Here’s to the Ladies who Lunch

I spent a week in Whittier–my hometown.  That’s a good deal of time to revisit one’s ghosts. It was fraught with hanging out with my beloved grandmother who has taken to throwing out heirlooms and photographs. So it was great to take a little time out on Saturday and hang out with other bloggers at the Costero Bistro + Bar for a luncheon.

It’s a great thing to get together with fellow bloggers because blogging can be a bit of a lonely vacuum–which is the kind of thing we discussed. What’s been our highs and lows, etc.

I know what mine have been. My biggest high was the response to my Just. One. Book. post. My low was an old professor saying I’m too talented to be low-brow (I think he was referring to dark fiction/zines/and horror films). HA. It’s not always easy doing things your own way in your own time. I probably don’t publish as much as I should when I should, but I usually hope whatever it is I’ve got to say is worth saying. I spend time on my observations and my reviews. I know a blogger/writer who takes pride in making 10 pitches a day, pens innocuous prose (she gets paid though) and writes from the top of her head without research–or much dignity for that matter.

I’m old-fashioned sometimes. I prefer articles and journals with content over a few paragraphs and a photo. So it’s a hard business for me, but nevertheless I enjoy doing it when I do it.

So hanging with 7 fellow bloggers (bloggesses?) was absolutely fun and relaxing and a good balance to life in front of a screen. To top it off–the food was amazing. (I live in the mountains, you know where good food either happens at home or not at all).

The fun thing about being around bloggers for lunch? Everyone photographs their food. I’m not a photographer, mind you, but here are mine.   First wine in awhile. I love wine in the afternoon.

Crabcakes!Brussel sprouts (I’m usually skeptical but these were really good).

That’s a very yummy salmon in a mango sauce with radish.

 and finally a Brudino? Never had one of these before. There’s caramel and sea salt. There’s something about that combination that just has me swooning.

I gave up bread and cheese for Lent because I have a serious addiction to both. So it was nothing but pleasure to eat so well without breaking the Lenten promises.

This was an LA Blogger Luncheon and man, there’s some smart women blogging from Los Angeles. I haven’t had lunch with two med students at once in a long time. Or hung out with a blogger from my home town. Or one who focuses on horses in Los Angeles. Or travel and food. Or natural hair and beauty and wigs. It made me think of what mine is focused on.

I’m focused on Throwing Chanclas just like all Latina moms. Bringing down what needs to be brought down. Relaxing after a hard day of mothering. Having a special appreciation for all things shoe and sandal related. And keeping myself up to my own standard.

So I thank my fellow LA Bloggers (even though I’m an LA Blogger in exile) for a lovely afternoon of lovely conversation that helped boost my moral in the solitary world of blogging. I thank Costero for a fabulous meal.

I thank my grandmother for not giving me too much fuss for stealing 500 some odd photos before she accidentally on purpose throws them away.

 

 

The Wearing of the Red

A little International Women’s Day poem…

Tales of a Sierra Madre

I read this poem I wrote at a rally today:

The Wearing of the Red (on International Women’s Day)

I am the color of …

Anger…of red in the face blush and shame

Of things perpetrated against us that we still cannot name

I am the color of…

Passion…of my own satisfaction…of a longing and desire so deep

that only I have the power to fill and execute the dreams of my sleep

I am the color of…

Heat…of fire and warmth, of rage and indignation

Against the ice and cold shoulder misogyny of our nation

I am the color of …

Good Fortune…a symbol of good luck, the possibilities unbound

With support and education and opportunity found

I am the color of …

Blood…of ancestral remembrance, the cycle of our bodies

Coming round to remind us, that we are not commodities

We are flesh. We are cells. We divide…

View original post 63 more words

Announcing Rigomorta… and Dolly Deadly 2!

I’m still not sure how I ever got roped into this in the first place. I’m not sure I was ever a horror movie fan…but then I know I had a thing for Lynch and Waters growing up so maybe deep inside me was a need to be a cross between Laura Dern and Divine…

Last Saturday, Wretched Productions director Heidi Moore took some photographs of me as a character in Dolly Deadly 2. They aren’t quite up yet but I snuck a few selfies in while walking around in giant heels.

