50 Words or Less

The first bite is always the best.

Fresh, colorful skin still warm from the summer heat. I scrape my teeth over the taut flesh, canines catching the thinness and causing perfect little droplets to form. The sweetness against my tongue is refreshing.

The crisp first bite causes blood to flow.

Xx,
Liz

This was inspired by a prompt in the WritingPrompts subreddit. (It’s posted as well there under my Reddit username.)

Thoughts on Hispanic Heritage Month

This morning while doing my daily rounds on the web I stumbled across a BuzzFeed list. The list was about the hashtag #WhatLatinoMeansToMe and was meant to kick of Hispanic Heritage Month.¹ Being that I studied Spanish (history and heritage) while in college, and being someone who is categorized as Hispanic, I took special interest in the responses that people had penned.

For the most part, the responses are positive. People believe that Latino is something to be proud of because it places special value on working hard and loving your family. There are, however, a handful of people who take the opportunity to distance themselves from the term by not using it in their response at all. And suddenly the elephant in the room is clear. Who is a Latino? Who is Hispanic? Honestly, it could be as general as everyone with Spanish blood or who speaks a Latin-based language and originates from certain geographical locations.

Here are some definitions I pulled from the Internet that best described the terms in the way that they are most commonly used. (I will offer a disclaimer – it is 100% possible that people will not agree with these definitions. These were just the best I could find that represent the terms.)

Latino – “Latino is a person who speaks a romance language (i.e. Italian, Spanish, French, [and] Portuguese) or their cultural heritage comes from any country that speaks any of those languages … In the US the word Latino is misused to name only people from Latin America.”²

Hispanic – “In Spain, the term Hispanic refers to people of that country or those who can claim Spanish ancestry. It also refers to countries that have Spanish-based cultures such as those found in Latin America … In the United States, the term Hispanic was chiefly made up to group together disparate groups from Latin America that shared common cultural attributes, religion, and language but were not racially the same.”³

Let’s take them one at a time. One could argue that “Latino” is a great term because it ties people together – people spanning natural, imaginary, and political borders. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well … not so much. The inhabitants of these Latin-American countries are diverse. As diverse (if not more so) than the population of the United States (a country composed of immigrants). In my personal opinion, Latino is a good term for geographical purposes, but it has little value as a term for people.

The term “Hispanic” is a whole new can of worms. It is a fine term for those from Spain with Spanish ancestry. Although it is irrefutable that almost all of the peoples that inhabit Latin-America are descended or have otherwise had their entire lives shaped by the influence of the Spanish reign in colonial times, there is very little love lost between the cross-Atlantic cousins. Many still carry the burden of centuries of enslavement and feel that their already rich and diverse cultures were undermined by the Spanish Crown and the Catholic cross. (Although now many would be hard-pressed to find a Spanish-speaking home without at least one crucifix.)

The problem with these two common terms is that people believe that they are PC and interchangeable. In reality, while you can say that an apple is an apple, a Granny Smith will never be as sweet or light as a Fuji nor should it ever want to be. The sweeping generalizations are made worse by the fact that the labels come from outside of the group that they are trying to describe. Taken in a global context, these words are far too all-encompassing and they blur away the beauty and the individuality of each country (including, but not limited to, their race [which we all know means the color of someone's skin] and native culture).

So what the hell do we call ourselves? In California and the South Western United States in general, there are many people who identify themselves as Chicano.

Chicano – Someone of Mexican descent who was not born in Mexico. Many people believe that the word itself is derived from the word that the pre-Columbian tribes used to mean native. ⁴

While there is evidence that this term was first used as a type of racial slur for poor Mexicans, the moniker was redefined during the Civil Rights movement. It became associated with empowerment of the Mexican-American people. As a result, there is a certain amount of reverence and it is difficult for many Mexican-Americans nowadays to identify with the term (particularly those that are not first generation Mexican-Americans [this isn't necessarily a scientific finding, just something I've discovered talking to peers]). There is a certain amount of distance between the struggles of adapting to a new culture since they are one generation apart from it. They’ve grown up speaking either English only or some mix of both.

