topbloguera

I’m not on a plane right now on the way to an event I’ve been looking forward to since last year. Turns out that sometimes it actually is just too hard to get from Point A to anywhere involving a plane when Point A is smack in the middle of nowhere.

#MexicaninMaine. That’s me, remember? I am defined by the hashtags I have created to suit me.

#Dimelo. For the name of my Latina Magazine advice column.

#ChingonaFest. For my growing community and podcast supporting the spirit of the Latina women and our desire to raise the next generation to always celebrate their voices and their spirit.

#BitchRedefined. For the non-Latinas finding themselves drawn to the ChingonaFest community. I get it. I’m hyphenated and usually straddling the tightrope between both halves of my identity, never quite standing still long enough on either side to catch my balance. My Spanish is too choppy to be considered fluent and my English spoken in the same rapid-fire rhythm of the language I once didn’t realize I thought in. My skin brown enough to arouse curiosity because What Are You seems to be considered an appropriate question to ask a perfect stranger while checking out the asparagus. My hair kinky curly enough for the person asking to step back, grin, and tell me that I do not fit their perception of who and what I claim to be. No way, they say. You’re mixed, right?

I used to not know how to answer that question. Of course not, I’d think. I’m Mexican. That’s what I’d want to say, but it felt like I was denying the unknown. I see my hair. I see my body. I know that when I tell people which area of Mexico my maternal grandfather was from, the asker will sometimes nod knowingly because they’ve now matched my appearance to the other side of the tracks in their minds’ eye. Now, I just raise an eyebrow in silent warning to step away from the line in the sand. I may raise it higher and ad an eye-roll if the asker misses the first hint. Should they miss both, I feel justified in responding with many words considered inappropriate for mothers shopping with their little girls to be using. I’m not worried. My daughter is brilliant and is perfectly aware of the words Mommy uses verbally and in my writing and — yes, I am bragging here — she even knows which ones she is not allowed to repeat until she’s paying her own rent.

I am mixed. Every Mexican is. And I live in Maine. Not every Mexican does that. In fact, I’m pretty damned sure I am the the first ever in my family to own a pair of snowshoes. That makes Eliana the second. Paths are being forged, my friends. We are pretty fucking fabulous at falling. That means we are even better at picking ourselves up.

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#SheSePuede. Because I can. Because I believe she can. Because we all can. Because I have to remind myself of my strength and pull myself up from the dark places that never have enough chocolate just as often as you do and because I know I always will. Don’t be fooled by my resume. I will never have the five steps to unfailing happiness and self-acceptance because I am my history and my history is the Spanglish version of My So-Called Life. What I do have is a stubborn streak. I am bull-headed. I am determined. I am a realist. And a dreamer. I know I will fall again. I know I will pick myself back up. I share that because this is where we connect and relate and why it won’t seem strange when we meet in person and squee and hug like we have known each other forever and really, in a way, we sort of have. So it’s okay.

I’ll be missing many hugs and Spanglish-lovin’ this week as many of my friends and colleagues travel to Anaheim, CA. for the #Latism14 conference. I already am missing the party before the party I still can’t believe I was invited to when I was named a Top Bloguera. I am honored and humbled and in need of a thesaurus, and I truly wish the four hours between me and the airport weren’t an issue. The extra plane ticket I would have needed to buy for my daughter that just wasn’t in the budget didn’t help matters. One door opens. Maybe it closes. Another appears. I wish but I’m not. I am not but I was. And the sun will rise again. 1 of 100 selected of 400 applications. I suck at math an am easily impressed, but I still like what I see here.

I’ll still be a badass. You’ll still be a badass. And my daughter will still be working on my last nerve and saving my sanity at the last minute with a giggle and a smile. Thank you, Ana Roca-Castro. Thank you for today’s reason to smile when you reminded us all that even if not at the retreat, the title is still ours to hold on to.

#TopBloguera. This is the one for which I thank you, my dear friends and readers. Because you read and you support and you share the words I write because we did that relating thing. Thank you. Let’s do more of that, okay?

 

Not So Fine Print: blah blah blah Sponsored Post blah blah blah Full Disclosure blah blah blah That Thing About Any and All Opinions Being My Own. Moving on…

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Volume and visibility.

The first refers to how much noise we are capable of generating when combining our own voice with our community to bring notice to a particular message; the second is specific to how many pairs of eyes follow the yellow-brick road to the land of Oz. Enough noise and you re-energize your existing audience and hopefully expand your reach with a few new voices. Enough eyes and you see the difference between a ripple and a wave.

