"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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Last week we decorated our house for Halloween. I was about to blog about how much I love this time of the year, how I enjoy the scary books (I'm reading Dracula, again) and the anticipation of Halloween. All of the thoughts I wanted to blog about have been brushed away by the event, the miracle, taking place right now. "Saving the 33," reads the Univision headline. 33 lives, stories, families. So many hopes and plans and dreams that are suddenly possible again, thanks to technology and the efforts of so many people working together to save 33 men.
I remember the first time I saw a picture with a few words that changed the fates of so many.
"We are well in the refuge. All 33 of us."
If a person wanted to make up a more complex story, it wouldn't have surpassed real life. My friends' facebooks statuses say it all:
"Never so many have been following the fate of just a few."
"Watching miracles on my TV..."
"Fuerza mineros!"

I'm waiting for the rescue of the fourth man, Carlos Mamani's family is a little huddle waiting for their father and husband. What are they feeling? What are they thinking? The whole world is behind them.


Monday, October 04, 2010

My lovies

As a child I fantasized about eating all the cake batter I wanted, drinking all the Coke I wanted, owning as many books as I could afford, among other things.


Is there anything that when you were a child you wanted so much you couldn't wait to be a grown-up to get it?
I do eat the cake batter, even if it has raw eggs--especially if it does. Even though I remember how delicious a Coke in a glass bottle is, I can't drink it, for the life of me! Too sweet! Too bubbly! But I could, if I wanted to. If I make myself drink a Coke, I can do it.
I have a compulsive book-buying disorder. Ask Jeff about it. I relish the sight of books, the smell of them, the feeling of pages on my fingers. Even the cheap mass market kind of pages. I love them all. (Today Smith's was having a buy 2 get one free sale, FYI.)
But the one thing I wanted as a child was a pair of Reebok high top sneakers. And I got them today! Skinny jeans are in, so this must mean all things ninety are in too. Right?
Aren't they lovely? My poor husband is horrified, but they're the most wonderful pair of shoes I've ever owned.

Friday, October 01, 2010

My new hobbie

In the book I wrote last year, futbol is a central theme (pun not intended). Not only the sport, but how it affects society (especially in Rosario, Argentina) and the people. Why people like it, why people follow a team even in the worst circumstances (like Central being relegated the the B Nacional). I could write thousands of words about Central and futbol in general. In fact, most of the words I had to cut out where futbol-related because they didn't advance the plot.
The story I'm working on also takes place in Argentina, but it has nothing to do with futbol. I do mention the character is a Central fan and the love interest likes the other team (I won't even name it here), Romeo and Juliet style. But the main conflict is about a Flamenco guitar player and his group who are offered a spot at a prestigious competition. My problem is, I don't know anything about Flamenco. I've always liked it, but never took a class. Until now. About a month ago, I found a class taught by the very talented Solange Gomes, from Tablado Flamenco Company.
I must be the stiffest-legged student she's ever had. But I want to learn. Yesterday, I could do the Sevillana, with arms! Because following the steps (wearing 3 inches-heels) is one thing, and doing the arm movements is quite another.
But I'm having so much fun, and I'm learning.
Here's a clip from one of my favorite movies, Carmen, by Carlos Saura.
Antonio Gades can convey so much feeling and passion with his dancing, I tear up. Of course, you must think I cry over anything, but I only cry when the emotion is so big I can't describe it with words.





