motivational and Not an Asshole. He's still talking to me, so there's something to be said for my broken filter.

What follows is an Op-Ed by Rick himself. He's going to be performing at The Americas Latino Eco Festival in Colorado this week. Because an arrogant reporter wanted to know Why, Rick decided this totally arrogant blog would be included on his list of the right places to respond.  (No, no, it's okay. It's not like I thought it was the ONLY place... Nope... I just need a minute....) 

And make sure to check back here for link details about tomorrow's #ChingonaFest Project Hangout at 2 p.m. EST. I've got exciting new segments planned, Rick's stopping by to talk about the Latino Eco Festival, and we've got four SIGNED copies of Almost White to give away live during the hangout. 

You're Welcome. 

1010685_309264752532069_2605178499164310963_n

 

***

 

Recently, a reporter asked me why I was going to be performing at the Second Annual Americas Latino Eco Festival in Colorado. Billed as the “the new shade of green,” this festival asks for all Latinos to fight for our planet and become leaders in the ecological movement within the Americas. During the interview, the reporter asked me, “Rick, I did my research on you and noticed you were involved in Latino issues, and diversity issues and Hollywood issues but not ecology, or the environment or any other green issues. Why are you getting involved? Why is ecology and our planet so important to you?” He said the last part as a dramatic ‘I got you’ inflection. As if I have decided all at once to care about our environment like I was some kind of green movement carpetbagger just looking for some Hollywood Swag. I thought about his question long and hard.  And this is my answer,

First off, like most Latinos I believe more in environmental issues than most cultures. In fact 93 percent of Latinos believed in global warming While only 60 percent of Anglos believe in Global warming.

Latinos also have deep conviction that acting as environmental stewards is part of their moral duty. More than 92 percent of Latinos polled in a Sierra Club study said they “have a moral responsibility to take care of God’s creations.” 94 percent of Latinos say that outdoor activities like fishing, picnics, camping and visiting national parks are important to them and their families.  Lastly Latinos are more affected by the environment

Asthma, for instance, is twice as likely in Latino children as it is in white children, according to an EPA study. Latinos live  in the environments effected by our pollution and lack of air quality.

“But Rick, what does this personally mean to you?” The reporter asked. Personally? I answer, personally I’ve seen our environment change first-hand during my own lifetime while growing up in San Diego. I remember the farms in Mission Valley, in San Diego, a chicken ranch down the street and even more farms littered up and down the coastline. I grew up with nature. I spent my weekends at the beach, feasting on freshly caught abalone. I trudged into the surf and sand with bonfires crackling in the background during summer night and gathered grunion. (A smelt like fish that came up on the beach to spawn.) I drove up and down along the coast in California with orange blossoms perfuming the air. For me, it seemed as if our world was a better, safer place back then. Now, the abalones have become rare and endangered. It’s rarer to find grunion as a kid, there were several creeks filled with crayfish, bullfrogs & all other kinds of aquatic life in my backyard. Those are all gone now.  As we enter in the second year of one of the worst droughts in California history, our state is becoming drier and drier. The Climate is changing. I’m seeing it first hand. Yes, It’s personal

I have personally added  new names and words to my vocabulary, words like: Fukishima, Katrina, Deepwater Horizon & Valdeez. Words I learned in my life time.  GMO’s, global warming, and cancer clusters.  New words new problems.  Now we have  Pesticides  that are sprayed on Genetic Modified produce, not just on farm workers, at an alarming rate, fisheries are being decimated, and more and more farms – the same places I remembered from my childhood – are being paved over in favor for the urban sprawl and profit. I remember drinking out of  cold mountain streams in the Sierra Mountains. I can’t do that anymore. It’s not safe.  And I don’t breath in air perfumed by orange blossoms anymore. I remember my childhood, and the nature I loved. That nature is in my culture and in my history. It’s in my blood and in my soul. Latinos have fought for the environment, and more importantly, we have worked in that environment. That nature is entrenched in each and every one of us. It’s part of our shared indigenous culture.

Why shouldn’t this Latino care? Why should we not lead this fight to save our planet?   In our  Latino culture, we have a belief that this world belongs to not one person or corporations  but all of us  and we are only stewards of this planet.

But most of all, It ‘s personal when look at my three children, and think what kind of world am I’m going to leave them? And that makes it very personal and this is why I’ll be in Colorado at the Americas Eco Latino Festival.  Because I’m hoping more people will begin to feel the same way.

 

Rick Najera will perform his one-man show one-man show based on his book Almost White at The Dairy Center For The Arts on September 13. On September 12, Rick will perform his Broadway show “Latinolouges”, including additional monologues with a green twist and featuring an all-Broadway cast. For tickets, visit here.

 

The Steps Already Taken

It's 2:05 a.m. and instead of forcing my brain to create something new and brilliant tonight, I thought I'd take the easy route and try reposting something from way back when. It's not something I do often, but each time I've searched the archives -- which date back to September 2009, by the way -- I've found the experience to be something like the writer-equivalent to reminiscing with an old photo album. There are squeals -- I forgot about that!

And frowns -- Oh shit...I forgot about that, too.

There are emails to friends mentioned in shared stories with links and love and laughter.

And sometimes, the beginning of a story we didn't know was actually starting surprises us when we stumble across the words, marveling at the moment captured in words. Looking at that moment from the After side of things is much different than the Before, what with hindsight being ever so much clearer than tomorrow's uncertainties. Could I have told you that the first time I met The Husband that we would marry and move across the country? Not when I met him.

Looking back, though, I can see it. All the little bits and moments that made that first encounter so very different from all the rest. Because everything is obvious when you walk the steps already taken.

Four years ago, I met a man at a writing conference named Rick Najera. At the time I couldn't have possibly told you that our paths would cross again. An hour ago I couldn't have told you the words below even existed -- five years of blogging can do that to you. Right this very minute, I'm rereading the bits and the moments captured in a post written in May of 2010 and counting the steps taken between my yesterday and my today.

***

 

the pain of the macho

“What do you want me to say? I’ll write whatever you want.”

It’s Rick Najera speaking. He’s holding a copy of The Pain of the Macho in his hands, pen ready to personalize the first page for me.  My response is nothing but a “blink, blink.”

