Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Conversation with S.J. Rivera

      I had a chance to sit down with Xicano writer, author of the books, Demon In The Mirror and Amerikkkan Stories, and owner of indie publishing company, Broken Sword Publications, S.J. Rivera and ask him some questions about his writing influences, children's books and his plans to take over 2012. Okay, well, I wasn't technically sitting WITH him but I was sitting down when I wrote the questions and I assume he was sitting down when he answered them. If you're a fan like I am you're going to want to read his answers. 




At what age did you begin seriously writing and when did you begin to consider yourself a "writer"?


Does anyone ever really consider themselves a writer? I’d be curious to hear the different responses to that question. Believe it or not, I didn’t really get into writing until I was in college and started getting positive feedback from peers and professors over mundane assignments. I never had the opportunity to really “write” in high school so it was a new experience. Taking a run of the mill writing course in college really turned on a few lights in my head, so to speak…I also started reading a lot of different authors that inspired me.

I didn’t begin seriously writing until midway through college though when I began to write for a Chicano newspaper (that I helped found) and befriended some Chicano poets and writers at school. I also started doing poetry readings in and around town. We started a poetry group and would frequent the coffee shops and bars and do readings for anyone willing to listen. It was fun and there was an energy at readings that was electrifying. You’d read a piece about the hood or about the cops and people would shout out and yell. It felt good. One of the guys in the group had a portable PA and speakers and we’d post up on street corners in downtown Denver or on campus. We’d just go off in the middle of the day and spit Chicano poetry and people walking by. Sometimes we’d crash karaoke bars and perform spoken word over songs that were playing, like “Lowrider” by WAR.

I began to see that there was more to this writing thing than just dusty old books written by dead White guys. It became addictive. I also wanted my voice to be heard and I wanted to reach more people so my interest in journalism grew. At one time I wanted to be the Chicano Hunter Thompson.



Have there been times where you wanted to give up? How did you get past that? 

Yeah, a few actually - life’s funny with the lessons it teaches you. Like many from the “Fight Club” generation I figured I’d struggle for a while but eventually make it as a hotshot journalist and then be “discovered” as this unsigned talent. But real life isn’t like that.

I did indeed struggle and found out what it’s like to amass a pile of rejection letters from traditional publishers and agents. I became a bonafide journalist and discovered that it’s nothing like you think it is – where I envisioned covering “hard news”, I found myself covering 8th-grade renditions of “Bye Bye Birdie” and little league ball games. Talk about disappointment - I went from the fire of street poetry to the mendacity of covering small-town politics. It felt sterile and dead.

No matter how hard I dug for gritty, “real” news I was always tossed back into the reality of journalism – at the beck and call of advertisers…that left a bad taste in my mouth. I was hiding who I was and trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t right. I was, of course, writing all the time after work as an outlet for my corporate frustration but I had nowhere to share it. I missed the freedom of publishing a newspaper where I could say what I wanted, when I wanted, unedited and uncensored. I was at a crossroads.

After 9/11, I switched gears and became an EMT. Again, Hunter Thompson had an influence on me. He rode with the Hell’s Angels for a year and wrote a book about his experiences. I wanted to do something like that. I wanted to throw myself into something completely different and get up close and personal with death and destruction…and then write about it. I got my wish.

I ended up being certified as a firefighter/EMT and even made it half-way through paramedic school. I was hired by two top fire departments in Florida. Here I was in the middle of rookie school as a professional firefighter, signing documents on how I’d want my funeral to go (picking pallbearers etc.) when I had to throw the brakes on and really take a look at what I was doing. It was almost like an out of body experience. I knew that if I stayed as a firefighter I would dedicate the rest of my life to it – I was good at it! But my heart was never really in it and it was time to take off the mask.
I walked away from that career and turned my experiences into a book (Demon in the Mirror). I decided to once again listen to my heart and started my own publishing company and I haven’t looked back since. It was funny because when I was in rookie school; all the guys would ask me what I did before the FD and I would tell them: I was a writer. I would get lots of funny looks. I like to tell people that I was no more a firefighter than Hunter Thompson was an outlaw biker.   





Who is it (outside of family) that you would say has helped you the most? 

Hmmm…that’s an interesting question. My family has helped the most. I would say that the support and feedback that I get from people who read my work has helped quite a bit. There was a couple of counselors here and there but really, family has been the strongest supporter. This thing I do – it requires that you push yourself because there are not going to be a lot of people there to help you. You have to know what you want and be willing to go after it. Some might say it’s a pipedream to become a “writer”…but like they say, the difference between a professional and an amateur is that the pro never gave up. I’ve always pushed myself the most but friends and family have helped tremendously.



Who are some of your favorite authors and what is it that you like about their work?

Whew! There’s a bunch. Hunter S. Thompson is one of my all-time favorite writers. He was amazing. He made me want to be a journalist and a “gonzo” writer. I wanted to be the Chicano Hunter Thompson! He was unafraid to be himself on the page. A lot of people hold back and edit themselves before they ever commit a word but Thompson always wrote whatever he thought and I really respected that. He had a knack with words that made political stories come off like poetry. He was an amazing journalist and a very talented writer. He investigated the Ruben Salazar story long before the mainstream knew what a ‘Chicano’ was. He wrote about politics drugs, booze, and the perils of the American dream. He made being a writer exciting.

Other favorites include Henry Rollins, Richard Matheson, Rod Serling, Stephen King, William S. Burroughs, Rodolfo Acuna, Rodolfo Gonzales, Subcomandante Marcos, Che Guevarra…and a ton of others. Rollins really had a huge impact on my writing because he was another writer who was not afraid to speak his mind. His writing really appealed to me at a time when I was bored with the “classic” poets and writers. Reading his work was like getting hit with a sledgehammer and I dug that. He also created his own publishing company and carved his own path into the literary world all by himself and I really respected that and wanted to do something similar. Oddly enough, I have a rejection letter from him as well. It says, “Good Luck, Mr. R”. All of the rejection letters and the naysayers motivated me.  



I've read DITM & AS. The poetry and short stories are definitely "Hardcore". How many real life experiences have you shared w/ your readers in those two books?

I like putting a lot of honesty into my work. It’s raw, unrefined and like broken glass. You don’t read a whole lotta stuff like anymore that because people are afraid to be honest about themselves in their art. There’s actually quite a few real-life influences in both works. I’d never admit to all of them and there’s legal disclaimers at the beginning of both books [laughs]. But there’s a lot of truth in both books.

