The Magic That is The Latino Community

n-suit

This week I’m giving thanks for community, and the Latino community specifically. Let me tell you a story about something that happened last weekend.

Carlos and I had just returned from grocery shopping, literally still in the driveway with bags in the trunk to unload. My 16 year old son, who hadn’t seen me since leaving for school early that morning, greeted us and then launched into a “Mami, I hate to tell you this, but I’m going to need some money…”

This is a good moment for me to dispel a myth for some of you. Young parents have a tendency to believe that kids get less expensive as they get older — it isn’t true. Maybe this feels true for a few years after the diaper days, but there comes a point where your children out-grow the kid’s menu at restaurants and it’s downhill from there, financially speaking. Soon they start needing things they never needed before – cellphones, deodorant, face scrubs, and all manner of personal hygiene products.

They become increasingly conscious about the way they look, so your famous bowl haircuts will no longer suffice – now you must shell out for a trip to the barber for fancy Cristiano Ronaldo-style haircuts. (If you think you can recreate this look yourself with a pair of clippers, trust me that you probably can’t and your kid will hate you for a couple weeks.)

Then they start eating twice as much as you do. Groceries that used to last a week are gone within days. Just when you financially start to catch your breath and think you can make it work somehow, they start talking about getting their license. You can’t afford a car for them but you call your car insurance company to find out how much it will cost to insure them at the very least – You end that phone call sick in your gut, because you have to tell your kid that they have to wait for their license because you can’t afford to insure them. Meanwhile “all their friends” have their license already, and some of them were even gifted cars. You have a good kid though, and while disappointed, he understands. In a way, this makes you feel even worse because he’s a good kid and deserves things you can’t provide.

On top of these expenses, your kids’ free public school education is not so free after all. In addition to increasingly expensive school supplies, laptops, a printer, printer ink and paper to ensure your teen can type up and hand in presentable assignments, there are fees for everything imaginable. Dances, clubs, science projects, yearbooks, class trips, fancy calculators, musical instruments – God help you if they want to play a sport. And when you have an especially ambitious teen who wants to take advanced college-level classes, you pay even more.

When your child becomes a Junior in high school, it’s time to start seriously looking at the cost of college. There are days your brain just can’t take anymore. Your child will be talking about tuition, room and board, meal plans, books, and other expenses. With glazed eyes you will just nod your head while fantasizing about running away, except you don’t even have enough gas in your car to make it out of town, let alone enough money in the account to book a flight to Cancún.

So, back to the original scene – we had just grocery shopped, which is less and less fun the older I get. When I make it home, I’m just thankful the whole process is over – and then my son tells me he needs money.

What does he need money for? He needs to buy a suit. We’ve long put this off because of the expense but it was becoming unavoidable. His admittance into the National Honor Society and various other upcoming events would require it.

I felt panicked, frustrated, exhausted.

“I don’t know how we’ll find the money for a suit.” I sat at the dinner table surrounded by the bags of groceries and put my head in my hands.

My older son, thrift-minded thanks to his upbringing and the necessity of being so, offered, “We could look at Goodwill and Salvation Army?”

“Maybe,” I responded, but I wasn’t optimistic about the idea. I had looked for suits there before and even when I’ve been lucky enough to find the right size, they’re usually horribly outdated.

“What’s wrong?” Carlos asked, because apparently he had tuned out the whole conversation. So I explained that our son needed a suit within the next two weeks and I wasn’t sure how we’d afford one.

Carlos was uncharacteristically calm. (It seems we switch personalities every now and then.)

“A suit? Hmmm… Let me make a phone call.”

Carlos disappeared into the bedroom and came back 10 minutes later.

“I may have found a suit for you.”

Carlos had called a local Salvadoran woman who has been somewhat of a surrogate mother to him the past few years. She’s well-connected within the local Latino community so Carlos simply told her our older son would need a suit within the next two weeks and asked her if she could keep an eye out.

Her response?

“I have a closet full of suits. Come to my house with your son at six o’clock and we’ll see if any of them fit… And bring Tracy so she can make sure they look nice.”

At six o’clock we arrived at her house. She showed us into a bedroom with suits hung in the closet and some laid out on the bed. She later told me that she had actually had twice as many not long ago because a lawyer she knows had given them to her so that her visiting brother could take them back to El Salvador. These suits were just the remains of what he didn’t want or couldn’t fit in his suitcases.

It turned out two suits fit our son and she encouraged him to take them both. “If a suit fits you, too” she said to Carlos, “take it, please. You’re welcome to it.”

