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!

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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!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

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

 

 Not-so-fine- Print.

I’m here. I’m just not really here, here. In an attempt to buy myself the illusion that I’m ahead for the next five minutes, what you are about to read was a favorite in the archives. I dressed it up a little and made it Shiny New But Not Really and that’s okay, I think.

In lieu of thanks, just leave a comment at the end. My therapist is begging you.

 

Five Ways to Jump-start Your Platform (or Not)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to resort to drastic measures to increase my writing platform to the size necessary for a publisher to like my writing and think I’m worth a book deal. Seeing as how my current plan for world domination isn’t quite working, I believe it is now time to resort to drastic measures.

Idea #1: I need to rob a bank (and get caught)

Go with me on this one. In my other life, I was a newsroom reporter who somehow always was assigned police beat, business, and those feature stories you read about how another kid was awesome enough to reach Eagle Scout. I’ll tell you right now that every time, it was the asshole who decided to do something Incredibly Stupid and then get himself arrested after tripping and falling over the pants that were already down at their ankles before they started running that always made the front page. Why? Because it’s funny.

People remember funny. People hone in on the funny in a newspaper because the rest of it is usually depressing as hell. So imagine, if you will, me trying to rob a bank and getting away with it. Me, the woman who sprained my ankle making a sandwich and broke my baby toe so many times I’ve lost count. Imagine me making a clean getaway and living the rest of my life in luxury on some remote island I bought myself after carefully putting my loot in the washing machine. That’s not funny.

Living the high-life is not the way to go with this one, y’all.

But if I got caught? The headline would probably read something like Woman Holds Up Bank, Arrested While Fumbling Through Purse for Keys to Getaway Car.

Idea #2: Become a reality TV star

Snooki. Really, do I have to explain this one, people? Didn’t think so.

Moving on…

Idea #3: Become a really popular blogger (Shut up)

Dooce, Scary Mommy, The Bloggess, The Pioneer Woman…the masses flock to their sites, and rightfully so. Hell, I’m a card-carrying member of The Masses, so I know what I’m talking about here. But achieving that level of fame and notoriety and page views and unique visitors would require me to, you know, not be an Unpopular Blogger. And therein lies my dilemma.

Idea #4: Put Some Actual Effort into Building My Online Presence

I really should start to take advantage of the whole world of connections that social media offers with Twitter and the Facebooking and Fan Page Liking and the the Linking on that In thing and the Pinterest and the Instagram and the StumbleUpon and the making sure I always keep my iPhone in my bra as to not miss an opportunity to feed what The Husband now lovingly refers to as The Addiction.

Wait a minute…

Idea #5: Being Famous

As in, for the sake of simply being famous. Like Paris Hilton or Kevin Federline. Or the Kardashian sisters. That kind of fame might not result in interviews on CNN, but it sure as hell feeds the paparazzi hiding in their garbage cans. I’m thinking a few cover shots on The National Enquirer will start to peak the public’s interest. Especially if the Unattractive Cellulite Shot with Black-Barred Face image is of me being led off in cuffs and in an orange jump suit.

Which leads me right back to where I started. If I want to get a book deal, I need to become Paris Hilton’ Bestie just long enough to make her disown me…because I robbed a bank.

 

I’ve had one hell of a week and it’s only Wednesday so I’m taking the easy way out today by reposting something I wrote in January.

Fine Print: Yes, The Husband is completely aware of the fact that I used the words “Sex”, “Penis”, and “Pinterest” in the same blog post. He even snickered and said I may need to consider therapy after reading it. See you soon for #ChingonaFest Fridays!

What does one buy her husband to make up for the general craziness of the writing/blogging/freelancing life putting the sex life on the back burner when Important Things Are Happening that Must Be Attended to Right This Minute? I’m thinking the man-equivalent to Something Shiny and Sparkly.

Don’t say a Ferrari. I’m freelancing. That Writer-Speak for “Looks Good On Paper Only” with “Fucking Broke” understood to be the most accepted translation. Besides, it’s not like I came home smelling like another man’s cologne or something. That, my friends, would require what normal people tend to refer to as “Free Time”.  I have been told this “Free Time” is something one can only find outside of The Internet and requires the separation, if only temporary, mind you, of self and laptop. Always interesting, this learning about the habits of the Non-Writer.

The other night, after a frantic nod to, um, Quality Time, (and a “Was That Good For You? Yes? Good!,” exchange as I bolted out of the room and into my email to reply to a revision request from my editor, I realized I’m married to a saint. I mean, I knew that before Oh Husband Whom I Know is Reading These Words, but sometimes, the little Aha! Moments tend to jump out and say You Have No Idea How Difficult You Are to Live With Sometimes and Why is Pinterest Giving His Penis a Complex?

