What I Did for Summer Vacation, Part IV

Continued from Tuesday, September 14 post.

First of all, ¡Viva México! Feliz Día de Independencia!

And then there was Macondo.


It was my second Macondo in 2007 when Anel, Erasmo, Maria and I realized we loved each other. It happened when I arrived a day late because I was attending a friend’s wedding in San Francisco and called Anel for a ride because she lives close to the airport. The words were hardly out of my mouth when she said, “Absolutely. What time do you land?” It happened through a morning group that Maria and Erasmo hosted for those of us who wanted a place to talk about all the stuff that comes up when honest, intense, and committed writers come together to work. It happened over migas and café con leche at La Cascabel, in Maria’s car, driving from Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) to readings and meals and the Noche de Macondo at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. It happened at the final session, a four-hour meeting at which all the Macondistas gather to reflect on the week in San Antonio and discuss our vision for the future. I was nervous about facilitating. The Desnudos, as we then began calling ourselves, helped me plan the flow of the meeting. It worked. It happened late one night after a reading when Iréne Lara Silva led a group of Macondistas in an informal grito workshop in an OLLU ballroom, and early one evening when María and I got stuck in an elevator just outside that room and had to be rescued by San Antonio firefighters. It has been happening since.

Daring Rescue

After that Macondo, we sent each other daily text messages.

Get out of bed and write!

All day meeting. Putting on my Desnudo forcefield.

Need a quick call to get me going. Help!

We got together that fall in Albuquerque, happened upon an elementary school Halloween carnival, and won two dozen cupcakes and a chocolate sheet cake in the cakewalk. We met at Casa Azul, the Macondo writers’ house, in San Anto the following fall when Erasmo was a writer in residence. We met for María’s wedding to Virginia Marie at Alma de Mujer in Austin in March. For our past two Macondos, we have bunked at Anel’s casa, beginning our days with silent reading and writing, sharing cooking duties and meals (Erasmo makes the best French toast), and staying up too late talking with and reading to each other. We hold space to talk through the hard stuff that comes up in our writing, the things that keep us from getting to our work.

Desnudo is Spanish for naked. We bare our souls with each other, creating a space to be honest in life and on the page. Every writer needs a community like this. Gracias, Desnudos!

Other summer highlights:

Dinner with Carolina Monsivaís, Rich Yañez, and Pablo at Sam’s Chinese Restaurant in El Paso. Check out Caro’s new poetry chapbook, Elisa’s Hunger, and look for Rich’s novel, Cross Over Water, forthcoming from University of Nevada Press in 2011.

My nephew Josh graduated from Mayfield High School in Las Cruces. Congratulations, Mi’jo.

Encantado Squash

Valle Encantado joined the Agri-Cultura Network at area farmers’ markets in June. My favorite is still the Downtown Growers’ Market, Saturday mornings at Robinson Park, on the corner of 8th & Central. Look for our chard, salad turnips, tomatoes, chile and more in the southeast corner of the park. Visit valleencantado.org to learn more about our food program and the network.

Claudia Martinez Vargas

A visit from las estimadas artistas Mexicanas, Claudia Martinez and Teofila Servin Barriga, who came to New Mexico to show their work at the International Folk Art Market. Claudia and I met at an exhibition of her mini altares at La Nueva Babel in Oaxaca, her home, and look forward to seeing each other each summer at the Market. This year, she, her sons, and Teofila stayed in the Land of Enchantment a few extra days, one of which they spent with me in Albuquerque, eating ice cream in Old Town, visiting our farm site, and buying tennis shoes and t-shirts for friends and family back home.

Taos Summer Writers’ Conference: When I was first approached about teaching a weekend memoir workshop in Taos, I immediately said yes. I tend to teach what I most need to learn, and at the time, I was deep in the process of establishing my “new normal.” My amiga and writing coach, Demetria Martinez, told me that writing was a home that would never burn down, never be destroyed. I needed to find a way to believe her, and that’s when “Writing the New Normal: Memoir When Life Happens” was born.

Women Writing

I worked with a group of nine women from all over the U.S., ranging in age from late twenties to early seventies. They wrote through birth, death, marriage, separation, loss, and other events, good and bad, that divide our lives into before and after. Through brainstorms, free-writes, painting, collage, and a bit of guitar-playing and filmmaking, each of us (teacher included) found a way back into a piece of writing that had come to us before a transition and gotten stuck. We got the words flowing again.

A road trip to Madrid with Henry.

Madrid, Henry Rael

Opening the new senior center at the end of our street. Henry and I worked with a group of seniors at Holy Family Church and other members of the community to plan an opening that would honor the elders who worked for fourteen years (!) to secure funding from the State Legislature to build the center. Look for the whole story in a future blog post.

Last summer was about recovery.

This summer I rediscovered homes that cannot be destroyed by fire. Friends. Familia. Writing. Community.

Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 8:52 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You describe a life that is overflowing with love, community and ideas. I benefit from reading about it.

  2. Thank you for the reminder that home is much, much more than the concrete objects in which we live and with which we surround ourselves. I have a hard time with materialism — I am attached to my “stuff.” I’m trying to wean myself by getting rid of “things” for which I have no need and focus on the people around me. I’m so very sorry that you lost so much. But I’m also inspired by what you’ve overcome, and I find you a wonderful inspiration. I send you a big hug!

    • Y yo te mando un abrazo, B. Thank you for being part of my home.

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