Friday, November 1, 2013

A Matter of Life or Death

If put to the test, most of us would choose life over death, unless you're at a party and someone is wearing the exact same outfit in a smaller size, then that's a different story.

When our time comes, we're not given a choice. If we were, maybe we could barter for a few more seconds with loved ones or minutes or pictures with better lighting because that's all they are going to have anyway.

What about some sort of warning or countdown? That sure would give New Year's Eve in Times Square a whole new meaning. I know these things don't exist for a good reason, so as not to drag out the inevitable, but wouldn't it be nice to know something about what it's like in death?

I'm sort of new to this death thing. I'm not actually dead although my writing might bore you to death. My grandfather recently passed away as did millions of other people's loved ones. Thankfully, you and I were spared. But for how long?

We will never know until our time comes. For now, I know this. I know I want my life to be celebrated and this is how.

1. I want to be buried with all my jewelry on. It's not that I want some future archeologist to think I was rich, I just wish I could wear it all now but apparently that's weird unless you're a gypsy.

2. Halfway through the Catholic mass at my funeral, I'd really like someone to stand up and shout, "Let's get this party started!"

3. Don't buy flowers when I die. Go to a liquor store, buy a bottle of Patron Silver and poor a little out for your homie, but not too much, that shit is expensive.

4. Rent a dance hall and dance the night away. Feel free to use the playlists on my Iphone.

5. Cry it out. I'm talking swollen blood shot eyes with snot dripping from your nose kind of crying. I know it'll be hard to go on without my judgmental impatient ways but you can do it. There's got to be a support group out there called, how to carry on when your Latina is gone.

6. Don't mess with my family or loved ones when I'm gone. You do not want a Chicana ghost visiting you. You think we have hot tempers now, wait until we have nothing to lose.

So in honor of all those we've lost, Feliz Dia de los Muertos and here's to you,

Nana Amanda, Monica y mi querido Tata.

See you soon, but hopefully not too soon.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Whole Fools

Ay ay ay.  That’s Spanish for “oh dear ” for all you Whole Foods patrons out there.  Truth be told, I’m actually a Whole Foods whore.  I don’t use that term often, or ever, but my husband and I frequent Whole Foods more than church.  Pray for us.  At least our earthly bodies are saved from evil ingredients. When I first heard about the two employees at a Whole Foods in New Mexico getting suspended for speaking Spanish to each other on the job, I wasn’t surprised.  As a proud Yuppie Chicana residing is Albuquerque and fluent in Spanish, I’ve grown used to the dichotomy of living in a state with the name Mexico in it yet finding very few proud Mexican Americans willing to converse in Spanish.  Then it was brought to my attention that it happened at a store we frequent almost daily.  So I put in a call to Ben Friedland, the regional manager’s office and was quickly directed to his email.  Here’s what I want him to know.
1.       I understand that every company reserves the right to create their own rules and regulations subject to state and federal laws so if you’re going to work there, you better abide by them.
2.       As a patron of your store, I appreciate uniformity, but I value culture more.
3.       We’re not buying your story that the employees were suspended because they misunderstood the policy.  They are bilingual not idiots. 
Here’s what really happened. 
Food preparer number one and food preparer number two were over heard laughing and enjoying their day which pissed someone or several people off.  Paranoia set in.  The other employees began to suspect they were being talked about or worse, made fun of.  If you’ve ever gotten your nails done, you know what I’m talking about. 
Sometimes as second, third or even fourth generation Americans, we forget to appreciate the immigrant experience when it’s happening right in front of our eyes.  I don’t know if the employees that were suspended are immigrants, but I do know what it’s like to hear your native language or your parent’s native language and the effect it has on your soul.  It’s a beautiful effect.  When people from other cultures or countries can complain about their wives, brag about their kids or bond over their work in their native tongue, it lifts their spirits.  When you and I are having a bad day, what do we do?  We pick up the phone or walk over to someone to talk.  It’s called shooting the “you know what” because you don’t stop to organize your thoughts, correct your grammar or syntax.  You just say what’s on your mind in the easiest form possible and it relieves a Whole lot of stress. 
This reminds me of the time I walked into our local Whole Foods in search of an appetizer for a cocktail party we were invited to.  I had the perfect appetizer in mind.  Manchego cheese and quince paste.  I found the Manchego cheese with no problem but then began to wonder the store aimlessly in search of the quince.  An employee came to my aid and when she asked me what I was looking for; I confidently told her I needed 15 paste.  She looked at me puzzled.  You see, I truly thought the name of the jam was in Spanish so I pronounced quince as in the number 15 in Spanish.  Thankfully, it happened in Albuquerque and the girl smiled sweetly and directed me to my jam.  She kindly pronounced it correctly for me and I turned beet red.  Thank goodness for bilingual employees when you need them! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Blogger's Creed

