Monday, September 28, 2020

Interview of Donna Miscolta by Xánath Caraza

 Interview of Donna Miscolta by Xánath Caraza

 



Donna Miscolta’s third book of fiction Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories, about lessons a young Mexican American girl learns in a world that favors neither her race nor gender, was published by Jaded Ibis Press in September 2020. Her story collection Hola and Goodbye, winner of the Doris Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman and published by Carolina Wren Press (2016), won an Independent Publishers award for Best Regional Fiction and an International Latino Book Award for Best Latino Focused Fiction. She’s also the author of the novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced from Signal 8 Press (2011), which poet Rick Barot called “intricate, tender, and elegantly written – a necessary novel for our times.” Recent essays appear in pif, Los Angeles Review, and the anthology Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19. Find her at donnamiscolta.com.

 

 

1.    Who is Donna Miscolta?

 

I’m of Filipino and Mexican heritage. I was born in San Diego, CA and lived my early years there except for two years in Hawaii. When I was nine, my parents bought their first, last, and only house in National City, which is on the south and west boundaries of San Diego. It was a perfectly fine place to grow up. Only when I was older did I realize how it was looked upon by others in the region. Its nickname was, and still is I guess, Nasty City. It had a reputation as being dangerous and full of trouble. Other high schools feared coming to our turf for home football games. Too many Mexicans, they said.

 

This post on a forum in response to a request about what National City is typical of the opinion held by outsiders:

 

National City is kind of at the bottom of places most people would want to live in San Diego. It's "ghetto" to some, but nothing too terrible but nothing really nice either. Lots of Filipinos and Mexicans in that area, so it's very ethnic. Unless you like ethnic food and stores I don't see a whole lot there for you. If you were thinking about this area b/c it's cheaper, well there is a reason for that. It's not terrible but it's just a typical working-class ethnic city.

 

I mention this because the places where we grow up help shape who we are and how we see ourselves in the world. I was never scared living in my city. I felt safe, yet not exactly at home. I knew I would leave at the first viable opportunity. Maybe it’s because I knew there was a bigger world out there. National City felt confining to me. My family never ventured far. We never took vacations. We stayed in our neighborhood.

 

We lived ten miles from the border with Tijuana, but I was never allowed to cross over. My grandparents went often, and my aunts and uncles on occasion, but for us, the grandchildren, it was off limits. Other things were deemed unnecessary to our lives such as knowing Spanish or Tagalog.

 

So I grew up in an “ethnic city” where it was difficult to fit completely within the Mexican or Filipino communities, especially since my parents were so determined to be seen and accepted as “Americans.” When I write fiction, my characters are either Mexican or Filipino, not a blend like I am, which I have yet to figure out how to convey on the page. My first book When the de la Cruz Family Danced featured a Filipino American protagonist. My second book Hola and Goodbye is a collection of stories about three generations of a Mexican American family. My latest book is a collection of stories about the life lessons a Mexican American girl learns as she progresses through each grade in school. I think it’s through non-fiction, through a series of personal essays I’m working on, that I’ll best be able to write about these two aspects of my heritage.

 


2.    I know you have a new book coming out. What’s this book about?

 

Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories came out September 21 from Jaded Ibis Press, a small press whose mission is to publish “socially engaged literature with an emphasis on the voices of people of color, people with disabilities, and other historically silenced and culturally marginalized voices.” It’s available from Bookshop, IndieBound, and other online sellers. You can also order it from your favorite independent bookstore.

 

The book is a collection of stories that follow Angie Rubio, a Mexican American girl, through her years of school as she learns lessons in and out of the classroom about race, class, and gender. Except for the first one, all the stories are set in California in the 1960s and ’70s and take place against the events on the nightly news—the Cuban missile crisis, the Watts riots, Beatlemania, the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics. These events are the backdrop to the minor dramas of Angie’s life. Yet her mini-tragedies reflect the greater turmoil of the larger world. The shunting of children of color into “dumb” classes, the inequities of the education system, and routine and normalized microaggressions are the stuff of Angie’s existence that she tries to understand and navigate. They were the stuff of my existence and probably that of many who will read this book. Ivelisse Rodriguez, author of Love War Stories, captures the universality of Angie’s experiences in her description of Living Color:

 

“We have all been Angie Rubio, voiceless, rejected, but always on the precipice of being more. Throughout this endearing collection, you will become more than a reader, you will become Angie’s champion until the world she inhabits catches up. Miscolta writes with heart for all the brown girls who feel invisible. These stories say with love and sincerity: I see you.”

