Winter Baby Blues & Piñata Dreams by Mayra Rocha

I believe most kids love celebrating their birthdays because they get a day devoted to them. They get a party, presents, cake, and games. They get to spend the day doing whatever they want in honor of their day of birth. Well for me, I always wanted a piñata for my birthday. My piñata would be made out of colorful tissue paper, cardboard, and paper mache.

ARIEL2It would be filled with bite-sized candy and chocolate, like Snickers, Skittles and Starburst. But it wouldn’t be your typical, colorful piñata. No, this piñata would be in the shape of Ariel from the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid”. It was my favorite movie growing up as a kid. I had watched this movie on VHS so much and memorized the songs by heart until the video film eventually broke.

This would have been the ideal birthday party for me as kid, except my birthday is in January. Born in one of the coldest months of the year, I suffered through blizzards and freezing temps around my birthday every year. When I was a kid, I had planned a small and simple party for my 9th birthday. Everything was supposed to go great. I’d only invited my close friends. My mom made me a chocolate cake, ordered pizza and had games planned for the party. We even had the usual decorations of balloons and streamers along with birthday-themed party plates and cups for the occasion. But of course I couldn’t have a piñata because the party was indoors. My mom wouldn’t allow kids breaking open a piñata in our 2-bedroom apartment in the south side of Chicago.

To make matters worse, a snowstorm hit on the weekend of my party. None of my friends could make it to my party because of the snowfall. I ended up having the party just with my family that day. Although it was still great having my cake and family there, I still wished that snowstorm didn’t happen. And of course I wished I could have had a piñata too.

It would have been great to be born in the summer months. To be a summer baby, so I could have pool parties, outdoor barbecues at the park or in my backyard, and of course break open a piñata with a bat or broomstick. I would have loved to have the freedom to run around and not worry about being confined in a small space or indoors. I think warm, sunny days outside just make parties so much more fun.

This is what us winter babies have to suffer through. Freezing temperatures and fear of blizzards ruining your birthday plans. I never had the chance to celebrate my birthday party in the outdoors on a hot summer day. I never had the chance to break open the piñata with my friends and run toward the candy falling out of the ripped-open piñata.

It’s no fun celebrating your birthday indoors every year, or living in fear of a snow apocalypse keeping you hostage at home. Especially when kids just want to run around from the sugar high of all the candy and cake they consumed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be alive and healthy, and that I’ve always been able to celebrate my birthday with family, even if it was indoors. But I just wish I could have had an Ariel piñata and a pool party too.


MAYRA_JUMPERMayra Rocha, a natural-born bookworm and writer from the south side of Chicago, has written articles for Echo, Screen, and Crane Works magazines, and blogs about her experiences from an urban Latina perspective. She was an online contributor for Remilon LLC and wrote engaging articles about online education and degree programs, and the steps involved in following a career path. Mayra has also contributed to, Moments in My Head and Proyecto Latina. She currently works at Groupon and writes for her blog, Avenida M, in her spare time. You can always find her reading a good book, learning a new hobby, traveling to a new destination, or daydreaming.

Dacamented in Jury by Carolina Gallo

Photo courtesy of: Mariana Martinez  Link to my jpg

Photo courtesy of: Mariana Martinez
Link to my jpg

Going to jury duty for the first time was a mix of emotions ranging from, I’m the youngest one here, to can I even legally be here?I say legally because I am DACAmented; which to me is a way of life. It stands for my transition from undocumented to being legalized through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an order that president Obama signed in 2012 giving qualifying applicants between the ages 16-30, the right to live legally in the U.S for two years.
The way it works is, you get a work permit and varying by state it allows you to obtain a state ID and driver’s license. In Illinois you are allowed to get the driver’s license and state ID and it is through the state ID that I ended up chosen for jury duty. As my law teacher in high school explained, every few years they pick people from the donors list and I am on the list, so I was chosen.

This to me seems crazy because I never encounter other DACAmented people in my situation. In the midst of it, I felt scared of what could happen to me. I started talking to other friends in similar situations; they didn’t know it was possible either. The day of jury duty I waited hours for my panel number to be called, it never did.  As I was waiting, I began to reflect on my experience as a Dacamented womyn.

