Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Last Dance of Summer

I chaperoned a grade school dance last May, the boys stood lined up against the mats on the gym wall and the girls danced in the middle of the floor with each other. Both stayed that way for hours, apart from each other and believing that the chance to dance would last all night. When the deejay called out his last song, they all froze, not sure how something this wonderful could end. There were flitting glances sent back and forth, from girls to boys and back again. "This is it," I whispered to the group near me, "the last song is here. If there's anything you want to do before this night ends, you better do it now." A few faces looked into mine, all they needed was one more push. "It's the last dance. You don't say no to the last dance."

August is summer calling out its end. If you want to walk out into autumn without looking back in regret, you'd better slide your body off the wall and into the center.

This morning, I'm going to go to the outdoor cafe with the shade trellis where I've yet to sit and order a warmed croissant with morning coffee.

I'm going to make sure the bottoms of our feet trek along the boardwalk that runs over the sand dunes 50 minutes from my home.

The surrey tram rides that circle the lake nearby stop running on Labor Day. We'll go there this weekend.

Since June, my children have been asking me for an old-fashioned picnic, so I've brought up the basket from the basement.

Summer will come again, but this summer won't. Everyone will be older in the one to come. We'll have experiences this year that we know nothing about right now. Lots will be different next year--but for this first day of August, right now, it's all wonderfully the same. There are five of us at home, five of us still together in this house as a family, until August comes to an end.

My children don't look that much different than they did this time last year. I'm the one who is thicker in the middle, my youngest -- he might be the only one that's changed, he stands eye to eye with me sometimes, it depends on the day.

The golden syrupy days are here, of when the packed summer schedule of classes is finally wrapped up and any vacations to be had, are now returned from.

August holds its hand out to me, and I've learned enough to know you don't turn away when asked to the night's last dance.

* * *

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Parent Bingo


Those are three types of parenting I just read about. Just seeing the letters that spell them out sends chills up my spine. The names alone are enough to scare me. I don't want to delve further into descriptors because I know I'll identify with 8 out of the 10 characteristics posted.

Have I bought my children what they've asked for?

Do the Dr. Dre monster headphones they wanted for no reason count? BINGO! Put your red marker on the Indulgent square.

How about that time you didn't make dinner for four five days straight?

BINGO again! You get to fill up the Neglectful row.

And then when you didn't budge about getting them a smartphone even though every kid in his class had one? (that one time? Who are you kidding it's still that one time)

Winner! Pile all your red chips in the center for Authoritarian.

Parenting is the most important thing in my life. It's what I think about when I wake up and right before I pass out at night. Parenting absorbs me and replenishes me. I love being the mother of my children. It's been my life for 20 years.

And I still don't know what I'm doing. I'm as terrified at times as I am at ease at others. Even when I had that high school boyfriend who convinced me that I could do a Civil War reenactment weekend doesn't compare to how at a loss I am for what I'm doing as a parent.

I whisper to myself at night, Forgive yourself as you forgive them.
I've written on a note I keep in my purse, Mistakes are part of learning.
Taped to my dresser room mirror is a yellow post-it, You don't just move on, you learn.

All these words I keep close to my side, meant to keep me going until the point I feel like I'm not groping in the dark anymore--hands stretched out searching. When I feel the terrain is familiar enough for me to step out without fear of tripping over something unseen, someone rearranges the furniture.

It's the secretive way that I was as a child, never feeling that I would be understood or accepted. That memory of feeling so lonely in a houseful of people keeps me second-guessing if I'm giving my children what they need. There is a balance to them feeling in control, intact, independent and me guiding, encouraging, instilling.

I never felt I was able to have a say as a kid, and that made me give up. It took decades to find my own voice from that.

My three children turn to me. In their joy and in their anger and questioning of the 100 percent say I have in their lives. I'm at the receiving end of gratitude as well as the backlash that goes with looming so large in someone's life.

They have always felt safest with me. When I would shower, and they were infants, my husband would have to hold them up and to the side so they could peek in past the curtains to keep me in their sight. It was the only way to keep them from screaming their heads off. The force of their maternal need for me, for mama, had me standing under the showerhead, water rushing over me, singing-weeping as much to them as to myself.