My character is Rigomorta! I imagine her a kind of aging rocker with a few goth-y tendencies..She sings so that means I get to sing. I LOVE IT WHEN I GET TO SING.

We’ll be shooting in Indiana in June. Never been to Indiana before so that’s NEW. There’s also a fundraising Campaign over here if you’d like to check it out. So yeah, it might be still snowing and winter in Northern California looks to be lasting six months this year but there’s still some fun to be had indoors at least.

Oh it’s a Perfect Day

img_0692 Indulge me. We are four days into the recent storm with promise of at least one more day of non stop rain and dangerously to the brim reservoirs. Oroville Dam, 50 miles south of us is back in evacuation orders and I feel as if all of Northern California is washing away. Like can we ever have a happy medium? Either we look like Mad Max at Thunderdome or we’re you know, an ocean.

I am thinking back to Wednesday, February 15. A perfect day.

Wednesday was a beautiful day. Gray in the morning. Blue in the afternoon.

img_0683

It was kind of a two-fold reason trip. I had a reading to do as part of Notre Dame de Namur University’s Creative Writing Series –thanks to poet Zack Rogow (who read with me) down in Belmont. But my Wednesday morning was at the top of Russian Hill, hanging with a good friend of mine—one of my original friends in San Francisco. Most of us of course have long since left because you know, priced out. But it always warms my heart to have a moment back in The City–even if it is a shadow of its former self. I was still on the clock as a reporter though…..so I brought my notes and my phone and got to look at down on North Beach and hear  the clock on St. Peter and Paul’s Church tell me to hurry it on up.

img_0675

After filing a couple of items, I totally wanted to go down to Russian Hill but my friend and I had some pressing concerns.

img_0677 img_0679

Down to Zen Spa on Union Street for a long  afternoon of talk and green tea and nails and oh yes, that wonderful moment when a spa woman you’ve asked to wax your eyebrows turns around and says ‘What about mustache? It’s looking big!” Because who says nah, that’s okay, keep the stache?

16681913_10155088929384407_6124818170128306768_nBlue sky. 3 O’Clock in the afternoon on Union Street. I’m holding on to this image of blue sky in case I never see one again.

Then it was a drive down to Belmont. For the reading where we got to read in the beautiful Wiegand Gallery at the top of campus. A nice showing of students. Full of questions at the end. All laughing at the right spots in the three stories I read. Notre Dame de Namur has a pretty diverse student population–which was amazing to see and so refreshing. I found myself wanting to send a kid there. And I got to read with Zack Rogow–who was my professor way back when at University of San Francisco in the late 90s. Here he is below reading poetry by the poets who influenced him as well as inspired poems he wrote.

img_0688

At the end of the evening I headed to Bush and Taylor to Club Moderne for a nightcap and a quick visit with one of my favorite photographers who recommended The Aviation.

img_0692

It’s purple. It’s yummy. It’s 12 bucks. Yikes. I’m such a mountain woman these days. That’s 3 dive bar drinks in the mountains. But you know, worth it. I had a second reason for hitting up Keith Song. He does these great calendars every year and since he’s kind of family at this point usually I see him at Christmas but he didn’t make it to the mountains this year. So voila. I finally have this year’s calendar.

img_0695

In the morning with high winds in town, I just hung out with my buddy Lynn in her apartment. Not wanting to go anywhere. And she’s a huge fan of uber eats. So when we felt like deli we had it  brought it to us.

img_0694

As good a day and a half as any in San Francisco. I got to no museums, no restaurants. no cafes, no shopping unless you count the 30 seconds in Sephora before I got overwhelmed by product. It felt like one of those days when I used to live there instead of being a tourist. And I’m happy not to be a tourist.

Also because I’m totally obtuse and traveled on Valentines Day, I got to the City and was like wait why is the city hall all lit up red? What political thing is being done or said?! I was running through every organization I could think of, possible anti-Trump statement (but wouldn’t it be Orange?!). And then I was like. Oh. LOVE. LOVE. Valentine’s. Sigh. I’ve been married and a mother too long.

16729450_10155086553089407_2728211696158481286_n

For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait to get back to San Francisco. Damn. I actually miss my city of my 20s. I think I have to come back in April for a few more days.