 

3.    Do you plan on having an online book release?

 

I did have an online book launch sponsored by Hugo House, the writing center in Seattle, and the iconic Elliott Bay Book Company. The evening was supposed to have consisted of a conversation between me and writer Kathleen Alcalá, author of six books. Kathleen and I have known each other for well over thirty years. We met as members of a newly formed Seattle chapter of MANA, Mexican American Women’s National Association, in the early 80s. We both grew up in Southern California, Kathleen in San Bernardino, and me just south of San Diego. We made our separate ways to Seattle in the years after college. We were going to talk about

our California girlhoods, leaving home to find our place in the world, racism, and monsters. Unfortunately, Kathleen’s internet connection on the island where she lives failed. It was disappointing, but Rob Arnold, Hugo House Program Director and also a writer, graciously and seamlessly stepped in, and we touched upon many of the same topics Kathleen and I had originally planned. I have several other online events coming up and they can be found on my website. One event that is not yet listed is scheduled for November 23 with Town Hall Seattle. I’ll be in conversation with another Latina writer in Seattle whose book Flying Free also came out in September. Cecilia Aragon is a brilliant, amazing woman who overcame her shyness and fear of flying and became the first Latina to make the U.S. Aerobatics Team. She’s also the first Latina full professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. I hope some La Bloga readers will join us for what I think will be a fun event.

 

 


4.    Color, diversity, girl power surround Ruby in your upcoming book. Tell our readers about her.

 

Angie Rubio is an observer mostly because she is too shy and insecure to be in the mix of things. But she does engage at the periphery, leading at times to unexpected forays into the spotlight which transform into moments of reckoning, usually at the expense of her self-image. But she is also a thinker, reflecting often on her brownness, her name, friendships and sisterhood, being female, and her future. She feels confined by the smallness of her world, which seems to have no place for her to fit. While she often feels defeated, she also carries within her a determination to move forward to some as yet undefined future.

 

 

 

5.    Is this an enjoyable book for all ages?

 

Definitely. There’s a misconception that if a book features a young protagonist, then it must be for young readers. This book will appeal to young readers, though it wasn’t meant to specifically target that readership. Anyone who was once a kid, who experienced social awkwardness, who suffered from a sense of dislocation or not belonging, who was looking for a place to fit in the world will relate to the stories in Living Color.

 

 

6.    What else would you like to share with our readers.

 

I hope people will view the book trailer for Living Color. I know there’s some doubt regarding the effectiveness of book trailers in book promotion. But there’s so much reliance now on online modes for distributing information, news, and pleas for attention. Small press books often don’t have a chance against the books from the large presses with more resources to hail a book’s entry into the very crowded book landscape, which is why I made this book trailer. Plus, it was a fun project. The illustrations are by Daniel Ramirez, my daughter’s partner, whose visa process to come to the U.S. was interrupted by the pandemic. He remained in his native Ecuador, while my daughter and their infant son left on one of the last flights out in March because she had accepted a job here in the States. I think that doing these illustrations helped Daniel a little in alleviating some of the difficulty of his solo quarantining in Quito and waiting for consulate services to resume.

 

I described to Daniel what I had in mind for each drawing and he delivered perfectly. In one of the drawings, he inserted Ilio’s name. I like to challenge viewers to find it. Having my grandson’s name in my book trailer that contains illustrations done by his father is part of what makes it special for me. Also, I did the narration because I wanted my voice connected to the stories I had written about Angie Rubio, a character whose experiences mirrored mine and possibly those of many of my readers. The book trailer, like the book, was a labor of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Six-Word Story Contest and New Books

“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. ” 
Enter a 6-word story contest.

 Writers who can boil down a mystery into a half-dozen words are encouraged to enter the fourth annual Six-Word Mystery Contest sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA). The contest opens September 15, 2020; entries must be received by midnight, Oct. 31, 2020. 

Six-word “whodunits” can be entered in one or all five of the following categories: Hard Boiled or Noir; Cozy Mystery; Thriller Mystery; Police Procedural Mystery; and/or a mystery with Romance or Lust. The Six-Word Mystery Contest is open to all adults 18 and over. No residency requirements. This year’s judges include Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Editor Linda Landrigan; New York Times bestselling author Anne Hillerman; award-winning author, lawyer and activist Manuel Ramos; BookBar Denver store owner Nicole Sullivan; and literary agent Terrie Wolf, owner of AKA Literary Management. 

