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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Marta A. Lomeli, Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger this week is Marta A. Lomeli, author of Cuentos from the House on West Connecticut Avenue. Her keen sense of humor is contagious.  Marta A. Lomeli is one of those amazing beings that know how to enjoy life to the fullest.  She has over twenty-five years of teaching experience, over ten years in the martial arts, and years of community involvement: youth mentoring programs, police community relations support, and precinct walking. Beginning with her college years, she was well-known for her original cartoons, many of which were published in college newspapers. She has had poetry published, as well as many articles on personal safety and self-defense for women and children.A few years ago, she achieved the rank of second degree black belt in Chinese Shao-lin Kempo, an ancient form of martial arts. She managed to reach this goal even though she was a single mother for a number of years.She has discovered other wild ways to enjoy life, such as skydiving, public speaking, and painting. Today, she is "retired," but keeps busy by being a full-time "baby wrangler," taking care of her toddler grandson. She enjoys participating in Las Comadres networking Comadrazos and the Las Comadres Book Club.

Saludos! I am Ileana's "Comadre." We were not born relatives. We did not become relatives via any religious ceremony, but we are Comadres nonetheless. We are friends for life.

I had the good fortune to read Ileana's book, Shattered Paradise: Memoir of a Nicaraguan War Child, and it touched my soul. Selfish person that I am, I thought, "How can my writing ever compare to her beautiful prose? Her childhood had beauty and peace until the chaos of war turned things upside down." I wanted to jump into her book and pull her out of that horrible danger, but that isn't how books work. 

It is an honor to be a guest in her blog. Today, I will share with you the little juicy bits of inspiration that I read to myself every now and then:
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
--Louis L'Amour

“Certain things they should just stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those glass cases and just leave them alone.”--J.D. Salingerl, Catcher in the Rye

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked and it would be like living the memory all over again.”--Daphne Du Maurier

Among other things, I am a culture vulture and proud of it. I don't think that you are less of a Chicana (Latina, Hispanic, whatever) if you adapt and make it your own. Wasn't it Paulo Freire that used the words "man as the creator of culture?" For the sake of a discussion, let's talk about cultural traditions that could could affect a family's future.  Since I'm not writing a book or a thesis here, I won't be listing to the million of examples that are possible.  I'll just choose one example: Quinceañeras, a girl’s 15th birthday celebration!

First, a disclaimer, I didn't have a quinceañera. My father, did, however, give me a $20 bill. Not much? It was in those days! I was born in the 1950s. We lived at the poverty level. I didn't expect my dad to give me anything more than a hug. I think that Mom made enchiladas or something. That was always appreciated. I would have felt guilty if they had spent hundreds of dollars on a party for me while they had sons in college that were scrimping to get by, working dangerously long hours in the summer as fire fighters. Not many scholarships for Latinos in those early days. 

When I became a sixth grade teacher, I once overheard a fellow teacher chatting about her daughter's upcoming birthday. We were in the faculty lounge, eating lunch, and I heard her say, "I'm all about letting kids learn from making their own decisions. So, I gave my daughter the choice: I'll take her to Europe in the summer, or I’ll give her a quinceañera. She chose the quinceañera. I'm going to get a limo for her and everything!" For those of you who might not be familiar with this celebration, the cost of a quinceañera could be as much as a wedding. It is not rare that often times, families might have to choose between celebrating a quinceañera or paying for college.  

Did you ever come across such choices?

Marta A. Lomeli

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