Category Archives: blogging

Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) Latina Blogger Retreat in DC

Image source: Brian Talbot

LATISM (Latinos in Social Media), is hosting their first ever “Latina Blogger Retreat” which is scheduled for May 20th to May 22nd, 2012 in Washington, DC. The event is by invitation only, and I was selected to be one of the bloggers in attendance! (Gracias to LATISM’s Ana Roca, Elianne Ramos, and Elma Placeres Dieppa, as well as Latina Bloggers Connect, Las Blogueras, Blogs de Mamas and New Latina.)

The program includes “sessions ranging from blog and business best practices, leadership skills, and social good”, mentoring from top executives in various industries that match each blogger’s interests, and a briefing at the White House, “where Administration officials will discuss the top issues affecting our Latino community: Education, Health and Jobs.”

[More information HERE, HERE, and HERE.]

I’m hoping that outside the obvious awesomeness of being able to see all my bloguera friends, that this will be a learning experience. I would like to learn at least one new solid skill or piece of information that I can apply to my life and/or my writing. I’m also happy that I’ll have the opportunity to discuss the social causes I’m passionate about and that I will potentially learn ways I can better champion those causes.

Want to follow this event and see what I’m up to? I’ll be tweeting using the hashtag #TopBlogueras over the next few days and will also be writing a recap post with photos and possibly video on Latina Bloggers Connect next week. Stay tuned!

Erase or Embrace the Accent?

When I made the “Shit Salvadorans Say” videos, I never once worried while filming that my accent would be so gringo as to be a distraction – but apparently some thought it was.

Initial response to the videos was overwhelmingly positive and I was happy to have made people laugh – but then came the first negative comment about my accent, which, more than hurting my feelings, kind of left me dumbfounded.

“That lady doesn’t even sound like she’s Salvadorian, that’s the funny part,” read the YouTube comment.

I responded that I don’t sound Salvadoran because I’m a gringa. (I refrained from typing “duh” at the end of that response.) I chalked it up to one person obviously having a bad day and taking it out on me, however before I could shake it off and move on, more comments came in.

“Y’all don’t got the accent.”

(At least I “got” good grammar I retorted in my head.)

“I think the gringa was right on the money in what to say, but I can’t get passed the whole gringa accent,” said another.

Nice. A back-handed compliment. And then…

“The accent isn’t there.”

“Lo siento esto es una gringada! Cero Salvadoreño!”

“OMG! I’m Salvadorian and this is NOT how my family or I talk lol what part of El Salvador are you from?”

“She sounds white lol maybe she’s first generation American and didn’t learn Spanish well lol.”

“Sorry y’all sound too gringo.”

Every time I’d get an E-mail notification that a comment had been left, my heart would start to race – will it be a positive comment, (for there were an equal amount of people who loved the videos) – or a negative comment? Will it be more of the same or will they find something even crueler to say that will crush me? I finally decided to disallow comments on those YouTube videos because I started to obsess.

Now, YouTube comments are famously horrendous, and I’ve kept that in mind, but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t made me self-conscious about my accent. I’ve been studying Spanish for twenty years now and I’m still not fluent. I make grammatical mistakes all the time, but my accent is one thing I thought I had conquered.

Although I knew I didn’t sound “Salvadoran” and that I wouldn’t be mistaken for a native speaker of any Latin American country for that matter, I never worried that I sounded “white” or “gringa” — at least not in recent years.

“You told me I don’t have an accent!” I said to Carlos after receiving yet another Youtube comment, and Carlos insisted very sincerely that I don’t. Perhaps he’s blinded by love, but then I think back on all the people over the years who have so enthusiastically complimented my Spanish – did they just mean it was good compared to other gringos?

“Wow! Your Spanish is so good!” I’ve been told in both Spanish and English – but what is “good” Spanish? Does the fact that I can do more than ask where el baño is make me a success?

Do I speak better than the white “abogados” and used car dealers on local Spanish-language channels whose mispronunciations make me cringe? Better than college girls who go to Cancun on Spring break and get drunk while wearing over-sized sombreros? Better than Dora the Explorer or Erik Estrada? What standard have I surpassed exactly?

As I read Roque Dalton poems aloud to Carlos in bed last night, asking him to rate my accent on a scale of one to ten, he asked me why I continue to sweat it. “Your accent is cute,” he said, taking the book from my hands and pulling me to him. I eyed him suspiciously, for “cute” is very different from “fluent” or “beautiful” or even “good.” A puppy chasing its tail is cute. A baby babbling gibberish is cute.

