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 10 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 purposeLas 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 it does.

 

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Juliana Maulanda and Lisann Valentin 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’s featured Chingona is ….me.

 

Yes, I realize this smacks of All Things Self-Centered and Self-Serving, but if I tell you that it’s my kid’s birthday week and that her party was today and I decided to say Sure, Princess! when she asked for homemade coloring books as her party favor, and that The Husband and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning manning the two-person hole-punch & ribbon line while the cupcakes cooled enough to frost, you’ll understand the reasoning behind turning this week’s Chingonafest into a dual anniversary celebration for my role as Latina Magazine’s #Dimelo advice columnist. You’ll also pretend to not notice I’m posting a regular Friday feature on a Saturday night because, yaknow, Motherhood.  It’s either now or never, which is also why I’m mentioning the Speaking at BlogHer ’14 Thing for the first time on the blog. It’s time-management at it’s finest.

 

My mad self-promotional skillz are mind-boggling, I know.

 

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t buy me a present. I didn’t even know I missed it until LinkedIn started sending me congratulatory notifications from friends with better observational skills than my own. I probably owe myself flowers.

 

After I put out, that is. For now, though, let’s get to that Talking to Myself thing.

 

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Is a caption really necessary?

Is a caption really necessary?

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Aspiring Mama: Chocolate if it’s a shake. Vanilla if it’s ice-cream.

PC: Neurotic much? Wait, don’t answer that. Describe yourself in third person instead.

AM: Pauline Campos is neurotic, has a weird thing with ice-cream, including the need to chew it even if it’s plain vanilla, and thoroughly enjoys arguing with her DNA over her love of snow-shoeing. She’s also the founder of #chingonafest and ha that column where she tells people what to do on life, sex, and cultural drama topics. to Oh, and her favorite days are the ones where she gets paid to give solicited advice from the comforts of her couch without ever having put a bra on.

PC: Weirdest. Mexican. Ever. It’s like Freaky Friday but with better dialogue. You do realize there’s a poor Swedish guy somewhere trying to figure out why he felt smug about knowing who Ricky Martin was before General Hospital served as his crossover to mainstream, right? No, don’t answer that one, either. Do you dream in color or black and white?

 

AM: Color. I don’t remember most of them, but when I do, it’s all kinds of High-Def in there. Also? Re-read your last question to me. Now who’s the neurotic one? *blinks* Wait, never mind.

 

PC: You see my dilemma, then. Carrying on…Do you feel Latina enough”?

AM: I’m allergic to eggs, dairy, corn, yeast, gluten, and a bunch of other crazy stuff. What do Mexicans eat for breakfast? Whatever we had for dinner last night scrambled with eggs, wrapped in a corn tortilla, and washed down with Cafe con (a fucking-lot of) Leche. This makes me allergic to my childhood and probably the world’s worst Mexican.

Of course I feel Latina enough.

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

AM: FEST!

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

AM: Only if I don’t have to burn my bra. Triple D’s take precedence over social and political ideals.

PC: I’ll second that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

AM: I’m English-dominant now, but as a kid I know I wasn’t aware of when I switched between languages. Now? I’m so concerned I’ll pronounce something wrong in Spanish while sober that I think I’d benefit from an AA meeting and a sponsor prior to any events where my Spanish-speaking skills are a requirement. Also? Spanglish is my national language.

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

AM: Seriously?

PC: Okay then. Moving on. Favorite book and why…

AM: Right now it’s Rick Najera’s Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood. It’s so much more than an exploration of Latinos and how we are represented in the media. I’ve been recommending it to writing friends of all backgrounds…because it pertains, dammit. And no, I wasn’t paid to say that.

PC: You don’t get paid for a lot of shit on this blog. But following up to your last answer, how do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

AM: It’s equal parts a bullshit and wake-up call. I grew up watching telenovelas at my tias house and all the rich and beautiful were portrayed by the blonde and blue-eyed. If you looked like me, you were the help or the poor villager. While that needs to change — because it’s still an issue — we can’t bitch if we think our job is done simply because we complained.

PC: Opinion much? Who inspires you?

AM: Anybody who has the courage to say what they think and stand up for themselves and what they believe in.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

AM: My daughter, Eliana, is my number one. Right now, she is everything I wish I was growing up; feisty, independent, strong-willed, and confident as hell. Everything I say and do comes from that place where motherhood takes us and the realization that my todays are building the foundation for her tomorrows.

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?

 

AM: My dad, I don’t care, I’m allergic, and because I miss him.

 

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

 

AM: My mom and me sitting on the front porch in the middle of the night during sticky summers without central air. We’d tiptoe outside and talk for hours, ignoring the mosquito bites, while the house slept. I can’t tell you one thing we talked about, but I’ll always remember the laughter.

 

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

 

AM: That it’s always perfectly acceptable to leave the house in red cowboy boots, a blue tutu, and a super-hero cape, public opinion be damned.

 

 

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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. A non-Latina wants to know how to navigate cultural differences with her employees.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

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The Chingona — Defined
This is what happens when one of Mama's friends falls in love with the girl: a Wonder Woman swimsuit and caped socks.

This is what happens when one of Mama’s friends falls in love with the girl: a Wonder Woman swimsuit and caped socks.

As a first generation Mexican-American, I was raised to keep my thoughts to myself and put the feelings of La Familia over my own. Considering the emotional baggage I’ve been packing since childhood, I’d say that line of thinking didn’t turn out so well.

