May 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Many authors seek the opinion of friends and family about a new manuscript but trying to figure out what people mean can be downright confusing, so here’s a little guide to help all of you newbies out there:
“I thought it was a pretty good first draft”: I am your older brother and I secretly feel superior.
“Obviously there are some plot holes but if you market it correctly, no one will notice”: I am your know-it-all brother in law and think criticizing others makes me sound smarter.
“I liked it but I am not sure if it is what the market needs right now”: I am your cousin and you owe me money.
“I especially liked the love scenes”: I’m horny and available and hope we are only distantly related.
“Clearly you didn’t read Elmore Leonard’s essay on writing dialogue”: I am the douche bag nobody remembers inviting but who somehow always shows up.
“I think some of the sex scenes could use some spice”: I’m your ex boyfriend and bored in my marriage.
“Well, it’s a tough market out there. Who knows if this is what readers want”: I am your father and I only read sports stats.
“I thought it was brilliant and showcases your exceptional writing talents”: I am your neighbor and I secretly want you.
“I found a few typos and I made a spreadsheet with the most commonly used words and separated them by verb, adjective, adverb, noun…”: I’m your weird little cousin and I have no life.
“Expletives, much?”: I am your slightly hammered uncle, I didn’t read your manuscript and I just need a bathroom.
“I thought you had some problems with the arch”: I am someone’s date, we are not related, I don’t know who you are and I wish I had made up a better excuse not to come.
“I thought it was very artsy”: I’m your moron best friend and I didn’t understand a word of the two pages I read.
“I think it still needs some work but you’re on the right track”: I’m the sibling who likes you.
“Well, it’s not a terribly original idea but you do you have some nice metaphors”: I’m married to an obscure relative and jealous of you because you actually did what I have only dreamt of doing.
“Well, of course it’s going to be a best-seller! It’s better than The Da Vinci Mystery!”: I am your aunt, twice removed on your mother’s side who wears too much lipstick and still pinches your cheeks.
“I didn’t care for all the profanity”: I am your high school English teacher and I am wondering how the hell I got conned into coming here.
“I loved it! I wouldn’t change a thing”: I am your grandmother.
May 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
May 2, 2013 § 2 Comments
Recently someone asked me if I supported “Gay marriage” and I thought long and hard before answering. Not because I didn’t know how I felt about it but because the question itself carries a seed of evil I don’t think the asker was aware of. You see, when she asked about “Gay marriage” she was somehow implying that there are at least two kinds of marriage, gay and something else, and I really don’t think that’s true. Or at least, it oughtn’t be.
So I thought about marriage, all of its pros and cons, its defenders and detractors and decided that marriage itself is an issue ripe for debate, but who gets to do it, who gets to get married? I really don’t think we should be having that discussion.
In fact, I think it’s a waste of time and money and resources to have all these people running around rallying and lobbying for something that should and will eventually be legal because no judicial argument, no administrative technicality and no close-minded governmental directive can outlast reality.
Because here’s the thing about gay marriage: it already exists. People get married when they decide to love one another, when they decide to build a life together and be a family. That is already happening all over the place.
What seems to be a hot topic is whether that union ought to be legally recognized and given official status by competent authorities and I find that to be an insulting debate. I think it’s disrespectful and mean because, as a straight person, you have options when it comes to homosexuality: you can choose not to partake in it, you can choose to not like it and you can even be a little freaked out by it, or a tiny bit scared or get uncomfortable around it, and that’s…understandable-ish.
But what you don’t get to do is pretend it doesn’t exist and legislate like it shouldn’t exist because that’s…well, rude. We’re not talking about a kid’s imaginary friend; we are talking about our neighbor’s and friends and family. They exist and their marriages exist and it’s unfair and petty to say otherwise. It makes people trust their government less and hate their neighbors more. And denying legal status to all the marriages that already exist just because the partners involved in it have the same genitalia is not making anyone sleep better at night, it’s not making anyone’s neighborhood safer or schools better or healthcare more accessible.
So no, I don’t really support gay marriage anymore than I support Shy Marriage or Big-Nosed Marriage or Fat Marriage. I support marriage and anyone and everyone’s right to do it or not. Kind of like perms and tattoos: sometimes it might be a bad idea but it shouldn’t be illegal for you to figure that out for yourself.