Two Nights and Morning in San Francisco

Last night I had the pleasure of doing a reading of three short stories at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. The audience of mostly students were amazingly attentive and after the reading came up and asked great questions, talked about their own struggles with writing, and told me about how the details of my Latina characters meant something to them.

I knew what they meant. I’ve grown very fond of a few characters in my short fiction  that are loosely based on the old grumpy Mexican grandfathers in my life and their various eccentricities (like wearing socks with flip flops around the house , for example).

I also enjoyed the eclectic presentation and reading of my former professor and friend Zack Rogow, for making me revisit some poetic masterpieces that I’d not heard in awhile. It was a great evening over all.

I was struck by comments students made about my stories and their interest. I then woke up as we do these days to Trump America and campuses being raided by ICE agents for DACA kids. I just don’t understand the fear these luddites have over brown kids getting an education. What’s it to them? In my town of Greenville so many are proud to NOT get an education–so it’s not that brown kids are ‘taking’ an education away from white kids. What is it then? I needed a break from Greenville.

It was a great thing to witness such a diverse student body.  It’s hard to even fathom the hatred right now.

It’s Thursday morning. The wind whipped itself through Northern California something fierce. I’m waiting out the storm with coffee and a view out my friend’s window in Russian Hill. I really needed an infusion of San Francisco——even though SF is only a shadow of its former self–still it was enough to make me feel whole and hopeful.

North Beach coffee and breakfast awaits.

Wretched Productions…delivering and wanting to deliver more…

My pal…the director, Heidi Moore of Wretched Productions just came out with this documentary. I’m loving Tucker Noir. It’s available on YouTube for the next 24 hours (less than that now) before it hits the festival circuit. Check it out!

I’ll be working with Heidi on her next project the sequel to the critically acclaimed indie horror film Dolly Deadly. Dolly Deadly 2. Pre-production stuff is getting underway and one thing us indie people are always looking for? Funding…. check out the campaign:

Dolly Deadly 2 Fundraising Campaign .  This time around Wretched Productions is teaming up with HM+M Films. Heidi will direct. HM+M films’ Tom Komisar wrote the script—-it’s a musical! Think John Waters ‘ Cry Baby ‘ meets ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ Yours truly also has a role in the film–singing too! So please if you are the type to give to creative causes and if you need the distraction from the deluge of all things political–consider us. THANKS!

 

 

Confessions of a Kit Kat Girl

img_5543

Before the world got derailed by fascism, 2017, for me was gonna be –not about change so much as pushing myself to the finish line. Pushing self out of the proverbial comfort zone. Inside me I know there’s a woman who gets an offer for her well-researched and well-written non-fiction book. There’s a woman whose band reforms and gets gigs. There’s a woman who gets paid to speak and to write. And above all there’s a secret woman.

There’s a woman who loves to dance.

That woman however, feels incredibly awkward doing so. For starters I’m old and fat. Okay. I’m 47 and a size 18. Chicana mother of two. NO WRINKLES, BABY! Take that as you will but there ain’t a whole lotta dancers out there in that demographic. Truth is I dance quite a bit in my office on the hard wood floor with no less zeal than I did as a seventh grader going to see Flashdance for the 12th time.

But in public is another matter.

My local theatre is doing Cabaret this season. When I was a kid that was my favorite musical (well Chorus Line too and Pippin. Okay don’t judge my parents it was the 70s). I eagerly went to auditions. I can belt out a tune like no one’s business. But I get there and realize um. Sally is like 19. Fraulein Schneider is like 65+ and well I live in a small town that wasn’t going to Victor/Victoria the Emcee. That left the Kit Kat Girls.

I auditioned for Schneider but I’d already played an old lady in other shows and you know it’s the one non dance part and there were actual real old ladies going out for it. I went out for the EMCEE but they went with a guy who had played it somewhere else and already had the part down. I didn’t bother with Sally–who you know is a bit of an asshole and in these Trump times , I don’t know. It just didn’t appeal. I settled into thinking I’d be in the audience for this one.

But I got cast as a Kit Kat Girl. Which means dancing. Which means singing. Which means shorts on stage. Shorts.

