Podcasts, Jane the Virgin & Resolutions

Thankfully “Jane The Virgin” continues to be a much needed source of entertainment and distraction in my life. The scene in this past Monday’s episode when Jane prepped Rafael for dinner with her family was hilarious, but what really made me laugh out loud was Rogelio’s interactions with Xo after Xo had vowed to remain chaste.

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(Image source JaneGifs.Tumblr!)

By the way, if you’re also a “Jane” fan, you might like an article I wrote for Latinamom.me this month, 7 Reasons to Watch ‘Jane The Virgin’.

Writing for Latinamom.me again has kept me a little busier than usual. As many of you know, I took a break from freelance writing for a couple months last fall so that I could work on my manuscript (book writing) instead, so getting back into the flow of balancing my time at the computer between freelancing, book writing, this blog, social media, and the constant flow of emails, not to mention responsibilities away from the computer like family, household and my own self-care – Well, that’s been a little challenging, but I’m attempting to figure it out. (And I know so many people struggle to balance even more, so I’m not complaining.)

Anyway, if you’re looking for more of my writing since I’m not updating this blog quite as often at the moment, here are two more articles I wrote on Latinamom.me that you might enjoy.

10 Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep (in GIFs)

5 Must-Listen Podcasts for Latinos

In February, be on the look out for more posts from me over at Latinamom.me. I can’t tell you what they’re about before they publish, but I think many of you are going to love the topics!

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?

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 one of my blog post’s 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?

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.

Being Social@Telemundo

As you know, I recently went down to Miami at the invitation of Telemundo. What you probably don’t know is that it wasn’t just to attend the Latin Billboard Awards or tour their studios.

Myself and nine other blogueros, were fortunate enough to participate in Telemundo’s very first Digital Influencers Summit. Telemundo’s new digital initiative is called Social@Telemundo.

From the Press Release:

Social@Telemundo will focus on delivering its fans across Facebook & Twitter interactive experiences tied to TV programming. With dedicated Social Media resources tied to each of Telemundo’s shows and novelas the Social@Telemundo aims to take the entire TV viewing process to a more engaging level. Building of the success of its Interactive Broadband Series “Telemundo Live” and Mobile social initiatives Telemundo plans to expand its focus on sharing more access to its Studios, Shows and Talent in Spanish and English.

Borja Perez, Vice President of Digital Media and Integrated Solutions

I wrote about this experience from a more business-minded perspective on LatinaBloggersConnect.com – but here I’ll share some of the more personal chisme.

As you might expect, the room where the meeting was held contained a long conference table surrounded by chairs and a screen on the opposite wall to give presentations. Large framed posters of Telemundo shows hung on the other walls. I knew that I wouldn’t be meeting the cast of my favorite telenovela, Los Herederos del Monte, since the show is filmed in Colombia, but I wanted my photo taken with the next best thing.

(For the record, I didn’t intentionally style my hair like Paula’s. It was a happy accident… Do you think Juan del Monte might mistake me for her? …Okay, maybe not.)

During the meeting, one of the executives asked which one of us was the novelera – I raised my hand and they asked what attracted me to Los Herederos del Monte. Now, to answer this professionally or honestly? I went with honesty, responding, “Okay, at first it was because the guys are hot…” But I did explain that I later came to appreciate the complexity of the storyline and the quality of filming.

Admitting that I began watching Herederos for the eye candy made it a little hypocritical of me to ask the question I asked later – which was if Telemundo was actively trying to step away from portraying women as sex objects in their programming. (Spanish language TV in general has a reputation for this and I know it’s something that bothers a lot of Latinas.)

The President, Don Browne, welcomed the question and answered that yes, they are producing programs that portray both real and fictional women as strong, intelligent and independent. (Examples – Kate del Castillo in Reina del Sur, Dra. Ana María Polo on Caso Cerrado, Jenni Rivera, and Maria Celeste of Rojo Vivo.) They really want to break a lot of the stereotypes about Spanish language television and consciously work social issues that affect, not just women, but other segments of the viewing audience, into their programming.

