Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Vacaton's All I Really Wanted

It’s JUNE! Officially summer soon on June 21. Today my step-daughter Mandi turns 16 and my niece Hannah turns 16 at the end of the month, on the 26th.

Sixteen! Do you remember sweet sixteen? Sixteen had to have been the best year of my life. Honestly, all of high school, fourteen-eighteen, were great years. Years I wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe giving myself a little more self esteem. That’s all of us I’m sure. We all say the same adage, “If I knew then what I know now.” It’s true. I had a great life and I was enjoying every bit of it when I was there but now that I look back I realize even more so how great that time was and I wish I had appreciated it more.

I’m on vacation for a couple of days and so far I have had a fabulous vacation. For one, as funny as this sounds, we cleaned the house and we did laundry. That makes me feel like one big weight is off my shoulders.

Yesterday we spent some good quality time with my friends who are visiting from Spain and even with Rey’s parents. They came by too and brought the grandkids. We had 4 kids ages 2.5-4 running all over the house and the back yard and 2 one-year old toddlers crawling around and getting into everything. My friend and I kept laughing at the fact that we now have children. So weird.

OK, It’s Tuesday and I’m off to hang out with them for a few hours. We haven’t decided yet if it’ll be the Children’s Museum or the Body Museum as Miranda calls it. http://www.mhms.org/ It’s really the Museum of Health and Medical Science. Or maybe just hanging around downtown and taking the train. More later.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Life is Strange

The most extraordinary thing happened today. My new job was announced as a promotion and my new title is National Sales Manager of La Voz and La Vibra. What is going on?? It’s not that I don’t think I deserve this, it’s just that I was originally told that the move was a lateral move and that I would remain an account executive. That’s why it came as such a big surprise today when this e-mail went out to the whole ad division announcing my move as a promotion.

I keep thinking of that Alanis Morisette quote I’ve been using on my e-mail signature.

"the moment I let go of it was the moment I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of itwas the moment I touched down."

I use this quote because I feel like I need to just let go of my fears and take the leap to write. As hard as I work to want to become a writer these other things keep happening to me all the time. Good things, but at the same time I will have to work on my writing all the harder so I don’t get sidetracked.

Life is so strange. And I said it myself just a few entries ago when I said,
“Life is a series of phases and the exciting part about it is that we don’t know where we will find ourselves next. We should always expect the unexpected. That’s fine as long as we don’t lose ourselves along the way.”

How true this is.

On another great note to help keep me on track. My short story, “The Grapefruit” was published. http://www.houstonculture.org/hispanic/grapefruit.html The only thing is that I accidentally sent them a version without the tilde (~) over the word Doña. A corrected version will be posted soon.

Meanwhile, read the story and enjoy. This is my first published short story!! Thank you to Mark Lacy for his interest in my writing and for staying on top of me to submit. And thank you to the Houston Institute for Culture. The Visitor Center is opening June 10 in the Rice Village on Morningside. Go by and check it out.

Two things to celebrate this weekend. My promotion and the publication of my story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's SO Great!

I started reading Amy Tan's book, The Opposite of Fate, during lunch today and it is SO good and I've only read the first chapter! Her description of her father and the relationship she had with him brought tears to my eyes. Her father died when she was fifteen. If you are an Amy Tan fan, read it! More updates later.

Settle In! You're Here to Stay

ARGHHH!!! I’ve been at a new office for the past month having to get used to new people and their habits. Right now I think I’m going to pull my hair out!! Sometimes I play music off of Launchcast and I try to keep it as low as possible so I don’t bother others around me. The woman who sits on the other side of the wall from me doesn’t have the same idea I do. She listens to either Christian music in Spanish or like right now, to a talk show in Spanish. The woman on the show has the most irritating voice!

When I hear this and I think about staying here I hope that I’ve made the right decision. I was debating leaving here, well interviewing for another position, but now I’ve decided to stay. My new position will be as a Hispanic Sales Specialist (or a specialized account executive) who sells to the major accounts that have been running in La Voz for a while now. I’ll also pursue new business from advertisers who have never advertised in the Chronicle but who are interested in reaching the Hispanic market. It should be interesting.

The other job I was interested in is in our Online. That’s a great area because there is so much potential and growth. I am still interested in moving there but maybe in the future.

