Spanglish Reading List

For those of you who are always asking me for reading suggestions, here’s a few of my favorite books about the Latin-American experience:

Dreaming in Cuban/ Soñando En Cubano Cristina Garcia 
In the Time of the Butterflies/ En El Tiempo De La Mariposas Julia Alvarez 
The House on Mango Street/ La Casa En Mango Street Sandra Cisneros 
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao/ La Breve y Maravillosa Vida de Óscar Wao Junot Diaz 
Drown/ Negocios Junot Diaz 

Bodega Dreams/ El Vendedor de Sueños Ernesto Quiñones
The Dark Bride/ La Novia Oscura Laura Restrepo
Woman Hollering Creek/ El Arroyo De La Llorona Sandra Cisneros
One Hundred Years of Solitude/ Cien Años De Soledad Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Before We Were Free/ Antes De Ser Libre Julia Alvarez
E. Luminata/ Lumperica Diamela Eltit
In A State of Memory/ En Estado De Memoria Tununa Mercado

And some that do not come in Spanish but are really great books:
Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat
Crossing Manuel Luis Martinez
Mothers and Shadows Marta Traba
Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada Zoe Valdez
America’s Dream Esmeralda Santiago

List of Fortunes I’d Like to See

So I’m taking a break off The New York Diaries for a bit to let a few people catch up (AHEM, sis, anytime) and I was looking on my Facebook, and found a bunch of funny things I’ve written in the past. This is a list of actual fortunes I’d like to see based on my interesting experience with fortunes and their sweet, sweet cookies, mostly the one below. 

Why can’t it just say, “Stay single”. It’s shorter.

1. Don’t forget to pay your phone bill this month. 
2. Everyone was dead and in purgatory in LOST. 
3. He’s gonna leave that bitch, don’t worry. 
4. Swiss bank account #B4-397-KT18.

5. Skins is the best show you’ve never watched.
6. You use the word “casualty” wrong.
7. Call your mother.
8. You’re going to need that spare tire soon.
9. Sell your soul to the devil and have Michael Bay’s career.
10. That earring you lost is under the fridge.
11. Your cat hates that organic shit you keep feeding her.
12. You’re getting food poisoning from this meal, sorry.
13. Should you really be eating cookies right now?
14. Your neighbors can hear you having sex.
15. When naming your kids remember that they might want to have jobs as adults.
16. Don’t worry about a 401k. You’re not going to need it.
17. Oswald had a partner on the inside.
18. We miss Buffy too.
19. Enter “2kchina” as a code to unlock the 2K Sports China team.
20. No one likes a smart-ass.

Taking Care of Curly Hair

(Originally published in Suite101)

Below are basic suggestions to care for curly hair.

Taking care of curly hair can be tricky. Though curly hair is the most versatile type of hair, it ranges from mermaid waves to the classic ‘fro, and learning how to take care of it can be a process of trial and error. However, there are certain rules all curly-haired girls should abide by.

Fall in love with your conditioner – Some stylists suggest not using shampoo at all. This is because many shampoos have alcohols that dry your hair and strip it from its natural oils. You can forgo the shampoo and just wash with conditioner, which will be gentler on your hair. You may experience some oiliness for the first couple of weeks, but that’s just your hair adjusting to its new routine.

Or… Just be good friends with your conditioner – If you can’t bear breaking up with your shampoo, then pick a shampoo that is made specifically for curly hair. Bumble and Bumble and Rusk are two great brands made for curly hair, or if on a budget, try L’Oréal or John Frieda. Even better: Avocado is great for conditioning hair. Mix it with a spoonful of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and let it sit for a half an hour. You should try to deep condition your hair once a week.

Invest in quality styling tools – Brushes can tear hair, so you should stick to combs. If you must use heat styling products, invest in quality products made of 100% ceramic. For blowdryers, try Conair. For flat irons, try Corioliss, which you can find on They’re pricy, but it’s a great investment.