And so that’s the story of how Carlos procured not one, but two suits for our son, (plus one for himself) within just a few hours, thanks to our friend and the magic that is the Latino community.

carlos-suit-2

Don’t get the wrong idea…

This past weekend Carlos and I had the unhappy chore of shopping for new cellphone service since my contract with Cricket Wireless is coming to an end this month. Because of the way our family’s service was set up, we weren’t able to keep our phone numbers, making this the third cellphone number change for us in three years.

We spent all weekend setting up the new phones and texting all our contacts to apologetically let them know we have new numbers yet again. Most people dutifully changed our numbers in their contacts and replied with simple responses like “Ok! Got it!”

However, the response Carlos received from his Mexican friend Rigo had us both laughing.

rigo-text

13 Gifs Only Latinos Married to Gringas Will Understand

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!

Aunque estos gifs estan basados en la experiencia personal de Carlos, si eres un Latino/a casado con una gringa/o, tal vez identificas con algunos de ellos. (Y si eres una gringa/o casado con Latino/a, chequea este post: 20 Gifs Only Gringas Married to Latinos Can Understand.)

Although these are based on Carlos’s personal experience, if you’re a Latino/a married to a gringa/o, you may identify with some of these. (And if you’re a gringa/o married with a Latino/a, check out this post: 20 Gifs Only Gringas Married to Latinos Can Understand.)

#1. borednow

Cuando vas a una “fiesta” de tus suegros gringos y no hay música o baile.

When you go to your gringo in-laws “parties” and there’s no music or dancing.

#2. nothing-can-do

Cuando estás tratando de ver las noticias en español y tu esposa quiere saber por qué hay mujeres semidesnudas en la pantalla.

When you’re just trying to watch the Spanish-language news and your wife wants to know why there’s half-naked women on the screen.

#3. shock

Cuando tu esposa usa palabras en español que aprendió de la música de Pitbull en compañía educada o delante de tu abuela.

When your spouse uses Spanish words she learned from Pitbull’s music in polite company or in front of your abuela.

#4. does-not-get-it

La reacción de tu esposa cuando explicas algo cultural que ella simplemente parece que no puede aceptar, como la necesidad de dar rosas a tu madre en el Día de San Valentín.

Your spouse’s reaction when you explain something cultural to her that she just can’t seem to accept, like the necessity of giving your mother roses on Valentine’s Day.

#5. fight-for-me

Las consecuencias de no defender a tu esposa cuando tu madre criticó a ella.

The aftermath of not defending your spouse when your mother criticized him/her.

#6. naah

La reacción de tu madre cuando le dices que te vas a casar con la gringa.

Your mother’s reaction when you tell her you’re marrying the gringa.

#7. no-michael-scott

Cuando preguntas qué hay de comer y ella dice peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

When you ask what’s for lunch and she says peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

#8. Huh_wtf_uhm

Tu reacción cuando tu esposa o suegros gringos permiten que el perro lame la cara.

Your reaction when your spouse or gringo in-laws let their pet dog lick them all over the face.

#9. sad-cold

En Nochebuena, cuando hace frío, tranquilo y solitario y comienzas a sentirte nostálgico por tu país de origen.

On Nochebuena when it’s cold, quiet and lonely and you start feeling nostalgic for home.

#10. who-am-i

Cuando por fin regresas a visitar tu país natal y todos tus familiares te dicen que hablas divertido porque has perdido el acento local y no conoces las últimas palabras coloquiales.

When you finally go back to visit your native country and all your relatives tell you that you speak funny because you’ve lost the local accent and aren’t up on the latest slang.

#11. cool

Cuando la gente se entera de dónde eres y empieza a nombrar todas sus comidas favoritas de tu país.

When people find out where you’re from and start naming all their favorite foods from your country.

#12. calm-down-children

Cuando tu esposa no cree en disciplina corporal y no puedes utilizar la chancla.

When your spouse doesn’t believe in physical discipline so you can’t use the chancla.

#13. imfine

Cuando tienes una discusión con tu esposa y te acusa de gritar.

When you’re having a discussion with your spouse and they accuse you of yelling.

20 Gifs Only Gringas Married to Latinos Can Understand

Well, okay, the title of this post is a little bit specific to my personal experience, but truthfully, a lot of bilingual and/or bicultural people will relate. Which ones ring true for you?

#1. awkward-get-together

When you have a family get-together and you’re sitting between your monolingual English-speaking family and monolingual Spanish-speaking in-laws.

#2. bad-accent-reaction

When you overhear other gringos mispronounce Spanish words, such as “jalapeño” so it sounds like “hala-pee-no.”

#3. do-you-speak-spanish-telemarketer

When telemarketers call your house and ask, “¿Habla español usted, señora?”

