It’s been a long time: a little over a month to be exact. I had started and deleted several blog postings over the last five weeks—I usually like to talk about cool events after they’ve happened out of superstition but I should probably rethink that quirk—and decided that I couldn’t let another day go by without checking in. It’s been quite a hectic period for this grateful Gemini!
First, a few lovetaps are in order: número uno goes to Melissa Harris-Perry for placing my book Bird of Paradise on #nerdland’s summer reading list! I’m grateful to her for her continued support, especially as there seems to be no end in sight in the “difficult negotiations” between my parent company Simon & Schuster and the literary killjoys that run
Barnes & Noble.
Lovetap número dos goes to Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club. They selected Bird of Paradise as their July 2013 book club selection! The teleconference is scheduled for July 29: More details to come. To say I’m excited by the selection is a gross understatement! Really. It is.
I was in Miami over the weekend for business and pleasure. I had a book reading and appearance at Books & Books Coral Gables on Friday, a baby shower on Saturday and my bornday to celebrate with family and friends (remember Lisa from the Morocco chapter?) on Sunday. I’m not going to to front. It was raining so hard on Friday evening—it was downright dangerous—that it felt as if we were rowing the car past one flooded street after another as we inched our way to the bookstore. I assumed nobody would be there but when I showed up a few minutes late, there was already a group of folks there waiting for me to start. It only took about fifteen minutes to pack the house and the reading and talk went on fabulously. By the way, Books & Books Coral Gables is one of the loveliest bookstores I’ve ever stepped foot in. I look forward to going back and, whether permitting, holding court in their outdoor space. They know how to treat authors. Lovetaps to them for the complimentary glass of pinot and making this author feel welcomed, and to the audience for trekking there.
Yo, it’s hard to pick the best moments of the last several weeks but…if I must…it would have to be every minute of the Deconstructing Latina production trip to Santo Domingo the week before I jetted to Miami. I don’t know how we pulled it off in such a short time but I swear at times I could literally feel the universe sprinkle its magic fairy dust on us as we prepped for about three weeks leading up to the trip. The plan was to take four of our teen girls to the sight of the first American city in the zone we know today as the New World to learn about history in a way they never had before. To make matters more special, two of the four teens had never been out of the country before so that added another layer to the adventure.
I couldn’t have pulled it off without their parents, Life is Precious, my producer/mentor/friend Henry Chalfant, my crew, and Dominican historian/author/friend Frank Moya Pons: so, lovetaps for everyone! The trip exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to share more highlights from the experience, as well as what I’ve learned so far (every production is different…and I’ll be focusing on that a bit more in the forthcoming weeks) about documentary filmmaking.
Frank Moya Pons, moi, Henry Chalfant at Engombe, a former 18th century sugar plantation
On an aside, but not really—speaking of filmmaking: the week before heading off to Santo Domingo, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at Maysles Cinemas for my friend Bobbito Garcia and his co-director Kevin Couliau’s debut film Doin’ It In the Park, about pick-up basketball in New York City (lovetaps to Bob!!!). It was at this panel, featuring the filmmakers Charlie Ahearn, and Henry Chalfant, that I had a
duh moment. I hadn’t given it much thought before then but as I listened to the conversation I realized that the very first documentary film I’d ever seen was Henry’s Style Wars. It’s been so long that it just slipped my mind. And today, as life would have it, Henry is not only a dear friend, mentor and confidante but my producer. If you’ve read Bird of Paradise, none of this will surprise you.
Ok, so right before the panel, where I also had the pleasure of meeting one of my film heros, Albert Maysles, I flew to Chi-town for a twenty-four hour trip to speak at two of media matriarch Maria Hinojosa‘s (can you say “love” then “tap”?) classes on Latina mental health and the media at DePaul University. If I had professors like Maria when I was attending college, I would have certainly had a different educational experience and opinion about higher (mis)education. One class read my book and the other watched my film Bling: A Planet Rock. I don’t know that I would have made my flight back to New York if it hadn’t been delayed due to the weather. I don’t know who got more inspiration out of the classes: me or the students!
Speaking of which, I have to go: I’m giving a talk at a local college in a couple hours!
I’ll be back.
Lovetaps from the Cepeda-Jenkins headquarters.
PS: A very special congratulations to my husband SHR’s supergroup The White Mandingos. Today is their record release date. Cop their record on itunes, Amazon, or wherever records are sold. It’s good for you!