Eight years ago, I was still in Germany, sewing and knitting for my baby and myself. I started doing surface patterns and illustrations every now and again for knitting magazines. I still carted around all my art supplies with the thought I'd get back to that dream of illustrating children's books one day.
Five years ago, I still had zero books published, and was recently re-emigrated to the U.S. I was picking myself back up after missing my community and friends I'd made in Germany. I decided to dust off my paintbrushes and started painting whatever was in my head and start taking my art seriously. I started an art collective and together we worked on getting better at our craft.
But, goodness I was rusty! My first paintings were rough, but I needed to get through making a bunch of my 'okay' work to get to where I am today!
Then three years ago, I illustrated my first picture book! To me, it was a proof of concept. I could be a children's book illustrator. Look, here's the proof! That made me work even harder at refining my own stories.
And in a few weeks, my first book as author and illustrator will be hitting bookshelves near you!
When you hear 'progress not perfection' I hope you'll think of my journey. Every action you take toward your dreams is progress. Every painting you finish. Every drawing you refine. It's all progress.
snippet from my upcoming book, ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN, Charlesbridge 2022
I live in northern New Jersey and a lot of places are pretty local as we’re not a very wide state
Looking east from New Jersey is one of the most amazing and most recognizable vistas I can think of… New York City. Where better to see it then from New Jersey. These views are from Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
Looking west is the Delaware Water Gap that separates New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A beautiful drive through the rolling hills of New Jersey especially in the autumn.
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It has been super difficult to simultaneously work on happy, cheerful art and stories for children… when yet another school shooting takes their lives… and nothing in this country changes. The dilemma is that I try to keep my deep emotions separate from the person I present to everyone. My paintings and artwork tend to be jolly and upbeat, but I am a sensitive person. I feel things deeply. I am a mom to a school-aged child, a former teacher, current children’s book author-illustrator… and unfortunately I’m also a gun violence survivor. If you know me personally, you already know the circumstances. How can I show up when I feel heartbroken inside?
The label ‘gun violence survivor’ empowers just as much as it disempowers. The reason you are a survivor is nearly always out of your control. A person you knew (or didn't) decided to use a gun to hurt people you loved, knew, or were randomly nearby. And that feeling of being powerless is terrible, awful and very frustrating.
So, I am struggling with how to stay true to the inherent promise I make to you, my readers and friends and family, while also expressing my extreme distress concerning the recent school shootings.
I'm a fan of turning big feelings into positive action. If preventing gun violence is something you feel strongly about as I do, there are organizations out there that have been trying to help keep people safe from gun violence for years…
Everytown for Gun Safety trying to close loopholes on existing laws around gun ownership, assists victims of gun violence with legal help, and lobbies for public safety measures that curb gun violence. https://everytownsupportfund.org/
Posted onJune 1, 2022bymvobsession|Comments Off on Once Upon A Time There Was A Train From NYC To The Vineyard (really)…
Mid-June every summer of my childhood my mother and I would start our trip to the Vineyard.for the entire summer There was no I-95, not that we had a car anyway… no, our train travels would begin in Newark, New Jersey and end in Woods Hole. Yes, WOODS HOLE, trains used to go right to the ferry.
We would take a train from Pennsylvania Station in Newark, NJ to Pennsylvania station in New York city where we would have to run from one end of the station to the other to board the New York/New Haven & Hartford’s train on the Old Colony line called the Day Cape Codder, which would take us all the way from New York City to Woods Hole, MA. That’s right, all the way to Woods Hole. Pennsylvania Station was built in 1910, covered nearly 8 acres, extended 2 city blocks and was one of the largest public spaces in the world. Its 3 year demolition began in October 1963. It was replace with another Penn Station which Madison Sq Garden sits atop… it’s functional but not as beautiful as the original.
The trains had dining cars with each table dressed in fancy tablecloths and crisply ironed napkins. The waiters and conductors were always the same and seemed to remember me from year to year… made me feel special and grown up. Train service to Woods Hole ended in the 1960′s.
The train stopped at what is now the staging area for cars waiting to get onto the ferries. The tracks ran under the overpass in the left corner of this photograph. It was literally only steps from train to boat. A comfortable and luxurious way to travel in the days when lots of people didn’t have cars and the road system left a lot to be desired anyway.
We’d land in Oak Bluffs and our relatives would be there to greet us, and three glorious months on the Vineyard would begin.
We traveled light, I would have my favorite doll, Beverly, and my teddy bear with me and my mother would have a small suitcase with a few belongings in it, the rest of the things… like ALL my toys we sent to and from the Vineyard by Railway Express.
It took days for the rest of our things to arrive and Beverly and I would watch every day for the Railway Express truck to arrive at our house…
…and then summer on the Vineyard would officially be under way
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