Get regular trims – Curly hair has low porosity, which means that it doesn’t absorb as much water, and it’s dryer. Dry hair means split ends and breakage, so you should be consistent about getting a trim every six to eight weeks. Your hair needs this to stay healthy and to avoid worse splitting.

Approach with Caution – If your hair is prone to tangling, try conditioning your hair and combing out the tangles with a wide-tooth comb while in the shower. Also, if you must pull hair back, don’t tie hair back while it’s still wet or use rubber bands, which can snag or pull hair.
You might find your hair tough to handle, and might consider relaxers or perms. Although these chemical treatments will make styling easier, make sure you speak to your stylist about the pros and cons, because these chemical treatments may cause irreparable damage. After all, you deserve the best hair ever.

Out of Control Binge Drinking

(Originally published on Suite101

What to notice when drinking gets out of hand and out of control.

Sometimes partying can lead to destructive behavior. Drinking casually for example, especially among the college crowd, can go from “just for fun” to a full grown dependency. Although alcoholism is a problem in itself, binge drinkers should also be aware of the dangers they put themselves and their bodies into when drunk. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and it puts you at risks for predators. Below are some tips to help you notice if you’re drinking too much.

You’re drinking too much when:

Your friends say something – Good friends are hard to find, and they are the first ones to tell you when they see something wrong. If a good friend brings your drinking to your attention, take his comments into consideration. Remember, the last thing a friend wants is to see you hurt.

You make decisions you wouldn’t otherwise make – Take a moment to think about something you’ve done after a couple of drinks, and ask yourself, would I have done this sober? Or, would I have done this six months ago? A year ago? You may realize that drinking alcohol is taking a negative toll on your personality.

You can’t remember what you did last night – Blackouts are bad. Drunk blackouts are even worse. They leave you vulnerable for predators and it’s a clear sign that your body cannot handle that much alcohol. All it takes is for one person to notice your inebriated state and take advantage of that.

Your life is falling apart – Ever shown up at work hung over? Or still drunk? Called out of work because you partied too hard last night? Or missed one too many classes? Or, is the majority of your money going to alcohol? These and other things are signs that alcohol is disrupting your life, and it’s not okay. Your life and future are more important, and nothing should ever interfere with that.

What to do if you’re drinking too much:

First and foremost, put the drink down and change your partying behavior. Pick up a hobby, join a club. Do something that you love and spend all your free time falling in love with it again. Catch up on a show you’ve been meaning to watch, just do anything it takes to redirect your energy into something positive. Because exercise raises endorphins, why not start a workout regime? You’ll feel good and look good.

If you still can’t seem to wean yourself from the bottle, then consider professional help. There is nothing shameful in admitting that you need help. And if anyone mocks your new, clean lifestyle, lose their phone numbers.

Reading the Twilight Series

I wrote about Twilight in 2008 for Suite101 and I want to make this clear: I am a proud owner of a very well-worn, first edition, first printing copy of Twilight. Seriously, the dust jacket got lost within days and its now little more than pages barely held together with string. I like Twilight. I think its a love story that resonates. Hates to the left. 

Reading the Twilight Series 

Why the young adult books called the Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer are a must read. These books include the titles Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse.

The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, which now consists of three books:Twilight (ISBN: 978-0316160179, Little, Brown, October, 2005), New Moon, (ISBN: 978-0316160193, August, 2006) and Eclipse (ISBN: 978-0316160209, August, 2007), is one of the top must read’s of the Young Adult Genre, second only to Harry Potter in popularity among young adult readers.