Everyone gets their ideas from somewhere and I’ve always contended that Stephen King must have had the shit beat out of him by some nasty bullies when he was growing up because he writes about it so convincingly. I had a newspaper ask me once if I had ever killed anyone (regarding DITM) and while the question was offensive I took it as a compliment – if my work is making you think twice the I am doing something right.

A lot of things that I write I will lend my imagination to – I enjoy letting the theater of the mind take over and watching what happens. A lot of times I’m speaking to something that happened in the past and embellishing it a little. Other times it’s exactly how it went down. Other times still, complete fiction. I like leaving the reader guessing. I think that’s part of the fun in my work – you’re never really quite sure if I’m pulling the wool over your eyes or not. That said, I think the seriousness of certain pieces speak for themselves. 


Do you have any advice for other writers? (Particularly young writers)

Read. Read whatever you can get your hands on. Read until your blue in the face. If you don’t have time to read you don’t have time to write. Then…write!! Write until your hands hurt. Copy writers you like. Try and get their voice down. But write…you have to get all of those bad stories out of you before you can start writing the good ones and sometimes that takes a while, trust me.

Don’t give up and don’t let people tell you ‘you can’t’ do something. I hated a lot the early stuff that I wrote – to this day, much of it is unreadable to me but it was necessary to “get it out” so that I could learn from my mistakes.

So I would tell young people to not give up, despite negative criticism etc. The world will always need good storytellers, despite advances in technology. Also, write what you want to read! It doesn’t make sense to write something you wouldn’t like to read yourself. I know a lot of people say to write what you know but I think it’s more important to write what you love.  

Your books are self-published. Tell people what that process is like and what the pros/cons might be when going that route. 

It’s a steep learning curve and it can seem overwhelming sometimes. I struggled for a long time to find a traditional publisher and wasn’t getting anywhere. If you read my stuff you’ll see that the kind of stuff I write is not going to end up in the Penguin Anthology of Poetry. I decided to take matters into my own hands much like Henry Rollins did. I was determined to do it myself…whatever that meant. So I read, researched, dotted my I’s and crossed my t’s and here I am. I am the owner of a bonafide independent publishing company. Small but all mine. I’m the boss.

I’ll start with the cons first. You’re on your own. Any and all money required is going to come solely from you. It’s an uphill battle trying to compete with traditional publishers who can afford marketing and promotion, book tours and press. It’s a constant struggle to keep your name out there and to compete with the big name authors who have a corporation backing them. So, it kind of sucks to see celebs hawking their books (they didn’t write) on these lavish book tours but it’s more rewarding to have people actually read and enjoy your book without having to goad them into it with status or big name pubs.

The pros are that I have total control over what I write and how I market myself. No one can tell me anything. I choose the title of my books, the layout, I edit the writing, I choose the artwork – I have total freedom to say whatever I want. I can pursue and publish whomever I want. I love that freedom!

A lot of writers can’t say that because they are restricted by their contracts with their publishers or agents. They have to maintain an image and they have to meet their obligations. I enjoy the freedom to be myself and I think my work reflects that.

I started my business with the intent of seeking out the kind of work that traditional publishers would not spit at. It’s a tremendous effort to put together a book and get it on the market so there’s a sense of self-accomplishment. It’s indeed easier for anyone to self-publish these days because of technology but it’s hard to publish something that people actually want to read. I have a great sense of pride when people tell me they enjoy my books and the work that went into them.

There’s this negative stigma against self-published authors that stems from the traditional publishers wanting to corner the market. The truth of the matter is that there is more freedom in self-publishing now than ever before. There might not be as much money in it but not everyone does it with the illusions of getting rich. I started off doing this just wanting to get my work out there and that still holds true today. It’s nice to make money doing it but that was never the sole intent. As an independent publisher and a Xicano one at that, I feel that I am carving out my own niche and having a blast doing it.  



Are you working on anything right now? 

There are a few things in the works…some secret some not [laughs]. I am always writing so you never know what will come together. For starters, I want to publish an anthology of Latino lit in 2012. I’m looking for raw, hard-hitting talent and I want to showcase that in a book.

Books like that are few are far between so I want to help change that if I can. Again, I want to publish books that I would want to read. I’m hoping to get a couple of heavy hitters on board for that book but we’ll see how things work out.

I’m always writing new material. I may re-release the out of print “Alcohol Soaked and Nicotine Stained” and I’m also working on a short story collection.

What can your readers expect in 2012? (Any children’s books? LOL)

It’s funny that you say that because I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book! I still might someday, it depends. They can expect more of the same from BSP. I’m excited about the future of this endeavor. 2011 was a great year for BSP. I strive to fill a void with my books and hopefully I am doing that and want to continue.

I am hoping to make more public appearances if I can and also to reach out to young people and show them that they have a voice. I think people can expect BSP to come out strong in 2012. This is gonna be a crazy year and I want to be a part of that.


Is there anything you write just for yourself? How much of your writing will never see the light of day? 


Oh yeah - all kinds of stuff. There’s a ton of material that I wrote before my first two books were published (I’m talking volumes) and there’s stuff that was edited out of both of them as well. I write all the time. Some of it will never be shared with people because not everything is for public consumption. A lot of it is too personal. I think Luis Urrea said in an interview once that when you are writing you want to avoid revealing too much because it comes off like a sledgehammer – instead, he said, you want to reveal just enough so as to cut like a scalpel. That resonated with me quite a bit because a lot of my material is very personal. I like to do both…but yeah, a lot of is just for me.


If anybody would like to get info on how they can submit their writing for your anthology or get in touch with you how can they do that? 