I now shower without Peeping Toms. I don't even have to announce I'm going upstairs to do it. I used to wonder if those eternal days would ever end, when I wouldn't have to stand in the center of a room and megaphone my hands over my mouth, 
“Mommy's going to go to the bathroom now. I'll be right back.”
“Mommy's going to go downstairs and get the laundry. I'll be right back.”
“Mommy's going to make a phone call. I'll be right back.”

The land has leveled and I've got my own oxygen now. But it's only been a few minutes of free-breathing and the air has thinned again. My youngest is 13 now, and he has started conversations that sound less like an offer of ringside seats to a fight and more like being in the ring.

As he tries to find himself, I see how he's the one groping in the dark now. Is he a boy? Is he a young man? He has to answer that, and I have to remember I don't want to stop that process of him discovering who he is--and the power there is in that. He is my child who is becoming a teen and he's caught between wanting the days of yesterday with the want to keep up with his peers. We all know it's easier to blame someone else for those feelings of still wanting to be with his mom than it is to know that it's him who does the opposite of what the world shows.

After all, our world doesn't have any video games, movies, or music that reward liking your parents. "You still like your mom? SO COOL! Extra points for that!”

Just because he hands me an invitation to a fight doesn't mean I have to show up jabbing. I can refuse the boxing gloves and stand holding my two arms open instead.

Whether he falls into them or not, it's his independent decision.
But I never want to miss the chance of being the one they feel safest with.
* * *  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A-B-C Always Be Closing: How About A-A-B-B Instead

A-A-B-B. My four-letter magic formula. It beats the business mantra of A-B-C Always Be Closing and has gotten me to some smart places in life.

A-A-B-B - Avoid, Accept, Borrow, or Buy. And not just in the material world. A-A-B-B can be slapped onto all areas of life; people, things, events, situations.

You can A-A-B-B when you meet a new person and are deciding whether or not to take them on into your fold, or when you find yourself wondering, Should I say something or should I not?

Say you’re at a restaurant and you've just finished a great meal, but are still feeling a tad hungry. When you pick up the dessert menu, before ordering the New York Turtle Cheesecake for yourself, apply the rule of A-A-B-B instead.
A- Avoid? Nice idea if you want to finally toss out the holey sweatpants.
A- Accept? Yeah, sure, the cheesecake is acceptable if there are pants in your closet that will still accept the size of your butt.
B- Borrow? WHY YES. Have your dining partner order it and you borrow a few forkfuls off their plate.
B- Buy? If you've got the change in your pockets, go on ahead. What is life if you don't treat yourself to your own slice.

In the case of a less than friendly neighbor across the street (more common than you know)—what to do about the way she blows all your leaves that come from a shared tree back to your driveway and out of hers?

You can A- Avoid her and just watch from the upstairs window, shaking your head and tsking away.

You can A- Accept her behavior. Who cares, right? Blow away, sister.

You can B- Borrow a leaf blower and blow the leaves right back again as soon as she’s through. Passive aggressive feels good for a reason.

You can B- Buy. Buy your own leaf blower and stand guard with it across your lap up in a deer tree stand you’ve built just for leaf blowing season.

I have yet to find any system that works better than A-A--B-B'ing my way through life.

Let’s try it: Morning yoga class starts in 20 minutes. You can A-Avoid that downward dog today and stay in child’s pose in front of your laptop all morning, or A-Accept that you have reached that stage in life where if you don’t do something with your body every day you’ll be pulling your ass up with clothespins. And maybe you’ll move on to B-Borrow that yoga mat and show up at the studio.

