Taxi Latino

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!

Hace unas semanas fuimos manejando en la carretera, (quién sabe a dónde), y vimos este coche junto a nosotros.

The other week we were driving along the highway, (on our way to who knows where), and we spotted this car driving next to us.

Dice: Taxi Latino, “Todos los pasajeros viajan por el precio de uno.”
It says: Taxi Latino, “All passengers ride for the price of one.”

Yo ni siquiera voy a hacer una broma. La foto habla por sí misma.
I’m not even going to make a joke. The photo speaks for itself.

Sniglets for Latinos

Image source: sAeroZar

When I was a kid I discovered a book at my grandparents’ house called “Sniglets” by comedian Rich Hall. The book explained that a sniglet is “any word that doesn’t appear in the dictionary, but should” and was full of humorous made-up examples, such as:

Aqualibrium (ak wa lib’ re um) – n. The point where the stream of drinking fountain water is at its perfect height, thus relieving the drinker from (a) having to suck the nozzle, or (b) squirting himself in the eye.

Cheedle (chee’ dul) – n. The residue left on one’s fingertips after consuming a bag of Cheetos.

Nurge (nerj) v. – To inch closer to a stoplight thinking that will cause it to change quicker.

Purpitation (per pi TAY shun) – v. To take something off the grocery shelf, decide you don’t want it, and then put it in another section.

Shmiddle – (n) The hole in the center of a bagel. “The cream cheese was oozing out from the shmiddle.”

Snargle (snar’ gul) – v. To lessen the visual impact of a horror movie by filtering it through one’s fingers.

[more here]

After I discovered that book of Sniglets as a kid, I began trying to come up with my own and had a lot of fun doing it. I don’t remember any of the ones I invented back then but I decided I wanted to come up with some today – except I wanted to put a new spin on it. How about Sniglets for Spanish/English bilinguals? Here are a few I thought up.

Sniglets for Latinos

Ranchteza – (ranch-tay-sa – noun) the sadness one feels while listening to classic Mexican Ranchera music that they enjoy but depresses them nonetheless. Example: I love to hear Pedro Infante sing Cu-cu-rru-cu-cú Paloma, but it causes me to feel some major ranchteza.

Bilingaffe – (by-ling-gaff – noun) when a bilingual person unintentionally uses the grammar of their second language when saying something in their native language, resulting in odd speech. Example: The other day when Carlos asked me why I wasn’t eating I said, “It’s that I don’t have hunger” and immediately cracked up laughing because my brain thought “Es que no tengo hambre” but my tongue spoke English – I made a bilingaffe.

Inglespond – (en-glay-spond – verb) when children respond in English even though they’ve been spoken to in Spanish. Example: I asked my daughter “¿Dónde está tu chaqueta?” and she inglesponded, “I left it at school.”

OVNI-plato – (ohv-nee-plah-to – noun) the plate of food one takes home from a party, which usually consists of a styrofoam or paper plate inverted on top of another styrofoam plate and wrapped in foil or plastic wrap. Could contain pastel de tres leches or main dishes such as tamales, carne asada, arroz, & other sides. Example: Hey, Ramón, make sure you bring me home an OVNI-plato from Silvia’s party!

Dulcovery (dools-covery – noun) a piece of candy one finds in the grass, discovered long after the breaking of a piñata. Example: Look at this, dulcovery! I found a Bubu Lubu over by the lilac bush – must be from Estefany’s cumple last week.

Your turn! Leave me some “Sniglets for Latinos” in the comments! Feel free to mix it up – use English and/or Spanish words to come up with your own word!

Identity in a Brown Paper Bag

sack lunch

Image source: Jeffrey Beall

My 13 year old is going on a field trip this week to a museum in DC and because buying food at the museum is cost prohibitive, I’m packing his lunch.

This is new territory for me because under normal circumstances our kids don’t bring a packed lunch – they buy lunch at school. I carry a little guilt about this since my mother usually packed my lunch when I was a kid. In a plastic lunch box or brown paper bag I could expect either a turkey, baloney or peanut butter sandwich, a Hi-C juice box, an apple and/or carrot sticks, some type of snack cake, and once in awhile, a note written on my napkin telling me how loved I am.

