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28 November 2011

Mirror, Mirror, In the Book

"Gringa Pichinga, Gringa Pichinga"
It used to ring in my ears, all the way home, well not home, but to that place in the middle of the bush.  At first I used to ask T what they are singing.  I knew it was about me.  I knew because they would stare at me as this strange little phrase would ring out of their mouths.  I do not lie, the whole bus load of childring going to the village would sing it, sometimes the whole way.

When I left the village, I left like an uncaged bird. It is not so much that I hated the pristine jungle and the beauty of nature that surrounded the primative farm.  I got used to life without electricity and running water.  Before that we lived in rural California, so it did not bother me that the roads were not paved and some times impassable.  I loved the exotic free trees and the wildlife.  I was, however, glad to leave.  Glad to leave being misunderstood.  The village, all my nieghbours and the people around me, did not understand me.  They did not understand how I spoke to boys my age or even older, how I dressed, how I spoke.  I confused them because I rode horses, read books, enjoyed riding in the back of the pick up with the others.  Horror of Horrors, I used to walk places by myself.  To them I did all the things that a pichanga did, so I must have been one; Sucia, Skettle, Bitch.

I remember the first time I told one of my neighbours that I had a relationship with Jesus, that I read the Bible and prayed.  He laughed in my face and exclaimed "What kinda Church gyal you?" When I told him I wasn't a "Church Girl" I was a "Jesus Girl", he laughed, said that sweet him as the funniest thing ever.

I am no longer bitter about the village.  A couple of months ago, Beloved and I took a drive out to the village.  He won tickets to zipline at a new eco-lodge back there and we made a day out of going.  I was nervous going back there, and showing him the place of my personal darkness.  I should him different places of trauma for me.  I told him about the neighbour, who years later was arrested for raping a young girl, and how I felt like I betrayed the little sister I never met with my silence.  I told him how riding horses through the jungle was a mixed pleasure and dread for me.  I cried a few times, and I stared straight ahead much of the day.  The crowning momement was during the zipline, the tour guide knew me.  I felt like copying the lines from  Finding Forester " You couldn't break me!"  but he did not personally have anything to do with it.  He was just one of them.... he did not understand me.

Today, I presented to my class, the most meaningful book that I have read so far in my life.  I choice to present on Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez'  2008 Chic/k Lit Novel The Dirty Girls Social Club.  I love Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez because she understands me.  Of course we are different, but we are very much the same.  She is a New Mexican writer, used to be journalist.  Her father is a Cuban, her mother a white woman with Scottish hertiage.  Alisa grew up poor, misunderstood and labelled.  There is something about how she rose about it all with a positive attitude that speaks to me.  Her novels and her blog do not come across as ultra-Feministic, or bitter. Sure she has earned the rights to celebrate her womanness, celebrate the fact that she was not destroyed by public opinion, or the dominate society. She celebrates.  She celebrates and discusses rather then moans and cries about her lose.

I now follow Alisa's blog.  She writes on it everyday, sometimes twice a day, so I can't keep up with it, but when I can, I stop in at her site. I have not read an entry yet that I could not contact with. As a woman, reader, Latin American, educated person, and general person she provokes thoughts in me.  My heart sings as I read things like "people are people, they are complicated", and "submission has to do with loyality and trust".  I feel like her blog reflects my heart.

According to, Chick Lit is a genre of books written by women for women.  I protest that.  The first person I recommended The Dirty Girls Social Club (that so happens to fall in the category of Chic Lit) to after I read it the first time was my brother.  After I read it the second time, I lend it to Good Teacher (who happens to be male). When I read it again this last time, I share bits and pieces of it with Beloved (who is male).  I shared it with my class that is about half male.  I hate the idea that women's issues belong solely to women.  I want to share my life's exeriences, my female powers, and my empowerment with my brothers and my sisters. I think keeping Chic Lit among the chicks only continues the cycle of alienation between men and women.  Now  I am not saying I want my brothers to thrive on soft femi literature, I just want them to stomach it.  I want them to understand it: to understand me.

"I understand the need for political boundries, but I certainty do not think humanity has boundaries"


Leonardo Melendez said...

Extremely interesting! And even now Beth, I still don't understand you.

Beth said...

Thanks so much for your honesty! It is a strong position to admit you don't understand something rather than "hatin' on" it. Don't worry... I am trying to become more understanding and more understandable.