photo (4)

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.

 

 


 

 

Welcome to WEEK 17 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? Jesenia the Comedic Actress and Vannessa Vasquez 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 too fancy for a last name. She’sMyrah Duque, otherwise known as Coupon Mamacita (or Mamacita! with in italics and with an exclamation point, if she’s feeling sassy)…Duque is a wife, mother, former realtor and PTA President and if you read her about page on her blog, she’s been an “etc.” three times. That last one sounds important.

Duque set 0ut to live frugally after watching a TV show featuring a woman who paid $10 for $200 at a local store with extreme couponing. Turns out Duque has a knack for what she refers to as her “frugal passion-venture”, which, by the way, she happens to share in English AND Spanish. Duque, who has been featured on NBC Latino, Latina.com (a personal favorite.. a*HEM*), among others, is one busy lady.

So let’s get to that interview.

 

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Myrah Duque

Myrah Duque

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla? 

Myrah Dulque: Vanilla

PC: I like a woman who gives a straight answer. Favorite book and why:

MD: “Remarkable Courage” by Deb Cheslow. This book’s message transformed my negative “I can’t do that” attitude to a permanent daily POSITIVE attitude.

PC: Come to think of it, you are pretty perky. It’ a wonder I haven’t felt the urge to slap you yet. What? Why the shocked face? Most perky people drive me up a wall but you? I like you. So… let’s talk about your favorite quote. Spill it, sister.

MD: “Fake it till you make it.”

PC: *Nods head* A perennial favorite amongst these parts. Describe yourself in third person.

MD: She overcomes difficult barriers. She is strong. She is influential.

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

MD: STRONG MAMACITA!!!

PC:  You sassy minx, you. I think I just fell in love with you, Myrah. Do you dream in color or black and white?

MD: Color

PC: Shut the front door! Me, too! But let’s get serious for a minute. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media? 

MD: Latinas are strong, open-minded mamacitas! We are underrepresented and misrepresented, however that is rapidly changing with the growth in roles social media, fashion, politics, entertainment, sports.

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

MD: The sky is the LIMIT! NEVER, Ever, EVER give up!

PC: Okay, perky and…and yet…I still don’t wanna slap you. Maybe it’s the chingona mixed in with the perky that totally make me just wanna ply you with alcohol to see if I’m right, cuz I bet you swear like a sailor when you drink. NO! Don’t say a word. Let me just hold on to the dream for a moment here. Tell me about one childhood memory that has stuck with you…

MD: Relocating to NYC’s Spanish Harlem from Santo Domingo at the age of 6.

13 – Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?  Spanglish

MD: Spanglish.

PC: Me, too, Mama. What’s your favorite dish? Why?

MD: Sancocho Dominicano, it’s synonymous of Family gatherings, Family Love.

PC: Do you feel “Latina enough”?

MD: Oh yes! To the bone!

PC: 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?

MD: Hillary Clinton. A nice lavish Sancocho Dominicano with tostones and aguacate! Wine: A tasty Merlot since the sancocho I like has 7 different types of meat in it. Why Hillary? She inspires with her strong, courageous, tough character, leadership skills, handling the Monica Lewisky scandal, who won’t walk away from what is truly important to her.

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

MD: Chew ice cream? Say What??

PC: Watch it, sister. I chew ice-cream always. I think it’s a rule. Anyway, one Latina stereotype you despise?

MD: That we are all dark skin. Look at me: Fair Skin, BLonde, blue eyes DOMINICANA. We come in all skin colors

PC: One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

MD: EL Baile! We hear music, we are moviendo la colita!

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 is 20 and dating a 45-year-old and SUPRISE….mami is NOT happy. 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.*

 
This is what six hours to the airport look like.

This is what six hours to the airport look like.

Before blogging and columnist deadlines — I was many things. I was a daughter, a sister, a college student, convinced of the fact that everything was going to be just fine because I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going.

My official business travel buddy. And no, those are not *my* business cards she's handing out. Girlfriend is networking for her *own* blog.

My official business travel buddy. And no, those are not *my* business cards she’s handing out. Girlfriend is networking for her *own* blog.

The plan was to get my degree in communications with a concentration in journalism because the small university I attended was too small for a dedicated degree. I’d write for a paycheck during the day and head home to pound away at the keyboard, writing the stories that would be rejected until they weren’t, and then I’d pound away some more, rearranging small pieces of truth into the sentences that would turn into the paragraphs upon which my story would stand.

Petty sure it's my kid here who introduced me to BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone.

Petty sure it’s my kid here who introduced me to BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone.

I’d be brilliant. I’d be relatable. I was going places, Goddamit. Until $45 exchanged hands in a generic apartment kitchen with a generic psychic who told me a lot of things I forgot and one thing I remembered. California, she said, was off-limits. She couldn’t tell me why or give me more than a vague why, except to say that Something Bad would happen should I wiggle a pinkie toe over the state line, so it was best just to stay the hell away.

I know. She's adorable. I know I love her. I'll remember her name in a minute, I promise.

I know. She’s adorable. I know I love her. I’ll remember her name in a minute, I promise.

Now, I’m not sure if it was The Boyfriend who became The Fiance who became The Husband’s reaction that sealed the deal, or if it was the social media friends living in the danger zone I would eventually make — after surviving myself, graduating from college, working as a newspaper reporter, getting married, not getting pregnant while everybody else was popping out babies, and finally  growing our little second chance at raising ourselves inside of me — but suddenly, where I was going became irrelevant. I suddenly realized I only knew what I wasn’t doing and where I wasn’t going. Who knows what would have happened had I decided to ignore my psychic directive while utterly convinced of its power. It didn’t really matter if I stubbed my toe, lost all my luggage, or if Kurt Cameron grew up to be a giant asshole and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen turned out to be tabloid train wrecks because I wasn’t taking the blame for any of it. I stayed away. I couldn’t be blamed should The Big One finally hit and California fell right off the ends of the Earth.