  • I will post on my blog knowing not everything I write will receive critical acclaim or even so much as a "LIKE" on Facebook.

  • I will hit the "PUBLISH POST" button even if I haven't had time to triple check my spelling and grammar. There will be typos and I can always go back and fix them. Life is too short to fear imperfection.

  • I will take criticism and comments lightly. It's a blog not my autobiography.

  • The subject matter of my posts shall be near and dear to my heart but I will refrain from airing out my dirty laundry. (Who am I kidding? That's what blogs are for!)

And last but not least, let's be honest. A blog makes the blogger feel important, so hit that "LIKE" button like there's not tomorrow!!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm bringing Mexi back

We've all crossed some sort of border or edge in our lives. I've crossed state borders, the Mexican border, and international borders. But there is one border that crossed me hundreds of years before I was born. It is the American border. Like many families in the Southwest, one side of my family found themselves citizens of Mexico when they went to bed and Americanos when they awoke one morning in 1848. I guess you could say The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is my primordial Declaration of Independence even though it was signed seventy-two years later. Towards the end of the Mexican-American War, Mexico entered into negotiations with the United States for settlement boundaries to be established between the neighboring countries resulting in the birth of the Mexican-American.

I am American. I am Mexican. I am Arizonan and New Mexican. I am Mexican-American but you can call me Yuppie Chicana. Part of my family comes from New Mexico, Las Cruces if I remember correctly. They were not one of the original Spanish families with land rights that date back to the 1700's, or at least I don't think they were. Truthfully a piece of paper stamped with a Spanish seal could never establish or solidify my rights to this tierra anymore than my thick brown locks, square back and narrow hips. To me, these traits allow me to identify with the Aztec, the Apaches, the Spanish, and most of all the Mexican within me. In other words, I am a native of the Southwest.

When my spouse and I first moved to New Mexico from Arizona, unfortunately for me, I did the one thing considered a cardinal sin in New Mexico. I referred to someone as being of Mexican descent instead of Spanish lineage. Most Hispanics in New Mexico are fiercely proud of their Spanish heritage even if they've been here for hundreds of years. It's a beautiful phenomenon that I've come to call "el conocimiento Nuevo Mexicano."

New Mexicans are some of the kindest and sweetest people on earth. I hold a very special place in my heart for all New Mexicans especially my Hispanic hermanos and hermanas but step aside Justin Timberlake because I'm bringing Mexi back.

It is time to add back that missing ingredient to "el conocimiento Nuevo Mexicano." It is time to bring Mexi back and stop pretending our blood lines contain no influence from Mexico. Gone are the days when teachers slapped rulers across a child's hand for speaking Spanish in school.

The truth is New Mexicans, most of us are a beautiful combination of European and Indian. Is it a coincidence that the New Mexico state seal is a combination of the Mexican flag and the United State's national emblem, the bald eagle? I think not. Did the tamale that we love so much at Christmas originate in Spain? I think not. Mesoamerica was enjoying them long before the conquistadores ever arrived. We don't have to hide our Mexican heritage anymore.

