Monday, October 31, 2005

Lori McKenna

Remember that name. She is going to become HUGE, especially now that she was on the Oprah show. She's a singer and song writer. Faith Hill used 3 of her songs on her new album, "Fireflies." McKenna wrote the title song too. Oprah took that angle on her show but how many women like me went and Googled Lori McKenna after that to find out that she already has several independent CDs and is well known in the Boston area? Either way she's a star now!

If you like folksy slow music you will love her. Her voice reminded me of Natalie Merchant a little, not her style, but her voice. Check her out! Her journal entries about her Oprah experience on her website are so cute! She's so honest about how every one of us would feel if we were on Oprah. I'm definitely getting her music. I especially loved her song, "Ruby Shoes." Gotta go to work now!!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

First Meme Ever: Timeline

I’ve never done a meme and I probably don’t know what the heck I’m doing but I love this meme a fellow blogger had on her blog a few months ago. I actually saved it for all these months because I always wanted to do it. I really liked doing this. Like my friend said, “These are a fun way to take stock of what's been going on in your own life.” I suggest you try it!

Meme: Timeline

25 years ago: It was 1980 and I was 10. I lived in Houston with my parents and it was the one year I didn’t live with any of my sisters. The youngest of my four older sisters had just moved out the year before and had gotten married. I was in 4th grade and I had an evil teacher that gave me a good reality check. Up until that point all my teachers had loved me and treated me like I was extremely smart. This teacher taught me that sometimes people don’t love you. I was attending elementary school in the ghetto because my parents didn’t know about Magnet programs. I didn’t discover Vanguard until 6th grade and it got me out of the schools I was zoned to and I got a much better education. I started writing short stories and comic strips with my best friend.

20 years ago: I was 15. I was semi-popular in the tenth grade at Waltrip High School. I was writing for the school paper and I was the Circulation Editor. I thought I was fat because I wasn’t a stick figure like some of the girls my age and I had boobs, which made a big difference in my shape. It was the year I was invited to my first young people party (by the most popular girl in my JW community) and it was big time! My mother took me shopping for my party outfit at Clothestime and I bought a short black skirt, a sleeveless white top with little black paislies, and a pink satin leopard print jacket! I wore these all with black patent leather pumps, flesh colored hose, and a string of pearls. My hair was in a bob! Weren't the 80s great?! I was writing short stories that I could never finish.

15 Years ago: I was 20. I was going to UH full time and working for the school paper selling advertising. (See, I’ve been doing this way too long!) I was an English minor and I loved my literature classes and wanted to take some creative writing classes. I thought I was way too busy with school to write. I wish I had all that time now!

10 Years ago: I was 25. I had been out of college for 2.5 years and I was partying way too hard. I had quit my job at the Chronicle and I was substitute teaching because I wanted to go into teaching. I spent a whole month is Spain that summer with my girlfriends and fell in love with that country even more. My sister died of complications from leukemia that August. I met my husband that October and bumped into him at Elvia’s and at two different parties in December. I didn’t know at the time that we would start dating that following January. I was trying to write and I wrote some but not as much as I wanted to.

5 years ago: I was 30, married 3 years, and my mother died that January from heart failure. I missed her terribly and now that I didn’t have a mother I felt the strong urge to be a mother. I longed for that relationship again. (my sister recently sent me an article that captures this feeling exactly) I started trying and I was pregnant with my eldest daughter Miranda by Summer. I was working at the Chronicle again. I’d gone back in 1998. I was selling Direct Marketing and I loved it! I wasn’t really writing because I was finishing up my Master’s at UH and I had to write my thesis.

3 years ago: I was 32. I had a one year old baby and I was now working as the Hispanic Projects Coordinator for the Chronicle. This was before the launch of La Vibra and before we bought La Voz so my job consisted more of being a specialist of Hispanic advertising for the rest of the ad division. I had received my Master’s the December prior but I walked that May. I started writing again and I started working on my novel full force and was invited to read at Nuestra Palabra and on their radio show.

1 year ago: I was 34. I was stilll working as the Hispanic Projects Coordinator but it was a whole different game now. I gave birth to my second and last child, my son Seth in April, launched La Vibra and came back from a 3 month maternity leave to start working on the possiblity of purchasing La Voz. I continued working on my novel on a very part time basis. Work as usual is always all-consuming.

This year: I am 35. I still work at the Chronicle, I still struggle to find time to write between work, meetings (religion), my children, my home. I love my job and I love my writing. I only wish I had more time for the writing. This is the year I will finish the first draft of my novel and will start on the revising and will start shopping for an agent. I’m going to “Iris Chang it!”

