Sunday, January 28, 2007

WIVLA and First Friday

My sister is selling advertising for Literal, Latin American Voices magazine. It’s a beautiful upscale magazine that features Latin American writers and artists.

She heard about WIVLA from one of the galleries that she was visiting and she invited me to a meeting. What an extraordinary group of women! They have different topics each month. One month they have a topic for writers and the next month it’s a topic for artists. This month’s program was about a writer’s residency. It was very fascinating! I didn’t know very much about these programs so it was very educational for me. Personally I could never leave the children for a whole month, but I thought that it would be great for someone with either grown or no children. I’m going to join this group because I would love to be surrounded by women in the arts. Several of them are much older than me and have a lot of experience and knowledge to share.

Next week, Friday the 2nd, I’m going to go hear local writer Gwen Zepeda read at Inprint’s First Friday. They also have an Open Mic portion after she reads and I’m THINKING of reading a couple of poems. I’m not really big into poetry but I was thinking of doing my favorite Daddy’s Stories, My Boy Sleeps and maybe the Starbucks one. OR I’m thinking of writing a brand new one just for my daughter. So if you’re around town and you want to see me possibly make a fool of myself come on by. The reading is held at 1520 W. Main Houston, TX 77006, The Imprint House. Have a great week if I don’t post any more this week.

A Day of Art

Note: I referenced a lot of these places with hyperlinks for your enjoyment and reference.

I had one of those days where I over extended and I still didn't get to do everything I wanted to do. Yesterday I went out in service (ministry) with a friend early in the morning (okay 9:30, early for me) and then we met up with our husbands for lunch.

After lunch we came home and I just changed shoes and the kids and I went to an Open Studio of an artist I met at a WIVLA (Women in Visual and Literary Arts) meeting earlier this past week. (more about that later) Her Open Studio had some beautiful pieces. I encourage you to check out and support this local artist, Ann Bell. Look under florals and you'll see the sunflower painting I fell in love with.

After the Open Studio we proceeded on to the Museum of Fine Arts. We specifically went to see the Norman Rockwell painting of Ruby Bridges going to school with the U.S. Marshall's. This is the last weekend it's there. We talked about slavery and civil rights on the way to the museum. My daughter already knows the whole Ruby Bridges story. When we first heard the Lori McKenna song she wanted to know more about it so I got her the children's book and she could read that whole book to you before she actually learned how to read. So after we saw the painting she wrote a comment in the museum's book, "I have the Ruby Bridges book."

We walked quickly through the Impressionist's collection because the baby was getting impatient by this time and was hating his stroller. It always amazes me what an incredible collection of art we own. It's comical when people do not realize what an artistic city Houston is.

I will never forget for the rest of my life talking to a man in NYC (originally from India but educated in the U.S.) at a conference luncheon about the art I had seen in NY so far and he asked me, "It's interesting that you know so much about art being from Houston." THAT is SO offensive on so many levels, to me personally, but especially as to where I am from. I politely educated him about Houston at that point. That we are the fourth largest city in the nation, that we are a cosmopolitan city, about all of our arts. I'm sure he was sorry he had asked the question when I was through but I did it all in a very nice way. Be careful what you ask for!

I wanted to see the sculpture garden and the baby had been confined to his stroller for a while so we went across the street to the Lillie & Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden and I let the kids run around. They had a blast and I admired the sculptures. I bet no one realizes that we have a Rodin and a few Matisse pieces right across the street from the museum. You can even picnic in the garden if you want! Very romantic!

As I was driving home my sister called me and she was having a nice visit with one of our city's well known citizens, Macario Ramirez at his store, Casa Ramirez. I stopped by and had a visit and bought a couple of things. Maracas for the kids, a Luna (from the popular Mexican Loteria game) painted on a tile, a little hand painted tin mirror for my desk at work, and a tin red apple for my daughter's teacher.

By the end of the day I was exhausted but we still had late drink and tapa plans with some friends. After a shower and some rest, we met them around 9:30 at Catalan, a beautiful new restaurant in our recently restored Washington area of town. They have a beautiful restroom! There's something about a beautiful restroom that tells me a lot about the restaurant and what they care about. The tapas were wonderful of course. I had the calamari with a lime-jalapeƱo dip. Delicious! A little pricey, but good. We sat outside because we didn't have a reservation, but they had some nice heat lamps on outside and we were fine. Even this restaurant was a work of art! Just another example of the great things you can find in our "little" city.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What a Day!

