Latina, Latino culture, Latino family tradition, Parenting

A to Z Blogging Challenge: C is for Chancla

The flying chancla, this one is yellow, can be any color or size.

Hello to the third day of the A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is C and C is for “CHANCLA.”

Chancla is the deadliest word of the alphabet for those who grew up in a Mexican or Latino household.

A chancla looks benign, especially when on the foot. The word means flip-flop or slipper or sandal. If the chancla can easily slip off,  fly in the air and hit a target in one swoop, it’s a chancla.

In our house, it was a one size fits all tool of discipline.

There were warnings before the removal and use of the chancla:

1-The narrowing of Mom’s eye’s as she spied one of us acting up. You could escape or stop misbehaving.

2-The slight bend of the body to the right which meant she was reaching for the chancla. You can still escape or say ‘okay, I’ll stop.’

3-The swift removal of the chancla, thumb on the heel, sometimes a twirl before a blur of chancla flew through the air and hit its target. Usually one’s head, shoulder, or back. You’re a world-class runner if you escape during the execution of the third step.

Everyone I knew had a chancla wielding mom or grandma and no one thought they were being abused. Most of the time a kid didn’t pass number two above, “the bend” before they stopped misbehaving.

The chancla brandished by a mom was preferable to what a dad would employ, another C word, the cinturon (belt).

To make it super easy for one to understand the power of the chancla, and its widespread fame here’s a video about La Chancla

Many younger Hispanic households do not endorse the use of the chancla, for the reasons listed here.

I don’t endorse or not endorse the chancla, it was a reality in my household and used sparingly. And by sparingly I mean I outran the flying chancla most of the time.

I can’t run like that anymore.

Latina, Latino culture

The A to Z Challenge: Day 2, B is for Bueno or Bueno?

1960’s telephone, photo by Annie Spratt for Unsplash.com

 

Hello to the letter B, the second letter in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

The challenge is to write a series of 26 posts, using the letter A to Z on each day except for Sunday’s. That’s a day of rest.

The theme of these 26 posts was described in yesterday’s entry.

Today’s letter: B.

B is for Bueno which can mean Hello? Good. Well? Okay or All right.

This is dependent on the inflection and tone of the word when it’s used.

Letter B presented here to keep you and me on track.

See that 1960’s or 70’s telephone up there. Well, growing up we had one. One year it was white, another time it was aqua, and once it was avocado green. My mother liked to decorate.

First, you need to know that my mother did not teach us Spanish. In her day kids in school were punished for speaking Spanish in the playground or class or anywhere a teacher could be found.

However, we heard Spanish in our household and among our relatives especially when the adults wanted to talk in private among their children. We picked up words and phrases, cobbled together sentences until we learned more Spanish in high school.

But, back to the B.

The word Bueno baffled me. It had different meanings whenever Mom answered the phone. It could be:

1- Bueno? as in “Hello?”

2-Bueno! as in “Que bueno!” “That’s good,” or “that’s cool,” or “All right!”

3-Bueno said in a quick to the point tone which meant “okay, I got it.”

4-Or, if she wasn’t on the telephone and standing over me, hands on hips, saying “Bueno?” that meant, “Well? Explain yourself.”

An example:

The first time I called a friend, at home, and heard the father answer with Bueno? I didn’t know what to do except to ask for my friend. She came on the line and mentioned that her father found me to be impolite because I asked for her without responding to him.

The conversation should have gone like this:

Father: Bueno? 

Me:   Hola, es Monica, (Hello, this is Monica). Cómo está usted? (How are you?)

After that, I could proceed to ask for his daughter. This is because he said ‘hello’ to me first.

Later I learned that if one did not master this phone etiquette, in Spanish, parents would say, as my friend’s father did, “where was she raised, in a barn?”

He may have used a B-word to describe my lack of social etiquette: B for Burra, donkey.

I never divulged that incident to my mother, she’d have been horrified, mortificada. 

See you tomorrow with the letter C.

Don’t forget to leave a link to your post if you’re doing the A to Z challenge.

 

 

 

Latina, Latino culture, Mexican traditions, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo Music, Strong Women, Writing

Butt in Chair, Hands on Keys for 30 Days of #NaNoWriMo

I Wrote 50,000+ words in 30 days and lived.
I Wrote 50,000+ words in 30 days and lived.