I just bought Amy Tan’s newest book, “The Opposite of Fate.” I think it’s her first work of non-fiction. It’s supposed to be really good. I’ll give you all a book review when I’m finished.

Something to ponder on. Story in the Houston Chronicle today on stem cell research. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/page1/3197052

This is the part that amazes me. To think that a woman can grow an embryo in her uterus and nourish it, feed it, give it her blood, so the baby in essence does become a part of her, but at the same time all the DNA comes from someone else. I am always in awe of technology and creation!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

How Women are Influenced by Their Mother's Relationship with Food

I finally found it. I heard about this book a while back, probably when Miranda was just born but when I looked for it I found out it was out of print. Then sometimes when I listen to NPR and I hear that Powell Books is a sponsor I think of this book, but I forget to check it out. Powell specializes in used and out of print books.

Today something reminded me of this book again. I searched for it and I found it! “Like Mother Like Daughter How Women are Influenced by Their Mother's Relationship with Food & How to Break the Pattern.” I’m going to buy it this week and I’m going to read it. I'll tell you what I thought when I'm finished. http://powellbooks.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=16-0786882719-1

I need to read this book for myself, to see what I’ll uncover about my own mother and our relationship with food. but more importantly for Miranda. Some things have been happening lately with her that have me worried.

I know that the most important thing I can do with my kids is to be an example to them. I’ve been working very hard for the past month to do just that. I have been going to the park and walking on average three times per week. Sometimes I’ve walked four times in a week because I’ll walk around my neighborhood too. I also started running a little, downhill, to start building up my stamina to start running. I need to do this for myself but also for these two little people that I am influencing every day. I would never tell them not to be fat. I tell Miranda that we want to be healthy, not skinny.

I changed pediatricians because of this. A couple of months ago at Miranda’s four year check-up the doctor reminded her of the importance of drinking milk because she wanted her to be tall and slim and not short and fat. She actually said it twice! I couldn’t believe my ears. I didn’t say anything to her but I decided there and then that I do not need a doctor like that who is going to give my daughter issues. That’s my job!

Seriously, I know it’s my job to help Miranda see the importance of health and that we exercise and eat right to be healthy. That’s my challenge. It’s not just about me any more. It’s about her too. And soon Seth too. I want them growing up with exercise and sports around them. I’m going to get a badminton set because I can play that, rather than tennis and I’m going to show Miranda how to play. I’m going to teach her how to ride her bike because she can’t get the peddling down so she can ride her bike when she’s at the baby sitter’s during the day and with me on the weekend.

Right now I have a sore butt from the running. I think the pounding is hurting my butt bone. I’m sitting on a pillow to write.

I’m in my room again. I’ve been up here a good 1.5 hrs now and I’ve made very little progress on my novel. I hadn’t worked on it in so long that I had to go back and read a lot of it to get to where I need to be. It’s the weekend! My work situation is almost worked out. I will be knowing more on Monday but I should be getting everything squared away by then.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Room of My Own Again

I've said this before. Virginia Woolf said, “"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

I got my writing space back. I used our upstairs guest room for writing for a very short time and then ended up moving back downstairs to the kitchen. Now that I’ve been walking more and having less time to write I decided I needed that room again since Rey isn’t using it as a game room anymore either.

I had the room cleaned up Friday and today I used it for the first time while Rey watched the kids for a while. I worked on my novel for a little while and did some other research.

I love my room. I’ve always wanted an attic bedroom. I especially fell in love with the attic bedroom when I saw “Sixteen Candles” for the first time. What teenager didn’t love Molly Ringwald’s attic bedroom with the sloped ceiling and her own private telephone line? After watching that movie I would ask my parents why we didn’t build up and build an attic bedroom. My mother would always tease me about that and say, “Loida wants an attic bedroom.”

I think that’s the reason I wanted this house. When I walked upstairs and found not one, but TWO attic bedrooms, I fell in love. We haven’t really used the upstairs bedrooms and they really need to be renovated. We still haven’t done anything with them in three years!

Part of the reason why is because we aren’t really in a hurry. We were planning on using one bedroom for Miranda when she’s old enough to sleep up there by herself and the other room as a family room. This year I finally convinced Rey that we need to move upstairs. Now we’re planning on making both bedrooms one big master bedroom for us. We may even have room to add a small water closet, with at least a toilet and sink. I’ll get my attic bedroom yet!

