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Once again I’m sad to learn that Dirty Girls Social Club will not be made into a TV series or movie. I’m disappointed for my friend, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, who has worked so hard to get her New York Times best selling novel to the screen, and I’m upset as to the reasons why it will not happen. In her blog post today, WHY THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB WILL NEVER BE A FILM OR TV SHOW Alisa explains how racism and ignorance are solidly entrenched in the Hollywood executive mindset.

To sum it up, executives don’t believe Alisa’s main characters are believable. They can’t fathom the idea that six friends, all women of various Latino cultures graduated college and hold professional, well respected careers. Seriously? Yes, seriously. The characters include a journalist, magazine publisher, and an executive for a non-profit organization. If you’ve read Dirty Girls Social Club you know there are still plenty of issues, bad choices, and conflicts to make the story interesting. Therefore, insisting the characters conform to blatant stereotypes is ignorant.

I’m a Chicana who earned my master’s degree and I come from a family of very educated and wise Latinas. We hold degrees from bachelor’s to PhD. We’re teachers, nurses, and business professionals. Most of my Latina friends are college graduates who have careers as scientists and lawyers. I’m in contact with many Latinas across the nation who are leading the nation in revolutionizing the communications and social media industries. It’s time for Hollywood to change its perception of us.

Click here to go to Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s blog post WHY THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB WILL NEVER BE A FILM OR TV SHOW

While cleaning out my desk, a task which was horribly overdue, I came across three little slips of paper tucked beneath pens, paper clips, and dried-up glue sticks. They were fortunes from cookies long since eaten after delicious meals of sesame chicken, pepper steak, and egg rolls. At one time, I apparently thought these mass-produced messages were important enough to keep, so I gave each one some thought as I re-read them.

Luck is the by-product of busting your fanny.
This made me think of a joke I once heard about a man who incessantly prayed to win the lottery. After years of not winning he was angry and screamed at God for not giving him the blessing even though he was faithful. God told the man it would help if he bought a lottery ticket.

In other words, I’ll find that new career when I submit applications and résumés, make follow up calls, and go on interviews. My house will sell when I put it on the market and let people know it’s for sale. It’s time to take out the manuscript, revise, and edit. The novel has to be complete before I can send out queries to agents and publishers. While prayer, and a little luck, wouldn’t hurt in any of these endeavors, it’s up to me to work, and work hard, to even have a chance of success.

You have an ambitious nature and will make a name for yourself.
“It’s too late.” “I’m too old.” “There’s no time.” Each time these I hear these excuses a knot coils in my gut and I want to scream. “Why is it too late?” “Who says you’re too old?” “Make time!” So there it is, my ambitious nature showing up against sentiments of surrender and apathy. It’s always easy to find fault in someone else.

Unfortunately, the truth is, I’m guilty of muttering the same sad lines. It occurred to me however, while valid reasons can prohibit success, excuses cause dreams and goals to become regrets and frustrations. I once heard a cemetery described as a wasteland of books never written, music never composed, inventions never made, and ideas kept inside (something like that). I’m giving into my ambitious nature and busting my fanny so I don’t add to the waste.

Love is on its way.
“What was I thinking?” I laughed out loud when I read this one and, seeing no use for it, almost threw it in the trash. What stopped me? This message gives hope and there are many kinds of love. Initially I thought of romantic love and scoffed (okay, it could happen) but there is one kind of love I can bring about, love of self. I’m not talking about a narcissistic, self-indulgent obsession. I am talking about the kind of love in which I accept myself for who I am, the kind of love in which I appreciate my good qualities and use them to improve my talents and abilities, the kind of love in which I recognize my faults and push aside pride to make changes to be a better person for my family and my friends, and myself.
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This kind of love is a constant work in progress. It’s on the way.

I don’t remember saving these cookie fortunes, but I’m glad I did. I have three reminders to persevere that are no longer hidden in a drawer but are posted on my desk where I’ll see them every day.

