Bikinis are a season?

What do you mean it’s bikini season? Bikinis are a season?

The commercials say it’s bikini season, and so do the clothing racks at Walmart.

You know how the gyms get packed with fresh guilt and resolve at the New Year and by Valentine’s Day it’s back to not fighting for a parking space before Zumba? I’m starting to wonder if therapists gleefully rub their hands together in anticipation of the throngs of broken confidence vying for a spot on their client lists.

Join NOW! Don’t eat that. Sign up here! Be Happier Than You Are RIGHT NOW…after you pay the membership fee, of course.That’s what the commercials tell us.

And don’t forget to read the fine print telling you that you are not legally allowed to feel anything that even resembles happiness until you’ve successfully managed to wrestle yourself into that pair of skinny jeans without bothering to work out how the hell you were going to get them off.

Because until you zip up the jeans that magically give every woman on the fucking planet a muffin top and a complex, you just don’t get it. You haven’t earned your stripes. Those skinny jeans (and the bikini you have hanging on your bathroom mirror — placed just so as to allow for an unobstructed view as you wait for the scale to tell you what kind of day you’re going to have — those are our reminders that we will never be good enough because the standards keep changing.

Ever try reasoning with a crabby toddler in the middle of the grocery store? Because in this scenario, we are the parent and Other People’s Perceptions are bringing it home in the role of the kid throwing the tantrum in the deli section. We all know who wins in this scenario.

Bikini season is what we live for. It’s what we train for all winter so that when the snow melts and the sun makes us all sunshiny happy, the world knows who talked the talk and who actually walked the walk (or skated on by with a nip and a tuck, ‘cuz that works, too). In a bikini? You are granted this moment of self-validation. Not in a bikini? Don’t bother trying to come up with excuses. You have failed at life. And now everybody else knows. Maybe next year, you’ll actually take this shit seriously. For now, here’s your pool cover-up. I’m not bothering to explain to you why it’s scarlet.

It’s bikini season! This is serious, you guys. It’s time to count every fucking calorie in that celery and carrot sticks lunch and perform death-defying feats of mathematical gymnastics in your head while standing in line for the the elliptical trying to figure out exactly how long you have to torture yourself to make up for the two brownies you ate on the way to the gym because HUNGER IS A THING! You may as well stop trying to feed the rest of us that line about hating yourself skinny if you hate yourself now because everybody knows skinny people are always happy, Goddammit.  Let us know when you’ve decided to let go of that one about your fat ass not defining you as a person (because it totally does and you know it).

Oh sure, there are a few Devil’s Advocates out there spreading happiness and cheer wrapped up nicely in a confident little package for all. They call bikini season things like “Beach Body Bullshit” and try to tell you that it’s only this difficult because we’ve let it become so. They pass out smiles and pats on the head and tell us to find out own version of healthy and to get regular activity and eat a healthy and balanced diet because it makes us feel good. They make a bit of headway before all progress is reversed the minute another Hollywood mom gives birth and six week’s later is on the cover of People in a sexy suit. The picture alone is a head game, but I’m pretty sure the kicker is the carefully worded headline implying that we could have that body, too, if we really wanted it badly enough. I’d ask Gwyneth Paltrow for her opinion, but I’m pretty sure she’d tell me I just need to consciously uncouple myself from the Ben & Jerry’s.

My daughter, who is six, recently heard a friend of mine say something about bikini season and being on a diet because she’d gained five pounds this winter. Basically, my friend said she couldn’t wear a bikini, let alone a bathing suit, until she got rid of the pudge. I’m not going to lie to you. My friend is not a magazine model and was graced with Regular People DNA and a normal, average, let’s go shopping with Marylin Monroe sized 14 body. She’s pretty. She’s active. And she eats all the fruits and veggies.

Outside of “bikini” season, my friend is confident and sassy and has more good days than bad. The minute Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers start the mind-games with sexy-two-piece-wearing success stories, though, all that shit’s out the proverbial window.

Eliana asked me what my friend meant by not being able to wear a bikini when we were on our way home. Did she really mean she can’t physically put on on, she wanted to know. Or did her own mama think they weren’t appropriate? If that was the case, she wanted to know if I get to make the final call on her wardrobe even after she has her own kids.

You bet your sweet ass I said yes.

Then I told her that there are still four seasons, that people think too much sometimes, and that as long as we are healthy and do what we can to stay active and eat what we believe is right for our bodies, that we are all doing just fine. I told her that healthy and happy doesn’t come with size options in the stores, no matter how many times society tries to tell us otherwise. And I told her that she’s just fine and I’m just fine and let’s go home and have some homemade coconut milk ice-cream because life’s successes are not defined at the end by how many bikini selfies we took in our younger days.