But for now the attic bedroom will act as my escape or my room away from the family. The baby couldn’t go upstairs and Rey didn’t let Miranda go up while I was up there writing.

I’m glad my computer is a laptop because I can bring it downstairs to write down here when I need to too. Like right now the baby is in his walker playing and I’m watching him while writing. I’ve become really good at writing while the kids are around. I was reading, in Book Magazine I think, about a woman who wrote her novel while her newborn sat in a swing next to her. Isn’t it amazing how women can multitask to that point?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Me and Oprah

A couple of months ago one of my good friends had a dream about me and Oprah. He said Oprah was at his house and she and I were talking about 'all the stories' I had written and Oprah was telling me that she was going to have me on her show so that I could talk about them!!!

I don’t believe in signs, or anything like that, but I have a really good feeling about me and Oprah. I believe that I will be the first Latina writer on her show. I absolutely LOVE Oprah and I believe everything that she says about believing in yourself and following your dreams. I’m a sap like that!

Is that totally arrogant of me? No, I don’t think so. I’ve been accused of not tooting my own horn enough. I always toot the horn for others, but not for myself.

I’m great at PR and should have studied that in school. I could have opened my own PR agency by now. I do PR for everyone I know, but not for myself.

Tuesday night my friend Angie returned the favor so maybe there’s some truth to “what goes around comes around.” She had the opportunity to talk to Isabel Allende on the Nuestra Palabra Radio Show (KPFT, 90.1 Tuesday nights at 7:30 p.m.) and she told Isabel Allende about ME! Can you all believe that?? She told Isabel how she is such an inspiration to women, especially women writers like me. She told her that I’m working on my first novel. So now I have to finish this novel! Angie told Isabel Allende that I am.

How do writers find the time to write? More importantly, how can I find the time to write?? Since I added exercise to my schedule the writing has taken the back burner. But I have to walk for my health!

I was on a website with a bunch of writers recently and they all said they don’t sleep, especially if they are mothers. They all write late at night or really early in the morning when everyone is asleep. I’ve been trying to do the morning thing but I am so not a morning person.

Good news though! I may be published on a cultural website soon. http://www.houstonculture.org/. They may publish a short story of mine based on a story my father told me about himself when he was a little boy. I read it at Nuestra Palabra a couple of years ago.

Check out this website. They will be opening a Visitor’s Center soon in the Rice Village. Anyway, be checking out the site for something by me.

Have a great weekend or week, depending on when you read this.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Alanis Morissette Week

I have been having an Alanis Morissette week. I’ve been listening to her music a lot and I really love her lyrics. Have you ever listened to the words to “Thank You?” I love these four lines right here:

"the moment I let go of it, was the moment I got more than I could handle. the moment I jumped off of it, was the moment I touched down."

I’m not sure what exact life experience she had to inspire these words but these four lines make me think of my own life and what I can do if I would just let go and try. I’m so afraid to jump because I worry about the kids and insurance and our future. I know Rey worries about those same things and I don’t blame him.

I know the safe thing to do is to write this novel while I still have a job and to try to sell it first before I do something radical like quit to write full time. I keep telling myself to be patient but they are making it so damn hard!

I think today I made up my mind about what I'm going to do with my current job situation and I think I feel good about my decision. No, it doesn't include quitting my job or anything radical like that. I just made a decision regarding what direction I want to take. I read that silly book, “Who moved my cheese” and I’ve decided that the answer is, “I do!”

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Will I be a better parent than my own mom and dad?

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother. It’s so funny that I came across an article with this title on msn.com tonight, before writing this blog entry. I think this is a question that many parents ask themselves.

I also read this quote by Isabel Allende again today.

“My mother is the longest love affair of my life.We have never cut the umbilical cord.” – Isabel Allende

I’ve been thinking about my mom and her qualities as well as her shortcomings. She was human so I shouldn’t have expected perfection. Now that I’m older, married, and I have children of my own I think I understand her a little better. I’ve learned more about her from my father. It’s as if he finally feels free to speak about her, now five years after she’s been gone. He’s told me stories I didn’t know. Stories that I’d rather not know and of course sometimes stories I feel are one-sided. But those are stories for another day.