I’m pulling that final letter B-Buy today with my yoga class. I will B-Buy Beach Side Yoga with Rodney Yee Volume 1, stay home, and watch my new DVD.  A-A-B-B and pass the buttered popcorn while I watch this DVD, will ya. I can feel my mind grow supple with bend and shape as I ponder, How in Sam Hill does Rodney spatula himself into a Speedo that small?
Let's test your A-A-B-B skills, How would you handle the urge to yoga work out, supposing you wake up feeling that way tomorrow morning (it could happen):
A- Avoid the possibility of ligament injury by watching others on YouTube bend like the willow instead.
A- Accept that some look finer than you ever will so that's okay, we'll work out tomorrow.
B- Borrow and watch another DVD from the library to make sure you fully mentally integrate the greatness that a good yoga body is, or
B- Buy your own DVD to make sure that if you ever get the urge to touch your toes and reach for the sun, you won't be able to use the internet being down as an excuse to not move. 
The answer:
A-B-C - Always Be Chewing. Let me think about what I'm going to do right after I finish this chocolate with sea salt caramel bar.
* * *

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Auggie's Laments: Post BlogHer and While Mom's Away


Dad trying to get me to touch poison.

"Just knock me out until you get back." - Auggie, one hour before I left

"You can't convince me you have to go." - Auggie, night before I left

"Nice job trying to make me think four days isn't that long." - Auggie, on drive to airport

It's my fifth BlogHer conference, and it's also the fifth year of "Auggie's Laments." These posts have worked out to be my best posts of the year and my most highly visited.

Auggie is my youngest son, he keeps a "journal" [never say diary] of the day by day accounts of what happens while I am gone to the BlogHer conference. Does he exaggerate? Maybe. But I'll tell you this, he makes me laugh.

It's time to open the journal, and present to you, the fifth annual edition of Auggie's Laments: What Goes Down While Mom is at BlogHer.

DAY 1:
-Dad tried to feed us a made up breakfast. He tried to. It was awful on both accounts.

-Later we played basketball and he actually tried to play me like it was a real game. Every time he made a basket he'd say SLAAAAAAAAAAM. It was bad, mom.

-This sounds good but it wasn't: he didn't tell us when to go to bed. It's more fun when someone tells you and you don't do it then when they just let you.

-I slept in my clothes and he didn't care that they had pollen from the day on them.

DAY 2:
-Dad offered to make me my toast but I declined because I know he would toast it brown and I just like it to be warm bread. He also goes crazy with the butter and brown sugar like he can't see or something and the toast quote quote becomes soggy French fry sticks instead.

-However, he did order our hamburgers the right way at McDonald's and did get me to my classes on time.

-Oh! We had a soccer meeting with my coach and he is Brazilian and so Dad!! DAD! pulled out his "amazing" Portuguese and kept saying "obrigado" to him and I was mortified. I almost crapped my pants.

-He burped without saying excuse me and ate without a shirt on and those are all things I can't eat around. You know that.

-Dad used pesticide, got it on his fingers, then he licked them and ate a KitKat!

-Manana, mama, I miss you.

DAY 3:
-One more day, mama! I love you.

-Woof. What a day! I got slammed when we played basketball outside (again, mama, again) because I told Dad that basketball is a recreational sport and not a competitive sport and he ran past me and said, "recreational this!" and kept shoving the ball in the basket.

-We went to the mall for something to do and hung around Barnes and Noble but it's not like with you who buys me stuff.

-Dad made me play basketball again at night. Every time he'd go by me he'd say, "Smell that? I smell like a winner!"

-I am surviving but I love you and I miss you.

DAY 4:
-We are picking you up today!

-Quite possibly the longest day of my life.

-Not much to write about unless you want to know how Dad made us go for a walk in A TORNADO. I said, "Dad, the sky is yellow like a magic marker," and he said, "Who cares LET'S GO FOR A WALK EVERYBODY."

-I almost got ketchup poisoning from ketchup left out because no one cares about putting stuff back in the fridge when you're gone.

-Also, we have had NO SHOWERS.

-I thought my face was getting all zitty all of a sudden but it's probably a staph infection from bacteria because Absolutely no showers!

-This is day three of me not changing clothes because no one tells us to.

P.S. I'm hurrying with this, now Dad's rushing around to clean up the house before you come home and he's trying to teach us how to use the washer!

I miss you, mama, going to get you soon!

Love, Auggie
* * *
Past Auggie BlogHer laments can be found here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BlogHer Re-Entry: It's Real

We constantly change. And as much as I would love to do what I usually do after a BlogHer conference, which is to write a humorous post, I find myself being pulled instead to tell what this annual conference has come to mean.