“Come on,” Rick says. “Tell me what to write.”

I imagine sweet little lies. Empty words of praise that might look good on paper but ring false to anyone with a heartbeat.

Pauline Campos is the best writer I’ve ever met!

Pauline Campos will be more famous than me!

Pauline Campos is so good I’m going to ask her to become part of my Hollywood team and she can work from home because it’s just safer that way!

The man might be a comedic genius and a highly respected actor/writer/director who told me my work has serious potential doesn’t suck, but he only met me 24 hours earlier. To ask him to lie to me verbally is one thing.

On paper?

That’s just sacrilegious.

“I really have no idea,” I said out loud. “I don’t want it to be bullshit.”

Rick stood there for a moment, probably amazed by both my lack of a filter and the fact that I didn’t want him to whisper meaningless sweet nothings that would just piss me off when he handed the book back. I hadn’t planned on buying anything else that would add to my already busting-at-the-seams suitcase, but we all got yelled at by the higher-ups at the conference for not supporting our fellow writers during the first book sale/book signing. So I bucked up, bought the smallest book there, handed it to Rick, and made a mental note to send my receipt for having a 55-pound suitcase back to the conference organizers for guilting me into buying more books (I already had five on the nook written by conference faculty that I paid for) with a demand for reimbursement.

I almost asked what he had been asked to sign in other people’s books, but decided I really didn’t want to know.

“Let’s try another route,” Rick said. “Where do you want to be a year from now?”

Ding, ding, ding!

That one was easy and I answered without hesitating.

“I want my book on the New York Times best seller list and America Ferrera pegged to play me in the movie based on my book.”

Rick smiled and began to write. This is what he “put out into the universe.” Which, he says, means it has to come true…

*****

This break is brought to you by our sponsors, Chicken Scratch and Man Writing, as the author of this post tries to decipher what was written. Please, ladies and gentlemen, your patience is appreciated…

*****

Um…I think it says:

This book was my beginning. Yours will end up on New York Times with America playing the lead. Best, Rick Najera

*****

Disclaimer: And I only got that far because he read it out loud to me before handing back my book. There’s something to be said for memory retention, people.

Rick Najera: Hollywood's Best Kept Spanglish Secret

Rick Najera

 

A few years ago, I had an idea for a book and a blog come to me while I was trying to fall asleep. Any writer will tell you that ideas are fleeting -- and that sleep is optional-- so I quietly slipped out of bed, tip-toed out of the room as to not wake the sleeping husband, and promptly grabbed my purse and my credit card before sitting down at the computer.

I had URLs to buy, dammit.

That's the night I launched Aspiring Mama and started working on the memoir I hope to publish one day. I didn't know any successful writers personally. I didn't even know any Pretty Shitty But Determined to Make it Happen writers. Hell, this was five years ago, people. That's a lifetime in the digital age. Twitter was a verb describing that noise birds make and Facebook was MySpace's slightly more respectable older cousin I didn't feel like wasting my time with.

It's okay. Obviously, I smartened up.

Back then, though, me and my Blackberry only knew how to make phone calls and I was still trying to figure out how to wash the used car salesman smell away from my soul after my previously brief (but highly convenient and yet utterly soul-sucking) foray into the world of blogging. The blog written from my dog's point of view was brilliant but I don't think the world was quite ready for that kind of genius. And the baby product review blogging phase means we scored free things like expensive car seats, but I walked away from it because I knew I needed the break to clear my head. My writing "voice", the one I had honed in the newsroom, had been lost in the free baby-carrier and teething jewelry carnage, you see.

Six months later, I was awake at 3 a.m. buying Aspiringmama.com and began working on the memoir I had titled "Baby Fat: Adventures in Motherhood, Weight Loss, & Trying to Stay Sane." (Think Erma Bombeck but with more "F" bombs.) It was this manuscript, coincidentally, that led me to Rick Najera and why I'm talking about his new book  -- Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood.

Buy it on principal, y'all. Because the title alone is fucking hilarious and that needs to be recognized.

 

Also important? I'll be speaking at Rick's April 3 reception celebrating his book launch in New York. Because that's not the kind of thing you almost forget to mention when writing about the event at which you happen to be speaking. But I digress...

I attended the National Latino Writer's Conference in New Mexico the following year and had been smart enough to sign up for a chance at a critique of the first 15 pages by two of the conference workshop teachers. I was already signed up for Rick Naerja's comedy writing workshop -- not because I knew who he was, mind you, but because comedy has always been a part of what I do -- so I figured, "What the hell? This guy might know something about being funny." And a few months later, there I was, sitting before Rick in our on-on-one session discussing my manuscript...and something amazing happened.

This Hollywood writer who, it turns out, is actually quite the big deal, told me I had a voice. And that it was a good one. Rick told me I was funny and more importantly, that I could write. I remember texting my husband frantically after my critique session to tell him that I had the potential to go mainstream ... because RICK NAJERA SAID SO.

I could feel The Husband smiling back as I read his response. He said he liked this Rick guy. He said Rick was smart.

I read between the lines. My husband was thanking Rick for giving me something he couldn't because This is GREAT, honey! is always suspect when sex is the end goal. While The Husband has told me from the beginning he believes in me and my words, the creative spirit in me needed the validation of an objective party. I needed to know the sleepless nights pounding away at the keyboard, the rejections, and the days where I kicked myself in the ass for thinking I could make something of this little dream, were all worth it.

It is worth it, by the way. I'm proud to be able to say to Rick that I listened, mainly because I don't do that very often. But this time, I did and I can say I'm Latina Magazine's Dimelo advice columnist because I kept at it. And y'all? Did you know you can actually get paid for telling people what to do while sitting on your couch without a bra on?  You can thank Rick for that visual, because he told me I had potential.

But I'm not the only one. Rick has played a crucial role in not only encouraging fellow Latino writers, actors, and comedians to not only fight for their dream, but also in creating opportunities focused on showcasing their talents. While picking up honors like earning a spot on Hispanic Business's 100 Most Influential Latinos in America, an Alma Award for Best Writer for the 2008 film Nothing Like the Holidays, and most recently, a nod from Latin Teen Heat Entertainment for being a Hot Hollywood Dad, Rick also has helped launch the careers of countless performers in his role as director of the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase. The 2014 Showcase alone delivered three writers to Saturday Night Live and 16 series regulars to TV. I'm sure, of course, that Rick also serving as coach, mentor, and teacher during the four months of preparation has something to do with that.