April 10, 2013 § 2 Comments
I consider myself mainly a humor columnist. At least, I am in Spanish. And sometimes, now and again, I’ll say that something happened or that I did something that is not entirely true for comedic effect. OK, sometimes I make things up in order to get a laugh.
I have no problem with that, morally. I am not a reporter and people don’t read me expecting facts. They want to have as good a time as 2,400 characters can give you. But in a recent column I wrote regarding advice for young girls a couple of readers called me out on giving advice that was, according to them, patriarchal and heternormative and obtuse.
Now, I don’t think I am any of those things. And the advice was meant to be mostly funny. But I wrote things like “Put some clothes on” and “Shut up once in a while.” And some people thought it sounded like I was telling them to mind their place, to be submissive or humble.
I wasn’t. I just making fun of the way they dress. I went on to say that it was better to awaken curiosity than lust and that sometimes women think we are in a wonderful relationship because really we do all the talking so we are basically in a relationship with ourselves. I also said that they should not hide their boyfriends because anyone who cares for them should want to meet the people who made them and that if you had to go to a Pediatrician to get a prescription for a VD you were too young to have sex.
I didn’t mean to suggest women have to cover themselves or be ashamed of their bodies. But then again, I was focused on being light and funny. The tone of the column and my overall tone was silly. But I might have said things that weren’t so silly. Just to get a laugh…
And so I wonder if things said in the name of humor can be measured against what we say when we are serious. This is very thin ice indeed. Saying “yes” could mean that it’s OK to tell a racist joke even if we don’t consider ourselves racist; saying “no” means that humor could lose the freedom and banality that characterizes it.
I honestly don’t have it figured out yet. But it’s been on my mind. I haven´t wanted to change the column on my blog in Spanish because I feel that would be hypocritical. But also I want to defend myself, say that I should not be taken seriously. But then again, it is the hidden biases that we should be most wary of. Does humor reveal them?
March 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This week I was asked to speak at a local high school as part of a celebration for International Women’s Day. I spoke about boobs, the importance of your first bra, how being breast-bearers means we are part of a community, a powerful network of moms and aunts and grandmas and friends and nannies and maids and nurses that make the world go ’round. For every power woman at the office there is at least one of the above that is helping her out at home. And for every stay at home mom there are infinite words of wisdom and shoulders to cry on and sympathetic ears when you just cannot for the life of you figure out why that creature keeps crying or what the heck to make for dinner.
I also made a list of tips, which I share and hope you add to it, share it, help me build on it and maybe help girls all over with it. Here goes:
Humble means knowing the difference between what you are and what you are not. If you’re smart, be humble and know you’re smart; if you’re pretty, accept that you are pretty. Do not play dumb or call yourself ugly. That is stupid, not humble.
Be responsible. Being responsible doesn’t always mean making the right decision; it means accepting the consequences of the decisions you make, good or bad. If you are not ready for the consequences, then don’t make decisions alone. In other words, if your parents have to pay for your mistakes, they should get a say in what you’re going to do.
If an older man wants to date you, before you feel flattered ask yourself why women his own age don’t want to be with him.
The most important sexual decision you will make is not when or with whom: it’s why. It you are doing it because everyone else has done it, because I want to get rid of my virginity, because he said he’ll dump or I think he’ll cheat on me if I don’t, then it’s the wrong reasons.
If you are not ready for your grandma to know about it, then don’t do it.
Don’t hide your boyfriend from your parents. If he really likes you then he should want to meet the people who made you.
You are never too cool for proper spelling.
PUT SOME CLOTHES ON. Curiosity is better than lust.
SHUT UP. Listen to other people, especially guys. Sometimes you think you are in a great relationship because you are actually dating yourself.
May the only mystery not be whether you have a brain.
Good manners never get old.
If you have more emoticons than words in your chats, get a dictionary.
Facebook is not a diary. Be careful what you share.
Get a decent email address before you graduate. Nobody wants to hire sluttybutsweet456 or clueless344.
In the real wold, nobody values you for your potential. Get off your lazy ass and do all the things you think you could do if only you really tried.
If he is unfaithful with you, he will be unfaithful to you.
And remember: the government things you are a child until you are 18; your teachers think you are a child until you graduate, your parents think you are a child until you move out. You think you are so mature and grown up because that is what TV tells you. But beware: the only people telling you that you are old enough and smart enough to make your own decisions are the people trying to sell you something. So listen to the grown ups, mmmk?