This lunch is different from what I pack for Carlos – arroz con albóndigas, tacos, escabeche, galletas María, semita de piña … I can’t pack these things for my 13 year old, can I? Sure, he eats them here at home but – in public? Around gringos? … I think about a story I read on TikiTikiBlog.com about what it’s like to bring “ethnic” food for lunch when your gringo classmates bring “normal” things.

The dreaded grade school lunch trade – when my ethnicity was undeniably made public, with the contents of my lunch making who, and what, I was unmistakable.

I wanted to blend in, to be one with the bologna and mayonnaise sandwich crowd, the chocolate chip cookies, the plastic bottles filled with Sunny-D.

But nothing screamed “Not One of Them” louder than my sliced white goat cheese and Goya guava jelly sandwiches, with a chunk of pineapple thrown on top for extra Latino measure.

Oh the squeals and screams of the other non-Latino children as they recoiled — as if watching a horror movie.

- Alexandra on TikiTikiBlog.com

This is what I don’t want my son to go through – although popular and well-adjusted, he already deals with people asking him if he’s Mexican and if he’s related to George López. And so, while at the grocery store picking items for his lunch, I stood, feeling kind of torn, in the middle of the aisle – a bag of all-American Cracker Jack in one hand, and a bag of plantain chips in the other. He likes both equally. Do I strengthen his identity or allow him to blend in?

Cracker Jack vs. Plantain Chips

I decided I would buy both and let him choose, but I couldn’t wait until I got home to find out which he would take in his lunch. I put the bags into the cart and texted him.

Field trip snack – Cracker jack or plantain chips?

Thirty seconds later, he texted back.

Plantain chips.

I found myself smiling – but does this mean anything? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it means he’s confident in who he is. Maybe it means I’ve done a good job of instilling Latino pride into my boy. Maybe it means he’s not worried about trying to fit in and refuses to succumb to peer pressure… or maybe it means he’s just in the mood for plantain chips.

I have to say though, he asked if he could pack a semita de piña as well and I won’t pretend I’m not happy about it.

_______________________________

Related Reading:

Trading Lunches
El Lonch-eh Latino

History of Spanglish + A Spanglish version of Little Red Riding Hood

Sometimes we think of Spanglish as a modern invention – something that the younger generation has created as the Latino population grows in the United States and American culture becomes increasingly popular in Latin America. The truth is, Spanglish has been around a long time. The term, “Spanglish” was first coined by a Puerto Rican linguist named Salvador Tió in the late 1940s. Tió also came up with the word “inglañol” – which is not nearly as popular, (my guess is because it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the same way.)

While the term “Spanglish” first started being used in the late 1940’s, its roots go much further back to the 1800’s, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the 100,000 Mexicans left on the new U.S. side of the border – Mexicans who later became known as “Chicanos.”

Honestly, while I suspected the origins of Spanglish to be something similar to what I found, I wasn’t prompted to research it until recently. Watching I Love Lucy with my little boy before he goes to school is one of my favorite parts of the day. An episode called “Ricky Minds the Baby” aired one morning and in this episode, Ricky tells the story of “Caperucita Roja” (Little Red Riding Hood), to Little Ricky – and he tells it entirely in very charming and amusing Spanglish.

1/18/54: “Ricky Minds the Baby”
I Love Lucy Episode 80 – Filmed 12/3/53
Story: Ricky decides that Lucy deserves a rest, so he offers to take care of Little Ricky.

Links:

Hispanicla.com – Spanglish I
Living in Spanglish: The Search for Latino Identity in America By Ed Morales
Wikipedia – Spanglish
Latinaish – Spanglish Songs
About.com: Caperucita Roja – Vocabulary

U.S. Latinos: Never Offsides When It Comes To Team Loyalty

BY TRACY LÓPEZ

(Originally published on CafeMagazine.com on June 17, 2010.)

During the World Cup, entire nations come together in collective celebration and hope, but for first and second generation Americans in the United States, the World Cup is a reminder of roots and identity.

For U.S. born Latinos, team loyalties are often split between the United States and the land of their parents, grandparents or even more distant ancestors. For naturalized U.S. Citizens and other immigrants, team loyalty to the land of their birth is often even stronger, but is this a source of pride or confusion?

