The A-to-Z of Me

I spent some time yesterday walking down memory lane on the blog. I read old posts, went through old drafts. I learned 3 things –

1. I often don’t remember what I write. When I reread my writing, I’m always surprised the words are mine, a pleasant surprise usually.
2. While I don’t post often, I’m proud of the things I do post. Better to post with meaningful words less often than post more often with less to say.
3. I’ve got a few projects I started but later abandoned, some rightfully so and others need resuscitating. I love some of those projects.

I also realized the blog’s been kind of heavy lately what with all the talk of separation and divorce. So today something a little light, a little on the fun side inspired by a post I read ages ago.

A-to-Z of Carla

A. Age: 33
B. Bed size: King
C. Chore that you hate: Ugh, putting away laundry. I’d rather scrub a toilet ten times.
D. Dogs: Yes, a giant Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy named Luella (Lu, Lulu, Louisa, Lula). She is a giant, way more dog than I ever imagined myself owning. I always thought myself a dog person but I’ve learned there’s a huge difference between being a dog lover and a dog owner. I’ve had to grow into the owner part. Love her to pieces and the comfort she’s brought to my girls and I during all the madness.
E. Essential start to your day: Warm water with lemon, a little namaste-amen-ommmmmm for my holy temple
F. Fear: That’ll I’ll never write those books I’ve always wanted to write. That my daughters will grow up and want nothing to do with me. That I’ll never find love again. That a mouse will jump on me. That I won’t travel to the all the places I dream of. That I’ll swallow a bee (not really but kinda).
G. Greatest achievement:  Producing and directing Listen To Your Mother Providence. Seriously, the most inspiring, challenging and kick ass thing I’ve done in ages.
H. Height: 5’1″ – I’m a shorty.
I. Instruments you play: Technically, I can play anything, right? I took lessons in piano growing up so I feel comfortable around it but I don’t actually play the piano, or any instrument for that matter, with any regularity. However, I do sing with wild abandon in my car.
J. Job title: Office manager, producer, director, writer
K. Kids: Two dynamite little ladies almost 5 and almost 7, my sun and moon and stars and sky.
L. Love: I believe in it deep into my bones. I’m a lover of love and despite my current heartbreak, always will be, a hopeful hopeless romantic. And right now, I’ve got love to spare – my girls, my family and an incredible circle of friends who never cease to surprise me.
M. Mother’s name: Cirila though for some reason after arriving in the US from Cuba she became Racquel.
N. Nicknames: I gots none. Every once in awhile someone will call me Carlita (which I adore) or Chinita (a childhood nickname that reminds me of Jersey & my grandfather). Then there was the time in grade school when I had a short, poofy hair do and I was called Jesse because my hair resembled Uncle Jesse’s in Full House.
O. Overnight hospital stays:  Each time I gave birth. That’s it.
P. Pet peeves: People who are rude. People who invade your personal space without permission. When I let a driver go and they don’t say thank you.
Q. Quote from a movie: “Nobody puts baby in the corner.” Duh 😉 Close second? “How are things down under? Blossoming, I hope.” Can you guess? “Winter must be cold for people with no warm memories.” The original and that other one I love. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Bam.
R. Right or left handed: Right tighty
S. Siblings: Only child plus several half sisters I’ve never met.
U. Underdog moment: I’m only just now getting back in shape so when I took a cross training class with some heavy hitters who are in incredible shape, I was convinced I’d be passed out on the floor. I survived, though, and loved it. At the end, they showed us how to scale a wall and much to my own surprise, I did it! One big jump and push off the wall and I was coming down the other side.
V. Vegetable you hate: Beets.
W. What makes you run late: Being Cuban.
X. X-files: I’ve had exes who looked at me like I was magic. All these years later I still remember what that felt like. I was cheated on once, in the ever emotional high school years, and it felt awful. Hmm, other than that one, they’ve all been good eggs.
Y. Yummy food that you make: I make amazing maduros (fried plantains, if you’re wondering) and killer rice. I can be a great cook but it’s not something that inspires me right now. I’m a great baker and sweets always inspire me. Brownies are my speciality.
Z. Zoo animal: I love them all, really. Here’s the thing. Zoos always make me feel like I’m at Jurassic Park and there’s always the possibility the animals might be realistic looking robots. So I just really, really want to pet them to be sure so the more exotic the animal, the more skeptical I am and the more I’m all sorts of googly eyed for them. 

