Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stuff That's Gone on this Week

A lot of stuff has been going on lately. In exactly one week I leave to New York for work and I am already feeling the stress. And my trip is still SEVEN days away! But I know why I'm feeling stressed. It's that I always seem to procrastinate or have other things come up right before my trip and I end up doing everything at the last minute. I vowed I would not do that this time, but as I look around my dirty house I have a feeling I won't be able to avoid the last minute anxiety I always end up having. (Note to Possible Thieves. My house will be well protected by my in-laws and children.)

Image by Anne Taintor

Of course it would help if I were to get up and do one thing instead of blogging, but I also feel the pressure of posting something, anything, at least once a week.

So here you go. It's not anything of substance, just a bunch of stuff going on in my head and sometimes outside my head.

Dear New York, I hope all those bed bugs are gone by next week. Holiday Inn, please make sure there aren't any bed bugs in my room. This is probably my biggest worry about this trip.

Dear Facebook, Please make sure your time stamp is accurate. Has anyone else noticed this? It always says "about an hour ago," in a very vague way. It's never specific on the time so when you're telling someone you were doing something they'll say to themselves (but not to you, they'll just think you're a liar), "That's not what it said you were doing on Facebook."

Facebook has become the big outer in life now. Facebook has taken the place of that friend who was friends with everyone and somehow ended up telling the same story to two different friends and totally outing one of the friends who lied to the other one.

I've thought of that often. Not that I would lie about my whereabouts, because I'm a pretty OPEN book, I blog for goodness sakes, however I have thought more than once that Facebook keeps us all honest.

I was telling my husband how I think Austin is so beautiful and that if I lived there I would never want to leave. My son was walking by and he just heard part of the conversation. “I can’t move to Austin. I’ll have to start my live all over again," he said.

What the heck? My husband I cracked up. His whole SIX years of life!

So my kids sold their cookie dough for school. NOW that they are done I read the fine print on the cookie dough order form. "Don't ask a stranger to buy... not door to door." I'm such a great mom! Oh well! Once again, at least I'm not making them get the bubonic plague or anything fishing out dead rats.

Which brings me to something else. I had some ads for Rat Traps on my blog because of my last post. Hilarious.

And speaking of advertising. Why do I keep getting ads for Single women on Yahoo? What's up with that? Have I shown a preference for women? That's interesting. They must have heard about my girl crush on Sarah Jessica Parker and Girl in a Coma.

And finally, WHERE did the Chinese people go? Did the Communists find out about my blog and did they shut it down? How will they communicate and send eachother secret messages now?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'll Either End Up like Psycho's Mom or a Build-a-Bear

The other night I was lying in bed with my six year old son and he was playing with my hair, like he often does to fall asleep.

"You're not going to be able to sleep with me any more. You're getting big. You need to sleep in your bed."

"No, I'm always going to sleep with you, even when I'm big."

"Uh, no I don't think so. First of all you aren't going to want to sleep with me and that's just weird if you do."

"Yes I am! When you die I'm going to stuff you with cotton and you're going to be my big teddy bear. And I'm going to play with your hair and you won't even feel it because you'll be dead," he said.

I immediately had flashbacks to Psycho and his mother in her rocking chair and a Build-a-Bear.

I laughed so hard and I went and told my husband what he said.

"Well if he tells us he wants to study taxidermy I guess we should worry," was his response.

Yeah, I guess so.

I've been selling cookie dough with my kids for the past couple of days. My daughter is older and very outgoing, so she had no problem with going door to door. She goes right up to the homes and knocks and does her presentation on her own. Many times I just wait at the end of the sidewalk and only step in if she needs me.

My son was another story. I don't think he really knew what to expect and when he realized what it entailed he had second thoughts. Especially when the first house we walked up to had yappy dogs in their window. He was hilarious! I wish I'd taken a picture of the expression on his face when he realized what going house to house meant. He looked like he hadn't signed up for this.

The second time we went out I was very proud of him. He sounded so cute giving his presentation. I don't know how anyone could tell him no. (which a man did)

"Hi. I'm Seth Ruiz and I'm selling cookie dough for my school." 

As his mom I just wanted to eat him up, he sounded so cute. But then again I am his mom, so I'm like obligated to think he's cute.

