This infertile woman is at the polls today–VOTE!

I love working the polls. All of it!

And I owe it all to my maternal grandmother, Nana Herminia, who sent me bus money from Tucson to Nogales, Arizona for the 1972 Nixon and McGovern Presidential election. My father, a political hound, had died seven years before and my mother, who had a green card, didn’t vote, so the task fell to my grandmother.

She picked me up in her immaculate 1955 Chevy at the Greyhound Bus station and instructed me that our family voted straight ticket.

I remember the sound of her husky cigarette voice announcing to the early birds at the polls that her granddaughter, a university student, was here to vote for the very first time.  I choked up as folks patted me on the back and shook my hand. I wished I’d thanked her, but at nineteen, it hadn’t cross my mind.

 

An infertile woman’s pet peeves…

I’ve received enough comments throughout October to warrant this reminder to good-hearted, well-meaning folks–if you haven’t been on this side of infertility, please tread lightly when comforting or sharing your news with someone whose sorrow is profound, at times, hidden or downplayed, and rarely acknowledged. No one is to blame. We just need to be reminded.

When comforting an infertile woman, please don’t say too much, period. “I’m so sorry,” works wonders. Otherwise, shut up. Just be there, hold, and listen. Most of us do, but sometimes we screw up and find ourselves contorted in bitter-tasting small talk.

When sharing good or bad news, this may seem like common sense to most of you, but, humor me, and please refrain from telling an infertile woman–

how relieved you are at not being pregnant,

about the birth of your baby while still groggy from labor,

that you’re going to terminate a pregnancy, or

shit, I can’t believe it! I’m pregnant again.

Any others?

November is National Adoption Month!

It’s perfect timing for the New York Times’, Room for Debate discussion on the adoption tax credit renewal, because November is National Adoption Month.  

For the next twenty-eight days we can voice our opinion, share our stories, and hopefully folks in the pre/present/post adoption process may find a kernel of comfort. Like I said in my post a few of days ago, “Trust me, we’re not in it for the money.”

So, while the talk continues, there are several inspiring folks out there willing to help–one that caught my eye recently is Helpusadopt.org. They provide grants up to $15K to qualified folks wishing to adopt. Check them out.

A big thank you to these lovely human beings!

Writer’s Block

Have been bombarded lately with Tweets and Feeds about the torment of writer’s block. Writer’s block can silence even the most talented and disciplined.

I no longer consider fallow periods, non-productive, quite the contrary, while I’m away from my writing, and instead sorting, discarding, and rearranging of every item in our closets to a Zona perfection, I’m toiling over flat chapters or submersed in profoundly painful introspection.

My writer’s blocks have been due to things like loss and unrelenting grief, apprehension over our sons, and medical emergencies, but nothing brings me to my knees, pounding uncle, like a feathery light-scribbled comment in the margin from my editor during seemingly endless revisions of STRETCH MARKS.

I had to dig deeper, go back, and feel the gritty sweat of fear and desperation in Ciudad Juárez. I refused at first, but my editor has a way of bringing me down from the ledge.

Chapter XVI – September 1998

“…I turned off the light well after midnight and stared out the small thin-paned window. The fan was on low now. Sirens circled the block. Toilets flushed, furniture moved, conversations started and ended as I inventoried my day. The shattering of glass dispatched one hand underneath the pillow for the mace and with the other grabbed my glasses. Like a military exercise, I jumped to my feet flat then peeked around my doorway, expecting gunfire or evil incarnate. Please, I prayed, don’t let me pass out. Was it the living room or kitchen window? My eyes acclimated to the dark. Nothing moved inside the apartment. I darted to the boys’ doorway. Sound asleep. Thank God. I picked up a wooden toy truck with my free hand and almost dropped it when another crash of glass weakened my courage. The faint light against the kitchen curtains faded. The street light had been decimated. Again. My heart thundered against my collarbone. My mouth so parched it hurt to swallow. I peeked out from the kitchen curtain. A van was parked out in the street with multiple cars in front and behind it. I let the curtain go and stood against the wall shivering with fear. A door slammed. Motors started. One by one each vehicle drove away until an eerie quiet entombed the neighborhood. Was anyone else crouched behind thin curtains witnessing this along with me? Even though my tongue felt like sandpaper, I didn’t dare open the refrigerator. I felt around for the water jug at the end of the counter and remembered the cup by the sink. I drank and held the cup to my chest. The screeching of sirens and howling dogs now calmed me. I’d call Marty as soon as the boys woke up. I fell asleep sitting up in bed, mace in hand.”