Bloggers attending this conference joke about coming back home, we call this “re-entry”. When the perfection of days among your people leave you wanting more of it when you get back home. It's hard to settle for the day to day after you've had Disneyland for grown ups. The laughter, good food, parties and dinners with friends, keynote speakers that are celebrities, and workshops, panels, presentations all feeding us more of what we love to talk about most: our blogging. It's hard to go home to grocery runs, laundry duty, carpool schedules and no one serving us coffee when you've experienced the world's largest social media conference for women. You don't want what you've had, to end. You don't want who you are when there, to disappear again.

There is no such thing as a perfect experience, but these four days spent with kindred spirits who love to do what I do, which is to put our words together and send them out into the internet, comes pretty close.

I have been writing my words, my stories, since I learned how to print. Before then, I would whisper my stories into my dolls' ears while I held them, falling asleep. I would listen to my Abuela tell her stories and knew that some day, I wanted to do the same. To learn to weave my words into a dance. Standing together, we shared her worn wooden cutting board, chopping the onion we needed for dinner, and I would be lulled into the expanse of the rise and fall of the waves of my grandmother's voice.

At my first BlogHer five years ago, I arrived with preconceptions about the conference and its attendees. I was worried I wouldn't fit among them, I was too nervous to think beyond how an introvert would survive four days with strangers while states away from home. I attended every workshop and I went to every party. I concentrated so hard in absorbing everything that BlogHer offered that I forgot to think about saying hello.

A conference was about air fare, hotel fees, arranging child care, and making the four days you had there count. I was at an actual conference, my first one in 15 years since I had stopped working full time and I was determined to return home, armed and ready to tackle my dreams. Instead, I was among people, so many people, and who are these people? On my last night at this first conference, I sat outside of the hotel on the San Diego marina and tried to hear my grandmother's voice in the lapping moonlit waves that rose and fell. Blogging had allowed me to call myself a writer. I was here, to be exposed to different styles of writing. And there were so many here, like me, did we all want the same thing?

At that first conference, I met a writer named Polly Pagenhart. She wrote in the style that I aspired to — she spoke in the voice of what I had grown up hearing. Stinging in its honesty, and in the naked style of truth. I had only heard a style like this once before, and that was in my own family. Polly's stories were hands up and life out loud. Chest open wide and arms taking it all in. Her stories were no exaggerated version. I know, because I had been hearing this style my entire life. It's a voice that makes for great storytellers. I had been living without hearing the voice of my grandmother for a very long time, but here I was, in San Diego at a BlogHer conference, and feeling like home again.

I came home from my first BlogHer conference, heavily influenced by the people I had met and the panels I had attended. I thought of my career goals. I flew back home on the plane, unable to settle into my seat, because I never thought that I would find people like me.

I was at my second BlogHer, looking for more ways to grow into what I hoped would bring me what I then thought I wanted. This time, I was in New York, and I ticked off activities and get-togethers, cobbling together and leaving only time enough to sleep. I was determined to find a way to see my stories published. Again, my intent was to learn and absorb.

On my third BlogHer conference in Chicago, I had come feeling more prepared. I was going to tackle the technical side of what I felt I needed to know, Search Engine Optimization, Coding, Pinterest, Google Plus, maybe even learn about video. Could I self publish? All of this was offered, and all of this, I took in.

Last year, my fourth BlogHer, I arrived for the first time feeling that I had something I could offer. In the five years since I first began blogging, I had learned that technique, technology, networking, tips, tricks, and contacts are all lost in the wind without the most important net that pulls everything together. That of belief in your words. It was this realization that I wanted to share with the conference that had given so much to me over the past four years. I was given the incredible honor of saying exactly those words of encouragement, and gratitude, as a keynote speaker for BlogHer's 10th year anniversary. The moment I had on stage being part of celebrating what BlogHer has accomplished, remains one that is surreal.

We constantly change. We are dynamic, not permanent or unaffected by our world. We are works in progress. And our lives are something we look at from the stance of moments that have passed. Our experiences are our process, and the people we see and meet are all part of what shapes us. Just as Polly did with me from that first BlogHer meeting five years ago.

