The Night Listening to a Trump Supporter Gave Me Hope

November 16, 2016. Exactly eight days after the election. I am in Ripon, Wisconsin to perform my one person show, Faces of America. In my show, I bring to light stories of the American experience, each one through a different ethnicity’s perspective. I had envisioned this particular performance as a celebration of our first female president, one brave enough to stand with undocumented immigrants and Muslim parents of war veterans at the DNC. Instead, I am nervous because it’s not just that my dream wasn’t realized, it’s that my worst nightmare had come true. So here I am, a brown girl in a blue state turned red. I am wearing the Safety Pin, the one we all jumped on as the movement to outwardly show that the wearer is a safe haven for anyone who needs them. It’s a feeble attempt, I realize this, but what else can I do? I’m grasping. I feel hopeless. I cried myself to sleep a week ago.  This is all a fresh gash in my chest, and the proverbial blood on the white pantsuit I wore to the polls hasn’t even dried yet. Continue reading “The Night Listening to a Trump Supporter Gave Me Hope”

Shepherd’s Pie sans Sheep-herd

A dear friend of mine who is a working mom of two just had emergency surgery for some pretty severe stomach and digestive issues. When she was released from the hospital, a few of us asked what she needed once she got home.

She texts to the group: “My mom’s got the kids, she’ll be overwhelmed. Meal train would be awesome when I’m home and off morphine.”

Who doesn’t love morphine? And a good meal train. I turn to my go-to recipe, Shepherd’s Pie, which is what everyone always requests of me for potlucks, which I can pretty much prepare in my sleep.

I’m the second one to text back. “I’m in for Tuesday!” Easy-peasy. I teach my fitness class at 9:30 that morning. I can churn a pie out by noonish.

Then she responds with, “Meals would be fierce! But…just a reminder, we’ve been vegetarian lately, and I can’t have gluten. So annoying. So…ZERO pressure. I totally understand, I know you have lives. I know I did, before my shit hit the fan.”

Well, shit indeed. My famous Shepherd’s Pie is made with real Shepherd! (Ok, fine, real ground beef. Sometimes turkey.) But… Continue reading “Shepherd’s Pie sans Sheep-herd”

An Actor’s Full Circle

It’s the mid-1970’s, I am 6 years old and I sit in front of my mom’s antique armoire every morning. This is my performance space. It has three long mirrors. A wide one in the center, and two moveable ones on the side so I can change focus at appropriate dramatic moments.

In the drawers,  I keep all my tools for prep. I have a ritual, where I methodically place make-up items on a laid out hand towel. Lipstick, powder puff, and a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder. I sprinkle powder onto the puff, and dust my entire face and neck till I’m covered in white, then finish it off with mom’s rejected Estée Lauder lipstick.

White face, red lips, now I’m ready to perform… Continue reading “An Actor’s Full Circle”

Merry Christmas, to the 15 Year Old Fat Girl in My Head

Two things I can count on at this time of year. When I walk into a mall, I’m going to hear Christmas music blaring from the speakers. When I walk into a family gathering, I’m going hear the 15 Year Old Fat Girl in my head.

Yes, there is a Fat Girl in my head.
Continue reading “Merry Christmas, to the 15 Year Old Fat Girl in My Head”

Painting a Querida

My mom sent me a picture of me as a baby with my Dad. It’s one I’ve never seen before. I’m sitting in his lap, my body is facing him, but I’m looking in the opposite direction, kind of pushing myself up and away from him. In my left hand, I’ve grabbed his sunglasses off his face. He’s looking at me smiling, and in his expression, you see the love that you’d expect to see when a father looks at his child. It’s not how I remember my relationship with my dad. I don’t even know what to do with this picture.

Continue reading “Painting a Querida”

Café con Recuerdos

The menu at the Governer’s Cafe in Dover, Delaware had it listed as an Iced Spanish Latte. But this my friends, is a straight up café con leche, with condensed milk & shots of espresso, just like the hot ones my sister, Loolee introduced to me in the outdoor cafés of Centro Historico in Mexico City.

It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I was there with Mom, visiting Loolee while she was on location. She was working out of Churobusco Studios for a little flick, James Bond’s License To Kill.

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Inkful Meditation

I knew when I turned 45, I’d be doing this. Yesterday marked the day I turned a year older than my oldest sister / little mommy / spiritual guide, Loolee, ever was. I knew it was the year to honor her influence on me, during and after her life, and to honor myself for my own journey so far. A friend called me a “babaylan” in an email last week. I had to look it up. Babaylans are the Filipina shamans, the healers, the servers of the community. I found a beautiful mandala for the babaylans and meant to put that on my forearm. Instead, my artist and collaborator, Michael Mendoza, and I created something else for somewhere else.

Inkful meditation… Continue reading “Inkful Meditation”

At War with the 15 Year Old Fat Girl in My Head

You can take the weight off a girl’s body, but can you take the mindset out of a woman’s psyche? Good question.

~ Performed live by Fran de Leon at Word Now, produced by Jill Remez.

I am, She is

I am 44. She is 87.

We are living in Sherman Oaks. She has been with us for 7 years and probably will be till the end. I realize I am a co-dependent. She hovers over my son and doesn’t fully approve that we’re raising an atheist. I write morning pages of introspection and manifestations. She loves the Hallmark Channel and watches mass on TV. I sweep the floor everyday to get rid of dog hair and dust. She accumulates so much junk in her bedroom, the cleaning lady can’t get in to vacuum the carpets. I want my house back.
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My Teachable Fitness Moment

Unless you’re my Facebook friend and have seen the pictures, you probably don’t know that I spent my high school years overweight. And unless I’ve spent a drunken night with you confessing my sins, you also probably don’t know that in my head, I still think I’m that overweight girl. I’d been a skinny kid but developed a hyperthyroid condition at 15 which, among other things, caused my metabolism to slow way, way, way down. Within a year I packed on an extra 40 pounds on my 5 foot and a half inch frame. (Hey, listen, when you’re fun-sized like me, you count half inches in height. You know, kinda like my son counts half years in his age? But I digress…)
Continue reading “My Teachable Fitness Moment”