If you’re new here, mucho gusto. Encantada. (Nice to meet you.)
I thought this FAQ might be a good way to get acquainted. These are answers to questions people often E-mail me upon discovering Latinaish.com, as well as some links to related posts. (Click the questions for the answers.)
LATINAISH.com FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Who are you?
My name is Tracy López. I am an Anglo-American writer, born and raised in the suburbs outside of Washington DC.
One day I met Carlos who had immigrated to the United States from El Salvador. He didn’t speak English back then and my Spanish wasn’t as good as it is now, but we figured out other ways to “communicate.” (There’s no talking necessary when you’re busy besando!)
We got married, had children, and thus began our adventures as a bicultural, bilingual family navigating the usual family stuff in addition to linguistic and cultural misunderstandings.
What does LATINAish mean?
LATINAish is a word I made up to make sense of my ethnicity as an individual who doesn’t have roots in Latin America, but who lives within the culture. To be clear, I have never, and would never describe myself as Latina. Most people don’t accept the idea of “converting” to a culture the same as we accept religious conversion; and yet how do you describe someone who has spent more of their life within a culture, than in the culture they were born into?
So, your suegra… She lives with you for reals?
She did, for about ten years. In the past I sometimes used my blog as an outlet to deal with my live-in mother-in-law problems. Putting a humorous spin on the clash of cultures that occurred regularly in our household helped me survive. My suegra stories were truthful and never malicious, and while I’ve never posted a single photo showing her face, nor ever used her name out of respect for her privacy – I have now stopped writing about her entirely. As a result, some people have contacted me to ask what happened. Where is she?
Well, my husband and I found it necessary to reestablish personal boundaries which were being violated, and whenever we’ve done this it has resulted in years of grief for all involved. This time was no different.
As of now though, I’m happy to report we are on speaking terms again. She has retired back to El Salvador, keeps in regular contact, and I wish her well.
How did you and Carlos meet?
That would require a 5 part series… Luckily, I already wrote it.
Where is your husband from?
El Salvador – (Te amo pulgarcito!)
Have you been to El Salvador?
Twice. Once in 1999, and again in 2011.
All posts having to do with El Salvador and Salvadoran culture, can be found in the “Salvadoreños” category.
Is an inter-racial/inter-cultural marriage difficult?
I’m going to give you the honest truth because if you get married with some naive idea in your head, you won’t make it.
The truth: Marriage in general is difficult. Add in a language barrier, societal pressures, the occasional racist/ignorant comment from family or strangers, possibly different belief systems, and frequent culture clashes and you’ve got a lot on your plate to deal with. It isn’t for the faint of heart.
Those who are good candidates for such a marriage should be good listeners, compassionate, curious, patient, not easily discouraged, determined to make things work no matter what, ready to compromise, and have a good sense of humor.
I don’t think everyone can handle it, but as for me, I’d do it all over again.
My husband is undocumented. Do you have any immigration advice?
Regardless of whether you’re legally married here in the United States and/or have children together, your husband/wife/partner could be detained and/or deported at any time if they entered the country illegally or overstayed.
Unfortunately, immigration law has changed since my husband and I married. My advice is to consult an immigration attorney as soon as possible. They are best equipped to guide and advise you. I know it isn’t cheap, but I do not recommend trying to do the paperwork yourself or relying on random internet advice. My heart goes out to you. Good luck.
What do you do outside of blogging?
I’m a novelist. I write children’s books, (Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Picture Books.)
Any advice for raising bilingual kids?
Speak Spanish to your child as early as possible, as often as possible, and be consistent.
Things won’t always go the way you expect. It can be frustrating and they might rebel. Stay strong. It’s the greatest gift you can give them. They’ll thank you later. Also, it’s never too late to start.
By the way, each summer I do something here on Latinaish called “El Verano de Español” (Spanish Summer.) … Basically it’s a challenge to other parents out there to start speaking to their children only in Spanish while their child is on summer vacation from school.
This is how I got a jump start into speaking Spanish to my kids almost full time, now even during the school year. You’re welcome to participate, but of course, you don’t have to wait until school lets out to give it a try. You could start with just weekends, or one day of the week. How about an hour each day? … It’s difficult at first – Believe me, I remember – but I promise it gets easier. (Plus, a lot of hilarious things happen when kids learn a second language. It’s worth it for the laughs alone.)
Also – if you blog, check out Spanish Friday if you want to practice your own Spanish.