It's a sunny spring day and the windows are open and Toddler is taking a pleasantly long nap. This morning we went on a walk downtown, had some tea at a cafe, commented on passing trucks (he now knows the color yellow-- it's his favorite because he's obsessed with construction vehicles.) On the way home he jumped in mud puddles (which are lingering from the past few days of rain-snow). To his credit, he asked me permission first, while standing at the puddle's edge, ready to spring. "Mess, Mommy? Me mess?" And because he looked so beautiful with the mud-puddle light reflecting on his face, and because I was so happy about the mud-lucious (a la ee cummings) world, I said, "Sure, go ahead." And splat! MESS!
So, on to writing-related things-- I had the privilege of participating in Bas Bleu Theatre's Immigration-themed night of readings and performance last week. It was incredible-- so moving and inspiring!
The evening started with Teresa Funke reading a lovely essay about the longing she's felt to connect with her Mexican roots, despite her mother's and grandmother's rejection of a Mexican identity.
Then I read a sneak preview of Star in the Forest (spring 2010), my novel for ages 7 and up about a girl whose dad gets deported to Mexico. The audience liked it (at least they said they did...), which made me happy, especially since this is the first time I've read from it!
There were two extremely touching audiotaped stories (originally a high school project intended for a radio program) told by local teens about how they immigrated here. This was one of the many times I got choked up during the evening.
Mark Sanchez read his poetry, some of which was really funny (like his infected toe that got up and walked away) and some of which was powerful and sad (about poverty he witnessed in Oaxaca).
Q & A panel after the show. Left to right-- me, Gloria Garcia Diaz, one of the students involved in the radio project, Mark Sanchez.
There was a fantastic Romeo and Julieta scene from a bilingual production of the play-- super creative and romantic.
For me, one of the most special parts of the night was reading my friend Gloria Garcia Diaz's piece about a childhood trip she and her family took to scavenge in a dump in the slums of Mexico City. It's a funny, gorgeous, sad story that ends on the poignant note of her parents playing guitar together... and Gloria tape-recording their songs. It turned out to be a recording she'd treasure her whole life-- her mother died a year later, and her father three years later. After the reading, we played the audiotape-- it was haunting and heart-wrenching to hear those voices and guitar notes from so many years ago. (That was another time I got choked up...)
So, I finally got my first every-other-month e-newsletter out! Thank you, everyone who gave me enthusiastic responses! If you haven't signed up for it, and you want to, please go here.
As you know if you read the newsletter, I'm holding a creative writing contest to win a free signed copy of the RED GLASS audiobook CD (a $45 value)! Please enter the contest!
I read two amazing speculative fiction/sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic-type books that I highly recommend! I wished I was reading them as part of a book club so that I could discuss them with people-- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson. Both books are technically labeled young adult, but I think adults would love them, too.
The Hunger Games is set slightly in the future-- it's about a girl who is selected by a lottery system to partake in a life-and-death "game" (a sick political variant of a reality TV show, complete with corporate sponsorship) with 23 other teens. According to the rules, only one teen can make it out of the "arena" alive. This is a well-written, multi-layered, fast-paced story of adventure, survival, friendship, romance-- told with great wit and wonderful social commentary.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox is also set slightly in the future and raises fascinating questions about spirit/soul, identity, what makes us a person, and other profound ideas. It's hard to write about it without any spoilers, so I'll just say that it's about a girl who has emerged from a long coma and finds herself without a complete memory or sense of identity. She gradually discovers the mysteries and secrets surrounding what happened to her. I'm sure this could spark fantastic discussions about the ethical implications of advanced medical technology. Really exciting and thought-provoking stuff!
Okay, Toddler's up from his nap now-- we're going to make another mess with the yellow dump truck in the soggy sand of his sandbox.