Let’s discuss, shall we? Or would it be easier to just get a calendar and a Sharpie and circle the other days of the month indicating:

  • Deadlines
  • Twitter parties
  • Sherlock
  • That blog post I REALLY need to write about that thing that just went viral that I’ll go to my grave swearing a tiny part of me wasn’t convinced my brilliant response would go viral, too
  • General stabbiness because ten different bloggers TOLD me I’m a much better writer than that two-bit hack that went viral only because she got lucky (after I asked them, of course)
  • My fictional characters in that novel I’m writing just acted out the next scene inside my head I have to write RIGHT now or I lose it all
  • The kid drove me nuts all day
  • PINTEREST
  • Live-tweeting Downton Abby
  • I got in a phone fight with his mom
  • I got in a phone fight with my mom
  • We’re out of chocolate
  • We’re out of wine
  • We’re out of chocolate-flavored wine
  • The hours I need to comb through blog archives in search of THE PERFECT PIECE of literary wit to submit to –
  • A) Listen To Your Mother
  • B) Blogher Voices of the Year
  • That Facebook quiz I need to take to figure out what character I’m most like in Harry Potter, which leads me to the one about what kind of French cheese I am
  • The dishes in the sink that aren’t gonna do themselves
  • The fifteenth online book launch party this month for yet another friend I can’t let down
  • The twitter argument I have to finish with this idiot who has no fucking clue who they’re messing with
  • The planets are out of alignment
  • Mercury is in retrograde …. Again
  • File another invoice while secretly cursing the chick with the 300 Sandwiches and the book deal
  • I’m busy buying 19 more URL’s for ideas I’ll never get to…just in case
  • Frantic text conversations with the online friends I’ve yet to meet in person discussing Important Things like how many pairs of shoes to pack for that conference none of us have actually purchased tickets for yet
  • My 1,000 word goal for the day is still 989 words short
  • The NEED to Google my blog Alexa rank RIGHT NOW even though I still have no idea what it means
  • Which, obviously, is to be followed up by checking my Klout score
  • *Googling “Does Klout Matter to People who don’t think in 140?
  • I haven’t yet taken 30 selfies from different angles, narrowed it down to the perfect one, and thought up a witty caption for that #365feministselfie thing and posted it EVERYWHERE before I even THINK of getting naked
  • That important email I’m waiting for that will show up right now if I keep hitting refresh
  • The conference call I’m waiting on in east coast time with everybody else in west coast time
  • The kid drove me nuts all day & we’re out of chocolate-flavored wine
  • The writing and scheduling of next week’s blog posts
  • When I was frisky while he was at work and I was home alone and I took care of it myself already because I was being proactive and really should be congratulated for thinking ahead to free up my night to …
  • Pick any of the above

Damn. Poor guy puts up with a lot, doesn’t he?

We writers are a special bunch. And the people who are nuts enough to love us deserve their own reality shows, I think. Because when we make it big? That’s when we make it up to them and they can proudly tell the world they knew marrying the crazy lady would totally pay off in the end.

Just let me finish up this chapter so I can write this blog post and hit Publish because dammit, this one’s gonna go viral.

I just know it.

 

 

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I’ve got T-shirts, y’all!

Well, I don’t physically like, Have have the T-shirts in my actual possession, but this is a good thing if you really think about it.

See, this way, you won’t be waiting till 2037 for me to remember to mail them out after you order.

Here’s the scoop: I like my Zazzle store. I like my Etsy shop, too. Especially for the stuff I can make on my own like quotable prints (but gimme a bit. Right now it’s  digital prints only. At least until tomorrow, anyway).

So when I saw TeeLatino followed me on twitter, I clicked the link and followed back after screaming out something incomprehisible to the average person about Zazzle and Kickstarter having a baby together and now I get to offer more Tees with a really cool concept…

The Husband, by the way, halfway understood what I was saying, which is exactly why we are married.

The hook? I set me goal of how many tees I want to sell and the time frame in which to sell them. My campaign title, quite obviously, is ChingonaFest.

I chose 50 shirts as my goal. Fourteen days as my time frame.

That means it’s all or nothing.

Forty-nine shirts ain’t bringin’ home the bacon and the campaign will be relaunched. No shirts are printed unless the goal is met by the deadline. And for you small biz and fundraising-types, no upfront cost, either. Just like Zazzle and Etsy and Ebay and most things in life, TeeLatino (which is for EVERYBODY, by the way…the URL is www.crowdt.com) takes their cut on the back end and only if the goal is reached.

I think I love these guys. Also? No, they are not paying me … but you can bet your sweet ass I’m going to be making nice and practicing my adorable internet stalker look until they realize how perfect I am to be their ambassador-spokeperson-whatever-the-phrase-is-this-week. Because I am.

Totally.

So, to recap:

* The first #Chingonafest campaign on TeeLatino/CrowdT.com is live

* The goal is 50 shirts to be sold in 14 days

* No shirts will be printed and NO ONE gets a #ChingonaFest shirt if all 50 do not sell

* On the flipside, ONLY 50 of THIS design will be made if the campaign is a success.

* After that, it’s on to a new phrase, a new design, or even a new look for an old favorite. And I’ve got plenty.

Stay tune. I’ll be launching an #AlmostWhite campaign for Rick Najera this evening. I’ll update the post after it’s live.

Make me look good, Internet. You have no idea how you validate the fact that I work at home in my pajamas.

 
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.

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