I hope you all have a great weekend. I plan on sleeping in until 9 and practicing my tango steps.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We survived

We all survived the weekend apart. I missed my kids so much, Jeff had to tell me to stop calling them. They were all right. They missed me, but not so much they couldn't appreciate how fun it is to have dad home.
For me, it was another set of things I had to survive. Not having the excuse of children for not writing, sharing one bathroom with six other people, having roommates and having to turn the light off at a certain time, listening to what an agent has to say about my book. The last one was very nerve-wracking but so beneficial at the same time. I had so many people read my first chapter and tell me they love it. I thought the agent would say, "You know what? Go home and take on another hobby."
But she didn't. She was very positive about my chapter and gave me great advise.
I'm glad I attended this retreat because it made me stretch out of my comfort zone.
Have you been in this situation before, out of your element? How have you cope with the changes in order to stretch yourself and your skills? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adventurers

Do you want to know what Jeff was doing last week?
He was fishing in Alaska.
He showed me a video of him fishing on one side of the river, and a brown bear, watching him from the other shore.
And yesterday? Where was he?
He was skydiving.
I didn't want him to go. I was so scared he'd be the one case in 1, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 whose parachute doesn't open. Being a widow at the age of 32? No, thanks.
But there was no way he'd not do it. Poor Jeff, I gave him such a hard time.
But he went to Moab, jumped from an airplane, and he lived to tell the tale. He looks ecstatic in all the pictures.
I must confess: I envy him a little. No, not the fishing trip, but the courage and faith to jump from a plane and trust that a few yards of fabric will give him wings to fly and then, land him safe and sound.
This weekend I'll be at the Writers' Retreat hosted by Fire Petal Bookstore. Agent Lauren Macleod will be there, and by now, she must have read the first chapter of Southern Cross. I'm so anxious to know what she thought if it!
But most of all, I'm anxious about leaving Jeff and the kids for two nights. I printed out schedules and instructions, the address and schedule for the conference, left El Cangri's medicine ready in case he gets stung by a bee (I pray to all the angels of heaven that he won't).
Let's see if four kids are a good match for a brown bear and jumping off a plane.
I'll let you know Monday if we all survive the weekend :-)


Do these four angels look more dangerous than a brown bear?
Don't let the smiles fool you...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When bad things happen to awesome people

There's a girl in my neighborhood who's an angel in disguise. She always has something good to say about everyone. A couple of times, when I felt invisible at church, or the opposite, when one of my kids (or all 4 of them) was terrible during sacrament meeting and I felt every eye on me, this sweet girl has come up to me and said something like, "You have the sweetest smile," or "I love your skirt." It's always been something simple, short, but that has made my day. And her mother is just the same. Sweetest person ever. She always makes you happy just for being around her. Do you know anyone like them? You're a lucky person if you do.
Last night, during a date, this girl, this sweet, talented, 17 year-old girl, had a terrible car accident and suffered severe spinal injuries. We're all praying for a miracle. If there is one person who deserves a miracle, it's her. If there are still any readers of this blog out there, please, keep Sydney in your prayers, your positive thoughts, or your meditations. The world is a better place because of her, and right now, she needs all the positive energy/blessings she can get. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Sleeping Poet

51 years ago, one of the greatest musicians of the Spanish language was born. Gustavo Adrian Cerati. An illuminated mind who in the 80's looked like a guy transported from the future.
I remember when my dad turned 26, (I was 5!), my mom gave him a cassette featuring the Argentine band Virus, and the brand new Soda Stereo, a trio formed by Gustavo, Zeta and Charly. I don't know where that tape is, but its music is embedded in my mind. It weaved its notes around my life. Soda's music is the soundtrack not only of my youth, but of my whole life.
On May 15th, 2010, after a concert in Colombia, Gustavo suffered severe brain hemorrhage due to high blood pressure. He never woke up. Sleeping Poet. I can't imagine music without him. Wake up, Gustavo. It's your birthday.