I, myself, fall somewhere in the gray area. (There is a whole lot of gray area here.) My father’s side of the family has been in California since before it was absorbed into the United States. I have great-uncles and great-grandparents who have suffered through World Wars and the Great Depression. On my mother’s side my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. at young ages and for their own reasons. (My grandma’s mother was a U.S. citizen and brought her two daughters to live with her once she had established herself. My grandfather was almost done with his studies to become a CPA when his girlfriend broke up with him and that was enough reason for him to look for a change in scenery.)

Growing up my dad was laid back and very American about raising me and my siblings (he didn’t even speak Spanish when he met my mom). My mom was (and continues to be) the creator and enforcer of rules. The rules ranged from common sense to eye-roll inducing. It was an interesting experience to say the least. So when it boils down to it, how can I call myself anything other than what I am? I am Mexican-American.

I don’t eat Mexican food every day, pizza is a food group, and I don’t go to church every Sunday. I talk like a Valley Girl and a college educated adult and I speak, read, and write Spanish fluently. There are words in one language that describe something so perfectly that I need to use them even when I’m not speaking that language. My Mexican heritage is an important part of my life but it does not overshadow how undeniably American I am. Being Mexican-American means having a great support system, challenges to overcome, and yummy food with all of the trappings of the middle-class American dream.

In short, I believe that having a month to celebrate any race/culture/people is never enough. There is too much history to be crammed into one cultural potluck lunch in your middle school history class. It is important to recognize every person for their unique makeup and heritage. No one has the same experience and we can learn a lot from one another. Hopefully this will inspire someone to take a few extra minutes to examine how they feel about their own heritage or, even better, take a moment to learn about someone else’s.

Oh, and never assume anyone is anything. You know what they say when you assume. ;)

Thank you for reading my ramblings!!

Xx,

Liz

¹http://www.buzzfeed.com/juliafurlan/this-is-how-latinos-in-america-actually-identify#1kb2ayn

²http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=latino

³http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hispanic

⁴http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/21/chicano_n_1990226.html

Setting Goals

There is something profoundly terrifying about becoming an adult. For much of my life I believed that I knew exactly where I was going to end up. In truth, I am lucky enough to have crossed several of those things off of my list.

  1. Meet my soul-mate. (Check)
  2. Attend and graduate from an amazing University. (Double Check)
  3. Study something I love. (Check)
  4. Work for a prominent media organization. (Technically I am a contractor for another couple months and it’s not the exact thing I saw myself doing, but … Check)
  5. Get married to high school/college sweetheart. (Check)

As I write out the list I know that I’m beyond lucky to be where I am right now. It’s not an ideal situation (living with a family member, paying student loans, struggling to find our niche in the world), but it is a lot better than it could be. I’m lucky … and sometimes I worry that it’s all I am. What happens when the luck runs out?

This is absolutely not to say that I haven’t worked my butt off to get where I am right now. I, like everyone else, have faced ups and downs along the way. I just worry that I’ve reached a point where I have plateaued.

I don’t want my life to be a string of lucky coincidences. I want to continue to work hard for myself, for my husband, and for our current and future family. It can be so easy to lose sight when 40 hours a week are spent in a monotonous situation and much of the rest of the day is dedicated to eating and getting enough rest for another day of work.

Since I have accomplished 5 major goals in the past 6 years, I think it’s reasonable to set 5 more here right now.

  1. For me and Julian to get a place of our own.
  2. Pay down student loan debt.
  3. Become established in my career.
  4. Make time for myself and my writing.
  5. Have fun. (This being the most important because time goes by so fast.)

Thanks for listening to me rant. I’ll check in and let you know how I’m doing on my list.

Xx,

Liz

Cookie Cutters – Not for Me!

I disappeared again from the blog-o-sphere and the hiatus was anything but intentional. In truth, there were outside stressors that made it difficult for me to get into the writing mood, but I was also overwhelmed by the large amount of WitFit prompts that were rapidly building up in my inbox. Since creative writing is the main reason I started the blog, I felt like restricted to completing the WitFit prompts in the order that they came. After all, we see it everywhere: PICK A TOPIC/THEME FOR YOUR BLOG AND STICK WITH IT.

