Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It’s been a while since I’ve written and I have many excuses, or rather reasons. Here goes…

On the DJ (Day Job) …
I’ve been busy at work, finally getting a feel of my responsibilities. Some days I feel very useful (like when I had five new home care aides starting the same day and I had to assign them to four of the supervisors, along with 6-7 clients) while other days, I feel like an automaton (like when I’m billing the department of aging and I feel like a data entry clerk). The days go by quickly, which is great. My boss told me I was slowly coming “out of my shell,” perhaps because I've been talking and joking with the staff a little more, and probably smiling more often rather than frowning. One day I’m going to tell him that just cause I ain’t cheesing 24-7 don’t mean I ain’t happy (my new motto). Because the dept is so small, I felt compelled to participate in the Secret Santa—which I’ve never done so I didn’t know the rules, had to have them explained to me J. I figured it’s just once a year & as long as I’m not expected to pitch in money for birthdays & engagements, it’ll be cool. I’ve made another decision not to buy gifts again this year for my extended family & that’s been such a load off my mind. I don’t feel any stress or guilt.

On Awards/Scholarships Applied For… I haven’t heard anything back from the two writing awards I applied for, but I did get the ENLACE Fellow Scholarship awarded by Northeastern Illinois University. So even though I said I didn’t want to ever be in anyone’s classroom, it looks like that’s where I’m going to be come January 2006. I’ll be earning a Master’s in Educational Leadership, Higher Education. I’m torn between not wanting to go back to school & really wanting this degree. The premise sounds good: “instituting policies and practices that affect the enrollment of Latinos from K-college.” I really would like to make a difference in the educational status of Latino kids (the high school graduation rates are atrocious – almost 50% & even though their college enrollment numbers are up, the college graduation rates are very low). The good thing is I’ll only be going to school Monday nites, plus 6 all-day Saturday sessions throughout the year. All day Saturday? Okay, so it’s only six Saturdays out of 52.

On Writing… Still haven’t heard from the editors about ITPIHOY & I’m worried they’re going to have extensive revisions. What if they want to change the format, which will ruin the essence of the story? Am I allowed to reject their changes? I haven’t written anything in regards to the third book, Negrita; haven’t received any sort of inspiration, divine or otherwise. I do have lots of ideas swirling around in my head for my young adult novel about a biracial girl, which will be dedicated to my daughter who complains that there aren’t any books about “people like her.” It’s tentatively entitled Boricua Morena.

On My Ongoing Medical Issues…
I had a UGLY breakout around my eyes, open cuts & dryness last couple of weeks. My face & body are so dry from this sudden freakish cold that my usual Oil of Olay is not working. I can’t use anything oily or greasy because it makes me itch even more. But I tried a combination of Olay, little Vaseline & cortisone cream, which I’m really not supposed to put on my face, but I was desperate & today is the first day I don’t look like an alligator. Everybody kept commenting on how red & dry my face has been & how my eyes were so winkled, as if I didn’t know. I really need to see a dermatologist but my new insurance doesn’t kick in ‘til January. Until then, I suffer. At least my allergies are under control and I haven’t caught any of the germs that are going around here.

On My Photo Session…
Due to the negative feedback I received from my first author photo, I decided to take a new photo. I had to cancel the first photo shoot (with this photographer whose work I really like) because of my break-out; it’s due at the publishers by 12/15. He was charging me too much anyway. I chose Glamour Shots cause I figured they would be able to work miracles & cover up my “flaws.” So last Sunday, I finally had my photo session and it was as frustrating as I expected. My skin had cleared up some but my face was still a little red so I was hesitant about putting make-up on. I had to drive 21 miles to Orland Park, the only one left in the Chicago area. The make-up was not bad; surprisingly my face didn’t itch at all, but my neck was raw so I hope they can clear it up. The poses were horrible, very contrived & even though I told them I wasn’t interested in body shots, they did them anyway. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled with the results. There was only one good shot & I wasn’t that happy with it. They show you the results on the computer IN THE waiting area WITH other workers and customers looking over your shoulder. It was very uncomfortable. I wanted to ask them if I could have some privacy ‘cause I really wanted to say, “I am NOT happy with these pictures.” When I first looked at myself in the mirror with the make-up on, I looked good but it didn’t come across in the pictures. I honestly feel that they digitally made them look extra bad so that they can charge the extra touch-up fee. When I picked up the final result (which they gave me on a CD, no hard copy), they didn’t want to show it to me before I left. I was like, after I paid all this money & drove 25 miles, oh, I think you are going to show it to me. They did, and I have to admit I was pleased with the result (see above).

