"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My new comfort movie?

Doesn't it look incredible? What a year for movies! I can't wait.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How I was asked to do my first ever school visit as a writer and how it went

Last week, I received a very shocking email from the reading specialist at a charter school in SLC. He explained that since September is Hispanic Heritage Month, the school was participating in the  International Reading Association's Read-In Chain, and as a Hispanic writer, they would love to have me go to the school and read to the kids. When I first read this I panicked. After all, I'm not even published, and I write YA novels, but Jeff said, "Why not? You'll love it!" So I said yes.
I was very nervous preparing what to read, what books to take along with me. I realized that there are not a lot of Hispanic authors who write in Spanish for children, and that gave an inspiration for after my current work-in-progress is ready.
I chose the Juan Ramon Jimenez's classic "Platero y Yo" because all through my childhood that little book was an inspiration for me, and was responsible for my having fallen in love with lyric prose.
I also chose "La Ciudad de las Bestias," first book of the series for children by the international acclaimed Isabel Allende. Also, very humbly, I included two of my short stories: "The Newborn Fairy," and "Teenage Warrior."
My kids were very proud that their mama was a guest speaker (reader) at a school, and they announced this to every person they talked to today. They're my #1 PR people. When I'm published, I'm going to hire them to be my marketing directors.
After a sickening slow commute (there were two traffic accidents on the way), I arrived at the school, and I was trying not to pass out of nervousness, but I met the reading specialist, who was so very nice, and all the teachers were very kind to me.
I went to the library, and I read my stories and excerpts from the books I had brought to the younger classes. The kindergartens were together, and then I read to first, second and third grade. All the children were so respectful and attentive while I read, that I tried to do my best to provide a good experience for them. The kids had made a welcome poster and flowers, and they sang a welcome song in Spanish while they waved the Argentine flags they had made (*tears*). They asked very intelligent questions, like where I get my ideas from, when my books are being published, if I write everything that goes on in my life, how old I was, etc.
Then it was time for the older classes, and I went to three different classrooms to read my stories. The school is a Spanish immersion academy, so especially with the older kids I spoke Spanish. There were several children, of the younger and older classes, who told me, "I'm from Uruguay!" "I"m from Argentina too!"
In every class, in every group I met, I saw intelligent, kind, beautiful children who have such a bright future ahead of them, and for whom my visit may have been a source of inspiration. I know that if only one of those children was inspired to read and write, and to never give up, then that visit is more than worth the nerves. For me it meant so much! That they would ask me to go and talk to them is a very humbling and touching experience. I know that every time doubts assault me, I will see those children's faces looking at me with admiration (!), and that after today, I'll never be able to give up my dream of becoming a true author, meaning, having my work published.
So my next step is to continue working, finishing my work-in-progress before November because I already have a spectacular idea for NaNoWriMo.
And now, I'll enjoy some of the delicious chocolate that the school presented to me as a gift. They're all mine; I even hid them in my closet!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wisdom from Dragon Tales

Today the babies were watching the PBS show Dragon Tales. I love the part where the children get together and say "I wish, I wish, with all my heart, to fly with dragons, in a land apart." In today's episode the kids were trying to teach one of the dragons to play soccer. The dragon whined and whined that he couldn't do it, so the Puerto Rican kid I had never seen in the show before said, "My grandma used to say 'You try and try until you do it right.'" Or something along those lines. I don't know why that simple phrase struck a chord with me. It may be because Juan Martin del Potro was playing the final of the US Open against Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of all times and I had not much faith he could win. Or because I was feeling overwhelmed with all the things I had to do, and I didn't have the energy to start. The thing is that it touched my heart.
I'm convinced that the most uplifting examples usually come from children. They still have the perseverance, the optimism to keep trying until they reach their goal, whether it's sleeping in mammy's bed, getting a new toy, or making it to the Talento Argentino Finals like this little boy:

Yes, I'm homesick for my country. I've been gone far too long, but what I wanted to point out from this video is the emotion, the passion that Nahuel Ruiz puts into his art. I wish I had that talent to put so much emotion in my stories.
Another great example is Hollie Steel, a little girl who auditioned for Britain Got Talent:

No one thought this little girl was out of the ordinary, just like little Nahuel seemed like a normal little boy from northern Argentina. What made them stand out was the strength of their souls, the passion they put into their talent.
I often tell my son, who wants to be a professional soccer player/writer/chef, that some people are born with the gift to perform an art form or a sport. Others are born with the will to develop that talent. I believe that the latter group is the one that truly succeeds. I believe that if you really want something hard enough, it can become true. We, adults, need more reminding than little kids, but we can still do it. I'm just grateful I have four little ones who even though they drain me of my energy, they also give me so much more in return: a desire to learn, to be better, to give them a good example. I hope one day my words may have a fraction of the talent Nahuel or Hollie have. I hope.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

