I had a great day today in Indianapolis. I started the morning with the Association of International Women’s book club discussing the themes and currents within Hijas Americanas and the universality of so many of the issues within– how the themes in Hijas are often echoed in the stories of women from all walks of life or in the stories of immigrants. How the concept may have been shared in Hijas through this lens of the Latina experience but how I could write the book 17 different ways, with 17 different lenses and see commonalities in themes. It was a great, provocative group with women from all over the globe– Bolivia, Norway, Canada, Germany, India, and a wonderful, indulgent way to spend a morning. Sometimes I just marvel that I get to have these types of conversations for a living.
Next, I did a radio station interview at a Latino station here in Indianapolis and it is with sweet relief that I tell you that I did not butcher the Spanish language. I say this because the dailiness of my life does not afford me the opportunity to speak a great deal of Spanish. I speak Spanish to my mom, but we all know mom conversations are a whole different ball game than talking about STDS and teenage pregnancy and plastic surgery. The other problem is that I think of what I want to say in English first and it is often too complex for me to then translate into Spanish. My Spanish competency is certainly not parallel to my English competency and so sometimes I am like a deer in headlights trying to figure out how to translate what I want to say into what I can say in Spanish. And don’t even get me started on por/para and un/una because I just don’t have those things memorized the way that I should. Then there was this one experience I had at church when I was in college– I was supposed to meet my parents’ at Spanish mass. The traffic from North Carolina to South Carolina was bad so I arrived a few minutes late. I was mortified to walk in late, and then, after the service, the priest, all of my parents’ friends, etc bumrushed me to hear how college was going, etc and in my hurry to apologize and explain to the priest that I was so embarrassed to have been late, I instead said that I was late because I was pregnant. You see, embarrassed in Spanish is avergonzada. Pregnant in Spanish is embarazada. Totally innocent mistake. I just came out sounding not so innocent to my priest and my parents’ friends. I live in fear of reliving that experience (I also live in fear of the time I told the mayor of a town in Puerto Rico who was hosting a group from my college while we were there to do community service work that the guys in our group had slept on something other than his cohines (from the couches in his office). I’ll let you imagine what I might have mixed up there.). So, needless to say, I was all nervous before my interview but Cinthya and Mely were rockstar interviewers and put me at ease and everything went just fine– we had a great conversation and I had a ball.
Next up was a program with middle school girls from two schools in Indianapolis. They were all Latinas from a program run by La Plaza, and I could have just eaten them up. The program was mostly in Spanish and we were able to talk about the incredible tensions and pressures they feel. A funny moment came when someone asked me a question in English and so I answered in English, with my speech littered in y’all’s. Their teacher caught the confused looks on their faces and translated to them that y’all meant you all. By the time they were leaving, they were playing with using y’all in their speech– I may have just started a funny little trend in Indy. As my hostess for the day said, and I readily agreed, we would have wrapped ourselves around those girls in an effort to keep them safe through their adolescence. They really were vibrant, soulful, smart girls, and I’ll get some pictures of them up soon as a shout out.
Tomorrow, I’ll be signing books in downtown Indianapolis at the Border’s and then I’ll hop a plane home to North Carolina. Happy Wednesday!