The wave, y’all, is when one of your social media friends texts you excitedly because your links have started showing up in Facebook shares from her IRL friends. The wave is what happens when momentum starts working for you, turning that snowball you’ve been working on and turning it into a straight-up avalanche. That’s when you no longer have to bust your ass and begging your friends to help promote your blog post, new book, new product line, or otherwise fabulously fantastical idea, because the ginourmous  bus that just drove by in the middle of Times Square with your blog/book/or otherwise fantastical idea all over it…

…and now you know what validation feels like.

I’m proud to announce that Zuesvision Public-- the company that prides itself on leveling the advertising playing field for the little guys — has selected Aspiring Mama to take part in it kickstarter awareness campaign. In exchange for a blog post sharing the Zuesvision message with you, I get two weeks of bus-sized Aspring Mama ads wheeling their way through high traffic areas in both LA and NYC. II’m not an idiot, so I said yes, but I’m also a hard-ass when it comes to being convinced to sponsor up the blog, so I think it goes with0ut saying that any and all words written on behalf of Zuesvision are my own, right?

(This is the part where you come in.)

Here’s the thing, y’all…we all know that it takes more than hard work and busting our asses to make an actual go of whatever it is we feel we are called to do. An advertising budget and/or pure dumb luck tend to play a big part in who we are talking about and who’s talking about us. Whether it’s building a successful nonprofit like my friend Denisse Montalvan with The Orphaned Earring, getting your glitter on with a new product line launch with a major retailer like my girl, Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. Crafty Chica, or selling the hell out of their book like friends Rick Najera with Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood and Mercedes Yardley with her new release Pretty Little Dead Girls, or if it’s big dreams of bringing your bling to the front lines like my friends Jessica Mazone and Lucy Ball, the struggle is the same: We can write the hell out of the blog posts and share the links on our social media channels like the seasoned social veterans that we are, but we only have so much time to devote to being all self-promotional and shhhtuff.

None of it matters if no one bothers to click the links. We are busy and we’d love an intern and imagine the day when we can afford a reliable assistant to keep us (mostly) on track and of course we don’t have time to click every link from the very friends we’d support at the drop of a hat if we knew they needed it (without having to click the links, of course). So here goes nothing…

I want Zuesvision to succeed. I want to see their kickstarter campaign bring it all home and cheer when the company announces the addition of more digital billboard buses to their fleet. Why? Because we need Zeusvision just as much as they need us. We raise our chances of success when we join forces and who doesn’t think that ginourmous buses inching its way through Times Square with your $99 URL-containing ad aren’t a good idea?

Exactly. 

So pay attention, because I’m about to play hardball.

This is the part where I ask you directly to click the link to Zuesvision’s kickstarter campaign. 

This is the part where I ask you directly to donate $5, because five bucks gets you a single 30-second ad on a bus. (If all the $5 spots are taken, this is the part where I tell you to team up with friends to pool funds for one of the larger sponsor spots because…)

This is the part where I ask you directly to gift your ad spot to a worthy cause. Go with your gut, but I’d like to suggest donating that ad spot you just bought Denisse Montalvan of The Orphaned Earring. She is doing incredible things and this is so much easier than scaling a mountain and shouting myself hoarse on her behalf.

And this is the part where I say thank you. 

Let’s see what we can accomplish together, Internet. I believe in you.

 

 

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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.

 

 

I know how this is going to sound, but life was simpler when my BFF and The Husband were the only ones aware of the blog. I promise you I’m not crying because I seem to have magically fallen into a giant pot of Exactly What I Wanted, because I know how incredibly fortunate I am to have made it here. I’m a columnist. I get paid to give solicited advice and don’t even have to put a bra on to go to work. Sure, it’s hard to separate Life from Everything else– not like when I worked as a newspaper reporter, anyway. My work schedule was unpredictable because murderers like to keep the rest of us guessing, but I could actually tell you what days of the week I was working — and which days of the week I didn’t have to answer to an editor.

It might not be like this for everyone, but life is as crazy and it is beautiful as a freelance writer. The beautiful comes from the aforementioned Bra Optional policy (don’t worry … I maintain a strict Bra Required in Public Situation Policy. It’s kind of  no-brainer with DDD’s.) I’m doing what I have always wanted to do and get to do it when I feel like it. As long as I turn my work into my editors on or before the deadline, no one asks why I waited until the day before it was due to start a piece I had four weeks to write. I get to homeschool my kid, run errands, and take vacation to visit family and friends — all without having to bank vacation time or worry about getting someone to cover my shift.

I have to make up for it, though. If I want to watch a movie with The Husband tomorrow night, I’m going to be hauling ass tonight to make sure I’m as far ahead as I can be to make up for time lost. The same goes for conferences. I know I’m going to be insanely busy with the Social part of the Media world, so I am always trying to get ahead. The problem is…I never really am. At least, not for long. All I need is one week with a sick kid, three deadlines due back to back, and everything goes to hell. That’ when I’m back to where I started.

