This weekend I threw a baby shower for my bestest friend, Jen Mahal. (Look at us from my wedding in 2000 … weren’t we dishy?) It’s a real moment of truth seeing the shy girl you met in high school drama class become a mother. As I looked across the table at her, I wondered what happened to the girls we were? Firmly ensconced in our thirties, we’re now wives and mothers; professional writers and journalists. It’s safe to say that we’re officially adults and yet speaking for myself, I don’t feel like one.
I certainly don’t dress like one as evidenced by this photo taken at the San Diego Burn Run in July:
I’m beginning to suspect that like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Benjamin Buttons, the older I get, the less mature I become and you know what? I like the person I see in the mirror. She makes me laugh. She doesn’t get all het up over saying stupid things, or not appearing cool because she now knows that “cool people” are, in actuality, boring people who wouldn’t know a good fart joke if it came out of their own ass.
As we get older, our lives get harder and yet, it doesn’t help if you become hard. This past January I had to find a new agent and embrace that my writing had changed, rather than try to replicate what I’d been doing with my past books.
If I had allowed the experience to harden me, I don’t think I could’ve kept going. If I hadn’t learned to roll my eyes and channel anger into action, I wouldn’t have found my way out of the darkness. This summer I revised The Ballad of Aracely Calderon (again), I spent a lot of time with my family and published a feature story looking back at the life and career of Ritchie Valens (yes, I got to meet the Donna!); I profiled Jay Hernandez from Hostel in Latino Future and Jose Aponte, director of the San Diego County Library. Next month, I will see my very first cover story in Rise Up magazine about the civil rights case, Mendez v. Westminster. From the emails I’ve received, my story on biracial Latinas in LatinaVoz helped some readers understand the racism they’ve experienced from their own families.
I never would’ve had these adventures if I’d kept plodding along doing the same thing. This fall, starting with Ylse creator and star, Ruth Livier on Tuesday, I hope to introduce you to more women who are daring, playful and brave.