I’m a mother now and my daughter is feisty and brilliant and wonderful. I want to raise her to be a Chingona the Mexican slang term for “bad ass bitch“. It’s a word steeped in history and controversy, but it’s a word I’ve come to embrace. I want my daughter to grow up to be the kind of woman who respects herself and others, stands up for her ideals, and celebrates all that she is without feeling the need to apologize for it. Put in plain English, my end goal is for my girl to grow up to be the kind of woman the word  “bitch” is used as a compliment to describe. A real chingona.

 I want her to know she has a voice now and that what she says today matters so that tomorrow she won’t think to look for validation outside of herself. I want her to feel and recognize her own value because it took me far too long to realize there are certain things we can only find within ourselves. I want for her to understand that the village is probably doing something wrong, even with her best intentions guiding our every choice. And I want her to know she can speak her mind, even if what she has to say goes against the culturally accepted norm.

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This is the look she gave me when I told her to give me her best Lynda Carter.

Maybe my family is weird, but my granddather called us his chingonas the same way most people call their kids sweetheart. Or maybe he called us his cabronas. Right now, I’ve got both stuck in my had because they are so darned interchangable. Either way, chingona is a controversial Mexican slang term that means “badass chick.”

Well, to me, at least.

The term can have more negative connotations (author Sandra Cisneros for one made a case for women embracing it in HBO’s Latino List); I look at it from the standpoint of the word bitch: you either are offended to be called one or strive to be one.

My goal is to raise m’ija to be the kind of hell-raiser that radiates sass, self-confidence, independence, and doesn’t take shit from anybody…but in a respectful way. I want to raise a hell-raiser who is respectful of herself and others, yet stands up for herself and what matters no matter what anyone else thinks. Some would call her a chingona and if I raised her right, the future Eli’s gonna smile when they do. I might just have to print out this blog post from my friend Deb for a visual reminder.

Of course, this line of thinking is not just meant to empower mothers of daughters. Hell, you don’t have to be a mom to get in on this party, either. If you’ve got sons, you’re raising the boys who will become the men who will love the women our daughters will become. Teach them and guide them on their path and show them why there’s nothing better than a relationship in which both parties are equal partners.

No kids? No problem. You are an aunt, a prima, a friend, teacher, a sister. You are an inspiration and the motivation to work harder and do better and never give up. The next generation is looking to you just as they are looking to the rest of us. That makes you part of my village.

Join me tonight for my weekly #Chingonafest twitter party! We will be discussing ways to better ourselves and the kind of examples we can provide for the next generation. I’ll have a few surprises to give out to random winners, so make make sure you let me know you’re there! Raise your voices, ladies. It’s time to let the world know we are here.

 

 

May 2011

 

Let’s tell each other one thing that we love about the other person before we go to sleep.

Okay, Mama.

I’ll go first. I love the way your whole face lights up when you smile.

Oh, Mama. That’s sweet…And I love when you give me strawberries.

***

Where did I come from?

A wish on a star.

I’m happy you wished me.

Me too, baby. Thank you for being my wish.

Thank you for being my mom.

***

Mama?

Yes,  baby?

I love you so much it makes my heart pop.

You make my heart pop, too.

***


Mama, can I…?

No.

Why?

Because.

No, Mama. You have to give me a reason. “Because” isn’t a reason.

It isn’t a reason when you say “because.” But I’m a mom. So that makes it a reason.

Well that isn’t exactly fair.

***

Happy birthday, Mama. I’m going to hug you now. Because sometimes I just want to hug you because I love you so much. Okay?

***

And my heart pops just a little bit more.

The #MexicaninMaine is currently the #MexicaninMichigan, which, by the way, is not a big deal at all. We’ve got family to visit and friends to see and at the end of the week, we’ve got 17 hours between us and home. I’m obviously behind on everthing right now — hence, the archive blog share –  because this is my first “vacation” since all of this writing stuff I do graduated from Hobby to J-O-B. The short story is this: I can run in circles trying to “get ahead” and go insane, or I can plug away, a little each day (while on vacation because that’s how it  goes) and pat myself on the back for making it through another day.

I choose option B.

 

I’m starting to think I need to make digging through the blog archives a regular exercise. Each post is a verbal snapshot showing exactly where I was on the day it was published. I find myself getting lost as I find myself, but not in a bad way. It’s more like opening a family photo album and looking up hours later only to realize the day has already flown by. Old family pictures tend to do that.

I’m a writer. I paint pictures with words. I’m sharing an old one here from April of 2011. It’s amazing how much has changed just as it has stayed the same…

 

Image by Pauline Campos

Image by Pauline Campos

 

Because I remember hiding in the pantry as a child to eat my feelings, I tell my daughter every day how much I love her.

Because my father died when I was 29, I finally understood my mother’s loss of both of her parents at the age of 19.

Because my family broke when we buried my father, I came to appreciate those connections that remain for the precious gifts they truly are.

Because I hated the girl/teenager/woman looking back at me from the other side of the mirror until recently, I tell my daughter she is healthy and strong before I tell her she is beautiful.

Because I grew up knowing I was the reason my parent’s got married, I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 15.

Because every time I thought He’s The One I was wrong, I said “I do” to the right man.

Because I was ashamed of my kinky curls, I silence my first thoughts and simply respond with a “thank you, baby,” every time my daughter tells me my hair is pretty.

Because I was left standing on my front porch waiting for my friends to pick me up for senior homecoming, I learned the importance of holding my head high.

Because I once wanted to die, I am grateful to live.

Because I still have dreams to make a reality, I wake up with a reason to try harder.

Because of yesterday, I have today.

 

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