Yesterday: I was very lazy or depressed because I slept in really late. I cleaned up the living and dining rooms a little and watched some Oprah that I have recorded. Before I knew it it was time to start getting dressed for Rey’s childhood friends’ anniversary party. We drove out to Conroe for the party last night. I drank a little too much of our new tequila drink we discovered in Cozumel. I didn’t get drunk but it didn’t agree with my stomach. Yuck!

Today: Slept late again but this time because I woke up sick in the middle of the night. I googled a guy I met recently in the biz and I caught up on a couple of old favorite blogs, but I need to get with the program soon. I have my Sunday meeting at 4 and I need to bathe the kids before we go. I also need to clean my bedroom tonight before I go to bed or I’ll wake up for the week feeling overwhelmed by the messiness. I still haven’t fully unpacked from our vacation! Thank goodness my cleaning lady comes on Tuesday!

Tomorrow: Tomorrow I go back to work to my real job that pays the bills. I start my week all over again. Sometimes I feel like the weekdays are better for me because they give me more structure and a schedule. I went back to writing once a week because that morning thing just doesn’t work for me. I’m not a morning person! So since Wednesdays are Rey’s basketball night Thursdays are my writing night. Also, this week is Magnet Awareness week and the schools will have their Open House. We need to go check out a couple of elementary schools because Miranda starts Kindergarten next year and we want to apply for Vanguard. I’m a product of Vanguard and IB (but not until junior high and high school) and Rey went to Magnet in elementary schools for gymnastics so we are both believers in the Magnet program if we want to live inside the loop. In other words, busy week!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why are Schools Still Promoting Mediocrity?

This week I also visited with my mentee. She is such a cool chick! This is only the second time we meet and I still like her. We had a very interesting conversation this time. She told me she needs to apply for college scholarships and I asked her if she was interested in journalism and broadcast. (Her counselor told me she was interested in journalism and that's why he matched us.) She said she is but that a teacher advised her to pursue a career that would give her job security, like nursing.

I almost went through the roof! It took all that I had not to go off on that teacher. I just couldn't believe that there are still teachers and possibly counselors who are promoting mediocrity. It made me angry because I thought of my own counselor who didn't help me apply for any scholarships, except one small Hispanic one.

Don't get me wrong. Before you get angry with me thinking that I don't consider nursing a noble career. My sister was a nurse for twenty years before she passed away and I had a great respect for her. I believe that all service careers are wonderful careers if the person who pursues that career is passionate about it, because you have to be passionate to do a good job. Which is what I asked her. It took a bit to get her to admit that she's not passionate about nursing like she is about broadcast journalism. With that said I told her that that's what she needs to pursue, the career that excites her.

I want to introduce her to friends in journalism and broadcast careers who have achieved a lot in their careers. I need to try and undo the damage that her teacher has already done, making her believe that she shouldn't strive for an "unatainable"career. I told her that her success depends on her and her passion, not on what other people decide for her.

I hope that I helped her see this. Not until teachers stop promoting mediocrity will our children strive for more in life.

Back from Vacation

I know that I should be blogging about the cruise but I don't have time. It's something I may do later. I kept a daily journal of our travels. I'll just tell you what I learned.

1. Don't go on a cruise during hurricane season
2. If you have children either
a. Wait until they are 3 years old and completely potty trained so they can go into the kids' club on the ship.
b. Or only take them on a cruise that caters to small children.

That's all I'll say for now.

When I got back I learned that a friend from school had died on Saturday. I wasn't close to her but I had a couple of friends that were close to her and I'd known her since middle school. I met her when I was 11 and she was 12 or 13. She was in 7th grade and I was in 6th grade with her sister. I decided to go to the funeral and I didn't expect for it to affect me the way it did. It was very sad. I couldn't remember being to the funeral of someone my age before.

Later I remembered a friend from high school who died right after graduating from college. Somehow this was a little different from even that experience. I was faced with my mortality. This woman was only 36 years old when she died. That's an incredible thing to imagine! It made me so sad... I still don't even know why she died. They did an autopsy. Seeing death in the face makes me question my own life all over again.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Kite Runner

My new book is The Kite Runner. If you've never heard about it look it up. It's made me feel a feeling I haven't had in long time.

It reminds me of a short story my sister read to me when I was a little girl of about 5 of a boy who was always sick and about his brother. One day the older brother and the little sick one were either running or doing something. The older brother didn't believe the little brother when he collapsed. The little brother died and the narrator describes the little coffin. That story impressed me so much and I cried so much that my mother actually got mad at my sister for reading it to me. The story haunted me. I often wonder what story that was and I always forget to ask my sister.

When I read this book I felt very similar. I felt some of the same pain and longing for the main character. I wanted to make him make a different decision. I wanted to change the story somehow but I couldn't. I can't that is. That moment in the novel is the whole point of the story. It's a haunting book.