You can email me or send submissions for consideration to mail@brokenswordpublications

You can find me on Twitter @sjrivera and @brokenswordpub
You can find me at my website: www.brokenswordpublications.com or on my facebook page: facebook.com/brokenswordpublications

I host a monthly podcast show which is archived on my site or you can look me up on Sound Cloud at http://soundcloud.com/brokenswordpublications

There you have it. A closer look into the mind of the man behind Broken Sword Publications. Great stuff coming from S.J. Rivera in 2012. I'd stay tuned if I were you. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Life's a Trip. Bring a Map

     I think back on all the trips my dad took me and my sisters on when we were kids. I can shake my head and laugh about them now but back then I was closing my eyes, shaking my head and wishing I'd be home when I opened them. There was that trip to Lake Isabella that didn't quite go according to plan, well,at least I'd like to think he had something better planned. My dad liked to go camping. he took us to places like Yosemite and Sequoia but the trip to Lake Isabella and nearby Kern River was memorable to say the least. 
     My dad bought an inflatable raft. You know, the yellow 4 person NOT heavy duty kind you can buy at Big 5. He parked his orange '73 VW Micro Bus right off the highway, inflated the raft and the four of us piled in. His idea was to ride the Kern River way down to Lake Isabella and then I guess make our way back 10 miles to the van? That ride would have been nice if it had gone according to plan but "According to plan" wouldn't have involved the Coast Guard and made local TV news in Bakersfield. What actually happened did. 
     The water was too high and the current was way too strong  but if it wasn't and we didn't take (and survive) that ride I'd be missing half a story to tell you. I've found as a parent there are times when you find super human reaction speed you didn't know you had. My dad found his when a tree branch hanging over the river and our raft was coming at us FAST. He reached up, grabbed the branch and held on. He was able to stop us there and we climbed out what was left of the torn up (shredded) raft. We were back on dry land. On the opposite side of the highway yes but safe for the moment. He instructed us to climb up the mountain and as far away from the water as we could. I fainted. I'm glad he was climbing up behind me because if he didn't catch me, well again, no blog post.
     Which leads me to the story I'm going to tell you about my trip with my kids up to Sequoia National Park yesterday. We left the house at 11am and headed past Mojave on the 14 freeway. We made our way to the 395 filled up the gas tank at a Pearsonville Shell station and turned around and headed to Hwy 178 but made a pit stop at Indian Wells Brewery before we got there. :)

      We finally made it to Sequoia National Forest but we didn't stop there.
   
      We kept driving looking for a place to park and check out the trees. We passed the  little towns of Kernville and Fairview where they had lodges and motels. We should have stopped there. We took Kern River Hwy which became Kern River Upper which became numbered Highways. I tried hard to stick to the route my phone's GPS app had laid out for me but that didn't always work because it kept saying I was off the route. My phone's loss of signal didn't help either. We were doing about 25mph when a deer jumped out onto the highway. Slammed on the brakes. That was scary. We kept driving. By this time the sun is going down and the temperature is dropping. We come up to a section of road covered in patches of ice. We drove slow and crossed it. A larger patch came next and about a mile after that the road was completely covered in snow for about 1/4 mile. 3 of us got out of the car to keep the mufflers from scraping on the ground as we passed. Both lanes of the two lane numbered hwy were completely covered in snow about a mile ahead and this time it was at a curve. Brianna was scared. Tony not so much. ( At least they didn't faint like I did) There was no way to tell how far the snow went and what would be coming next. The only option was to turn back.
      Anna put the car in reverse and went as carefully as she could. She did a great job drving She made a 3 point turn and the kids and I got into the car. We drove 30 miles back at about 20 mph with the high beams on expecting at any minute a the same deer family to jump out. Wouldn't you know it, HWY 190, our chance to get back to civilization( Well Porterville which is near Corcoran which might be the next best thing) was closed. Instead we took the 178 which ran along the west side of the river and over to Bakersfield. We weren't out of the woods yet. Aw, come on, you knew that was coming. I know I speak for all of us when I say we have never been so happy to see Bakersfield.
   From Bakersfield south east to Tehachapi and east to Mojave. We were on freeways now and even though by now it was passed 9pm I promised the kids a nice sit down dinner. I apologized to the kids and told them that that was not the kind of trip I had in mind.  You can see in the pic below the trip actually made them appreciate each other (for the 10 seconds it took to take the picture) . At least we made it back in the same car we went with. My dad had to trade his VW that broke down on that Kern River trip  to a family in Bakersfield for a ride back to Los Angeles.

It's funny how this trip came full circle. My dad and I had different ideas but we both brought our kids to the same place. This time God kept me and my kids safe. I told them he would.     

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Why Should We Stop Now?"

            I wrote a poem a while back about "The Girl That Got Away". In that poem I wrote about the differences between a teenage girlfriend I once had and the woman I married 8 years later. I remember writing about how I missed certain things at times about the girlfriend and how a lot of the blame for why she left should lay with me. I wrote about the sparkle I'd see in my wife sometimes that would remind me of the past but still. she wasn't "her". I eventually took responsibility for everything that *I did to change her along the way. With every lie I told, with every tear she cried and with every fight we fought, we changed our future and at the same time wrote a new history we'd one day look back on. I can honestly say that we weren't the only ones to blame. From day 1 there were (probably still are) people who expected us not to succeed. We had a lot of obstacles standing in our way. That played a huge role in both positive and negative ways and brought us to where we are today, both literally and figuratively. I'll always love the teenage girlfriend but since then I've learned to let her go. I'm happy with the woman she became because I know with everything we've been through, it takes an experienced woman to love me the way she does. 
      I wished my wife a Happy Anniversary this morning. Thirteen years ago today she agreed to be my girlfriend. After I did I could feel a tear began to form in my eye as I thought of all the pain I've brought her through the years. I broke the "I'll never hurt you" promise every guy makes in the beginning (although most know they shouldn't). I made her a mixed "Oldies" cassette (I did say 13 years ago), and titled it, "Baby, I'm For Real". 
     I know there're many couples who wish they could go back and prevent certain things from ever happening. Clean up all the "couldn't should've would'ves"and leave a perfect past to tell their kids about. Well that's me. I won't lie and say I wouldn't change things if I could. I know I can't and I'm happy she's still by my side. I guess that's the most important part.  I remember reading one of those "Love Is..." cartoons from the L.A. Times years ago saying, "Love  is...making sure the good times outweigh the bad." It had a scale with the good times outweighing the bad. When all is said and done I'm sure our good will FAR outweigh our past. We're here together to look back and more importantly to appreciate what we've built and work together for a better future for ourselves and our kids.

I love you, Anna. Thank you for every tear and every year. You've shown me Love and taught me  how to Love. We're only 13 years in. As the song says, "Why should we stop now? We've got it going>"
      
     

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Olive Branch To His Son

"Who died?"
Those were the first words she spoke after coming out of the coma she had been in for the last two weeks. Her husband Ignacio Jr. stared at her with a puzzled look on his face. "How could she possibly know?" he thought. "My Father", he finally answered. He hadn't spoken to his Father in 25 years. His parents divorced when he and his little brother were just kids. His father remarried had a couple of kids and the bad blood that existed between his new wife and his first wife created a rift between Father and Sons that spanned 2 states and the last 2 1/2 decades of his Father's life. Although he tried to have a relationship with his boys, years of harbored pain eventually caused them to part ways for good.