All in all I think this is really good for them and it builds character. I was just telling someone about my own parents recently. The Bloggess, one of the funniest, and sometimes offensive depending on who you are, bloggers talked about a dead squirrel in her wall and it totally brought back a really bad memory.


When I was a pre-teen my father got the smart idea of killing a rat with poison. Well the rat went and died in our attic and we couldn't get it out. The stench was horrible. I wish we'd had the "rat-sorb" Jenny talks about in her blog. YUCK! Talk about stinky!

Then my father tells me that since I'm the smallest person in the house I should go up into the attic, crawl on my belly, and grab the rat with a plastic bag. Why I agreed is beyond me, but I guess I'm pretty sick too. I don't remember too many details except that I wore a red bandanna across my face and that the rat looked like its stomach was half eaten by maggots. Somehow I grabbed the rat and took it down from the attic.

Now THAT'S character building! George Lopez says that kids couldn't survive being a kid for one day if they had to live back in our time. Yeah, if they had to go get rats out of attics probably not. They would just die of the bubonic plague or something.

So I guess I'm doing good just building character by making my kids sell their own cookie dough and encouraging them to do it themselves. That is much better character building than getting dead rats.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You're Dead, but Are You Up for a Hand of Poker or a Round of Golf? Wish You Were Here!

Last time I talked about advertising to a target audience. Today I'm going to talk about inappropriate advertising. I just hope that when I die my obituary doesn't have an ad like the one I saw today next to it. (not that I'll know the difference because I'll be dead, but maybe my family will care) I think this was kind of a poor choice, depending of course on who you are and your view of death.

I was reading someone's obituary on a news site, that will remain unnamed, and there was an ad for a casino next to the poor woman's obituary. The first time I looked at it the ad said, "The cards are hot. Wish you were here." I thought that was really ironic that you would have an ad next to someone's obit. Who are you targeting there? I guess old people reading their friend's obit.

The second time I looked again the same casino had a similar ad but this one said, "The Greens are Firm and Fast. Wish you were here."

What if the woman's husband is reading that ad? "Oh yeah, great idea. Let me ditch my wife's funeral to go to this casino instead!" Or maybe they are trying to target those grieving spouses to use their insurance money to go there for a get-away afterwards to grieve. Interesting marketing ploy!

Either way, I thought it was a little weird! I wish I could share the ad with you here, but I don't want to get in any trouble so I'll use an appropriate Anne Taintor comment instead.

Image by AnneTaintor

You never know what you can get in trouble for nowadays and being that I still work full time and for a big corporation I have to tread carefully. It would be fun to say whatever I wanted and to call names but that might be a bad idea. Especially if I want to keep my job and my income.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hispanic Marketing, Waiting to Exhale sequel and other Ethnic Musings

I had lunch with the editor of La Voz on Friday and I was wearing a big chunky colorful bead necklace. She asked me where I got it and I told her that, like many of my pieces of jewelry that people often admire, I bought it from a jewelry lady at some Hispanic event.

"Haven't you ever noticed that at every Hispanic event there's a lady selling jewelry?" She had never thought about it but agreed now that I pointed it out.

"You can be at a  Hispanic Chamber event, the Latino Book & Family Festival, or the Latina Style event and there is always someone there with a table selling jewelry. The jewelry is always something really nice and unique, very different from stuff you may find at a jewelry store."

"And it probably costs less," she said.

"Yes, exactly. Fifteen dollars for a matching set, necklace and earrings."

There are so many things that I love about being Hispanic and this is one of them. We do things different from a lot of other ethnicities. A friend commented on FB today that there was a band at Fiesta (a popular grocery store in Houston that caters to Hispanics) today playing "La Bamba."

Or when I blogged a couple of years ago that a woman came into a bar around 1:30 a.m. every weekend to sell tamales. I saw all the new non-Hispanic people at the bar buying tamales and very pleased with their purchase.

Of course 37% of Houston's population is Hispanic or Latino of any race. And Hispanics and Latinos constitute 15.4% of the total United States population, or 46.9 million people. Houston is always going to have things that market to this unique audience. So it doesn't surprise us that big US companies are also trying to market to this dynamic group of people.

