diversity is golden

After a brief hiatus of, oh let’s see…seven months (!), I am happy to be back with a somewhat decent grasp of my time. Many of you know of our relocation to Martha’s Vineyard, where we have purchased an iconic dive bar/live music venue. Life just keeps getting more interesting. So, let’s get back to it.

 

A couple of years ago, my daughter was finishing up her Film and Television degree at Boston University. She shared with me a class discussion about our entering another “Golden Age” of television with HBO and Netflix productions gaining popularity. Having paid the BU tuition and knowing the full cost of said film degree, I took her word as well-educated gospel.

It was about that same time that our DVR started to fill up with episodes of “Homeland”, “The Newsroom”, “Parenthood” (highly underrated), “Downton Abbey”, etc. Terms like “binge watch” were spot on, as Larkin and I would look at each other, bleary eyed, after 4 hours of “House of Cards”… “One more?”, we’d beg each other in unison.

One of the golden elements of television now, is the fact that our favorite pastime is on our time. We decide when, how, where and even the device to watch our favorite shows. No planning your life around a TV schedule, just carefully navigating your Twitter feed for any spoilers.

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For me, there is a much different “Golden Age” of television occurring with the parade of Hispanics and diversity marching across my screen in the CW’s “Jane the Virgin”. Holy Golden Brown Goodness!

Having a show like this on TV when I was a kid, would’ve been a game changer. (Not to mention a brown Barbie doll, but that’s another post.)

I remember a story Oprah Winfrey recounted from her childhood, when she saw Diana Ross and the Supremes on TV. She and her friends yelled from house to house, “Black people on TV! Black people on TV!”

I could so relate to this.

As a little girl in 1974, it was my starry-eyed dream to be on TV. But, there wasn’t anyone who looked like me on that big, console screen. On any of the four channels. I remember being thankful that I had a distant second cousin that mildly resembled Tony Orlando.

Where were all the brown skinned, doe-eyed girls like me?

Fast forward to the 80’s and my days of acting and modeling auditions. “Too exotic.” “What are you?!” “We’re looking for someone more ‘girl-next-door.'” “Too ethnically confusing.” Well, I was in Dallas, Texas. The makers of J.R. Ewing apparently didn’t know what to do with me.

And speaking of “ethnically confusing”, when I auditioned for an actual Hispanic role, the casting director simply stated, “You’re not Mexican enough.” Seriously.

So, at 48, I finally can see a cast of strong, smart, beautiful Latina women on TV. And that is oro puro. (Go ahead, look it up.)

Lauren Duca recently wrote a great Huffington Post article on the break-out series: ” ‘Jane the Virgin’ is that show everyone is talking about. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Yeah, the one based on accidental artificial insemination. If you wrote it off based on that premise, you’d be justified, considering it’s about a pregnant virgin. Except, that absurd log line turned out to be a huge component of its unlikely charm.”

“Unlikely charm,” indeed. Gina Rodriguez, the “virgin” heroine is authentic, approachable and, well, like the “girl next door.” The diversity of the cast is a genuine attempt to depict what this country looks like now. For a show that never mentions race, it is a realistic representation of how we should appreciate and celebrate our different cultures and traditions. The depiction is the melting pot our country deserves to be.

Before I start in about how divided we are in reality and get all political, I will stop here and just celebrate and congratulate the entire cast and crew of “Jane the Virgin”. It is just good, fun television.

This morning, I watched the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations. As I listened to Gina Rodriguez named as a nominee in the “Best Actress in a Television Series” category, I smiled to myself.

My 1974, brown skinned, doe-eyed self.

The Aisle: An Olympic Sport?

viaclass.postot.co.uk

What comes with having three 20-something girls, each with their own large circle of girlfriends, is the realization that no news travels faster, spreads wider and cuts like a light saber through general conversation than Guess who is getting married?!

It is 2012 and we all just giggle, gasp and guffaw at nuptial news like women at the “Meryton Assembly Ball” in a Jane Austen novel.

My girls, in particular, have been cursed/blessed with a matriarch that was wedded at the ripe ol’ age of 22. “Ugh,” they all sighed.

It wasn’t planned or arranged. It just happened. Just like they cannot plan or arrange when it will happen for them. (Although their father might just like the opportunity to “arrange” their partners.)

