2020 National Puerto Rican Virtual Artisans Fair & Book Expo

Celebrating Puerto Rican Heritage in 2020

Once again, I’m proud to support and to participate in the National Puerto Rican Virtual Artisans Fair and Book Expo to be held on November 21 and 22, 2020. The virtual event (because 2020) is sponsored by Comité Noviembre and PRIDA, Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts, dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Puerto Rican artists and the arts.

http://www.comitenoviembrevirtualfair.org

Comite Noviembre Logo.png
COMITÉ NOVIEMBRE ~ NATIONAL PUERTO RICAN VIRTUAL ARTISANS FAIR & BOOK EXPO

Comité Noviembre is a 34-year-old non-profit organization created to commemorate and pay tribute to the contributions Puerto Ricans have made to this nation, support educational opportunities for youth through college scholarships and promote, acknowledge, create awareness and take ownership of our rich culture, language, and history. Comité Noviembre is the only collaboration of its kind in the United States that brings together the collective talents and resources of the following Puerto Rican organizations: ASPIRA of New YorkCentro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College (CUNY)El Museo del BarrioEugenio Maria de Hostos Community College (CUNY)Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic ElderlyLa Casa de la Herencia Cultural PuertorriqueñaLa Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular,  Justice Committee: NCPRR, and the Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts (PRIDA).

In the last seven months, the world as we knew it has changed in ways that will leave powerful marks on all our lives.  Many of us have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic and many of us have been sick and have survived. We have lost our jobs, our homes, and are uncertain of our future.  Yet our spirit of giving back and assisting the less fortunate has persevered. It is in this collective of undeniable courage, hope, and love that Comité Noviembre is moving forward.  

We are proud that all of our annual programs are going virtual, especially our eagerly awaited annual Comité Noviembre National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair & Book Expo.  The safety of our visitors, artists, authors, and staff is of the utmost importance.

Although we are greatly saddened that we will not be able to be at our home, Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, we are proud of our incredible partnership over the past 11 years and promise that we will be back at Hostos next year for Comité Noviembre’s 35th anniversary.   

The Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts (PRIDA) was founded in 2013, by a group of dedicated artisans and cultural activists, Olga Ayala, Luis Cordero, Lourdes García, and Comité Noviembre’s Teresa A. Santiago.  Today PRIDA continues to be an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Puerto Rican artists and the arts.

We hope you will support the many wonderful artisans and authors participating in the Comité Noviembre National Puerto Rican Virtual Artisans Fair & Book Expo and on November 21, 2020, visit each participants’ page, shop their products, and share with friends!

On behalf of the National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair & Book Expo Committee, 

Siempre p’alante,

Olga Ayala

Artisan, Olga Ayala Handicrafts (Hecho A Mano)

Co-Chair, National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair &  Book Expo 

Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor, Esq.,

Author and Co-Chair, National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair & Book Expo 

Teresa A. Santiago

Chairwoman, Comité Noviembre

IT’S A WIN! November 7, 2020

November 9, 2020

Congratulations to President-Elect Joseph Robinette Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Devi Harris! Yes, yes, yes!

What a year. What a battle. What a win.

CNN called Joe Biden the winner at 11:24 on Saturday, November 7, 2020. Thank God. After days of waiting with little sleep, anxiety, adrenaline, and fear, waves of emotion washed over me as images, numbers, and percentages flashed across the TV screen. We’d won. Yet fear and the painful memory of 2016 plagued me—was it real? Had we really won? I couldn’t bear another defeat, not by this president. Not by one who’d done so much damage, and caused so much fear, death, and division during a global pandemic. I sat motionless for a few minutes.

It was real. I opened the front door of my home in a very red state and yelled, “We did it!”. I wondered when my neighbors would take down their trump flag. I watched more election returns and wept tears of joy, relief, and hope as the celebrations erupted in NYC and in Washington, DC.

My cell phone started ringing and pinging with text alerts. My friend and fellow Boricua, Norma Burgos, Facetime’d me from Puerto Rico with several of her good friends. We whooped and hollered and blew kisses to each other. My son and his girlfriend called from Bangkok. We could hardly hear each other as we shared our joy and relief with each other. My daughter, a mental health therapist, had back-to-back sessions on Saturday, so we didn’t share until later in the day, but I knew she and her boyfriend were ecstatic and relieved.

An hour later, I couldn’t shake the sadness. Sadness because the race was so damn close. Too damn close. But I pushed those feelings aside. A celebration was in order.