Last year’s winning entry by Jeffrey Lockwood was “36D, 44 magnum, 20 to life.” Another previous contestant, Kathleen O’Brien, said her entry landed her a literary agent. 

The contest entry fee is $6 for one entry (just $1 per word); or $10 to enter six-word mysteries in all five categories. The grand prize winner will receive $100 in cold, hard cash. Winners in all other categories will receive $25 gift certificates, and all winners and finalists will be featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, on the RMMWA website and in their newsletter. 

For more information about the contest rules and how to enter, please visit www.rmmwa.org. 

According to legend, the first six-word novel was born in the 1920s when Ernest Hemingway at New York’s Algonquin Hotel or Luchow’s restaurant (depending on whom you ask) won a $10 bet by writing a six-word story. His dark and dramatic submission was: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Urban legend or no, memorable, heart-breaking and sublime six-word stories have been penned ever since.

_________________________________

Arte Público - September 30, 2020

[from the publisher]
Willie Cuesta, former Miami Police Department detective turned private investigator, is relaxing at a beachfront hotel when he receives a call from an immigration attorney about a case. He's reluctant to leave the view-of the sea and several bathing beauties-but Willie can't afford to turn down work. 

He agrees to travel to central Florida to search for Ernesto Pérez, an undocumented farmworker who has disappeared. His family is worried sick because, though he had been calling and sending money home regularly to Mexico for years, he hasn't been heard from in three months. In Cane County, Willie discovers a healthy agricultural industry, a large migrant population picking the crops and a heavily armed, anti-government militia. 

Willie quickly discovers Pérez isn't the only undocumented worker to go missing; several have disappeared, though their illegal status means no one has bothered to investigate. As he digs into the case, several suspicious characters surface: Narciso Cruz, who is responsible for smuggling in the undocumented workers willing to do the backbreaking labor for minimal pay; Quincy Vetter, a local landowner who has imposed his anti-government sentiment county wide; and Dusty Powell, a drug dealer who has contributed to several heroin overdoses in the area. And there's the very beautiful daughter of a farm owner who wants salsa lessons ... is someone setting him up? 

When people he talked to start turning up dead, Willie knows he's onto something big and dangerous. But is it related to the local drug business? Or the anti-government lunatics? When his investigation leads to a piece of property near the Everglades, Willie Cuesta finds himself playing cat-and-mouse with several armed men intent on putting an end to the case and him!

________________________________




To Live and Die in El Valle

Oscar Mancinas
Arte Público - September 30, 2020

[from the publisher]
Many of the young people in this haunting collection of thirteen stories grounded in Arizona don’t have the luxury of being dreamless. Some are compelled to leave their hometown: “I knew early on that I didn’t want to die in El Valle. Nothing could be worse than being stuck somewhere you didn’t belong.”

Those that manage to get out often find themselves in awkward situations. One young man, a student at a New England college, is surprised to receive a call from the admissions office, asking him to give a tour to a Mexican family. He agrees to help, but the interaction only reinforces the unease he feels about his place on campus and his Mexican identity. Not all want to leave. Kino vigorously resists his friend’s constant encouragement to apply to schools out of state. “You think you won’t be a wetback to people out there? You think I wanna be your lil’ Indian sidekick on the East Coast? You think you’re better than all of us here?”

Others live with the daily fear of deportation or the loss of family members. Fernanda adjusts to a new life as an undocumented person in El Valle, where she takes comfort in the familiar ritual of baseball. Roach’s mother has steadfastly refused to talk about her father, until through drastic measures she learns he was deported before her birth. And on their long drive to college, Melissa’s father finally talks about the death of her would-be older brother.

Vividly depicting working-class communities, Oscar Mancinas creates lives shaped by circumstances beyond their control, from migration for a better life to centuries of systemic racism and settler-colonialism. His characters frequently struggle with a sense of belonging, and their stories eloquently illuminate Hispanic and indigenous experiences in the Southwest.


Xavier Garza
Arte Público - October 31, 2020

[from the publisher]
Another family has moved into the house at 666 Duende Street across from Vincent Ventura’s, and once again there’s something mysterious going on. There’s a boy who constantly argues with himself. “You can’t tell me what to do,” Vincent hears him say, but there’s no one around. Who could he be talking to? When Vincent sees a green creature with glowing red eyes and needle-sharp teeth terrorize the boy into vandalizing a neighbor’s car, he knows there is another monster mystery to solve!

