Monday, November 21, 2005


[My sister, L.Marie & my "favorite -- and only -- brother-in-law," Delwin celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary aboard the Spirit of Chicago]

On Saturday, November 19, 2005, my sister, L.Marie (a.k.a. my "unofficial" publicist, mentor and "twin") and her husband celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. The event was planned by their daughter and was attended by 25 members of our extended family (which is not even half of our family members). It was a joyous event for so many reasons.

My sister first met her husband when she was 15 and he was 19; they dated for 3 years before they decided to marry. They have two beautiful children and a gorgeous grandson, who I am crazy about (though I'm not ready for my own yet :). Like all marriages, they have had their ups & downs and it has been, by no means, a fairy-tale marriage. But their relationship has shown me what marriage is really about: committment, tolerance, and comfort. And after 25 years, they still look good and young (especially my sister).

My sister and I married the same year but while my marriage ended after four years, hers endured. I do not feel jealousy but rather pride that she has been able to hang on when I gave up so soon. Her accomplishment is my accomplishment. So I'd like to say once again, Congratulations to my sister and her husband & continued blessings for the next 25 years!


Also last Saturday, I had a reading and book signing at the Humboldt Park Library branch, which is in the neighborhood where I grew up. It was attended by one of my dearest and oldest friends, Lizzette and her daughter, Alisandra (also my goddaughter), and Lizzette's nephew, and my daughter. Also there, as always, was my sister. Despite the publicity in the library, my e-mail promotion, and my sister's attempts to drum up more attendees from the library patrons, the only other people who came was a couple. The woman was a young Latina (Puerto Rican) who was joined (reluctantly) by her boyfriend, an African-American. After my introduction and reading, I opened up the floor for questions and the "reluctant boyfriend" was the first to ask questions about the writing process. Then the topic invariably turned to issues about interracial dating. As is always the case with a small audience, the discussion got intense and personal with everyone providing input on their experiences. My sister and cousin, as well as my daughter, were able to give the couple firsthand advice about dealing with the ignorance that comes from being in an interracial relationship and being a biracial child. Although I would have liked a slightly larger audience, it was a pleasure to meet a couple like Adam and Eva in Choose Me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


BLACK ISSUES BOOK Review (BIBR) has named yours truly as thee “Christian Novelist to Watch” for 2005! The acknowledgement is in the November-December issue, “BIBR Best of 2005” (page 37).


(THANKS TO MS. Angela Benson who brought it to my attention; if it wasn’t for her, I never would have known. Thanks, Ms. Angela!)

IN TURN, I would like to bring attention to a fellow Chicago artist. Her name is Cecelia Colón whom I met at the El Barrio Art Fest 2005. Her innovative art is called "Abichuelas Sin Arroz" (Beans Without Rice), which is like sacriligious in Puerto Rican culture because "we" never eat beans without rice. It's like eating turkey without dressing, cereal without milk, steak without potatoes -- you get the picture. Cecelia creates pieces with different kinds of beans and her art is selling like crazy.

THE PIECE SHOWN above is entitled "Y Tu Abuela Adonde Estas?" (And where is your grandmother?") It's based on an old Puerto Rican saying geared toward lighter-complected (I try not use the term "white" when referring to skin color) Latinos who deny their African heritage. As the story goes, when people used to visit the homes of fellow Puerto Ricans, they would "hide" their darker-skinned grandmother (or older relatives) in the kitchen, prompting their guests to ask, "Where is your grandmother?" In other words, "why are you hiding your grandmother (your dark past)"? Cecelia created several pieces which pay homage to her Afro-Puerto Rican grandmother who, like my own grandma, worked as a housekeeper/washer-woman for rich folks back in the day, just like many African-American women did for centuries, and many immigrant women continue to do today. What I love most about Cecelia's art besides her novel use of beans, is that it makes me appreciate the African in me and the sacrifices that women like my grandmother made. It humbles me.

MY GRANDMOTHER, ARSENIA Morales Rodriguez, is 94 years old, bless her heart. She still lives alone, washes and sews her clothes by hand, and cooks on a fogón (makeshift fire of bricks and wood).

GRACIAS, MAMI (I'VE always referred to my grandmother as "Mom"), for everything.