“Your accent is perfect,” he amended, and I noted his accent in English, the one I love so much, the one he makes no attempt to refine but which causes misunderstandings for him at fast food drive-thrus.

In the end, I realize, I have a decision to make. I can continue to try to erase my accent or I can embrace it. I’m not sure yet which way I’ll go.

What is your experience with having an accent? What is your native language? What is your second language? How do native speakers of your second language react to your accent? Do you embrace your accent or try to erase it?

Latinaish Newsletter

latinaishnewsletter2

Let me tell you what that’s about! While some of you already subscribe to this blog via email or other services, (gracias!) – I’m creating what is called a “mailing list” which most people use to send out a weekly or monthly newsletter via email.

I don’t know if I would send anything out with any regularity, (good news for you! I promise not to overwhelm your inbox!) – but sometimes I want to do something special for those of you that are really loyal readers. Whether you’ve been reading Latinaish.com for years or you just found it today – whether you comment regularly, once in awhile, or you’ve never commented at all – I appreciate that you’re here.

I’m hoping to have some special gifts for you every now and then, but I need a way to tell you all about them so that they’re exclusive and not open to the public.

Signing up for the mailing list is kind of like a backstage pass, (although, since I’m not Pitbull there will be less nakedness and vodka), and it’s totally free. You’ll receive a peek behind the scenes of Latinaish.com, special deals and fun surprises coming soon.

Sign up by clicking HERE and filling out your information so we can start the party!

I’ve got some ‘splaning to do

I’m not usually chismosa but I admit it, yesterday I Googled “hijo de Espinoza Paz” … I was CURIOUS, okay? Just curious.

I respect Espinoza’s privacy and blah-blah-blah, but I just wanted to see the cute bebito. So here I am, innocently acting like a tabloid-crazed fan when I should be writing or folding laundry, and here are the Google Images search results I see for “hijo de Espinoza Paz” …

Santa. Mierda. That’s my younger son! The photo is from this post, which doesn’t even mention Espinoza Paz.

Anyway, I just wanted to head off any rumors.

#1. That cute polar bear/child is mine and Carlos’s.
#2. I’ve never even met Espinoza Paz, let alone…
#3. Even if I met Espinoza Paz I doubt he’s into chubby gringas.
#4. IF Espinoza Paz happened to have the same taste as Carlos and he let it be known to me I would say the following:

“I’m sorry, Espinoza, but it isn’t meant to be. I’m happily married. I’m sorry to break your heart, but maybe you can at least get a few good songs out of it? … Can we still be friends?… Actually, I can’t be friends either. You wrote that song ‘Amigos con Derecho’ so it won’t look right, plus my husband, (WHO I’M MADLY IN LOVE WITH), can be a little celoso. I should go… Espinoza, please. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” {Pulls his hands off my ankle and walks away.}

Now all that’s left to do is hope Carlos doesn’t read this or I’ll end up on an episode of Maury. At least DNA test results would prove I’m telling the truth. Then I could get all up in his face, “I told you! I TOLD YOU!” … Then Maury would have our Polar Bear/Child brought out where we’d hug him together, Carlos would apologize for having ever doubted my fidelity and we’d live happily ever after.

Pero, sheesh, who would have ever thought Google Images could cause such drama?

Tech to Connect at Blogalicious

I don’t love having my photo taken even under the best circumstances. My mother has always told me I have a “cat who swallowed the canary” smile. I’ve accepted my smile for what it is, but I’m still selective about which images of myself go up online.

At Blogalicious, I had to let go of the urge to control every picture that was taken of me. Within the first hour of the conference, I noticed several people taking my photo which made me self-conscious. I attempted to straighten my posture as I sat at the table trying to figure out the Sprint tablet, (which I had been loaned as part of my sponsorship.) Of course, within a minute I would forget about my posture, relax, and then a flash would go off again. I kind of had to give up on caring about those photos.

Figuring out the Sprint HTC EVO View 4G tablet - (me on the far left)

Getting good at tweeting on the Sprint tablet.

Once I accepted that dozens of “unapproved” photos were floating around in cyberspace, it was actually kind of freeing and I stopped caring.

I'm not quite at the level of not caring as my friend Roxana, who loves to make faces to annoy the photographer, but I aspire to be. (left to right, me, Roxana, Maura.)

me (left), Ezzy (right)

(left to right) Roxana, Ana, me

Blogueras! (And yes, I changed out of stylish shoes in favor of chanclas.)