Your turn. A-to-Z of you, por favor.

Love Letter To The Truth Tellers

Enough PoemOriginal image by Tomofwight via Flikr.
Poem “Hushed” by LTYM: Providence cast member Marian Kent. 

 

Dear LTYM: Providence Cast, or Dearest Truth Tellers,

Over the last several weeks, I’ve had the immense pleasure of getting to know all of you. Each of you has proven to be as smart, kind and fun as I had anticipated. The pleasant surprise has been seeing so much of myself in all of you. Each of us with a unique story to share and yet so very much connected and driven by the same things.

Watching your faces during our first rehearsal was a flashback of my own reactions to hearing your stories for the first time during auditions – pure awe.

Listening to what brought you to Listen To Your Mother: Providence echoed my own reasons – reclaiming my talents after motherhood, celebrating the woman behind the mother, sharing my mama wisdom, for myself, for all mothers, for everyone.

Your joy, pride, insecurity, fear, geeky excitement, stunned disbelief, sense of camaraderie, your holy-shit-I’m-going-to-be-on-stage-in-front-of 306-people-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into – these emotions are my own as well.

I see myself in each of you. I know our audience will no doubt have the same reaction. It’s the “me too” reaction Ann Imig spoke about. Not just because you each are bringing to the table your truth but because you each have the courage to speak as witnesses to the collective experience of motherhood. You are embracing every mother, daughter, grandmother, son, father, everyone who has, is a mother and thinks they stand alone.  

I believe you’re all breath-takingly amazing.

Which is why I’m writing you today. I have spoken to many of you individually or collectively and in some capacity you’ve expressed something to this affect –

“There must be some mistake. How did I end up in the company of such talented women?” or

“I have a better piece. The one you heard isn’t my best. I don’t think it stands up to everyone else’s work.”

Ultimately, many of you, myself included, are plagued by not enough syndrome.

My confession. Busy juggling auditions and production responsibilities, choosing my piece to read for the show was last on my list of priorities. I had some ideas before auditions but then everything seemed to already be covered or not up to par. Here’s my confession, I didn’t decide what I would read until I was driving to rehearsals. I had printed out two contenders and pulled the trigger as I pulled into the parking lot. As we gathered to read, I listened to everyone around the table. I laughed. I cried. I cried. I laughed. A voice whispered in my head, “Maybe I should just stick to producing and directing the show. These are some seriously good writers. My super short, rinky dink poem thingy doesn’t hold a candle to anything I’ve heard. I’m totally the weak link. There’s no way I can fake it amongst so much talent.”

The cast member before me finished her piece and I could choose to either read or let everyone know I wasn’t reading. I kid you not, I was on the fence until the words from my piece began to spill from my mouth. I read my piece. I’m reading in the show. You embraced me the way you embraced every story – with love and open hearts. I left that day full and overwhelmingly alive. I made the right choice.

I was reminded of the tremendous power we each have. The power we often neglect and deprive ourselves and the world of.

Shortly after, I read this post from a Listen To Your Mother cast member in another city and realized, like the author did,

“I don’t want to hide anymore. Take me in. Love me. I’m open. I am good enough. That’s right. I. Am. Good. Enough.” 

I shared the post with you all and again I was surprised so many of us share the same insecurities. I wanted to let you know you are more than enough. Laura and I welcomed you to the cast because you each floored us with your brilliance. One simple afternoon, in a tiny conference room, with nothing but a few pages of paper and your voice, you blew us away. You stirred emotions in us with your words and it haunted us in the most wonderful way days and weeks later. You dazzled again at rehearsals and left your fellow cast members changed. You will do it again in a few short weeks.

Each of your pieces is perfectly as it should be for our show. We didn’t come to the table with any preconceived notion of what kind of stories we wanted to share with our audience. Then each of you walked through the door and there was no question you belonged. 

Laura and I were so honored to bring this show to Providence. We were excited to take on these new roles as producer and director, to explore these unchartered waters all in the name of motherhood and community and womanhood. Then came YOU. And it took on life. YOU deepened the purpose for our production. YOU define this year’s production. YOU. YOU. YOU. 

Thank you for believing in this project enough to share your truth, to bare your soul before strangers. Thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for your brilliance. Thank you for being selfish enough.

