Category: futbol

My #PitchWars Mentee Bio

I debated whether or not to write this. I don’t want to jinx myself writing a bio and ruining my chances of being chosen by one of the mentors. But then, the other option was obsessing over my twitter feed. So I deleted my twitter app from my phone and decided to jump in. Why not? The main thing I want from PitchWars is the opportunity to work with a mentor.

Instead of having a GIF party, I decided to paste a personal essay I wrote to apply for the MFA program I’ve been dreaming of attending for years and years. I wrote a first draft of it during an exercise in Cynthia Leitich Smith’s workshop during WIFYR, and I learned so much about me from that exercise that I decided to expand on it in my application.

So here it goes:

Rosario and the Parana River
I was born in Rosario, Argentina in the late seventies, at the cusp of the military dictatorship. In spite of censorship and persecution, my country has always been the breeding ground of thinkers and writers such as Borges, Cortázar, Quiroga, and Mármol. They used words not only to express themselves, but to also give voice to the voiceless and call the world’s attention to the reality of the southernmost country in the world. 

The first time words made sense to me, it was like I was seeing for the first time. I was five years old, in a crowded, middle-of-the-winter smelly bus, clutching my grandfather’s hand, when I read the bright words on a billboard. After that flash of understanding, words overwhelmed me. I couldn’t not read. Not anymore. But I couldn’t yet write. 

A few days later, playing school with older neighbor girls, I felt a writer’s frustration for the first time. In her expert second-grader voice, my friend read from the primer Argentine children have learned from for the last fifty years. “Pelusa mete la pata,” she said and waited for me to write it down. I saw the sentence in my mind. Pelusa, the dog, making a mess, sticking her leg in a pot of paint and leaving tiny blue footprints all over the floor. I saw it, but I didn’t have the tools yet to put my thoughts down on paper. Unfortunately, writer’s frustration is a feeling that has haunted me all my life. 

For weeks I sat at the kitchen table copying down letters from the salt box or the Coca-Cola bottle. Once I had the tools, I set out to build my own stories. When I was grieving the death of my grandfather, I wrote of a princess whose grandpa died of cancer. That was the beginning of my vocation as a contemporary writer. Although I love fantasy and speculative fiction, real life has so many mysteries that I’ve been exploring them ever since. My love of reading and writing have always walked hand in hand. As my eagerness to create stories grew, so did my search for stories that fueled my imagination and gave meaning to my life. 

At home, my family owned one book, the Bible. I read the Old Testament stories so many times, I almost memorized them. The Old Testament has something for every reader: mystery, betrayal, love, faith, sibling rivalry, murder and intrigue. 

One summer, my mother bought a dictionary from a door-to-door salesman, and my eyes were opened to the world. I read the words, but more than anything, I poured over the appendices at the end. The list of countries and their capitals. The list of dead tongues. I made stories about those people whose languages don’t exist anymore. 
In the list of modern languages, I marked the ones I would one day learn. I marked English, and with the help of a Spanish/English dictionary I learned it. Years of pouring over the dictionary and deciphering the phonetic guide gave me the opportunity to read my favorite authors in their native language. It also left me with dreadful mispronunciations. To this day, I have to remind myself that tired is pronounced TIE-erd and not TIE-red. 

When the Bible and the dictionary weren’t enough to satisfy my thirst for story, I turned to a neighbor and friend who graciously lent me the books of her meager library. That’s how I learned the Grimm and Andersen fairy tales and discovered the words of Monteiro Lobato, the great Brazilian children’s writer. He wrote about Little Nose and her friends, who listened to her grandmother’s stories in the Yellow Benteveo Farm. From Monteiro Lobato’s books I learned everything from Greek mythology to geology. From European history to Archimedes and math. Last year, on her last trip to Argentina, my mother found those books and brought all twenty-three to me. My love for Brazil and its people, in spite of the eternal rivalry between our two countries, has a beginning in the Yellow Benteveo. 

When I write now, I think of the books that shaped my vision of the world. Because of stories, I learned I could accomplish anything. Maybe that’s why when at the age of nineteen I left my country to attend university in the United States, I wasn’t scared. I was thrilled at the opportunity I had to live such an adventure. In an extended family of over seventy people, I’m the only one who graduated from college–in a foreign language that I learned from a dictionary. 

Even though writing and reading have always been a part of my life, I’ve been writing seriously for over seven years. During this time, I have attended several writing conferences, such as LDStorymakers and Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers. At the latter, I’ve attended workshops taught by Martine Leavitt, Ann Dee Ellis, and Cynthia Leitich-Smith. I’ve also attended SCBWI LA. I’ve been a member of a writers group, The Sharks and Pebbles, for almost five years. 

I’ve always been self-driven when it comes to learning and education. Besides English, I also speak Portuguese and Italian. 