I had by far the most interesting day today. Here is a list of all of the things that happened to me today. Notice how although some were bad they could have been far worse.

1. My morning started off on my way to drop off my daughter. Suddenly I had to use the RR really bad. I thought I could make it to the baby sitter's house after dropping my daughter off at school. Instead I had to make a U Turn to go back to my sister’s house to use her restroom.

Bad: This made me late to work.
Could have been worse: I could have peed in my pants.

2. Next, there was an accident that had the freeway stopped dead. I was able to exit, but it forced me to take the long way to the babysitter’s to drop the baby.

Bad: This made me even later to work.
Could have been worse: I could have not had an exit and I would have been stuck on a long stretch without an exit.
Even worse: I could have been in the accident had I not gone back to use the restroom at my sister's.

3. On the way to the sitter's I saw that my daughter left her lunchbox in the car so I had to go back by her school to drop it off on my way to the office.

Bad: It made me even later to work once again.
Could have been worse: I could have seen it once I was at work and then I wouldn't have been able to drop it off.

4. I worked out for lunch. When I came out of the shower I saw that not only had I left my locker unlocked, I even left the lock on the bench. Thus making it even more obvious. All my jewelry, specifically my engagement ring, was inside my gym bag. I held my breath as I went to open my locker. Thank goodness everything was there!

Bad: It was just bad. It almost gave me a heart attack.
Could have been worse: I could have been robbed blind!

5. I walked out of the gym and I found out that I left my lights on and my battery was dead. A nice man had just parked in front of me and he gave me a jump. I had a meeting downtown in half an hour.

Bad: This was now going to make me late to a meeting at my downtown office.
Could have been worse: I could have not found anyone with cables and I would have been even more late.

6. Right after I got a jump and was getting ready to go downtown my contact fell out of my eye and was torn in half. I did not have a spare.

Bad: This was now going to make me even more late to the meeting and I had to drive with one eye.
Could have been worse: Not sure what could have been worse. I guess if my other contact tore too.

7. After all of this, the meeting ended up getting canceled and was rescheduled for tomorrow.

Bad: I went all the way downtown when I could have just stayed at my other office, around the corner from the gym. Instead I drove all the way from the Galleria area to Downtown with one eye.
Could have been worse: Not sure what could have been worse. By this time I was just in awe of all that went wrong in just one day. It was amazing!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Uncommon Goods

Check out this website of super cool stuff! I received a catalog in the mail this week and I fell in love with all the cute products. I ordered a really cute "pillbox" holder with a cowgirl on it. Great for keeping things secure in your purse so they aren't flying around. I can't wait to receive it!

I also loved this digital photo album. It's made of acid free paper that you can run through your printer, print your photos right on to the paper, and then you bind the pages together to make an album. I almost bought it but I thought I might be able to make something like it with pieces from the hobby shop.

I also got another great idea of something I want to try to make myself. I liked a black and white photo of a typewriter but I think I'm going to try and make my own. My digital camera has a black and white setting on it that I never use. I should try taking some black and white photographs. My father has an old typewriter. If you have one too, and I know you and you live in Houston let me know. I'd like to take a photo of it.

I've been in an ordering mood lately. Check out this site too. I bought a gift for someone here. Very cute mother's and grandmother's bracelets.

Frontera 450+

450+ for the approximate number of women who have been murdered or are missing in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

I finally went to see the exhibit today with Rey and the kids. All of the works of art are great in their own way, because each one is an expression by that artist. Of course we have our favorites. My daughter's, Rey's and my favorite is the mixed media sculpture of the woman lying in the sand entitled "Who Are You?" by Sharon Kopriva. This one is simple but a lot of thought went into the detail. It's haunting and makes you think about these poor women found naked in the sand. She wears only a produce sack and her hair is made from a mop. The texture of her skin makes me think of a woman found in a state of decomposition.

The artist says "she is a product of Mexico but her blood is on the hands of Mexico, the USA, and the world." Many of these women move from small towns from the South of Mexico to come there to work in Juarez at the American companies for a mere $4 a day! Four dollars! Can you imagine that? How many millions and billions do these American companies make and all they pay these women is $4. It's unbelievable, isn't it? These women who move there to work for them and sometimes lose their lives in the process. What are these companies doing to help stop these deaths or to find out what is happening to these women?

