El Pasoans, if you missed out on the Librotraficante event last week you truly missed out on some mind altering prose, as the Librotraficantes say -- they really weren't kidding. From behalf of BorderSenses, I helped coordinate the event. I may not have given monetary donations or have written any mind altering books to donate, but I did what I could and that was assist Sonia with planning the event.
Even if the majority of the time I was sending e-mails like crazy. Do you know how many press releases were sent? How many inboxes we plagued? How many innocent people and friends were bombarded with Librotraficante propaganda on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and texting? A LOT!!!
We typed like a boss.
In the end, everything turned out great, we had a great turn out and Minerva, Director of BorderSenses, was gracious enough to acknowledge us for volunteering and being event coordinators. That's right, Sonia and I are an awesome team!
Once the logistics were taken care of, it was simply playing the waiting game.Having a theatre background, I know the "waiting game" is a bunch of BS because something ALWAYS happens. You can prepare as much as you'd like, but nothing ever comes out perfect. I was ready for the unexpected, and, sure enough, Rubi, from La Mujer Obrera, informed me a few days prior to the event that they would be understaffed and would only be able to set up the sound equipment.
HA, I KNEW IT! We anticipated this and began seeking volunteers beforehand.I knew a few people who wanted to help out and Sonia knew some people as well, so the problem was somewhat solved. The volunteer response was, to say the least, somewhat abysmal... but we didn't need that many volunteers to begin with, thank goodness. The few inquiries that we had, I gave them my contact information and the plan for Wednesday.
I would arrive at 3pm and they would need to arrive between 3:30pm and 4pm. I hoped for the best and prepared myself for the worst. I know how hectic it is to be understaffed and have about a billion and one things to do. Thank you, VIVA! El Paso, you have taught me well towards coping with these type of situations. I knew I did not have to bring out the tables or anything of that nature, just arrange them so, how bad could things be?
Well, a lot of people bailed and those who said were going to show up, didn't. FANTASTIC, JASMINE IS ALONE. I arrived around 2:50ish and scouted the room. I was expecting to move a few tables, but that was a BIG MISTAKE! I This is what Mercado Mayapan had in store for me:
Okay, volunteers should arrive soon, right? 3:30 pm, whoo hoo! I know I am awesome, but I am not super human. The tables were somewhat heavy, at least to move by yourself. The benches were the easiest thing to move. Every table and bench needed to be moved, but the upside was having the sound system ready. But wait....
Whoa, whoa, whoa, volunteers, don't call me at once. My phone can't simply handle that many calls. People are bailing? Well, that's nice.
Sure, it's not a problem. Help will arrive at 5pm. I'll try to do as much as I can, with an injured back. Not a big deal.
But I really looked like this:
See, I wasn't freaking out over the set-up. I was freaking out about how this would be royal pain, figuratively and literally, because of my back injury. I wasn't in excruciating pain, so no I am not a martyr. It acts up from time to time and apparently it decided to act up Monday night, go figure. I was hoping it would go away by Wednesday, but it didn't, lucky me.
I've worked through the pain before, might as well do it all over again.
Obviously in my own pace since I am not dedicated or willing to completely throw my back out -- which sucks when it happens, by the way. I was not about to sit down and simply NOT do anything, so I decided to work on as much as I could until help arrived. Arianne, a friend and volunteer for the event, said she was running late, so she would arrive around 3:45/4ish. 45 minute wait? Sure, why not.
However, crisis was averted! Gloria, another BorderSenses volunteer, showed up fifteen to twenty minutes after I arrived. HELP IS HERE!
We got to work, moved the tables first, and then the benches. Arianne arrived when we were close to finishing, but her help was greatly appreciated. After the tables were moved, I sat down and wound up having a lengthy discussion with Cemeli while the girls cleaned up the tables. I honestly would not have been able to set up the place as quickly without the help of Gloria and Arianne. It took nearly an hour to set everything up, but we did it!