Yeah … that’s not going to work for me.

It’s not that I am a scatterbrained person or incapable of organization. It’s more that I am a diverse person with a range of interests and limiting myself to only creative writing made the whole thing seem like a chore. Seriously, I had flashbacks to late nights during college and high school – “but I don’t wanna do my homework!!”

So, in my absence, I took a step back and reevaluated myself and my situation. At the end of the day I always find my fingers itching for a pen or a keyboard with something waiting to be born into life. This is all about the writing for me. It’s therapeutic, healing, exhilarating all at the same time. This is my long walk on the beach or the jog through the neighborhood.

In order to grow as a blogger, writer, and as a human being I need to be free. There are so many restrictions imposed on us in our daily lives. Assignments, commitments, and deadlines keep us busy through most of our waking hours. If I can’t be myself in my little corner of the Internet then what’s the point?

So to all of the Pintrest pinners and the blog gurus who promote structure and specific interests: I am sorry, but I cannot be one of you. Maybe I won’t have gobs of followers or people re-blogging me consistently, but in the end, I’ll be at peace with the products of my labor. (Although I cannot truly say that the blog won’t have a theme. The theme will be me. My life, my interests, my reality.)

Hopefully you will stick with me and check out the things that interest you!!!

Xx

Liz

July 24, 2014 – Word Prompt: Dictionary

Word Prompt: Dictionary
Audio-Visual Challenge – Imagined Image:


He stared at the picture on the wall longer than he was probably meant to. The big dragon arched against the smoky green-gray sky should have probably been horrifying to him but, really, it just made him sad.

People rushed by him on their way to start their day although, if he hadn’t been so absorbed, he would have noticed how they paused to watch him for a moment. Admiring him as they thought that he was admiring the valiant knight in the image.

In the dictionary that his tutor used he had looked up the word villain. He found out that it meant an awful person with wicked ends. Instead of taking it at face value he stood in front of the image on top of the thick book of words and wondered instead. What made someone become a villain? Certainly people weren’t born that way. He had heard people talk about babies and how they were angels sent by God. Of course he himself thought babies were gross and smelly, but that didn’t make them evil.

He ran his small finger over the sharp wings of the beast trying to decide if wanting to be invited to a party was enough reason to be condemned as a monster when he heard someone stop behind him.

“Your father is a true hero,” his grandfather’s voice boomed. “He saved our whole kingdom from that vile creature and, most graciously, he has made the kingdom a better, more united place than it was before we were put to sleep.”

He nodded his small head, knowing better than to question the old man. “Now come along for your lessons,” his grandfather called, already forgetting about the tapestry.


All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without the express written authorization of the author.

WitFit prompts can be found at The Writers’ Collective website by following this link: http://www.writers-collective.com/witfit/.

 

July 23, 2014 – Word Prompts: Purse, curse, nurse

Word Prompts: Purse, curse, nurse
Choose one word and write what your imagination dictates. For an added challenge, include all three words in your entry.


Sometimes, when I was growing up, I wished that I was the type of girl to carry a purse full of glitzy, feminine things that left the scent of perfume down the walkway. I was always more causal than I felt most of the time. Eternally somewhere between glam and laid back, always too high strung to walk barefoot with my pedicured feet on the grass but not too prissy to sit down on the floor in my expensive clothes. Jeans and a t-shirt with eyeliner and mascara, lips nearly bare under a quick swipe of cherry Chapstick.

I have always found it too difficult to maintain a girly-girl presence and I have never fully become one of the guys. To this day I am just as likely to nurse a pear cider as I am to throw down tequila shots. Curse words fall from my lips like rain drops from a stormy cloud but my closet is filled to the brim with pretty heels and delicate dresses.

A study in contradictions that may never end. I’ve grown comfortable in my less is more but more is also more ways. There is never a moment where I couldn’t embellish a little more or tone it down some. The only true factor that is ever taken into consideration is how much time is left …


All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without the express written authorization of the author.