#4. yeah-i-understand

When a native Spanish speaker seriously overestimates your fluency and starts talking crazy fast in a dialect or accent you aren’t used to but you have too much pride to ask them to slow down.

#5. husband-likes-your-cooking-better

When your spouse says you cook his/her native food better than your suegra.

#6. i-have-a-right

When you and your spouse get into an argument brought on by cultural differences and you suddenly feel very patriotic.

#7. im-bilingual-girl

When another chick tries to flirt with your spouse right in front of you.

#8. jacksparrow-spying

When you’re in an aisle at the grocery store and people start having what they think is a private conversation out loud in Spanish, not realizing you understand every word.

#9. pigs-feet

When you’re eating at an in-law’s house and they tell you what parts of the animal the food is made from.

#10. should-i-intervene

When you see a native Spanish-speaker struggling to communicate with an impatient cashier in English and you aren’t sure if you should intervene/help them out because you don’t want to offend them.

#11. spanish-genius

When your spouse forgets a word in their native Spanish, and you remember it before they do.

#12. when-suegra-says

When your suegra says something to you in Spanish that has a double meaning and after a few seconds, you realize it was a backhanded compliment meant to insult you.

#13. witch-eyes

When you visit your spouse’s native country and people compliment your eye color.

#14. waitwhat

The way people look at you in a doctor’s waiting room when they call out your Spanish last name and you stand up.

#15. muy-excited

When you forget a Spanish word mid-sentence and you’re like, screw it.

#16. not-sure-gif

When you fill out paperwork and come to the “Are you Hispanic or Latino/a?” question.

#17. do-i

When someone says, “¡Guau! Hablas muy bien el español.”

#18. glam

When you get ready to go to a party or event hosted by Latino friends or family… (or go out for tacos.)

#19. personal-space

When, even after all these years, you still have very strong gringo/a preferences for personal space.

#20. shrug-seinfeld

When newly married bicultural couples ask you and your spouse how you’ve managed to stay together so long and are hoping for some really wise words to guide their marriage.

SUN BELT EXPRESS – immigration, humor and corazón

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 4.31.07 PM

When I was contacted two years ago by producer Evan Buxbaum about his script for SUN BELT EXPRESS, I was hesitant. He wanted to make a film about undocumented immigrants that “could find some of the humor and light, in what is typically a very dark subject.” I asked myself, is that possible? Can one mix humor and such a serious topic?

In the end I agreed to be a beta-reader because Evan seemed very sincere and I thought it was wise of him to verify authenticity in the dialogue and seek opinions of those close to the topic at hand.

I read his script in its entirety and ended up loving it. Evan thanked me for the feedback and I hadn’t really thought much about his project since then, but this week Evan contacted me again – the film has been completed and will be premiering in the U.S. this October. (Check www.sunbeltexpressmovie.com for locations and dates.)

Today I had the opportunity to watch the full-length finished film and found it very much worth sharing with all of you. My review is below, but in short, I encourage you all to support the film and go see it if you’re able to. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

(Full disclosure: As stated, I was a beta-reader for the SUN BELT EXPRESS script and as such you can see my name in the film credits under general “thanks”, however this review reflects only my honest opinion.)

Review – SUN BELT EXPRESS

Allen King (Tate Donovan) is a divorced Ethics professor in southern Arizona who, accused of plagiarism and fired, is forced to commute daily to his new teaching job across the border in Mexico. The money he makes isn’t enough to keep up with his own bills or car maintenance, let alone meet the financial demands of his ex-wife (Rachel Harris) or pay his teenage daughter’s private school tuition. To supplement his income, Allen gets wrapped up in smuggling Mexican immigrants across the border in the trunk of his beat up 1972 Volvo.

Things get complicated when his teenage daughter (India Ennenga) mistakenly thinks her father is doing something altruistic and unexpectedly tags along for the ride. Add in a pregnant ex-girlfriend (Ana de la Reguera), three Mexican men in the trunk, two corrupt U.S. Border Patrol agents, and an overheated car that breaks down at the worst possible moment, and you have a situation that would seem to be no laughing matter – but that’s where you’d be wrong.

Mexicans have a dicho – “Al mal tiempo, buena cara” – which means put on a good face during bad times. Be positive; it’s an attitude shared by many Latin Americans. And while most films on immigration show the heartbreaking reality, the difficult choices made, the perilous journey – SUN BELT EXPRESS is a rare exploration into the humor of this mostly solemn situation.

Talk long enough to a person who immigrated illegally to the United States – more often than not, they will have a funny story or two to tell about their journey. My own husband has told me stories about a guy who accompanied him and carried a bottle of Pepto-Bismol like a hip flask which he regularly took sips from “to help with his nerves.” During another part of his journey, he wasn’t able to turn off a broken sink in a motel bathroom and chaos ensued.

