Friday, January 18, 2008

AS YOU CAN see by the time span between this post & my last, work, school, personal things, etc. have taken over my writing life. I feel emotionally, physically, and almost spiritually drained. I cannot begin to summarize these past few months since the Book Release Party—but I’ll try.

Me and Dr. Daniel Lopez


All I can say is “IT’S OVA! FOR-EVA!” I made it despite minor setbacks with two Incompletes and another health issue. Graduation came and left and all I can say is “Halleluya!” and “Amen!”

Gigi and Alex provided reflections on their ENLACE experience at our Fellows Dinner. They did a great job. Here’s my farewell speech to my “comais/compais”:

Getting a master’s was never one of my goals. My main reason for applying for the scholarship was because the mission to increase Latino representation in higher education inspired me. Despite all the challenges I faced in the last two years, despite all my bellyaching about wanting my life back, I can honestly say it was worth it. And what made it all worth it were my nine fellow cohort mates who shared this journey with me. They have all inspired me to strive for success, and I admire them and learned so much from each one of them.

(L to R) Elvis, Lupe, Marixsa, Honorio, Jorge, Alex, Rubi, Miguel, & Gigi
(I missed the picture ceremony 'cause I was stuck on the E-way with my son!)

I admire the 20-somethings: Gigi, Miguel, Elvis, and Lupe, for setting such a great example for young Latinos by going straight from high school to college and getting their bachelor’s, and finishing their master’s before the age of 30.

I admired the moms, Marixsa and Rubi, who like me, know the sacrifice involved in going to school while simultaneously juggling childrearing, full-time job, family and relationships.

I admired Honorio, who overcame language and political barriers and reminded me of how good “we” in the U.S. have it despite all the obstacles faced by Latinos in America. He humbles me.

I admired Alex for his extraordinary patience, strong spirituality, and quiet sense of humor. When I wanted to blow up, he showed me how to stay cool without saying a word.

And I admired Jorge, Miguel, Elvis, and Gigi for their great presentation skills and ease in public speaking. When I grow up, I want to be just like them.

I know that my nine cohort-mates will all continue to succeed whether they decide to go for that Ph.D. or not. Personally, getting a Ph.D. is not a future goal; however, I do want to be involved with Latinos and some aspect of higher education.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank our mentors, our professors: Drs. Santos Rivera, Dr. Daniel Lopez, Dr. Diana Ehrlich, and all of our instructors for their assistance, patience and guidance through these past two years. We couldn't have done it without you.

My Mami & sister, Marie (yes, I was really that happy!)

My mom came for my graduation and stayed with my younger sister this time so I didn’t spend as much time with her as I wanted, especially since I had to work. She went back on Jan 8; my grandma, who is 96 now, is really sick. What makes it so frustrating is that the doctors she’s been to so far don’t know what’s wrong with her. One misdiagnosed her with shingles, and the other is baffled. It’s hard to imagine my grandma ill and unable to eat much, or stand or walk for long periods when a year ago, she was here, making pasteles and Johnny-cle and eating pizza. Even though she was homesick, she wasn’t “sick-sick.”

Suleyma, Elvis, Marixsa & friend at La Bruquena

The book release party at La Bruquena was a success. I sold so many books and donated the proceeds to the fundraising campaign for our trip to Argentina in the fall. Several cohort members showed up (shout-outs to Gigi, Marixsa, Honorio, and Elvis and an “adopted” cohort member, Christina); three of my professors (Drs. Rivera, Lopez & Ehrlich), and Suleyma.

Friend, Gigi, Marixsa, Dr. Lopez & Dr. Ehrlich ( La Bruquena)

Of course, my family (sisters, daughter, cousin) was on hand for support – gracias, siempre. Finally, a few co-workers showed up (Raquel, Millie and Adela, who almost replaced my sister as my publicist). I read "Home is Where Mami Is" from Boricua Morena.

Ceci, the artist, had a successful night and sold several pieces, including the one piece I coveted of the Bomba Dancer. However, I absolutely loved the piece she created for me “Recuerdos de Puerto Rico.” It now proudly hangs on my bedroom wall.


Over the past few months, I struggled with more health issues, specifically my eyes and an eruption of my skin condition, but I refused to be hospitalized again. Everybody kept telling me I have to have faith if I’m going to be healed. WHAT MAKES THEM THINK I DON’T?! In fact, after numerous consultations with specialists, multiple medications, weekly treatments, faith was the only thing -- is still the only thing -- giving me strength. Everything else seems to be sapping my strength. I am doing much better than I was several months ago.