Ignacio's Father was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer and he and his older brother, Armando, were quickly informed. His health  immediately began to decline but the combination of pride and the pain Jr. had been carrying around for so long kept him from visiting. Armando on the other hand was by his dad's side and with him at most Dr.'s visits.

Ignacio Sr. was a very quiet but loving and giving man. He knew he could never get back the years he lost with his sons and never make up for the bad decisions he made in his life that eventually broke them up but as he laid there on his death bed he made one last attempt to do do right by his son. He traded in his time so that his son would have more with his wife. He passed away and Ignacio's wife came out of the coma the next day.

Armando fought back tears and stepped away from the podium twice to regain his composure as he shared this story on the night of  his dad's Rosary. His younger brother, Jr., attended the rosary and funeral the next day but did not see his father before he passed.

I remember my Grandpa Ignacio as a very quiet man. I never knew much about my uncles, his son's Armando and Ignacio Jr., or the story of his relationship (or lack there of) with them. I heard their names didn't see them much when I was growing up. Just the mention of their mom's name made my Grandma's blood boil. Not even on my worst day could I make her that upset.

The way Tio Mando told the story gave us all the chills and made sense to me. I believe it. His father made mistakes and wanted nothing more than to extend an olive branch to his son and say he was sorry.

 Ignacio Gonzalez
June 15, 1921 - Sept. 28, 2006

Monday, November 14, 2011

Consejos on your Golden Birthday

You turned 12 on the 12th of  November. A "Golden Birthday" is what it's called when your age matches the day of the month you were born. I heard it's supposed to be the luckiest one. I hope you enjoyed your day. I had to wait until I turned 27 for my Golden Birthday and it was worth it because that was the day I married your Mom. Well, anyway Anthony, you turned 12 and I can't believe how tall you're getting. You don't make me feel old. You make me happy. I smile when I think of you. You walk up to me every day threatening to pass me in height. I hope you do. I never outgrew my Dad. I look into your eyes and challenge you to become a bigger man than I could ever be. Forget about height, I tell you. What kind of accomplishment is that? Your eventual height has already predetermined and there's nothing you can do to change it. Become the man I always promised I'd be. Be good to your wife and put her first. Show your kids love. Don't make the same mistakes that I've made in life. Don't hurt people like I have and you'll save yourself a few tears. *Then you will outgrow me. I wish nothing but the best for you everyday. You truly have your whole life ahead of you. You're smart and can do anything you set your mind to. The same was said about me when I was a kid. Now, you're stubborn and hard headed at times but you know right from wrong. I have faith that you will make the right decisions in life, remember to appreciate what you've got and I pray you will be happy. Remember, nobody'll give you anything. You need to work hard for what you want in life.

"I don't tell you this often enough but I'm proud of you, son."  From my dad to me and from me to you.
 I love you, Anthony

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In Our Own Backyard

            Today began just like any other Sunday we've spent in Palmdale. Well,except for the fact that it was raining. It's been a while since the last time the sound of raindrops woke me up on a Sunday morning.I looked out the window half hoping it'd be cold enough outside for some snow. I knew it was a long shot but hey, I can dream can't I?
            Anna and I agreed we were both too lazy to go to mass and since I didn't have an answer for her "What are you going to make me for breakfast?" question, we planned to take the kids out to Denny's for breakfast, hit up Target for some groceries (a thermal brush for Anna) and come back home.
            We got on the 14 fwy and when our exit came up, we just kept going. Back in 2008 we'd taken the 14 north on our way to Lake Tahoe so as we drove this time, the plan was to exit at the "Edwards Air Force Base" exit, explore the nearby surroundings, feed the near starving children in the backseat and head back. Well, again we kept going. We did exit there, filled up the gas tank and got right back on the 14 (you guessed it) North.
         
            We drove into Mojave and were greeted with this sign. We all thought this was pretty cool and wondered what we'd find here. Well, we found a Denny's so we stopped to eat and while we were there we used Foursquare to see if there was anything we'd like to check out while we were in Mojave and we found a spot.
            The Mojave Air And Space Port sounded like a great place to see. I immediately thought "Mos Eisley" when I read "Space Port" so I figured it HAD to be cool. We did drive over to go to see it but didn't couldn't find the entrance when we got there so we checked out a couple of memorials nearby.
                   A cart that was used by the Golden Queen Mining Company was on display as well as a The Roton built by Rotary Rocket Inc. I provided links just in case you want to read more. We found that this little outing was turning into quite the history lesson but that's cool with me because that's what exploring the past is all about. I just hoped the kids were as excited about the trip as I was.
                 It was time to turn around but we weren't done exploring yet. We got back on the 14 and headed south this time. We decided to take a closer look at a place we noticed on the way up. Anthony called this place, "Nuke Town" because all the buildings were barely standing AND in the middle of nowhere. The whole place kind of looked like a scene from the movie The Hills Have Eyes. It's located on Mojave Tropico and Truman Rd. I googled that later and found this and this Gas and Diner that we drove by just a couple miles before. Go ahead and click the links.You might learn something.
                Our last official stop was The Cat House. We bought a year membership at the Exotic Feline Breeding Compounds. Peacocks roamed freely as we walked from den to den checking out Leopards, Tigers and Jaguars (oh my). I took a couple of pix for your viewing pleasure.Check 'em out.
        I said that the Cat House was our last official stop because we did try one more place, The Willow Springs International Raceway, but were told at the gate the cost of admission was $40 so we turned around and called it a day but know we'll be back soon.
        I really enjoyed spending this time with my family. I'm grateful that we have the opportunity to do things like this and I hope it meant as much to them. I remember my Dad being adventurous when I was a kid and I'd like my kids to remember me the same. I think it's important to get away from the routine and just spend time. We spend so much time on the road to and from L.A. during the week that I guess it's ironic to end up on the road again to explore our desert surroundings. We've lived here in Palmdale for 2 years and it's cool that we're still discovering things in our own backyard.
P.S. If you happen to know of any places we should check out, please let me know. Thanks