So far I haven’t loved all the photos taken of me, but it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world and I’m not perfect. I’m just happy that Sprint loaned the tablet to me so that I could capture happy memories with my friends. (I can say that calmly for now because I still haven’t discovered any of the photos of me dancing. They’re out there somewhere though.)

Anyway, I took plenty of my own photos of amigas with the Sprint tablet, once I got the hang of it, if you want to go check those out.

More importantly, f you want to take your own photos, there’s an opportunity for you to win a Motorola Photon 4G smartphone at a Twitter party I’m co-hosting! (The Motorola Photon 4G has an 8 megapixels camera, digital zoom, flash, auto focus and image editing tools, among other features.)

For the official invite to the Twitter party with date, time and other details, check out the Latina Bloggers Connect Facebook page. Hope to see you there!

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. Sprint sponsored the Latina Bloggers Connect team at the Blogalicious conference and made a Sprint HTC EVO View 4G tablet available for my use on a loan basis. All opinions are my own.

Muchas Gracias to my Blogalicious Sponsors!

This weekend I will be reporting from Blogalicious – a conference “aimed at celebrating the diversity of women of all ethnicities in social media.”

The conference is being held about 20 minutes from Washington, D.C. this year, so I knew I had to go. Despite its proximity, there are still expenses associated with going to a conference, so I’m thankful to the sponsors who stepped up to support Latinaish.com in attending Blogalicious 2011.

It’s especially awesome when those that offer to sponsor you are brands you’re proud to represent. Here’s a little bit about each of them.

Chí Chí & Flaco – is “a modern t-shirt line savoring the flavor of Latino and Hispanic culture in the United States.” (If you have Cuban roots, you’ll especially want to check them out.)

New Latina – is an online magazine, (which I’m very proud to contribute to), that celebrates and redefines Latina women while providing a supportive community.

Kellogg’s – Ya sabes! You probably have a box of their cereal in the cabinet right now. I do, except it’s empty. (Why do the kids do that?)

And look what I discovered while grocery shopping this week – Bilingual cereal boxes!

This is the Spanish side of the cereal box. "New Choco Zucaritas" ... the other side is in English and they're called "Frosted Flakes Chocolate."

When I saw the bilingual cereal boxes I was even happier that I agreed to the Kellogg’s sponsorship, but the truth is, Kellogg’s has had a long history with the Latino community.

I still remember when Carlos and I first married and he wanted me to buy “Cornfleis” at the grocery store. I had no clue what he was talking about until he put a box of “Corn Flakes” in our cart. I love that Carlos loves Corn Flakes because that used to be my grandfather’s favorite cereal. Seeing the classic box with the rooster on it in our cabinet gives me some good memories.

Of course, Carlos doesn’t eat it like my grandfather did. He heats up the milk in the bowl and eats it warm. (Is that a Latin American thing?)

Anyway, I’ll have more to share from Kellogg’s especially for la comunidad Latina later via Twitter and right here on Latinaish – so stay tuned! My last sponsor is:

Latina Bloggers Connect – LBC connects brands with Latina bloggers and is another website I’m super proud to contribute to. At Blogalicious I will be part of the #SprintConnects LBC team. Along with Ana Flores, Dariela Cruz, Chantilly Patiño and Rachel Matos, I’ll be sharing photos, updates and tweets from the conference all weekend on Twitter, Facebook and Latina Bloggers Connect. There will be a contest and prizes for those attending Blogalicious – so be sure to check that out!

Excited to reconnect with mis hermanas blogueras and meet new amigas as well. Ojalá we’ll learn and have fun all at the same time. See you there!

Disclosure: All companies mentioned above have sponsored my attendance at the 2011 Blogalicious Conference. This is not a sponsored post or paid advertisement. This blog post conforms to WordPress.com Terms of Service. All opinions are my own.

El Salvador – Random Fotos

Things have been hectic at casa López. The niños are back to school and both have music lessons twice a week. Carlos, besides his full time work, is also back to school in the evenings. As for me, you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging as much – and believe me, it isn’t because I don’t want to. I have been so busy with various freelance projects that I haven’t had time. I just want you all to know that even though I haven’t responded in comments or gotten to visit all your Spanish Friday posts yet – that I love that you continue to come here and read and talk to me. Your support and friendship means more than I can say.

Okay, before this gets more mushy than necessary, I will share some random photos from El Salvador to make up for the drastic decrease in posts. Listos? … Here we go.

This is the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador. It looks kind of like a really nice residential building. Where is the American flag? How would I find this place in an emergency?

I saw these weird trees at Metrocentro in the plaza outside Mister Donut. Anyone know what they are?