In the errand of the fairies

Swan has a fairy friend who lives in our backyard, in a secret garden that we have. Only it's not secret, but it's a secluded little corner around a beautiful hawthorn tree (sooooo magical!) and several rose bushes. That's the exact place where a patch of poison ivy keeps growing too, but that's another story. Swan leaves presents and letters to her fairy every night. A few times, I've watched the sky darken and I wondered how in the world I was going to be brave enough to go out at night, in the middle of the trees to collect the offerings and leave something. Other times, I just forgot about the whole thing. But one particular night, Swan had prepared a very elaborate gift for the fairy, and I just had to make the effort of going out in the dark. I called Jeff to keep me company and talk to me while I was out in the windy night, and I left a letter and a chocolate for Swan from the fairy. The next day, Swan was so happy that I was worried if what I was doing (pretending the fairy existed) was right.
I figure, we play Santa Claus every Christmas, and just because we don't see them, it doesn't mean fairies aren't real, right? So I play along. One day she will find out, and I hope she realizes how much I love her. Because for me going out by myself in the dark is a sacrifice. I know, crazy, but it's me. Maybe the real fairies see me walk by them with a look of horror on my face and laugh their little heads off. I still want to see one. But in the daylight, OK? Nothing non-human at night. Yes, I read WAY TOO MUCH YA fantasy!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Welllllll... I'm furious at Suzanne Collins for writing such an amazing book, for the wonderful (!) characters, amazing conflict and story. I'm scared for #3 because she didn't give Gregor from "Gregor the Overlander" a good happy ending. I hope she takes pity on Katniss, Gale (Sigh!!!!!!) and Peeta (another Sighhhh!!!) and gives all of them a happy ending. I hate that I have to wait one whole year for the next book! I don't know how I'll be able to wait. Hopefully I'll be able to snatch an ARC from someone next year.
What an incredible writer! The best I've read all year!

View all my reviews >>

Friday, September 04, 2009

My kids rock

My kids love all kinds of music. Recently I was putting away some of my son's books, and The Dairy of a Wimpy Kid (the one kids write in, as a journal) fell open and I read the first line. It said:
What are your favorite songs?
Answers by Gorgeous Boy:
1. Beat it (Michael Jackson)
2. You give love a bad name (I think it's actually "Shot to the Heart" by Bon Jovi)
3. Cemeteries of London (Coldplay)
I had to smile. Being the product of a multi-cultural family, they listen to anything.
Last week Depeche Mode came to town, and since NONE of my friends answered my Facebook request for a companion, I took Gorgeous and Swan.
They had a blast. At times I enjoyed looking at their faces more than at the band. This is also because even though we had amazing floor seats, when you are only 5'1' it's a matter of fate for Gigantor to be in front of you. I had a stiff neck the next day from craning my head to the sides to catch a glimpse of the band, but it was worth it.
Swan laughed and laughed at the crazy "old" people jumping up and down at the sound of the music. And when the band sang "Wrong" she said "ROAR!!!! We had a ton of fun.
I know we pass on to our kids not only our religious beliefs and customs, but everything else, like a love of reading, writing, and of course, musical influences. It was the kids' first time seeing a world renown band. Now I can't wait for Coldplay to come back (Jeff and I just saw them in December) and Keane (whom I missed in June).   

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

River Dance and Flamenco

My great-grandfather was Palestinian. No one in the family knows what his real name was, but my dad called him "Abuelo Emilio." No one ever found his documents stating the real name, or no one was able to read them in Arabic. He learned Spanish, and lived and died like an Argentine. I always felt fascinated about that part of my legacy that not a person in our HUGE family knew anything about (there are 25 original cousins, and several little cousins now).  My grandfather, my dad and his four brothers, myself and just a handful of the great-granchildren inherited the dark olive skin, slanted eyes, dark hair, and the boys (thanks Father, oh thanks it was just the boys) the hooked noses. In Rosario there is a Festival of Nations, and most of the immigrant communities set up pavilions where they showcase the culture, food, dances and art of their motherlands. I wanted to learn Arabic dancing so bad when I was little, but I never did. There still is something in the lament of the guitar, or the particular rhythm of Arabic music that calls to my blood. I mentioned guitar, and I get the same feeling when I listen to Flamenco music. It must be the generations of Gypsies calling me from my Spanish genes.
Yesterday my daughter, Swan, had her first Irish Dance lesson. For about two years she has been begging for Irish Dance classes, and since one of the best studios in the state is like three minutes from home, I signed her up. I love seeing her stretch and prance in her little thin legs. Such determination and concentration in her eyes, such desire to learn and do her best. I wonder where she got the notion of Irish dancing. We love everything Irish in this home, but not a drop of Irish blood runs in my veins. In Jeff's family, I'm sure it does--all mixed up with the Puerto Ricanness of his. His mom said that they have some Irish in her family. After all, she is red-headed and is called Pat. So there you go.
I see my daughter being so drawn to Irish culture, and I wonder what messages we carry in our genes that direct the course of our lives. I've embedded two youtube clips, one from The Lord of the Dance, and then another one from Carmen Amaya, one the greatest Flamenco dancers of all times. They're so different from each other, but at the same time there is so much similarity between them. I think the guitar, and zapateo, and foot work, are all embedded into humankind in one way of another. Call it bulerias, Riverdance, tap dancing... they are all manifestations of men and women's desire to express their feelings through dance. In sadness or happiness, in war or celebrations.
My daughter is not learning Arabic dancing or Flamenco, but she's still following the call in her blood. I just hope that one of my boys will inherit the Argentine futbol playing feet and not the Puerto Rican ones. If they inherit a Puerto Rican trait, I hope it's the baseball arms, or their love of art, of music and good food. Such a mix in my kids' genes. I hope they got the best of all worlds.


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