My Goodreads Bookshelf!

This Is How You Lose Her
And the Mountains Echoed
Backseat Saints
The Valley of Amazement
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors
The Secret Miracle: The Novelist's Handbook
The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life
Julie of the Wolves
Signs & Wonders
From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman
Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir
Teacher Man
The Bridges of Madison County
Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda
Shadow Tag
Paul Strand: Masters of Photography Series
Fat Chance
Giving up America
The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action

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Reading in Spanglish

Nov 2011

Weekend Roundup!

posted in: Uncategorized

Sandra Cisneros to move from San Antonio :: via MySA – Sandra Cisneros is selling the house she once stubbornly painted purple, it appears, in a move to focus on writing projects.

Latino in America 2 :: via The Venture – Journalist Soledad O’Brien discusses life and a sequel of sorts to her documentary Latino in America.

Nanowrimo is here :: November is National Novel Writing Month – are you going to challenge yourself to write a novel this month?

Salman Rushdie limerick :: via Writer’s Blog – I love when an author doesn’t take him/herself too seriously. Read Rushdie’s limerick on Kim Kardashian’s divorce.

Writers join the Occupy movement :: Writers have joined this website in support of the Occupy Wallstreet movement. I scanned this very looooong list and found a few Latino writers – Daniel Alarcon popped out the most.

Weekend Sonrisa:: Will Ferrell will star with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in Casa de mi Padre, which the LA Times said was “in the culturally open-minded tradition of Steve Martin and Chevy Chase in ‘¡Three Amigos!’ and Jack Black in ‘Nacho Libre.’” Eh, whatever.  Well, the trailer looks funny and the movie gets some initial street cred not because of the benevolently open-minded stars or creators but because of Bernal and Luna. (Side note: this review notes, tongue-in-cheek, I think, how the CEO of Pantelion films credits “Will, Matt [director], and Andrew [writer]” with the film’s funniness. Ja. ja. ja.)

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Nov 2011

A Radical Blogger Profile

posted in: blogs

That's my baby!

Uh, what’s a doula?

At the end of my pregnancy, I met a doula who specialized in supporting immigrant non-English speaking women. I didn’t really know what a doula was or how having a stranger at my delivery fit in to the big picture, so I didn’t follow up. I later read about Miriam Zoila Pérez, another doula, in Latina magazine. I figured it was time to look into this.

Pérez blogs at  She describes a doula as “the one person who’s not worried about anything else that’s going on,” someone who provides emotional and psychological support to a mother during childbirth.

After deciding that pre-med wasn’t for her, and seeing the natural birth documentary The Business of Being Born, Pérez decided to become a midwife, but was advised to become a doula because she wanted to work with lesbian and immigrant women. She spent a semester in Ecuador and volunteering in a maternity ward (not as an official doula). After returning to the States, Pérez trained to become a doula,  working mostly with Latina immigrants.

Working with Immigrants

While working with immigrants, Pérez saw a discrepancy between the quality of care for Latina immigrants versus insured white women. One of the biggest issues was the language barrier. The hospital where Pérez worked only brought in an interpreter when papers are to be signed. The doctors “chose what they wanted to communicate and spoke English otherwise . . . imagine – what does that do to your quality of care?”A doula is not a translator, but Pérez was still challenged on how much to communicate to the mother.

According to Pérez, most Latinas give birth in a hospital instead of choosing natural birth at home or in a birthing center. She attributes this to the fact that in Latin America there is a “big push” by the World Health Organization and other developmental organizations for women to give birth in hospitals, because they see it as “a marker of development.” Immigrants also choose hospitals as a sign of class and social status – “in Latin America you go to the hospital if you can afford it,” Perez says.

When it comes to second and third generation Latinas, their positions on childbirth tend to come more in line with the general American population.

Full-Spectrum Doulas

Giving birth is not the only life-altering event in a woman’s reproductive health. Women also face abortions, miscarriages, and other events. This is where full-spectrum doulas such as Pérez come into play. A full-spectrum doula  supports a woman not only during birth but for abortion, adoption, surrogacy and miscarriage.

Supporting women during abortions (some of these procedures are actually to help a woman who had a partial miscarriage) is quite controversial in the doula community. “I felt like I wasn’t connecting in the doula community] and wanted to talk about why being pro-choice made sense to me,” Perez says. She started the blog – a “new arena” at the time – to build the connections she sought.


Perez has expanded from being a doula to blogging about it to writing, editing at, and activism. She is a consultant for The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. She also has been nominated her for the 2011 Women’s Media Center Social Media Award! If you go to the Women’s Media Center website, you can scroll over to read about her nomination and then vote for her to win!


Having a baby is a beautiful and disgusting, exhausting and exhilarating, joyous and terrifying. Everyone gives you their crazy advice and horror stories. As a Latina, others might not understand your culture and family dynamics.

Even if you have a supportive husband and family visiting during labor, you wish they would get the hell out of the way during the trying moments of labor – but at the same time, you want someone to be there with you. This person could be a doula.

Latinas have diverse backgrounds and individual experiences with chilbirth, and our cultura should be taken into account to provide a supportive atmosphere during childbirth.

Other reproductive issues are often fraught with the same conflicting emotions. Thanks to doulas/bloggers/activists like Miriam Perez, we know that there is someone out there that can provide support to us during those tough times.

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Oct 2011

Weekend Roundup!

posted in: Weekend Roundup

Leal Award Winner Announced :: via University of California – Demetria Martínez has been awarded the 2011 Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature.

What is Latino? :: Maria Browning discusses the soon to be published The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity. Also, a search for “Latino” on Amazon results in like, over 1,000 hits! And, it includes mainstream books! OMG There are like so many books about them LOLZ. Sigh. I think that the news flash for this book isn’t that it is supposed to point out that Latinos are a diverse group, or to further Other-ize us, but that the essays explore identity formation in the Latino community, a fraught topic I know I have struggled with. P.S., there’s a tiny excerpt on the University of Arizona Press website linked above.

Another Award Winner :: via The University Star – Alex Sanchez accepted the 2011 Tomás Rivera Book Award for his book, Bait.

Watching TV in Spanglish:: via the New York Times – NYT writes about Telemundo’s plans to incorporate more English, invite non-Latino guests to the new Cristina show, plus other programming. Grab your sombrero and dale un grito, folks –  of course the article isn’t complete with the words salsa and saucy. And who says Univsion doesn’t throw English into the mix? I distinctly remember this hysterical Tom Hanks spot from a few months ago:

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Weekend Sonrisa – So here’s your weekend funny. The other day at a meeting with the group I volunteer with, we were actually able to crack jokes while discussing how the immigration law is affecting students. Because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Full disclosure: the Colbert Report always cracks me up, anyway!

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