My daughter's first favorite and my second favorite piece is David Krueger's "Maria de la Arena Seca." This is the first piece that greets you as you enter the Station, Museum of Contemporary Art. It's a large sculpture, half woman with skin and half skeleton. She's standing on a sort of altar and she has candles around her and a part of a barbed wire fence. Blood drips from her body and on to a pair of handcuffs at her feet. The altar sits on sand and there are several items in the sand, such as shoes, shiny items, trash, and roses.

My third favorite is Angela Dillon's "El Arbol de la Vida." It's a tree formed out of red crosses. It reminded me of the many trips to Mexico in my life. When I was young, and before they made the new fast highway, we would take a narrow treacherous road from the border into Montemorelos or El Cercado. It was lined with white crosses for the poor souls who lost their lives there. I would always look out the window and I would count the white crosses along the way. I thought of the sad families who placed these crosses there to remember their loved ones. This tree reminded me of those crosses, except these are red, like the blood of the girls that was shed. Those deaths on the road were car accidents. These deaths were senseless and cruel.

One that also deserves mentioning and probably ties with “El Arbol de la Vida” is Norwegian artist, Lise Bjorne’s “Desconocida-Unknown-Ukjent.” She collected names of victims and also “unknowns” embroidered in thread on small labels by women around the world. She lined up these names in Morse code to write out the Mexican National anthem. It is unfinished because it won’t be completed until the last woman is identified. Very sad…

I also really enjoyed the short video documentary. I don't see it listed on the list on the Station website. You can go there and click through for more information on this exhibit and it will give you a list of each artist. Then you can click on the name of the artist and you can see each work of art. Go see it in person, it's worth the trip, but the exhibit ends next Sunday, the 28th, so try to make it this week.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada

I may be way behind the times but I finally saw "The Devil Wears Prada," based on the book by Lauren Weisberger. I LOVED IT! Meryl Streep is just wonderful in this movie and really makes you hate her, but strangely you love her at the same time.

I wish I'd read the book now. Well it's not too late. I actually prefer to see a movie first and then to read the book because the book seems so much better. If I read the book and then watch the movie I'm one of those people who doesn't think the movie did the book justice and I can't enjoy the movie completely. This way I'll enjoy the book and I'll picture Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep as the characters.

I have not seen any of the movies nominated this year, so I can't honestly say she deserved the Golden Globe in her actor category, however she is such a superb actress that she deserves it just for being her. I've loved her in a lot of roles. One of my all time favorite movies with her is "The Hours." I haven't seen that since it came out in 2002. I need to visit it again. That is a haunting movie.

One more thing about "The Devil Wears Prada." The clothes!! Oh my goodness! The clothes were to die for. If I was skinny and I could afford any clothes in the world I would get the wardrobes from: (don't laugh) Legally Blonde, The Devil Wears Prada, and some of the clothes on "Sex and the City."

Bueno, I have to take a shower and speaking of clothes, I need to figure out what I'm wearing to work tomorrow if it's going to be as cold as these past two days have been. I don't own any proper winter clothes since this is Houston, Texas where it never really gets this cold except for every 10 years or so.


Yes, we actually have some freezing in Houston. It's been interesting. I still had to go to work, but my daughter's school was closed, so I had to take her to the baby sitter's house. I had a meeting I had to be in this morning and I have a lot to do today. (I'm at lunch right now.)

I didn't get any writing done this past weekend because of the weather. After posting my last entry Saturday morning I went back to the cottage. As soon as I was getting into my writing I heard the rain coming down hard. Right after that my husband was knocking on the door ready to come in for the day. We stayed in all day and watched movies, football, and napped. We also went to the restaurant there on the grounds for lunch and dinner.

Sunday wasn't much better because it was really cold, 38 degrees. It actually got cold there first before it got cold here. So no golf or writing that day either. We decided to try and beat the rain and bad weather and left Bastrop around noon. When we got into Houston it was 68 degrees!

Anyway, life is what happens when you're making other plans. I'll just have to do my revisions the old fashioned way. At my kitchen table with the kids running around!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Please Stop Raining

Hello from Colo Vista in Bastrop, Texas! Beautiful place although it's really misty and wanting to storm. It's also cold because the cold front moved in earlier than expected. Of course! Would it be anything else on a weekend that we finally get to get away without the children? The irony! I've also been getting sick with a cold and I'm a bit congested, stuffy nose, etc.. Isn't that hilarious?!