We got a lot of great insight into just what Telemundo, and mun2, are about from various executives who attended the meeting, and just as importantly, we had the opportunity to give them feedback, advice and ideas. Mutual respect flowed between Telemundo and the bloggers and the atmosphere was fun yet intellectually stimulating. Telemundo has a rare chemistry, passion, creativity and positivity there which has to be experienced to really be understood. I definitely felt like I was with mi gente. (Did you know that some of the Telemundo staff, including the President himself, are “Latinos de corazón” like me?)

For lunch, we were joined by Telemundo talent; Gaby Espino, Jorge Bernal, Vanessa Hauc, Enrique Acevedo, Karim Mendiburu, Sammy Sadovik, and Jessi Losada.

Left to right: Vanessa Hauc, Gaby Espino, Jorge Bernal, Karim Mendiburu, Sammy Sadovnik

We all introduced ourselves and explained a little about our background. This conversation centered around the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. They had a few questions (such as “What is a good tweet?”) for the bloggers, and they shared with us how they use the websites to connect to fans, etc.

All of them were really down-to-earth. While we chatted in real life, we were also tweeting each other – and those tweets were being projected onto the wall for everyone in the room to see, which was a fun idea.

As you can see, I thought Jorge Bernal was especially funny. After lunch he gave me a big kiss on the cheek and said, “Adios, gringa!”

Me and Jorge Bernal of Al Rojo Vivo

Me and Karim Mendiburu, of Titulares y Más and Ritmo Deportivo

Disclosure: I was invited to the Digital Influencers Summit at the invitation of Telemundo. All opinions are my own.

I’m in Miami, trick!

(Title from a LMFAO song feat. Pitbull)

I’ve been in Miami since Tuesday morning and have been going non-stop since the plane touched down. I should be in bed right now because mañana is the big day (Latin Billboard Awards!) … but I have too much I want to share.

First, the hotel. Okay, gente, this place is so chic and exclusive – and yet the design of it is … well, let me show you.

Chandeliers inside of bronze bells.

The decor reminds me of chess and Alice and Wonderland… pero, when we arrived, our rooms weren’t quite ready yet, so Carrie, (from TikiTikiBlog.com) – and I, waited out by the pool. (I was also waiting for Carlos to arrive since he took a different flight.)

Carrie offered to buy me a [very expensive] drink. When she asked me what I wanted, the first thing I thought of was a Cuba Libre, never mind that it was still before noon and I hadn’t eaten since 4 am.

A Cuba Libre is basically a rum and Coke with lime. (Gracias for getting me half-borracha, Carrie!)

Soon enough our rooms were ready except I had a small problem. I had been told my debit card would suffice for check-in, but it wasn’t working for some reason. I didn’t have a credit card to offer them so I called up my little sister and thankfully she gave them her card instead. I felt totally naca, but I got my room key.

(View from the room.)

(Mini-bar treats I can’t touch or my sister’s credit card will be charged.)

Really – The Mondrian is amazing in every way, but I do have one complaint and it’s this…

This carita loca is in every hotel room and she’s seriously freaking me out. She stares right at the bed… which is where I need to go now. More soon! Besos from Miami!

Disclosure: I’m in Miami for the Latin Billboard Awards at the invitation of Telemundo. All opinions are my own.

Tatuado

My cumple is at the end of the month, but Carlos wanted to give me his gift un poco temprano.

This is Carlos’s first and only tattoo… y lo amo!

Suegra still doesn’t know about it. When she finds out, she will probably threaten to disown him, (otra vez.) She believes tattoos are a pecado and that only “mala gente” like pandilleros get them. When Carlos told me this I said, “Wait, doesn’t your older brother have tattoos?”

“Yeah,” Carlos said, “but when my mother found out, she slapped him.”

So Carlos’s birthday present to me? A permanent reminder of his love, and the promise of mucho drama to blog about in the coming days.

(Thanks, nene!)