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, (also known as Caucasian, gringa or white as Wonder bread.) I was born and raised in the suburbs outside of Washington DC. My childhood was fairly typical, if not ideal.
I have always had an unexplained attraction to Latino culture, (and really all cultures fascinate me.) If you believe in reincarnation, maybe I was Latina in a former life. ¿Quién sabe?
One day I met Carlos who had immigrated to the area 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 when you’re busy besando!)
Well, too much besando leads to things. Tú sabes lo que estoy diciendo! We were young, we were foolish, we got married. More than 15 years later, here we are with two sons, (and a dog named Chico.)
What does Latinaish mean?
Latinaish (pronounced lat-teen-uh-ish) is a word I made up to describe my ethnicity and the ethnicity of anyone else who doesn’t have roots in Latin America but lives within the culture.
Synonyms: Gringa Latina, Alma Latina, Latina de Corazón, Honorary Latina, Adopted Latina.
Why did you refer to yourself as “Señora López” when you first started this blog?
Back then I was under the ridiculous impression that I could remain anonymous. The point of remaining anonymous was because I frequently used my blog as an outlet to deal with my live-in mother-in-law problems. My “suegra” (that’s Spanish for “mother-in-law”), lived with us. Putting a humorous spin on the clash of cultures that occurred regularly in our household helped me survive. Although my suegra stories were truthful and never malicious – I really didn’t want to stir up more trouble. Worried that an English-speaking in-law would find my blog and rat me out, I decided to keep it anonymous. Of course, that didn’t last long.
Why did you go public?
One day, months after starting the blog, I received an invitation to the Qué Rica Vida event in Miami.
When I returned from Miami, I blogged about it of course – and my new amigas who I met at the event, now knowing my real first name, used it in blog comments. I could have easily edited them out to preserve my anonymity – but I knew it was a losing battle. Anonymity on the internet is an illusion anyway, and better that I faced that truth. I started to use my full name, Tracy López, instead of referring to myself as the mysterious “Señora López.” – I also started to use my husband’s name, Carlos.
As for our two boys, I still try to avoid using their names, simply because middle school is hard enough without your friends finding hilarious stories about you on your mother’s blog. And Suegra, she’s still Suegra and always will be. I’ve never posted a single photo showing her face, nor have I ever used her name. I respect her privacy.
So, your suegra… She lives with you for reals?
She did, for a good decade, but as of now, Suegra no longer lives with us. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not jumping for joy. I’m not going to lie, I never wanted her to live with us in the first place, but I had come to an almost Zen-like acceptance of the situation – at least when Suegra wasn’t causing problems.
I really don’t want to go into too much detail. I will just say that in Latin American culture, it is very much taboo to criticize a mother. Mothers are seen as almost saintly and incapable of doing wrong. This belief causes many individuals to suffer in silence, even when a mother’s incorrect behavior crosses the line into psychological or emotional abuse. Speaking up and calling a mother’s behavior “abusive” is seen as something sinful. (Remember, the mother can do no wrong!) This issue needs to be talked about so that the dysfunction isn’t passed onto the next generation.
So, if you’re looking for Suegra stories, you will have to check the archives.
Do you have any mother-in-law advice?
Yup. I wrote an article on New Latina called Dealing with a Difficult Suegra, an article for Mamiverse called 3 Ways to Get Revenge on Your Suegra and an article for Voxxi called 3 Steps To a Civil Relationship With Your Suegra. Hope these help you out. Good luck.
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, guanacos, and Salvadoran culture, can be found in the “Salvadoreños” category.
If your husband is Salvadoran, why do you use Mexican slang/talk about Mexico?
My husband would like to know the answer to this, too. I’ll tell you what I tell him all the time:
Besides a crush on Cuban, “Ricky Ricardo” – the majority of my exposure to Latin American culture, traditions, holidays, music, food, Spanish slang – was all Mexican. (As is the case for most Americans.)
Mexican culture is simply the dominant Latin American culture in most parts of the United States, and I fell in love with Mexico before I could even point out El Salvador on a map.
This doesn’t sit well with some Salvadorans, (because although a lot of people don’t like to talk about it, Mexicans and Salvadorans often have issues with each other.)
All I can say is that there’s enough room in my heart for everyone. I will say “Puchica” and “Pinche.” I will eat pupusas and Valentina hot sauce. I will cheer for “El Tri” and “La Selecta.” (When the U.S. plays though, all bets are off.) I don’t discriminate, hermanos. I understand that there are issues between you guys, but leave me out of it. I love you both.
So, are Latin men really possessive and jealous?
Depends on the guy. Carlos was at times. That’s actually something I liked about him when we were novios, but I grew up and it became an issue we struggled with in our marriage. Thankfully, Carlos has also done some growing and now it’s not really a problem.
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 always pretty and 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 will promise you this – you will never get bored of each other, there will always be new things to discover about each other, and you will learn a lot.
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.
What are some of the things I’ll find on Latinaish.com?
Spanish, Spanglish, language in general, botas picudas, Bubu Lubus, Espinoza Paz, El Salvador, Caliche, slang, horchata, La Virgen de Guadalupe, fictional Mexican cowboys, Michael Jackson songs sung with a Mexican accent, Spanish language music in general, good books, donkey libraries, buses, street dogs, films and documentaries, fútbol, Chicharito, travel, bilingual TV shows, flip flops, typography, recipes, folk art, Latin American food, piropos, ordinary people who do extraordinary things, y más.
What events have you been invited to as a blogger?
Since Qué Rica Vida, I’ve been invited to the Latin Billboard Awards and Telemundo Studios. I’ve attended a Gold Cup game, a Grito celebration with the Mexican Embassy, Independence Day with the Embassy of El Salvador in DC, and a Top Bloguera Conference at the White House. My younger son was invited to walk national soccer players on field, I have interviewed Chilean Miner Edison Peña’s translator, the only female fútbol announcer in the world, and several other interesting individuals.
All have been amazing moments in my life that I’ll never forget – and all have taught me one thing – Follow your passion. If I hadn’t been writing about the things I loved, (Latin food, Latin music, Spanish language TV, fútbol, Latin American cultures and traditions), I wouldn’t have been invited. So, as much as possible, do what you love.
What do you do outside of blogging?
I’m a novelist, still seeking an agent for various multicultural fiction and YA novels.
I’m also a freelance writer who has contributed to various other blogs, websites and print publications. (Publishing credits/clips and writing samples, here.)
On occasion I do translating work (Spanish to English.)
Does Carlos have a blog?
Yes, he does. It’s called A Salvadoran in Gringolandia, but he doesn’t update it often. (He’s too busy working and watching Chavito del 8.)
Any advice for raising bilingual kids?
The very best source for information on raising a bilingual child can be found at SpanglishBaby.com, but I do have a few tips of my own. Here are a few posts, but my main piece of advice:
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.
What does your Spanish sound like?
I’m not really sure. I’ve always wished I could be a native Spanish speaker for a day so I could hear my own accent. Why don’t you listen and you tell me?