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Heather Pena

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Truth or Dare with my contest winner!

Last week I ran a little contest with a mystery prize attached, and today, my winner HEATHER PENA, has agreed to play Truth or Dare on my blog. I adore her for this! She also chose this from my gift bag: a gift certificate for $1,000 off her next private jet booking!

So meet this fascinating person who shared with me that she’s writing a memoir and that she used to twirl the baton in high school. (Don’t think I let that drop when I came up with my dare!)

TRUTH: What’s the hardest thing about writing a memoir?

One of the most difficult aspects with writing a memoir is the subject = ME. It’s all about Heather Pena and her little deviant and secretive ways. I knew that writing a memoir would be a difficult task because what you are really doing is peeling away the skin and going back to a time that you quietly locked away in a vault. I knew one day I would have to face my experiences – eye to eye – but I thought a therapist would help me do that. Ha. It’s a lot cheaper than seeing a therapist I have to say. There is a lot of passion, hurt, love, lies and the reality of growing up involved in this. I am still in this world trying to figure it out. However, I closed a chapter in my life – and it’s hard to go back to it and try and relive it. In particular when writing about my relationship with my family and the details involved with that. It’s funny because I can write for hours and hours but then never open up my laptop again for weeks. It’s a hard task. Nobody could prepare you for. Not even your therapist.

TRUTH: What motivated you to write it – what single revelation or incident did you want to explore?

I have a deep love for memoirs. They are probably the only books I read – which I realize I have to open up a little bit – but it was James Frey’s “Million Little Pieces” that triggered my interest. I love his writing style and it broke all barriers that I thought writing was about. Call me naive – but I had in mind that writing a book was about describing butterflies right down to their very essence. Not exactly, but you get what I mean, I hope. Ha. I like raw. Give me a good raw, real book any day. The first paragraph of my memoir that I submitted to the Memoirist Collective website on Myspace – I really dug into that experience of racing down the Vermont road induced with alcohol and drugs. I didn’t care about a goddamn thing then. I was a lost girl who got wrapped up in her own shit – and put many people in danger as a result to it. I wanted to explore the absolute oblivion I felt. I have all these locked up emotions inside – and the best way to get inside of that is to write. I wanted to explore why I did the things I chose to do and why I felt the need to hit the highest notch. I was a tornado and as I write about my experiences I also feel so much pain for what I’ve done to other people whether if it was friends, family, strangers, or myself. It all left a dent inside of me. That is the true essence of my story. Feeling those raw emotions. Reality.

DARE: I dare you to send me a baton-twirling photo that represents both who you are now and who you were back in your twirling days.

BAM! Mission Complete.

TRUTH: Tell me where you found your new baton?

After my pottery class at Ruby’s Clay Studio in San Francisco’s Castro District – I had an idea to make my own baton by visiting the local hardware store. Special thanks to Cliff’s Variety Hardware store on Castro Street – I was able to find a thin steel rod and two pieces of rubber the ones you can find to keep up your shower curtain – and I stuck them to each end. Ta-Da! You got yourself a baton. It worked. The boys behind the counter trimmed it for me – and even twirled my new baton. It was a hit – all for under $6.00. Not bad. Not bad at all.

TRUTH: What’s the craziest dare you’ve ever done?

After a night of crazy talking to a local musician in Vermont and hyping it up to her that I play a mean guitar (which is a lie). I was dared to go on stage one night while she was performing at a local bar in Burlington, and before I knew it the musician put her guitar straps around my arm and I stood in front of about 100 people. My college friends sat in the back laughing and cheering me on – all knowing damn well I can’t play a single chord. What made it worse is that the musician was rooting me on and so I just made up chords. I also thought it would be a brilliant idea to add my fake Spanish – which I did. The musician never spoke to me again, and I don’t blame her. It was a horrible dare to take. It was horrible of me to lie, I know. I was punished though – because on my way back to the table I took a sip from a wine glass and I guess I threw back the glass too fast and I ended up knocking my front teeth and I chipped my tooth. I never got the tooth fixed. It’s still chipped. Sorry K.Q. if you’re reading this.

TRUTH: Who are your favorite writers – not the cool answer but the truthful answer about who you buy time after time?

James Frey, Bret Easton Ellis, Augusten Burroughs, and when my boy Frank Daniels gets published – I am going to continue to buy all of his books. He is an amazing writer. Are those answers too cool’?

TRUTH: What 3 things hurt you most?

1 – My habits

2 – Self Doubt

3 – My relationship with my father

TRUTH: What 3 things make you happiest?

1 – My Novia. All of her.

2 – Slinging espresso at the Someday Cafe (Davis Square, Boston).

3 – Camping at Squam Lake, NH with my Boston buddies and skinny-dipping.

TRUTH: If you write a break-out book, what act of generosity will you do with your newfound fame and money?

This question is too surreal for me to answer. Um . . . I would throw a huge party for every person who has influenced me and believed in me. As a thank you. I just want to give it all back. I would most definitely give back to the community and be a mentor to young aspiring writers. Really, all I want to do in this world regardless if I find fame and money – I just want to see people smile and have a good time. You need a buck? Here . . . you can have a buck. I will walk today. Oh, and on that note – I’d make sure all the people who ride the 67 Bus from Bernal Heights to the Mission have a damn bus pass. The transportation in San Francisco is too expensive and people can’t be walking up and down these hills! That’s a side note though. *shrug

TRUTH: Ask yourself the one question that you wished or was afraid I’d ask, and then answer it.

Q: Boxers or Briefs?

A: Boxers.


Check out my friend Rachael Cantu’s music. She will have you skipping down the street later tonight.

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Susan Henderson