WitFit prompts can be found at The Writers’ Collective website by following this link: http://www.writers-collective.com/witfit/.

July 22, 2014 – Word Prompt: Pajamas

Word Prompt: Pajamas
Plot Generator – Idea Completion: Take it or leave it.
An idea or concept is presented. Follow where it leads you.


The first time you have a sleep over with someone there is inevitable weirdness. I could remember the first time I had my friends over at my house. The conversation ran out right around bedtime and we stared at one another, suddenly strangers in the darkness of sundown. There were phone calls home to moms before the second wind of mischief blew in and we bonded in the rebellion of staying up giggling.

This night was poignantly different. There were no pink princess pajamas or Disney-themed blankets. There weren’t any parents in the other room sneaking peeks to make sure that everything was going well. This was quiet tension and ardent anxiety in every movement, hot blood in our veins burning every last moment into my brain.

He was wearing some of my old basketball shorts and they weren’t long enough for his runner’s legs and that helped to break some of the tension. Time had gotten away from us between homework, reality TV, and general procrastination and now it was too late for him to go back to his dorm. An over-sized t-shirt in conjunction with the shorts was all I had to offer him in the way of pajamas. I had met his incredulous look with a “take it or leave it” shrug.

I knew he would take it. He had taken everything else, whether I had given it to him knowingly or unknowingly. I had known it before the first sleepover, but there was something about the way we slept almost too close in the extra long twin bed that made the realization much more real. Our fragile souls melted together like carefully placed crayons on Southern California blacktop when he pulled me close as we slept.


All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without the express written authorization of the author.

WitFit prompts can be found at The Writers’ Collective website by following this link: http://www.writers-collective.com/witfit/.

July 21, 2014 – Word Prompt: Tick

Word Prompt: Tick
Dialogue Flex: “Come on, check it out!”
Using the provided snippet of dialogue, explore what comes to mind, be it a scene, a thought, or something else.


There was darkness, complete darkness. Her eyes hurt from staring into the black, but she knew that these were the calm moments. The true terror was still moments away. That’s not to say that the transition period was not challenging. She was utterly, painfully alone and it was in these moments that she thought of her husband. Was he being punished somewhere else? Alone in his own personal hell for eternity?

Suddenly there was a bright light that made the air around her crackle and her skin burn. Her nausea passed and she opened her eyes. She was curled up on soft grass, warm sunshine filtered through perfectly green leaves as a light breeze ruffled them back and forth. The soothing sound of the stream in the distance and birds chirping should have been comforting, but everything was wrong. The sun did not warm her skin, the grass beneath her was soft only in her memories.

Everything in the Garden was toxic and scary. Everything except for the fruit that had condemned her in the first place. At first she had not understood what was happening to her. She knew that once they had been expelled from the Garden their lives would change, she understood that they would suffer pain, grow old, and die.

The first time she woke up here after her death she rejoiced. He must have forgiven them for their trespasses against him. And then, thirsty and craving the sweet water of the stream, she cupped the clear liquid in her young-again hands and drank deeply. It wasn’t until the second gulp that she realized the water was burning her, scalding hot down her throat and in her stomach. She had wretched and coughed, her mouth raw and her body shaking for hours beside the stream.

Trying to eat fruit from the garden was no better, the bitter and ashy taste left her silently sobbing in pain. It was then that she had seen him, the creature with the beady yellow and black eyes. It’s thin, quick tongue tasting the air between smug lips.

This time she sat, waiting. Her legs crossed as she leaned against a tree. If she could make it through and not succumb to her hunger, if she could hold out one more day – just one more tick of the eternal clock – this time then maybe it would be different. If this was her penance, then she would succeed. Who knew how many more chances she would get?

It was on the eve of her sixth day that she heard it, the soft parting of grass that was almost indistinguishable if you didn’t know what you were listening for.

“Sssso you’re back I sssee,” the hissing voice was dark and enticing. Everything she had remembered it being and more.

She turned her face down to look at him, her body weak from hunger and thirst, “What do you want?” The question was unnecessary, but she had to admit it was nice to have a reason to use her voice.