It's because he makes us laugh. You know that, right? Comedic writers wield a power like no other, because it is through laughter that so many of us are able to process and discuss controversial or difficult subject matter. If you've watched one episode of In Living Color, you know what I mean. Rick Najera is a master of comedic timing and knows exactly which buttons to push so that when we get to the punchline, we aren't just laughing...we're thinking, too.

"Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood". I'll give you the short version because I know you're already planning on buying the book -- which -- by the way, was just nominated for Most Inspirational Non Fiction Book by Int'l Latino Book Awards. Basically, Rick says dream big or go home. The focus, of course, is on the Dreaming Big part, because Rick is inspiring and not an asshole. When you want something, you make it happen.

Since we're talking about change and forging our own paths, let's talk about diversity and Latino representation in Hollywood. I've always subscribed to the Write What You Know philosophy. For a long time I think I had convinced myself that every writer thinks like this, but the truth is that white males dominate in the writer's rooms. Without real world experience from which to draw upon when creating the Latino characters and culturally-themed story-lines the public is calling for, their attempts fall flat and are oftentimes stereotypical and offensive.

Jesenia, Co-Creator of The Comedy Girls (and apparently too fancy for a last name) is another Latino fighting for more diversity. She's made it her personal mission to get a Latin American FEMALE cast member on SNL. She says, and I quote, "Because Latin Americans are only represented accurately when we are representing ourselves, we need to not only continue creating high quality, non-stereotype content - we also need to step out of constantly boxing ourselves into the Latino category, and instead create work that speaks to all audiences of every race."
I'll high five you Jesenia for that one later. Because what she says here is that the responsibility in how we are portrayed in the media is not one we can just pass off on Hollywood. And that, my friends, leads us right back to Rick, being Almost White in Hollywood, and encouraging Latin American writers to keep knocking on those closed doors. If it never opens, we knock a new hole in another wall, pull up a table and some chairs, and write the stories that we know need to be told.
***If you're in New York, I'd love to see you there! Click here for ticket information. I'm driving four hours to the closest train station so I can not have to think for the remaining 6 hours of the trip, so I don't want to hear bitching about how traffic in the city is a nightmare. Suck it up, show up, and a good time shall be had by all.

 

Robin O'Bryant and Ketchup is a Vegetable

  Robin O'Bryant

Back in November of 2011, I had the honor of pimpin' one of my favorite writer friend's new self-published book to you guys. The writer was a sweet and sassy mom writer I had connected with (and fallen in LOVE with) on twitter named Robin O'Bryant and the book was none other than Ketchup is a Vegetable (And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves).

I shared a book excerpt and a hilarious interview here on Aspiring Mama and then I stood back, grabbed a pen, and took some notes as I watched Robin show the world how self-publishing should be done. (I'll give you a hint: New York Times Bestseller List and a two book deal.)

But I'll let Robin tell you the rest. Just make sure to stick around for the entire post because Book Giveaway and SIGNED COPY, y'all. That's why.

You're Welcome.

***

9781250054142

 

 

Pauline Campos: Let's just hit the ground running here, Robin. Exactly how many kinds of awesome are you?

Robin O'Bryant: I think maybe one shade, because I'm really excellent at doing nothing and being more than one shade seems like it'd be a lot of work. Right now, I'm trying to decide if I have the energy to read or if I'm just going to watch Netflix and drool.

 PC: I like the second option. But we can talk about movies later. I wanna know if I can be you when I grow up. You started with an an idea for a book that got you your agent, self-syndicated a very popular (and utterly hilarious) column, self-published Ketchup is a Vegetable, worked your ass off to make it to the New York Times bestsellers list, and earned a two-book deal for Ketchup and the forth-coming Are You There God? It's Me, Mommy-- all in a -- what is it now? -- four year's time span?

RO: Yep. I keep track because my youngest daughter was 1 when I started and is 5 now! It's been a whirlwind. 

PC: And somehow, with all of that husslin', you somehow managed to feed, clothe, and interact with your children, not alienate your non-writer friends, and your husband is still speaking to you? Not to outshine the major book drop news but exactly how does one replicate this? (I'm asking for a friend.)

RO: I answer a lot of those questions in "Are You There God?"-- it wasn't easy or effortless. I spent a lot of time feeling like a terrible wife and mother. But I'd say the short answer is: Jesus, Zoloft, therapy, yoga and a group of friends you wouldn't believe existed. 

 PC: I know you're a Christian woman and grace is a Big Thing for nice folks like you who don't drop F-bombs like drunken sailors *coughs* but I'm imaging Toby Keith's How Do You Like Me Now is on repeat in your writing playlist, like, ALLTHETIME. And before you answer, know that I'll be slightly less crushed if you say no than I was when I learned that reality TV is actually scripted.

RO: This is another thing I talk about in "Are You There God?"! I am a Christian but I cuss like a sailor in real life. For me, in my own writing, curse words seem to take away from my message. I just can't do it on the page, it distorts my voice. You should have seen all the words my beta reader took out of the next book! 

 I don't like Toby Keith's music-- I'm Southern but not that kind of Southern. But I definitely have moments when I feel like screaming, "IN YOUR FACE WORLD!! YOU SAID I COULDN'T DO IT AND I DID!"

 When I was first starting out I sent a piece to an online humor site and got a scathing reply from the editor telling me that I wasn't really writing humor because all I was doing was transcribing what my kids said. A few years later she started following me on a social media site. It took every bit of strength I had not to have a Pretty Woman moment with her and say, "Remember me?? Big mistake. Huge." 

 PC:  See? I was right. That felt just like I thought it would. Maybe there's still hope, though. I shared a room with you and Sister Wife once at a BlogHer conference. Do I get to call you Robin still? Or does the fact that you got to hear me snore mean I'm now to refer to you as Ms. O'Bryant?

 RO: Robin is fine. I'm just not sure you'll be able to call me roommate again. ; )

 PC: That one hurt, Robin. Seriously. But The Husband is currently sending virtual high-fives your way. Whatever THAT'S about. Anyway, finish this sentence:

 RO: I'm at the beach...

