I love this photo at Penn State in the late 90's. I had all my teeth and I quit dying my hair black and went grey. I look like my mom in a similar photo. We're both chingonas.
I'm preparing my blog for the next deadline February 22, 2018. I'll be on a road trip that weekend to Crestone, CO. I've never been there and I'm thrilled to be reading some of my poetry with two incredible female writers. I'm reading from my Crazy Chicana in Catholic City and Red Canyon Falling On Churches books. I'm also teaching a writing workshop with the locals and invited guests, students...
I live for these events. They complete me. I live in a small town and stay home and mind my own business. I don't socialize. I stay home and write, but occasionally we throw a mean hootenanny in my Chicana Garden when the yard is in full bloom.
But, I'm a recluse sometimes and like to just be home alone enjoying my husband, my son, my two dogs and two cats.
So when I'm invited to present or teach or just attend a festival, I'm like ready to throw down. I'm a performance artist who writes. My main skill stage presence. I love reading poems by Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, Sherman Alexie, Mary Oliver, Maria Melendez Kelson...at my readings. I especially love performing Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman. Love it.
When I'm on stage, all my fears, worries, cares spin off into the cosmos. I'm alive, energized, animated, hilarious, dead serious about writing and my workshops are fun. Or, so I'm told. I love working with all ages, senior citizens and K-12 and college students. They feed me the honey that my body and mind require to continue doing what I do. I love writing. I love teaching. I love performing.
When I teach, I incorporate music, movement, dance, chants, drums, belly laughs, and silence. I'm possessed by the muse and when I'm finished, I have no idea how I did it. But I do.
After a performance, and that's what it is, I am famished. I need water, food, and quiet, peaceful to regain my sanity. It's like leaving my body, going on vacation, leaving my mind on auto pilot and watching myself run lapses, jump, shout, sing, and dance. And in between, I bond with my audience and get them to relax and enjoy the class/show.
They realize, no matter their age, that I'm just a Mexicana Cantiflas. If you don't know who that great comedienne from Mexico is, look him up. Google his ass and you'll learn about his comedy.
I was raised on comedy. It seeps from my soul and leaks gooey stuff on anyone who gets near me. All I need is an audience, even one person in the audience and I come alive. Usually I'm pretty sedentary. I like to read. But when I perform, my reward comes from making my audience laugh and cry simultaneously.
My heart soars when a guy approaches me after a reading and hugs me and says, "You remind me of my Mom, my aunt, my sister, my cousin...and you made me laugh/cry fill in the blank. When the audience gives you their feedback, I die and go to heaven. It's manna from heaven, man.
The best tour, a show in 1995 for the Department of Defense after Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf. It was peace time where we were stationed, mostly. We did go out in the desert one night to take the show to the troops. We performed for men and women who protect us from harm. Young, very young men and women. Beautiful people from all cultures and colors, working, living, and loving in harmony.
We were the entertainment for October 1995 Department of Defense Presents Four Chigagoans from Colorado, wait, what. No we were the Latin Locomotions, three vatos from the northside of Denver, ese. Keep it real, holmes. I experienced something challenging, exciting, scary, fun, empowering, healing...I've never been the same since. On the island, I was just me, Juliana with Manuel and Sherry the Latin Locomotios Comedy Troupe. Vaudeville. Cantiflas.
It was magical. It was like I imagined for the Bob Hope Tours. He made them laugh and so did I.
I tell my cuentos, my stories and sing a cuento all borracho and my ancestors come and help me perform. They whisper in my ears, "Don't be afraid, jita. Go on stage and knock em dead with the comedy.
I imagine all my loved ones in the cosmos looking down on me with their blessings and love. They tell me, "Jita, te amo. We're so proud of you. You're telling our stories. Our history.