I don’t even own shorts. I don’t wear them. I’ve never understood American culture’s obsession with dressing like one is cleaning the house on a Saturday morning. But I’ll also have a corset (which I don’t mind wearing at all and fishnets. Still this might be the one time in my life that a diet and exercise are totally in the works because goddamn it I’m that vain . If I am in shorts then well I’m gonna look at least as good as the 20 and 30 somethings strutting around next to me. Also? DANCING. These thunder thighs aim to be the toast of the kick line.

Coupled with this I snagged a role in a horror film by Wretched Productions which will require singing! (Yay totally confident about my singing) but also acting and lots of movement and there’s the whole camera adds 10 pounds thing. 20 pounds?

All this to say. I never really mind how I look. Sometimes I get frustrated at clothing options or getting winded. But usually I’m in full body acceptance mode. But I realize I need to step up my game to be the best Kit Kat Girl I can be–that is someone who moves smoothly, sexily (I so have that down already), and can dance and sing at the same time with ease.  So I’m looking to drop 20 and strengthen my arms, thighs, and belly.  I’m announcing it here to help me. I love that I finally have a goal with this. I wanna be the Kit Kat Girl who can do more complicated moves–not the chick with the half busted knee.

This morning I got up at 4:45 to get to an exercise class that started at 5:30. I made it through. I still feel good and its almost 10–though I have a feeling my legs will feel it in the morning. Hope I can keep it up. We have dance rehearsals 3 nights a week right now.

So this Kit Kat Girl? She confesses…she needs support. She confesses she’s confused and conflicted by her need to get in shape and her adherence to being accepting of who she is. Maybe we can sort it all out later.

Oh and thanks to the theatre and director who have faith in me that I can pull off this role in one of my favorite shows!

 

Aunt Dorothy (from New York) is Gone

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited New York. Since Uncle Frank and Uncle Don picked us up at La Guardia stopping at a favorite place on the way home to eat before whisking up weary Californians to Pelham Manor and aunt Dorothy with the perfectly manicured and finicky everything was there to greet us.

This one will hit me hard. In her lucid moments I’m betting it’s hitting my grandmother the hardest. My grandmother is 96–out living her mother and father and many others by decades. And now her sister Dorothy at the age of 92 is gone too. R.I.P. My grandmother IS the last of her family.

I always counted myself luckiest among my cousins on my grandmother’s side (the Scottish Grant side). I was the oldest grand kid and I lived at my grandmother’s house in the 80s. So I got to hang with the old New Yorkers in their prime. I’d also lived back East when I was a kid and we’d spent a Thanksgiving with Dorothy’s family. I still remember something like a nine course meal or something like that and my 2nd cousin Gloria taking me on a long walk in the hopes that the exercise would make us just a tiny bit hungry again.

Every summer at my grandmother’s in Whittier, aunt Dorothy (from New York) would come out and bring a New York grandchild for a visit when that child turned 7.  And when she ran out of grandkids turning 7 she just came alone.  She–and her daughter Gloria–were the ones that always came out and so they were the ones the California side knew best. My grandmother had been the only one who moved out of New York and back in the day when it was far too expensive to visit and phone calls could only be so long before they were expensive too, she missed home. So she named her two daughters after her sisters, Peggy and Dorothy. Dorothy in turn named her daughter Gloria. Which is why we always referred to Dorothy as (from New York)–so as not to confuse her with our Dorothy here.

My grandmother–sarcastic in the way only people from the Bronx can be, was also very reserved and preferred to be gracious and quiet and not make waves if she didn’t have to.  Even if she was mad it came in mutters under her breath first. Not so her sister Dorothy. Dorothy sent back the dinner if something wasn’t right. Dorothy told you when you weren’t living quite right. Maybe they thought the same things but Dorothy was the one to let you know.

I love my grandmother to the ends of the earth but it was Dorothy that intrigued me. She just knew things. She had country club glamour, but had an absolute and brutal honesty at the same time.