 PC: No, really. I totally got distracted by a squirrel just now. When you stop laughing at me, I'd really like you to finish that sentence.

 RO:...my plan is to drink coffee until lunch then switch to alkeehol. I'm going to get some Vitamin D and be in bed by 7:30. 

 PC: YOU DO LOVE ME! Okay, back to Ketchup. Remember when you first launched and then the government declared tomato sauce on pizza was considered a vegetable and I was all THE US GOVERNMENT HAS APPROVED THIS MESSAGE because BEST TIMING EVER? Good times, right?

RO:  Lol!! I know! I used it as a hook for my press release thanks to suggestions from Ariel Gore's "

 How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights, " which you recommended to me. 

 PC: I think I've read that book about 10 times. Obviously, you took way better notes than I did. Can I borrow them? And what's the game plan for the big Ketchup relaunch? A book tour? Who gets to play you in the eventual sit-com? Or would you rather go the RoseAnne Barr route and just play yourself?

RO: I am going on book tour, you can find all of the dates here. If I'm not going to be close to you, you can order books from my local indie store, Turnrow Books and I'll personalize them & they'll ship them to your front door!

AND I'm highly available for private speaking engagements, you can email me at robinschicks(at)gmail.com if you are interested. 

 Honestly, I used to fantasize about being an actress but it would be so weird to play me with Not Zeb, Not Aubrey, Not Emma, and Not Sadie. Zeb O'Bryant would die first and I don't have the money to spend to send all three girls to Promises for their 15th birthdays so I guess that job would be up for grabs. If, in some alternate universe, any of my stories were made into movies, I would want Jennifer Lawrence to play me because she's the only person I can think of who is as ridiculous as I am.

PC: Last one-- If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

RO: Absolutely not. I am so grateful for the way everything unfolded. Self-pubbing first gave me the opportunity to take baby-steps before I made the plunge into traditional publishing. I would have been lost in this process, but I'm more confident now. I've done this before, the only difference is that instead of it just being me and my agent, I have a whole TEAM of people who are helping me. I am so in love with every single person I've worked with at St Martin's Press.

***

Now for the giveaway details: St. Martin's Press is offering one copy of the shiny pretty new Ketchup and Robin has graciously offered to make sure it's personalized. Considering the fact that I forgot to bring my own copy to BlogHer in 2012 to get my ROOMMATE to sign for me, I think this is a pretty sweet deal for y'all.

How do you enter? Leave me a comment. It can be about anything, really, but bonus points will be given to those who say something that tells me and Robin that you do, in fact, realize this post had nothing to do with knitting turtle cozies or the earliest time of the day during which it is socially acceptable to add more vodka to your orange juice (The answer is: I'm not judging). The contest will close at midnight (EST) on Monday, March 31, and one winner will be randomly selected via twitter or email. And don't forget -- you can pre-order Ketchup is a Vegetable at major retailers right here!

The Beauty of...Almost

Hindsight isn't always 20/20. Sometimes it's incredible and mind-blowing, as well. See this update here from my friend Melanie Mendez-Gonzales? It's from the recent TedX Salon event she helped organize in Texas. The topic? Transcending Negative Body Image and Gender Stereotypes. She's pictured with The Beauty of Different author and main event speaker Karen Walrond, aka @chookaloonks. I'm sure you've see her Upworthy video celebrating the beauty of women -- many of which I m proud to know -- because if you haven't yet, I'll wait a few for you to click. Do it.

You won't be able to stop smiling.

Go ahead. I'm waiting....

Back yet? Good. Because I'm not done yet. I'm sharing this because that was almost me standing next to Melanie. That was almost...me. This is not sour grapes so please don't mistake this as a Poor Me story. It's far from that, actually. Instead, this is a moment of awe, really.

Why?

Because my name was on the same table as Karen Walrond's. I had no idea who else was being considered during the process and I didn't cry when I didn't get it because I was honored. It's not every day I get to daydream about this kind of klout, ya know?

So I was close but I didn't get it and that was okay and then I found out who did and I was...ecstatic.

Now that I know, I'm smiling. I'm giddy. And I feel pretty badass because, you guys, I came in second place to Karen Waldond.

That was almost me.

Almost feels fucking fantastic.

 

Elizabeth Gilbert on Most in Show

You know what's refreshing? When a writer more famous than the rest of us actually takes the time to respond to something we've said on our various social media channels. That's the kind of stuff that makes us smile all day, brag to our friends that s0-and-so tagged us in a tweet or Facebook update or in response to our many fan-girly comments on instagram. No matter how many friends I see moving on to incredibly successful writing careers or how many times I have to pinch myself as my own career begins to be worthy of stuff to write home about, I'm always going to feel like I'm on top of the world when a name on a book in my shelves says hello. It's that important, this reaching out and connecting.

Today, author Elizabeth Gilbert shared a beautifully written memory-snippet on her Facebook fan page about and clicked Like, along with thousands of other fans. I liked it so much, in fact, that I left a comment asking if I could share it here with you. And I promptly forgot about it because she's Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Roberts played her in a movie based on her best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, for crying out loud.

Until I saw that she replied. And she said yes.

 

I found this photo the other day at my mom's house, and I burst out laughing.

This is me in 1980, ten years old, showing off everything I had made that year for our local 4-H fair. (That's an agricultural fair, for those of you who aren't so familiar with 4-H.)

I had a dream that year. I wanted to win BEST IN SHOW in the Home Goods department. I'd been coveting that giant purple ribbon for years, and wanted to make it mine.

My plan was to enter as many items as I could in every single category (cooking, canning, baking, gardening, sewing, industrial arts) in the hopes that at least one thing would be BEST.

I worked all summer at this. I drove my mother crazy. I cooked, I canned, I baked, I picked (and pickled) beans and beets and cucumbers, I made a teddy bear (!), I built a coat-hanger, I made a automobile first aid kit, I did needlepoint, I was out of control. (By the way — thanks, mom. Because of course I didn't really know how to do any of this, so she spent the summer helping me as I hijacked her kitchen, her sewing machine, her craft table, her garden…)

After all that, I didn't win BEST IN SHOW. Another kid did, for a dessert that he had made. I don't even want to talk about it. I'm sure he was a very nice kid and the desert was probably fine — but seriously, it killed me. I was a sobbing mess.