We came anyway, knowing it was probably going to rain and all. We just wanted to get away. I brought my lap top and I'll be doing some much needed revisions. Right now I'm using the wi-fi in the the restaurant but it's closed because it's so early (8 a.m.) Yes I, the non-early bird person, am up already. I've been up since 7:15ish and I came to drop off Rey to get started. We ate a quick breakfast taco and he went off to play in the drizzle and I came to blog for a bit.

Now I'm going back to our adorable cottage to work on my revisions. That was one of the main reasons I picked this place. I will be able to get some work done while we're here and Rey will hopefully get to play some golf. Not having internet in the cottage is probably a good thing. I'm less likely to get distracted that way and I can give the revisions my undivided attention.

On to see what the rest of the day has to offer! I'll keep you all posted if you're reading on this cold wet weekend.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Remembering Mama

Today would have been my mom's 76th birthday if she were still alive. I see women with their moms, older than what my mom would be now, and I feel a slight pang of jealousy. I know. I wish I didn't. It's not evil jealousy. It's more like longing jealousy. Longing to have something I had once.

They say that time heals you and it's true. Yesterday my sister tells me, "Tomorrow would have been Mom's birthday. Wednesday was the anniversary of her death."

I think about this. Seven years. We reflect on how fast time has gone by and I tell her, "You know, this was the first year that I didn’t remember the date of her death."

I had forgotten. With Miranda starting back to school on the 3rd and me going back to work I never thought about it until my sister pointed it out. It made me sad that I forgot but then I remembered that time does heal and that with time you forget the pain, but never the person.

It's been eleven years since my sister died and I don't think about the dates all the time. I do remember 16 de septiembre. That was the date when I went with her to the doctor and she received the news that she had cancer. For some reason I remember that date more than August 10th. She died 11 months after being diagnosed. I miss her too but not the way I miss my mother.

I miss talking. I miss going to see a really good movie with her. I miss sharing a piece of cake or pie afterwards and drinking coffee. I miss sitting in her kitchen with her, listening to her stories. I miss hearing the one about when she went to meet my father in Phoenix. This was back when they were newly married and he had decided he needed a break from the barber shop. So he went to work in the fields in Phoenix. He told her he'd send for her once he was settled in and he did. She would tell the story with so much vivid detail about her bus trip from McAllen to Phoenix, Arizona. I miss that story.

She was a master story teller just like my dad. She loved to tell a good story but her style was different. She would get mad at my dad for "exaggerating" his stories but my dad just embellished or acted out the characters for more dramatic effect.

Her stories were straight and to the point, but she didn't leave out the human emotion. Like the time she got to Phoenix and the ladies were so eager to gossip to her about my father dancing at the dance hall with some White woman before she had arrived. She told about how she got into it with my father about it and how she wouldn't let it go. Even later when she took him lunch out in the field she was still arguing with him about it. So as she walked away from him she yelled out insults. She did it far away enough where he couldn't reach her. Not that he was going to do anything to her but she wasn't taking her chances.

I'm sure that she was really angry at the time but when she told the story she laughed at the memory and it made the story funny. I wonder if it hurt her at the time. But after 52 years of being married the bad had meshed with the good and they had all become memories of their years together.

I know that my father wasn’t the only story teller in the family. There’s a reason I feel the need to tell a good story, to get a good laugh, and to pass on our stories. I inherited it from both sides.

My father is an oral story teller. One of the last of his kind. He tells stories that he heard from his father, who heard them from his grandfather, and so on. I have a family legacy to pass on to my children and their children and their children. I have my father's stories and my mother's stories. I only hope that I can do them justice.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Life in General

I don't usually do posts like these but it has a purpose. This is not every day, this is only once a week, but it's an example of a crazy long day for me.

4 a.m. Baby wakes up crying. Can't figure out what's wrong with him. He says he wants Daddy. He leaves our bed (yes I believe in co-sleeping) and goes to look for Rey.
I get up and pee and then go to the kitchen to try and get him some Tylenol. He doesn't want it but he goes to sleep with Rey.

5 a.m. I feel like I just got back to sleep and here he comes again getting into bed with me. I fall back asleep.

