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Three Bucks, Two Bags, One Me

Mercedes Padro

 

I’m moving to New York City from Illinois next week!! A couple months ago, I purchased a one-way plane ticket from Chicago to NY after listening to a podcast and reading a book about how YOU are in charge of your future and to make active changes to make YOU happy. Completely cliche, but it’s exactly what I needed to hear on my long drive home from visiting Kansas City. It was my “aha!” moment.

I decided that what would make me happy is to fulfill my dream of living in NY and working at a publishing house – the more specific the details, the better. I wrote a rough plan for the coming months, but in all honesty…I had no idea where I was going to work, live, or anything! I have a handful of friends in NY and no family there (which is shocking because my family is huge and everywhere). What’s a 24 year old recent design graduate to do?

This past year I’ve lived with my parents (for which I am eternally grateful), worked as a substitute teacher, and worked as a Freelance Designer/Illustrator. The time I’ve had at home has been invaluable to save for the move and to spend time with my family. I was there during difficult times with the loss of my sassy and precious Grandma Mercedes. I was there during the holidays with my niece eagerly opening presents for her eight birthday and Christmas. I was there during fun and exciting times when we celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday by watching the Cub’s defeat Cincinnati at Wrigley Field. This is the last time I’ll live with my family, so I cherish these moments spent with my parents, siblings, niece, and doggos (respectively named Frosty and Brownie by my niece).

 
Beware the power of a determined, driven, and intelligent women because trust me, she is a femme power to behold.
 

The moment I decided to move to NY, I chose to pick up another job, the more savings – the better! So the generous crew at Target welcomed me back for a short time. My weekdays are taken up by subbing, and I work at Target for the nights/weekends. In addition to all of this, I’ve been crazy applying to jobs, internships, and grants in the NY area. 

In early May, I received the news that I’d be interning at HarperCollins, the second largest publishing house in the world, in their Children’s Book Design Department – there were over 1,000 applicants and I am one of 18 (paid) interns working for HarperCollins this summer 2017!! After a year of applying to jobs post-graduation, I have to say that this is my dream opportunity and it will open up more doors in the future. The program runs from June 5th to August 10th with a final presentation from the interns in front of the HarperCollins staff. Woah. Walking across the stage at KCAI’s commencement, I never would have anticipated I’d be here a year later, but I believe it’s exactly what’s supposed to happen and I’m so excited for what the future holds.

Another great piece of news, yesterday I was awarded the “We Need Diverse Books Internship grant.” The We Need Diverse Books program “provides grants to students from diverse backgrounds who wish to pursue a career in children’s publishing.” I am one of eight people awarded this grant for the summer that includes a metro card stipend. Wow. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am very passionate about diversity. We live in a diverse world and in a diverse country, so why not work toward diversifying children’s literature? 

Who says that we have to compromise what we want out of life? I’m interning at my dream internship while being funded by an organization specific to diversity – everything I’m passionate about all in one summer. I. Am. So. Lucky. And I am so appreciative of all the support from family, friends, and organizations that have got me to this point. Luckily, for the first month in New York I’ll be staying with a friend in Brooklyn, so it’ll be a smooth transition. Nothing is working out as expected, but everything is working out as it should, and honestly it’s working out way better than I expected. Excited for next week and what’s to come!

 

70 Years Ago Today

Mercedes Padro

 

Brief description of my dad’s personality – he is a completely endearing 70-year-old with the heart of a young man. I mean that he loves watching cartoons with my niece, rides a Harley while blasting salsa music, and peels ripened mangoes in our backyard while watching the plants grow. He’s probably the fittest person in our house and get’s well over 10,000 steps a day. He has a garden each year filled with tomatoes, watermelon, corn, bell peppers, an apple tree, you name it! He’s got a green thumb with a Puerto Rican twist.