But then some sympathetic judge must have put it together and noticed that — out of the 300 exhibitions in the Home Show that year — about 175 of them had been made by the same girl. Somebody must have been like, "Oh my god, that poor pathetic child." Because later in the day, I was given a special award — a giant ribbon upon which some kind soul had written: "MOST IN SHOW".

Which soothed my sad heart and made me very proud, though today in makes me laugh my ass off because: MOST IN SHOW? That it the best turn of phrase ever. "You, little girl, are not the best at any of this stuff…or even the second best…or the third best...but, by god, you are the MOST."

But you know what? I've always been MOST IN SHOW. I wasn't the best writing student in any class I ever took, but I was the MOST — I was the one who tried hardest. I think I finally got published because I was MOST IN SHOW — because I spent years writing and writing and writing and writing and sending out those stories to publishers and getting rejected and rejected and rejected, and sending out more and more and more stories until I finally wore them down and they published one at last.

I'm not the best at anything, you guys. Not the smartest, not the most talented, not the prettiest, not the strongest, not the best traveler, not the best journalist, not the best public speaker, not the best with foreign languages, not the best novelist, not the wisest, not the best meditator, not the best yogi, not the anything-est. But by god, I show up with a truckload of effort and participation and preparation, and I give to life the absolute MOST I've got. In every category I can.

The uniquely talented guy with the fancier dessert still usually wins the big prize, but you know what? I still wear them down (the great judges of life, that is) and they still have make up special ribbons for me all the time.

Because I just won't go away.

Not one of us should go away, not ever. Make up your own rules. Give what you love to do all you've got. Be Most in Show. Be fabulous.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your words, allowing me to share them in my own space, and for that Acknowledging My Presence Thing.
Yeah, especially that last one.
That was awesome.

Butterflies for Everyone!

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

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

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

Ariel Gore on Girl Body Pride

 

Look closely. What do you see?

I see a woman. A smile that makes me want to know what was just said.

I see a name. I see stars. I see Ariel Gore on Girl Body Pride.

For those of you who don't know, Ariel is my writer crush. She has been since I read How to Become a Famous Famous Writer Before You're Dead: You're Words in Print and Your Name in Lights. Alongside Stephen King's On Writing, I consider to be the two best literary works on the art of writing and making something of it. Then I read her memoir, Atlas of the Human Heart, and I was in love.

Heard of the Hip Mama zine? That's Ariel.

Read Bluebird? Ariel again.

And now her words are on Girl Body Pride. I seriously think this is about as awesome as the fact that I can say Jenny Lawson pet my hair a women's bathroom once. I know, right?

I won't lie...this is one pf those moments where I have to pinch myself to find out if I'm awake...

Turns out I am and pinching myself hurts like a bitch.

Stop laughing.

Go read it.

And please, for the love of all things Holy, leave many comments and share the absolute shit out of this one. Ariel Gore is in the house.

Hell, Ariel Gore is in MY house.

Let's make sure she wants to come back for the next shindig, shall we?

Girl Body Pride's Next Chapter

I'm trying to think up a witty intro for this post. It's kind of important, seeing as I'm announcing my new Managing Editor and Social Media Coordinator's for Girl Body Pride, but I'm drawing a blank. So I decided to go the straight-forward route. See? Already done.

Girl Body Pride just celebrated it's first year and it's my baby. The site was born from my desire to help by daughter grow strong and self-assured despite my own eating disordered background and has grown into so much more. Many talented writers have shared their own journeys to self-acceptance and positive self-worth with essays on topics ranging from their sexuality to manifestos to overcoming their inner critic and smiling for the camera. The hours it takes to read through submissions and find images and schedule the editorial calendar have all been worth it because the words shared with those reading need to be shared.

My work is important, I've been told. Lives have been changed, I've been told. I can't let it stop because a difference is being made, friends and writers I respect have said.

And I'll admit that I was on the brink of throwing in the towel. Not because I don't believe that GBP is no longer relevant (because body image and learning that we deserve to love ourselves as we are will always be relevant), but because I'm spread too thin.

My work for Latina Magazine comes first, as it should, with deadlines and editors and readers to answer to. That means that personal blogging, both here and the editorial responsibilities that come with running a website like Girl Body Pride, become what I do instead of sleeping. Considering Life and Homeschool and Other Craziness, I needed to either just let something go or find a Plan B.

I went with Plan B.

And I couldn't be happier to announce Margaret Elysia Garcia as Girl Body Pride's new Managing Editor and Beth Bartlett as the site's new Social Media Coordinator.

Margaret is a literary force to be reckoned with. She's a teacher, a writer of poetry and fiction, and hosts two radio shows. She also is an award wining writer. Her work can be seen in Best Fiction, Underground Voices, Penduline Press, Solstice Magazine, and more. Margaret somehow manages to maintain a personal blog at Tales of a Sierra Madre.

I know. I have no idea how she does it, either.

Beth Bartlett is a freelance writer and humorist. Her work has appeared in such publications as Writer’s Digest, mental_floss, Country Extra, Meetings South and American Profile, and she’s a contributing writer at the humor site An Army of Ermas. She indulges her pseudo-psychic snarky side at Wisecrack Zodiac, and shows her nerdy colors at Pure Geek and Geek Girl Universe.

I'm honored (and so very excited) to announce both Margaret and Beth's new roles with Girl Body Pride and can't wait to see what happens next.

Thank you both, ladies. This totally means you're on my Christmas list now.

Housekeeping! (A List in Accented English)

* Yes, I did in fact say that in my head with an exaggerated Spanish-accented English voice. * Because I can.

* If you don't laugh, you're actually hurting my feelings.

* Things are insane.

* Hence, the list.

* Turns out you guys are all Made of Awesome.

* Why, you ask?

* Because 418 of you signed my Change.org petition to get Disney to drop the sex kitten crap with Merida.

* It's too late.

* Maybe.

* She's been crowned & the new image is available on a variety of Crap We'll Buy Our Kids Because We're Giant Suckers.

* And because even if she's been sexed up, the movie is still amazing.

* Oh right.