Friday, October 28, 2011

Always Learning

          I was first introduced to Luis J. Rodriguez in 1995. I won't lie. I was introduced to his writing. His book, "Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days In L.A.", had just been out for about year and a friend of mine thought I should read it. I was 16 years old and I'll be honest with you, I didn't read books if I didn't have to. I began to read this book and it immediately had ALL my attention. I felt like I could relate to a lot of what he wrote and even though I was never tempted to join a gang, living in Boyle Heights during my teenage years, I saw many friends who were tempted and eventually did. That and the familiarity of the places he wrote about kept my face between the pages. Yeah, I knew the places he mentioned, Boyle Heights, The San Gabriel Valley etc. but it was the way he wrote about 'em that made it so easy to picture.
        Man, I loved that book and I talked to everybody I could about reading it. I looked for more of his books and began to read as many as I could get my hands on. Working for the library, years later, made it easy to pick up those I missed. I read the novels first but threw in some poetry books to mix it up a bit. There was a poem in one of them called "Echo Park". I related to this poem most of all and as a matter of fact posted it here, on my blog, a while ago. You see even though I spent my teenage years in Boyle Heights, my childhood belonged to Echo Park. I associate a lot of happiness and even though there were some sad times growing up in Echo Park, I only feel good every time I visit her. Yes, I call Echo Park "her". Her original name IS Eden. I knew the places Mr. Rodriguez wrote about in that poem. He mentioned the "Paradise Motel". I lived with my grandparents on a hill on Everett St. It looked over "Paradise" and the carnival my parents took me to that was held every year in the empty lot across from the motel.
     I got the chance to meet Luis J. Rodriguez (in person this time) one night at "Tia Chucha's", his Cultural Center in Sylmar. I say I "got the chance" but maybe it was supposed to happen. He was working at a desk. I wanted to meet him but didn't want to disturb him. I was worried I'd piss him off and he'd might not be as personable as I hoped. The lights came on as "Open Mic" took a break and I went for it. I told him everything you read in the first two paragraphs in about as many seconds. I also told him my mom was born in El Paso in 1954, the same year he was. That really was a great night. I went home and couldn't wait to text, tweet and tell anybody and everybody. I even asked him if I could take this picture with him. My son, Anthony jumped in at the last second. Smart kid.
          Months later I found out that someone I met through my kids interest in music was related to Mr. Rodriguez and introduced me to someone else who knew him very well.It was at that point that I started thinking how crazy it was that someone you've been a fan of could be so close one day.
          Luis J. Rodriguez held a signing for his latest book, "It Calls You Back" on Oct. 15th at Tia Chucha's. This book is a sequel to Always Running and one I've been waiting a long time for. His writing is honest and strong and like I said before, even though I was never in a gang, I related to a lot of other things in the book. Feelings as a man, husband, father and son. That's another post.
      
      You see, I honestly believe EVERYTHING happens for a reason. People are put in your path for a reason. You meet people because you are supposed to meet them. Everything IS a learning experience but sometimes you've gotta work hard to find that lesson and learn from it.
      We've all heard, "What doesn't kill me only makes me stronger." I believe that's true as long as you learn the lesson. If you don't, how much stronger are you?
 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Immigrant Advantage

 The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness and Hope.
  
  • How to Save: From the Vietnamese "Hui" to the  Mexican "Tanda", these "Money Clubs" teach us how easy it can be to save the money we foolishly spend each month.
  • How to Mother a Mother: The Mexican "Cuartentena" is a 40 day period where family members "mother a mother" so she can concentrate on bonding with her newborn child.
  • How to Court: South Asian assisted marriage shows both old and new customs and how a nice balance can help a young person with what might be the biggest decision of their lives.
  • How to Learn: Covers the "Model Minority" and the importance Korean "hagwons", or afterschool study places, can have in a child's academic future. 
  • How to Shelter: Building important relationships in life begins at home and how better than to live with extended family. 
  • How to be a Good Neighbor: In a time where everybody seems too busy to stop and shoot the breeze this chapter shows how the bond you make with your neighbors can actually help you live healthier and happier.
  • How To Eat:  The Vietnamese Monthly Rice helps parents avoid the extra stress of having to cook dinner after a long day at work and allows them to spend that time with family instead. 
          I've kept this book close to me since I began reading it. The first reason was, I was intrigued from page one and the second reason was, every time I did put it down, it seemed like every body was asking to read it. They gave me a good idea.
          I was very lucky to have crossed paths with this book. When I think about every thing going on in the world, I look at this book and all the valuable information it has to offer. This country IS big enough for us all if we can all just learn to "Be A Good Neighbor" we can learn from each other and make this a better place.
          I've finished reading the book and I can't think of a better way to share what I've learned than to donate this book to the library I work for. Can you imagine how many people in Los Angeles will benefit from these great customs?
          Many of the ideas in the book are ones that my grandparents believed in and with time and passing generations have slipped away in my family. I'm glad to have been able to learn their importance and have begun to pass them onto my kids.
          Thank you, Claudia Kolker


 About the book: The Immigrant Advantage is a fascinating look into the lives of immigrant enclaves in the United States that we so seldom gain access to, and an inspiring exploration about how these customs can enrich our own lives, You may purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.com.


About the author: Claudia Kolker has reported extensively from Mexico and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, Japan, India and Pakistan. A former Los Angeles Times bureau chief and member of the Houston Chronicle editorial board, she has written for The Economist, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate and Salon. She lives in Houston with her family. For The Immigrant Advantage, Kolker visited Korean and Chinese afterschools, West Indian multigenerational households in New Jersey, and Chicago's "Little Village", among others.





Claudia Kolker will also be visiting each of these blogs on their respective dates to join in the conversation so make sure to check in to find out what other people are saying about this great book.
 Monday, October 24, 2011: Juan Of  Words
Tuesday,  October 25, 2011: The Chicano Soul
Wednesday, October 26, 2011: Spanglish Baby 
Thursday, October 27, 2011: Latinaish
Friday, October 28, 2011: TikiTiki Blog
Tuesday, November 1, 2011: Voto Latino
Wednesday, November 2, 2011: Motherhood in Mexico 
Thursday, November 3, 2011: Aztlan Reads 
Friday, November 4, 2011: Multicultural Familia


FTC Disclosure: Chicano Soul recieved a free copy of the book from the author as part of a Simon & Shuster Book Tour. Chicano Soul was not required to write a positive review, The opinions expressed are completely his own.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Is Your Library