I spent Thanksgiving in Argentina, but before leaving, my daughter cooked a pre-Thanksgiving meal the weekend before. My younger sister was at her sister-in-law’s, my baby sister was at a friend’s, and my mom and grandma were in Puerto Rico so I didn’t feel like I missed anything or anyone. Christmas was kind of a repeat of the same family as last year; the food was okay, but I think having a cold had something to do with my mood. Still, it was good having my mom here for a second Christmas in a row. She already said she wasn’t coming next year so we might go there.


Rubi, Dr. Ehrlich, me & Alex in front of unknown Argentinean fountain

Live statue at La Boca

I almost didn’t go to Argentina because of my health, mostly because I was afraid of being hospitalized overseas, not because I feared foreign hospitals, but because I fear hospitals in general. My migraines acted up but I managed to participate in all the activities with the exception of one day when I just couldn’t get out of bed. Overall, it was a good experience, but I won’t be going back too soon.

Miguel & Elvis a.k.a. The ENLACE Kings of Comedy

The highlights: tango lessons, powerful hot showers in the hotel, the last day at La Feria Recoleta, listening to Argentinean Spanish, laughing and joking with my cohort mates, eating at the different restaurants -- oh, and the Capoiera dancers (mmm).

Low points (besides the migraines): seeing the poor begging on the streets, particularly mothers with children, bumpy van rides, waking up to no power in the hotel twice, no ice water (I know, petty compared to larger problems), running through the airport in Miami & almost missing our flight back, airport bureaucracy in general.

My sanctuary (Chicago's Lakefront)


I’m slowly getting back into my writing. I need to set some goals and set aside some writing time to work on the following:

#1 Regarding the second novel, In the Picture I Have of you (ITPIHOY), I have not heard anything from my agent. I’ve e-mailed her twice & left her a voice mail, and I have yet to receive a reply, the last attempt was almost a year ago (!). I’ve thought of all her comments when we first spoke when she explained what kind of an agent she was, all the positive comments about ITPIHOY, how I should feel free to contact her, etc. I’ve been down the road of rejection; I know the feeling. The thing is, why ITPIHOY—again?! I’ve always felt this was my strongest book, my baby, my unborn-firstborn. But it keeps “miscarrying” (too many birthing analogies?). It’s like the woman who keeps a-hoping/wishing/praying for a baby & keeps experiencing miscarriages. After a while, she either gives up and adopts (how would that translate into a book metaphor??), or keeps trying to procreate. I just finished writing the termination letter to my agent so I can send the manuscript to another agent who requested it a year ago. Hope she’s still with the same publisher.

Two: I have finished editing my third novel Negrita Means Love (NML) for which I received the grant from NALAC.

Three: I'm almost finished editing Humboldt Park Days (HPD), my memoir for grade-schoolers. It will be another self-publishing venture. I’m trying to find a good picture of me when I a child for the cover, but the only one I like is my baby picture (wasn’t I cute?).

I did write a piece for an anthology entitled OtheRicans: Voices of the Greater Puerto Rican Diaspora” about Puerto Ricans who live in cities other than New York. It’s being edited by Aurora Morales Levins, a Puerto Rican-Jewish author.


I’ve made a promise that I’m going to take care of me this year. Not to be selfish, but I have been neglecting myself for a while. And they’re not New Year’s resolutions, just New Me resolutions.

§ I’m taking a bomba class (more on that later).

§ I was going to take up yoga again but it conflicted with the bomba class, so I’m postponing it until spring.

§ I’m going to try to eat better and stop eating fast food (seriously).

§ I’m going to finish reading all the books I didn’t get a chance to because of school.

My dining room table in the middle of writing a paper or exam

Books I’m Reading or Have Read so far...

That Mean Old Yesterday by Stacey Patton

Pimps, (bleep), Playa Hatas, and The Rest of My Hollywood Friends by John Leguizamo

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Tha-tha-that’s all folks…


At January 20, 2008 2:12 PM, Blogger nedra smith said...

Hi, I'm Nedra. I read, and was very moved by -Choose Me- a couple of years ago. There are so many things I did not know about your culture that I appreciate your shedding light on.

I'll never forget what Eva went through with her son and the guilt that went along with that.

I'm so glad you blog (again).

Congratulations on your graduation!

Also, God bless your family during this trying time with your grandmother.

At January 28, 2008 12:58 PM, Blogger LaEquis said...

Hi Nedra,
Thanks for your lovely comments about CHOOSE ME. Just when I think it's fading into the background, I get a message from a reader. Thank you also for your well wishes. You made my day!


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