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.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 11.56.42 AM

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.

 

It’s 2:05 a.m. and instead of forcing my brain to create something new and brilliant tonight, I thought I’d take the easy route and try reposting something from way back when. It’s not something I do often, but each time I’ve searched the archives — which date back to September 2009, by the way — I’ve found the experience to be something like the writer-equivalent to reminiscing with an old photo album.

There are squeals — I forgot about that!

And frowns — Oh shit…I forgot about that, too.

There are emails to friends mentioned in shared stories with links and love and laughter.

And sometimes, the beginning of a story we didn’t know was actually starting surprises us when we stumble across the words, marveling at the moment captured in words. Looking at that moment from the After side of things is much different than the Before, what with hindsight being ever so much clearer than tomorrow’s uncertainties. Could I have told you that the first time I met The Husband that we would marry and move across the country? Not when I met him.

Looking back, though, I can see it. All the little bits and moments that made that first encounter so very different from all the rest. Because everything is obvious when you walk the steps already taken.

Four years ago, I met a man at a writing conference named Rick Najera. At the time I couldn’t have possibly told you that our paths would cross again. An hour ago I couldn’t have told you the words below even existed — five years of blogging can do that to you. Right this very minute, I’m rereading the bits and the moments captured in a post written in May of 2010 and counting the steps taken between my yesterday and my today.

***

 

the pain of the macho

“What do you want me to say? I’ll write whatever you want.”

It’s Rick Najera speaking. He’s holding a copy of The Pain of the Macho in his hands, pen ready to personalize the first page for me.  My response is nothing but a “blink, blink.”

“Come on,” Rick says. “Tell me what to write.”

I imagine sweet little lies. Empty words of praise that might look good on paper but ring false to anyone with a heartbeat.

Pauline Campos is the best writer I’ve ever met!

Pauline Campos will be more famous than me!

Pauline Campos is so good I’m going to ask her to become part of my Hollywood team and she can work from home because it’s just safer that way!

The man might be a comedic genius and a highly respected actor/writer/director who told me my work has serious potential doesn’t suck, but he only met me 24 hours earlier. To ask him to lie to me verbally is one thing.

On paper?

That’s just sacrilegious.

“I really have no idea,” I said out loud. “I don’t want it to be bullshit.”

Rick stood there for a moment, probably amazed by both my lack of a filter and the fact that I didn’t want him to whisper meaningless sweet nothings that would just piss me off when he handed the book back. I hadn’t planned on buying anything else that would add to my already busting-at-the-seams suitcase, but we all got yelled at by the higher-ups at the conference for not supporting our fellow writers during the first book sale/book signing. So I bucked up, bought the smallest book there, handed it to Rick, and made a mental note to send my receipt for having a 55-pound suitcase back to the conference organizers for guilting me into buying more books (I already had five on the nook written by conference faculty that I paid for) with a demand for reimbursement.

I almost asked what he had been asked to sign in other people’s books, but decided I really didn’t want to know.

“Let’s try another route,” Rick said. “Where do you want to be a year from now?”

Ding, ding, ding!

That one was easy and I answered without hesitating.

“I want my book on the New York Times best seller list and America Ferrera pegged to play me in the movie based on my book.”

Rick smiled and began to write. This is what he “put out into the universe.” Which, he says, means it has to come true…

*****

This break is brought to you by our sponsors, Chicken Scratch and Man Writing, as the author of this post tries to decipher what was written. Please, ladies and gentlemen, your patience is appreciated…

*****

Um…I think it says:

This book was my beginning. Yours will end up on New York Times with America playing the lead. Best, Rick Najera

*****

Disclaimer: And I only got that far because he read it out loud to me before handing back my book. There’s something to be said for memory retention, people.

 

 

ricknajera

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

And when I say traveled, I mean four hours driving from my home to Portland, Maine, for the hotel that happens to be located right by the Amtrak depot, an overnight stay at said hotel, two hours on a bus the next morning, and then six on a train into Penn Station. Eliana travels with me. Score for Team Crazy Mexican Homeschooling! Kiddo was so excited to see the New York City skyline it made me a bit teary to think about packing up for the Land of Moose and Snow, but turns out we both love living in the Maine tundra as much as we love our little forays into Places Normal People Live. So it all works out in the end.