With the utmost gratitude,

Carla

Tomorrow

LTYM-logoTomorrow are the official Listen To Your Mother: Providence auditions. I’m not even sure I can convey to you how electrified I am right now. When I first signed on to bring the show to Rhode Island, I knew this would be an experience unlike any other. I was prepared for the behind the scenes work of bringing the show to the stage to be eye opening and challenging. Indeed, they’ve proven to be both those things and incredibly rewarding as well.

What I didn’t anticipate was the intimacy and intense responsibility of having a person bare their soul to you. Let me explain.

Last night, Laura (kick ass public relations maven and my co-producer/co-director) and I, held our first audition via Google Hangout. At precisely 9:35pm, me, Laura, and our brave reader sat facing each other on our computer screens. We introduced ourselves, said our hellos and gave the stage to our first audition of the season. What took almost five minutes felt like a split second and then we bid her farewell.

I was floored because in listening to this woman, in watching her I knew I was watching myself. A mom whose had a harried day, personal needs met and unmet, dinner on the table, children chased and loved and put to bed, to do lists checked off and growing, a family to hold to together. And here she was, late in the night, stealing away a minute for herself to share the words in her heart with two total strangers simply because she believes, like we do, so much in motherhood.

I had to stop myself from thinking all that she put into that moment – 9pm, close to bedtime, sneaking away to put on a nice top and do her hair and get camera ready, maybe crouching herself into a corner of the house where sleeping children won’t hear her voice. She snuck in a moment for herself to honor her dreams and to honor all mothers with her story.

I am so humbled and honored that so many amazing writers are trusting us with their stories over the next few days. I’m left without words knowing that many of these people have never shared their story with anyone else. So I am off to bed, with an open heart and open arms for the beauty that tomorrow holds.

 

What Kind Of Car Did Your Family Drive?

Every Saturday in 2013 I’ll be sharing a post for the Mom Before Mom project. The goal is to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which root the woman in every mother. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every week I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. Read along or write along with the wonderful bloggers linking up every week.

mother's journey as a womanOriginal image by aussiegal via Flikr.

Prompt #6: What kind of car did your family drive? What played on the radio? Where did you sit? Take us on a road trip.

Cadillacs. Long and wide and colorful. Ashtrays, shiny knobs and manual windows. My mom didn’t drive and didn’t get out much unless we were headed out for a special occasion; so time in the car was always just about me and my abuelo who is everything to me. Early on, I sat by myself in the back while my grandpa drove. I have clear images of peering over the shoulders of the front seats and watching his profile as he stared out at the road ahead. I couldn’t wait to sit up front but, really, I didn’t care as long as we were together and driving.

I remember one night coming home from a  party and every seat in the Cady was full. I was exhausted. I road home lying down across the laps of my mom and grandma in the back seat. I fell asleep watching the night sky speed by. 

I remember on sunny days lying down in the backseat and watching the electrical wires. I’d follow them to see how long before they branched off to another block. The black wires against blue skies and white clouds made me smile. 

I felt bad ass when I finally moved up to the front seat. I don’t remember what played on the radio when my grandpa drove but, bless his heart, he gave me full control once I got to sit up front. He never complained. Ever. Even when I belted out Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up” and I could tell by the look on his face he thought it was completely inappropriate.

We could drive forever, him and I. He was a jeweler and did repairs for a number of jewelry stores in New Jersey and New York. He had designated days to visit each of them and I always felt honored to tag along. He was a peaceful city driver who only used his horn when absolutely necessary; so more than someone in the suburbs and less than I’m inclined to now. No road rage for him. He’d call out a bad driver here and there but mainly he was just mellow.

I remember playing this game in my head where I’d try to predict where the cars around us would go. It was so easy to tell how the cars would move. I thought I was psychic.

I remember whenever we came to sudden stops, his arm would instinctively reach out to protect me. When the groceries are in the front seat now and I stop suddenly, I do the same thing.

We got into two car accidents. Luckily, they were small-ish and happened when I was older. The first time we got side swiped into a corner store front. My grandfather flew across our giant van (we were way beyond the Cady days at this point) and into the corner of the windshield in front of me. C+C Music Factory was playing “Everybody Dance Now’. He wasn’t seriously injured. I wore a neck brace for about a month after. The other time wasn’t actually an accident; we didn’t hit anything. But it left me so jittery and shaken, it’s worth mentioning. We were headed uphill on a rainy day and, for no reason I can think of, our car did a 180 and we crossed over into the other lane. My window, my face were just inches from a metal street divider. All I remember is reaching out to change the station and my hand shaking.