Easter Day Family Picture
have five children, and I’m a stay-at-home mother. If anything, my children have inspired me to write from their perspective: the child who grows up between cultures. Being from Argentina, I come from several backgrounds. Even though my family tree has roots in Palestine, Spain, Yugoslavia, and the Pampas, I’ve always considered myself one hundred percent Argentine. I see a different experience in my children’s lives. Identity and what it means to belong to a culture or cultures are topics that resonate with me and inspire me to tell my stories. I write thinking of the little girl who seldom saw herself in the pictures of a book, but whose words are worth reading and writing about. 

I yearn for a mentor to guide me in my journey. In time, I feel I can also become a mentor for others–writers whose voices have been quieted, but who don’t want to remain silent anymore.

I didn’t add in my application that I’m obsessed with fútbol, but that’s such an important part of me I can’t leave it out. I love it. I’ve never played it, but one day, I’ll sign up for the women’s futsal league. I will.
All my boyfriends 🙂

Mentors, pick me! Pick me!

JIG, the movie

 Swan Princess at her last feis, in which she took 3 first place, 2 second place, and 2 third place medals

Contrary to many stereotypes about women, Latina women, and writers I LOVE sports and movies about sports. Yes, even American football. Remember the Titans is a favorite of mine. I’m not an athlete, but in my family we ate, breathed, talked and dreamed futbol. My husband was athlete of the year his senior year of high-school, so it was only natural that when our kids came along, they’d be in sports.

Swan Princess, my first daughter, tried T-ball and futbol. She didn’t like it. She preferred ballet which has been a passion of hers since she was three years old. She’s now the youngest in her class and has such a grace and pose that seeing her dance takes my breath away.

A few years ago, we went to our city’s Summer festival, the Highland Fling, in which one of the performing groups was an Irish Dance group. Swan Princess was mesmerized, looking at the dancers with such admiration and longing that I still get chills when I remember that day she found her true love.

She’s been an Irish dancer ever since. She attends The Shelley School of Irish Dance (we’re so blessed to live just a few miles from one of Utah’s best Irish dance instructors!). Unlike my boys, whom I have to bribe and beg to practice, Swan practices several hours a day. All on her own. She never walks. She leaps and hops and dances instead. When she can’t dance, like at church or school, she goes over the steps with her fingers on her lap or the desk.

There are three major feiseana (competitions) here in Utah every year, and she’s always preparing for them. Since she’s now a preliminary champion, we’ll have to start traveling for her to have more opportunities to compete. Last night, I saw JIG, a documentary about the greatest Irish Dance competition of all: The World Championships.

The documentary follows several children, both boys and girls, in their journey to the tournament. Some of these kids are only ten years old! They have such passion and determination, that at the end of the show I was in tears. I had a greater desire to pursue my dreams with more dedication, to write with more passion, to do my time at the computer every single day.

Jig is available on Netflix and on Amazon video. In fact, I rented it for $2.99 for a whole week! I bought the DVD too because now it’s one of my favorite shows too.

What things inspire you? I hope this little trailer inspires you too 🙂

Author Laura Josephsen is hosting a Favorite Character Blogfest, and I’m participating! I didn’t have to think much to choose a favorite character, although an ever increasing number of characters populate my mind and to talk me incessantly.

My all-time favorite character is Diego, the love futbol star of my manuscript SOUTHERN CROSS. Diego is Camila’s (my main character’s) love interest. Since the book is written from her point of view, we don’t get to know Diego’s thoughts. But I love what others say about him:

“Looking like a rock star, surrounded by admirers, he cupped his hands around his mouth
so I could hear him from across the street. “I’ll call you later, Camila!” he said.
    I hope he meant tonight.

“As if he feels my eyes on him, Diego turns around and looks straight at me. He grins that smile I’m sure boys take secret lessons for. The fútbol star replaces the forlorn lost boy.”

“’I was getting worried about you,’ Diego says. He stands up to take my backpack from
my hands.
    When he kisses my cheek, a thousand replies blare in my mind. The more prominent are:
    Looking great, Titan.
    I missed you and it’s only been fourteen hours since I last saw you.
    Marry me.”

Father Hugo, from the orphanage where Diego grew up:
 “I always knew he’d
reach far and high. I’m so proud of him. I dare wager that even without his adoptive mom, he would have still risen from his dire circumstances. Diego was born a fighter. “

The kids from the orphanage:
“Several dark-haired little ones run inside the house yelling, “The Titan came to play.
Diego came!”
    “Don’t make them crazy. It’s all I ask,” Father Hugo implores.
    “I’ll do my best,” Diego says and runs to meet his greatest admirers, chasing them with
open arms.
    The kids shriek, ecstatic.

I am a futbol fanatic, and I there are several futbol players I admire tremendously. Diego was loosely based on a couple of kids who lived in my barrio in Argentina, and made it to the “big leagues.” They are everyone’s heroes. The pride and joy of us all.

I’m looking forward to reading the other participants’ entries! Thanks to my friend Julie for the link to this awesome opportunity. For details on how to participate, click on the button!

