Oh, Yeah, the Blog

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I don’t remember my last blog post. I vaguely remember scrambling to complete a few paragraphs and hit Publish during a break from co-facilitating the Teacher Renewal Summer Institute in June at the Academy for the Love of Learning. Since then, I’ve driven around the state (from Española to Las Cruces in one day) facilitating storytelling workshops for grantees and partners of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; reprised my role as La Muerte in Las Meganenas’ production of Río de Lágrimas; accompanied Henry through a major (and positive) career change (big announcement coming soon); driven with the familia to California to visit in-laws and Disneyland, along the way reading The Hobbit to the kids and consuming my body weight in a delicious buttery sweet and salty mix of popcorn that my sister-in-law picked up for our road snacks, and closing the trip at Rocky Cola Café with my college amiga Desireé and her family, including her latest addition, Daria; enjoyed a visit with my Vermont College classmate and dear friend Stephanie, who not only built an extra day into her New Mexico trip to hang out, but agreed to be my writing partner, and—thanks to her careful read of the Prologue—I now have some direction in the revision process.

I drove to the border for a memorial service for the mother of a good friend. She died suddenly and tragically. The priest said that losing a mother is especially difficult. He said, “As long as you have a mother, you have someone who worries about you and prays for you, someone who thinks about you. You have someone to call. When you lose your mother, you feel untethered.” I held my mom’s hand while he talked, so thankful that she is still here with me. She nodded her head while he spoke. She lost her mother in 2004. My Grandma China smoked for more than forty years. She quit my last year of high school. The story goes that my little brother pulled away from her when she bent to give him a kiss. “Grandma, you stink,” he said. I remember the leftovers in her refrigerator tasted of smoke, and once she quit, she steam cleaned her carpets and curtains, wiped the refrigerator down with bleach, and washed the windows inside and out. Losing her was hard. She was one of my favorite people. Cancer took her quickly, two months from the day her lung was removed to the day she died.

When I was in high school, I played trumpet in church. The music director was a kind man with a voice like butter on a homemade tortilla. He would sing parts to me in that hour before mass when we’d warm up and then his eyes would grow big, and he’d say, “Archangel Gabriel.” He made me believe I could play anything and play it well if my heart and my intention were pure. He and his wife had five children, all of them kind, polite, all of them talented. The last time I saw them I was in college, and their second oldest was graduating from high school. The children had become musicians and played alongside their dad at the church they now attended. I would hear snippets about the family from my mom—one child married, then another, children of their own—but I hadn’t seen them in years. I visited that day I drove to town for the memorial service. Their youngest had just died in an accident and the family was gathered at his home. I remember him as a little boy who would smile shyly from behind his dad’s legs and then run off giggling. He grew up, started a family of his own. And then he died.

I don’t know what to say.

The blog is a little bit for you, to share your reflections about my reflections and to perhaps hear your own voice in mine. It’s for me too. I need this blog—to remember, to sort my thoughts and feelings, to stay in contact with this community of writers and readers. Thank you for staying with me on the journey.

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 11:06 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So articulate. I look forward to reading your blogs. They always make me smile, even the sad ones. I live the expression of “butter on a tortilla”. I can picture me as a child, eating tortillas & butter at my step grandmas home. Thank you for sharing a but of your childhood with a displaced fellow New Mexican.

  2. I always enjoy reading your writing, Mija, even the ones that bring tears to my eyes. I love you

  3. Thanks, Karen. So good to hear your voice. Just saw Tricia and Vicki in NY/DC. Thinking of you…

  4. Very beautiful writing, Michelle. I did reflect on many things while reading it. Mostly how lost I felt and still do after losing my Grandma. And also of Mr. Valverde playing his wonderful music of worship at St. Ann’s church with you playing the trumpet with him as I sat with my family. Thank you for the memories.

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