I formulated the idea in 1985 or maybe it was 1986. On a Sunday Afternoon, Casey Kasem counted down the week’s 40 most popular songs while numbers, letters, and signs from my Algebra II book danced in my head, making no sense whatsoever. Instead of working the problem in my notebook I jotted a poem or two and allowed my mind to daydream…

I dodge throngs of cameras and microphones as my client and I leave the courthouse, overjoyed with the positive verdict that will ensure I’ll be named the youngest partner ever at my prestigious Los Angeles Law Firm. To satisfy the crowd, I stop for a moment to give a brief but brilliant statement before ducking into my black Jaguar XJ6. Palm trees sway in ocean breezes as I zoom over California highways blasting rock music from Queensrÿche or Metallica as I head for my Brentwood Hills mansion. There, my three lovely children (one boy, two girls) dutifully sit at the kitchen table doing homework as they converse in fluent Spanish with their nanny who has also taught them Italian and French. Soon, my perfect rock-star husband (insert Jon Bon Jovi or Rick Springfield) who despite millions of women throwing themselves at him only has eyes for me, returns home from his sold-out world tour and takes me in his arms with a passionate kiss.

I think back on that dream and wonder if I inhaled too much Aqua Net hairspray, or maybe my jeans were so tight they cut the circulation to my brain, or more than likely I watched one too many episodes of LA LAW. But hey, I was young, and it seemed possible. I didn’t ever imagine what a typical day would really look like.

Arms filled with books and papers I make a dash for the door, hoping to avoid administrators who might find me and keep me from leaving my small, rural school on time. I’m thrilled that most of my students bothered to turn in their work today, but I’ll have to chase down the others later. I make it to my silver Hyundai then swerve around tumbleweeds as I head down the two-lane New Mexico road, blasting Latin Rock from either Juanes or Maná as I head for my little East Mountain house. There my two sons tell me, in English, they have no homework. They can’t answer me in Spanish because they don’t know much of the language beyond the cuss words. There’s no rock-star husband. In fact, recent changes mean no husband at all.

See. All my dreams and nothing went right. Or just maybe, everything went the way it was supposed to.

I put my efforts into becoming a teacher instead of an attorney because teaching provided an opportunity to be home when my kids were home. No one was more surprised than I to discover how much I enjoyed working with the kids. Staying in New Mexico kept us close to family and the solitude of a home in the mountains allowed me to rediscover one of my first loves – WRITING!

I couldn’t have dreamed up better kids than my two boys. My eldest son has a sense of humor that keeps me laughing through the darkest times. My youngest son is an incredible story teller. (Hmm, wonder where he got that from?) Long drives are never dull with his many tales. They’re both amazing.

Dreams are hope for the future, and my dreams are different now, reflections of my experiences and circumstances. I envision myself as a successfully published and best selling author. Who knows? It can happen! While a Jaguar would be nice, I would just like a car that’s paid off. I can’t imagine leaving my home in New Mexico permanently, but I would love to see the East Coast of the United States as well as travel to many Latin American countries. Among my deepest desires though are my wishes for my children to reach out and pursue their goals, their dreams.

Yes, I still like to dream, and I still believe it’s possible to find that one special person, a soul-mate with whom to spend eternity. As for the rock-star husband, maturity and reality dictate I’ll probably have to give up on that one. On the other hand, If Jon Bon Jovi or Juanes become available, give them my number.

Students already speed around the skating floor by the time I make it inside. It’s been years since I’ve been in this place. When I was in middle school it was called Roller King, but now it’s Roller Skate City. New carpet and the location of the desk where they distribute skates are two noticeable differences from the place I remember. Also different is Rihanna’s voice belting “Disturbia” followed by Lady Gaga crooning “Telephone.” Last time, Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and Madonna’s “Borderline’ blared from the sound system. Life is funny. I have to laugh.

Reminiscing stops when a few of my students approach. Based on their wary glances towards me I’m sure some sixth grade drama is unfolding. “Will you skate with us?”

Boy, was I wrong. “Oh girls,” I feel the excuses begin to formulate. “I don’t know.”

“Please.” Huge toothy grins accentuated by big brown doe eyes tug on my heart.

And the war begins. Like a cartoon angel and devil battling for control of conscience, I hear two inner voices vying for attention.

My head turns towards the left where I spy a little me sitting properly on my shoulder. Hands folded neatly in lap, the proper mini-me obviously disapproves. “You can’t get on those things. It’s been more than twenty years. You’ll break your leg or your neck. You really can’t afford to miss any more work now. No, no, no. Don’t do it. What would people think?”