March 13, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’ve been robbed. AGAIN. Someone lifted my cell phone out of my purse on Sunday, along with Matty’s toy. It wasn’t one of those stick ‘em up kind of things, but I’m still pissed. The thing that hurts the most are the reactions I have gotten: “Be thankful it wasn’t any worse” or “You should have been more careful” or “That’s what you get for being out alone”.
Wait a minute, I have to be grateful? It’s my fault for being careless? That’s what I get? Did you miss the memo? I GOT ROBBED. It seems that people have gotten so caught up in the whole “don’t be a victim” craze that they have forgotten that there are actual victims. Sure, being the victim of cell phone theft is not as bad as, say, being the victim of violent sex crimes but I’m still a victim. Do you get that? I as robbed. The other guy is a thief, a criminal, someone who did something wrong. But I get blamed. I get chastised. I am the one who should have know better, should have been more alert, and should have worn a purse with an alarm. What the hell?
I did a little research and found that victim blaming is a way for people to feel secure. That won’t happen to me because I am smarter/more alert/better prepared/live in a better place than the victim. If it’s the victim’s fault then I am not in danger. This of course is bull and leads to criminals thinking the person they robbed got what they deserved, that what they did is the result of the other person’s mistake and that they do not have to be responsible for what they did because, duh, it’s my job to protect my body/stuff.
As for being grateful, let me see…um, no. Of course I know it could have been worse, of course I realize it’s just a phone and would rather not have that than have my son taken from me but a) I wasn’t given a choice in the matter and b) the lesser of two evils IS STILL AN EVIL.
Maybe this post won’t nip Victim Blaming in the butt (I know it’s bud but since it’s a pain in the ass I’m going with the above) but maybe someone will read this and remember it the next time a friend or loved one tells them they’ve been robbed. And maybe then they won’t say “Well, you’re lucky you didn’t get raped with a chainsaw” and instead offer a sympathetic “I hope a diseased yak drags it’s testicles through the thief’s soup” or similar Carson-like curses followed by an all-healing chocolate and a healthy game of If I Were Queen of the World.
March 8, 2013 § 4 Comments
I love technology. I really do. My heart skips a byte whenever I see shiny flashy things with lights and buttons and screens. I am about one whiff of an iPhone away from being a certified technophiliac. But up until recently my love for all things gadgety was purely superficial. I longed for these objects because of what they meant but not always what they did.
But motherhood changed that. Allow me to elaborate. I have written before about my pregnancy being difficult so I won’t get into that now. Long story short, I quit my job and chose to stay home with our son. This was by no means a popular choice nor one that came without consequences. One of the things that suffered most was my reading. I love books -more than I love shiny things- and ever since I started working at age 16 I spent a considerable amount of my salary on books, either as gifts or for myself (and often as gifts for myself). But staying home meant that a) I had no money of my own and b) I had to rely on my husband for money and he was supporting all three of us. Then, a few months ago, I started working as a translator and having some pocket money for myself as well as being able to pitch in. But it wasn’t much and books in Colombia are quite pricy and I mostly like to read in English and English books are REALLY expensive and rare. And then last year, thanks to my sister, I got a iPad. And I installed Kindle. And I got my brain back.
You see, I might not be able to fork out 50 to 100 dollars a month just for a book (that’s around the price you can expect to pay for an average book in English), but I sure as hell can afford 10. And ten bucks a month worth of Kindle books has meant I got my brain back. I read The Red Tent and The Red Book and The Casual Vacancy and The Storytelling Animal and The Creative Habit and The Happiness Project and a whole slew of other books that rekindled the fire that had waned in my head. I felt smart and was able to produce amusing small talk, even if I had no one to talk to. And this made me realize the life-changing potential of technology. For all its detractors, there is an undeniable defense: it bridges gaps. The gap between wanting to stay at home and wanting to feed my mind; between accepting that I am no longer a bread-winner and not being content with feeding off crumbs. Between who I was and who I am and who I still want to be.
* This is not a sponsored post. I wouldn’t know how to go about getting myself a sponsor even if I wanted to. The nice people at Kindle have no idea who I am and probably wouldn’t care if they found out.