On My Continuing Book Promotion… I got an invitation from the infamous Alisa Valdes Rodriguez to attend the Chica Lit Club Fiesta in Miami next May 2006. I am excited about attending this event as it features many Latina authors I’ve heard about, some of which I’ve read. This will be my second Latino event. While I don’t really write Chica Lit, the venue for Latina Christian authors is even smaller so I have to go where the chicas are.

I did an on-line interview with (; they also gave me an excellent review (read the Review: I was also interviewed by Cheryl A. Robinson, an author who has an Internet Radio Show out of Maryland (Just About Books), although an audio is not currently available.

In addition, I got a couple of requests to have Choose Me featured in two book clubs: Sistah Girl Reading Club (McKinney, TX) & Reading Just for Fun Book Club (Hampton, VA). The Reading Just For Fun Club extended an invitation to do an on-air interview on their radio station & attend a luncheon. What I’d like to know is, where are the Chicago area book clubs?? And where are the Latina Book Clubs???

I was thinking of possibly scheduling a tour that includes Washington, Atlanta & New York, but I don’t know. I have friends & family in all 3 cities, but that’s never a guarantee. I don’t know when I’ll be able to take time off & to do it in a weekend would be too much. One of my cousins came from Brooklyn this past weekend. She claimed she came to make connections with an old boss of hers who has a girlfriend who works for Oprah & she plugged my book. I didn’t want to burst her bubble & tell her that O is not particularly interested in Christian fiction & that she supposedly already received my book—TWICE (from my publicist & O’s producer’s babysitter). Plus, my own cousin admitted that she hasn’t read the book (she read three pages of it while she was sitting on the toilet when she went to Puerto Rico! — and that’s only because I sent a copy to my grandmother—oh, well, at least she was honest.)

On Celebrity Authors… Nicole Ritchie has written a novel “loosely” based on her life, The Truth About Diamonds. Dennis Rodman just wrote another book, I Should Be Dead By Now. And one of the actors from that popular cable mafia show (whose name escapes me) wrote a young adult novel. People keep saying the literary world is big enough for all of us, but I think it’s getting smaller.

On Getting Old (not older)… I've been thinking a lot lately about my "golden years." I work at an organization that provides domestic assistance to the elderly who want to continue to live independently. When I hear some of the stories about how some of these people live (incontinent, dirty, home in shambles), it literally breaks my heart. Especially the ones who have adult children. On one client’s file, I read that the daughter comes to visit her father 2-3 times a month and I thought, “what a crying shame!” Next door to my office is the Adult Day Center. Every day, busloads of elderly people get dropped off at the day center (which used to be called “day care center” until they realized it sounded condescending) to partake in activities such as domino-playing, dancing, arts & crafts, and I think, I don’t want to do this when I get old. I pray that I never have to depend on other people to entertain me. I pray that I never have to depend on anyone, especially my children, to take me anywhere. I want to continue writing until I’m 100 years old if possible—or at least 90. I want to continue to live independently for as long as possible, and when it’s no longer possible, well, hang me out. Don’t send me to no Day Center, and certainly no Nursing Home.

I want to be like Doña Arsenia Morales Rodriguez, my grandmother, who at 94 still lives alone, with some assistance from my mom, still parties on Sundays (but without the benefit of beer), and still writes letters. I know it will be a while ‘til I reach that stage, but I felt it needed to be said now. I’ve been told I was born with an old soul and sometimes I’ve felt like I was born at the wrong time so I think this is why I think about things other people don’t normally think about.

On Christmas… Last Christmas, I accompanied my sisters and a friend to feed the homeless. Tired of the commercialistic craziness that has become representative of Christmas, we thought our time and energy would be better spent feeding men who normally live on the streets and are estranged from family. The activity was especially therapeutic for my other sister, who had lost her son to gang violence earlier that year. This year, I refuse to be drawn into the madness of over-spending, zig-zaging thru shopping malls, cursing (yes) drivers in traffic and for parking spaces, etc. I think I’ll feed the homeless again this year.

So to my friends and family, in lieu of Christmas gifts, please make a donation to any charity of your choice on my behalf (and preferably not to one that gives Christmas gifts to children who would otherwise not get much; it’s about time we start teaching children the true meaning of Christmas.) Not only am I free from stress, but I’m also free from guilt.


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