I’m about to apologize to my students when the voice to my right catches my attention. There, a twelve-year-old little me is sprawled on my shoulder, lacing up her skates. “Oh puleez! You were pretty good, remember? Betcha still are. If you’re scared of this, how you gonna do something you’ve never done before?” Twelve-year-old little me hops up, skates a figure eight. “You know finish that novel and send it to agents and editors. Aren’t you tired of doing what others expect you to?”

Several more students now stand before me, all with the same hopeful gaze. “We’ll get your skates for you.”

“Size 6.” I hear the words slip from my lips as the small crowd excitedly rolls away to get my wheels. Twelve-year-old little me is lost among them. Poof! Proper me is gone with a grimace that says she’s headed straight to heaven to rat me out to my grandmother.

Once the skates are on and snugly laced, my students jet off to wait for me on the smooth floor. I stand – a little wobbly. Oh, what have I gotten myself into now? It’s a struggle for balance on the first stride. The second is a little better. The feel of gliding is coming back to me now. Satisfied their teacher is true to her word, my students laugh and skate away leaving me on my own. I’m grateful.

I pick up speed and the cool breeze on my face invigorates me! Round and round I speed through the rink surprising my students, and myself, as I pass them. For a moment, I’m twelve again. There’s no mortgage, no job, no disappointments in love. It’s just me and the feeling of flying, the feeling that anything is possible. I feel revived, as if I’ve been asleep longer than Rip Van Winkle, but now I’m fully awake. Miraculously, I don’t fall and I have fun.

Maybe it’s important to listen to the twelve-year-olds in our lives, even if it’s just the twelve-year-old that still resides on the inside, and do a little roller skating. Those few moments didn’t change life’s circumstances – my book is still unfinished, I still have a mortgage to pay, I still have a job that’s a struggle to get to, I’m still alone – but I was reminded of what it’s like to fly. I was given a reminder for those times I feel sorry for myself and those moments when the excuses start coming, that nothing is impossible. Even though I run the risk of falling, it’s okay, and I might even have a little fun.

Today, my parents celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary. Incredible. I’m in awe of the love and dedication they’ve demonstrated on a daily basis. All that time together, they’re the best example of what a marriage should be.

Life however, has an ironic sense of humor.

Today, I received court documents finalizing my divorce. Last Friday, the petition was filed along with other documents that outlined how we would divide the belongings we accumulated and handle custody arrangements for our youngest son. In four days, 18 years were summarized on 21 pages of legalese, and the signature of a stranger, the judge whom we never saw, declared the marriage legally ended.

When I got married, I thought it would be forever. The way it should be. So I’ve been mulling things over, thinking about time, and asking the big question, “Why?” All I can come up with is, people aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. There are huge reasons, petty differences, and some things too private to voice. What I do know for sure is it doesn’t help now to throw accusations. There’s no use in blaming or fault finding any more. It’s taken many tears and an untold number of prayers to accept that it’s time to move on. It’s time for forgiveness and healing.

I propose that federal and state legislators go undercover in a public school in their district. The objective: learn what it’s like to educate our children under the mandates and regulations they have imposed on schools. I don’t mean they should tour facilities and take cursory glances through classroom doors. I mean they should spend a full week working with the students of America.

There is a new CBS television series called, “Undercover Boss” in which company CEOs go undercover, working at base level jobs in their companies, to learn about the day-to-day functioning of their businesses. In the first episode, the COO of Waste Management experienced first-hand how cost-cutting measures, some of which were implemented by him, looked good on paper but were detrimental to the morale and human dignity of workers. In the second episode, the CEO of Hooters was stunned to discover some horrendous management practices in one store. Both executives reported the undercover experience gave them insight they could not have gained through written reports or charts of data. Because of what they learned, positive immediate changes were implemented.

There is no report that can be read to give an accurate picture of what is going on our schools. If those in charge of creating education policies would experience for themselves what it is work in education, they would understand that teachers and students are more than data and numbers. Politicians would see the real effects their decisions have upon the humans who function in our nation’s schools everyday. With that insight, our leaders would have invaluable information be able to make some truly effective decisions.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve thought and heard my colleagues say, “What I wouldn’t give for lawmakers to walk in my shoes for just one week.” If only that would happen.

2010 is here. Ideas are flowing and opportunities abound.