My dad, Pedro Juan Padro, was born on a coffee farm in Fronton Altura de Ciales, Puerto Rico. It took his father (my grandpa) two days to travel down the mountain and officially register Pedrito’s birth. We joke about how my dad is a jibaro, or a mountain-man, and we celebrate his birthday on both the 18th and 20th of May. A lot of my recent poetry is inspired by his life.

Today we celebrated phase one of his birthday by going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. My father lived in Chicago for the majority of his life and my parents met at a steel foundry in the heart of the city. Driving through Chicago brought back a lot of memories for our family and especially my parents. When my mom moved to Chicago her first apartment was in Wrigleyville, right by the train tracks – imagine the scene in Blues Brothers where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are talking casually in a messy apartment with the train rumbling outside their window. My sister and I were both born in this neighborhood just a stone’s throw away from Wrigley Field. So naturally, our whole family is huge Cubs fans. Today was my sister and I’s first Cubs game and it was my dad’s second Cubs game.

What a great way to celebrate and honor my dad’s 70th birthday by enjoying a Cub’s win against Cincinnati 9 - 5 !!! Every second of today was a blast for our entire family. We had a nice drive to Chicago and went straight to Wrigleyville, found excellent parking, and walked around the stadium perusing stores for new Cub’s gear. In exact midwest fashion, the weather went from 50 degrees and cloudy to 80 and blazing. Hot dogs and pommes frites in hand, we had amazing seats and watched the game from left field. The stadium is surprisingly small on the inside, but it has a great Chicago red-brick character to it. There’s something about sports, where a mass amount of people are gathered, that brings about pure camaraderie and fun. Everyone wanted the Cubs to win. For the icing on the cake to a great game (complete with a Baez grand-slam), Jim Belushi sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and the crowd cheered for our common love of Chicago and of the Cubbies.

Post-game fans lounged on the green outside Wrigley and took in the heat of the day. We wandered around Wrigleyville for a while, then left to cap off the day with Cuban food. “90 Miles from Cuba” is a colorful restaurant with the scent of sweet plantains and beef filling the space with a pleasant aroma. Their slogan is taste the forbidden. The hostess greeted us and took us to our seats in the outdoor patio space. After briefly looking through the menu, I ordered a shot of Cuban espresso that had a hint of cane sugar. The coffee’s sweet undertone complemented the dark Cuban espresso – it was delicious. Next on the menu was empanadas, we ordered chicken, mozzarella, and goat cheese and chorizo. I’d recommend the chicken empanadas, they were definitely a fan favorite. For the entree, I ate the Guajirito sandwich that consisted of pounded steak, lettuce, tomato, and swiss cheese, on a green plantain. This is similar to the Puerto Rican Jibaro sandwich. The steak had a lime taste to it and was well-seasoned, but a tad dry. I’ve had better Jibaro sandwiches before, but it was still satisfying and the waiter / environment was great. I’d consider going again because it was a good experience, however the food wasn’t wholly authentic Cuban food. I’d give this restaurant a 7 out of 10.

After today’s festivities we decided not to stay in the city and drove home completely happy, and a little crisp, from the day’s adventures.

 

Happy Mother's Day

Mercedes Padro

 

Today I made a Mother's Day card for my mama! Shout out to all the mom's out there. Here's some process shots documenting how I went about painting a letter "M" for a fun and personalized card for mom.

 

 
  1. Tools: bone folder, gouache, pencil, exacto knife, ruler, watercolor paper (5 x 10"), palette, light board.
  2. First I chose a size for the card. I went with 5 x 5" because I wanted to make it square and that was a simple size to go with.
  3. Then I printed off a black letter "M" in Illustrator. I went with Helvetica Neue at 350 points.
  4. I took a piece of watercolor paper and cut it to 5 x 10" using an exacto knife and a ruler. Then I folded the paper in half using a bone folder.
  5. Using the light board, I sketched out flowers over the letter "M."
  6. I painted and filled in the flowers from the pencil sketches.