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literary

Leimert Park Anthology

 If I was in Los Angeles tomorrow, I’d be reading in this. I’m unfortunately not going to be in town. However, if you are in Los Angeles—do yourself a favor and go. You’ll hear some amazing poets that will blow your mind away.

Happy to be in the same pages as these poets. An honor really.

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literary

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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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.

 

 

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The Last Thank You of 2016 — Library Project

….and it is two days late!

Much has been made of the disaster of 2016, with its notable take down of artists and musicians and cultural points of light and hope.

I kept thinking of Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time when the kids are with the Happy Medium and she is forced by one of the Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which etc to show the kids a happy planet, and a dark planet and then–she shows them Earth. Darkness of course, has  a strong hold on Earth. There is death and suffering and fascism reigning –but there are also those who fight the darkness.

It’s not that part that threw me as a child. I was well aware of darkness. But when the Mrs. W ensemble explain to the children that one can fight the darkness through love and through creation and through art is when my mind was opened up as a kid. There’s that paragraph were L’Engle mentions a sampling of darkness fighters: Jesus. Buddha. Shakespeare. That was it. Writers fight darkness. Teachers fight darkness. I was hooked.

Fighting Evil Through Art and Creation.  I think of that a lot these days. That’s why David Bowie’s death or even Carrie Fisher’s hits people so strongly. Because their art fought the darkness. And there is so much darkness. That’s why Leonard Cohen was the patron saint of my family. Because he offered a path of light through the dark forest.

If I have any resolution for 2017 it is to step up the fight against the darkness. I am needed now more than ever. You are needed now more than ever.

In between the mass shootings and the mass “post-truth” lies and the mass denial of the humanity of refugees, and the declaration of a party in our country to declare war on an already decimated environment there is hope.

There is Standing Rock.

There are all the kid drawings and paintings my kids leave on the dining room table.

There are mayors and cities declaring themselves sanctuary.

There are women getting ready to help women in dark states protect their basic rights.

There is defiance. There is resisting.

I look at 2016 though–the middle of the year, the summer, and there is you. Thousands of you. Who heard a plea for books and donated books to a strange woman in a forgotten town so that she could build a library for kids–to get books into the hands of kids.

That is what I’m looking to as encouragement. As my bright and shiny example of lightness in the world in need of defiance. You who read this and who donated a book. You participated in an act of defiance in a culture hell-bent on being proud of its own illiteracy, its own ignorance. You. Gave. Books. You. Made. Readers. I can’t stress enough how important and profound that is. Fighting the darkness.

Life has moved on beyond the summer. We opened. We checked out so far roughly  500 some books to students and an additional 400 to teachers and about 100 to community members and parents. There are waiting lists for some popular titles (Hamilton Soundtrack/Harry Potter Cursed Child, for example).

We gave bags of books away to foster kids who may not come back to our school district. We gave books to 7 schools other than our own. I officially have a box in the back of my car of duplicate titles to give away to kids who look like they could use them.  Lightness.

The school district is leaving us alone finally. Religious parents are going on to fight other battles. Slowly things are shaping up.  I am in the library five hours a week as a volunteer. I meet with students then, make recommendations, shelve a bit–put out new titles that are still coming in . I make displays.  And I always leave there feeling like I am fighting the darkness. This world is often not a place where writer/artist mothers of limited means feel successful. But because of our thousands of donors, I feel successful every time I walk in the library. Together we have brought light into a world.

It’s January 2nd.

I am at my father-in-law’s in Santa Monica with my kids. We are going museum hopping today and tomorrow and later on we’ll go to my aunt’s and visit my grandmother. I love bringing my kids back to the homeland of Los Angeles so we can soak in the best of southern California for a week. I love the Deep North in spite of itself. It really is beautiful (and currently filled with much needed snow). The environment is, if not pristine, as close to it on the planet as you can find. Lightness. Strength. Beauty.

But I also love  Los Angeles, the city of my birth. Yesterday on New Year’s Day my kids’ godfather and I saw Rogue One at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood (IMAX 3D because, of course) and then topped it off with a nostalgic trip to Canter’s on Fairfax for a Brooklyner and a black and white cookie. Lightness. Strength.

Today we head out to the Museum of Tolerance and later to LACMA for the Diego & Picasso exhibit. Tomorrow the California Academy of Science Pixar Exhibit and then my sister in law will whisk them away for fun while I catch up on work and a double feature of films that will never reach the north in a theater.  I will interview a couple of people as I wrap up my book proposal I’ve been working on.

Meanwhile my husband and mother are in the north keeping the house warm from winter and managing their own fights against the darkness.

It feels like we are all gathering strength for 2017.

I haven’t said it in awhile but –Thank you, again.  Know that you are appreciated daily and have provided one small town with a shining example of hope and humanity that we see and feel every time we walk through the door of the library. You decided to fight the fight (along with me) against boredom and ignorance and despair. I will always be grateful for that.

Happy New Year.–Margaret

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Just. One. Book. The Night Before a Train

I worked for 10 hours today in the library and I can no longer feel my legs.

It feels like it will be worth it.  Kids were coming in to get their schedules today at Indian Valley Academy. I’ve never seen so many heads pop into the library before. Come in! Come in! This is for you guys.

WHOA!  Even the faces of the haggard 4-H kids who just sold their livestock at auction after a 45 day fair week —kids who looked damn exhausted. As soon as I clean the pens, I swear I’m coming to help. And I don’t feel alone. I have you all and Indian Valley Academy who have been stellar through all of this.

My dealings with the Plumas Unified School District had me going southern Gothic. Let me explain. Some of my all time favorite writers are indeed the southerners. I gravitate toward them when I’m feeling isolated and feel guilty about expecting the worst in people (because thank’s a lot Flannery O’Connor). But in order to not be completely frustrated and pissed off at the gaul of the school district to somehow try and take both ownership and credit for the library I had to go to Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams. Ever read Reflections in a Golden Eye? The Tennessee preface/introduction? He nails it. He tells us you know what? We artists? We people who feel things? We live on this one plane of existence.  And these officious drones who try and run our lives? They live on this other one.

They have no real jurisdiction over us. We don’t have to answer to them. The only thing I’ll never understand is why so many people who clearly hate children work in the field of education. I just don’t fundamentally get that.

You all sent books to the library project in care of me. And I aim to get books into the hands of children. Whatever that looks like.  Today I set aside 5 books –books that we had in duplicate to give to one particular girl who comes from a family of non-readers. She reads anything she can get her hands on. I gave her my own copy of Michelle Serros’ Chicana Falsa once. Because that girl so needed it.

So it wasn’t a bad day. Tomorrow my son and I take off for a week to see my grandmother and friends and family in Los Angeles via Amtrak. I’ll be interviewing a couple people for my book down there as well. And get this. My short story collection has found a home! Yay! It will be in print finally. So good things. ALL GOOD THINGS.

To the writers who have been sending your books. Thank you in particular for being gutsy and putting yourself and your work out there. It takes a certain tenacity that I greatly admire that I don’t always have. To the agents and the publishers sending books–thank you for the array of work that I wouldn’t have thought of but am glad is here. Great job!

We will make this happen. It may not be the complete original vision but it will be amazing. I’ve already had a glimpse. This is going to be one helluva literate town. THANK YOU.

And here. Enjoy some cookies. I made them tonight when I was supposed to be packing.IMG_8638