Another older writing.
January 10, 2015
My Tribute to Michele Serros
Although, I never met you, I knew you. I read your book “Chicana Falsa.” Every fiber in my body is feeling your lost; like I have lost a “Famiga.” Her family is requesting her admirers organize local readings. Here is my tribute to you.Serros got her big break as a college student in 1993 with the publication of her first book, Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard. It’s a collection of wry stories and poems about growing up in the unincorporated, rural, agricultural community of Oxnard near the California coast. In it, she writes about protesting in the frozen food aisle of a grocery store and lusting after chicharrones, or fried pork rinds: Man, I couldn’t get enoughof that crackly pork skin. I crammed them into tortillas that were always too small, so I ate them right out of the pot, throwing small crispy bits into the air, like popcorn, letting them land in my open anxious mouth. I used to eye my cousin Amy’s pet piglet. With a wink I’d say,”See you in a couple of years …in my belly!” Te doy las Gracias, I Thank you, you made me laugh, you made me cry, you made me want to write! I had never read a Chicana writer write about Chicharrones. Pig Power.
I too have a personal experience with chicharrones that about killed me. I was s young girl of about 15, working in the fields of the valley as I did every summer to pay for my school clothes. It was blistering hot as I chopped weeds along my row. When the mayordomo (foreman) announced to the crew we could take a break. We stopped, right where we were working and sat on the earth. I had a plastic bag tied to my belt hoops with a burrito and a bag of pork rinds (chicharrones). I had been day-dreaming about all morning. I proceeded to eat and chit-chat with my fellow workers. I took a bite of burrito and had a chicharrón, then another and another, they were so delicious. When I felt a piece get lodged in my throat. I experienced my throat as dry as the Sahara Desert and no water in sight. I was truly having difficulty! My throat started making strange sounds! Someone heard my distress and offered me a drink of their soft drink. Which I grabbed and took a long drink, my raw throat felt some relief, but I think my voice was forever altered! I believe all chicharrón bags should have a disclaimer on the back of the bag stating, “Do not eat without water or liquid available!” The moral to this story is do not attempt to eat chicharrones if you do not have access to water. I had to walk about a mile to the end of the row to acquire a drink of water, all the while attempting to clear my throat. I just couldn’t get enough water. Never again, I learned my lesson! Keep in my mind this was pre-Cesar Chavez days. Where you didn’t even have to provide water or bathrooms to fieldworkers and if they did, distance did not matter.
Back to our tribute. Newsweek magazine named Serros’ as one of the authors who will shape Americas new century.”She opened the doors for many of us to look at what it means to be Chicana in a different way,” said Jennie Luna, an assistant professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at a California State University, Channel Islands, who knew Serros for 14 years. “She liked to surf, she liked to skateboard … She didn’t feel constrained to living life one way as a Chicano in the world. She was really boundless.”A private memorial service is planned, but Serros’ family is asking her admirers to organize local readings of her work, Luna said.She could make a good story out of anything, even the politics of frozen vegetables.Serros’ writing is now part of the Latino literature canon, especially the guidebook she published in 2000: How to Be a Chicana Role Model. She wrote it tongue-in-cheek, but for many readers she remains someone to emulate.”For Michele, life was not a fight that was to be won or lost, but enjoyed as a wonderful journey and to be experienced with a firm sense of purpose, curiosity, tenacity, hard work and never-failing courage,” her husband said.
Abrazos y Besos