But how come she can’t put a bikini on, Mama?, my girl asked me again. I’ll tell you what I told her first, which is that sometimes people say they can’t when they start to believe what others say about happiness and it being a privilege to be earned instead of just being happy because we want to be. That seemed to suffice. The questions stopped. And we went home for ice-cream.

When it was time for a bath, Eliana asked to wear her one-piece in the tub. I’m not an idiot. I said yes.

For the rest of you? Let’s review the steps involved in “getting ready” for bikini season. It’s a simple two-step process that has been needlessly complicated, so I’ll go slow here for you to keep up. Ready? Good.

Step 1: Choose a suit you like in colors you like and show as much or as little skin as you damn well please (providing, of course, you are of age and not my daughter).

Step 2 - Put the fucking thing on.

See how easy that was? As for the snow, I think Mother Nature knocked the coffee over on her memo. Or maybe she just hasn’t felt like shaving her legs yet. Either way, my work is done here.

You’re welcome.

 

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

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Lori Luna and Helen Troncoso were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

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

And now! Time for the interview!

 

 

Sugar Jones

Sugar Jones

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

 

Sugar Jones: Rocky Road 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

SJ: I dream in Technicolor 

 

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

 

SJ: ORALE! 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

PC: I know exactly what you mean. Also I have no idea if you even said that right, so it’s all good. Next! You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

SJ: Our SPICINESS!!!!!  

 

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

 

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

 

Essssooooooo…

 

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

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

 

 

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.

 

 

ricknajera

So I traveled to New York to speak at Rick Najera’s #AlmostWhite NYC book tour stop and you bet your sweet ass I wasn’t leaving without picture proof that he knows who I am.
Yes, I *know* he’s an actor and good at pretending. I take adderall and am good at forgetting. I think that makes us even. Moving on….

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.

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.

We had just arrived at Penn Station. “How warm is it?” she asked. So I told her. 50 degrees. Back home it was was 27 and covered in feet upon feet of snow. After looking around a bit, maybe weighing her options, she made up her mind. “Mom,”  she said, “do you mind if I take off my fuzzy sweater?” I answered by taking off my own.
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.

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 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*.

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 proof that you can be friends with someone one Facebook and not know who the hell they are until they post an update you could have written yourself. This is *also*probably  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. Or plan for better lighting at the next Thing for Latinos because…Obviously.

photo(8)

This girl introduced herself by her social media handle and it went something like this: “It’s @VDLR, youknow, like for my name but think Venereal Disease Lion Roar?”
And that, boys and girls, is how you make a first impression. Don’t ask me her for her actual name. I got nuthin’.

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.

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. Oh right…and the adderall wore off before I got to water-marking the rest of my pictures. So, don’t be an asshole and we can remain friends.

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.

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 bed 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?

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 NYC. 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.

And this? This makes 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.

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.

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.

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 badge which says “Tips”.
Heiddi said this is why she doesn’t stop for these idiots. The minion stopped pointing to his badge 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.

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*.

A stop at Jennifer Esposito’s gluten-free bakery, Jennifer’s Way, 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*.

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The stop in Boston on the way home?
Three hours.
So we explored. Instead of eating, my kid earned my appreciation at the Boston Children’s Museum for a week proving to the haters that homeschooled kids don’t live in closets and are, in fact, very socialized.
Thankyouverymuch.

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A text message led to a change of plans. We left New York City a day early for an overnight stop in Albany to visit with Ana Roca-Castro and her family. Eliana is in love with her daughter and I’m under orders to ask Miss Ana if we can stay with her every time we happen to “be close by”.

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.

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.

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And then it was over.
We were in Maine.
On an interstate that got emptier as we drove further north. It’s still light out. We still had hope we’d arrive home before midnight, seeing as we had four hours between us and home at this point.

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.

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.

***

UPDATE!!!

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*.

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?

 

 

Welcome to WEEK 4 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. Technically, it’s week 5 because I missed last Friday due to the NYC craziness for Rick Najera’s #AlmostWhite book launch, but let’s not dawdle on the Me Dropping the Momentum Thing, shall we? I’ll be talking about all of THAT craziness on Monday. For now, let’s get back on the Spanglish Bitchfest Wagon.

 

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does.

 

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Lori Luna and Veronica Arreola were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

 

This week’s Chingona is Helen Troncoso, doctor and title-holding beauty queen with her heels firmly dug into the feminist camp. Helen has been featured pretty much everywhere (including Latina Magazine as a Top Ten Health & Fitness Blogger) Her most recent endeavor is as co-host of a new show,“El Bien Estar del Hogar con Casa Latina”, on V-me TV, the first national Spanish-language network to partner with American public television, and the fourth largest Spanish network in the United States. This show will follow Helen as she will work with women to transform their health and lives. Catch up with Helen on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and check out her site for some healthy motivation.