Victory! Former Vice President Joe Biden became President-Elect Joe Biden. Americans spoke with their votes and hard work. We proudly share in the victory, which wouldn’t have been possible without women of color. Period. Joe Biden, a decent, empathic, compassionate man, was the only man who could have defeated trump. It was his time, his destiny to win, and to lead this country during and God help us, after the global novel coronavirus pandemic. To be sure, it’s an overwhelming and heavy responsibility—Joe and Kamala are more than ready and equipped for the challenge.

Senator Kamala Devi Harris became the first black person, first woman, first Asian American woman elected to the office of Vice President of the United States. Holy shit, it finally happened—Harris shattered the glass ceiling. She achieved what I’d prayed Hillary Clinton could do in 2016. Bravo! Harris was a formidable running mate. She is an exceptional woman. I cheered for her, for all women, young women and little girls. This was a long, long, long overdue victory.

Of course, I thought of Hillary Clinton and the millions of women who’d fought so hard for her. But I couldn’t go there. The last four years have been stressful as hell. Traumatic and stressful. Trump and the Senate GOP attacked American citizens. Our institutions. They attacked our democracy. Americans died and millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, and their hope. Migrant children are still in jails across this country. I won’t forget.

The last four years often felt like a battle between good and evil. Between sane actions and behavior and inhumane treatment of human beings. Dramatic, but true.

If anyone had/has any doubt over the deep divisions in our country, the numbers speak loud and clear. We are a divided nation. We distrust each other. We don’t understand each other.

Van Jones, an analyst on CNN, said it best, “It’s easier to be a parent this morning. It’s easier to be a dad. It’s easier to tell your kids character matters. Telling the truth matters. Being a good person matters … For a lot of people it’s a good day.”

Amen, Van.

What about healing this country? Coming together as Americans, as a country? Get out of here with that healing stuff. It’s too soon. I don’t have a clue how we will heal and what that will look like.

Has trump called to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris? Has trump conceded and promised a fair and smooth transfer of power? No, he hasn’t. Is he still pouring gasoline on the flames? YES, he is. A few minutes ago, trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Why?

Healing our differences. I can’t go there today. Maybe after January 20, 2121. Today, I rejoice and rest, donate and support Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia for the two seats we need to win the Senate.

No, we didn’t get the blue wave we’d hoped for, but I don’t care. Quit pointing fingers. We won. They lost.

Stay safe. Wear your mask. 71 days to go. Here we go.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the multi-award-winning author of the best-selling novel, A DECENT WOMAN, a novel set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is writing her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1926 Puerto Rico and continues to work on her poetry collection. She lives with a sweet Chihuahua named Sophie and dreams of returning to the island of her birth as soon as humanly possible.

Election Day 2020

November 3, 2020, Election Day

The day is here. It was a major relief to log onto West Virginia’s Absentee Ballot Tracking website and see my absentee ballot counted in black and white. I took a screenshot for posterity and made a pot of coffee. So, of course, I sat at the writing desk and penned this at 3:30 this morning.

I agree with Joe Biden—”Show Up BIG!” Let’s win, history-making BIG! Our children, grandchildren, and future generations will thank us. Our ancestors will smile upon us. You will feel hopeful, more positive, and stronger because:

You didn’t just vote; you spoke. You made your presence known, loud and clear. You took a stand. You helped save our democracy. You inspired others. You protected millions of others: the young, the elderly, the vulnerable, the incarcerated, the abused. You honored our loved ones and friends who tragically and senselessly died from COVID-19. You voted for our planet, for science, the animals, the environment. You voted for the small separated ones, the alone ones, the frightened ones, the motherless ones. You voted for Puerto Ricans who cannot vote in Presidential elections. You voted for peace, integrity, decency, honor, compassion, and respect.

Thank you to all the poll workers and all those who worked tirelessly to make Election Day 2020 work and exceed our wildest dreams and expectations.

By voting in this historic election in 2020, you stood on the right side of history. Each vote will send a clear message—we don’t want Trump in the White House, our house! Hopefully, his GOP allies will follow him out the door soon afterward.

Win or lose, we will have done our best. We did our civic duty. We spoke. We showed up. We voted to take our country back.

Even today, Election Day, in some states you can still register to vote! Go to http://www.iwillvote.com for your state’s specific voting information. Don’t delay!

Vote Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Vote blue all the way down the ballot.

Today is the day. Our day. It feels like a BLUE day, doesn’t it?

Stay safe. Be patient. Wear your mask. Ignore Trump.