   A few months back I had the idea  to direct message Lalo Alcaraz on Twitter about the possibility of getting him to appear at the library I worked for. I passed him the number of the person he would need to speak to about getting put on the performers list. I heard they paid well and thought it'd be equally beneficial to both Lalo and the library.
    I sat back and waited to hear from Lalo. He DMd me back saying that he'd set up a date to be apart of an event that would be held at Central Library. He offered to get me a couple tickets to the show. I thought that was both cool and funny considering I work for the library and could probably get them myself.
   So Sept. 22nd was coming up and I was getting really excited. I know I need to plan more outings with my family and I had high hopes for this event. After emailing back and forth with the library foundation I was told I would be "comped" one ticket. 1 ticket!?!? I had to hope Lalo had put my name on his VIP list. He had.
  The night arrived and we got to the library early. I was hoping to check out a couple of exhibits that were currently going on. "A Nation Emerges" is a very nice collection of photographs from the time of the Mexican Revolution.
    It was a great feeling walking through Central Library and greeting people I know. So they were all security guards? So what? I met the V.P. of the Library Foundation. She was so nice and I thought it was cool that she remembered who I was when I called her the following week. I think my wife and kids thought I was pretty important that night so that felt nice too. Or maybe it was the green VIP bracelet my wife and I got to wear for being on Lalo Alcaraz' list. I don't know but either wLaloay, I'm happy if they're happy.
  
@laloalcaraz was the first guest on the show and just by the way the host,Justin Veach, opens the show, I know we were in for a fun night. My wife and kids are laughing and suddenly I don't feel so bad about being out late on a school night. Lalo goes through a slide show of his work. One of the pieces he shows is "Migra Mouse". I always liked this one. The Mexican Restaurant, "Ciros" in Boyle Heights has had it taped next to their cash register for years so I'd see it a lot before I even knew who Lalo was. Now we see Lalo at one of his events and my kids say, "Hey look dad, your friend, Lalo." That's pretty cool and funny. I've been joking around with Lalo for about a year now on Twitter so they hear his name a lot.
   
@charlesphoenixs was another guest that was on the show. Everybody loved him. He was very funny and has a great personality. I think his segment was my wife's favorite part of the show. Maybe even her favorite part of the week. My kids liked him so much that Brianna just had to ask him a question after the show and they both took a picture with him.
    After the show everybody headed to the lounge to greet the "talent". We all chose a favorite Lalo Alcaraz poster and as soon as I buy frames, I'll hang them in my TV room/ Anthony's Cave. We got home close to midnight and the kids dozed off on the way there but we had a GREAT night. We all look forward to more.

P.S. I told you I called the Library Foundation's VP the next week. I suggested to her someone of whom I'm a big fan of on stage as well as off. You'll want to stay tuned for that post.



Group picture of all the guests.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ooh Child

     My mom used to dedicate a song to each of us kids either when we were born or when we were growing up. I was about 5 years old when I first remember her singing "our" song to me. It was Al Jarreau's "We're In This Love Together". If you know the song, you know how the next line goes. "We've got the kind that lasts forever." Man, I used to feel like I was on top of the world when it'd come on over the radio in her beige Volkswagen Type 3 and she'd sing those words to me. She'd look me in the eyes and start to sing and as I type this now, 27 years later, I smile, I shake my head and then fight the sadness that eventually comes over me.
     A lot has happened in the 27 years since and its WAY too much for one post. A lot has happened in the 5 years that her and I haven't seen or spoken to each other.
     All this brings me to the whole reason for this post.    
     I got in my car the other night and I turned it on with perfect timing. I usually have the worst timing in the world, so this was weird. Was it a sign?
    "Ooh Child" by The Five Stairsteps came over the airwaves and I was lucky enough to catch the very cool drum beat at the songs' opening. Now let me just say, just like Al Jarreau's song is important to me, this one is just as important. You see, I dedicated this song and would sing it to my mom when I was a kid and she was feeling down. We went through many hard times when I was growing up and she was always depressed so I thought this song was a good way to cheer her up because at the time, I might have been around 10 and there was little else I could do. Hearing this song brings back a lot of memories both good and bad and as I write this blog post, I'm a 32 year old man. I'm married to a very beautiful and very giving woman and we have two smart and amazingly talented kids.  We have a new house and a new car in the driveway. I have so much to be thankful for (maybe more than I deserve) and a lot to worry about. (if you want to see it that way)  
     The sense of achievement I feel thinking about things my wife and I have accomplished is bittersweet. It's been 5 years since I've seen or spoken to my mom and it saddens me not to be able to share this happiness with her but I know she knows how far I've come and I hope she puts her pride aside and can be proud of the man I've become.  Now, I'm not the perfect husband, father or perfect person for that matter but I continue to try.
     "Ooh child things are gonna get easier. Ooh child things'll get brighter." 
     These two lines really made me stop and think. Is it ironic? Did things really get easier but at the cost of not having her in my life and also are things easier for her without me or is this song still making the same promise it's always made?
I guess I'll continue to wait and see.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blogger vs. Blogger - @Chicano_Soul  vs. @La_Cabronisa

      When I was first asked to participate in Blogger vs. Blogger an Angel appeared to me. (please bear w/ me) The Angel said, *strums on a  harp* "Art, you know the purpose of your blog is to Reflect and Release. "You can't seriously think about competing with @La_Cabronisa to see whose blog is "better". *poof* *queue devil* "HA!! Of course you can!! When was the last time you shied away from friendly competition!?" Well, what can I say? He's very convincing. I'm still typing so I guess we can add 1 to the Devil's win column.
       So here I am. I'm going to try to tell you a little bit about myself and I'll be covering 10 different fun topics. Please pay no attention to how many of them include food. That was a total accident. I swear. I was set up. Well no, not really. I do hope you enjoy reading this post but if you don't, just remember: The devil made me do it. :) Thank you for your time.
   


1. It might not be healthy but it sure is good!: I just had to post a picture of  some chicken tamales I usually grab on the way to work. I'm getting a transfer at work soon and I can honestly say the person I'll miss the most is the local Tamalera. Maybe I can get her a transfer too.
P.S. Luna Bars if you're reading this, "Tamales de pollo con chile verde" <--new flavor? Call me. ;)


2. Mi Familia: I chose to share a picture that was taken of my family at my wive's cousin's Quinceañera. My son, Anthony, was dancing so much he could barely keep his bow tie on. My wife, Anna, and daughter, Brianna, are as beautiful as ever. Both my kids came out in the Quinceanera. Luckily for everybody there they weren't paired up as partners. They love each other very much but they still are brother & sister.