“I’ve come to offer you what you need, foolisssh woman.” He coiled his silvery green body up and even when he was still he appeared to move. The light played off of his skin as it filtered through the leaves and he seemed to glitter like he was made of water. “You need to eat.”

Her fingers dug into the soft earth and felt the grass burn against her palms. She clenched and unclenched her jaw, a nervous tick she had developed after falling though this reality so may times. It had started when, after her first night in the garden, she realized she could not find her husband though he had been dead long before her.

“I don’t need it.” Her voice was strained, but she meant what she said. She did not need another cycle through, she needed to be released.

“Come on, check it out!” He prodded, eyes gleaming. “What could the harm be? Just a tiny bite to get you through.”

If she had been able to cry, she would have. Although her body was young, her spirit was ancient and tired. The repetition too much.

“Well,” he started, uncoiling his body, “You know where to find me.”

She listened as he slithered off, disappearing through the grass and bushes. As she strained to hear his retreat, she knew he was right. She knew where to find him. She always broke down in the end. Going through another cycle was better than her fear of the unknown. What would happen if she died in the garden? Or worse – what if she wouldn’t die?

The sun set slowly, beautiful colors overtaking the sky as she shivered and settled in for another long, sleepless night.


 

All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without the express written authorization of the author.

WitFit prompts can be found at The Writers’ Collective website by following this link: http://www.writers-collective.com/witfit/.

What’s in a (Fictional Character’s) Name?

Does anyone else have as much trouble naming the characters in their stories as I do? I can picture scenarios and pump out stories at the drop of a hat, but ask me to name them and I’m reduced to a nervous wreck.

My brain stops working momentarily and all of the names I can think of are of people I know or have known. Google searches for a name generator hardly help me either … the names they spit out are either far too common (read: I know people with those names) or way too out there (read: the names of anime characters or superheros).

How do people come up with the perfect name? Did Suzanne Collins struggle with Katniss? Did Stephanie Meyer lose sleep over the names of her sparkly vampires? Does Stephen King bang his head on his desk every time he starts a new novel with a fresh cast? Am I crazy?!

I think the biggest reason I struggle with this is that I love to write short stories, especially for blog posts. It becomes such a hassle to have to pull a new name out of thin air when I have the character so richly developed in my mind.

One remedy for this, I think, could be creating a couple of well-fleshed-out “stock” characters that make cameos at varying ages/points in time. Does anyone have a good character creation work sheet? I used to have one from a creative writing class, but since I moved I can’t find it. It would be awesome of you to share!

