November 1 is the one-year anniversary of the publication of Hola and Goodbye! I’m marking the occasion by matching some favorite photos of events I did over the past year with excerpts from stories in the book.
One of the first events I did was at the North Carolina Writers Network Conference where I sat on a panel called “A Conversation about Culture.”
Here are some lines about two people conversing (or not) from the story “Irma the Practical.”
It was a small café, inexpensive and without intimacy. However, the candlelight flattered and the scratchy music from a radio filled the more than occasional silence between them. An agreeable silence, Irma thought and even ventured to say so out loud.
“Yes,” Donald said.
“It’s as if words are not necessary between us.”
Donald nodded, and Irma placed her hand on the table, the easier for him to take it in his own.
For my book launch at Elliott Bay Book Company, family and friends traveled from Southern California to celebrate with me.
Here’s a line about family from the story, “When Danny Got Married.”
Let’s face it, even at thirteen I knew my family was a hodgepodge of conquered peoples.
Here are lines from the story “Fleeing Fat Allen” in which the word “museum” appears.
Henry stands in the middle of the kitchen, popping his knuckles. “Would you mind,” he says, slowly, each word coming with a pop, “staying with Lyla while I run some errands?” He points to her in the adjoining room, and we both look, like visitors at a museum display.
At AWP in Washington, D.C., the inimitable and always beautifully dressed Rigoberto Gonzalez stopped by the Latino Caucus table where I was signing books.
Here are some lines about attempts at dressing beautifully from the story “Natalie Woods’ Fake Puerto Rican Accent.”
Ofelia is buttoning Norma into a ruffled dress just like her own, gifts from Vin who hasn’t an ounce of taste, a trait Lyla fears has been passed onto their daughters. They stand side by side for Lyla’s inspection. She smiles encouragement as she removes the clip-on bows they have affixed to one another’s heads. “What movie are we going to see?” they ask together, grimacing at each other’s unadorned hair.
At the Independent Publishers Awards in NYC, I celebrated with other POC winners.
Here are some lines about winning from the story “Strong Girls.”
“I want to fight,” Ofelia said, her broad nose made broader by the flare of her nostrils. “That big oaf Freddy was just the start.” Her eyes burned with anger at the Freddys of the world. “I want to win,” she said.
I didn’t agree with her that Freddy was that big of an oaf, but I realized that I, too, wanted to win, and I pictured myself in a letterman’s jacket, medals pinned at the left breast, a place in the yearbook.
At my hometown library in National City, my cousin was a good sport about my stealing his moniker Señor Wonderful for one of my stories.
Here are some lines about sports from the story “Lovely Evelina.”
The last ones left after all the teams of friends had been chosen, Chuck and Warren became friends by default. Warren was in the chess club and science club, and, astoundingly enough, on that most celebrated of clubs at Truman High – the football team. He seldom saw action on the field though, other than stampeding through the goal posts prior to the game as the cheerleaders formed a pom-pom waving, scissor-kicking gauntlet to honor the rush of cleats and testosterone. Warren always told Chuck how exhilarating that was, and Chuck smiled as if in agreement, thinking only of what it might be like to wear a tiny pleated skirt and matching ribbed pullover while turning cartwheels in the cool autumn air.
At the International Latino Book Awards in Carson, CA, I had a moment on stage with a plant at a microphone.
Here are some lines about a plant from the story “Bonita.”
One day she was sent home from work early. It was the day Nestor came home and found her watering the ficus.
“What are you doing?” he asked. There was fear in his face, which made Bonita tremble with her own fear and a glimmer of some awful force inside her.
“The plant,” Nestor said, his hands gesturing accusingly at it, at her, his voice rising with each word,” is not real!”
It’s been a fun year and I appreciate the support from family, friends, colleagues, my writing group, and bookstores, libraries, and organizations that have been readers or helped find readers for this book. And of course, much gratitude to Carolina Wren Press.
If you haven’t read Hola and Goodbye yet, please give it a try. If you’ve read it, consider posting a review on Amazon or Goodreads. As Irma says to her vacuum-salesman husband in the story “Irma the Practical,”
“Be forceful,” she told him. “Show that you believe in your product.”
“I am. I do.”