And when I say traveled, I mean four hours driving from my home to Portland, Maine, for the hotel that happens to be located right by the Amtrak depot, an overnight stay at said hotel, two hours on a bus the next morning, and then six on a train into Penn Station.
Eliana travels with me. Score for Team Crazy Mexican Homeschooling! Kiddo was so excited to see the New York City skyline it made me a bit teary to think about packing up for the Land of Moose and Snow, but turns out we both love living in the Maine tundra as much as we love our little forays into Places Normal People Live. So it all works out in the end.

We had just arrived at Penn Station. How warm is it, she wanted to know. So I told her. 50 degrees. Back home it was was 27 and look like the tundra. After looking around a bit, maybe weighing her options, she made up her mind. Mom, she says, do you mind if I take off my fuzzy sweater? I answered by taking off my own.  While we exchanged sly smiles at the New Yorkers rushing by bundled in their winter layers, because we left winter in the back of my Yukon which was parked in the hotel lot back in Portland. All we brought with us? A fleece pullover and a spring rain trench.  'Cuz we're hard core, that's why.

We had just arrived at Penn Station. “How warm is it?” she asked. So I told her. 50 degrees. Back home it was was 27 and covered in feet upon feet of snow. After looking around a bit, maybe weighing her options, she made up her mind. “Mom,”  she said, “do you mind if I take off my fuzzy sweater?” I answered by taking off my own.
We exchanged sly smiles at the New Yorkers rushing by bundled in their winter layers, because we left winter in the back of my Yukon which was parked in the hotel lot back in Portland. All we brought with us? A fleece pullover and a spring rain trench.
‘Cuz we’re hard core, that’s why.

The only SNAFU occurred when my original babysitting plan went out the window because that's just how shit works. Instead of a relatively easy drop-off in the Bronx, Eliana and I ended up taking a train to upstate NY to meet a Wendy DelMonte, my forever friend whom I now owe a pony, who drove an hour and a half south from Connecticut to pick up Eliana for the night. My child had the time of her life because Wendy and her kids are fabulous and that two-minutes I had on the platform before jumping in the return train for the hour-and-a-half ride back so I could haul ass yet again to my hotel to drop off my Too Much Luggage, shower off the travel stink, and change just in time to get lost on the way to the venue and show up an hour late?  Yeah...those two minutes may be the only time I actually breathed that day.

The only SNAFU occurred when my original babysitting plan went out the window because that’s just how shit works. Instead of a relatively easy drop-off in the Bronx, Eliana and I ended up taking a train to upstate NY to meet Wendy DelMonte, my forever friend whom I now owe a pony, who drove an hour and a half south from Connecticut to pick up Eliana for the night. My child had the time of her life because Wendy and her kids are fabulous and that two-minutes I had on the platform before jumping in the return train for the hour-and-a-half ride back so I could haul ass yet again to my hotel to drop off my Too Much Luggage, shower off the travel stink, and change just in time to get lost on the way to the venue and show up an hour late?
Yeah…those two minutes may be the only time I actually breathed that day.

Meet Dennis Sanchez, the genius behind MVM Events. He's the lucky guy smack in the middle between me and the only white chick in the room. That's Sarah Fader and I think it's important to note we became friends because I saw an update about Three Year Olds being Assholes and was all It's Like you KNOW Me and this is probably also a good time to mention that she'll tell you she's Jewish and that isn't the same thing as white.  I'm not disagreeing. I'm only stating that it wasn't the Not White chick's face I had to work my ass off to make visible while editing this photo.  Also? You can step away from the tanning bed now, Dennis.  You're *welcome*.