How Bella’s Story Begins
Twilight differs from its young adult counterparts because it mixes real life emotion with fantasy. Unlike Gossip Girland Clique, Twilight plays at the heartstrings. It’s a romantic daydream gone awry.
It begins with Bella Swan moving to Forks to live with her Dad. Bella misses home, and she misses the sun. In Forks, apparently, it rains most days out of the year. Still she tries to settle into her new school and her new life, and tries to sleep despite the constant sound of falling rain.
Then she meets Edward Cullen. Edward wants nothing to do with Bella at first, and is resentful of her existence. But slowly and reluctantly, he tells her the truth: that he is a vampire, and that her blood, Bella’s blood, is the most beautiful thing he has smelled in a century. He can’t decide whether to kill her or love her.
Edward’s vampire is different from his Ann Rice and other fictional relatives. It’s as if Meyer asked herself, not what if vampires were real, but what if vampires were a realistic possibility. The answer is a highly evolved, dangerously beautiful predator. Some of the vampires also have special abilities, including Edward’s ability to read thoughts. But the Cullen’s are the “vegetarians” of their kind, living among humans and feeding only on animals.

For the Reader
At first sight, don’t be intimidated by the book’s size. Although each book is more than 500 pages each, it targets an age group from the ages of 12 and up, an easy read. Avid readers can finish it in a weekend. Harry Potter graduates will consider it brain candy. Also, because Meyer draws inspiration from classics like Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights, it might reacquaint you with these classics, or inspire your young readers at home to pick them up for the first time.
If the vampires or love story don’t draw you (Edward is a delectable prince charming), then Bella’s every girl persona will. Her character is so relatable that her story sometimes reads as a personal narrative rather than a work of fiction. However, certain scenes get a little redundant. Bella sometimes lacks foresight and insight, which leads to conflict that can otherwise be avoided.

Awards and News
In 2007, New Moon, the second book in the Twilight Series, made #1 in the American Library Association’s 2007 Teens’ Top Ten list. In 2006, Twilight made #2, second to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. The fourth installment in the series, Breaking Dawn, has a tentative release date in the fall of 2008.
Right now, Twilight is being optioned for a movie, with Kristen Stewart (Speak, Panic Room) as Bella and Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory from the Harry Potter movies) as Edward. The movie is scheduled to be released on 12/08/2008.

Recognizing Emotional Abuse

(Originally from Suite101, 2008) 
Ask yourself these questions:
  • Are you afraid to say what you think for fear of retribution?
  • Have you slowly stopped doing the things you like to do because you know he doesn’t like them?
  • If you miss a phone call/text message/email, do you hurry to respond for fear of a fight?
  • Does he ignore or reject you as “punishment” for your behavior?
  • Do you find yourself agreeing to the things he says just to end/avoid an argument?
  • Do you find yourself having to report where you are at all times?
  • Even when you deserve it, does he refuse to apologize or admit you’re right?
  • Or, even when it clearly isn’t, does he insist that something is your fault?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, and it’s an issue on a consistent basis, there is a high chance that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. Though the questions refer to a male, keep in mind that men are just as likely to be in emotionally abusive relationships, and may not even know it.

Why emotional abuse is just as bad a physical abuse
Emotional abuse is harder to recognize because it doesn’t have the obvious signs of physical abuse. A raised hand is physical abuse. Bruising is physical abuse. However, emotional bruising, although at times more damaging, is harder to recognize. Once you do recognize it then it’s the first step to improving the situation.
What you can do:
Leave the relationship. There is a reason why this is the first response: people are stubborn. Not only is there a chance that he might not want to change, he could also be very aware of what he is doing and does not find anything wrong with his behavior. You clearly deserve better and this person does not deserve any more of your time. However, if you think the relationship is worth saving, then:
Make him aware of his behavior. Be specific. For example, say, “What you said/did made me feel (insert emotion here) because…” Keeping a log is always a good idea because it gives you specific times and dates. Keep a calendar, and show him how often he exudes this behavior, and make it clear that it is not okay.
Demand an apology. Make him aware that his behavior is wrong and that you deserve to be treated better. And you deserve for him to acknowledge it as well.
Get counseling. Counselors and psychologists are here to help, let them. Address the issue with a professional, and you will be both be better for it.