His cousin, Michelle, is one of the smartest kids around, and she quickly finds information in a library book on Latin American monsters. She’s sure the creature Vincent saw is a duende, which is similar to an evil troll or gnome. Is Sayer Cantú really a target of these wicked beasts?! Everyone at school knows he’s a troublemaker to avoid. Could duendes be forcing him to misbehave?

Once again Vincent Ventura recruits his cousins and gathers his monster-fighting tools—crosses, holy water, packs of salt, silver metal beads and slingshots—for the upcoming showdown. This bilingual book for intermediate readers, the third installment in Xavier Garza’s exciting Monster Fighter Mystery series, also contains the author’s black and white sketches of the creepy creatures. This spine-tingling short novel introducing Latino creepy creatures to kids ages 8-12 is sure to thrill a new generation of readers!

Later.

__________________________

Manuel Ramos is bunkered and hunkered in Denver as he finishes his latest Gus Corral novel -- Angels in the Wind.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Chicanonautica: Ernesto Publishing Updates

by Ernest Hogan


For reasons I can’t fathom, my writing career has taken off  running during this quarantine. It drags me along, keeping me busy, and giving me so much stuff to announce that I have a hard time keeping up with it all. I need to remind myself that some people would love to have this kind of problem.


You may have already heard about Latinx Rising that has my story “Flying Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails,” wherein the reasons my character Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars’ interplanetary migration are revealed, and “Tomorrow is Another Daze,” based on the current world situation, free online at ASU’s Us in Flux, but that’s not all.


The 2020 Look at Mars Fiction Book
is out with “The Rise and Fall of Pacho Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars,” the first story I wrote about the character. I really should get around to writing that novel about him . . .


That catches us up to what’s available now, but I’ve also got some coming attractions!


Strange Particle Press has been “VERY pleased to announce” the upcoming release of Nine to Eternity that will feature my slapstick space opera, “The Great Mars-A-Go-Go Mexican Standoff.” Yeah, I wrote it to see if I could get away with using the word Mexican in the title of a science fiction story. There are also great stories by eight other writers, including my wife, Emily Devenport. Stay tuned for details.


And now there’s Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology
. It’s got a never-before-published story, “Those Rumors of Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” that was inspired by my travels in New Mexico. There’s a Kickstarter campaign to help pay us authors.


If that weren’t enough, Strange Particle will also be putting out Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus & Other Fictions, a collection of some of my most outrageous short fiction that will set synapses sizzling.

 

So, look out! Here comes the future.


Ernest Hogan is also working on a novel Zyx, Or; Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin.Hhhhhhhhhhff

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Los Angeles Libros Festival

 

 

For more information visit,  https://www.lapl.org/libros-fest

 

Un festival del libro bilingüe para toda la familia.

A free bilingual book festival for the whole family.

 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

9:45 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 

Streaming live on Facebook,  https://www.facebook.com/lapubliclibrary/

 

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/losangeleslibrary

 

 


L.A. Libros Fest ofrecerá un día completo de programación en vivo vía Facebook y YouTube con cuentacuentos, autores locales e internacionales, talleres de arte, conciertos y mucho más.

 

Mientras esperamos a que llegue el 26 de septiembre:

 

Participa en el reto en línea para acumular insignias virtuales y la oportunidad de ganar premios.

 

Explora el calendario de eventos y asiste a la serie de programas previos al festival.

     

Toma prestados los libros del festival con tu tarjeta de biblioteca o compra tus copias en la LA librería.

    

Lee el blog del festival.

     

Aprende más sobre los autores, artistas y narradores orales que participarán este año.

 

 


Los Angeles Libros Festival will offer a full day of entertainment for all ages featuring Spanish-language and bilingual storytelling, performances, workshops, and award-winning authors.

 

While we wait for September 26, make sure to:

 

Join the online challenge for the opportunity to win digital badges and prizes

 

Browse the calendar for a series of pre-festival events

     

Check out festival books from the library collection or purchase your own copy from LA librería

     

Read the festival blog

    

 Learn more about this year's authors, artists, and performers

 

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Resist: The Chicana Anti-War Poetry and Art of Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin at the caravan. Also joining are Chamberlin's daughter and granddaughter.


They Took My Son to Vietnam 
Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

I dedicate this poem to our forgotten papalotl Chicano warrior butterflies, slain at US foreign lands of war, at the borderlands, and in the streets of Aztlan.

