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Rabble Lit & Happy May Day

When I first heard of the concept of this journal I was all in immediately. It’s something my work has always had to struggle with. Where do you fit as a literary writer when you’re kind of punk ass at the same time? Can you be academic when you’re throwing out references to children’s literature? Can benign neglect be a motif?

I do a good deal of writing about children in one way or another–maybe because I identify with being misunderstood and grossly misinterpreted and of all creatures on the planet, I think they own this more than anyone else. We are shaped by what we are born into –setting, family, etc. I happen to be born working class and I see no reason to shed that skin.

Rabble Lit acknowledges that and that American stories do not always have to be men contemplating their navels on the subway of an Eastern city with a paid off student loan or none at all. Thank you for providing space, Rabble Lit and its wonderful set of editors.

This short story of mine is up there now on their launch day–May 1st. Happy May Day! I’m humming the Internationale.

In a Far Away Land/ Margaret Elysia Garcia

 

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Women’s March: Sacramento

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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….

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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!

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Just. One. Book. Class Set Needed

So it’s probably a good time for an update. I’m in Southern California visiting my 95 year old grandmother, going to appointments with her etc., but my mind is never far from our project.

Our Amazon Wish List is now empty. Wow. You all just completely blew my mind this summer. I have volunteers sorting on site and trying to get things ready for school to start next week.

Did I tell you because of you I was able to make class sets for the two schools plus others in the area?

I made two class sets of Book Thief.

I made three class sets of I am Malala.

I made two class sets of Persepolis and one of Maus 1 & 2.

I made two class sets of Diary of a Part-Time Indian

And about 10 different sets of classics as well.

We have a teacher who wants to do March by John Lewis. We only received a couple of copies of that.

I told him I would throw it out here and see if anyone would be able to help build 30 class sets of the wonderful series.

Here’s our list if you are still interested in helping us.

Also your comments helped, btw. I think bureaucracies have no idea how inhuman they sound until faced with criticism from outside their sphere of power. Keep up the good work.

Also. I had a great conversation with my cousin who lives in La Habra, CA. Her daughter said she was a little jealous because last year her school put books from the library in dumpsters in favor of the One-to-One program ipads with ebooks. That’s fine she said, but when 1/2 of the kids don’t have the Internet at home , it’s hardly fair for the schools to be assigning internet based homework and readings. Our school district Plumas Unified, also is aiming to do that on each campus despite the fact that the Internet goes down without warning even for the households that have it several times a day –at least once a day. And despite the fact that not everyone has it here either.

Sometimes I wonder if school administrators ever met a poor child? Or a family? And why create an uneven playing field and why take books out of the hands of children?

Okay. Grandma and I are on to appointment number 2 today. Then tonight I get to interview someone really fascinating for my book. Tomorrow I will be back on a train headed north. Talk to you soon.

Also. If you’re in LA soon? Do take in the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at LACMA. Definitely worth it.

 

 

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Just. One. Book. It’s Starting.

Enthusiasm has taken hold. I’m gone for the rest of the week in the lovely town of Green Bay, WI. visiting my dad– the other person in my family who gave me a love of books. My dad got that from my grandma who used to drop my dad and his brother off at the library for hours on end. Some of my favorite books over the years came from my dad. No rhyme or reason, just every now and then a book he thought a young person should read–and as I’m older now he still does it. Some of my favorite non-fiction comes from him. He came from a family that while, uneducated in its humble beginnings in New York, used libraries. His mother didn’t graduate from high school; my father has a PhD as well as a medical degree. We call him ‘double-doctor.’

I still look to him for book recommendations. And Packers gear. And cheese. Go Packers.

Meanwhile focus in Greenville say packages are still arriving. More kids who are in town for the summer are showing up to help discard old debris, make recycling runs, and the exciting part—opening boxes. One student yesterday remarked to Sue Weber, “I don’t even want to go to classes next year. Can I just sit in here and read?” Book contraband.