Meet Dennis Sanchez, the genius behind MVM Events. He’s the lucky guy smack in the middle between me and the only white chick in the room. That’s Sarah Fader and I think it’s important to note we became friends because I saw an update about Three Year Olds being Assholes and was all It’s Like you KNOW Me and this is proof that you can be friends with someone one Facebook and not know who the hell they are until they post an update you could have written yourself. This is *also*probably  a good time to mention that she’ll tell you she’s Jewish and that isn’t the same thing as white.
I’m not disagreeing. I’m only stating that it wasn’t the Not White chick’s face I had to work my ass off to make visible while editing this photo.
Also? You can step away from the tanning bed now, Dennis. Or plan for better lighting at the next Thing for Latinos because…Obviously.

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

This girl is hereby nominated as President of Any Fan Club Ever Created in My Honor Should I Become Important Enough for One. Her name is Joyce and you should follow her on twitter and instagram (@hvnlee) because I just made her important.  And yes, thanks, my therapist says I'm making major strides on that self-confidence thing.

This girl is hereby nominated as President of Any Fan Club Ever Created in My Honor Should I Become Important Enough for One. Her name is Joyce and you should follow her on twitter and instagram (@hvnlee) because I just made her important.
And yes, thanks, my therapist says I’m making major strides on that self-confidence thing. Oh right…and the adderall wore off before I got to water-marking the rest of my pictures. So, don’t be an asshole and we can remain friends.

I spoke. Dennis spoke. Rick spoke. And after calling Rick a motivational asshole and only stuttering three times, there was much merriment at the after party (I drank water because allergies suck), and then I went back to the Hotel from Hell to not sleep because security couldn't figure out the door I was pointing to was actually mine when I called about my key not working. I woke up at 2 p.m. after going to bef at 5 a.m. and suddenly it was time to drag my Too Much Luggage back to the subway and the train for the hour-and-a-half ride to upstate NY to meet Wendy and pick up Eliana just in time to go back the way we came, hop another bazillion subway trains once in the city, and make our way to the Bronx to meet up with another friend for the rest of our stay.

I spoke. Dennis spoke. Rick spoke. And after calling Rick a motivational asshole and only stuttering three times, there was much merriment at the after-party (I drank water because allergies suck), and then I went back to the Hotel from Hell to Not Sleep because security couldn’t figure out the door I was pointing to was actually mine when I called about my key not working. I woke up at 2 p.m. after going to bed at 5 a.m. and suddenly it was time to drag my Too Much Luggage back to the subway and the train for the hour-and-a-half ride to upstate NY to meet Wendy and pick up Eliana just in time to go back the way we came, hop another bazillion subway trains once in the city, and make our way to the Bronx to meet up with another friend for the rest of our stay.

So many subway stops. So many flights of stairs to drag my Too Much Luggage up to catch the next train. My Jawbone Up band tells me I clocked an average of 23k steps per day while in NC. But this?

So many subway stops. So many flights of stairs to drag my Too Much Luggage up to catch the next train. My Jawbone Up band tells me I clocked an average of 23k steps per day while in NYC. But this?

And these guys? They all made me want to plan a trip devoted to interviewing the subway artists and performers. There are so many stories to tell.

And this? This makes me want to plan a trip devoted to interviewing the subway artists and performers. There are so many stories to tell.

Eventually we made it to the Bronx. My friend Heiddi was worried I'd be worried because Bronx and Perception. I smiled. Then I reminded her I might *live* in Maine but I'm *from* Detroit.

Eventually we made it to the Bronx. My friend Heiddi was worried I’d be worried because Bronx and Perception. I smiled. Then I reminded her I might *live* in Maine but I’m *from* Detroit.

A surprise planned for the next day meant pulling out the stick on nails I had brought home from BlogHer 13 and Eliana had saved for a special occasion. Girlfriend was all kinds of proud of these nails -- which, by the way -- she made sure every person on every train *knew* she was wearing fake nails because she was fancy.

A surprise planned for the next day meant pulling out the stick on nails I had brought home from BlogHer 13 and Eliana had saved for a special occasion. Girlfriend was all kinds of proud of these nails — which, by the way — she made sure every person on every train *knew* she was wearing fake nails because she was fancy.