It's been over five years that I've been writing on my blog. Some days I fear that I'll run out of the gift, the quickness of words that fly off my fingers. I had a dream once. I was unable to recognize the shapes of letters and I couldn't understand what I was looking at on the pages of a book. It left me terrified.

I arrived this year at BlogHer, my fifth conference, with an appreciation of what I can do. Once, I thought that anyone could write, and keep doing it. You just had to sit and type. But BlogHer has fostered a respect for myself and an awe, for what I do. I do something and have persevered at something, and this is what gives me my good days. I began BlogHer conferences wanting to learn how to write. I never imagined the trail would lead to recognizing that I had achieved the dream I had so cautiously wished for myself when I was four years old and held my dolls as I fell asleep.

At the closing party for this year's BlogHer, I sat on the pier, inhaling deeply of the night air. On either side of me was an amazing, intelligent, generous woman. As the sun set, I listened to the waves rise and fall, much like my Abuela's voice so many years ago. It was so much like what these six years with BlogHer have been. Stirring, moving, calming and powerful, water so deep and beautiful, and part of an evening that was as close to perfect as you can get.

BlogHer, thank you for reminding me why I write, and for motivating me to keep on writing. Thank you for holding the mirror of confidence in front of me, the one I have never seen before this year. One that reflects back what I have always hoped to see, the face of a writer.
 * * *

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Happy Place - BlogHer 2015

BlogHer co-founders, Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins, Lisa Stone

A happy place. Not somewhere in your mind but a physical space where you pack up a suitcase with the things you'll need for a few days, and then get on a plane that will take you there.

T shirt art by A'Driane Nieves
That's a BlogHer conference. It's a real place, with real people. People ask how you can be friends with someone you've never met in person, or wonder how odd it must be to meet someone on the internet. But it's doing that, on the internet, that is exactly what has enriched my life. I have met friends and found community because of the internet.

My friends in the computer. I am drawn to them because I feel accepted, included, and liked, when I'm with them.

The annual BlogHer conference is a very real place for me.

And the love I hold for the people that are all a part of this, is just as real.

The only thing that would have made my days at the conference more fantastic, would have been...
nothing. There is nothing I can think of. Except for the cab ride to the hotel from LaGuardia where the driver imagined I said, "I'm in a hurry! Get me there as fast as you can!" Otherwise, my cup runneth over with the good feelings from this conference.

It's good to be back home. More detailed posts on the conference--musings and ponderings on how the conference has changed for me and of how my expectations of what to experience have evolved.

And, of course, Auggie's list of lamentations of transgressions that took place while I was gone. Easily, the best part about going away and coming back are his "Tattletale Tales: Volume 1". I've been republishing his words for five years now, you can see the past years lists of how hard life is while I'm gone, here.

Here's what I sneak-peeked and read, "Day 2: we had to go for a walk in a near tornado." But otherwise, I have no complaints--a few requests for some good solid sleep tonight, maybe, but no complaints.
8 hours of this please

Well, all right. I do wish my house was picked up a bit more before I came home, but, I only say that because you twisted my arm.

More later. Because for right now, this -
"Mom, did you hear that? It's my sigh. You're home."

* * *

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Penguins with People Problems

Penguins aren't that much different than we are.

They stress eat.

They question their wardrobe choices.

They have four margaritas and decide to write their memoir.

And they suffer fools.

The brilliance of Penguins with People Problems is that Mary Laura Philpott's penguins soon become the friends you wish you had in real life. They did for me.

I want you to have these penguins as your friends, too.
So I am doing a book giveaway of Penguins with People Problems. Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page for a random draw next Tuesday.

Good luck! And until then, don't attempt the smoky eye the way Penny did-no matter how easy the YouTube tutorial makes it look.
You can follow along with the penguins on tumblr by clicking here.
To order your copy of Mary Laura Philpott's Penguins with People Problems, click here.

 Mary Laura Philpott is an author, editor, and occasional artist who has written for The New York Times, The Queen Latifah Show, The Tennessean, The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, and The Toast, among other publications. She is the editor-in-chief of Musing, the online literary magazine produced by Parnassus Books, as well as the co-author, with JD DuPuy, of a popular humor book for lawyers, Poetic Justice - Legal Humor in Verse. She also runs her own humor blog, "I Miss You When I Blink."
* * *

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Yes, They're Here! The Listen To Your Mother Show Videos Are Here!