In search of an answer, I put the question to my diverse group of friends on Twitter, “…1st & 2nd generation estadounidenses – Do you root for the country of your roots, the US or both?”

The answer was unanimous; there’s enough love in the hearts of fútbol fanatics to cheer on more than one team.

For Diana Estigarrbia, (@destigarribia), her love of fútbol is split three ways. “I root for Argentina [and] Chile (parents’ roots); [and] US (my birthplace) now that we have a decent team!” she told me via Twitter. Displaying equal love for traditional American past times, she added in E-mail, “I remember Argentina’s win in 1986. It was a big year for me – the New York Mets won the World Series later that fall, and I had a World Cup victory!”

Elianne Ramos, (@ergeekgoddess), also responding to my Twitter question regarding fútbol loyalties, said, “1st Argentina 2nd USA!”

Other answers proclaimed with just as much certainty that a dual citizenship in Fútbolandia is possible.

“The homeland of my kin first, then the U.S.A. My family is from Argentina. So, how can I not root for those soccer kings?” said Veronica Jarski. (@Veronica_Jarski)

Luis Tobon (@thelox714), also expressed a desire to root for both, saying, “I would [root] for both but the issue is that Colombia has not made it to the World Cup since France 98 and did not make it far.”

Ana H. Blackstad (@AnaBlackstad), said “Both Mexico & USA!”, elaborating, “My Dad was born in the US, raised in Mexico, my Mom was born & raised in Mexico. My loyalties are with both.”

Silvia answered via E-mail, “I’m from Mexico and of course my roots are with them, however the three people I love the most in this world, (my husband and two kids), are from the USA, and I’m also a US citizen, so I root for the USA as well.”

For my husband Carlos, a naturalized U.S. Citizen of Salvadoran birth, watching the World Cup and rooting for the United States doesn’t feel like a division of loyalties.

“El Salvador isn’t playing this time so it’s easy for me [to root for the United States], but if El Salvador makes it to the World Cup again some day, I would root for both.”

When I asked him how it feels to see his U.S. born children waving the red, white and blue, he shrugged and smiled. “I’d be happy to see them root for El Salvador, but it’s their choice and they were born here, so I understand.”

¡Que vivan las panzas!

Most people have at least heard of The Vagina Monologues, even if they haven’t seen it. The Vagina Monologues was a one-woman show which told stories about the vagina – with the intention of celebrating the vagina and empowering women.

Now we celebrate the panza with The Panza Monologues. (“Panza” is Spanish for “belly”.) Written by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga, performed by Ms. Grise, these stories told in Spanglish, are not only diverse and at times hilarious – they are emotionally stirring and empowering.

It’s probably amazing to see Vicki (Virginia), perform live, but I was at least lucky enough to watch her powerful performance on The Panza Monologues DVD. I loved it so much that I wanted to share one of my favorite parts with you. Vicki gave me permission to post the written scene. If you love it as much as I did, please, check her out, buy her DVD, and if you’re able, go see her live.

Links:
Panza Power blog
About the show: The Panza Monologues
Buy the DVD

___

FROM CHA-CHA TO PANZA

[Lights rise.]

(seductively) I wasn’t always big. I use to be cha-cha thin, tall and skinny like my gringo daddy. I would wear tacones – black with straps that reached across my ankles, boots that stopped short of my knees, diamonds across my feet. Tacones – upper leather, suede, alligator, snake, all leather and in different colors- brown, red, cork, biege, gold, green, black, blue even. Tacones that matched the dresses I wore, dresses that always fit my body, showed shape, whether they were long with slit on the side, in the front, in the back / separating my piernas, or short, showing my thighs. Me and my tacones.

[Vicki stands, pulls the tacones [high heeled shoes]
out of the shopping bag.
Holds them up for the audience to admire.]

And they weren’t puta shoes / girl, they were classy. Tacones made me feel taller. Somehow tacones made me feel stronger, more sure of myself. Not submissive or anti-feminist but like the virgen in a Yolanda Lopez painting, karate kicking out of her blue veil with gold stars, stepping on the head of an angel with her tacones. Pues yo tambien. I throw punches for my raza and I can do it with my tacones on too just like the old school cholas use to do.

