My family and I drove to Arizona for the holidays. We started on Friday, and I was shocked at how cold it was and how treacherous the roads were all the way through Amarillo, Texas.
On the way, we saw numerous accidents, including a car that was flipped over and a semi truck that was completely smashed in the front. Sometimes, my husband would tell my son, "Don't look!" but that is like inviting a kid to look, so he did. We prayed every time we went past an accident.
However, despite the treacherous conditions, I was glad that we met so many amazing people. Before we came on this trip, I was worried that we would run into uber-racist Trump supporters, and that wasn’t the case. In fact, met other Catholics along the way, and really enjoyed their company.
This holiday season, I am making a concerted effort to reconnect with my family and the really be present to the people around me. My sister has also been a great sport because she is driving me to Church every morning and that really matters to me.
Well, that is all I have because my pamper master is coming up the stairs.
Today, my writing goal will be to reestablish a realistic writing schedule and to reimagine one for next semester. My mornings are shot, so I have to schedule some time during the day. I cannot get up at 5a.m. to write yet.
I woke up at 5:30a.m. this morning, so I took a shower and made breakfast and instant coffee. (Aaron broke the coffee pot in our crazy one-week move.)
Now that I have some quiet early Mommy time, I am going to work on my novel until the kiddies get up. Mwa ha. (Of course, that may only be about 10 to 15 minutes, but I'll take it!)
The holiday parties are upon us and birthdays and non-denominational general gatherings. This last Friday, with the help of some great union sisters, I had the honor of organizing our seventh annual Local 1600 holiday party that I instituted. It was a wonderful gathering, even with the snow piling on hard.
In fact, I am thinking of making that picture to the left my profile picture for this site and other sites. What do you think?
My kids, as ever, were great sports. They danced and ate and drank too much soda. For my part, I had about four half-glasses of wine and one shot of tequila, which did nothing for my still raspy throat. Sadly, no one else partook of the hard liquor; that just means I will buy more wine next time. I suppose that will have to be for another rowdy party.
The next day, we celebrated Antonio’s birthday with a family from church. The snow and general ick that is going around Chicago short-listed the few friends that were coming, but we had a blast. We are having a larger party, so everyone can come in January.
After the party, we had to go to Antonio’s Christmas concert. He did a great job singing, and even though he was far, far away, I enjoyed the few pictures and videos we did take. I am linking the first video through Facebook; it was the opening act and the best song of all. The acoustics in the church were amazing!
Well, that is all I have because it’s time to grade like crazy before Thursday. I want to get my grades done this week and make sure they all go through by Sunday. I have no faith that the technology will work and even less faith in the punitive administrators who punish us when grades are late due to technical issues.
Here is to a great start to festivities with amazing friends and family.
We had our first home cooked meal this morning, which consisted of buttery scrambled eggs without salt, oranges, cheese, and juice. The salt is M.I.A., and Aaron was too shy to ask the neighbors for any, but everything tasted fine.
I am awed and at the same time not surprised at all the stuff we have. Unpacking is such a hassle, but my husband and I are committed to dejunking this go round. The apartment is so beautiful, and I don’t want it to be cluttered. In fact, we can’t let it get cluttered because there is not much storage space. We actually got rid of a lot of stuff already, but we have more to go. The couch got thrown out, which is fine by me because suede and my kids just don’t mix well, and I hope to get some nice comfortable chairs, used. The main focus has been getting the house back in order.
I haven’t had time to do anything regarding my writing, partly because I have lost my morning time and my office. We also had to leave the desk becuase my husband threw his back out, so I am now typing with my daughter perched on my lap. I will have an office in the future, just not this year, unless we haul ass and unpack like fiends.
Even though I am not writing now, I have been enjoying new experiences in this place. Last night, in the basement, musicians came to practice Mexican music. Some of it was pretty good, and Simona had a marvelous time dancing. My son was agonizing that he would not fall asleep, but he was fine.
I haven’t even had time to think about the novel, but I have been talking up my collection of short stories and have a few buyers. That is all I have for today because I need to find my clothes for a Union Holiday Party that I am organizing. Despite our best labeling efforts, I am having hard time finding anything. Ugh.
Here is to surprises and letting go of shit you don’t need.
We are still trying to get into a family rhythm. We get up at 6a.m. without fail. However, we are sleeping late, so we have to curb that. The apartment is working out better, now that I figured out how to work the shower. The greatest challenge is figuring out when I can sneak in some writing time, and finally, I decided that writing at home in the morning may not be possible.
So, using my hot spot, I will have to either write at work or at home in the evenings. I haven’t touched my novel since we started moving, and now that our house is full of boxes, I am motivated to ditch stuff and unpack. That will take forever. Seriously.
Also, we have to set up my office in the last room, so I can have some actual space to write. That will take some doing. It is going to be the Creative Room with my desk and arts and crafts for both the kids and myself. There is also a sweet closet space for out of season clothes.
And that is all the time I have.
May you have a wonderful day figuring out how to make space for writing in your life.
We slept in our place for two nights in a row. Initially, I loved the place, but no new apartment is without its problems. It's like a new relationship. You fall in love at first and then, realize your true love is kind of a jerk or at the very least has some major imperfections you have to live with.
Last night, I discovered the hot water was not on in the shower. The sinks were fine, but not the shower. What a joy that was and will be all through today. Luckily it’s snowing and most people will be sweaty. There are other problems, but I will have to keep reminding myself that the rent is much cheaper than our old place, and the neighborhood is really quiet.
Anyway, I will have to blog more later because we have to leave a lot earlier to drop off my son to school. This morning will be the perfect test run because the snow has stuck, and morning traffic will be typical.
