Welcome to WEEK 18 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. 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? Myrah Duque and Jesenia the Comedic Actress were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is a saint of a woman I consider myself lucky to call a friend. Her name is Denisse Moltavan and she’s the founder of the Orphaned Earring, an incredible non-profit benefiting Latin American orphanages. The premise is simple — you send in your orphan earring and/or donate any unwanted jewelry pieces and Denisse turns them into new pieces like these to sell for The Orphaned Earring.

To be clear, y’all, this is what Moltavan does in her spare time — on top of the 60 hours per week she puts in at her PR job. (I know, RIGHT?) Connect with Moltavan and The Orphaned Earring on Twitter, Facebook, and instagram.

So let’s get to that interview!

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Denisse Moltavan

Denisse Moltavan

 


Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Denisse Moltavan: Chocolate.

PC: OMG TWINS, right? Favorite book and why?

DM: Amor en Los Tiempos de Cólera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez has the ability to transport us to different ages and eras and make US feel like the main characters in his books. He did just that with Amor En Los Tiempos de Colera, so as a child my first love was the book character.

PC: My high school AP English teacher would have loved you. What’s your favorite quote?

DM: “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” ? Thomas A. Edison

PC: Opportunity needs a new stylist. Or maybe a friend brave enough to tell her that the overalls are not doing her any favors. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

DM: No, I consider myself an independent woman

PC: oh SNAP. I think you tie with Vannessa for best answer to this question EVER. Who inspires you?

DM: Many successful “everyday” Latinos who have found their success through hard work such as Richard Montanez of Pepsi Co. and Tommy Thompson of Moroch/iNSPIRE. I’m also inspired by Malala Yousafzai.

PC: I need to up my game. I was gonna say I’m inspired by the BFFs in the world brave enough to tell their overall-wearing BFFs that they aren’t allowed to leave the house until they’ve changed. Who is it you hope to inspire?

DM: I hope to inspire everyone around me to identify the opportunities to do good and take them! We all don’t have to have our own non-profits, we just need to train our hearts and minds to feel more compassion for others in the world and act on that compassion, just not be a spectator.

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

DM: Both!

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

DM: BEAST! It’s fun to be a sexy beast, but chingona is the new sexy!

PC: That makes me the new Sandra Cisneros. I’ll take it. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

DM: Not enough Latinas are highlighted for their accomplishments and intelligence. Latinas “make it” in media if they are very sexy and dress sexy as well. I’m not only referring to general market media, our Hispanic media puts so much pressure to being beautiful and sexy on TV that the rest of the world thinks that that’s all we have to offer.

PC: I knew I liked you for a reaon… Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

DM: You must show God’s love and mercy with others by helping and caring for them. People will be able to see God’s love through their actions.

Everything is possible, everything has a solution and the worse others can say to us is NO, and that’s not a big deal.

PM: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

DM: Being at the baseball field watching my daddy play every weekend, he was my childhood hero

PC: I like your dad. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

DM: I think in Spanish at home and with friends and English at work.

PC: That sounds entirely like way too much work. What’s your favorite dish? Why?

DM: Fritanga which includes red beans and rice, carne asada, tajadas verdes, ensalada de repollo, queso frito

PC: Bless you. Why am I suddenly hungry? Also, Do you feel “Latina enough”?

DM: Yes, very very Latina.

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

DM: Nope, I take a bite, hold it in my mouth and let it melt.

PM: Patience, young grasshopper. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

DM: That we are nurturers.Screen-Shot-2013-07-11-at-6.09.16-PM-e1375409462117

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to handle a competitive best friend. Check out my response and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun'll come out tomorrow, y'all..

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Who likes Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

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

 

I’m friends with Canadian fish who thinks she’s a peach-flavored desert. Despite her incredibly amusing identity crisis, she’s pretty much my favorite imaginary friend with access to wifi and a Facebook account.

Peach Flambee (that’s her name and it’ perfect) keeps me around, I think, because she finds me –  and my penchant for amusing word tangent in response to her Facebook updates — as endearing as I am easily distracted. Personally, I think it’s unfair to bait the woman incapable of one word responses without first checking if:

A) I’m on deadline

B) what were we talking about aga…

C) I’ve got any adderall still working in my system whilst being tagged.

Because what’s happening here is a perfect example of why Peach could probably live quite happily without cable.

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Peach got downright philosophical in response to Piccard voicing the very thing most of us are thinking when someone else says something like this after our cats get run over on the very same day we seem to have run out of chocolate. I was just going to paraphrase, but I went with a straight up cut & paste because I’m already losing interest here.