Monday, August 09, 2010

I am back!!! And WiteOnCon.com

I feel like I'm coming out of a five week long hibernation. Is the World Cup really over? Who won by the way? Yeah, like I don't already know. The defeat against Germany still hurts, but it's time to come out of my summer long silence (in case you wonder, the fact that Argentina didn't win the Cup isn't the reason I haven't been blogging. Real life, and summer, and having to entertain kids 24/7 are the reason).
But while I was silent, I was busy. I completed another round of revisions on Southern Cross, which is currently being critiqued by an editor. I won an auction a while back, and the prize was the critique. I'm still wavering over my ending, but I'm glad someone other than myself is reading the whole thing. I also passed it on to my friend Julie, who's reading it too. She kept complaining she had read so many versions of the beginning, she had to know how it ended.
Since I sent off Southern Cross, I've been tuning the final details on the outline of my new book. Its characters talk to me all day and all night long. They want to be real, on paper, so I have no other option but to obey.
I also wanted to post about WriteOnCon.com, and online writing workshop. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should! It looks awesome! I already signed up, praying with gratitude I found out about it on Elana's blog. Thanks Elana!
It's still Summer, but the first week of August is over. Like it says on Tuck Everlasting (I read it this summer, and Ah! What a book!), it's all down hill from now.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hero

I've been planning this blog post for months, except I never thought I'd be writing it tonight. I thought next week, on July 11th, I'd be so high with a victory rush that my post would be a gushing of pride and, that, victory.
Argentina lost to Germany today. Let me rephrase.
No, we didn't lose. They bulldozed us, beat us to the ground. Made us go through an agony of 90 + minutes with their 4-0 victory.
4-0
The dream of being the world champions was so close, so real, I, like I'm sure the other 40 million Argentines in the world, would go to bed every night fantasizing about seeing that image on the TV screen. The 23 guys and Diego lifting the cup and going back home victorious. When the dream is so close, so possible, it hurts like death when it comes to an end.
We've been through this before. Against Germany too. Those Germans. Those implacable Germans. But it still hurts. Every time.
When the clock showed there were only 20 minutes left in the game, and we were 3 down, I looked at my sobbing 9 year old son and, as gently as I could, I prepared him. "We're going to lose. But we'll be OK."
He sobbed even harder.
Only last week my precious boy was crying of happiness. An event that made me prouder than Argentina's goal. I told my son, "Remember this is the first time you cry for the albiceleste."
Our national team has given us so many reasons to celebrate. But we've also cried with them. So many times. With Diego, especially.
Diego, our hero, whom so many people hate and so many others idolize. The Napoli people still thank him for the two scudetti Diego won for them, and the Argentines, oh the Argentines! How many times have I shouted goal because of him.
Many people can't understand why we Argentines love him in spite of his drug problems, the times he was so out of control we thought we'd kill himself, and all his craziness.
We love him because he showed us that it IS possible for a boy from the slums to rise to the top of the world and be the best. So good, his goal against England in '86 is regarded as the goal of the century. We love him because 4 short years after the ill-fated Malvinas War, our country stood proudly against the English, and we beat them. With the "Hand of God" and that "Goal of the Century."
In Italy '90, Diego, with a swollen ankle the size of his neck, still played EVERY game and took a mediocre team to the final. Against Germany. Again. We lost. The image of our hero, crying as he received a despised second place medal is etched in my eyes and my heart. I was 12. I'll never forget that July 8th, 1990.
And now, we had another incredible chance. With Lionel Messi, the current best player of the world. A team made up of so much talent, Diego had a hard time choosing whom to take to the cup.
It wasn't meant to be. Excuses. I could find a million. The truth is, we're out and we'll have to wait four more years to try again.
Why is futbol so intoxicating? So special that whole countries go insane when the ball crosses the goal line?
It's not just a sport. Our players fight for National Honor. They're the proof that a person can change history, that even if the economy is still decrepit, if the politicians still lie and steal from the people, if the First World countries always use the Poor Ones as peons in their power struggles, we are good at something. When Messi scores a goal, each Argentine, man or woman, adult or child, feels they're there on the field. Celebrating. And when we see Diego cry! A god crying! We cry too.
That game sure has something special if a little boy who's never been to Argentina can toss nervously at night, anxious for the game, and then the next day cry of disappointment when he realizes no matter how much he prays, the team won't make it. And later that night, still with the blue and white jersey on, go out and face the world, chin up, looking everyone in the eye, because we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You just keep going

2010 will be a year to remember. In the South Africa FIFA worldcup, both former champions and runner-up, Italy and France respectively, are out after the group phase (shocking!) and in Wimbledon, Isner and Mahut played the longest tennis match ever. 11 hours. Give or take a few minutes. A game that spanned over three days. Three days of playing tennis, people! Where do the players get the determination to keep playing? Is there a loser?