[Vicki places one foot on the stool
and begins to put her tacones on.]

And the men, the men were scared of me when I walked into the cantina made up / hair swept, red lipstick and tacones. You see, men like fuckin but they don’t like bein fucked and when I walked in I wuz the one doin the choosin. I didn’t sit back in dark corners waitin for someone to ask me to dance. I asked you. Locked eyes and said “You will dance this polka with me,” sometimes without even sayin nuthin.

Other times I’d say, “Fuck all of ya’ll” and take the dance floor at Daddy’Os all by myself

[Music erupts into full blown conjunto.
Vicki dances across the stage, swirls, turns.
Music lowers, Vicki remains standing.]

They all watched / old school vatos, young cholos, graduate students trying to remember their hometown barrios in a bar east of the freeway, forgetting in between too many beers. Hell even the cholas were lookin. Some worried I’d take away their man. Others, shit others just wanted to dance wid me. Be free. Be free like me.

They say a bar is a man’s space but I owned that motha fucker. I walked in with my own go-go juice in blue bottle cuz my dad once told me, “Beer makes you fat Virginia,” so I drank vodka on the rocks, learned how to play pool “Call your shots. I’m not fuckin around.” And I learned more about community politics/who owns who, who runs what than I could of ever learned workin at a cultural center.

I claimed power through my pussy, and I didn’t even have to let any one in. I just had to let em all know I knew I had one and that I controlled my own cho-cho. Ya, I owned that motha / fuckin bar / ‘till the city tore it down after li’l Danny got cut.

[Vicki sits.]

I use to be cha-cha thin. Proud of my calves, well-defined. Calves that did not look like my mother’s calves. My mom’s calves were more like tree trunks. Her whole body was like one huge bloque. My mother gave us everything, everything but I never remember her having anything. Instead of tacones, she wore chanclas. She use to threaten us with her chancla and it didn’t matter if she were big and old, she could still bend over, take off her chancla, grab us by the arm, and meternos un chingaso, real quick like/good ol’ fashion chancla discipline. My mother use to say that my father wanted boys. We were three girls. My mother never said what it was she wanted. That was her way I guess. I’m not sure if my mom ever loved my dad but I grew up thinkin that women that fell in love were weak.

I never thought my mom was pretty, even when she was younger and I never wanted to look like her but slowly the image of my mother crept into my own body. Slowly after too many two o’clock after closin time tacos, candy bars and coke for breakfast. They startin callin me dis—short for gordis—instead of la vicki. Cha-cha became panza and not little panzita even. The whole body grew and you know, it’s not easy balancin this much woman on an ity, bitty heel. I no longer walked real straight and tall. Hell, I looked more like a weeble, wobble. All my weight on a heel as wide as my pointing finger with my foot arched in the middle. I feel the weight of my panza all the way in the ball of my foot. When your panza gets bigger so do your feet and those thin sexy straps that use to hold your feet well they aint that sexy no more. You’ve got these little lonjitas hangin off the side of your shoe and it causes your feet to swell. It’s like they’re chokin, pulsatin, gaspin for air as they struggle to balance all of you on a tacon. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really feel so strong, so sure of myself anymore. Shit I’m scared I’ll fall when I’m dancin and the people that are lookin at me now are starin because they’re scared if I go too low I might not be able to get back up. They’re worried I’ll hurt someone out there.

There’s somethin classy about cha-cha/medias and tacones but when cha-cha becomes panza and you think you can still pull the same shit you could when you were 21, you just look kinda silly. You loose your tacon super powers and your magic slippers really are just puta shoes. Your dress clings tightly to lonjas and you can’t lock eyes with anyone anymore and talk to them without speaking cuz now they only look at your huge chi-chis and well chi-chis just aren’t as powerful as cho-cho. I don’t know why. Who makes these rules?

[Seductive music rises. Lights dim.]

[During the transition, Vicki sits on the edge of the altar, takes off her tacones and replaces them in the shopping bag on the altar. Vicki remains seated.]

© 2004 Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga
No part of this script may be reproduced, published, or performed without express written consent of the authors.