The meaning of what we say is determined by denotation, connotation, and context.

“Everything happens for a reason.” Denotatively, this is self- evident, so why say it?

Consider the context: Something unfortunate has happened to someone you care about, typically involving a loss: life, mobility, job, functionality, home …

Some well meaning folks respond with “Everything happens for a reason.” What is the connotation of this? Somewhere, somehow, a benefit will come from this loss, so really, you don’t need to feel so bad.

Excuse me??

That’s right, you shouldn’t feel so bad.

This is invalidation of normal, healthy grief and anger. And why? Can this person tell us what the elusive benefit is?

Uhhhh … no. Well, sort of. Maybe. It might be guesswork, But no, not really.

Who feels better for this? The person suffering the loss? Let’s see: The loss is still suffered, and in some way that he can’t quite put his finger on, he now gets the sense that the way he feels is somehow wrong, or inappropriate or demanding … but no one told him that, so *that* perception must also be wrong …

How about the well- meaning person? With one platitude, he’s spread a positive thought to a suffering person, and without any real effort on his part. He’s been thoughtful and it was so easy … and now he can stop feeling awkward because he has had something pleasant to say and something helpful to do.

We feel uncomfortable when the people we care about are suffering. This encourages us to say or do the first thing that will alleviate our own discomfort, often without thinking, because this is what we have learned to do by watching other people. We’re not alone in this so it must be the correct thing to do, right?

When you’re on the receiving end of the platitudes, they great, but you’re conditioned to believe that you’re just grumpy because you’re suffering. All the same, you find yourself feeling that you want to push away the people who care about you, and that makes things worse. Around and around it goes.

Sometimes there really is no useful advice you can give to a loved one. So don’t. Just offer to be there and not judge. Accept the sufferer’s feelings. Give him space if he needs it.

I adore how Boggle the Owl presents advice for these situations. I suggest giving Boggle a read

(Tagging Pauline, as the resident expert )

 

I know what you’re thinking…that’s one smart goldfish. But stick with me here, because one of us need to stay focused and we both know I’m pointing at you when I say that.

My response?

The Reasons that Everything keeps happening include ( but are not limited to):
- life’s a bitch
- karma has probably *always* a bitch
- no, seriously. Have you EVER heard someone say “Wow, that Karma…sweet as pie, that one... No?! -EXACTLY.

* you like pounding your head, repeatedly, on a hard surface.

* don’t lie and try to cover it up. “Namaste” is nowhere nearly as effective a mental picture as *HEADDESK* when trying illustrate frustration over The Everythings & The reasons the Everythings don’t take a fucking coffee break

* your mother called

* his mother called

* you didn’t forward that chain letter meme to 667 people before mercury went into to retrograde, DID you?

* you IDIOT

* You got out of bed this morning

* You cut the tag off of your pillow just to see what would happen

* It seemed like a good idea at the time

* You didn’t bother aiming and crossed the wires, thereby angering Zuel and inspiring over-achieving Pinterest users to make your s’more look like the unoriginal schlopp is really is

* You wore white after Labor Day

* The damned chicken just wanted to get to the other side, okaaaay?

* Well you see, Susie, when a Mommy and a Daddy like each other, they share a special hug…

* You poked the bear. Stop poking the fucking bear, will you?

This list could very probably never become suddenly outdated because there will always be stupid people in the world who say stupid (but well-meaning) things like Everything Happens for a Reason when the best response is usually none at all.

It’s either that, or Ben & Jerry’s better get to mixing new flavor combinations and slap Sorry About You Cat on the label. Because that’s really the only acceptable alternative allowed.

– Signed,

The Resident Expert

 

 

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Photo & Graphic by Pauline Campos

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. 

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***

 

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.

 

 
Watch your back, Cinderella.

Watch your back, Cinderella.