In the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-eight
the president took my son Richi to Vietnam.
He told me, “Mamá, it’s my responsibility.
Uncle Sam calls me.”

I don’t care about that responsibility
or about that war of  Uncle Sam.
I only care about my son. Over there, he died
in a jungle. They killed my Richi and I cry.
The Vietnamese mothers cry too.

Last year during Christmas time
the policia sent my second son
Rodolfito to prison. He was one of
the militant leaders from here in the 
barrio who fought against drugs.

Over there, he died in a fight
in prison and I weep.
When they beat my son to death,
they beat me up too. My heart cries
from so many beatings of life.
We mothers of the barrio
cry every day for our children.

Lucita, my nine-year-old little girl was run
over by a Policia as she walked on the 
crosswalk in front of the school. The chota
chased  after a teenager and drove over Mija. 
He didn’t even stop. She was my heart. 
With her I lost hope and all my desire to live.

Now I’m pregnant with my fourth child.
They tell me my responsibility as a woman,
as a mother is to have this child. But I know 
that my baby’s destiny is to die in the street,
in prison, or in  a foreign land.          

His darling eyes will never see me.
Never will see this world, so cruel.
He will never suffer again.
(read zoom Chic Morat mtg 8-15-20 and on August 27, 2020 zoom Peña)



The Sea Gull
Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

The seagull knows no borders.
It flies on crisp ocean currents from
Oceanside to Tijuana.
No checkpoints or toll roads, no Green
Cards or citizenship papers required.

The winged creature roams freely
over Camp Pendleton
then squalls its call to Mexican youth
at the other side of the border.
It’s an omen.

Joel, a Mexican young man
is signed up by a
U.S. marine recruiter. 
A bonus for each recruit. 
Sign on the dotted line.                        
The seagull pays no fare. 
But the marine pays
a penalty for leaving home.

The recruit was top of the class, 
superior in math and science.
Head of the bugle corps, awarded 
the Netzahualcoyotl Award for Poetry.
A bright future for Tijuana’s hero. 

Promises of U.S. citizenship,
world travel, a college education.
Promises broken by a letter from Tió Sam.
Joel returns home in a wooden box, 
like a downed seagull, his head tucked 
under a broken wing. 

No reward for services rendered.
The Green Card Marine,
his soul takes flight
over the oceans 
into the broken night.


Gun Cantos  
Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

I
Los Angeles public schools.
Students tracked from grade one.
Military recruiters 
sign them up
pluck them from cradles
and lay them in  graves.


II
 Sons play with guns,
and grow to maim and kill
other mother’s sons.


III
We are the unemployed,
the fodder of the military.
We are corporate slaves.


IV
My son told me.
“Ma, a man 
needs to work.”


Monday, September 21, 2020

An Ethnic Studies Victory in California: ¡Si, Se Puede!


By Dr. Álvaro Huerta

On August 7, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1460 (ethnic studies bill) by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego). Focusing on the California State University (CSU) system, this new law, “[c]ommencing with students graduating in the 2024–25 academic year,” requires all undergraduate students to take a 3-unit ethnic studies course for graduation. It usually takes 120 for a degree. This law supersedes a relentless attempt by CSU Chancellor Timothy White (and his ilk) to defeat AB 1460 at the nation’s largest system of higher education, where the majority of CSU students are nonwhite. For example, 21 out of the 23 CSU campuses represent Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

In his obsessive effort to defeat AB 1460, on May 12, 2020, Chancellor White advanced a diluted “ethnic studies and social justice” graduation requirement, where CSU students could technically graduate without taking an ethnic studies course under the “social justice” list of courses. Isn’t “social studies” embedded in ethnic studies? Looks like Chancellor White, CSU Senators, legislators and others who opposed need to take my ethnic studies courses! (If costs are too costly, they can audit — just don’t say anything.)

Fortunately, Governor Newsom’s bold action to sign AB 1460 will implement a 3-unity ethnic studies course requirement based on any of the following groups: Latinas/os, African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans.

While AB 1460 represents an important victory for people of color at the CSU, it’s tragic that it took over 50 years for something of this magnitude to occur since activists, students, staff and faculty demanded the creation of a College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Why should we — faculty of color, students, staff and activists — constantly have to invest our free time and unpaid service to demand what is ours: a diverse, inclusive and transformative education?

Do we not also pay tax payers?

Do we not also pay tuition and fees?