My reflection went like this:

“Land of the Free

Where the rich run and the poor are locked up

People waiting in lines to stand trials

Just to find that the justice system fails us

Telling me that I am legal for two years

People cross borders and spend whole lives waiting on green paper that ain’t coming

People celebrating giving thanks killing each other for flat screens

My brothers and sisters fought too hard for my education

I can’t give up

I am not wanted, implied in unconstitutional misinformation telling me I am only allowed the privilege to a 12th

grade education

Quickly forgetting my rights

YOU call me for jury duty for being on the donors’ list that my people, my parents can’t get donations from

You’re quick to ask, but not quick to give

Where is the government’s money to fund my education?

Where is my right to go back to my country?

Where is my right to vote?

Things that upset me, you give an Americanized school experience

Giving me heroes that look nothing like me

Instead of teaching me

I gain skills on self-assertiveness

I learn the true lesson on socioeconomic status rules, a person life in capitalist America

I learn that just being an open DACAmented muxer is radical

I learn that people who look like me are expected to work blue collar jobs like our parents

You only look at us when elections come

Filling my people with hope

Ending in disillusion

Innocent people behind bars mounting up in county jails getting thrown into corners

So sad that a country built on immigrants won’t see that migration is a human right

So many lost souls trying to make it to the American dream

Expecting streets paved with gold

Instead getting dehumanized because without the green paper you don’t exist

Can’t even get a library card

Staying strong and fearing La PoliMigra

Trying to survive in capitalist America

Not an easy task

America takes, but never fully gives” – Carolina Gallo

Caro's_Bio PhotoAbout Carolina Gallo: She is a 19 year-old Xicana storyteller from Chicago’s Southside, originally from Jalisco, Mexico. Carolina likes to tell the stories of marginalized inner city residents because she feels their perspective is crucial to the city’s growth. Currently attending Harold Washington College working on her Associates in Art, she plans to transfer to UIC for Urban Planning and Latino Studies. Her work has been published in Young Chicago Authors, The Chicago Beat and The Division Street: The Remix Sessions (a recreation of Studs Terkel’s book, Division Street America). Her goal as a storyteller is to continue to empower people by giving them a voice.


Nudges, Shoves and Cosmic Cachetadas by Ericka Sanchez McCarthy

ERICKA_FINALI was the recipient of several “cosmic cachetadas” (term courtesy of the wonderful Diana Pando), during 2013. These weren’t necessarily physical manifestations but their effects warranted an actual need for me to act on things I had been ignoring or avoiding and continuing to live in a “comfortable/safe predictability.”

Life was moving forward, but the universe sought me out time and again through little nudges, then shoves and signs here and there to let go of what I perceived as safe and secure. One of the most important “cachetadas” first started with nudges and shoves over the past few years after having had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the ladies at Proyecto Latina.

There was a joy in sharing poetry with other poets and interviewing and writing about Latinas talentosas that didn’t just talk the talk but were doing what they felt was a way to nourish their creative spirit and breath for their soul. It was in these meetings, readings and discussions that the nudges and shoves became more frequent and imposing. I will be honest and say that there was always this self-doubt, and fear that it would be reckless of me to jump and follow that trail of word crumbs that had been slowly winding around my heart.

In the past, I had been able to ignore or avoid those feelings, that something was not right, that I wasn’t getting that “air”  I longed for which would in turn make me feel every breath I took feel full of actual enjoyment. However, there was a great feeling of creative bliss over the summer after having a poem published and shared in the company of wonderful Latinas who revealed a part of themselves through their words (shameless plug here, Rebeldes:  A Proyecto Latina Anthology, if you haven’t gotten your copy, you’re missing out on awesome Latina writers and poets).

That experience ultimately led to leave the “safe zone” and quit a profession that I was no longer feeling fulfilled in. A choice that I went back and forth weighing the pros and cons, then trying to justify the negatives, talking myself into continuing because if I didn’t, in my mind I would be a “quitter”.  The truth was that I wasn’t feeling the passion or fulfillment I once did and now I was starting to feel the anxiety that comes with not loving what you do.