  1. I hate spiders.
  2. If all the Disney Princesses tried to take out Wonder Woman in a fight, I’d put money on Wonder Woman. Hands down.
  3. Real shredded coconut “tastes” like paper to me. Shut. Up.
  4. When I am out in public here in Maine and make eye contact with another minority, they give me the Nod of Acknowledgment.
  5. I always nod back.
  6.  Strangers can read anything I write. I’m not afraid of you judging me.
  7.  It took me a long time to get comfortable on my own blog to drop an F bomb. And look at you still reading, you naughty, naughty person, you….
  8. It was liberating as hell when it finally happened.
  9. Sometimes I have to pretend temporary amnesia when I write here & my column because now that my family knows what I do, the pressure is on, y’all.
  10.  I swear like a sailor but blush when people say that P word that rhymes with hussy (Hint: smartasses who try leaving comments containing that word will be deleted. Me and my virgin eyes can’t handle it, so don’t try it.)
  11. I’ll be starting a podcst/Google Hangout session pretty soon.
  12.   I never got  pregnancy/labor amnesia. So we got a new puppy. Since my ovaries hate me I guess I don’t have to worry, anyway.
  13. Related? Only people without kids can say that raising a puppy is like having a child. We used to say it all the time. Then we had a child. All I’m saying is rubbing your kid’s nose in their pee spot on the carpet might not work out so well for you, so I’d advise against being stupid.
  14. I was 5’1? when I was 8 years old. My mother is 5,1?, which means I was wearing her pants in the third grade. Which also means I have only grown 5-inches in 27 years. Wow, that’s depressing.
  15. My mother brought me home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking.
  16. There’s a reason I prayed for a summer baby, y’all.
  17. I was left standing on my porch, dressed for the senior year Homecoming dance, with mascara-stained tear tracks in my blush, when I realized the high school friends who had invited me to “go stag” with them never showed to pick me up.
  18. I had my first kiss with my first boyfriend at 16 years old.
  19. I speak really good Spanish when I’m drunk.
  20. I never have time to get drunk.
  21. My Spanish usually sucks.
  22. My mother dressed me as a clown for Halloween one year and combed my Mexifro out into an afro and sprayed it to look like a wig. She must have done a really good job. I spent the entire Girl Scout party beating Brownies off my head as they all tried to yank my wig off so they could try it on themselves.
  23. I hate clowns.
  24. I had a reverse boob job when I was 24. The Husband looked like a proud new father when he told his friends that his wife’s former GG’s were now cute and perky DD’s.
  25. Eliana fit in one of my old bikini cups when she was born. (Like you wouldn’t have tried?)
  26.  You know that scene in the original Blade movie where the vampires are in the underground club dancing in wild abandon as the sprinkler system showers them in blood? Yeah…that’s the song The Husband and I were introduced to at our wedding reception.
  27. #26 was my idea. The Husband is still grateful.
  28.  I didn’t know MTV existed until I was 14. i also didn’t realize that our car radio played anything other than Mexican music or oldies stations. My social life? Sucked.
  29. I’m the oldest of five girls. The youngest two are 10 and 11 years younger than me, and Mom used to make me wake with the crying babies at night and still go to school the next morning.
  30. My mother is an evil genius.
  31. I hate it when people refer to how big my daughter is. She’s tall, assholes, not big. Can we talk about how big you are now? Oh right, that’s not polite.
  32. Milk makes me sneeze. A lot. Which makes me miss ice cream.
  33. Bananas also make me sneeze. Which just makes me weird.
  34. This is my third blog. The first two were me trying to write what I thought other people wanted to read.
  35. Are you still reading?
  36. My goal in life is to make it onto Graham Norton’s couch & the Top Gear track. I’ve got a think for BBC.
  37. I typo. A lot. Deal with it.
  38. I have ADHD and wish people knew that the condition doesn’t just mean I’m forgetful.
  39.  I homeschool and wish people didn’t assume that means my child is locked in a closet all day. We at least let her out for five minutes of sunlight every day. Twice on Sundays.
  40. I once yelled at my sister for closing the car windows with my fingers in them after I told her to close the window and left my hand there.
  41. I met The Husband online when online dating was still something to whisper about.
  42. I was the Mexican Princess Searching for her Prince.
  43. Chuck it up, people. Chuck it up.
  44. I queried 45 agents before I got signed.
  45.  My agent never saw my query.
  46. I’m single again and looking for a new agent.
  47. I’m Latina Magazine’s advice columnist only because I didn’t think I was going to get the job. Think about that one.
  48. I write first and think about sharing later.
  49. I never self-censor words that need to be written. I decide if they should be shared after. But I always write them.
  50. I choked on water once. In a cup. Sitting at the kitchen table. Yes, I am that talented.
  51. The End
 

My BFF Heather always says I am best when speaking only if I haven’t rehearsed. Apparently, planning I guess, is just a reason for me to self-censor, and that jut takes away all the good parts, so I try to do that as little as possible.

So here’s the plan for the Big Thing I’ve been dreaming up for a few years now:

- Weekly #ChingonaFest Project Google Hangouts at 2 p.m. EST on Sundays

- Weekly podcast stemming from the original G+ show

- Conquer the world, preferably by next Monday.

 

 


 

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