Monday, August 25, 2014

#ThaliaEnVivo Tour Por HBO Latino -- ¡No Te Lo Pierdas!



Revelación: Parte de una campaña patrocinada con The Niche Parent Network & Conference y HBO Latino. Las opiniones expresadas son mías.
 
Cuando yo era una niña, mis padres fueron dueños de una barbería situada en una vecindad poblada mayormente de gente Mexicana. Allí fue donde pasé mi niñez, escuchando la música de Crí-Crí, Jorge Negrete, Lola Beltran, Vincente Fernandez, Pedro Infante. Allí fue donde intentaba leer las revistas Vanidades y Impacto y los periodicos Miniondas y La Opinion. Alli fue donde me pasaba los veranos con mis hermanitas viendo a mi mamá y papá cortarles el cabello a varios personajes que nos cautivaban con sus cuentos de México y Cuba.

Es una temporada de mi vida que extraño.
 
Por mí parte, ha sido difícil mantener el español, principalmente porque mis padres insistieron en que nosotras habláramos y viéramos la television sólo en inglés. Los programas en español nunca fueron permitodos. Ahora, que soy adulta, lucho para mantener lo poco que puedo de mi cultura Mexicana. Sé que nunca hablaré el español con fluidez, ni lo escribiré (si supieran el tiempo que me tomó escribir esto!). Pero sigo tratando y después de muchos años de sentirme mal, he aceptado la persona que soy -- Mexicana-Americana -- orgullosa. Yo escribo mis propias reglas.

Sí me siguen en Instagram, Facebook o Twitter, probablemente han visto unas fotos que he compartido con ustedes de mi cultura Mexicana. El desafío comenzó el 20, pero todavía quedan cuatro días.

Me siento afortunada al haber sido invitada a participar en esta promoción para el espectacular concierto en vivo del 5 de Septiembre, cuando Thalia regresa a México por la primera vez después de haberse mudado a los estados unidos. Thalia no sólo es una artista talentosa que ha tenido gran éxito como cantante, pero también es compositora de sus propias canciones, actriz, filántropa y empresaria. Invitados especiales al concierto incluyen Maria José, Samo de Camila, Jesús Navarro de Rei y Leonel Garcia. Todos se unirán a Thalia en un concierto inolvidable.

Participen conmigo en el desafío de fotografías. ¡Sólo quedan 4 días! Comparten sus fotos en Instagram, Twitter y Facebook, usando el hashtag #ThaliaEnVivo.

Día 7
Escapa Cultural

Día 8
Bailar

Día 9
Mis Abuelos

Día 10
Mi Orgullo


Eventos Celebrando #ThaliaEnVivo y Nuestra Cultura Latina
  • 4 de septiembre --  1 PM ET - Google Hangout con Thalia
  • 5 de septiembre -- 6 PM ET - Twitter Fiesta (¡Habrán premios!)
  • Visiten la pagina de HBO Latino para la oportunidad de ganar un premio valorado en $200 
  • No se pierdan el concierto. Si no subscriben a HBO Latino, pero tienen caja de cable digital, contactan sus compañias de cable para obtener HBO gratis del 9/5/2014 al 9/8/2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rejection Never Felt So Good

Jonathan Livingston Seagull imparted some wisdom.










Finally. It happened. I submitted something to get published. It only took me how many years? The sky didn't fall. A swarm of locusts didn't obliterate my small town. I lived!

No, I LIVE.

Funny thing about the rejection is that I couldn't be happier, reason being that it means I finally stepped into a huge fear, and rather than feeling deflated, I'm energized.

Hehe, we'll see how long that lasts.

Thanks to the education I received at #Readercon14, at least I now know the "type" of short stories I'm drawn to and have been writing. They're speculative! Who knew? Certainly not me. True to my preference for pieces that are gritty and right wrongs, the 6,000 word short story I submitted is threaded with a bit of lore and addresses systemic injustice women endure in a small Mexican border town.

I've got these stories dancing in my head that want to come out. Relieved to have come unblocked and happy to be moving forward.

Just happy.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

I Don't Know Where To Start

I Made It -- Graduated And Licensed!


I don't know where to start writing about all that's happened since my last post in April. For starters, I'm done with graduate school -- for the moment, at least, and am officially licensed (hallelujah). Events leading up to my graduation on June 1st were intense. Between classes, finishing my internship at the middle school, working, job-seeking and holding things together for the end of our son's first year in public school, the last weeks of the academic year for both my son and I were harder than the last three years combined.

Was It Worth The Sacrifice?


A part of me says, "Absolutely." That's the goal-seeking, self-actualization side of Ezzy that wants to continue to learn and grow. However, the mother-wife in me often contemplates the time I took away from my family, especially my eleven-year-old son, to accomplish this goal. I felt guilty the week of graduation, too, because he'd been selected to participate in a little league competition taking place the same day. You see, this was his first year playing baseball, and considering he'd never played before, never mind pitched, he'd done pretty darn well. My husband had assistant coached and I attended every game. Seeing his developing grit, pride and ganas to play baseball made this mom happy. I didn't want to rob him of his opportunity to compete in something he felt passionate about.