There's the Lay's Limon, Lay's Chile Limon, Coffee Mate Dulce de Leche, and Kool Aid now has Aguas Frescas, including Jamaica. Progresso is now making new soups like Tortilla Soup, Menudo and Caldo de Pollo, obviously all Hispanic products. Those are just a few of the many companies that have launched a product to appeal to Hispanics.

In the literary market Latina authors took off around ten years ago when all this Latin excitement started. Author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez sold her novel Dirty Girl's Social Club for an unprecedented $500,000. She paved the way for many other Latina authors.

Before the Latino literary movement started there was one book that started it all off for books by non-White authors. She caused such a stir with her book that when Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez came on the scene she was referred to as the Latina Terry McMillan.

McMillan's book Waiting to Exhale, spoke to women everywhere, of all ethnicities. It was even made into a major motion picture in 1995 starring Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine (from Houston) and other actors. Now author Terry McMillan has announced that Getting Happy, the long-awaited sequel to Waiting to Exhale, was published on September 7, 2010. It picks up on the women's lives fifteen years later. I can't wait to read it!

I wouldn't mind being referred to as the Latina Terry McMillan. My husband refers to me as the Latina Amy Tan because my novel is about three women and their mothers. I take that as a compliment. Amy Tan is one of my favorite authors. I've heard her read in person only once before around fourteen years ago. In one week she comes to Houston for the Inprint Reading Series and I get to hear her again. I'm trying to read her last novel Saving Fish from Drowning before her visit, although I think she's going to talk in general and not specifically about that one book. But either way, I want to read her most recent work before going to hear her. Last time she was here she was promoting The Hundred Secret Senses. It's hard to believe it's been that long. Time flies!

In only two and half weeks I'll be in my second favorite city in the U.S., New York. Houston being the first of course and Chicago my third favorite. I can't wait to be there again in the hustle and bustle of the city, riding the subway and taxis, going on sales calls. I love that place! Even though I'm usually there wearing my advertising hat, I can see how writers love that city and feel inspired. I love New York in the fall!

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Other Reality Shows

I just can't get into Reality TV. I just can't. Maybe it's because I'm a writer and I appreciate the talent and hard work that goes into writing a fictional show instead of a reality show. I can see the appeal and I can see how people get hooked. It's like a soap opera and the people are real people, or actors trying to bust into the business, so they agreed to do a reality show.

Photo Courtesy of

There are so many reality shows now that I can't even keep up with all of them. It really does seem that those are the only shows on TV. I know that my friends watch Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives of New Jersey. I enjoy reading their FB posts and I find the stories interesting when I hear recaps about them over lunch from one co-worker to another.

It isn't that I've never seen a reality show. I have actually watched a little bit of The Bad Girls Club and The Kardashians. I found them entertaining, but neither one kept me coming back for more. Maybe you'll tell me it's because it's not Jersey Shore or the Real Housewives show.

I personally prefer the genius of Seinfeld and Tina Fey, talented writers and comics, who create such a compelling story that you can't wait for the next season to find out who Liz Lemon will end up with in 30 Rock. I want to find out what will happen to Gibbs' father on NCIS. Those are writers!

But that's just me. The most excited I get about New Jersey is flying into Newark instead of La Guardia or JFK. It's the best discovery I ever made! Yeah, it may take longer to get there on the train but it takes you straight from the airport to Penn Station.

In three and a half weeks I am going to be in New York and I can not wait! I'm going for work, but I'm staying over the weekend. This time I want to do something different. I've never taken the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty so that's one thing I'm interested in doing. I also want to go to that famous cupcake shop! I always go to Zabar's on the Upper East side when I'm there.

I need to start planning my trip soon! As usual it will be part work, part fun. I'm going to attend a conference on Thursday, sales calls on Friday and then fun Friday evening through Sunday morning. My husband will play while I work, but we'll meet up in the evening and the weekend. We may even have one of our friends join us and if we do that will make it an even better trip because, although I've traveled with her many times, we've never been to NYC together! I can hardly wait! I need this trip in the worse way!

I'll say hi to the real housewives of New Jersey for y'all when I fly into Newark!