For me, the brilliance of the film SUN BELT EXPRESS is found in moments like this. The dialogue between “passengers” Rafi and Miguel in the trunk is the main highlight. Rafi (Oscar Avila), who is somewhat fat, makes a stressful situation even more stressful for Miguel (Arturo Castro), who happens to be claustrophobic. If lack of space wasn’t enough of a problem, Rafi is quite generous with stories about all the adventures he’s had trying to cross the border before, although he’s only been caught “cinco, seis veces…o lo mucho siete.” The chemistry between these two actors is fantastic, and the friendship that blooms between them on screen made me smile as much as the well-acted humorous lines which are never crass but full of corazón.

SUN BELT EXPRESS contains plenty of entertainment in the form of humor, but it’s well-balanced by a bigger message. Serious themes including morality and political corruption are an essential part of the plot but the film never comes across as preachy. In the end, the deeply flawed protagonist redeems himself and the film succeeds at traversing the difficult border between heartfelt humor and hurtful ridicule when dealing with extremely sensitive subject matter. SUN BELT EXPRESS is a daring, fresh take on the immigration journey which is just as likely to spark important conversation as it is laughter.

No Hay Nada En El Fridge

lafamilia

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Ni sé cómo encontré esta telenovela educativa que se llama “Long Live La Familia”, pero me alegro de haberla encontrado. Es casi 30 minutos de duración y un poco cursi, pero yo miré todo el episodio “No Hay Nada En El Fridge” y hay mucho que me encanta: La mezcla de idiomas, las interacciones entre las diferentes generaciones, los calcetines con chanclas … Mírala y dime lo que te gustó. (Puede saltar a 3:40 en el video, que es cuando comienza la telenovela.)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this educational telenovela called “Long Live La Familia”, but I’m glad I did. It’s almost 30 minutes long and a little cheesy, but I watched the whole episode of “No Hay Nada En El Fridge” and there’s so much I love about this video: The mix of languages, the interactions between different generations, the socks with chanclas… Watch and tell me what you liked. (You can skip to 3:40 in the video, that’s when the actual telenovela starts.)

¡Ya tengo mi álbum para la Copa Mundial!

panini-album-1

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

¡Ya tenemos nuestro álbum oficial Panini para la Copa Mundial Brasil 2014! Si no sabes que es, es un álbum que uno puede llenar con calcomanías de los jugadores. Compramos el álbum por $2 y las paquetes de calcomanías $1 cada uno. Cada paquete contiene 7 calcomanías. A veces uno tiene dobles y puede intercambiar con otros para conseguir las que se necesita.

El álbum venía ya con unas calcomanías gratis, ¡y el mío venía con Chicharito!

chicharito-sticker

Me encanta el álbum por muchas razones, pero una de las razones es porque es multilingüe.

panini-album-2

El otro día Carlos llegaba a casa con diez paquetes. Usualmente toda la familia se divierte en poner las calcomanías en el álbum pero Carlos y yo tuvimos un desacuerdo sobre el mejor método de hacerlo.

panini-stickers

Yo dije que sería mejor si primero ordenamos las calcomanías por equipo, pero Carlos dijo mejor vamos página por página en el álbum, encontrando las calcomanías como necesitábamos. Terminamos haciendolo de la manera que Carlos quería y tuvimos que volver varias veces para las calcomanías olvidadas.

La próxima vez tratamos a mi manera!

¿Cuál es tu método para llenar tu álbum?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

We have our official Panini album for World Cup Brazil 2014! If you don’t know what that is, it’s an album that one can fill with stickers of the soccer players. We bought the album for $2 and the sticker packets for $1 each. Each packet contains 7 stickers. Sometimes one gets doubles and they can trade them with other people to get the stickers they need.

The album came with a few free stickers, and mine came with Chicharito!

I love the album for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons is because it’s multilingual.

The other day Carlos came home with ten packets. Usually the whole family has fun putting the stickers in the album but Carlos and I had a disagreement regarding the best method to do this.

I said it would be best if we first organized the stickers by team, but Carlos said it’s better if we go page-by-page in the album, finding the stickers we need along the way. We ended up doing it the way Carlos wanted, and we had to go back several times for stickers that had been overlooked.

Next time we do it my way!

What method do you use to fill your album?

Note: I am not an official sponsor or partner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Any mention of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was editorial in nature and should not be interpreted as an endorsement on their part of myself, my opinions, or this website. I am just a soccer fan sharing with other soccer fans. All opinions are my own.