 

Like thousands of other writers across the globe, I did a BICHOK (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keys) for 30 days.

Instead of being a complete pantser (writing by the seat of my pantalones), as I have in the past, I did a half and half of pantser and plotter. Like having one leg into my jeans.

The plotter part consisted of character exploration by journaling, creation of a Pinterest storyboard, and created a logline and premise for the story.

After 30 days, I have a story in a first draft mess which finishes around the 3/4 point. Which means I’ll need 15,000-20,000 more words to complete this New Adult story. 

What helped me to write faster was what I learned in a free online workshop from the University of Iowa’s How Writer’s Write Fiction Course. This is a combination of video, reading, and quizzes, which you can take for credit or no credit.

If you take the course for credit there are writing assignments and peer reviews. A certificate of completion is available for $50 if you meet all the requirements. The course is well worth your time.

An exercise I found helpful to start my NaNo writing was to ask my characters questions and write the answers out in longhand in my journal:

1-Who am I?

2- Who do I love? Who or what do I hate?

3-What do I want the most?

4-Who or what do I fear?

My story has three generations of Mexican American women so I needed to explore all of them through these questions.

There are hundreds of character sketch templates available, but I found that these questions opened my mind up to think about emotional issues, not just physical characteristics.

I used most of the answers in the character exploration to type onto my first pages. (Yes, I counted the words for NaNo). This was helpful so I could re-read what I wrote and stay in character.

The other motivator I used, for the first time, was music. Since the main character has just gone through a broken engagement at 22 years old (many moons past for me) I listened to music from Lana Del Rey and Adele.

One of the locations in the novel is Oaxaca, Mexico where the main character visits a curandera (traditional Mexican healer). I selected some indigenous music to help me when I wrote scenes about walking the pyramids of Monte Albán and listened to music by Lila Downs for cafe scenes.

Singer/Musician/Songwriter Lila Downs, born in Oaxaca, Mexico
Singer/Musician/Songwriter Lila Downs, born in Oaxaca, Mexico

I wish I had printed out my Pinterest storyboard since I found myself going back to the photos every time I sat down to write (distracting and time-consuming). The colors, people, foods, and objects helped to center me as I wrote.

For NaNoWriMo 2015, as for any of my next novels, preparation is the key: premise, concept, logline for the story. Explore the characters through journaling. Listen to music for help to create the setting. Create a storyboard of interesting colorful photos to stimulate the eye. And find a consistent time to BICHOK.

Share your writing tips. So how did you NaNo this year?

 

 

Art, Chingonas, How to be a Chingona, Latina, Latino culture, Papel Picado, Self-confidence, Self-Esteem, Strong Women, Yreina F.Ortiz

Today I Will be Chingona

I don’t know if this is a coincidence, or not, but Chingona’s have fallen out of the sky and into my lap. Most of you know the definition of a chingona. If not, here’s last week’s post which gives you an idea. For a practical application you can read the 10 Steps from Sandra Cisneros

Yreina Flores Ortiz is a Poeta, Artista Chingona. She used the Mexican folk art craft of Papel Picado to make this artistic piece titled “Today I will be Chingona.” (This is a photo of my own copy).


The designs are cut from tissue paper or by folding the tissue paper and using small, sharp scissors. They are commonly displayed for both secular and religious occasions, such as Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Dead, as well as during weddings, baptisms, and christenings. 


This poem furthers the definition of Chingona.


Today I Will Be Chingona
Today, I will greet the sun as my relative
and give the morning my full attention.
I will say “I love you” into the mirror
and draw my eyeliner extra straight.
I will not call myself fat
because everything in my closet will look good on me.
I will rock my huge Latina hips
like the blessing they are.
Watch out!
I might even wear heels.
Today, I will not hand out one unnecessary apology.
Today, I will be Chingona!
-Yreina Flores Ortiz
You can find this framed piece on Etsy.com. (Please ask for permission to use poem or graphic, it is copyrighted). Click Yreina’s name under the frame to find out more about this talented craftswoman, photographer, graphic artist, and teacher from Indio, CA where the temperature rises to 120 degrees and your chanclas (sandals) melt if you don’t put them in the fridge, like my tia used to do. 

Loving yourself, taking care of you, appreciation for your body, feeling your connectedness to the world, and being your best self is what I find when I read the poem. 

What do you find?