The Listen To Your Mother videos from our 2015 season are HERE.

Over 450 new stories of motherhood are now part of our LTYMShow YouTube channel! This brings the total of LTYM videos to almost 1500 videos - going back through to include all five seasons of LTYM shows.

You can watch videos from our 2015 Milwaukee show here.

These videos are fantastic, and I could not be prouder of our Milwaukee cast. Ten stories from everyday people that are extraordinary in the sharing of laughter, aha moments, bittersweet epiphanies, and celebration of life -- you need to listen. (because when it comes to motherhood, you know who is always right)
 * * *

Thursday, July 9, 2015

35 Ways My Mom Loves to Torture Me Over Summer Vacation

Summer post by my son, Auggie.

The first thing I want to say is I would rank these but then I would run out of numbers:

I'm in my room for prolonged amounts of time. By my standards. When I do something that I don't think is that bad.

I can't do anything with friends.

I can't do any social media.

I can't have a phone.

I can't text.

I can't have an iPod that does all the stuff. I have an iPod but she won't let me do the stuff on it that I could do.

She won't let me watch R movies and they're summer blockbusters.

She makes me do what she wants.

She doesn't make my older brothers play with me.

I can only do half an hour of video games a day. And THEN she sits next to me to make sure they're good games.

I can only watch shows for an hour a day.

I can't call people whenever I want.

She makes me go for family walks.

She barely just got me a headset to play video games with.

She signs me up for swimming lessons in the mornings when it's the coldest.
She gets mad when I say if she thinks swimming is so important then why isn't she the one taking the lessons.

She won't let me hang out with girls.

She won't let me hang around downtown or in movie theatres.
Parks, either.

She has me at a $20 spending limit in stores.

She won't let me just do "nothing."

She takes me on “surprise” field trips.

She buys me books that are “classic” that I have to read.

She makes me take a shower.

She makes me use a pillow or something between my body and the iPad so I don't get radiation. Especially over my "reproductive organs."
She makes me tell her my one plan for the day.
She calls places to see who I'm going to be with when I say I'm going somewhere with somebody.
I can never say "somebody" when she asks me who I'm going with.
I can never say "somewhere" when she asks me where I'm going.
I can't stay up after midnight even though I only have swimming the next day.
Even though it's vacation I still have to do errands and chores.
Even though it's vacation I still have to change clothes and can't wear the same underwear after I take a shower.
Even though it's vacation and we're not in school seeing people I still have to brush my teeth and floss even if no one sees me in the mornings except her.
Even though it's summer she won't cancel my dentist appointments.

She makes me write her blog posts.

* * *

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Here Is a Story About Hair

I have spent one-third of my life growing out my hair. One-third wishing for long hair. And the last third daydreaming of long hair. In my wide-awake state, I would see myself with masses of silky tresses in such abundance that they necessitated gathering up in one hand and tossing across my shoulder like a rising tsunami before I could lean in and take a sip from a drinking fountain.

In the second grade, my brown tights snugly pulled down over my scalp served as my long hair stand-in. When the tights were in the laundry from their multiple use, then it was on to a sepia-tone bath towel artfully twisted into a top knot so that I could work it as one of The Supremes. Which Supreme I was didn't matter because all three had hair and enough of it to pile on top of a head.

My life and my hair are a simple relationship: I have always wanted a lot of it.

Age 2:  Here I am, trying to grow my hair out. Doesn't matter if I'm the one on the right or my brother is. We look the same.

(heyhey let's not talk about how kids were allowed to bounce along in the front seat, all right? dear LORD I hope my father is just parked for a cute photo opp and not actually DRIVING)

Age 3:  Growing my hair out.

Again, pay no mind to who is me versus who is the brother. *Surprise bonus Spanish lesson: on top of my head are the Colombian equivalent to corkscrew curls, known as "cachumbos" Repeat after me, kah-choom-bohs. Good job. **Also, what the heck, why is my mouth always open.