We hustled from train to train to take our kids to a surprise involving The Story Pirates and were delayed when these guys swarmed my kid. So I took a picture. Then the minion pointed to his necklace which says "Tips".  Heiddi said this is why she doesn't stop for these idiots. The minion stopped pointing to his necklace after I pointed out they may wanna reconsider baiting the impressionable children of bitchy mothers until they've collected the requisite cash from said bitch mom.  Heiddi nodded. Detroit, right?  Detroit, born and bred.

We hustled from train to train to take our kids to a surprise involving The Story Pirates and were delayed when these guys swarmed my kid. So I took a picture. Then the minion pointed to his badge which says “Tips”.
Heiddi said this is why she doesn’t stop for these idiots. The minion stopped pointing to his badge after I pointed out they may wanna reconsider baiting the impressionable children of bitchy mothers until they’ve collected the requisite cash from said bitch mom.
Heiddi nodded. Detroit, right?
Detroit, born and bred.

This is, obviously, a first-grader. At least, that's what they script says. The Story Pirates were worth the throwdown with Strawberry Shortcake. We will be returning.

This is, obviously, a first-grader. At least, that’s what they script says. The Story Pirates were worth the throwdown with Strawberry Shortcake. We will be returning.

A stop at Jennifer Esposito's gluten-free bakery was in order. I bought what I can't eat because I'm allergic to ALL the Things, but even the non-gluten free were impressed. Also? Thank you to Victoria for hiding my iPhone until I frantically returned in search of my sanity. Jennifer? Victoria totally gets a raise.  Victoria? *You're Welcome*.

A stop at Jennifer Esposito’s gluten-free bakery, Jennifer’s Way, was in order. I bought what I can’t eat because I’m allergic to ALL the Things, but even the non-gluten free were impressed. Also? Thank you to Victoria for hiding my iPhone until I frantically returned in search of my sanity. Jennifer? Victoria totally gets a raise.
Victoria? *You’re Welcome*.

photo 3(1)

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

photo 5(3)

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

Leaving New York for upstate for our final stop and New York wins. She gave up naps at 15 months. I may have to move. Or at least visit regularly.

Leaving New York for upstate for our final stop and New York wins. She gave up naps at 15 months. I may have to move. Or at least visit regularly.

CameraAwesomePhoto(4)

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

Because my life is a sitcom without the laugh track.  11:00 p.m. and still 100 miles from home after various stops for eating and car sickness and more eating because throwing up left her hungry but eating made her car sick again.  Then of course, there was Starbucks two hours ago because Obviously and me not making her go potty and the child with the bladder of a camel decides she must pee and she must pee NOW. She told me to pull over. In the middle of a deserted freeway where moose and Random Wildlife live, because she wasn't kidding.  I'll squat, she said. She didn't, I observed.  We changed her, bagged up her wet clothes, and as settled back in to drive. Just as my own bladder reminded me that I'd knocked back two trenta green teas and maybe I should consider squatting.  I opted for getting the hell out of whatever scene Stephen King was writing before the evil clowns showed up and held it until we got to the only rest stop between nowhere and home.

Because my life is a sitcom without the laugh track.
11:00 p.m. and still 100 miles from home after various stops for eating and car sickness and more eating because throwing up left her hungry but eating made her car sick again.
Then of course, there was Starbucks two hours ago because Obviously and me not making her go potty and the child with the bladder of a camel decides she must pee and she must pee NOW.
She told me to pull over. In the middle of a deserted freeway where moose and Random Wildlife live, because she wasn’t kidding.
I’ll squat, she said.
She didn’t, I observed.
We changed her, bagged up her wet clothes, and as settled back in to drive. Just as my own bladder reminded me that I’d knocked back two trenta green teas and maybe I should consider squatting.
I opted for getting the hell out of whatever scene Stephen King was writing before the evil clowns showed up and held it until we got to the only rest stop between nowhere and home.

And now we are home and slowly getting back on track and there is much snow and no subways and I’m firing my dogs for not noticing the herd of deer leaping through the backyard as they circled for a spot to do their thing. Also, stick around if you’re new. That #mexicaninmaine hashtag will start to make a lot more sense.

The End.