* Because if we tell our children it's the message that matters and not the size of her waistline, we done good.

* We have no choice, really, since Disney contradicted the very message behind Brave with this whole debacle.

* You know, the one about family, independence, and finding the strength to find out own fates within us?

* Yeah, that one.

* The happy asides?

* A Mighty Girl has a petition with over 18,000 signatures.

* Brave's director is a bit pissed off about the animated plastic surgery job, too.

* So high five on that, y'all.

* New subject.

* Keep up with me, will you?

* I've got an updated version of my Mind Over Medicine review on Girl Body Pride.

* You'll want to stop by.

* Gigi Ross from Kludgey Mom needs some love.

* And Lissa Rankin has written a book I promise you'll want to read.

* Trust me on this one.

* Also? I've got a winner for the Aspiring Mama giveaway of Mind Over Medicine.

* Tanessa Knoll? Buttercup just said Comment Number Two is my winner.

* So ... you're welcome.

* Email me your address, will ya?

* Twitter works, too.

* New subject.

* Yes.

* AGAIN.

* Buttercup is about to follow in Mama's footsteps.

* Little girl has been granted permission by The Mama (me) & The Daddy (The Husband) for a pretty cool gig.

* Girlfriend is going to be a regular contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team.

* Which also happens to include me.

* I know, right?

* The girl can read at a fourth grade level but has the typing skills of a 5-year-old.

* Probably because she is five.

* So I can't knock her for that.

* Instead, I'll be transcribing my baby's words and views on what beauty means to her.

* I promise not to edit what she says.

* I hope like hell I've done right by her and taught her that beauty is everywhere.

* That the only size that matters when it comes to beauty is the size of our hearts.

* And that society is full of assholes who will try & knock her down a peg or two but that they don't matter.

* I'll know I've succeeded in about 10 years.

* If the child is self-assured enough to wear this when she's 15 because it makes her happy without giving a damn what you think?

 

* I win at motherhood.

* Whiplash warning.

* New subject.

* I really need to take my Xanax.

* That wasn't the subject change.

* Just proof that I need the fucking Xanax.

* This is the subject change...

* Dammit.

* I forgot.

* No, wait.

* GOT IT!

* Girl Body Pride has new team members!

* Congrats to Heidi Zalamar and Margaret Elysia Garcia.

* You guys kick major ass.

* I promise to add your bios to the writer page sometime before 2014 hits.

* Was that all?

* No, seriously.

* I was asking you if I needed to cover anything else before I chase that Xanax with an instant espresso.

* Shut up.

* It works for me.

* Last subject.

* I'm still sitting in a secret.

* And it's a Big One.

* Oh...

* And The Husband just warned me to be on the lookout for the family of moose in the area when I let the dogs out.

* Drops Mic & Saunters Offstage.

 

Do You Believe in Mind Over Medicine? (You Should...)

Mind over Matter.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Do you focus on the cellulite and stretch marks or celebrate your body and the blessings it has brought you?

Will you look for the silver lining or just bitch about the rain pouring down from the clouds above?

It isn't easy. Too often, we overlook the fact that how our perceptions have a very real effect on our realities. If you're convinced you can't do something, chances are you won't. Change the perception and shift to the positive, and suddenly we find ourselves making like The Little Engine that Could. We stop self-defeating and start self-motivating and suddenly the glass is half-full, we love ourselves as we are, and find ourselves dancing in the rain. Because we opened our minds to the power of positivity.

Not many question our ability to choose happiness. We tell our children they need only believe to achieve and then marvel as we watch them learn to ride a bike, blossoming as their confidence grows. That's how powerful our minds are.

Or maybe that's just the beginning. What if our minds hold not only the power to change our perceptions, but also heal our bodies? It might sound like Crazy Talk, but you can't argue the conclusive research presented by my friend Lissa Rankin in her new book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. Lissa's book launches on May 7 with Hay House, and it's an incredible read already making major waves. Major waves, people. As in PBS is Producing a Special on Lissa's Work major.

Mind over Medicine is the culmination of three year's of research in which Lissa shows us how our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings get translated into the physiology of the cells of every organ in the body. Diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and vitamins are all important, but they play a small role when compared to the physiological effects of health poisons like fear, loneliness, work stress, anxiety, and depression. Our bodies can and do heal themselves every day. The problem is that the current health care model in place, accepted both by mainstream medicine and patients alike, flat out ignores anything that can't be fixed with a pill.

In Mind over Medicine, Lissa shows us that our minds can heal our bodies simply by turning on our relaxation responses with mediation, creative expression, having lots of sex, being optimistic, and having lots of sex. Which I probably already mentioned, but it seems like a pretty important point.

Lissa is on a mission to change our own thinking, help us become empowered self-advocates of change and healing while encouraging healthcare practitioners to embrace what what our bodies already know.

It's Mind over Medicine. We have the power to heal ourselves. We only need to be open to the possibility.

Because I truly believe Lissa is a change-agent who has created a book you need to read, I'm doing everything I can to support her in the Mind Over Medicine launch. I've pre-ordered a few copies of the book, available tomorrow on all major retailers, for giveaways here and on Girl Body Pride. I've got three copies coming my way, people. That's three chances to win a free copy of Mind Over Medicine. Bonus? Buy your own copy of Lissa's book and I'll throw in a free download coupon for Girl Body Pride's Strong Life Butterflyanthology (which happens to feature one of Lissa's essays!). Simply email me a copy of your receipt!

To enter to win ONE COPY of Mind Over Medicine here on Aspiring Mama, simply leave a comment on this post.

For an extra entry, copy and paste the following and tweet, tweet, y'all:

Do you believe in Mind Over Medicine? Win 1 copy of 's  from  here!

Entries will be accepted until midnight, EST, on Monday, May 13.

If Neil Kramer Were a Woman...

I love Neil Kramer. It's Facebook updates like these (along with his brilliant iPhone pics on his instagram feed) that just make me want to high five him for cutting through the bullshit and just saying or showing us what is.

In this case, it's a brilliant case of Funny Because It's True. In fact, it's so funny, my sides are getting stitches from laughing, which makes this also fall into The Truth Hurts category.