Last night when I finally got to talking with my son, he’d asked his friends on FB if there were books they wanted to have in the library.  Every recommendation my son and his friends threw at me I got to answer with, “Yup. Have it. It’s coming.” His friends were amazed. He was amazed.

My daughter revised the summer plans for when we get back. “Okay so, in the morning we work the library; in the afternoons, we go to the pool.” Yes, indeed. Sounds like a sweet summer plan.

Both the Washington Post and Feather River Publishing (the newspaper I work for) have asked me to do stories on the library project.  Yay! And we have teachers working on a donorchoose.org campaign as we realize we will need a designated computer for the library–something we don’t have now. The former Greenville High School library was never digitized.

Also we have a name now for the new library. Since it is for both schools and since the community is so intrinsically involved (and we envision them using the library too) we’ve named it the Indian Valley Collective Library.

Hope you’re having a good day. I know we are.

Green Bay!

 

 

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No, I don’t want to watch YOUR children

One of the best parts of getting older is recognizing what your boundaries are. Not that Latinas always recognize that very gringa word. But knowing what you should and can say yes to and what you can’t say yes to is such a big step in becoming the grand vieja you were meant to be.

Here’s a big boundary for me: watching other people’s children–or even more precisely–watching dominant culture raised children–because I don’t have time to deal with kids whose parents raised them to be entitled brats and since in a mixed room of goodly and badly behaved children you can’t pick and choose, I just flat out don’t watch other people’s children.

Which isn’t the same as saying I wont have my kids’ friends over because thankfully they know who to bring over and who not to (which really translates into they bring over quiet, respectful kids who I don’t need to entertain). Even if they aren’t quiet, they know to go outside.

My daughter is in a community theatre musical at the moment. Which is awesome. I love that she’s branching out; l love that she’s having new experiences. But there’s at least 10 children in this production and she’s the only one I’ve ever seen sit still for five seconds and listen to the director. The stage moms of these minions seem unbothered by their children’s boisterous behavior, and that’s fine for them. It appears that come showtime, those moms are taking shifts backstage and wanted to know what day I wanted a shift. I had to tell them. Sorry, I don’t watch other people’s children.

I’ve been around these rehearsals enough these last few months to know that most of those kids are unruly and need a chancla thrown at them. I can’t imagine any worse way to spend the evening than in a green room with the cast of Fame wannabes who don’t know how to shut the fuck up because no parent has ever told them to (I just dated myself). Watching dominant culture children brings out the worst in me. I want to tell them with TED talk powerpoints about poverty and hunger and flies on children’s faces how very entitled they are with their trivial issues.

I want to make them suffer and to be—well, less entitled dominant culture Americans. But that’s not socially acceptable. One of the mothers was pressing me and I finally just said, “Well, you see, I hate children.” “But you have children.” “Yes, but mine are well-behaved and don’t need a babysitter backstage. I’ve trained them.”

She looked horrified. And of course, that was judgmental on my part. It always comes as a big surprise to these mothers when normal people are like you know what? I don’t really like to hear kids screaming indoors and jumping off counter tops. They aren’t being creative like you think they are. They’re just being assholes. I’m sorry, I don’t care if little Ashley and Cody are the center of your universe. They just look like future oppressors to me. I saw them not wash their hands before delving into the snack food tray.  You are raising them to be extras on a Disney channel sitcom pilot that never airs and I want no part of that.

So I compromise. I promise to bring homemade cookies and healthy snacks and leave them behind the Green Room so they can snack while they pretend to be Siamese children speaking uncomfortably broken English for the King and I. Oh colonialism, you never die, do you?

So no. This Latina mama wants no part of watching your children–especially for free. It’s not an even trade when yours are bouncing off walls and mine is sitting reading a book. But if you want to pay me to coach you on how to be a Latina mom with kick ass well-behaved and respectful and smart children, my rate starts at 50 an hour. You can give me a call.