Our Son Was Given A Choice


So we gave him the option. He could either accompany my mother and husband to an over three hour ceremony on a hot day, where he'd most likely be bored, or he could play baseball. I told him the decision was his to make and that as much as I wanted him to see me receive my diploma, I also didn't want him to miss out on something important to him. I was only sorry that I wouldn't get to see him compete. He could let me know.

Our son pitching.

The Verdict


A couple of days before my graduation, as he sat across from me in the living room playing Minecraft, while I caught up on one of my favorite shows, I casually asked him if he'd made a decision about what he wanted to do. His response was, "Mom, your graduation is way more important than baseball. It's not, like, you graduate every day. I can play baseball anytime." He said this wearing a look of disbelief -- disbelief that I'd ask him such a question.

The doubts, worries, and insecurities that had plagued me about my decision to pursue graduate school evaporated at that moment.

This mom had done something right



Friday, April 25, 2014

L4LL Día Blog Hop 2014: Children's Author James Luna

I'm honored to share that I was invited to participate in the 2nd Annual Latina's for Latino Lit (L4LL) Día Blog Hop in celebration of Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros. The blog hop is a collaboration of twenty-four Latina bloggers who support increasing Latino children's literacy. But it's not just literacy that we support, because as important as it is that our children learn to read, we need to ensure that they have access to books and stories that reflect their lives and validate their experiences by supporting Latino authors.

Today, Sincerely Ezzy hosts twice published children's book author James Luna. In the following piece, James discusses why it's so important that we read culturally relevant stories to our children.

I know you'll enjoy it!



The Delicious Souvenirs of Memory

By James Luna 

Who will you be?  Not what do you want to be when you grow up, blah, blah, blah. Who will you be later today when you open that book, or turn on your reader?  Will you live now in 2014, 200 years in the future, or 150 years ago? What will you do? Will you evaluate evidence and formulate theories to solve the crime?  Will you face the dilemma of deciding between the two guys vying for your affection?  Will you be human, animal, or android?  And after you are done, after that pause, the breath held between the last word read and the moment you re-enter the non-book world, how will you have changed?
That to me is the wonder of reading, of stories and storytelling.  Through books, through words woven through pages, we can become someone or something other than ourselves, and through that transformation, expand our identities, and deepen our understanding.  How many times have you recommended a book because the story made you cry?  How many times have you read an event or remark in a book then laughed out loud in a silent room? Make no mistake, this can and does happen to kids at the earliest of ages when they hear stories read, and when they read even the most humble of picture books.  I believe firmly in experience as a great teacher, in long walks, telescopes and digging in the dirt. Yet reading is its own experience, an inner experience, where a character’s journey moves me to understand myself and my world better than before I read it. 
If you have read to kids, you know that they’ll moo, bark, or repeat a refrain before they can read it.  They will say an entire sentence before they can speak the individual words!  Like adult readers, they want to see themselves as part of the story, to be IN the book.  They can’t wait to partake in the adventures that happen between the page one and “The End.”  Why shouldn’t they?  There are so many wonderful places children can go when we read to and with them.  From places that are old and familiar to adults like the Hundred Acre Wood, or the small, small room, to new places like a wrestling match with Niño in “Niño Wrestles the World,”  or in the kitchen with Jorge Argueta’s wonderful poetic celebrations of food.  Adults are the guides to these new destinations.
In these new worlds, these book worlds, many precious gifts await our children. A book can develop child’s sense of empathy when we read about Rene in “I Am Rene, the Boy.”  She confirms her own worth when a character faces and overcomes the same problems she does.  Our kids explore new horizons when they read books like Monica Brown’s “Waiting for the Biblioburro.”  We open the world to wonder and awe when we ask, “What will happen next?”  An unturned page fills us with anticipation, with hope, and, eventually, relief. 
As a writer, the first person I want to experience my story is me!  I want to know what will happen to my characters, who they will meet, how they will face their fears or troubles.  I miss them when my work (teaching) keeps us apart for weeks.  I worry about them, and hope that they won’t get lost without me (I am always lost when we don’t see each other).  Of course, each of my characters reflects some part of me.  My Piggy is me, running away from everyone.  Rafa, my little mummy, is a first-rate wonderer, an explorer that eventually misses the familiarity of home.  When I read my stories to kids, I’m sharing a part of me, the wonderer or the escape artist.  I hope that the story speaks to the fugitive cookie or adventurer in them. 
When the child reading the book is a little Latino or Latina, and the book’s character speaks Spanish, or visits her abuelita, her connection to the story is so much stronger.  That being said, I relish multicultural stories that show my kids (and by “kids” I mean my 3 children and the students I teach) that there are universal truths and experiences, such as family, change, fear, loss, and new friendships.  Yet when the characters have names like Roberto, or Flor, or Rafael, I see a light go on in the faces of Latino kids.  They smile and exclaim, “My sister is named Flor” or “Rafa?! Like my Tío Rafa!” And if the character’s name happens to be the same as someone in our class, they point with the grandest of smiles.  These stories reflect something of their lives back on them, becoming affirming their place in the literary world, their spot on the bookshelf. 
Though I write in the hope that all types of children will read my books, I consciously choose to put my stories in neighborhoods similar to the one I grew up in, and similar to the one my students inhabit.  My characters’ lives and situations purposely mirror the ones I hear about daily as I teach and learn with my class.  My book “A Mummy in Her Backpack” began when a student of mine returned from a trip to Guanajuato.  My friend Rene Colato Lainez wrote about his journey from El Salvador to the United States in “My Shoes and I.”  Memories of a Cuban girl who loved to sing became Laura Lacamara’s book “Floating on Mama’s Song.” One day in the future I may write about kids from other places.  For now I’m not done mining the riches of where I live, because the stories I find there are rich.  They contain truths and humor, emotions and experiences that interest me.   We authors invite you and your children to come along, to walk, sing, and dance, and to take with you the delicious souvenirs of memory.
My stories and all the stories by Latino/Latina authors are more than a little niche or a special section in the bookstore.  Where’s the fun in that? I know our stories make all kids laugh, wonder, and root for our characters.  The settings are places where kids will want to go over and over.  All kids repeat our refrains, finish our lines, and demand an author’s favorite quote, “Read it again!”
So, who will you be soon?  And where will you go?  What travel plans are you making for your kids?  Book your trip now, and ¡Buen viaje!   I’ve got to go. A character named Roberto needs to finish telling me a strange story…