The trees have these long strands that hang down in bunches and they drop purple-ish berries of some sort. I asked the teenage son of Carlos’ friend what they are, thinking that as a native he would know. “I don’t know,” he said in Spanish, “but they stain your shoes.” … And so, until someone tells me otherwise, those are Manchazapatos trees.

This is probably the only Mexican restaurant I saw in El Salvador. I never did get to eat at this place, but the sign made me smile.

My younger son stopped short on a pasarela and pointed. “Take a picture! Look! That’s our name!” It’s no use explaining that “López” is the “Smith” of Latin America, so I took a photo. Then Carlos started with the lies. “That crane belongs to me. That’s my construction company,” he said, completely straight-faced.
“Nuh-uh, Daddy! Tell the truth!” our son said, with a hand on his hip.
“It’s true!” Carlos said, pretending to be indignant. “My company built this whole mall!”

Carlos always makes things like that up, so it’s no wonder the kids have turned into good liars too. A few weeks ago my younger son said a kid at school asked him if he was related to George Lopez.
“What did you say?” I asked.
He smirked. “I said, ‘yeah, he’s my uncle. Uncle George.’”

SIGH. Anyway… moving on.

Ruuuuuuuuuun!!! … There’s a pasarela right there, but these young people decided to risk their lives instead. This photo makes a good writing prompt though. There’s a story here, (feel free to make one up in comments!) … Also, not to make light of something serious, but the trio kind of remind me of that immigration sign along highways near the border here in the U.S.

Want more photos of Salvadorans living dangerously? Sure.

This guy is riding his bicycle while holding onto a bus. We followed behind for quite awhile and at one point the bus went so fast that the bicycle wheels started to wobble and the guy looked like he almost lost control for a second. I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat when that happened. We had already seen one dead body along the side of the road, (the police were covering it up), and I really didn’t want to watch someone die to top things off.

While riding in the backseat of Carlos’s friend’s car one day, we pulled up behind these guys in the back of a truck. I wanted to take a photo but one of the guys was staring right at me. I voiced my frustration out loud and Carlos’s friend said, “Take his photo! He doesn’t care, he likes it!” … he took my camera and snapped the photo, and it looks like the guy even smiled for us. Maybe he did like it.

Lastly, up close and personal with El Salvador’s “chuchos aguacateros” – (street dogs.)

Each evening in El Salvador, I would hook my camera up to the computer and upload the photos from the day, just in case my camera got stolen. (That way I’d lose the camera, but not the photos.) Well, when that dog nose photo popped up on the screen, the boys and I laughed until we cried and until our sides hurt. Carlos was confused as to what was so funny, which made it even worse. I never thought this accidental canine close-up would be full of such happy memories.

Ya me voy!

I’m currently traveling to El Salvador with limited internet access. If you leave a comment that goes into moderation, please be patient. I’ll approve it when I get a chance.

For those of you still participating in Spanish Friday on the dates of July 29th and August 5th, leave your links in the comments of this post so you can visit each other.

Siete

Mi amiga, Margaret over at Cachando Chile has invited me to play a game.

In this game, I am to simply share a post on my blog in each of these seven categories. (I totally cheated and chose more than one in each category though.) Click around as you wish!

#1. Most Beautiful Post

Fuerza Mineros – A positive message after the rescue of the Chilean miners.
Days Like These – An ordinary day can be the most beautiful day of all.
Te Encontraré – How Carlos and I met, in 5 parts.

#2. Most Popular Post

According to stats, that honor goes to:

Papitas and Escrituras y Diferencias. (Both were featured on the WordPress.com dashboard as “Freshly Pressed”.)

#3. Most Controversial Post

Apparently I like a little controversy because I found quite a few and felt they were all equally controversial in their own way, so you choose:

Is Gringo offensive?
Hablar o No Hablar?
Mexicans vs. Salvadorans
Rick Sanchez on Anglicizing

#4. Most Helpful Post

A step-by-step guide to making a typical Salvadoran breakfast: How to Win a Salvadoreño’s Corazón or … an easy, natural way to repel moscas: Plastic bag of water: Latin American superstition or science?

#5. A Post Whose Success Surprised Me

When I blogged about my favorite telenovela, Herederos del Monte, (Los Herederos del Monte – gossip conmigo!), I had no idea how popular it would be. (It still gets comments!)

…Likewise my own real life telenovela became a phenomenon all its own – (the Clementino saga) – You guys like drama!