Age 4:  Growing my hair out.
You know the rules, my brother and I are interchangeable. (finally learned to close my mouth)
Age 5:  Growing my hair out, but thinking that maybe I can dance the time away while I wait.

Let's slap any old dress on and see if I can coax a tendril along.

Age 6:  Still growing my hair out. Is it Alexandra? Is it her brother? Doesn't matter, the hair is still not there. For either of us.

But I'm giddy with hope that maybe Santa will bring the hair I asked for.
Age:  Hair!

Age is Who cares I've got hair!

Age 18:  Hair Nation continues and just in time for Flash Dance/Jennifer Beals lookalike contest.

An inch of frosted ice eye shadow placed on the lid directly over your pupil will make your eyes pop! Not look like a Martian like your jackass soon to be ex boyfriend says.
Age 30:  I love having hair so much that I pay people to take pictures of it.

  Pirate blouse borrowed from Jerry Seinfeld

Age 32:  I finally have enough hair to be a Supreme!

Piles and piles of hair for miles! My bun is my lovechild.

Age 34:  I started having babies. They snatched my husband bald headed and tore at my scalp like cats fighting off a bath. I had no choice at 2 o'clock one afternoon except for Great Cuts, only $9.99 on Tuesdays and doesn't it look like it.

Just give me something chopped. And flat. Maybe parted down the middle. PERFECT.

Age 42:  I stopped having babies. For the next years, life will be a repeat of Ages 1-8: Trying to grow hair out.

Current State:  Hair is grown out due to secret hair-encouraging diet!

   Secret is Entemann's marble fudge cake. One piece daily.
Now along with wearing babies I can also wear my hair in a bun.

So glad I spent a third of my life growing my hair out so it could live on top of my head.

Whoa! Ease up on that athletic hair band especially when you don't do athletics.

and Again..

More secret hair growing recipe. This one is hair vitamin chocolate ice cream malt special.

and Again.

Experimenting with a new bun style: I call this one the split bow.

My Abuela used to crack herself up with a joke she told. She never got through it without busting into cackles along with an awful lot of thigh slapping (her own). It went like this, “An old woman went to her hairdresser. When she got there, she told her ::gasp-chortle-snort:: “Cut my hair so I don't look like an old woman anymore!” So the hairdresser cuts it all off, stands back and says, ::sputter-choke-choke:: “There! Now you look like an old man!” *abuela passes out from wheezing*

It is because of that joke, that I will never cut my hair.

The hair shall grow wild, free, (except for the expert color they do at Clementine's omg) until the day I look like a witch in the woods.

Too late. Kids, go get mama's broom.

It's an old-fashioned Blog Hop! One topic: My Life in Hair, featuring some of the internet's finest. Click on the links below and see what they have to say about Their Life In Hair:

Shari Simpson of Dusty Earth Mother

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Of Love and Liberace

Coming from a long line of storytellers, no tale ever seems too far fetched. I'm used to retellings that sound like they come from the Reader's Digest section "How I Survived and Lived To Tell This Story!" So used to a good story am I, that I easily forget what listening to a Rosas tale can do to the unschooled.

What happens when an outsider steps into the middle of a Rosas Woman telling a story?

Find out today on Purple Clover with Liberace and Liz Taylor's diamond.

*Always, I thank you for reading!
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Friday, July 3, 2015

The First of Fourth of Julys

It's the end of our day, but my grandmother is packing sliced sausage, a metal tin of saltines, and bottles of Hamm's beer into a brown box. My mother calls out to my father to remember the bottle opener. We are, the entire houseful of us, readying to take flight. I look outside the kitchen window and see near darkness. Where can we be going, and packing food for it? I chew on my thumbnail.

We have a blanket and sweaters. We sit, little children on adult laps, seven in a car made for five. Driving out of our neighborhood and turning into the streets we only travel on Sunday afternoons. But it's night.

My fingers are in my mouth again and my Abuela brushes them down with a grazing slap.

I ask my father, “A donde vamos, papa?” I have to know where we are going.
He blows cigarette smoke from the side of his mouth out of the rolled down driver's window. “Al lago,” he says. To the lake.

In the dark? To swim in the night? I pull the collar of the red and white striped T shirts that my mother bought for the four of us into my mouth and start sucking.