Let's look at a few examples in my feed from today alone:

 

I love A Beautiful Mess. They speak to the body/self-acceptance crowd working to embrace their crazy and imperfections. It's the same message, but usually with more swear words, I try to share on Girl Body Pride.

 

Mighty girls.

Attitude is everything.

Enough said.

 

Now we're getting somewhere. I can hear my Complex bitching, so we must be close.

 

Dr. Oz. made me cry again. Well, it was him or the companies using his image (with or without his permission) to sell the idea that FASTER, THINNER, BETTER, BEST is and always will be the only way to find happiness within. And there we are. The punchline. Love yourself and tell your children to do the same, but just make sure you work on that belly fat before having the audacity to believe you are anything other than perfectly beautiful and worthy of your own love and efforts just the way you are.

Neil? Yes. Facebook fucks with me. So does going grocery shopping, the headlines on the glossies while checking out with my kale and coconut milk because I'm allergic to almost every food on the planet, and my own brain when pity parties involving food that tastes good but makes me feel horrible sound like a brilliant idea.

How do I handle it? By hitting "Publish."

Let's Help a Mother Out & Justify Our Shopping Habits

I usually suck at the Rallying the Troops thing, but it's late and I'm so far behind on my To Do list that I may as well not bother sleeping until I'm dead so let's just give this a shot, shall we? Really, I'll just pretend high school didn't happen and that I was nominated for something other than The Kramer Award for Craziest Hair by my fellow classmates our senior year. Like Homecoming Court, or something.

It's International Women's Day and my friend, fellow writer, and regular Girl Body Pride contributor Kim Tracy Prince is looking for support for the Help a Mother Out diaper donation charity.

The short story: Install the KarmaWell app on your browser and if just 20 or so of you follow through because you are that kind of awesome, Kim will have made her goal of getting at least 50 people try KarmaWell, and that translates into KarmaWell donating 5,000 diapers to a homeless shelter. The KarmaWell app is FREE and enables automatic donations to the diaper charity every time you shop online. Which we all know is often. So that means babies get diapers and you scored some points with the Universe.

Don't lie. Karma is watching you, remember?

Basically, you either like babies or you don't. I think you do.

Go ahead and delete the app next week if you want. I won't tell. But install KarmaWell before the end of the day in the spirit of helping mothers and babies and supporting your online shopping habit, which basically gives you the right to shop because IT'S FOR THE BABIES.

That means the next time your husband gets all YOU DON'T NEED THAT you can be all NO I REALLY DON'T BUT IT'S FOR THE BABIES, ASSHOLE. Basically, it's an automatic win for you because no one can argue that?

No one.

Unless they are evil.

 

I Woke Myself Up to Blog at Midnight

Obviously, I have priorities.

Normally, I don't fall asleep before 2 a.m. just because I'm wired that way. But funny things start to happen when you've been up till damn near 5 am for  week straight and your 5 year-old homeschooled child won't sleep in past 8:30 a.m. Tonight, I fell asleep next to her while we read story books and I woke up with Buttercup on my chest, my iPhone on her pillow, and actually debated if I should get out of bed to write what needs to be written.

Sleep should have been the priority. But then I remembered that little ebook launch and how I need to kind of be working on that. So here I am.

A few quick updates before I get distracted by the house I need to clean for the mom/daughter play/mom chat date we have coming over tomorrow afternoon, the sink full of dirty dishes, the lunch I have to pack for The Husband for his morning shift, and planning the morning's homeschool session. Did I mention I also made my own laundry detergent and dish soap today because I was bored for five minutes?

Here's the Happy in a nutshell:

* Girl Body Pride writer Leanne Breiholz had a  GBP post picked up by HuffPost Parents! Here's the link to "Broken." Click, read, share with your friends, and leave some comment love. Leanne is still deciding if she should blog, y'all. I'm thinking MaybeYes.

* Shoshana Rachel's review of Strong like Butterfly still makes me tingly. Go read it again. I'll wait for you to buy the book and then head back here. I'm patient like that.

* Rita Arens, BlogHer's senior editor, will be sharing her thoughts on her site, Surrender, Dorothy, after the sun rises. I'll stop by and update with the link. Many, many thank you's to Rita.

* Did you know that those who but the ebook and email me (aspiringmama or girlbodypride at gmail) their name and URL (along with proof of purchase from Smashwords) are being recognized on the Supporters of GBP page on Girl Body Pride linking to you?? I also will be recognizing supporters in future newsletters to my subscribers! If you have used a coupon code for a free or discounted download, that's okay. You can share the Strong like Butterfly love as a gift to a friend AND support me and Girl Body Pride in the process. Win/win people!

* Mercedesy Yardley will be taking day 3 of the Strong Like Butterfly launch tour. If you haven't' already, check out this woman's writing. She is a true talent and I'm honored to know and work with her. Stop by A Broken Laptop for day 3 and a chance to win a copy of Rita Arens' new book (before it's even released!).

 

And that's all she wrote, folks.

 

Strong like Butterfly & OHMYGAWD

 

So much to share. So little time.

It's 3:30 a.m. and obviously I'm not asleep.

Instead, I'm writing blog posts and sharing others written by friends and fellow writers and I'm neck deep in the utter craziness that is a book launch.

It's wonderful.

Today, stop and take a read at Shoshuga.com for an amazing review and pretty things said about Alexandra Rosas by contributor Shoshana Rachel.

Girl Body Pride has a pretty spiffy post up. Mostly because I wrote it and at 3:30 in the morning after 4 hours of sleep the night before, "spiffy" is a fun word to say.

Tomorrow, Rita Arens will be sharing her thoughts on #StrongLikeButterfly over at Surrender, Dorothy and giving away a reader's choice of one of two books written by Mercedes Yardley.

If you haven't already, sign up for the online launch party on Facebook. There will be a few special surprises over there (no, I don't have an iPad to give away, so let's just get that out of the way) and stay tuned for a special announcement coming up very soon. All I can tell you is that it's pretty.

And shiny. I like shiny things.

Did I mention it is NOT an iPad? I did?

Good.

Now go buy the book.

I'll see you after a few hours of being unconscious with more updates, who to visit next, and more things to give away.

Thank you for supporting me and Girl Body Pride in the launch of #StrongLikeButterfly!