#6. A Post that Didn’t Get the Attention I Felt It Deserved

My Most Embarrassing Spanish-Speaking Moment is worth reading, (go ahead! Laugh at my expense!)… and this post about how I Love Lucy shaped my life, (en serio!)

#7. Post I’m Most Proud Of

I’m choosing this post (below) because I almost didn’t hit the “publish” button on it. The stigma of labeling myself a “gringa gordita” married to a Latino cut so deep that I almost let it hold me down. In the end, I did find the courage to hit “publish” … And I’m proud of myself that I did.

Latinos & Gringas Gorditas.

___

According to the game rules, I’m supposed to tag 7 other people to play. So I’m tagging:

1. (Tara played!)
2. Tú
3. Usted
4. Vos
5. Mi amiga
6. Mi amigo
7. O sea, anyone who wants to play

(If you choose play, leave your link in comments and I’ll add you here!)

Blogger vs. Blogger – Juan of Words vs. Latinaish

All siblings end up fighting eventually – even hermanos del alma. Today mi hermano Juan and I come to blows in the first Blogger vs. Blogger challenge.

Okay, there’s no real fight, but here’s the deal. Juan challenged me to take photos in different categories he chose. Today we’re both posting those photos and you, mi gente, will choose the winner in this friendly game. Check out my photos, leave a comment, and be sure to go check out and comment on Juan’s post, too.

Vamanos!

Silly Photo With Your Family

Honestly, we took sillier ones, but I like this one best. I set the timer on my camera and took this at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. in the modern art wing.

Favorite Local Dish in your Area

This was difficult. I didn’t get around to visiting my favorite pupusa place, La Frontera in Gaithersburg, Maryland but here is a different favorite dish at a local place that I would rank in my top 10.

This is “Casuela Mexicana” – Enough shrimp, steak, chicken and chorizo for four people, served with rice, beans, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and tortillas. Cost is $31.00 at Viva Mexico in Inwood, W.Virginia – 10 minutes from the Virginia border and 30 minutes from the Maryland border.

Favorite Outdoor spot for Brainstorming

The hammock in the backyard, (or “gringo tipper” as my parents call it since they fell out of it a few times.) We’ve gone through a few. One disintegrated, the other broke when the whole family piled into it. We’ll have to buy another one when we go to El Salvador later this month because I love going there to think, relax, nap, or get away from the yelling when Carlos and Suegra are arguing.

Favorite Nook of your House

This category was also difficult because my house is smaller than some apartments. It’s all one floor, no basement, no upstairs, not even an attic or garage. The house itself qualifies as a “nook”! The one spot I have is my “office” which is a corner of our bedroom I carved out for myself. Everyone respects this spot – no one touches it and even neat-freak Carlos doesn’t complain about the creative messes on my desk. It’s the only place that is totally mine.

Favorite Family Spot

We have a few places we like to go, but I think everyone’s favorite is the National Mall. We go to the museums a lot, even though we’ve seen them a million times, and sometimes we just walk around.

Best Kept Secret in your Area

Can you even tell what this is? It’s a pedestrian tunnel connecting the East and West wings of the National Gallery of Art museums. There’s a 200 foot long moving walkway and 41,000 LEDs. The tunnel is actually an art installation by Leo Villareal called “Multiverse.” I suspect that many people who have been to the museums “a million times” like we have don’t even know it’s down there, because I only recently discovered it myself. (You can see video of it in motion HERE.)

Most Random Item in your House

Okay, fair warning, this is kind of offensive… but then again, there are plenty of statues, both modern and ancient that are naked, so let’s pretend to be mature and intellectual for a moment…

Okay, not exactly Michelangelo’s David. Why do we even own this ugly ass keychain? … It belonged to Carlos’s father, so it’s kind of special to him. Thankfully Carlos keeps it in a drawer and doesn’t carry it around.

If the sky were falling, first thing you would grab after people

I don’t know about the sky falling, but if there was some reason we needed to evacuate, I’ve always said I would grab our photo albums.

Favorite Piece of Art in the House

This is from a children’s book called “El Canto de las Palomas” by Juan Felipe Herrera. The book was damaged so I recycled some of the beautiful illustrations by Elly Simmons into framed art.

Favorite Pair of Shoes

Carlos should count his lucky stars he married a girl like me. Not only do I put up with his mother, but I don’t like fancy jewelery or expensive shoes. My favorite pair of shoes?

A cheap pair of black chanclas. I have several similar pairs but these are my new ones to wear to El Salvador so they’re my favorites right now.

Okay – ya estuvo! Leave a comment, let me know what you liked, and then visit Juan!

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