Another epic event occurred during the USA game against Algeria. When everyone thought the USA was out of the cup, disappointing again, Landon Donovan rose from the ashes of defeat and scored a goal that in the future will probably be regarded as the turning point of how important futbol is for this country, in spite of what Glenn Beck might say.





And to end my blog post of the week, I can't fail to mention the newest chapter in the fairy tale of Argentine striker Martin Palermo. A 36 year old player who's biggest dream was just being part of the team. A player who was third choice after Milito and Higuain, futbol stars in Italy and Spain. Argentina was playing Greece, in a super tight game. Martin Demichelis had redeemed his mistake in the game against South Korea when he scored the first goal at minute '77. Still, Argentina needed another goal, to breathe in peace and make an almost perfect first round campaign.
Diego Maradona, against his advisors' counsel, gave Martin Palermo the opportunity of going into the pitch at minute '80. Who knew that 10 minutes would be enough to re-write history, to make a whole nation cry of gratitude and emotion?
Maradona told Palermo, "Go in and leave your life." The hero went in, gave his life, and became a Titan, just like his nickname implies. He will go down on the records of history as the oldest guy to debut in the national worldcup team and score a goal.  At minute '89.
What does this all mean? It means that even when you think you're at the end of the road, that your dreams were good dreams, but are just too hard to reach, that you did your best and no one can blame you for giving up, that there's no more hope, think again. There's always hope. You can always do a little more. Who knows? What you thought was your final scene, might be the beginning of the best story of your life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The First Day of Summer

This is joy. My Swan Princess dancing under the sprinklers' shower celebrating the first day of summer.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

WIFYR and the first week of the Worldcup!

In spite of not running much, I feel like I've ran a marathon, one that lasted for a whole week. The Writing for Young Readers conference was the incentive I needed to take my writing to a new level. The first day, the magnitude of the work ahead of me overwhelmed me. By Wednesday, and because I was in an exhaustion-induced high that seemed to slow time for me, I had an epiphany. If I keep writing, never give up, and implement the tools I acquired during the conference, in the end, my book will be a better book. Critique groups are hard. Baring your soul (that's what my writing means--my soul) in front of people to discuss is a akin to standing naked in front of strangers while they discuss each and every flaw of your body. But it's an essential part if the writing process.
I had the privilege of attending the Contemporary Novel Workshop, taught by Ann Dee Ellis, author of This is What I Did.
The quality of writing and critique in the group was way beyond my expectations. I'm honored for having shared a week surrounded by such talented artists. At the beginning of the week we started with 15 strangers, and by Friday, I felt my companions were part of my family. I expect great things to come from our group. The stories we were working on were funny, romantic, imaginative, and also heart-wrenching, real, life-changing.

                                           The Crying Class: Melanie, Christian, Michelle, Erika, Amy, Lisa
                                                    Me, Cherise, Ann Dee, Angie, Shar, Tony, Alicia and Neil (not in picture: Rebekah)


One of the best parts of the conference was the book signing. My dear friend Julie gave my Gorgeous Boy a ride so he could have his books signed by Brandon Mull (Fablehaven among others) and Dave Farland (where do I start?), two of my son's favorite writers. 



Another awesome thing was meeting Carolyn! C., I'm so sorry I missed our lunch on Friday! I arrived late and our class stayed late too! I'm so sorry. But thank you with all my heart for finding me. I love meeting online friends in real life. At least we know we are real!

And to finish my post, and just because I can't blog and not mention the amazing WorldCup, here's a clip of the game that fed my hope that this year, the Cup might be ours. 4-1!!!!!
Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hours away!!!