6 a.m. The alarm goes off but there's no way I can wake up. I snooze until 6:45. I finally get up and start getting me and my daughter dressed at the same time. I stick some Lean Pockets in the microwave.

Once we're dressed we get in the truck. Thank goodness the baby is back at the sitter's. No getting him dressed or making his lunch. I pick him up asleep and put him in his car seat and hand him his sippy cup of milk. He drinks it sleepily.

My daughter eats breakfast in the car. (I did drop her off at 7:30 Wed & Fri to have breakfast at school)

8 a.m. I slide up to the front of the school. She jumps out after I remind her about listening etc.

8:20 Drop off the baby at the sitter's.

Drive in traffic in the rain forever. I don't get to work til around 9:30.

Work, work, work... I have a ton to do because I have a huge long TO DO list for Friday full of meetings at our downtown office.

5:30 Rush out of work to pick up my daughter. Where did the day go??

5:55 Pick up my daughter.

6:20 Pick up my son. He's asleep and he's not dressed for our Thursday night meeting (church). The sitter goes to wake him. My daughter plays. We dress the baby together while we talk.

Drive home and my daughter falls asleep.

7:00 Arrive home. Eat something small and quick and drink a Diet Coke.

7:30 Arrive at our meeting just in time. My husband is in charge of the mikes and has a talk (public speaking school). Since he has responsibilities that night the responsibility of the baby falls on me. My daughter continues to sleep, curled up on her chair. I wish I could join her.

9:15 Meeting ends. Husband has to handle the literature desk for a while.

10:00 p.m. Finally we're on our way home.

10:10 I have to feed the kids even though it's this late but they haven't eaten. He was asleep when I picked him up so he never ate dinner.

10:40 Daughter takes a bath.

I do some work I didn't finish at work for about half an hour or 45 min.

11:30 I get them in bed but they're wide awake.

12:00 am. We all finally drift off to sleep.

So this morning I was a little tired. Not as bad as yesterday but I am and I have to clean now. We're having friends over for dinner tomorrow and I'm cooking so I have to get as much as I can done tonight. Sometimes I think I overextend myself.

Something Cool

A friend sent me a link to this site. I know you literary folk are going to say, "Now Shoegirl, How can you call yourself a writer and you didn't know about this site." Well I didn't! It is such a cool site!

I love all the links to the different literary magazines. I love the way they have the front cover displayed and a short description about each magazine. Very cool! Check it out if like me you didn't know about it. After I finish revising the chapter I'm sending to Houston Institute for Culture I'm going to submit a short story or essay to a couple of magazines on there too.

On to clean the house and get it ready for la visita tomorrow. Rey is helping with the laundry.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Vacation's OVER!

Why is it that you can have 10 days in a row off from work (counting the weekend) and the 10th day just becomes the absolute most valuable? I wanted for the kids to have a really good day before returning to school and the sitter. I took them to the Children's Museum yesterday thinking they'd play for what? close to 3 hours? Try close to 4! My kids are insane and have way too much energy. We had fun. We stayed inside this time and they are pretty good about staying in one room or exhibit area, which was good for me because I was less frazzled trying to run after the baby.

Once they were settled in playing at something I would make myself comfortable and read from my new book. A great collection of short stories. (I've really liked those lately.) It's called "In One Year and Out the Other." I would read a snipit in each room and before I knew it I was finished with the first short story, "The Bad Breakup Regime." Very cute!

I still haven't finished "Girls Night In" and I still want "Girls Night Out" but I'm controlling myself from buying it if I'm not even finished with the first one and besides I now have this new book too. I'm really becoming a chic lit fan. I absolutely LOVE the first short story in "Girls Night In" by Meg Cabot. It's called "Party Planner" and it's written as a series of e-mails. It had me howling in laughter!

Anyhow, I always like to look up the authors' websites and I found something really interesting. While most of the female mainstream chic lit authors have websites only a very few of Latina authors in "Borderline Personalities" have websites. I wonder why that is??

I dragged my happy butt back to work today reluctantly but I was there. What joy! Seriously, I am glad I have a pretty interesting job that I enjoy at least. Sometimes that's what keeps me back from writing. I get too comfortable.

Now I have to go to sleep. I was successful getting my daughter to school by 7:30 this morning. Let's see if I can do it again tomorrow. It's late. Someone had a late nap and is wide awake. Lovely! (Ignore the time post on here. It's on crack!)