Here’s to new adventures and solving problems.
No, that is not our apartment up above. That is a complete fiction. However, it is nice to dream about what is possible.
The truth is that we have way too much junk and need to sort and get rid of it. Unfortunately, we are moving so fast, we didn’t have time for any of that. In fact, after we move, I doubt we will have time for much of anything other than getting used to waking up earlier to get Antonio to school on time.
Antonio, on the other hand, has presented two plans on how he wants his room decorated. First, he wanted a zombie theme and was utterly disappointed when he didn’t find any zombie comforters and furniture at Target. Now, he wants a galaxy theme, which is more doable and won’t cause him to have nightmares. He will probably change his mind again.
Yesterday, I also bought my fantasy stainless steel stove and refrigerator. This is a huge deal for me because I have been wanting them for a while. We got a refurbished set that sort of matches. Now, if only that little shop sold refurbished HE washers and dryers, I’d be home free!
We also looked at leather loveseats, and they were quite pricey. I am not averse to going to the Goodwill and Salvation Army, so we will go there some time. I also have this grand plan of reupholstering the dining room chairs in a snazzy red. Dreams, dreams, dreams.
Well, today, we have to move out without fail, so I have to put in a good hustle along with my husband. He is going to teach Sunday School today or get a substitute. I know he wants to send me, but I am still very sick and frankly, I don’t have the energy for it.
Going to work and all these meetings has exhausted me. He’s going to have to find another heroine because I am out.
Here’s to making some fantasies reality.
Today, I was reflecting on building up my best qualities. Everybody wants to change and improve nowadays. It’s like we want to upgrade ourselves or refresh our status, in real life. I am not saying people shouldn’t change for the better, if they have an addiction or a nasty habit, which I believe everyone has to some degree.
Instead, why not develop our best qualities? Like those things called virtues no one really talks about anymore? I was reminded of this when a friend commented on how generous I am. I suppose that is true, but lately, I haven’t had much time to be generous. I would like to focus on the best aspects of myself, like the part of me that loves to read or the one that loves to cook. The one that loves to pray constantly in a way that isn’t rushed.
We are so focused on what is wrong with us that we neglect to focus on what is right with us, and we all have good in us. We just forget in the din of daily tech and just the constant chatter. Turn off that shitty internal critic.
I was told by a priest recently to carry the monastery in my heart. I love that image; it reminds me of the picture above.
That will be my goal this Advent season: To really find inner peace and not let the fucked up world mess with that. I also want to focus on developing three characteristics that I appreciate about myself. That is all.
Anyway, I haven’t written much, but I did re-purpose my other blog: Border-ed Writing and Teaching. I want to focus on the teaching of creative writing and the themes I use in class. That way, I will give myself some space to reflect and also post resources. Blogger is interesting because it doesn’t connect as well to social media like Weebly, but it does a great job of showcasing other blogs. I enjoy other designs.
I have also been exploring other professional Weebly sites, and besides that dated picture of myself, I am still OK with the old school design. Not everything has to be so damned flashy.
Here’s to appreciating vintage and the best qualities in yourself. Fuck all these other pressures and be the best human being you are, right now.
I Happy Weebly! I extended my contract five years, so barrioblues is mine! Mine for five more years! Back off you rapperos and other Chicano writers.
Yesterday, I was thinking about how blessed I am that Adam Gottlieb is giving the collection a once over, and I reflected on all the wonderful friends who have given me feedback, including my sister, Diana, who read the whole first draft and painted the cover design. (Come on Sis and get with The Harvest, already; your feedback is priceless.) I am keeping those friends and family close like a mother holds her baby in a storm, or a stoner hangs on to his pizza.
I was talking to a friend of mine or someone, who I hope will become more than an activist and Facebook friend, and we were discussing editor rates. Well, my editor, Adam is definitely doing me a huge solid. Huge. I can’t pay him three cents a word, not by any means, but I want to give him a cut of the sales until he gets paid something decent and give him a cut of my readings, too. I know it’s hard to make money, but if I do, he is getting his share.
The truth is I should be helping him with his young author’s group because that is probably more valuable to him, but every time he asks me to read, I have a Union meeting.
On another editor quandary, I have been using standard grammar for my novel when I write it, including comma usage. I hate when people remove the commas to separate full sentences using coordinating conjunctions; it’s a personal preference thing, but, if I ever go to print, someone will have to take all those commas out. Someone will also have to fix the spacing because I am old school about my spaces after sentences. Oh well. I won’t be paying that individual.
This week, I am also ordering my creative writing books for next semester’s class that I am teaching. I really have to read up on this genre, and I have been rather lax, focusing on reading short stories and flash fiction and occasional poetry. I ordered Bird by Bird, which was recommended by another author friend and teacher. I liked what I read and can’t wait to read it all and learn from it. I also ordered some best American short stories, poetry, and an international flash fiction book. The selections should be really exciting! In my English classes, we are also studying Roque Dalton. He was introduced to me by an old friend, and I love Dalton’s poetry.
We need more Daltons in the world today, for sure.
On a social media note, I have been thinking about what to do with my other blog on Blogger, and I think I will focus on teaching creative writing and adding resources to it. That way, there will be some type of connection to what I do here, and I won’t duplicate posts. I plan on updating that once a week. Maybe I will find a larger community to belong to. After all, teachers love to share.
That will be my writing goal, to redesign my other blog and to focus on the street urchin character in my novel. I don’t think much writing will get done until we move (we have to be out by this Saturday).
Here is to friends to hang on to, especially the ones that get your writing.
Dr. Jesú Estrada,