***

UPDATE!!!

I forgot to mention that Rick sent me home with three copies of his book, Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood. One is mine, so step off and we can still be friends.

The second I gave to Ana Roca-Castro because I know Latism stands for all that Rick discusses in his book. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks.

The last, y’all, I saved for you. Or…well, one of you, at least.

Picture Proof that I actually HAVE the book in my possession. The line for My New Best Friend forms *here*.

Picture Proof that I actually HAVE the book in my possession. The line for My New Best Friend forms *here*.

Rick Najera’s autograph. Related: My favorite things are Starbucks Iced Green Teas, ponies, and MAC Russian red lipstick. Priority consideration will be focused on those who try to buy my love. *Nods head*

To enter for your chance at the book, here’s the not-so-fine-print:

* First let’s make sure everyone knows I am incapable of kissing ass so a free book isn’t going to buy anyone a flowing review. If I don’t like it, I’m simply not going to mention it. End. Of. Story.

* The rules:

**Leave a comment on this post. It can be anything as long as anything includes your email so I can contact you if you win. Bonus points if your comment actually pertains to the discussion at hand. Giving a damn is always nice.

** Share the following on your social media channels and leave me a separate comment for each share with the URL:

Check out this post by @pauline_campos: Enter to win an autographed copy of  by  

** Deadline is midnight, EST, April 22.

And that’s it. I’m excited to share this book with all of you and am live-tweeting quotes as I read a chapter each night. Which means that yes, I love #AlmostWhite.

So…who’s in?

 

 

Rick Najera

 

A few years ago, I had an idea for a book and a blog come to me while I was trying to fall asleep. Any writer will tell you that ideas are fleeting — and that sleep is optional– so I quietly slipped out of bed, tip-toed out of the room as to not wake the sleeping husband, and promptly grabbed my purse and my credit card before sitting down at the computer.

I had URLs to buy, dammit.

That’s the night I launched Aspiring Mama and started working on the memoir I hope to publish one day. I didn’t know any successful writers personally. I didn’t even know any Pretty Shitty But Determined to Make it Happen writers. Hell, this was five years ago, people. That’s a lifetime in the digital age. Twitter was a verb describing that noise birds make and Facebook was MySpace’s slightly more respectable older cousin I didn’t feel like wasting my time with.

It’s okay. Obviously, I smartened up.

Back then, though, me and my Blackberry only knew how to make phone calls and I was still trying to figure out how to wash the used car salesman smell away from my soul after my previously brief (but highly convenient and yet utterly soul-sucking) foray into the world of blogging. The blog written from my dog’s point of view was brilliant but I don’t think the world was quite ready for that kind of genius. And the baby product review blogging phase means we scored free things like expensive car seats, but I walked away from it because I knew I needed the break to clear my head. My writing “voice”, the one I had honed in the newsroom, had been lost in the free baby-carrier and teething jewelry carnage, you see.

Six months later, I was awake at 3 a.m. buying Aspiringmama.com and began working on the memoir I had titled “Baby Fat: Adventures in Motherhood, Weight Loss, & Trying to Stay Sane.” (Think Erma Bombeck but with more “F” bombs.) It was this manuscript, coincidentally, that led me to Rick Najera and why I’m talking about his new book  — Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood.

Buy it on principal, y'all. Because the title alone is fucking hilarious and that needs to be recognized.

This one wins for Best Title.

 

Also important? I’ll be speaking at Rick’s April 3 reception celebrating his book launch in New York. Because that’s not the kind of thing you almost forget to mention when writing about the event at which you happen to be speaking. But I digress…

I attended the National Latino Writer’s Conference in New Mexico the following year and had been smart enough to sign up for a chance at a critique of the first 15 pages by two of the conference workshop teachers. I was already signed up for Rick Naerja’s comedy writing workshop — not because I knew who he was, mind you, but because comedy has always been a part of what I do — so I figured, “What the hell? This guy might know something about being funny.” And a few months later, there I was, sitting before Rick in our on-on-one session discussing my manuscript…and something amazing happened.