There are plenty of books, advice and well-meaning analysts and bloggers like Penelope Trunk that have written volumes about not only how to find and land your mate, but WHEN you should meet “Mr. Right.” Someone even came out with “rules”. Remember that brouhaha? There is even a book by Tracy McMillan based on her popular two-part essay on The Huffington Post telling you WHY you haven’t found that right person just yet.

Even my mother-in-law, a champion for women’s rights, a celebrated educator and author will most likely ask the girls if they have a boyfriend before she inquires about their job, school or general health.

So much has been written lately about “having it all” with the media swirling around the rise of the new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. She will have the opportunity to balance pregnancy, marriage, motherhood while running a major company, right before our very eyes; her every move, no doubt, covered by every media source from the Wall Street Journal to People magazine. (My guess is that they probably already approached Naomi Watts to play her in the movie. No?)

My Google Reader is not filled with articles in regards to a “cure” for bachelors or advice on landing Mrs. Right. I cannot recall any story about a newly appointed male CEO having to discuss how marriage or fatherhood would affect his job performance.

What is the fascination with women getting married?

I personally feel, the honest truth, is that it will happen, when it happens. And, it is most likely inevitable.

I will conserve my opinions of working women having it all, to focus on young, smart, single women just starting out and say this:  There isn’t only one version of “ALL”.  That is the beauty of it. Your version of “all” will change and grow as you change and grow.  Live your ALL, now. Make the most of “singlehood.” 

Don’t live your life in preparation or anticipation for something else. Live your life, today! See the movies you want to see, travel to the destinations you long to go, eat at the cool, new hip restaurants you want to try, sip cocktails at that new swank, bar opening. Go to the symphony, the ballet, the opera. Take that pottery class or that cooking class. Do whatever moves you.

In a very short time you will be in an adult relationship that requires care, concern and compromise. So, while young and single, ditch the compromise and put the care and concern into your life. Full steam ahead on your career. Put in the extra hours. Network around the clock. Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented before you and grab it up with full, unabashed gluttony.

Don’t waste a minute waiting.

Live an interesting, attractive life and you will be interesting and attractive. Live your life like a hot mess and, well, you probably have already met what comes your way.

One of the benefits of aging gracefully with big deep pockets of wisdom…ahem…is that I can sit back and see the bright radiance of young women who are making their own lives work. I can spot them a mile away. It is a confident glow. They are productive, taking exciting challenges and turning them into opportunities for their benefit and well-being. I am so amazed at the endless possibilities that lie ahead for young women.

When I hear of a young woman, taking the reigns of her life and creating her own success, I am compelled to share that story with my own girls. Other girls getting married doesn’t draw the same fascination for me. I will not cut out engagement announcements to show my girls when they visit. (And it’s not because I don’t receive an actual newspaper.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love marriage. I love being married. I love that I found my soul mate at 21. Yes, I believe in soul mates. And, Larkin is definitely mine. However, I also love that my sister Jen, found her love, Tim, at 37. They’ve been married for two years, laughing, traveling and living the life. And, no kids! Talk about living the life!

Walking down the aisle is not an olympic sport. We shouldn’t time our girls or measure for distance.

It will come soon enough.

We will eventually have the added place settings at our holiday table along with the added awkward explaining of our family’s sick, twisted obsession with turning every comment into a movie line. We will declare which “Friends” character the new addition is. We will go from four kids, to eight kids. We will have to show care, concern and compromise.

We have raised our children to believe in love. “Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us up, all you need is love…”  We believed in soul mates and told them to believe, too. We showed them that your “better half” brings out YOUR better half. We lived the example that marriage to the right person is more fun than two people should be allowed to have.

And, that is what I want for all of my girls. Someday. No stop watch. No timeline. No pressure.

And, I want it for The Boy, too. But, seriously.

“Is anyone ever going to be good enough for HIM?” cried his three sisters, his aunt/godmother, his two grandmothers and his Latina mother.

That is a whole other blog post, entirely.

 

Derby de Mayo

Kentucky Derby! Cinco de Mayo!

What’s a southern Latina to do?