THIS is why I love it so much

Today Barcelona added another trophy to their already cluttered collection. I celebrated each goal (Iniesta1, Messi 2) and protested after each foul by the Real Madrid players in the same way as if I were at the stadium. Good thing my husband’s out of town 🙂

I’m still in a daze for finally seeing Cesc Fabregas wearing the blaugrana jersey of the first team (doesn’t he look awesome? He’s the first from the right). My happiness turned into outrage when Marcelo tackled Cesc at the end of the game.

The fight that followed the infraction for which a red wasn’t enough, and Ozil’s and Villa’s red cards for punching each other are nothing compared to what when Real Madrid’s coach Jose Mourinho did. He attacked the Barcelona assistant coach, Vilanova, and then laughed about it.

I love the goals and celebration, but I hate the violence. Violence in the field creates violence in the stands.

In spite of all of that, my favorite part, and the reason I love futbol so much, is shown at the 1 minute mark of the following video. Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid 20, is outraged, and fellow Argentine Javier Mascherano tries to calm him down. Mascherano is Barcelona’s 14. The thing that I love the most is that in spite of belonging to rival teams, the Montegue and Capulets of the futbol world, these two guys belong to a team that takes precedence over the team they work at. They’re both part of the Argentine National team and they look after one another. A few seconds into the video, I saw Barcelona’s Dani Alves comforting fellow Brazilian, the Merengue Kaka. Same thing. They’re Brazilians and friends first. The rivalry comes last.

Of course, someone may argue that in both teams that are several Spanish National team players that hate each other, but that’s another argument. For the most part, the futbol players in this match avoided aggression and protected their friends, disregarding the jersey they were wearing at the time.

Futbol is passion but it’s also a brotherhood. And I love it.

Like a dream

This last week the kids went back to school. They were so excited they kept waking up all night to check I hadn’t slept in. I also doubted myself, and I set up about three different alarm clocks in case one or two didn’t work.
I got up on time to make a good warm breakfast, and the kids dressed in their uniforms. Smiles reaching from ear to ear.
I missed them a lot during the day, especially because the little ones were so utterly bored without the older siblings that they drove me crazy all week. The only good part is that I get to take a nap again because since we get up so early, after lunch the babies are exhausted (my babies who are almost 3 and 5. Pathetic!). By now, we have our little routine again. School, lunch, nap, futbol, or ballet (which starts next Tuesday), Irish dancing (starts tomorrow) and piano. There are also church related activities, like Scouts, and all of a sudden my calendar is full of colored little blocks. My main activity is driving, but things should get better once my assistant arrives next weekend (Jeff, that’s you in case you didn’t notice).
Swan also had a birthday this week, and she looks and acts so grownup my eyes tear up over anything (and that’s apart from the allergies which are killing me this year). I found her listening to Keane on an ipod (it’s a family one that she appropriated) and singing the melancholy “Atlantic” with a thread of voice (” ♪♬♫I Don’t wanna be old!!!! ♪♬♫).
She told me, “I have this feeling inside me, and then I thought, and yeah! It’s happiness!” My pint-sized teenage daughter!
We celebrated at my parents, and she had a blast. Her party won’t be for a couple of weeks (she wanted Jeff to be here) and I’m dreading making a cake. She wants a mermaid, and after last year’s dragon’s success, I don’t think I’ll be able to top that.
Friday was the first futbol practice of the season, and with my BBF G. we have an unspoken understanding: she brings the mate, I bring the treats. She brings treats as well, but mainly she brings the mate because I drink it sweet. You are converting me though G. I’ve only been putting sugar to the first one and then to every other. That’s better, huh?
Well, Friday we were running late, like always, and I debated between taking everybody along into the supermarket for a package of cookies or … and then an idea came to mind. Gorgeous and Swan could go! So I parked by the store entrance, and gave them a $10 bill. You should’ve seen them, walking so proudly into the store, hand in hand. They came back running, with two packages of Keebler’s chocolate chip and fudge sandwich, and a box of ice-cubes gum for me. Gorgeous was ready to pocket the change, but he gave it back promptly when I asked for it.
I remember going to don Luis’ store when I was five (it wasn’t a supermarket. Just the front room in some one’s house), and I could read, but not my mom’s handwriting. So I asked her to read it to me, and I memorized it, and then at the store I pretended I was reading, and the old man and his wife were so amazed it scared me for a minute.
How bittersweet that even though my kids have a much better childhood than I did, they won’t have the memories of going to the kiosco for candy behind my back, or to the store for bread and “facturas” in the morning.
The kids are growing, and I feel like Enos in the Book of Mormon when he says, “life has passed us like a dream.” The days are so short and packed with activities, and at night, when there’s only silence interrupted by sleepy sighs, I wonder where my babies are, and who those big kids who look so much like Jeff and me when we were little are.

Here’s a video of Swan’s birthday party (the unofficial one). I couldn’t resist!