I know she went through a period when she didn’t love my father any more. I try to imagine what that must have been like for her. I feel sad for her as if it’s happening now or as if I could have done something about it.

I think of my own daughter and how I’m trying so hard to be a different mother but then inevitably I slip back to something my mother would have said or done. Then it’s also so hard to separate what my mother did that was good discipline and what was just plain bad parenting.

One thing I have no memories of is playing with my mother. Maybe it was because I’m the youngest child and I had older sisters to do that with me. But something tells me that she still wouldn’t have even if I was one of her older children, born when she was young and full of more energy. I know she didn’t play with my sisters and they would probably laugh at the very idea. I think the most fun they had with her as children was an occasional visit to a theme park. Then there was her pregnancy with me that made her bedridden. They played board games with her then until they were sick of Monopoly.

I don’t want that for my children. I didn’t play as much with my daughter when she was a baby. First I was writing my thesis when she was very small and somehow my husband became the one who played with her. Now that I have two children I have started to play and I love it.

Almost every night we tumble on the bed and play “cave adventure,” a game my husband started with my daughter. We get under the blankets and I hold them high with my leg and arm and we have our own little cave. Miranda cracks up and even the baby gets all excited and jumps up and down. Sometimes Miranda pretends to be a visitor and knocks on my door and I invite them in. Sometimes Rey is the monster that comes to scare us. To see the look of excited terror and laughter on their faces is priceless.

When I’m really tired I just lie on the bed and doze while Miranda and Seth play, Miranda jumping and the baby crawling to the headboard, pulling himself up, and bouncing up and down on his chubby legs. I open one eye to make sure they’re playing safe and they are just happy that I’m there with them.

So when I think of traveling away from my kids I think of nights like this that I’ll miss. My babies will never be 4 and 1 again.

I think of women that want “me time” and don’t get me wrong, I also have those moments when I want to scream, “Calgon! Take me away!” but I already had thirty years of “me time.” I did the parties, the football games, and the dances growing up. Then the dance clubs, the bars, trips overseas riding a train across Europe and dancing til 7 a.m.

I love the laughter of my daughter and her hilarious comments. When asked why she said a certain not-so-nice thing she replied, “I don’t know. Sometimes I get so confused in my head.” I crack up!

My son Seth and the sight of him learning to take his first steps and pushing himself around in a Tiny Tikes car, when he can’t even walk yet. I can’t miss that. I can’t miss this precious time.

So thank you Mama, for teaching me what kind of mother I want to be. A mother that laughs and plays with her kids, as well as disciplines. A mother that’s there for her children.

I hope my children quote Isabel Allende when I’m old. I hope they remember “cave adventures.”

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Rainy Day

What a rainy dreary day! I tried to go walking with Miranda in the stroller when the baby went down for his nap but we only made it once around the block and it started raining. I needed the walk to not just for the exercise but to also clear my head. I had one of the most emotionally draining weeks at work this past week that I can’t get into now. I’ll tell y’all more individually or I’ll post about it later when it’s all resolved. I hope it gets resolved this week. Let’s just say I’m changing positions in the next couple of weeks.

When I couldn’t go walking today because of the rain I sat out on my small porch and read my book. It was a nice little escape. I love reading or napping when it rains. It was a light rain too so it was nice and it’s cool outside. I love the sound and the smell of the rain. The cool air made it extra nice because it’s been getting warm lately.

I’m reading Alisa Valdes Rodriguez’s last book, Playing With Boys. I really liked The Dirty Girls Social Club but I’m just now reading her second book. It just blows me away that she sold that book for as much as she did. She has an interesting blog too- http://alisavaldesrodriguez.blogspot.com/. She’s pretty out there- eccentric, outspoken, dramatic, but I like reading her writing. I think she intrigues me more than anything because she’s done so well for herself and I do enjoy her writing for fun reading, not serious thinking reading.

This weather is so dreary and it makes me tired but at the same time I want to finish my book. I always do this. I race to finish a book because I want to see how it ends but then when I’m finished I wish I was still reading it. I think that’s why people like soap operas so much, because it’s a never ending novel.

I wish I could tell you all what happened this week. I wish I could share my true thoughts and feelings about Corporate America but I’ve learned that I have to be careful about what I write about as much as I want to say the truth.