The Tequila Julep

Muddle 10 leaves of mint and half of a lime cut in wedges 

1/2 shot simple syrup or tablespoon of white sugar

2 shots of Herradura Anejo Tequila

ice 

top off with Topo Chico Agua Mineral

Inspired by Jordan Stallings (alchemist/filmmaker/activist)

Prepared by Larkin Stallings (nightclub sage/the most interesting Man in the world)

Viva la Derby!

for the love of Kale

I had planned to post this on Friday, but had to attend a funeral in South Texas. As we made the drive from Harlingen Airport to Brownsville, I was taken aback by the sheer number of brand new fast food restaurants that lined the freeway. South Texas, known as “the valley”, is 81 percent hispanic. This many fast food options, in this area, simply does not make sense.

 “According to a national examination survey, Mexican Americans are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.  They have higher rates of end-stage renal disease, caused by diabetes, and they are 50% more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.” –Office of Minority Health/U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

March is National Nutrition Month. As a Latina, health conscious blogger, I felt obligated to pass along these statistics, along with good information about how vital it is to make better choices about food and your health, especially within the Hispanic community.

I’ve had so many relatives develop Diabetes, including my dad, who also survived a massive heart attack last summer. Between my mom, my sister and myself, he is lucky: he has 3 bossy, latina women in his life that tell him what to eat!  So, once more, here you go, dad: for the love of you…and Kale!

Last year, I spent my first New England winter at our vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. MV is a popular summer haunt that depends on the tourist season to survive; many businesses and restaurants shut down for the winter. For year round residents, fresh food variety can get pretty limited and expensive.  I noticed that the market, which carries local farm produce, was always in abundance of this inexpensive, beautiful, green leafy vegetable…Kale. I was intrigued.

 In Texas, we eat greens, as well. There are plenty of southern dishes that include mustard greens, collards, cabbage and spinach. But, I wasn’t familiar with preparing kale. Well, there are as many ways to add kale to your diet, as you can imagine. Remember “Bubba” in Forrest Gump? “…shrimp gumbo, shrimp creole, shrimp kabobs….” It’s just like that with kale.

 The best news is that Kale is not just good for you. Kale is a Superfood!

And, what is one of the best foods to combat diabetes? Yep! You guessed it.  Livestrong.com is an excellent resource that sings kale’s praises and lists other foods to help battle various illnesses.  Fighting cancers, burning fat, reducing risk of cataracts; the nutritional magic of kale is pretty remarkable.

Last year when I began my obsession with this cruciferous gem, I stumbled upon Diana Dyer’s blog, “365daysofKale”.  How lucky was I, to find a kale soul mate? She grows her own kale, and she inspired me to add it to my own Vineyard garden last Spring. (By July, I had eaten it all.) She has valuable information, research and recipes on her website.

 

And, then there is this guy, Bo Muller-Moore. I’m sure he’ll go down in the Kale Hall of Fame. His story has gained national attention because fast food chain, “Chick-fil-A”, wants him to stop production of his “Eat More Kale” t-shirts.  The corporate giant, which has illiterate cows vandalizing billboards  spreading the “chickn” movement, is causing such a stir, the legal defense for Bo is threatening his 10-year-old small, eco-friendly business in Vermont. If you are a fan of small business (and/or kale) and want to help take a stand against “corporate bullying”, go check out his site. Join Team Kale!

 

 

Kale Fun Fact: You can use it for decoration. There are many varieties of Ornamental Kales. You can add them to floral arrangements, or display them in bunches for incredible color throughout you home.  

A multi-tasking, decorative superfood; strong, healthy and beautiful. What’s not to love?

 

Honestly, I eat kale almost daily. I am always finding ways to add it to all of my cooking. As I start adding more recipes to “Living Lola”, you’ll see that I will always try to sneak in a little kale. Now, you’ll understand why.

If you have never prepared kale, here are a few easy suggestions to getting creative with this very versatile veggie:

  • add a handful of chopped kale to you favorite smoothie
  • scrambled kale and eggs: saute kale to soften with your butter or oil; scramble away
  • coarsely chopped kale can be added to ANY soup, right before serving
  • add chopped kale to any pasta dish; the bright green adds gorgeous color
  • instead of chopped parsley to garnish, finely chop kale
  • kale chips, that seem to have swept the nation: spread big pieces of kale on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, dash of salt, bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Keep on eye on them to test your oven for desired crispness.
  • crumble baked kale chips over popcorn to add huge nutritional value to snacking

Okay, okay. Now, I’m starting to sound like Bubba. But, you get the idea.