3. My refrigerator's running: I wish my kids drank as much milk as I did when I was a kid. (Look in my fridge and a lot of times you'd think *It was lactose intolerant) If they drank as much as I used to, *I could complain that we needed a buy a cow or threaten them with powdered milk. To this day I still have no idea how my Grandma knew it was me holding the fridge's door handle? Everytime!! Weird. Was it wired to an alarm that led to her room? As soon as I cracked it open, "Who's there!?!?" Maybe I drank so much milk as a kid because we were always out and you always want what you can't have.*shrugs* These days "Almond Breeze" is a MUST in my fridge.

4. "Popo can't catch me!": I was planning on posting a picture of the silliest  set of wheels I could find.That was until my wife and I traded in our '07 Sentra this past weekend for *RIP Rod Roddy *... "A NEW CAR!!!" We live 60 miles from our jobs and kid's school so we needed a car with a fresh start (read: blank odometer). I called my dad that evening and could hear the pride in his voice. My family and I have been blessed. I'm thinking of changing my name to William De Vaughn because I'll always Be Thankful For What I've Got.

5. Qué Lindo!: My wife says I'm full of myself so I let her choose the picture I would submit. She declined so this is what I chose. My baby picture!! You can't go wrong with a baby pic, right? Please stop laughing. I can hear you. Interestingly enough, when my parents bought this picture package at Sears, they had no choice but to order the 8 x 10s. My ears wouldn't fit in their wallets. :( Also,  I had more hair on my head in that pic than in the next.

6. Pose for the camera: It took me a while to think of a silly pose. I was in the bathroom (where,I might add I do all my best thinking) when all of a sudden it hit me! No, not how to build the Flux Capacitor, but where the silliest poses come from. The bathroom!! I don't have a MySpace or 4 baby daddies but I do have a camera phone and a bathroom so I'm set.
P.S. I like to give an honorable mention to the pose every Chicana was doing in the 90's where she leaned to one side with both hands placed on one knee. That pose came in a close second.

7. My Guilty Pleasure: My guilty pleasure is definitely my cell phone. I'm on it too damn much. I started "playing" on Twitter and it just got out of hand. It was always, "Just one more tweet". I really need to put it down and pay attention to what's going on around me. My son is almost as tall as I am now. Having said that, if you're on Twitter, follow me @Chicano_Soul.What??  I'm just kidding. Don't follow me. I'm boring.
:)
Just for the record. There are no penguins on my screensaver. Thank you. :)

8. Qué siga la fiesta!: If there's one thing I CAN NOT do without at a family party, it's got to be FLAN. Yes you read that right. Believe me I love listening/dancing to great music and I look forward to catching up with family but man oh man, just point me to the flan. Normally you'd look for the flan at the dessert table but not with my wife's family. Her grandma and her grandma's sisters must arrive with the Flan in their purses because after it's all gone they suddenly have space in those purses to hide the table's center pieces they steal on the way out. :)

9. Where is Art?: As embarrassing as it is I'm going to keep it real (and brief). I asked my wife, "Where's the first place you and the kids look for me when you can't find me around the house?" Well, she gave me one of those long "Are you serious!?" stares and said, "In the bathroom.Where else?". So I guess the rule of thumb in my house is, "If you hear the fan, the bathroom's where I am"

10.It's mine and I'll keep it if I want it: Man this topic was tough. I couldn't think of any one thing that was in the house that my whole family hated but I loved. The only thing I could think of was the scarf in this picture. It's a scarf from my alma mater, Roosevelt High School. My wife and I tease each other about the schools we went to. She went to an uppity rich school in Burbank,CA. and well I didn't. Never the less, I still have and will always have Rough Rider Pride. :)
P.S. Yes she did make fun of the poor snowman for wearing the scarf. I forgot to give him a mouth. Poor guy couldn't defend himself. :(




Well, there you have it. That's my submission for Blogger vs. Blogger. If you're still here, I want to thank you for reading it. I hope it made you laugh and cry and laugh some more. 


PLEASE check out  my competition, @La_Cabronisa's blog here--> La Cabrona. (you know just to be fair)(but you don't have to. ) :)  

The Official Blogger vs Blogger Challenge on LATISM is a unique and creative way of promoting blogger content through the Latinos In Social Media network, in partnership with Juan Of Words. Challenge participants are assigned a customized list of competing categories based on their individual blogs and online personalities, and their resulting posts are promoted via LATISM's social media networks. If you'd like to be featured in a future edition of The Official Blogger vs Blogger Challenge on LATISM, email juanofwords@gmail.com



LATISM                 Juan Of Words


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Memories In HD

I saw us on TV last night.
Well, at least it looked like us.
You think I'm crazy, right?
That's funny but it's okay.
I know they say hindsight is 20/20. 
Can you explain how my memories were re-running in 720p?
(As if I needed them in HD)
I didn't need to press the remote's info button.
I know the original air date is 1980's.
I remember this episode so well.
I mean I should right?
I've seen it so many times.
This is the one where the police had to be involved..
You were drinking again.
The camera man panned over to me.
I saw myself sitting there, so young and afraid.

I remember at the time wishing those nights were just bad dreams.
Instead you made them memories.
Not much of a difference really.
I can wake up from 'em anytime I want.

I can't help but shake my head & say, "Poor kid" when I do think about it.
Or, really, is it poor *you? 
I remember the self loathing in your eyes.
And now your pain comes through in high def.
All these years later.
You still carry that hurt with you.
I also shake my head at that.
I pray for you.
That you'll find a way to let it all go.
I say the same prayer for myself.
I just want to be at peace.