My favorite memory of her however had nothing to do with her annual trips to California. My grandmother and I had flown to New York because aunt Muriel on Long Island wasn’t doing too well and word had it the cancer had spread. So I went with Uncle Frank to drop grandma with Muriel for a couple of days. He dropped me at the office with Dorothy and the two of us hung out alone for the first time ever. The moment we were alone our relationship changed. We talked about everything under the sun (and also about everyone under the sun). In spanish I’d say we were chismosa hounds that day–getting each other’s take on every family issue and every family member. Dorothy weighing in on everything. Dorothy giving answers to some things I’d always wanted to ask and some I didn’t even know enough to ask. I always attribute my obstinance and argumentative style to the Garcia side of my family, but Dorothy proved me wrong. It’s on both sides.

She spoke with me at a time of transition. When I was feeling less than sure of myself and my next move. I was divorcing my first husband and accepting a teaching job in Japan to get out of coping with San Francisco rents. I’d always wanted to go and it seemed the perfect time to escape. She gave me her blessing. Told me I needed to embrace my life and who I was and just go do what I wanted to. I didn’t have children yet. I wanted to do things. What was I waiting for?

We were talked out by the end of the day.  The next day I took off to Manhattan by myself tourist style, went to the Met and bought shoes Sex in the City style. And I committed myself to not looking back. I never really thanked her properly for all that. She came to San Francisco to visit me with my grandmother when I returned from Japan.  And I’d seen her off and on in southern California after that.

It’s nearly impossible for us (the California family) to separate Dorothy out from grandma and their other sister Peggy who died in the 1980s from cancer. The Grant Girls were a trio of loveliness–and the absolute life of any party.  I love to look at old polaroids of them from the 1960s and 70s. Backyard parties at my grandma’s. Peggy cracking jokes and cracking wise. Dorothy holding court. My grandmother fussing too much. All of them laughing. All of them singing. They really belonged together as a trio.

In these last years, the annual visits just couldn’t happen anymore. The two sisters could barely understand each other on the phone due to hearing loss and stroke. Dorothy had always made New York so close for us. It was because of her that we knew who everyone was back east and who they married and what they were doing these days. Without her we just never would have established a foothold in the New York my grandmother left for sixty years ago. Dorothy made it present for us.

She was hospitable and gracious and kind to us and made us feel –and especially made my grandmother feel–like New York wasn’t that far away at all.

I will miss her deeply.

 

 

Women’s March: Sacramento

img_0540

Friday night my kids and I made the three hour trek to Davis to hang with a good friend and her kids. These kids were in play groups together back in the day and even though Carol moved away to Davis, we still keep in touch and get them together. Another friend from my early Greenville days moved to Sacramento–about 3 miles from where the Women’s March was starting on Saturday morning.

So after a somewhat harrowing drive in California’s storm season, including snow and a downed tree and a three hour drive….

img_0450img_0452

We got to Davis. The kids took off to their rooms to hang the way tweens/early teens do. I got busy assessing the hat situation. Carol bought a pussy purse! Which I now have because she’s a good friend and loves me for some inexplicable reason.

img_0457

At first the kids weren’t overly enthusiastic. It’s been a hard election everywhere but as we are in that red pocket low on education corner of California where it’s both beautiful and lethal it’s been really hard. Especially on my kids and especially on my daughter. She goes to school each day dreading a couple of kids who taunt her Mexican heritage and for not being Christian. And believe me a non-Christian kid who was taught about the beauty and love of Jesus Christ does not get how Christians can be into Trump.  I can’t explain it to her. I just say they probably aren’t aware of their own bible and tradition.  ANYHOW. The march immediately made her feel less alone. Her two friends live in more progressive areas now so they weren’t as downtrodden but they were amazed and felt the power of the march.

img_0537

My daughter and the other girls  loved the creativeness and the brashness of the signs. They immediately took out their phones to record them.

img_0533img_0536img_0530  img_0535 img_0538  img_0534

 

ANd so we marched. We marched for REspect. Reproductive Rights. We marched for Trump’s victims of sexual assault. We marched for arts and humanities and education about to be cut. We marched for Education. We marched for rerorductive health. We walked to protest

img_0497img_0523

Organizers said there were supposed to be about 8K people and it was more like 20K–now I’m hearing of totals more towards 30K. I’d believe it. We were packed like sardines but happy all the same.

State Controller Betty Yee lead us in an Oath on the state capitol steps  to swear to protect and defend each other in these dark times. Warm and fuzzy day–even in the bitter cold weather.

It was a great day!

img_0532