 

 

4/365: Walk a Mile

 

Sometimes I think it would have been

easier

to have a drinking problem

than feel the need to

stuff

myself

down

as

far

as

I

can

bury

myself

within

because everyone takes pity on the fat girl

with the doughnuts who lies

when she orders a dozen.

Everyone knows she isn't going to share.

Everyone pretends to think she is.

Eat less. Exercise more. You'll be fine if you just

focus.

Then I remember wearing my dad's flips flops at home

because we had the same size feet.

 

I’m giving this #365poems craziness @schmutize came up with and blame her if I lose my mind or bore you with really bad poetry. Click here for @Schmoetry and be amazed. Click here for what I’ve written wrapped up with a pretty little bow in one place because it's just easier that way, and well, there ya have it.

 

 

A Thank You

 

Pretty sure I'm the coolest mom in Buttercup's little group of friends right now. That's what happens when you give signed author copies of a book that is so well-received by the kidlets that I was texted and emailed repeatedly about how they had to take away the book because their kids were, well, reading.

Good students, these kids. Usually pretty well behaved.

But this book made them into different people. It made them careless and forgetful and because they were too busy losing themselves in the pictures painted on the page with words that they were forgetting to do their homework. They were getting caught in the middle of the night with flashlights and their only defense was "But MOM! I want to find out what happens next!"

And they did. The next day, anyway. And when they were done they were so high on the adventures in their head and the rush that comes with having lived vicariously through characters they came to love and can't wait to see again that they did something unheard of these days.

They grabbed a thank you card, a stamp, and then put this in the mail box.

 

It gets even better. Because if the outside makes you smile, the inside makes you all giddy and think there is actually hope for humanity in the face of crap like Jersey Shore and the Kardashians because there are still words being put to paper and imaginations dancing with the images created within.

 

 

Congratulations on making your latest deadline, Shannon. You revel in that. I'm going back to smiling and feeling superior like my kid because her mama is  "friends" with all of these famous writers and Miss Shannon is one of them and that makes me kind of awesome.

World? Keeper of the Lost Cities IS as awesome as these kids say. I'm going at a much slower pace reading it to a five-year-old, but she is as caught up in it as I am. It's not just good. It's incredible. And I am looking forward to more. Order Keeper of  the Lost Cities here. And you're welcome.

 

Today's List

 

To do:

* scare away Internet with emotional brain dump: check

* finish my edits on Strong like Butterfly ebook for Girl Body Pride: check

* take a nap: check

* wake up just in time to realize the child will not be going to bed anytime before midnight: check

* sniff my child's armpits to see if I can skip her bath...again : check

* teach my child how to use deodorant: check

* begin to fill out Listen To Your Mother application: check

* doubt myself because it's what I do: check

* continue to fill out LTYM application anyway: check

* realize child and her stinky pits need a bath: check

* bath, book, bed, blog: check

* read more words by Ariel Gore because she is my word Goddess: check

* decide that I've been a self-righteous ass this whole time waiting for my life to be validated by someone else: check

* reaffirm my convictions to become a famous writer before I'm dead: check

* even if it is on my own fucking terms: check

* look over list of contributors for Strong Like Butterfly again while heart flutters: check

* look over state of my newly-moved-in-home (unpacked boxes stacked as far as the eye can see): check

* shrug, figure it can all wait until tomorrow, go back to writing: check

* ponder branding and monikers and real names and what it is that I have to offer the world: check

* still pondering...

 

When the Play Date Ends: An Army of Ermas

 

Since Buttercup was a little tiny baby, she has despised goodbyes. Newborn shrieks would replace content gurgles the instant she got wind of diaper bags being packed up, hugs exchanged with whomever it was we were visiting, and car keys jangling.

Those newborn shrieks have since been replaced with tantrums, MAMA I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE I LIKE IT HERE's and hours of pouting afterward just to prove her point. And that was when we visited my adult friends. Without kids, people. Heaven help me when it was an actual play date that was ending.

She's five now. Adorable. Smart. Hilarious. She has strength and character and Mother of...

She's going to break me with that attitude.

Her teacher told me the other day that Buttercup crossed her arms over her chest, dug her heels firmly into the ground, and flat out refused the green journal being handed to her for an activity in class. It seemed that Teacher Lady had assigned each child in class a random journal that was theirs to use for the entire school year. Only problem was that green has never been one of her favorite colors and apparently Buttercup was a bit miffed that her preferences had not been taken into consideration.

"I don't like that color," she said. And I know exactly how she said it.

"I'm not working in that." she said. And I can hear the bitch that will replace the brat when my little princess grows up just the tiniest bit more. Because, and trust me on this, it's a milestone that you and your family will note. There might not be a Hallmark card to designated for the very moment you realize it is now socially acceptable to tell at at least one person outside of your head that your kid was a total bitch today and then get weepy because yesterday she had just been bratty. Something changed while she slept. She grew up a little bit. And now you aren't sure if you are crying because you miss your baby are are dead-fucking terrified because it's probably only moments before she realizes she has hormones and all hell officially breaks loose.

Which explains the instant sobs when the ultra-sound tech announced that the baby in the belly was a girl. So sweet and dress-able when they're small. But then they grow up.

And it's always too fast.

We had a play date recently with her BFF from preschool two years ago. In elementary school years, these two have known each other for decades.We managed to leave with only downcast eyes and whispers about being sad as we walked out to our car.

"I like it here. I'm sad I have to go."

And I understood. Because I just learned that a play date of my own is ending.

An Army of Ermas riding off into the sunset on September 30. The site will remain live for fans to peek at when they need to go searching for a favorite laugh. But there will be no more reasons to try and swear less while while writing about something funny. And I'm going to miss that.

I want to pout. Maybe throwing a tantrum will make the fun last long enough for everyone to forget we were supposed to be leaving. Or I could change tactics and promise to play nicer and share more and not call people names anymore.

I kneel down to Buttercup's level and give her a hug before we get into the car.

"I know, sweetie. I'm going to miss my friends, too. But we'll see them again. And it will be soon. Right now, though, it's time to leave."

Thank you, Ermas. It was fun while it lasted. And to Boss Lady, Stacey Graham: Thank you doesn't even begin to describe the gratitude I have in my heart for having had the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing group of writers.