Guest Posts, Women, writing

The Bits That Matter

September 12, 2016
funny

By Pauline Campos

I used to watch comedians like John Leguizamo and George Lopez in complete awe. While everyone else was laughing at the punchline, I was sitting there wondering what kind of hell had to be paid for penance back home for that last laugh in public. Either their families were just really understanding, lived under giant rocks, or somehow, these performers had learned how to honestly not give a fuck when it came to familial judgement. Forget Supermann. To me, the people who could write the words that needed to be written to share their truths in such a way that could draw in an audience of strangers and bring everyone together with laughter? These were the people I wanted to be.

Then I grew up and started writing seriously. I was self-editing myself too often, at first, and hating it. I wasn’t trying to make anyone look bad, mind you…just share my own truth and experiences. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it isn’t. And it drove me crazy to keep taking out the good bits that I knew needed to stay in. These were the parts that brought it all together; the bits of my own story that my readers would be able to relate to. On the blog, it eventually became easy to just say FUCK IT and hit publish…no one reads I’m related to reads here, usually. Most times, if I have written something in which someone can identify themselves, named or not, I clear it with them first. Then I had to learn to pretend I had temporary amnesia every time I wrote a new advice column for Latina Magazine because relating with your reader about that time we were both The Other Woman tends to make for some awkward Sunday dinners with the Tias.

I’m finishing revisions on Book # 2 right now. It’s going to be called On Raising Wonder Woman: Reflections, Perceptions, & Well-Placed F-Bombs, and I’m here right now because I just had A Moment while revising. I had been re-reading a small portion of an essay and winced a bit when I suddenly saw the words through the eyes of every single family member of every single nonfiction writer and every single comedian, Latino or otherwise, and thought WHY DID YOU SAY THAT, M’IJA???? All Those People….they will think you are talking about me! Mi’ja, take that out, okay? That’s a good girl.

I had the entire section highlighted…I almost hit delete. But I didn’t. Instead, I asked The Husband to sit down and listen for a moment while I read him the entire paragraph for context, showed him where I could end with a period before the segment in question, and then proceeded to read through that part, too.

“I shouldn’t use that, right? I mean, everyone will get mad at me, right? Never mind. Yes, they’ll get mad if they read the book. But I’m not talking about them. It’s more like an over-generalization with a ba-DUM-dum at the end because it’s true.”

“And it’s funny,” he said. “Don’t get rid of it.”

So I didn’t.

I’m Catholic with an asterix, thereby indicating a footnote in tiny print at the bottom of the page. In the interest of time, I’ll just get to the point and tell you that I have always described myself as Mexican-Catholic because it’s exactly not the same as Catholic Catholic. Most Mexican-Catholics that I know are first and second-generation Americans, believe in God and make the sign of the cross whenever an ambulance passes by or they drive by a cemetery, and only go to church for Easter, weddings, funerals, baptisms, and First Communions. We grew up saying the Our Father in Spanish but have probably forgotten most of it by now, truly believe in God and Heaven and that our deceased loved ones will come to watch over us even if we don’t celebrate El Dia de los Muertos, and roll our eyes skyward while forcing ourselves to remain silent when the generations before us start going on about things like gays and black people and how white people don’t know how to raise their children while they themselves are preparing a bottle of Pepsi for the four-year-old sitting in the stroller in nothing but a diaper.

These words? They stay. Because they are part of a story larger than just my own. And suddenly, I understand exactly what the comedians I watched with my father were thinking when they wrote their material and the absolute freedom that comes with leaving in the bits that matter during the editing process.

Pauline Campos is the author of the parenting humor category Amazon best-selling memoir, BabyFat: Adventures in Motherhood, Muffin tops, & Trying to Stay Sane. She is also am Latina Magazine’s Dimelo advice print columnist, chews her ice-cream, and once rolled her R’s when she said the word “three.” She can be found online at www.aspiringmama.com.

 

12109010_10153307028458406_4053769942114712730_n

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 2 spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join Jen Pastiloff at her Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human in London Oct 1st and Dallas Oct 22. Click the links above to book. No yoga experience needed- just be a human being! Bring a journal and a sense of humor. See why People Magazine did a whole feature on Jen.

 

Check out Jen Pastiloff in People Magazine!

Check out Jen in People Magazine!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply