Category Archives: marriage

Miami Randomness

Carlos arrived in Miami a few hours after I did. When I kissed him hello he asked if I’d been drinking. “Just one Cuba Libre with Carrie,” I said. He sat down. He stared out the window. “You’ve only been here a few hours and already you’re drinking? … That’s not good,” he said.

We weren’t off to a very good start. I took his photo while telling him, “Cheer up! We’re in Miami, trick!” … That didn’t help. I promised no more drinking unless he was with me. He stopped pouting and we went for a walk.

The first order of business was to buy the boys a post card. I wanted to send it right away so it would arrive home before we did – We found a CVS and I bought one. (I later wrote the message, addressed it, put postage on it, and sent it… To this day, it has not arrived.) … While Carlos paid for the post card, I wandered outside. This dog was tied to the bike rack. I thought he was cute.

Both of us were starving so we continued to walk, in search of lunch. Carlos was looking for familiar fast food. I was looking for something new and exciting. This is a metaphor for our relationship in general. Carlos wants the comfort of the predictable. He wants things to stay the same – he wants to know what to expect. I, on the other hand, want to explore and discover. I want to try anything and everything. I think that frightens Carlos sometimes.

Eventually, Carlos relented and let me have my way, again, pretty typical for us… I think I’m just more willing to “argue to the death” as he says, and he gives up.

I was on a mission to find Cuban food. Every time someone who seemed “local” would walk by, I’d nudge Carlos and say, “Ask them!” and he’d say, “No, you ask!” … This happened a few times. When I finally got up the nerve to ask an elderly Cuban guy hobbling by with a cane, (I assume Cuban only because he was wearing a straw fedora, but I could be wrong), I realized we were standing in front of a place called “Bernie’s L.A. Café.” I saw some Cuban food on the menu in the window so we went in. The bilingual waitress was super nice, the prices were decent and the meal was simply amazing – very fresh, high quality food.

We both got the Cuban sandwich, (and tostones just because.) They served these really tasty pieces of toasted bread with a basket of different hot sauces. Mango habanero, (judging from the amount left in the bottles), is the most popular, and it was certainly my favorite.

The tostones came with “mojito dipping sauce” … I don’t know what it was made of but I need to find out. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had. The sandwich portion was so big that we both only ate half and brought the leftovers to our room for a second meal later.

By the way, another must visit place – InStyle Cupcakes. Last time I went to Miami, Carrie introduced me to them. I like cupcakes to begin with, but with varieties like Dulce de Leche and Churro, I became a little obsessed. Since I knew we’d be back in Miami, I took to Twitter stalking them. If we’d have been given more free time, I was more than willing to invest the money in taking a taxi to visit them, but thankfully InStyle delivered a box to Carrie’s room.

Surprisingly, though I’m not crazy about fruit-flavored things most of the time, guava is my favorite. Next time I’m in Miami and don’t have such a full schedule, hopefully they’ll agree to a taste-testing tour of their actual location… for journalistic purposes of course.

Anyway, after lunch we stopped at Whole Foods which was like a block from our hotel, to buy bottled water and some snacks, etc. for our hotel room. We don’t usually shop Whole Foods cause we’re too poor, but it was a good experience. (And their sushi is awesome.)

After dropping our things off at the hotel, we went back out to make the most of our day. We met with Dean of Surropa.com, who I’ve been in touch with via E-mail, Facebook and Twitter for over a year now, but had never met in person. We had a nice chat and he gave us a lot of tips about where we should go for fun before dropping us off on Lincoln Road.

I could have walked around hand-in-hand with Carlos all night, but I had a busy two days ahead. During those busy two days, Carlos began to feel some discontent growing inside him. At first he couldn’t sort out just what he was feeling and why. I became frustrated with his negative attitude, chalked it up to simple macho jealousy issues – so we argued, (apologies to whoever slept in the room next to 307 that night.) …Once we calmed down, we talked and talked until we unraveled the problem.

It turns out, Carlos is feeling “stuck.” He see’s me following my passions and he’s proud of me, but he doesn’t feel like he’s growing or achieving anything himself – and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

I told him he needs to mix it up, try new things, and see what happens. He was resistant at first, but then he made the brave decision, against his natural tendencies, to see what possibilities are out there. I’m happy for him because I know what he’s capable of despite what he was told growing up – despite what he came to believe about himself, and despite the challenges of living in this country as an immigrant. He’s the only one whose been holding himself back.

All these years he’s supported me while I follow my passions – now I will be there for him.

Disclosure: I went to Miami at the invitation of Telemundo. I have not been paid by any companies or restaurants mentioned. All opinions are my own.

Special Thanks to Corrientes for the use of their song “Tiempo y Espacio” which was perfect for my video. (Check them out: Jamendo.com.)

Courtship, Latin American style

Reading a book called “The Hacienda: My Venezuelan Years,” and though I don’t think it’s intended to be a comedic book at all, this part made me laugh, perhaps because it’s vaguely familiar.

“He said he would die if I didn’t marry him. He said it was my destiny. I was sixteen and I didn’t know then that it was an old cliché, as though, somewhere, there is a little latino lexicon of courtship which is learnt by heart in adolescence and then regurgitated to girl after girl.”

- Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

__

What have you been reading? Which literary quote made you stop to think or laugh lately?

Gringa Invasion

While she passes most of her time in Chalatenango proper where her family lives, and Soyapango where Carlos’s childhood home is – Suegra sometimes goes to visit her childhood home which is in a town in the mountains of Chalatenango called San Luis del Carmen.

I visited there one afternoon when we went to El Salvador. Against all my gringa instincts which screamed that I needed a seat belt, I rode in the back of a Tío’s pickup truck with my then one year old baby. They threw cushions from the sofa in to make the ride more comfortable. We rode up, up, up, stopped for some bony looking cattle to cross the road, and then up, up, up some more. San Luis del Carmen was very quiet. There was a pretty white church, typical Salvadoran-style cement block homes lining the road, the ever present chuchos aguacateros (street dogs), and a small store selling soda en bolsas and snacks.

A typical Salvadoran-style house. “DIOS ES AMOR” means & “God is love”

chucho aguacatero (street dog) that followed us

A little store selling snacks, etc.

Carlos enjoying a bag of orange soda and a snack.

Suegra’s modest childhood home has been kept in good repair despite being over 50 years old, though no one inhabits it. The home sits on a fair amount of land – the trees in the backyard are heavy with coffee beans.

That is how I remember San Luis del Carmen, so I was surprised when Suegra told me there are a lot of gringas there now – “jovenes, chelitas, americanas – como vos!” she says, though I imagine they are younger than me – maybe Peace Corp. volunteers or missionaries. She says they are pairing up with young Salvadoran men, (she emphasizes that they are dark-skinned country boys – “pero puro del campo!” she says, as if this made it more shocking, which to me it isn’t. Country boys have their charm though I married a city boy.)

Suegra went to San Luis during the feast day in December. During the festival, the town traditionally picks a “reina” (queen) … This year, the reina was one of the gringas.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I’m fascinated by the idea of an entire village that ten years from now may be made up of families that resemble my own. Part of me wonders if these girls know what they’re getting into. It’s one thing to marry a Salvadoran who has immigrated here – but quite another to marry a Salvadoran in El Salvador. My mind swirls with the compromises, sacrifices, and struggles they will face. Culture shock. Language barriers. Machismo. They are on his turf. They are on their suegra’s turf. As romantic as it appears on the outside, the situation raises many concerns.

Honestly, I do laugh a little imaging the phone calls home. The parents expect information about when to pick their precious daughters up at the airport now that their volunteer assignment has come to an end. Instead, their daughter’s voice sounding farther away than ever says, “Mom, Dad, I met someone here. I’m staying in El Salvador and getting married!” … Those poor gringo parents! …And then imagine when the parents go to El Salvador for the wedding. Will there be tears of joy or tears of sheer terror for what their daughter has done? (Oh wait, I’m just having flashbacks to my own wedding…jiji…)

But what about the relationships that don’t work out? What if they love each other but the girl desperately wishes to return home? It isn’t easy to adjust to a drastically different culture and way of life. It also isn’t that easy to bring your new novio with you thanks to immigration law which splits us all up into these man-made parcels called countries. Will the girls go home with broken hearts or will it be the muchachos who are left con el corazón en pedazos? (Either way, one must make the sacrifice of being away from their own family and culture.) If the girls stay in El Salvador, get married, start a family and then for whatever reason, end up divorcing, what happens with the children?

How do the Salvadoran women of San Luis del Carmen feel about this “invasion” of gringas? Do they feel animosity towards the gringas for “stealing” the men? Was it fair for an outsider to be chosen as the “queen” of the town?

If I were a sociologist, I know where I’d be buying a plane ticket to right now.

“Clementino” Part II

Okay, some of you have asked what else is happening with the “Clementino” situation.

I’ve found it amusing that I’ve now been labeled a “rompecorazones” – I don’t think I can see myself that way and I feel a little badly for Clementino – if his intentions came from his heart and not from lands further south, (si me entiendes.)

I still say it was a romantic gesture but ultimately it was made inappropriate for the fact I’m married, (and Clementino is, too.)

I tend to be a romantic and flirtatious person but I also believe there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. I try very hard to respect my husband by not doing anything that would hurt him. Carlos is generally okay with me being a little coqueta because he trusts that it won’t go further than una mirada, or sonrisita.

That being said, I don’t feel anything negative towards Clementino. I think he’s naughty and hope his wife doesn’t find out but he’s been so nice to me this past year, it’s difficult for me to be outraged in any way. I feel a little sad that he crossed the line though, because he put an end to what I saw as a casual friendship. I really liked going to the store – it was part of my weekly routine. It also feels strange to imagine him realizing after a few weeks, that I’m not coming back. Maybe it’s silly and I’m overly emotional, pero me da tristeza.

Bueno, I think most of you want to know more about how my husband has reacted though. Carlos has been acting differently since this happened. He is naturally a jealous type but he has worked to overcome his insecurities this past year, (lucky for Clementino!) … So, when I jumped in the car and told Carlos what had happened, he was a little on edge. He wasn’t happy about what happened, especially the part where Clementino touched my hand. He said that was pushing it too far and if Clementino tried it again, he’d break his fingers.

Knowing that Carlos felt that way, I was a little panicked to find out that he was going back to the store the next day, thanks to Suegra.

You see, after trying and failing to call El Salvador with the phone cards she had bought, Suegra came to me saying, “Tienes que decir a tu novio que estas tarjetas no sirven.” (Very funny, Suegra. She is going to get me into trouble!) – I refused to take her to the store to exchange them and so when Carlos came home from work, she asked him to take her.

Suegra told me that she wanted to scare Clementino. She said she was going to tell him she knew all about what he had said to her nuera and that she was going to tell Clementino’s wife. I begged her not to do this but she wouldn’t say anything more.

So, Carlos and Suegra went to the market. Both deny that they said or did anything. According to them, Carlos waited in the car and Suegra just went in to exchange her phone cards without mentioning anything. They are really good mentirosos though, so I don’t know if I believe them.

One thing I do know – Carlos has been super romantic since this happened. He has always been that way, but he has definitely been even more so lately. Here are some of his text messages…

When Carlos was hugging me last night, I asked him if he was worried that Clementino would steal me away. He hugged me tighter and said, “No… you’re mine.”

The feminist in me objects to the ownership implied in those words. The romantic in me says, “Yes, I’m all yours!”

Read: Clementino Part III

13 years

Today Carlos and I have been married 13 years. As usual, we don’t have enough chirilicas to buy anything for each other – but that’s okay. No amount of money in the world can buy what we have together and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

This isn’t to say our marriage is perfect – far from it! Truth be told, we can be downright dysfunctional. There is passion – passion that leads to some of the hottest fights you’d never want to see, (though the passion is good for other things, too.) …One thing is for sure, it’s never boring y ojalá our love for each other will always win out in the end.

Ya tú sabes, te quiero un chingo, Carlos.

El Guanaco + La Güera
(a poem for Carlos)

What more can I say,
que ya no te dijé,
me gusta como dices
“pata” en vez de “pie.”

Tu Caliche makes me crazy
y tu familia de otra manera
aunque me llamen “Traisy”
I’m proud to be tu güera.

Sabes que te agradezco
for all the things you do
Tú trabajas muy fuerte
To buy mis Bubu Lubus.

The truth is that without you,
(and our two cipotes)
Yo ando bien perdida
igual a Don Quixote.

Ahora voy a decirte,
In front of all these gente,
Eres mi guanaco,
absolutamente.

Our 1st Navidad

If you’re looking for me, I’m over on TikiTikiBlog.com today, telling the story of our 1st Navidad as a married couple, and the unexpected gift Carlos bought for me.

Chécalo!

A Very Fiber Optic Christmas

Latinos & Gringas Gorditas

White guy #1: You know who likes to go with Mexicans? Fat white girls! It’s always the fat ones who-
Carlos: Hey.
White guy #1: What?
Carlos: Do me a favor.
White guy #1: Yeah?
Carlos: Shut the fuck up. {walks away}
White guy #1: Damn, what the hell’s his problem?
White guy #2: You’re a dumbass. His wife is white.
{awkward silence}
White guy #1: But I wasn’t sayin’ nothin – I just meant it’s like… a stereotype.

A stereotype – and like any stereotype, it’s mostly hurtful bigotry, but with a little truth mixed in – (Sort of like Fruit Punch with 10% real juice.)

“Gringas Gorditas” (Fat white girls), do not disproportionately pair up with Latino men. I can say anecdotally that among the gringas I know who are with Latino men, it’s an even split 50/50 with half being flacas (thin) and the other half being gorditas (chubby or fat.)

I’m one of the gorditas, and I’ve come up against a lot of ignorant assumptions about my marriage. First of all, I did not “settle” for my husband because I couldn’t “get a white guy”. White guys were never on my radar in the first place, maybe due to a childhood crush on Ricky Ricardo – who knows.

Second of all, my husband did not choose me just to get a Greencard, and nor am I a “status symbol” for him.

This stereotype about Latinos and gringas gorditas is doubly damaging because not only does it literally weigh my worth as a woman in pounds, it casts an ugly light on interracial marriage – as if our marriage is somehow less valid.

Here’s some breaking news: Interracial couples fall in love for all the complicated and simple reasons “same race” couples fall in love. In the end, it comes down to attraction – not just physical, (though biologically that can’t much be helped), but spiritual connection, emotional attachment, and shared experiences all play a role.

Now for the 10% juice: Culturally speaking, Latino men are typically more accepting, and even desiring, of a thicker figure on a woman, than are Anglo men. (Source: Study on Race/Ethnicity Body Type Preferences)

(Necessary Disclaimer: That, of course, is a generality that does not apply to all Latino men or all Anglo men. Individual results may vary.)

The real question in my mind is what is the fascination with this stereotype? Why all the scrutiny over my curves and his color? Yes, I’m a gringa gordita and yes, he is Latino – ¿Y qué? (So what?)

“It is not that love is blind. It is that love sees with a painter’s eye, finding the essence that renders all else background.” – Robert Brault

Quiero Mi Boda

Maybe love knows no boundaries, but that doesn’t mean cultures won’t clash.

The show “Quiero Mi Boda” on channel TR3S, is a reality show now in its second season, which documents couples from different cultures and how they navigate the messy business of getting their families, (who sometimes don’t even speak a common language), to accept their relationship, and then planning their weddings to keep everyone happy despite traditions that sometimes directly conflict with one another.

I had the opportunity to interview Sebastian Portillo, the producer of “Quiero Mi Boda”, and want to share that with you here, with English translation.

Latinaish.com: Hola Señor Portillo, gracias por tomarse el tiempo por responder unas preguntas de el programa “Quiero Mi Boda” que saldra el 25 de Octubre a la 7 pm EST en el canal TR3S…Por los que no están familiarizados con el programa, puedes decirme a cerca de ¿qué es el programa “Quiero Mi Boda”?

(Translation: Hello Mr. Portillo, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about the program “Quiero Mi Boda” that will premiere October 25th at 7 pm on channel TR3S…For those who are not familiar with the program, can you tell me what is the show “Quiero Mi Boda” about?)

Sebastian Portillo: Es un reflejo de lo que tienen que atravesar las parejas de diferentes culturas cuando deciden casarse, y se dan cuenta que las tradiciones que siempre soñaron incorporar, no necesariamente son las mismas que las de su pareja.

(Translation: It is a reflection of what couples of different cultures have to go through when they decide to marry, and they realize that the traditions they always dreamed of incorporating, are not necessarily the same as those of their partner.)

Latinaish.com: ¿Por qué quisiste producir este programa tomando en cuenta parejas multi-culturales en vez de parejas de la misma cultura?

(Translation: Why did you want to produce this program about multi-cultural couples instead of couples of the same culture?)

Sebastian Portillo: La razón principal fue que esta tendencia de casarse con personas de otras culturas es algo que se esta viendo mucho entre los Latinos viviendo en US. Antes había muchos mas prejuicios y ahora el amor demostró nuevamente que no tiene fronteras.

(Translation: The main reason was that this tendency to marry people of other cultures is something that is being seen widely among Latinos living in the U.S. Before there were many more prejudices and now love has once again demonstrated that it has no boundaries.)

Latinaish.com: ¿Había una pareja más memorable, o un evento que te sorprendió en la producción?

(Translation: Was there a most memorable couple, or event that surprised you during production?)

Sebastian Portillo: Lo interesante de esta temporada es que tuvimos la suerte de producir episodios con culturas bien diversa. Tenemos las que no pueden faltar, como la mexicana, peruana, cubana, y puertorriqueña, pero también las bien diferentes, como la china, de indonesia, India, persa, y afro-americana. Pero. Lo algo para destacar es que dos de las parejas se casaron luego de tener un hijo y eso mostro otro aspecto de que pasa con dos culturas diferentes cuando hay un nuevo miembro de la familia y como es que puede complicar aun mas el proceso del casamiento.

(Translation: The interesting thing about this season is that we were lucky to produce episodes with very diverse cultures. We have people like the Mexican, Peruvian, Cuban, Puerto Rican, but also those who were very different, such as Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Persian, and African-American. But the thing to note is that two of the couples married after having a child and it showed another aspect of what happens with two different cultures when there’s a new member of the family and how we can further complicate the process of marriage.)

Latinaish.com: Gracias Sr. Portillo por su tiempo. Esperamos con interés “Quiero Mi Boda”. Deseando amor y felicidad a las parejas. Como una gringa casada con un salvadoreño, les puedo decir, no es fácil, pero vale la pena.

(Translation: Thanks Mr. Portillo for your time. We look forward to “Quiero Mi Boda”. I wish love and happiness to the couples. As a gringa married to a Salvadoran, I can tell them, it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.)

Will you be my Diego?

After reading my friend Juan’s genius post on Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costumes (Estilo Mexicano, por supuesto!), I was reminded that I haven’t gotten a costume ready for my boys.

Looking around the house at what we already have on hand, I decided my youngest son would be a mariachi. I found a little guitar in their closet and then using a few odds and ends from Suegra’s sewing supplies, a little hot glue and pins, (because unlike Suegra, I can’t sew to save my life), I have a cute little traje de mariachi… But mariachi is not really mariachi with one lonely guitarist.

The problem is, my older son turned 12 over the summer, and I had previously told him he would no longer be trick-or-treating. I wasn’t happy to break the news to him because despite the shadow of a mustache and the fact that he’s taller than me, he is still very much a child at heart… But, because of my mariachi situation and the fact that he plays trumpet, I’m going to let him go one more year. (Honestly, I hate getting older children at my door asking for candy, but if they actually put effort into the costume and are polite, I think it should be okay.)