 

Stretch Marks Indie-Publication

After a year of submitting a multitude of queries and receiving an equal multitude of rejections, which were weathered by pounds of malted balls and Junior Mints, I’ve decided to Indie-Publish STRETCH MARKS with the help of CreateSpace.

I uploaded my manuscript and scanned images last week, and will be working on the interior layout for the paperback this week, so far everything is going pretty smooth. Taking this on, only after much persistence from my man, has lifted my spirits, considerably. There’s a sense of  release, an unburdened view of what’s possible for my writing and stories.

Please join me as I take SM, as we fondly call her, through the Indie-Publishing world.  Meanwhile you’ll find the Prologue  in Excerpts— Thanks!

Manuela…

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, by Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic offers nothing new. Let’s get over it and move on! While looking through some old book reviews, I’d written for El Andar, A National Latino Magazine I found Manuela.

…I embroider my blouses with two heads. During the night, one of my heads dreams about designs and patterns and colors and stitches, and during the day my other head thinks about all of the other things a woman has to do–cooking, cleaning, making tortillas, tending the animals and actually making the blouse I have dreamt about. One head is for myself and the other is for my people.

–Manuela, Nahua Indian quoted in “Dreams and Designs” by Jill Vexler.

I think Manuela said it better and much more to the point, no?

The Debate From California to New York

From The Monterey Herald’s School Bytes to the NY Times’ Room for Debate parents and educators are wondering if our kids are doing enough and if the helicopter parent is starting to crash and burn. 

No, I don’t think kids overall are doing enough, especially around the homestead and yes, the rotors on those helicopter parents are getting rusty. How about slowing down a bit and teaching kids how to do things and then letting them figure it out? Let them struggle through it and don’t say a word if it’s not done to your specifications. Let that one go, now! It can be exasperating and mind numbing after the first few times, but trust me, when they’re twenty-five and still asking you to do for them, it’ll be too late.

 

 

First Lady Michelle Obama and Mamiverse Latinas’ Chat

My hat off to Maria Cordona and an inspiring panel of Latinas for discussing our goals within education, health, and community service with the First Lady. It’s a great start and I hope more of these chats will occur to discuss these goals in greater detail and show how easily we can take part not just in shaping and improving our families’ lives, but our communities as well.

When the discussion touched on the importance of community service, I thought about the primaries when unfortunately our son was days shy of voting age, but was old enough to work the polls with me. We attended a 2-hour training on a Saturday morning, which my son didn’t fall asleep through and we got paid for it as well. The central message was– we are here to help you VOTE in any way we can. And on Tuesday we saw it in motion.

As I watched my son hand out ballots and cross out names on the voting lists, I thought of my grandmother, Nana Herminia, who sent me bus money from Tucson to Nogales, Arizona for Election Day. My father, a political hound, had died seven years before and my mother, who preferred her green card, didn’t vote, so the task fell to my grandmother.

She picked me up in her immaculate 1955 Chevy and instructed me that Raptis’s voted straight ticket. I remember the sound of her husky cigarette voice announcing to the early birds at the polls that her granddaughter, a university student, was here to vote for the very first time.  I choked up as folks patted me on the back and shook my hand. I wished I’d thanked her, but at nineteen, it hadn’t cross my mind. So instead I’ll thank her by taking my son to vote this November.

Taking our kids along when we vote on any election day is wonderful, but this year do more! If your kid is sixteen or older they can work the polls. Check out http://votescount.com for more information on the many different ways you and your kids can help this ELECTION YEAR!