Do we not also hold doctorates, like mine from UC Berkeley, to teach at CSU’s great public universities and beyond?

In short, do we not also matter?

While many American leaders and citizens erroneously believe that ethnic studies is an “ethnic problem,” I say that it’s an “American problem.” From the European genocide against indigenous people to the enslavement of black people to the imperialist war against Mexico (1846–48) to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the concentration camps of Japanese Americans/immigrants (1942–45), systemic racism is a “great” America pastime, like baseball and apple pie. Is this what Trump means when he says “Make America Great Again”?

While a 3-unit ethnic studies requirement won’t eradicate systemic racism, it’s important that undergraduate students (and K-12 students!) learn about how racialized and “otherized” groups have not only been oppressed by a racist and classist American system, but also how they/we have contributed to the advancement of this nation. This includes how they/we have constantly protested, been brutalized and shed blood (to the present) to fight for a more just and humane society.

Moreover, it’s imperative that students unlearn and debunk the Eurocentric master narrative that is taught in our universities/colleges and K-12 schools. By doing so, we need to replace the existing racist curricula with one that’s diverse, inclusive and transformative. We not only need books about people of color, we also need books authored by people of color. (Did I mention that my 2019 book on defending Latina/o immigrants recently won an award?) We also need more faculty of color where racialized students will see themselves in their professors. Thus, beyond their hard-working parents, etc., they’ll have more positive role models to emulate and surpass.

Finally, to paraphrase the late and great German philosopher, education is not simply an intellectual exercise or training of interpreting the world; it’s about transforming it!

[Dr. Álvaro Huerta is an Associate Professor in Urban & Regional Planning and Ethnic & Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University. Among other scholarly publications, he’s the author of Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm and Defending Latina/o Immigrant Communities: The Xenophobic Era of Trump and Beyond. He holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in urban planning and a B.A. in history from the University of California, Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Antonia Montes (08.29.20), 50th Anniversary of Chicano Moratorium in E.L.A.]

Friday, September 18, 2020

Puppy Love Solves Pandemic Fatigue

Melinda Palacio




When Pandora sleeps, it's time to write. 



I can check all the boxes: zoom fatigue, social distancing fatigue, mask fatigue, fatigue of feeling fatigue. However, adopting a puppy has filled me with a welcome muscle fatigue brought on by a dog bred for retrieving ducks. This puppy can play fetch until your arm feels as if it will fall off if you have to throw the ball, stick, or toy one more time. I named the two-month old Labrador Retriever Pandora, meaning all gifts, and she is certainly a gift to cure all sorts of malaise that can come with life in Covid-19 lockdown. 


The sight of her eager face in the morning sets things right in the world and makes me forget about the pandemic she was born into. Since early May, the nation has experienced a shortage in dogs and puppies. Shelters report no available dogs. I know of at least four friends who have adopted puppies. La Bloga’s own Michael Sedano took in a gray kitten. After my dog Montezuma passed, almost eight years ago, I thought I’d never get another dog, the heartbreak is too much, but I had been missing having a furry companion to fuss over. I’ve come very close to rescuing dogs who seem to have the type of personality similar to my old dog, a beagle crossed with a Labrador Retriever. Montezuma was a smart dog and won the sit-stay competition at PetSmart during his puppy training class. 

Having a pet makes staying at home a lot easier. On occasions when I venture out in the real world, I can take my dog with me since most restaurants and cafes are now outdoor only establishments. 


There are downsides to having such a young creature. Puppies don’t come with automatic training. There’s potty training and rules to teach, such as no biting, no chewing on shoes or tables or hair. People have warned me that having a puppy means losing a pair or two of good shoes. My strategy has been to hide my shoes away from puppy level, but, so far, I’ve only succeeded in hiding my shoes from myself. The social distancing imposed by life during a pandemic also poses conundrums for puppies. How can you socialize dogs when people can’t socialize. Places such as PetCo and Petsmart no longer offer group puppy training classes. 


Today, Pandora is three months old. I look forward to beginning her puppy training this weekend. She’s pretty smart and learned how to use a doggie door in two weeks. I trust she’ll pick up basic commands easily, especially walking on leash. At least, that’s what her trainer told me. With the abundance in people adopting pets, dog trainers are in high demand. Nathan, the dog trainer, tells me puppy training is more for the human than the puppy. I’ll let you know how that worlds. One thing I have learned is the full extent of the word Retriever. Pandora is the perfect example of a yellow Labrador Retriever.