As for myself, I haven’t dressed up in years, but I felt inspired. After thinking about it, I decided I wanted to dress up as Frida Kahlo. The only question is, will Carlos be my Diego Rivera? So far he has refused. The conversations have gone something like this:

“I want to dress as Frida Kahlo … will you dress as Diego?”
“Who?”
“Diego Rivera.”
“Who’s that?”
“Her husband! A famous Mexican artist!”
“No way.”
“It won’t be chistoso, te juro!”
“No.”
“It’s just a normal outfit, like a suit jacket, and…”
“No.”
“Come on!”
“NO.”

…Later in the evening, I thought maybe if Carlos got a taste of my costume, he would be able to see my vision for how chévere this would be, and be convinced. So using an eyebrow pencil, I drew my eyebrows closer together and then put my hair up whimsically, before throwing on some artsy earrings and an elegant serape.

“Look!” I said, “I’m Frida!”

And then Carlos laughed and laughed until he almost cried. “You look like one of those weird old ladies from my neighborhood growing up!”

“Hey! No I don’t! I look pretty! I’m Frida!” I said, my unibrow furrowed.

Later that night as we lay in bed in the darkness, I thought maybe I could convince him to agree if he was half-asleep.

“Will you be my Diego?”
“…huh?…”
“Will you be my Diego?”
“….no. Go to sleep.”
“He’s a little fat so you’ll need a pillow under-”
“No!”

So, I don’t know if I’ll be Frida if Carlos won’t be Diego. So far, all my usual tricks to get him involved in my locuras have failed. Stay tuned!

Te Encontraré – PART V

(To read PART I, go HERE.)
(To read PART II, go HERE.)
(To read PART III, go HERE.)
(To read PART IV, go HERE.)

Te Encontraré – PART V
~El sábado me casé~

Years later, I admitted the truth to my parents, that our first son was not actually an accident after all.

But, this is how Carlos met my parents for the first time, sitting on their sofa, his head lowered, barely able to make eye contact with my father. Carlos had wanted to ask for my hand in marriage in the traditional way, but I don’t remember if he was able to actually speak. More likely, to put an end to the awkward silence and get it over with, like ripping off a band-aid, the words spilled from my mouth,

“Mom, Dad…This is Carlos. We need to talk to you… I’m …pregnant… and we want to get married… and…He…isn’t in the United States legally…”

My parents cycled through disbelief, anger, sadness – the entire grieving process in just minutes. There were a lot of tears, questions – some we could answer, (How far along are you?), others I knew not to answer, (Dammit, Tracy! What were you thinking?!) and emotions so strong I felt like I would choke on them. At this point my mother probably wished I was in that Turkish prison she always joked I’d get locked up in, at least then I’d serve my sentence and be free – but this, there was no way out of this. I had sentenced myself to life.

Some families would have turned their backs, but not mine. By the end of the evening, my parents embraced us both, encircled in their arms, they vowed to help us in any way they could, and prayed over us … prayed that God would take care of us despite our foolishness.

On a rainy chilly day in mid-January, only having known each other for 5 months, and me pregnant by 2 months, Carlos and I married in a quiet courtroom ceremony with little fanfare, surrounded by family who wished us the best, but probably feared the very worst.

Like I told you in the beginning, some of this story would be better remembered differently – it isn’t exactly fairy tale material, but we’ve been married 12 1/2 years now. We have a 12 year old son and an almost 9 year old son. We have been through hell and back multiple times – this marriage has not been easy. Sometimes we didn’t know if we would make it, but we’re still together, and in love more than I ever could have imagined…Despite the circumstances of our imperfect romance, so far, we have lived happily ever after.

El domingo la vi en misa,
el lunes le sonreí,
el martes me presentaron,
el miércoles fuí a su casa,
el jueves me declaré,
el viernes le di el anillo,
y el sábado me casé.

-Unknown

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