We had a lot of downtime, which meant lounging and simply... waiting. Once Minerva arrived we helped her set up the BorderSenses table. I finally received the lineup and was saddened that Luis Urrea was not going to attend the event. I knew he was in Arizona and then San Antonio, but I had that naive glimmer of hope. The Hummingbird's Daughter is one of my favorite novels and I would have loved to meet him. I was under a previous assumption that he would be there. He was the author I was looking forward to the most.
Oh, well. The lineup was still pretty great and I wasn't about to be a Debbie downer. Once the caravan arrived, I am not going to lie, it was slightly intimidating, but they were finally here!
Why were they intimidating? They looked overtly serious, which I can only assume was because they were tired. Sure, I didn't expect them to barge in and be cheery, give everyone hugs, and whatnot, but when more than twenty people arrive with the exact same look, well... it can be a little intimidating. I needed to give bio sheets to Lupe, found him, and once I introduced myself as Jasmine he gave me a big hug -- more as to how he knew who I was later.
People began arriving and the Librotraficante event was off to a great start. We had over 200 people attend the event! Aside from a few sound issues, everything went really well. The event ran a little over two hours and had over 18 speakers. My biggest concern/annoyance of the night was, in typical El Paso behavior, the lack of performance/show etiquette in the audience. Robert Santos, the MC, had to ask the audience to quiet down not once, not twice, but THREE times. Audience, I know you're all excited, but show some common courtesy next time!
I am ashamed to admit that I cried during one of the readings. Zelene read a poem about Juarez and the devastating violence that still plagues the community. The poem moved me to tears. Whoa, I was NOT expecting THAT!
The reason why I am ashamed is because I don't cry. I joke about having a heart of ice, because it is very difficult for me to cry. The close I come to crying is by laughing really hard. I did not relate to the poem in terms of losing someone or escaping the violence, but, for some odd reason, I connected with it. I cannot adequately describe the moment, because it is one of those "you had to be there" moments. Others found it equally as moving... minus the tears. I enjoyed the other performances, but it was her performance and poem that stuck with me the most from the event.
I was able to meet her, but more on that later. During the event, I asked Lupe if he would be able to sign a Librotraficante city poster and a flyer for myself and BorderSenses. They were gracious enough to do so.
After the concluding remarks, I made my way towards Zelene to possibly take a picture and tell her that her poem was truly moving. A reporter was blocking the path and I excused myself to get ahead to speak with her. Well, he wound moving aside and then proceeded to cut me off right as I was about to talk to Zelene.
Jerk! Smooth move there, buddy. I patiently waited until the interview was over and then proceeded to tell her that Ioved her poem. Yes, I did admit that it made me cry. I was able to take a picture with her, but unfortunately the cable for my camera is MIA and this post will have to settle with low-quality phone pics -- yes, I have an archaic phone.
By the end of the night I was exhausted, having gone from helping with the Spring Break Multimedia Camp to the event I was ready to pass out in the comfort of my own bed.
I was saying my good-byes when Minerva informed me that someone wanted to meet me. That someone turned out to be Liana Lopez, (click HERE for the original post). It was written in jest, thinking no one except maybe a few Latinitas would actually read it. Well, it turns out that they did -- the LAST people I would expect to read it. They liked it so much they shared it on their Facebook page. Lupe even e-mailed Latinitas to let them know that the El Paso event was expanding. How cool is that?
I was baffled why it was receiving past the 5-15 views I normally receive, but once I figured it out I was REALLY embarrassed. As of today, the blog post has gotten 1156 reviews, whoa. Well, after introducing myself and hugging her, I was able to take a picture with the people who made me "viral", her and Lupe. It turns out that my blog post lightened the mood in the office. Perfect timing or what? After speaking with them I was still really embarrassed, but I am really glad that it lightened the mood. I hope I am not forever labeled as the "angry chica" from El Paso, ha. I am pretty sure I am pink or somewhat red in the picture we took.
I said my final goodbyes and headed home. I was exhausted, but it was worth it. When the movement expands, I sincerely hope to work with them once again. Maybe Luis Urrea will visit next time. I had a blast and I know I wouldn't have been able to have this opportunity without Sonia and Minerva. Thanks for having faith in me to work with you guys! I'm excited to see what else BorderSenses will bring to my life.