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

College? Guilt By Contradiction For Young Latinas


In my Hispanicize 2014 recap, I made reference to a series of skits presented during one of our lunches by Orgullosa called The Nueva Latina Monologues. The skits tackle the ambicultural® Latina experience, that of being able to slip innately between two cultures. They treat as an asset, rather than a deficit, a skill that many of us may have been confused by, or did not know what to name.

By the way, it's not a ability unique to Latinas.


Para Colegio And 'Guilt By Contradiction'


Here's a video clip of The Nueva Latina Monologues' second skit Para Colegio | Go. It's about a conversation a young Latina has with her mother about wanting to go away to college and her mother's reticence, much of which stems from cultural norms. The daughter wants to be independent and self-sufficient, to see the world. The mom is afraid of letting go.

It may appear on the surface to be a familiar, or mainstream conversation, but it's not. First-generation Latinas, or Latinas who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age are often held to a cultural norm that expects them "to prioritize family responsibilities above school." Enter guilt by contradiction: parents, mothers specifically, want their daughters to have the opportunities they never did, but don't want to see their daughters go. Of course it's different for sons. The conversations we're having at home need to change if we're to address the disproportionately high dropout rate experienced by Latinas, relative to their non-Latina peers.

Watch the video. I'm sure more than one of you will be able to relate.





Sources

Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S. (2013), The Civil Rights Project
Latina Power Shift (2013), The Nielsen Company

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mrs. Easter Bunny Stopped By


Easter Eve was always more special than Easter morning in my home. My sisters and I would stay up late eating capirotada, a Mexican dish my mom made every year that filled our home with the smell of melted sugar.

At bedtime, we'd giggle in the dark, as we speculated over the size of the Easter baskets Mrs. Easter Bunny would bring. More than Peeps and jelly beans, we hoped for giant chocolate Easter bunnies whose ears we'd devour before breakfast the next morning. I say might because sometimes there was no chocolate.

I remember waiting for the sound of crinkling plastic, until one year, without warning, Mrs. Easter Bunny never came. Is there an expiration date on the Easter Bunny?

My eleven-year-old son cornered me in the grocery store last year and asked if Santa and the Easter Bunny were real. So many thoughts raced through my mind as I thought of how to answer. "Well ... " It was over. My baby was no longer a baby. I remember how he scrutinized me with his big brown eyes that communicated without words that he knew the truth.

A dear friend and neighbor dropped by yesterday afternoon to return a dish. During our conversation I realized that with the craziness of preparing to have family over for Easter, I'd inadvertently forgotten to make our son's Easter Basket (something that's proven challenging each year due to his food allergies). When I mentioned that our son didn't believe in the Easter Bunny, anymore, my neighbor laughed and replied that her twenty-something daughter still expected her chocolate bunny. That's when I remembered how much I've missed mine.

Mrs. Easter Bunny did drop by before six a.m., leaving tracks all the way up to our son's room. He'll wake to find a small basket bursting with yellow grass, a book, Swedish Fish, Skittles, and Minecraft toys. He'll even find a small, stuffed, yellow chick to remind him he'll always be my baby.

Why is the Easter Bunny a Mrs. instead of a Mr? I'll tell you why -- because The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes says so.