This is how you take a bad-ass selfie with youyr kid and Sarah Fader...

This is how you take a bad-ass selfie with your kid and Sarah Fader...

“Shit.” That’s what I said when I saw the BlogHer announcement that 2014 would be celebrated where it all began. That would be San Jose, California. Obviously, we had an Issue.

 

I figure the odds of getting me, Lizzie, and Alicia to stand still long enough for another one of these shots is up there with me remembering what I was doing five minutes ago...

I figure the odds of getting me, Lizzie, and Alicia to stand still long enough for another one of these shots is up there with me remembering what I was doing five minutes ago…

“Shit what? What’s what?” The Husband said. After I filled him in on the news, he, too, became pensive. Shit. He said that.

And then we both sighed, defeated by a giant Maybe from a psychic who still needed her tarot card directions. I’d been planning to apply as a speaker and was prepping our pitch with my 2013 MultiCulti hostesses to bring the party back. I had a lot riding on another giant Maybe.

Just so we are clear, Latinas come in every shade and shape and I'm just gonna shut up because my kid and Alicia's kid are the Spanglish Bobsy Twins.

Just so we are clear, Latinas come in every shade and shape and I’m just gonna shut up because my kid and Alicia’s kid are the Spanglish Bobsy Twins.

“You’re going to be pissed at yourself if you don’t even try,” The Husband told me.” If you don’t get the stuff you’re applying for, you stay home and we all live Happily Ever After.”

“And if I get it?” I asked him.

I wanna be my kid when I grow up...

I wanna be my kid when I grow up…

 “I drop you off at the airport and up your life insurance policy. Either way,” The Husband said,” it’s kind of a win-win for everybody.”

I glared at him while Sugar Jones Facebook-messaged back to my frantic #CaliCurse with threats to follow me around with a burning sage bush just in case and I laughed.

The Real Life of a Freelancer: Too much for an hour-long panel. Throw me a book deal and we may just scratch the surface. I promise to even let other people share their opinions and stuff.

The Real Life of a Freelancer: Too much for an hour-long panel. Throw me a book deal and we may just scratch the surface. I promise to even let other people share their opinions and stuff.

“What if I get psychic clearance,” I asked Sugar. “New psychic. New reading. If I’m in the clear I go. If The End is Nigh I stay home?”

“Deal.”

Go Cavs! Only took me and Erin until BlogHer12 to figure out she was a senior when I was a freshman at the same metro Detroit High School.

Go Cavs! Only took me and Erin until BlogHer12 to figure out she was a senior when I was a freshman at the same metro Detroit High School.

I told the voice on the phone that she could be my Sylvia Brown. Five minute in to our phone conversation, Dr. Lauren Cielo from Gaiam TV, had already won me over. She is warm and genuine and her laughter is rich and comes from deep within. She made me want to laugh with her…at least until she told me that my fist psychic was right.

“Say what now?”

 

Here' your future, Internet. Meet Hala, Princess of Spain, and Aspiring Eliana. You're *Welcome*.

Here’ your future, Internet. Meet Hala, Princess of Spain, and Aspiring Eliana. You’re *Welcome*.

Dr. Lauren went on to explain that the original psychic hadn’t misread me. Instead, she had basically reiterated the energy I had been giving off at the time. I’m not sure if my Energy and Aura had been playing a random and totally subconscious reel of the entire state of California sinking to the bottom of the ocean, but the lesson here, I think, was that what we sometimes mistake for Fate is oftentimes the culmination of our own perceived realities. Because I finally had a reason to question my path again instead of just blindly following along like a character in a book, I had changed my fate. Laugh if you must, but I asked Dr. Lauren to double check and she did, bless her sweet soul, after which she conformed she had “cleared” away what would have happened had I not challenged myself. The new forecast showed only open doors and many, many return trips to California in my long-term future, she said. There was plenty more to the reading, but this is the part that mattered. It’s the part where I refocused on where I was going instead of where I wasn’t.

My #multiculti sisters, Ananda and Dwana. Serious love, y'all...

My #multiculti sisters, Ananda and Dwana. Serious love, y’all…

There was a long flight after an epic journey to the airport via car and bus. There was a little girl winning at social networking with her own business cards every chance she got. There were hugs and squees and selfies and there was me speaking on a freelancing panel and hosting a party with good friends celebrating our diversity and I am so very grateful for all of those things that were because self-doubt is sometimes a good thing if it makes us re-evaluate a future we have mistaken for an absolute.

Best quote of the entire conference? Rita Arens speaking on what a book deal does to change your life: "Unless your a dick, it's not changing anything." And this is why Rita gets a Christmas card this year....

Best quote of the entire conference? Rita Arens speaking on what a book deal does to change your life: “Unless your a dick, it’s not changing anything.” And this is why Rita gets a Christmas card this year….

I am still many things. I am a writer, a wife, a hell-raiser who has realized it’s better not to set my sites on the finish line, but rather, move the mountains in my way and let the cleared path take me where it may. I may not know exactly what I’m doing or have a fucking clue as to what I’m doing when I get there, but I think that’s the point of it all. I’ll wait for tomorrow to get here in its own due time. For now, I’m just going to enjoy today.

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