Disclosure: The Panza Monologues was provided to me for review at my request. All opinions are my own.

Los Americans

I really want to watch this new web show on PIC.tv. It starts tomorrow (May 26) … Check it out:

Show description:

Los Americans is the story of a modern, affluent, suburban Mexican-American family living in the United States. The Valenzuela family is totally assimilated in U.S. American culture, and that’s the way the patriarch, Leandro Valenzuela, or “Lee” as Leandro prefers to be called, likes it. He’s moved on from speaking Spanish and the ways of the old country. As he proudly says, “We’re not Mexicans. Mexicans live in Mexico. We’re Americans.”

Lee is right in that he and his family will face many of the problems and challenges all Americans face, that all human beings face – unemployment, homelessness, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, abortion, immigration, childhood obesity and others. But Lee will also face another problem in that he has forgotten his native language and moved away from his culture, ultimately losing part of who he is and where he comes from, and he will learn that maybe this is not such a good thing. Welcome to a story about real Americans… Los Americans.

The cast of Los Americans

What do you think?

Links:

Watch the show online and find out more at PIC.Tv/LosAmericans
Los Americans on Twitter

Come chat with me + Surropa!

Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know how much I love Surropa.com. Aside from wearing their T-shirts, I’ve blogged about them and mention them on Twitter and Facebook once in awhile, too.

Short description of their company if you don’t know: Miami-based clothing company with shirts, (and other items), in English, Spanish and Spanglish – but always stylish and with a touch of Latin sabor. You can also design your own shirts through their store. I designed this one:

jijiji… like it?

Anyway, the guys at Surropa asked me if I’d moderate their first ever TuitCam Event. I was like, “Totally! … What’s a TuitCam Event?”

Well, as it turns out, TwitCam is a website that allows you to have a tweet chat while on webcam. So it will feel like we’re in our own little chat room but you use your Twitter account to tweet chat while watching and and listening to the live streaming video. We tested it out last week and it was so much fun.

Two of the guys at Surropa will be hosting (on camera): Marketing Director Esteban “El Chato” Montano and Creative Director Ernesto East… I know their professional titles sound all business-like, but these guys are hilarious. While we were testing out TwitCam they told me to ask a question so we could just get a feel of how it would be. Well, one of them was wearing a cowboy hat so I said, “I want to know if the one in the cowboy hat is wearing botas picudas!” … He held his foot up to the camera and he was wearing socks with chanclas!

So, I hope you’ll join us mañana, Wednesday May 25th, 2011 at 3 pm EST. Just follow me and/or Surropa on Twitter. Once the TwitCam Event begins, we will tweet the link so you can join us! Here are the details from Surropa.com’s blog:

“…ask any question you want, give us ideas for new designs and products or just tell us how our t-shirts have completely changed your lives. We’ll even take constructive criticism (please no hate tweets, we’re extremely sensitive).

By the way… We’ve asked our friend and blogger extraordinaire, Tracy Lopez from Latinaish.com to moderate…and to keep these two in line and entertaining. Come check it out, what do you have to lose? You might even get a special discount code for 25% off your next order.”

Disclosure: I have not been compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Barbara por Atras

I lack self-discipline, I’m a complete hedonist, I become intensely passionate about the things I love, and I’m impulsive. This spells trouble not just for my eating habits but it makes many aspects of my life challenging. Carlos, who is the complete opposite, has reformed me to some extent, and being a mother has forced me to change my ways, but it’s a daily fight.

Recently when I decided to get serious about my health, I reached out to mi amiga, Barbara to ask for guidance. She gave me a lot of encouragement and was also kind enough to send me a copy of her book, “…Barbara por Atras: A Latin Woman’s Guide to Fitness.”

I’ve read a lot of books about health but this one connected in a way that other books couldn’t. With mentions of Celia Cruz, nalgas, and piropos as well as healthful ways to prepare arroz con frijoles, tostones con mojo, and flan – I feel like finally someone “gets” me! This book is the jump start I needed. I’m taking steps in the right direction – poco a poco, I’ll make it. Gracias, Barbara.

Disclosure: The book was provided to me at no cost. I did not receive any compensation for talking about the book. All opinions are my own.