Well, back to dreaming up names …

Xx,

Liz

55 Questions – Get to Know Me!

  1. What is your middle name?
    1. My middle name is Marie.
  2. When was the last time you cried?
    1. June 28th – the day after my wedding when I got on the plane to Las Vegas. I don’t like planes at all.
  3. Do you like your handwriting?
    1. Most of the time. :)
  4. Can you cook?
    1. Yup, and I do almost daily. I’m kind of bad at following recipes though – I have to throw in my own touches to make it yummy. ;)
  5. Are you married?
    1. Mmhmm – recently, too. I married my husband, Julian, on June 27th of this year!
  6. Do you have kids?
    1. No and no thank you. (At least for the next few years!)
  7. If you were another person would you be friends with you?
    1. Most def. Me and other me would love to hang out at home, make late night runs for fries, and generally never get anywhere on time.
  8. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
    1. Too much, probably. Especially with people who don’t know me. Oops. :oops: :roll:
  9. Do you still have your tonsils?
    1. Yeah, unfortunately. They’re freakin’ huge.
  10. Would you bungee jump?
    1. NOPE. Go ahead, call me lame.
  11. What is your favorite food?
    1. Pizza! (Or is it fries?) – But seriously, PizzaRev’s gluten free thin crust with Daiya cheese, pepperoni, and pretty much every veggie ever known to touch a pizza … :P
  12. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
    1. The better question would be, “do you wear shoes with laces?” Uhh, no. :)
  13. Do you think you are strong?
    1. Emotionally, yeah. Physically, no, not really. :(
  14. What is your favorite ice cream?
    1. Trader Joe’s Strawberry Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. Yumm.
  15. What is the first thing you notice about people?
    1. Their face?
  16. Red or pink?
    1. Red! So. Much. Red.
  17. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
    1. My tendency to be quiet in situations where I know I should speak up.
  18. PC or Mac?
    1. PC.
  19. What type of cell phone do you have?
    1. iPhone 5s in Space Gray.
  20. What color shoes are you wearing?
    1. I’m wearing a pair of old black Nine West gladiator sandals.
  21. What was the last thing you ate?
    1. Vanilla coconut yogurt.
  22. What are you listening to right now?
    1. ALT 98.7 (Los Angeles) on iheartradio – right now they’re playing Machinehead by Bush.
  23. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
    1. Radical Red on some days and Silver on others.
  24. Favorite smells?
    1. The smell before it rains/after it rains, the ocean, and clean bedsheets.
  25. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
    1. Julian (my husband) :)
  26. Mountain hideaway or beach house?
    1. Beach house. <3
  27. Favorite sports to watch?
    1. Basketball! LA Lakers fan for liiiife.
  28. Hair color?
    1. Dark brown with natural blonde/red rando hairs. I have been participating in the ombre trend though, so blondish toward the bottom. :)
  29. Eye color?
    1. Super-duper brown.
  30. Favorite TV show?
    1. The Vampire Diaries & The Originals. Just like my Damon or Klaus debacle – I can’t choose!! :?
  31. Favorite movie?
    1. Any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. :D
  32. Scary movies or happy endings?
    1. Scary movies!! :twisted:
  33. Last movie you watched?
    1. The Internship – it was on HBO. :)
  34. What color shirt are you wearing?
    1. White tank-top with gray stripes.
  35. Summer or winter?
    1. Summer forever.
  36. Hugs or kisses?
    1. Depends on who they’re from. ;)
  37. Favorite dessert?
    1. Red velvet anything. Mmmm.
  38. What was your favorite subject at school?
    1. English, Spanish and Comm classes. :)
  39. Computer or television?
    1. Oooh … I like watching TV while I’m on the computer. Okay, okay – computer, final answer.
  40. What is your favorite drink?
    1. Good ol’ H2O like 99% of the time. Every once in a while I indulge with a Wyder’s Pear Cider. :)
  41. What is your favorite song at the moment?
    1. Still Into You by Paramore (my wedding song). <3
  42. Do you have any tattoos?
    1. Not yet since they’re so pricey … but soon!
  43. What is your favorite perfume?
    1. Juicy Couture La La Malibu. :) Now that you know, you can go smell me. 8O
  44. What is the farthest you have been from home in 2014?
    1. Las Vegas, Nevada (i.e. the best place to vacation).
  45. Do you have a special talent?
    1. Inventing cookies/writing creatively.
  46. Where were you born?
    1. In a City in Southern California. :)
  47. What color is your car?
    1. Klaus is Silver.
  48. What is the last thing you bought?
    1. Groceries at Sprouts.
  49. Do you speak any other languages?
    1. I speak/read/write Spanish fluently. :)
  50. What is your favorite book of all time?
    1. Hmm … I really loved Shogun by James Clavell.
  51. How many siblings do you have?
    1. Three – David, 20 and the twins Joey and Beca, 9. They’re all Capricorns. 8O
  52. What is your favorite restaurant?
    1. Sit-down: PF Chang’s (gluten free fried rice perfection). Take-out: PizzaRev.
  53. Have you ever been out of the country?
    1. I went to Mexico City with my family when I was 10 and we got to explore the pyramids at Teotihuacán.
  54. Do you have any pets?
    1. Yeah, but he lives with my parents. :( Julian and I moved to my grandparent’s house to save money and he stayed behind (my dad won’t give him up). He’s the best chocolate blue-nose pit bull on the planet. <3 My grandparents do have a small wiener-like dog who is starting to love me now. :)
  55. How tall are you?
    1. I’m 5′ 8″ and I consider myself tall? Idk.

 

Thanks for taking the time to get to know a little bit about me! Hopefully we can be interweb-friends. :)

Xx,

Liz