Eleanor Parker Sapia

Writing in 2020

We are nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers of those infected with the virus are staggering. The new reports of those lost to the virus are crushing. We are two days away from Election Day 2020.

How difficult has it been to remain in the writing chair during all this? To describe it as difficult is, of course, a major understatement. Some days, I find it downright impossible to write or to remain in the writing chair. But I don’t have to tell you—you’ve lived it. I lived it. We’re still living the nightmare of the novel coronavirus.

If you’ve finished a book, especially if you’ve published a book in 2020, I applaud you. That’s a major feat. If, like me, you’re working on a book, bravo for sticking it out. Keep going. If you’ve put your manuscript to the side any time during 2020 to take care of yourself, your family, your sanity—you’re not alone. I believe that’s where many writers find themselves, including me.

In late March 2020, with rising infections and daily deaths in Washington State and New York City, our attention was on our families, suffering families across the nation, around the world. On protecting ourselves and our families against the novel coronavirus, and preparing for future food and supply shortages.

From April forward, we remained laser-focused on the White House—the insanity of Trump and the Senate GOP, and their soulless decisions and dangerous responses to and denial of science, scientists, epidemiologists, mask-wearing, and social-distancing regarding COVID-19. They put us all at risk. Every day. It’s not a crazy leap to believe they don’t care whether we live or die. Their callous and tone deaf decisions and dark comments hurt our hearts and souls. Trump’s lack of response and lack of consistent aid to the American people is still tragic.

Americans still worry about finances, paying bills, rent, and mortgages. We shed tears for our heroes—nurses, medical personnel, cleaning staff, and doctors who wore plastic bags when appropriate PPE was non-accessible. We grieve our lost jobs and businesses. We weep for loved ones and friends who are battling the virus. We mourn those who tragically lost their lives, died alone. We shed tears for exhausted doctors and nurses and wonder how they keep going day after day after day.


The GOP attacked our institutions, our laws, our democracy. They attacked US healthcare, immigration, immigrant children, the LGBTQ communities, women’s rights, the court system, the environment, the economy… you name it, they’ve had their sticky tentacles in every imaginable pot. And some pots we didn’t know existed. So much so, one can only conclude this attack was one huge comprehensive plan, begun decades ago—a perfect storm exacerbated by the novel coronavirus.


Yes, it’s been difficult to concentrate 100% on finishing my second book. When I couldn’t muster enough focus, I wrote blog posts about living during a pandemic. That helped a lot. At least it kept me in the writing chair.


So. What does this all mean for writers, especially full-time writers? How can we finish a book in 2020 with all that’s going on? STAY GROUNDED.

Be kind to yourself with positive thoughts, encouragement, and visualization.

Forgive yourself for being human. You’re doing the best you can in an impossible situation.

Take care of your emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical needs today for tomorrow.

Set a timer and a goal to write for ten minutes.

Write. Anything.

Practice self-care.

Add ten more minutes to the timer.

Start a journal or write blog posts about living through a pandemic.

Call or ZOOM with family, friends, and writer friends.

Read, meditate, move your body during writing breaks.

Stay in your body, feet on the ground.

Breathe, shake it out, sing, dance. Yell at the room if it helps.

Work in the garden, pot indoor plants.

Take a twenty-minute walk every day.

Add more time to the writing timer.

Go through your home, room by room, donate items you no longer use.

Take a drive.

Count your blessings. Help others. Give.


And the most important thing you can do today? An action that is certain to help you feel alive and empowered, grounded and hopeful for the future? Turn off the TV? Stop reading newspapers? Get off social media? Yes, all that is helpful. But what I believe is THE most important thing you can do to help yourself, your children, your community, your country, our future?

Vote. Yes, VOTE. We are two days away from Election Day. TWO DAYS. Drop off your mail-in ballot in person or at a designated ballot drop box in your community. Do not mail your ballot. Wear your mask, pack for the day, and vote in person on November 3!


If you’re tempted to sit this election out, don’t do that. Please consider voting this one and only time. This is the election of your lifetime. We need your vote. We need to revive and return to civility, honesty, integrity, and empathy in the United States of America.


If you’ve already voted, thank you. I’m encouraged by the millions of Americans who’ve voted in this election. I’m proud I voted.

Be on the right side of history. Vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Cautiously optimistic and hopeful today,

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the multi-award-winning author of the best-selling novel, A DECENT WOMAN, a novel set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is writing her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1926 Puerto Rico and working on her poetry collection. She lives with a sweet Chihuahua named Sophie and dreams of returning to the island of her birth as soon as possible.