When I wake up in just a few hours, it will be World Cup time. One whole month of breathing, eating, dreaming futbol. I wish I were in South Africa. But even if mine is the only voice chanting in my neighborhood, I'll always sing to the albiceleste and pray to all the angels of heaven for a victory, for the opportunity to join my voice to my fellow Argentines all over the world as we cheer for our guys. This will be Leo's year. Juan Sebastian's world cup. El Kun's chance to showcase his magic. The Little Chief, Mascherano will make history. Romero, guarding our goal. May no balls breach our goal posts. Carlitos Tevez, the player of the people, will dance his magic steps on the field. Milito, The Titan Palermo, Heinze, all of our guys. This year, the blue and white will be victorious again. Diego, this is your chance to prove the world you can soar higher than in 1986, and be great again, even greater than in Mexico.
I'm so excited for this world cup I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Long Live Las Provincias Unidas del Sur!!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

So handsome!


They hold my heart! So much depends on them. Not only do we have the best players, but they're so good-looking!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hear Ye Mortals

... The sacred cry. Liberty, liberty, liberty. This is the opening line of the Argentine Anthem.
200 Years have passed since the first Argentine government was established on May 25th 1810, defying the motherland, Spain. For two hundred years, our people have been clamoring for liberty
and trying to forge an Argentine identity from as many cultures and countries as exist in this world. The Argentine newspaper Clarin made a poll in which it asked the people what it means to be an Argentine. The answers range from the very worst (unorganized, corrupted, lazy) to the very best (hard-working, imaginative, resilient, brave).
This is my definition of Argentina, or what comes to my mind when I think about my beautiful country,


The school, especially the ones out in the country. Where the teacher breaks a pencil in two so two kids can learn.



The maté and the gaucho. Asado and dulce de leche


                                                            The newspaper stand


                                                                    The bus
                                       
                                               Laughing in class with Clemente and Mafalda

                                  Beyond his ideologies, we had a famous revolutionary

When Las Leonas play hockey, or Los Pumas play rugby, Del Potro wins the US Open or Manu fights in the playoffs, we all cheer for them:
              
                                     The art of the written word: Borges, Cortazar, Alfonsina Storni

                                  One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. El Ateneo


                                                  The mind behind the bypass: Rene Favaloro
                                
                  The art of music. Soda Stereo and Andres Calamaro. They sing the soundtrack of my life

                                                            The fallen soldiers of Malvinas

                                        Iguazu, Aconcagua and Perito Moreno Glacier
       
                                                                    Diego and Lio
          
                                                The people who cheer no matter what

                                                              Social unrest. Desaparecidos
                             
                                                                  Buenos Aires
   
                                                                      Rosario Central

                                                                 The Flag Memorial
                     
San Martin, the liberator. The general who helped us realize that fighting for freedom would only work if we were united. He died in exile, after all he did for the people not only of Argentina, but Chile, Peru and Bolivia. 
                                       
                                                                    My barrio

Argentina is the people who stayed, and the others like me, who for one reason or another left the country, but never abandoned it. No matter where I looked today, I saw the colors of my flag. Blue sky against the white mountains. In the car wash, blue soap against the white foam.
Fito Paez, a Rosarinian singer and fellow Scoundrel sings, "I'm not from here, or there."
That's exactly what I feel. When I'm in Argentina, I can't wait to come back home in Utah. When I'm here, I only dream of going back there. My heart will forever be torn in two. When I was a little girl, I loved to read the dictionary. In the back there was a spread displaying the world flags. My favorite ones were always the Argentine flag, and the USA one, even before I knew what a country even was. 
Being an Argentine, is being conflicted. Always. The land of our ancestors versus the land where we were born. The place where we were born versus the place where it is home. All tugging at my heart with the same force, for different reasons.
Happy Two hundred Years Argentina. May the future bring us stability, peace, and wisdom to choose who best represents us. May we be free from ourselves, those traits that pull us down.