 

And now! Time for the interview!

 

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Dr. Helen Troncoso

Dr. Helen Troncoso


 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

 

 Helen Troncoso: I’m not a big ice cream fan, but when I indulge I’d rather go for something more fun like butter pecan.

 

PC: Okay then… *pushes The Box Helen Doesn’t Like to Be Put In to the side*. Let’s try this one…What’s your favorite quote?

 

HT: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” by C.S. Lewis. I found that many times we as women tend to get caught up in other people’s dreams and forget about the ones we made, for the good of the family or the relationship. In my case, I totally reinvented my life and health just 4 short years ago. To make a long story short, I left an abusive relationship, broken engagement and had to move to a new state and start all over. I was scared sh**less, and yes there were lots of times when I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I did it.

 

PC: Starting over can be a huge pain in the ass. Go You for making it happen. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

HT: Feminism is defined as, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”  I know some may not consider a woman who has done beauty contests a “feminist” but I do! Beyond equal rights, I believe a woman should have the right to choose what’s right for her life. Feminism is not a, “zero sum game” as Nancy Redd once said. It’s not about having to look or act a certain way so that other people can feel comfortable labeling you. We have certainly made strides as women in many different fields, but, it’s no surprise that we still have leaps and bounds to go. Whenever I talk to young women, I always tell them to support their fellow sisters. We have so many other people coming down on us, that we need to stop the attacks and division amongst us. How are we supposed to tell women “si se puede” when our own words and actions don’t reflect that.

 

PC: Yes, people will bitch because that’s what people like to do. I, for one, am all for going against the grain. Feminist Beauty Queen? Why not? Now, describe yourself in third person.

 

HT: Helen is probably the most determined and hard-working person you will ever meet. She’s also one of the most sensitive women ever. She’s a dreamer and a doer who completely reinvented herself and is fearlessly living the life she always imagined.

 

PC: You said “probably”. I say “Definitely”. Who inspires you?

 

HT: All of those women who fearlessly continue to go after their dreams, no matter how many times they may have failed, or how crazy their ideas may seem. 

 

 

PC: I’m a fucking mess, which — if you connect the dots inside my head — means I inspire you. This is where you lie to me if I’m wrong.  Everybody else does. So, who is it you hope to inspire?

 

HT: Any woman who feels like she may have gotten off track and wonders if her dreams can really come true. Women who can’t recognize who’s staring back at them in the mirror. I’m there to tell them sometimes God’s rejection is blessed redirection.

 

PC: Redirection is a good thing. Do you dream in color or black and white?

 

HT: I don’t dream often, but occasionally I do dream like what can best be described as a black and white film. 

 

PC: I like black & white. Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…

 

HT: Pa’que tu lo sepas!

 

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

 

HT:I don’t think we’re represented correctly, but I think that applies to all women. I don’t thinker should bash Sofia Vergara (who is actually an amazing business woman) or think to be successful you have to be just like Sonia Sotomayor. We have enough labels and boxes people (our families) put us in, that we need to stop doing it to one another as women. If we want how we’re represented in the media to change, then we need to do more than get mad for a few moments and then forget about it.

 

PC: You’re damned right about that. One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

 

HT: My dad is truly my best friend, and I don’t ever take for granted our relationship. I grew up knowing that I was loved, and that I could do anything, and he would always be there right by my side.

 

PC: I love hearing that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

HT: All of the above. English is definitely my dominant language, but I’m finding myself speaking Spanish more so nowadays. It’s all good! If I’m tired or you’re a good friend and you won’t judge me, you’ll probably hear my crazy Spanglish. 

 

PC: Is there any other kind of Spanglish? Exactly. Now, what’s your favorite dish? Why?

 

HT: Pollo guisado. To this day there is not one restaurant, or another person that can make it as good as my mom! It’s the ultimate comfort food.

 

PC: *Sigh* I miss my mom’s homemade flour tortillas. Do you feel “Latina enough”?

 

HT: I think I’ve come full circle. I grew up in Long Island, and went to high school where I could count on one hand the number of Latinas. My “Latino” experience was limited to my family members. It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand how amazing being a Latina was! It’s not about speaking Spanish (although that’s important to me), nor is it the color of our skin. It is about our culture and traditions and the intangible things that make us Latinas.

 

PC: *Nods head* One Latina stereotype you despise?

 

HT: That we have tons of children out of wedlock. Hello! No kids, and if that’s how the Universe wants it, not having them until someone puts a ring on this finger. 

 

PC: I’ll let Beyonce know. Last one! One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

 

HT: That we’re family orientated.

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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