Monday, August 22, 2011

A Little Help From My Friends

You know when this week began, I had my eyes one thing, the weekend. As I usually do, I look forward to Sunday the most. That's usually the one day my family and I get to take on the day at our own pace. We can wake up late, go out for breakfast, maybe buy some groceries for the coming week and just simultaneously catch up from the last week and prepare for the next. 
    I had a job interview coming up on Thursday and I had mixed feelings about it. I had been down this road before but I was determined to think positive about it. That was a lot easier when I thought about all the great ideas I had for helping not only the library, but the community I was hoping to work for. As soon as the interviewer said he was looking for someone with "ideas and initiative", I saw the green light bulb go off and I'm sure he saw the smile it put on my face. I told him first about my ideas to bring new "peformers" to the LAPL. Passing Lalo Alcaraz the phone number to Library Services turned into something really cool. 
     AztlanReads was another idea I told him about. @aztlanreads is an idea I can't take credit for but am glad to be a part of. @xicano007 had the thought to create an online database/community of Chican@ Fiction and Non-Fiction. A place where people and meet and discuss books they've read and at the same time learn about new titles. @ginaruiz really helped starting up the wordpress account. 
     On Friday, @atwaternc thanked me for my "excellent community love and dedictaion." That really stuck with me. The interviewer told me that my involvement with the community really put me at the top of his list. *fingers crossed*
     Saturday. Saturday came around and the kids had a couple places to be. Karate was first and I was still so excited about @aztlanreads getting off the ground. The follower number was rising and ideas were flowing. @Sarachicad said she was interested in interviewing @xicano007 about Aztlanreads for @TheNewsTaco. That was cool. the kids also had a field trip with their music camp they asked me to chaperone. We were going to the Grammy Museum to check out a "Sound Check" with Amos Lee. I hadn't heard much of his music but I really liked every song he sang. My kids did too so I bought the CD when we left. I appreciated him taking time out of his day to help kids. He made it a point to let them know he was available for as long as was necessary which I thought was cool too. 
      I was lucky to get introduced to @mrmikedelarocha. I told him, "I think I've seen your name on Twitter" (which was true)and it wasn't until I read up on him on his site, http://www.mikedelarocha.com/wordpress/ did I realize how stupid I must've sounded. He said he would like to help spread the word about @aztlanreads and would also be interested in working with the Library. Man, that was just so awesome. if you're reading this, Thank you, Mike. 
      Sunday finally arrived. I went out for my run like I usually do on Sundays and came back ready to paint. The family and I went out to breakfast first, headed over to Lowes, Anna and I agreed on a color and then came home and got to work. That'll be a post all it's own. 
    
   Special "thank yous" to @xicano007, @ginaruiz, @atwaternc, @laloalcaraz, @sarachicad,and @mrmikedelapena. You've all taught me not to look past *any days as each one gives us a chance to help others. Thank you. 
      

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Just The Two Of Us

I enjoyed last weekend's run so much I just HAD to do it again but this time I increased the mileage a bit and asked my son to join me.
I mapped out the route and made sure his bike had air in the tires and we headed out at 6am. Me on my two feet and he on his two wheels. He of course had the job of carrying a small back pack with Gatorades, Band-aids, and my cell phone.
The total (according to Nike+) distance of our journey was 7 miles. 3.5 miles away from home when we made a u-turn and came back.
He did surprisingly well especially considering how much time he usually spends riding the couch playing video games. He and I also did great working together. He didn't ride too far ahead of or behind me. The first half was all uphill and at times you could almost read the "tired" written all over his face but he didn't complain even after every "Just after that hill, Tony".
We took small breaks to enjoy the fresh air, sights and NO sounds. I told him about the times my dad would take me on 13 mile bike rides to the beach. I had fun then and was hoping he was having fun now. Occasionally, cars would pass by but not too often and that's because if you're on that road, you're either heading into or out of the Angeles National Forest.
The main reason for including him on this outing is I worry a lot about the relationship I have with him. We seem to bump heads way too often. I take responsibility for that. I think that has a lot to do with the low amount of patience I inherited from my mom. I need to change that.
I made it a point to spend some good quality time with my son and I'm so glad he agreed. We had a great time with each other and can't wait to do it again. Just the two of us.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.4

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Moment Of Clarity

I went out for a run during the week and although I felt comfortable after the first mile I did allow myself to walk too much after that. At the end of the run I began to suspect my Nike+ was cheating me of hard earned mileage. Now let me cut myself off there. I realize the most important reason for exercising is NOT virtual trophies & ribbons but a healthier life (blah blah) but at the same time I'd like to get what I earned.
I decided to bring along my (GPS enabled) Garmin Forerunner 305 just to double check Nike's calculations.
Nike and Garmin were neck and neck for the first 1.5 miles. The 305 is worn like a wristwatch so it's easy to check mileage/pace/total time. By the time I compared them again at the 3 mile mark, I noticed Nike's mileage had begun to slip.
It was just as I thought. Even though over time the lost mileage and pace will add up (Arrggghh!!!) (JK) I can't say I'm too bummed out about it. (really)
I instantly snapped back to the real reason why I was out there. I began to concentrate on my surroundings AND the fact that even though I didn't feel fast, I felt great. I went out nearly 2.25 miles away from home and in that distance passed over a bridge at the aqueduct, threw a peace sign to the older guy already fishing there, and did the sign of the cross for the dead jackrabbit laying in the middle of the road. I turned back at that point and began planning to make that my sunday run.
I included a picture of the 0.5% mileage difference between the two devices and a picture of some of the road I covered. I can't wait to get back out there. I enjoyed being out there. I was happy to have this so close to home and the moment (hour) of clarity this all provided. It's so hard to get that running on busy city streets.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.2

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On To The Next Run

So it's been about 2 weeks since I began running again. I think I said in the last post that I'd be checking in every week. Whoops!! Well anyway, here's the rundown.
It's getting a little easier and I'm definitely enjoying the challenge. I constantly find myself looking forward to getting back out to the next run each time and pushing myself to run just as hard as I always say I will "next time".
I've traded in the Forerunner 305 for an iPod Touch mainly because of the 1200 miles I've accumulated on Nike+ over the past 5 years. I'll get to work reconfiguring this blog to post some Nike+ info so keep an eye out for new widgets. That's it for now, though.
#OnToTheNextRun
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.2

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back to Basics


It feels weird to be writing a post about running but the funny thing is when I started this blog, that's all it was supposed to be about. This blog was originally called "Running The Streets". I wrote about the progress I was making trying to bring my weight down after a bad Dr. visit. Anyway, I did pretty good. I lost weight and actually began to like running.
We moved in '09. The free time I had for running was now spent on the freeway. I've tried to take advantage of the time I do have and now I've got some new motivation.
I challenged a friend to a 5k run in November(ish). What I've got to concentrate on is bringing down my time. I'll be checking in every week (maybe more often than that) with a post to let you know how it's going.
I included a picture of my time from this morning's run. Good starting point, I'd say. Plenty of room for improvement.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.2

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chicas Patas Boogie

video
My Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer in February 2006. He celebrated his 85th birthday that June. Ever since I can remember, the biggest highlight of any of our family parties hands down was watching our grandparents dance.Although he was tired throughout his birthday party, he gave his audience what they wanted, one last show. I'd like to share their last dance with all of you. Thank you for watching.