This Hollywood writer who, it turns out, is actually quite the big deal, told me I had a voice. And that it was a good one. Rick told me I was funny and more importantly, that I could write. I remember texting my husband frantically after my critique session to tell him that I had the potential to go mainstream … because RICK NAJERA SAID SO.

I could feel The Husband smiling back as I read his response. He said he liked this Rick guy. He said Rick was smart.

I read between the lines. My husband was thanking Rick for giving me something he couldn’t because This is GREAT, honey! is always suspect when sex is the end goal. While The Husband has told me from the beginning he believes in me and my words, the creative spirit in me needed the validation of an objective party. I needed to know the sleepless nights pounding away at the keyboard, the rejections, and the days where I kicked myself in the ass for thinking I could make something of this little dream, were all worth it.

It is worth it, by the way. I’m proud to be able to say to Rick that I listened, mainly because I don’t do that very often. But this time, I did and I can say I’m Latina Magazine’s Dimelo advice columnist because I kept at it. And y’all? Did you know you can actually get paid for telling people what to do while sitting on your couch without a bra on?  You can thank Rick for that visual, because he told me I had potential.

But I’m not the only one. Rick has played a crucial role in not only encouraging fellow Latino writers, actors, and comedians to not only fight for their dream, but also in creating opportunities focused on showcasing their talents. While picking up honors like earning a spot on Hispanic Business’s 100 Most Influential Latinos in America, an Alma Award for Best Writer for the 2008 film Nothing Like the Holidays, and most recently, a nod from Latin Teen Heat Entertainment for being a Hot Hollywood Dad, Rick also has helped launch the careers of countless performers in his role as director of the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase. The 2014 Showcase alone delivered three writers to Saturday Night Live and 16 series regulars to TV. I’m sure, of course, that Rick also serving as coach, mentor, and teacher during the four months of preparation has something to do with that.

It’s because he makes us laugh. You know that, right? Comedic writers wield a power like no other, because it is through laughter that so many of us are able to process and discuss controversial or difficult subject matter. If you’ve watched one episode of In Living Color, you know what I mean. Rick Najera is a master of comedic timing and knows exactly which buttons to push so that when we get to the punchline, we aren’t just laughing…we’re thinking, too.

Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood”. I’ll give you the short version because I know you’re already planning on buying the book — which — by the way, was just nominated for Most Inspirational Non Fiction Book by Int’l Latino Book Awards. Basically, Rick says dream big or go home. The focus, of course, is on the Dreaming Big part, because Rick is inspiring and not an asshole. When you want something, you make it happen.

Since we’re talking about change and forging our own paths, let’s talk about diversity and Latino representation in Hollywood. I’ve always subscribed to the Write What You Know philosophy. For a long time I think I had convinced myself that every writer thinks like this, but the truth is that white males dominate in the writer’s rooms. Without real world experience from which to draw upon when creating the Latino characters and culturally-themed story-lines the public is calling for, their attempts fall flat and are oftentimes stereotypical and offensive.

Jesenia, Co-Creator of The Comedy Girls (and apparently too fancy for a last name) is another Latino fighting for more diversity. She’s made it her personal mission to get a Latin American FEMALE cast member on SNL. She says, and I quote, “Because Latin Americans are only represented accurately when we are representing ourselves, we need to not only continue creating high quality, non-stereotype content – we also need to step out of constantly boxing ourselves into the Latino category, and instead create work that speaks to all audiences of every race.”
I’ll high five you Jesenia for that one later. Because what she says here is that the responsibility in how we are portrayed in the media is not one we can just pass off on Hollywood. And that, my friends, leads us right back to Rick, being Almost White in Hollywood, and encouraging Latin American writers to keep knocking on those closed doors. If it never opens, we knock a new hole in another wall, pull up a table and some chairs, and write the stories that we know need to be told.
***If you’re in New York, I’d love to see you there! Click here for ticket information. I’m driving four hours to the closest train station so I can not have to think for the remaining 6 hours of the trip, so I don’t want to hear bitching about how traffic in the city is a nightmare. Suck it up, show up, and a good time shall be had by all.

 

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