Thankfully, neither scarred me and I still have a big heart for the open road.

Besides my grandfather, I spent a ton of time driving around with my godmother. She was my godmother, the hip mom I never had, the cool older sister I never had and just embodied everything I wanted to be when I got older. So spending time with her was also pretty amazing for me as a kid. My favorite of her cars was the Jeep Wrangler and her little convertible. The former because I geeked out every time we got to pull over and take the top off. The latter because she trusted me enough to let me drive it shortly after getting my license. Oh and putting the top down. Clearly I was a fan of the open air.

What stays alive for me from driving around with her is the music. Gloria Estafan. Sting. Inner Circle. I did not have control of her radio and I’m glad I didn’t. I fell in love with so much music. Some of my favorite songs are ones I learned the words to while driving with her. All hail the radio.

Whether with my godmother or with my grandfather, we drove a lot. Long trips to the country or short trips into the city, a quick drive to the mall or a traffic-y jaunt for business – I loved them all. Trips to the city were my favorite, though. Driving is so much slower in the Big Apple, the perfect speed for a wide-eyed child to marvel at the skyscrapers passing by.

Funny, up until this moment I didn’t realize what a tender space the open road held for me. It’s good to remember.

Next week’s prompt: 2/23 Walk us through your bedtime routine as a kid, a teen, a college kid. Anything you still do now? Did anything keep you up at night?



What Was Your Favorite Home Cooked Meal As A Kid?

Every Saturday in 2013 I’ll be sharing a post for the Mom Before Mom project. The goal is to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which root the woman in every mother. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every week I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. Read along or write along with the wonderful bloggers linking up every week.

mother's journey as a womanOriginal image by aussiegal via Flikr.

Prompt #3: What was your favorite home cooked meal as a kid? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

Does dessert count? It’ll have to because my mother’s rice pudding is the thing of legends. I would it eat all day long whenever she made it. I cannot in any real way convey to you how spectacular it is.

I never helped make it or any other dishes my mom prepared. She wasn’t very good at sharing her kitchen. And really, I didn’t quite have the attention span back then to stand by the stove for hours. Once she agreed to show me and let me help her make the rice pudding. I stood there asking her how much to put in, looking for measuring utensils. She looked at me bewildered and just started pouring in things without measuring.

She opened a can of condensed milk and poured it in. She opened another and eyeballed a bit more to put in. I spooned out the rest. She told me I could stand there and stir. After what seemed like forever, I asked her how long and she said until it’s done. Yeah, I left then.

She doesn’t really cook much anymore because her body doesn’t allow her to stand for long periods of time. Once in a blue moon, though, she still musters up the energy to make her famous rice pudding. It’s so dear and near to me that I’ve thought I need to learn how to make it before she dies. She’s not dying anytime soon (she’s not ill just older in age) but it’s a thought I’ve had for a long time. I feel some relief knowing my daughters have tasted the magic and are as enchanted by it as I am. So if I never perfect her recipe, then at least I’ll have loved ones to reminisce with about the flavors. Is it weird to think like that?

Sweet, smooth, cinnamon-y. Unlike most rice pudding, you barely notice the rice granules. They’re so plump and moist, they almost disappear. It tastes amazing steaming hot out of the pot, cold out of the fridge, tepid at room temperature, with cinnamon sprinkled on top, licked off a plate, in a mug, with a small spoon for lengthy enjoyment, with a large spoon for maximum flavor in short amounts of time. Any way you consume it, her rice pudding is the best thing in the world.

Today I’m sharing next month’s prompts. A nice variety of topics, I think. I’d love to know how you’re enjoying this little project. Does the writing come easy? Does remembering? Let me know in the comments!

February’s prompts:
2/2 How did you celebrate your birthday? Do you have a favorite celebration? Worst? From the cake to the presents to the guests, invite us in to the party.
2/9 Do you remember your first romantic thoughts? How old were you? Who was your first crush? It’s the month of love so fill us on how you created a concept, an idea of love and relationships.
2/16 What kind of car did your family drive? What played on the radio? Where did you sit? Take us on a road trip.
2/23 Walk us through your bedtime routine as a kid, a teen, a college kid. Anything you still do now? Did anything keep you up at night?