We're Off

We were just told my our friends/travel agents that we have to take the tour in Ocho Rios. Not because we don't want to be with them and other friends that are on the same cruise, but because we're not big fans of tours. When I started really traveling, like to Europe, when I was seventeen I didn't do any tours. I also didn't do tours on any of my other trips. I've always planned my own itinerary and done my own thing. Then one year when my sister was stationed in Sicily my two friends and I went to visit her. She signed us up for a tour to Palermo. It was a great tour and the tour guide was great, but we were terrible at it. We just felt restricted. I guess we were already so accustomed to doing our own thing.

This is the itinerary for the stop:

It sounds like fun. Hope it is! You'll hear about it later. Back to packing and washing. We leave the house tomorrow at 11. We're going to Galveston and we want to take our time without rushing, we want the kids used to the boat and we sail at 5. Our cabin will be our home for the next week.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted

I think I've used that headline before but that's OK because I LIKE IT! I am so excited. It's 12:30 a.m. and I just got both kids down for the night and I need to go to bed too but I am so excited. Tomorrow is the beginning of my vacation. I'll be gone for 7 business days plus 2 weekends. That means that I do not have to set foot in that office for 11 whole days!!! That in itself is enough to get me excited.

"Why?" you may ask. Well, for starters I haven't had a whole week off from work in about 2 years. Even then, I didn't go out of town. In fact, I haven't been out of the country in FIVE years! That is a record for me. Ever since I started traveling abroad at 23 I have been going somewhere every year or every other year. It's the wanderlust in me! I love Houston but I love to travel. Maybe it's because I was born and raised here and lived here my entire life that I enjoy visiting other places.

So tomorrow I start my vacation and get my things ready, pack, last minute shopping for a couple of items, prescriptions filled, pedicure, etc... I am so excited!!

I am also very grateful for what I have, for my health, for my family, especially for my children. I’m grateful that I can take vacations like this one. I recently had a tragic death in my family and there was the man in New York. Those kind of incidents really make me question my life again and make me ask myself if I am really happy in life. I want to do what I want to do in life. I want to live out my dreams. This is just a means to an end, a bridge to my future..

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Where Does Time Go?

When I was a little girl I remember asking my mom, while getting dressed for school, if time went by faster in the morning. It just seemed to me then, like it still does now, that time has a way of accelerating in the morning hours.

This morning I was greeted by Miranda around 5:30, I don't even know what time it was for sure. Then she came to me a few minutes later, in the Hello Kitty pajamas I bought her at Target last night, wanting to get into bed with me and Seth. (She fell asleep on the way home last night so she must have put the pajamas on when she woke up.) As soon as she got settled into the bed Seth popped up and laughed with her. That was it. I was up and it was around 5:50. By the time I got the cartoons turned on for her and went to make my coffee I was shocked to see it was 6:30!! Where did the time go?

This is another reason why I can't write in the morning. I've been so bad about that. And by bad I mean that I don't think it's ever going to happen. Ever since I started trying that approach a couple of months ago my book has been at a stand still. Every day I set the alarm for 5:50 and every day I wake up at 7:30 to slide into work at 9:15. Then I end up beating myself up about it. It's very frustrating.

The funny thing is that the very few times when I have gotten up really early it's just like today, the time flies! I don't feel like I have enough time to write. What I've decided to do is to take one evening a week, like Rey does basketball, to write. This morning would have been perfect if the children were asleep. Ha! If it weren't for the children I wouldn't be up at all.

New York is an inspiration to write. There is something so intoxicating about that city. I don't know what spell it weaves but it grabs people and pulls them in. Well not all people, but people like me and Rey. I told Rey that New York alone can be an inspiration to write my book so that I can have an excuse to go back.

It's 7:01 now and all I want to do is crawl back into bed and I can't. I'll go get my coffee instead.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sorry! I've Missed You Too

I'm so sorry I've been so MIA for the past week and a half. After NYC I had a death in my family and family came in for the funeral, etc.. My sister and my cousin stayed at our house a couple of nights.

My weeks have been so hectic since Hurricane Rita. We came back on a Sunday and had to leave to NYC the following Wednesday. I came home and had one week of funeral activity and now I only have one week to get ready for the cruise. I never even had a chance to blog about my NY trip and all the other fun things Rey and I did. So those stories will have to wait for another day over coffee.

Great news! My very good childhood friend Vicki had her baby. A beautiful baby boy! He was born Friday. A big boy! 9 lbs, 4 oz (like my Miranda), 20 1/2 inches long.

Another nice thing that came from my NY trip was my new friendship with my cousin. She lives in NYC and has been there for 7 years. We had a really good visit when I was there. She took me to a super trendy place for lunch and we saw SUSAN SARANDON!! I was so excited to see someone when I least expected it and someone I like as much as I like her. The same cousin came and stayed with us for the weekend after the funeral and we got to know each other even better.

More news later about cruise adventures!