Do you feel it, the desire to tiptoe into the New Year, lest you wake a new giant that might confront you with another endurance test of our humanity, our environment, our peace? Yet it was with unexpected joy that I opened my mailbox this holiday season to find a reminder to never give up on the power of words to open us to the possibility of a better world. That reminder is Abrazos, the 10th Anniversary Anthology of DoveTales, which is the literary journal of the nonprofit Writing for Peace. Below is a copy of my essay, The Dark Matter, which I was honored to discover included. If you’d like to buy the whole anthology, full of the work of writers for whom words are meaningful conduits of peace, limited copies are still available at WritingForPeace.org.
The Dark Matter Cara Lopez Lee
I’ve been feeling the loneliness that comes with the realization that not only do others not see the world the same way as I, but that nobody sees it the same way at all. Not a one. Not even the people who vote the same. Not even the people who like the same movies, books, and dances. Not the dearest of friends.
As my holiday gift to you, allow me to share a funny, touching story that originally aired on the Otter Story Hour’s show: Family Feast. Every Christmas, visions of tamales dance in my head. Actually, I often eat tamales year-round, maybe because I’m a Mexican who grew up in Los Angeles. But don’t let my roots fool you – I have a fraught relationship with tamales, thanks to my awkward relationship with my family. Want to know what I mean? Go to 50:06 in the video below to hear my 10-minute tale. Or grab snacks and watch the whole show as several delightful storytellers share tales of feasting:
As many of you know, I’m writing a historical novel inspired by family stories my Mexican-Chinese grandma used to tell me: tales of secret immigrants and mixed races, family loyalties and betrayals. I’m also involved in the world of live personal storytelling, and The Storytellers Project recently invited me to share a true story about my search for my ancestral past. Here’s a video of that virtual show on the theme of Home. You’ll see my 9-minute story at 19:34. Warning: In the story, I mention sexual abuse, though not in a graphic way.
If you’re involved in the world of live personal storytelling, as a teller or a fan, then you know the pandemic didn’t stop us but only prompted us to find each other online, thanks to dedicated producers who took their shows to the virtual road. Such shows are part of a support system that has kept us glued together as a community, and helped keep me from coming unglued personally. As we prepare to return to live shows, please allow me to share with you this fun little story from one of our pandemic-era events, the Turbine Arts Collective annual Pre-Valentine’s Show. This story is called: The Hooker Bully.
So, you’d like to see more of this sort of thing? Then you’re in luck! 😉 I’m appearing in a half-hour one-woman show for Greystone Theatre Performances, a series of virtual solo performances featuring a variety of artists at Beverly Hills’ historic Greystone Mansion. Here’s the lowdown:
Almost nobody would publish my funny little ditty, Never Kill A Dog Or Cat In Your Novel, because they found it a tad too disturbing. Cue Slackjaw, a humor journal that specializes in over-the-top weirdness. Thank you, Slackjaw, because without you I’d be forced to conform, and I just don’t know how. You can check out this devilish little 4-minute read…here.
A story can mean different things at different times. In 2019, I first told this one, Cara Lopez Lee Gets A Reporting Job (a.k.a. The Boss of Last Resort) for Daniel David Shapiro’s podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. It’s the story of the most racist, sexist, intolerant tyrant I ever worked for, back in the 90’s. I share it now as a small underline to America’s cry for change in 2020. I previously shared the podcast, but below is the video of me telling the story to our live audience. It was one of the two true stories in the show.
I have not lived an African American experience, though I carry African DNA from my ancestors. And this story does not directly address the recent murder of George Floyd, or police brutality against people of color, though I am outraged by such injustices. Neither is this story about the Black Lives Matter movement, though BLM gave me impetus to share it now. Still, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate: Black Lives Matter. Maybe if we say it enough, and back it up with meaningful action, we’ll begin to create change.
Wish you could run away from Pandemic 2020? Try escaping into a book! I’ve been reading books by other authors—turns out most books are by other authors. But if you haven’t read mine yet, then please check out They Only Eat Their Husbands. It’s my memoir of how I ran away: from love, to Alaska, around the world. Remember how adventurers used to travel? In the before times, not long ago… Here are a host of links to all the places you can purchase They Only Eat Their Husbands. Thank you, beloved readers, for supporting books, the economy, and my family’s supply of food, soap, and disinfectant!