“You need to stay near us,” my mother reaches for my father's cigarette and takes a quick puff. I barely ever see this and every time I do, it feels like something too private for me to witness.

“No running,” she orders. “It will be dark.”

She turns to look at me and my brother. We are the youngest ones. “No running.”

“Si, mama.” I answer for my brother.

We arrive at the lake, the one we go to on Sundays. It is a weeknight, but we are here. I hear voices and lean forward to peek out the window. There are so many cars here that it looks like the used car lot we went to for my father's car.

I leap off my Abuela's lap after my sisters leave the car and my mother catches me. “You're running," she warns. My grandmother finds my hand and gives the food to my older sisters to carry. My father and mother walk in front of us, her arm linked into his. He says something too quiet for me to hear and my mother laughs.

Over the voices, I hear the sound of pops. They are close, but muffled. We move with the crowd, and I bite the edge of my bottom lip because it's getting hard to follow my father in front of us. He is turning and dodging but my grandmother is slow and I don't want to lose him because I am little and we are far from home with my Abuela who doesn't speak English.

I start to run again. My mother turns around and I stop.

“Mama!” I call out, wondering if my voice will be as loud in the night as it is in the day. “Mama! Wait for us!”

"Daughter! M'ija!” She calls back to me, but keeps walking. “You worry all the time.”

I do. I am always scared. I don't understand what we do and I never know where we go.

I feel caught. Between the house that feels safe where we all speak the same language, and being here, outside, where our voices are the only ones in Spanish.

I am between worlds again.

“Why worry, daughter?”

I can't explain.

My father claps when we find an open space of grass, and my Abuela spreads our blanket. The seven of us sit, shoulders and knees against backs. All around, there are people next to people and no place to walk in between. The grass is wet and soaks through. I want to stand but don't dare in the darkness. I see no one else standing off of their blankets and I know right away that we did things wrong again.

The blanket we brought is the wrong kind. From the corner of my eye, I see that the family next to us has food that I know is American. Not our sausage, not the bright red salty kind that my father likes. We always bring the wrong things.

We don't know how to live in America. No one in my family ever worries about how we don't do things right, except for me.

We sit, I don't know what we wait for. The crowd is murmuring, and then there is silence. A sound like a whizzing arrow slices through the air and then a crack of thunder. I scream and my Abuela pulls me into her. "Mi chinita, my little girl," her voice is soothing. I push my head inside her thin summer sweater and I rest there.

There is no time to breathe before the next booms start. The pounding of  sound comes one after the other and I tremble with each one.

I have never heard anything like this except in a storm. How long before the rain makes us wet?

My legs feel the ground rumble, and the wild thunder continues. I throw my hands over my eyes and keep them squeezed shut inside my grandmother's sweater. I breathe in and a smell like the wooden matches my Abuela uses in the kitchen fills the air. I want to be home.

There is a round of continuous pops and I think that surely, this time, the thunder will bring rain. I keep my eyes closed and shiver, anticipating how we'll be wet any minute.

I hold the smooth buttons on my Abuela's sweater between my fingers. Twirling each one back and forth, I count to ten. It will make the time waiting for things to end go faster if I count each one. There is a moment of silence that stretches into minutes, and then, the thunder is gone. I open my eyes and look up. I see my father standing. 

“The fireworks were better in Colombia,” he says with his hands on his hips. His voice sounds thin after the booms of the night. "They were more exciting." I wonder how they could have something over there, that is from here.
My father turns and bends down over my mother. She lifts her face up to him and he offers her his two hands. She takes them both. They are happy.
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*My father had only three Fourth of Julys in this country. He died three years after coming to America.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Because of Churches, People, and America

I've heard reactions this week to the Charleston shooting that have been like this, "How long do we have to keep talking about this? I'm not racist but talking about it all the time is." The risk is this: no talk, no action. Out of the conversation means out of our consciousness.

You know what happens when you stop talking about something. It lulls you into thinking it's gone away. 7 Black churches have burned this week. This week. Don't let talk about race in America die.

Let's Keep Talking.

Thank you, BlogHer, for keeping the talk alive.

Proud to be featured on BlogHer today with Please Keep Talking

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