The crazy, if you can believe it, is an entirely separate (but totally related) category. Also, this is the part where I tell you how I’m Sort of Psychic.

Let’s jump in the Figurative Tardis and it’s 12 or so years ago and a younger me is explaining to a younger The Husband that I’m working on being Reverse Famous. He’s looking at me, confused, and trying to determine in I’m jut crazy, or crazy and cute and making sense. My theory went like this: Blog Publicly and Keep it a Secret Privately.

It was that, or not bothering at all to begin with.

“I’ll know I’m famous when both sides of the family start getting pissy because I’m writing,” I told him. “The icing on the fame cupcake is that they only start paying attention when the rest of the world is already watching.”

To be clear, when I say “writing,” I don’t mean the by-lined pieces on the front page of the local community paper about the latest boyscout to make it to Eagle Scout — in which I always had to mention how few actually earn this honor — because those were the pieces they could be proud of. Those were the stories that got clipped and handed to co-workers. No, I’m not talking about that kind of writing, at all. What I’m referring to, actually, is the kind of writing many would equate with taking random pages of my diary and slapping them up on the internet for the whole world to see.

To you, that’s maybe…weird. At best.

To a non-fiction writer (a memoirist, to use the Fancy Nancy version) it’s called a fucking essay.

The Husband didn’t ask me why I planned on reverse psychology-ing my way into making my dreams happen. But for the purpose of showing and not just telling, let’s pretend he did. Here’s the pretend answer I would have given had he asked what I was smoking and why I wasn’t sharing:

“If I start out writing with their eyes on every word, I’ll censor everything I say. I need to establish my voice first and be confident in where I’m standing before I have to answer to the peanut gallery. Basically,” I said, “The cat has to be out of the bag before anyone who knows me in real life knows I’ve got a cat to begin with.”

And he totally got it. His ten-year-anniversary gift was a switch to a platinum wedding set because I had said I wanted gold before we got engaged (well, what I actually said was I want gold because that’s what my family wears because heaven forbid I think for myself, so it all made sense.) Don’t forget that I come from a very traditional Mexican-American family and my hyphen is shiny new, being first generation, and all. That saying about the village raising the child is less a saying and more of a cultural commandment.

In fact, I’m convinced the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, were modeled off of my family. All of my family. The young are raised to think with and as the group does for the good of all. For the uninitiated (or for those with actual lives), the Borg are a fictional alien race made up of beings who’ve been forced into the “hive mind” and turned into partially robotic drones.  In one episode, a young Borg is found wounded by the crew and nursed back to health by Dr. Beverly Crusher. When asked a direct question pertaining to his person and his person only, the Borg answered with “We do not…” or “We will…” until Jordie and Dr. Crusher explained what the first-person singular is, and why individuality is so very important to the human race. The Borg was named Hugh by Jordie. When asked what his name was previously, his response was Three of Five.

I won’t lie. I kind of wanted to hug him, right then and there. And when Hugh made the choice to return to the hive to protect Captain Jean Luke and The Enterprise? You guys? I may have gotten misty. Because — minus the destroying entire races and planets and playing Dr. Fankentstein with the lefotvers — I could totally relate. I once broke up with a sweet boy in high school because he was African-American and Greek (You guess which part was the problem). I lied and said The Husband gave me permission to get an ankle tattoo when I was 28 to stop the criticism and wouldn’tyaknow, it actually worked. (And yes, The Husband thought this was hysterical. He gets sex on the nights he doesn’t pretend that story is a turn on for anyone other than himself.) The Hive is real, y’all. And it’s as lonely and stifling as it is beautiful and complex.

It’s hard to think for oneself, let alone realize that you aren’t, until you wake up one day, disconnected from the Collective. Suddenly, we becomes I and My family wears becomes I prefer.… Eventually, I could never write that turns into Maybe I can allude to… and Okay, I wrote it, but I can never publish it… becomes Fuck it, I just hit publish. Maybe they’ll never see it? Then they do and sometimes it’s okay and other times it’s not and that’s when I realize that I did something right when I started, because I’m pretty sure becoming a porn star and awkwardly steering the Sunday family dinner conversation away from the damnation of my soul is a walk in the park compared to the non-fiction writer’s reality.

Perspective is as complicated as it is simple. You see the glass half empty and I see it half-full but maybe it’s half empty because you already had your fill and I see half-full because it can never be full enough.

To-may-toeTo-mah-toe…yada..yada…yada.

Maybe I’m sharing too much, you think. Maybe I’m making you look bad, you think. Maybe I’m making me look bad. I’m not writing to make dinner conversation awkward. I’m writing to get it going. By sharing my words, I’m putting them out there for those that are searching for them and fully expect those not interested to let them float on by, for the most part, unheard, like a television left on for background noise.

 

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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.

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