The “cachetada” came one day, as I was getting ready for work, knowing that even though I had taken some time to think about the choice to quit, I had to do it now and give my notice. This decision caused me to stop accepting what had become a “predictable” way of life for me. The “cachetada” forced me to stop and follow this new path, which I look at as a new adventure towards what truly brings me joy, which is writing.

I am not without appreciation for the support system I have in the forms of my husband, children, family and friends, fellow writers and poets and creatives. Also, I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not scared of what the future will hold or that the process to get where I hope to be one day will be smooth and easy. I know it won’t be, but I’ve also learned when the universe gives you nudges, then shoves and finally “cosmic cachetadas” I’ll be paying attention with a notebook in one hand and pen in the other, ready to write it all down.


ERICKAEricka McCarthy is a Mexican import that has called Chicago home for a large portion of her life. She was raised in a bi and later tri-lingual home in the Little Village area where many a weekend, involved long walks with her mom and sister down 26th Street taking in all the sights, sounds, smells and shopping the neighborhood had to offer. Ericka was a monolingual Spanish speaker until she started pre-school and would meet a wonderful teacher that introduced her to the awesomeness that language, reading, writing and freedom of imagination would inspire. Her experiences through varying employments have helped her develop an appreciation for finding humor and thought in everyday events of life that can be written about.

Most recently, she worked in the education field, where for almost 9 years she enjoyed teaching, molding young minds, and learning a lot from her young charges as well, such as not all scissors are fool-proof and yes, if a child forgets their lunch over the weekend, a penicillin type mold will be begin to grow, thus creating an inexpensive class experiment! Ericka has had the amazing opportunity to work in the past with the illustrious crew at Proyecto Latina as a featured artist and, interviewing Latinas in the arts as well as being able to share poetry in the Proyecto Latina Anthology: Rebeldes. Ever changing like a chameleon that adapts, her current adventure involves leaving the teaching field and focusing on her dream of writing a children’s book, storytelling for children as well as adults (because come on, who doesn’t love a good story?), working on voiceovers for TV and radio as well as continuing the poetry and writing journey that she began long ago.

Did You Get Your Copy Of Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology?

Cover art by Diana Solis, "Mama Bird," hand-cut paper, 2009

Cover art by Diana Solis, “Mama Bird,” hand-cut paper, 2009


Our book launch of Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology was released this week. We thank everyone who joined us to celebrate this wonderful literary accomplishment! Special thanks to all of our Madrinas y Padrinos who helped make this possible. It filled me with lots of joy to see everyone smiling as they  walked away with their copy of our  much anticipated anthology.

It was truly a beautiful blessing to come together to share our stories, tell a little chisme and drink some wine. We hope that those of you who have purchased the book will feel empowered to tell your stories.

For those of you that didn’t get a chance to make it out and want a copy of the book you can order it online via Paypal.

 What makes this book unique is that it contains the writing and artwork of 26 Latinas and a cameo appearance by our Chisme Box. Some of the themes that appear in the book include: gender, sexuality, family, identity, culture and is written in English, Spanish and Spanglish. The writers included in this anthology range from women in their 20′s all the way to their 70′s reflecting a diversity of work being created by Latinas!




Our beautiful Madrina de Papel y Tinta Vanessa Alvarez

Our beautiful Madrina de Papel y Tinta Vanessa Alvarez


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Reflecting On Rebeldes

Paloma Martinez-Cruz

Paloma Martinez-Cruz


For the last year, Rebeldes anthology editor, Paloma Martinez – Cruz has been pounding the pavement to produce the anthology.

As we get ready to release the anthology on August 12th she shares a short reflection on why the book is so important to our community.

“Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology offers a process, not a product.  We want to show what it is like for us as Latinas to have a safe space to come and share our creativity without apology, where different genres, perspectives, and levels of artistic practice coexist in harmony.  This book has not been generated to vie for a place at the forefront of “American Literature” – whatever that means – but rather to provide access, dialogue, and legitimacy to the expressive cultures coming out of our communities that have been historically misrepresented and silenced by mainstream media flows.  We are eager to share the story of Proyecto Latina with readers beyond our regular participants because we are curious to find out what can happen if more Latinas decide to come together and form creative sanctuaries where no dream is too big, and every voice is the perfect expression of our creative lives unfolding.” – Paloma Martinez – Cruz

(Book release August, 12 – Read more)