Mexico definitely gets a bad rap in films and in the media for its poverty, corruption and drug violence but don't think that as Americans we are above such problems. Just turn on your local news for a humbling reality check. But no amount of dark Hollywood films, narco violence or bad press will ever change the love I have for the vast area that was once old Mexico and that which is New Mexico.

So the next time you're asked the state question, "red or green," I say why choose? Try a little of both. And what color do you get when you combine red and green, you ask? You guessed it, brown.

I don't know about you, but this Yuppie Chicana is proud to be brown!

Friday, January 4, 2013


Viernes came and went. She felt unsatisfied. It was late. No one was around. Four years. Four years for nothing.
Ahora que?
The stillness of her muebles made her feel like the curator of her very own Chicana museum.
La Louvre, a la chingada.
This was no Louvre.
This was home, her home, and she'd make the best of it.
But for who?
There were no children, no noise, no birds or dogs. There were no parents or siblings.
"Then it's not a home," she told herself.
She was getting used to the sound and flavor of failure.
She could eat it for breakfast; regurgitate it if she had to.
She could hear generations of women speaking to her.
"Apariencias mijita, apariencias."
The simplest things became difficult for her to do.
"Lavate, limpiate, peinate."
You mean, sonriete, caminate y callate?
How was it that girls in high school became mothers?
This one goes over her minutes every month.
"Sit down," a voice told her.
It was the soul of her youth. It was the loud laugh, the sparkling eyes and porcelian skin.
She saw long black hair, a young body, but most of all, she saw hope in the soul. She saw hope.
The soul looked into her older self's eyes and saw what she had done and retreated back into the frame.
Una lagrima, y la mirada de La Virgen.
El frio congelaba sus huesos sending a familiar chill to escape her already deflated chest.
Consequently her eyelids fell and her body found refuge between two spaces, one with a tag that said Made In America, and the other from somewhere else, it didn't matter where.
The colors of her Persian rug rose and painted the ceiling.
She dreamt of a Mexican heaven.
She dreamt of her grandmother, her great-grandmother and her tia's cooking.
But where were they?
In her mind she was running, running a marathon between identity and self-preservation.
"Maybe I should make some beans," she thought.
What for?
Is there a difference between being illegal and illegally being?
They are one in the same.
They crowd your veins and make you get up to pay the price on your head if you are found.
They create girls in pink quinceanera dresses hiding pregnancies beneath taffeta and tattoos.
Huevos juntos pero no revueltos.
It had been too long since she opened her box of recuerdos.
Now that she peered into the abyss of memories de la prepa, de esto y aquello, she suddenly felt stronger.
She was born on February 2nd and died on February 3rd, twenty-one years later.
The music of the world still played and she still occupied a space but her soul had quietly escaped that morning in the clinic while she slept under the careful watch of la Malinche y la Llorona.
They must have missed it creeping through the woods.
They must have mistaken it as belonging to an old dying person not a young confused one.
Either way she would find it.
"It must be in here," she whispered as the notes and photos came to life in her palms. "Maybe it's decided to come home."
But her soul was not coming home and it hadn't escaped in the clinic. Someone else had it.
The radio screechecd a love song from the kitchen and the momentary happiness possessed her in a belly dancing frenzy for the nieghbors to see through the ventana.
"Mi mayano, mi mayano," she cried as she twirled in a cadence summoning her soul to return.
Her running shoes couldn't take her far enough away from herself so she accepted it.
Not a mirror in the house and that's the way she liked it.
Beautiful, ugly, fat, skinny, it didn't matter.
To her she was la Malinali.
To others she was Queen Elizabeth.
To be any of those would have been easier than to answer her door and return to complancency.
Any of those would have been easier than to make love in a hew of uncertainty and doubt.
But according to la Mama Grande, she was normal, she was American.

By, Anonymous

Photo by Diego Rivera


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