Blog Posts by La Vida as we know it

  • Cosas De Casa: Things that Remind Me of Home

    There are objects that spark childhood memories when we see them as adults, that made growing up in a Latin home a completely unique experience. Take a stroll down memory lane, and see if you remember seeing these items in your own family's casa.

  • The Abuela Chronicles: A Girl More Famous Than the Circus

    Abuela Rigo lived a life full of adventures and hardships. She loved and fought for what she believed in and for those she loved the most. Her stories growing up very rich (and then very poor) in Puerto Rico are the stuff of legends, and I'll try to share them- and her- with you. Welcome to The Abuela Chronicles.


    The family had finally moved to their new home in the outskirts of the town of Caguas. The sprawling estate of over 50 acres was precisely what Mamá wanted: sturdy, roomy and just the place they needed to settle into now that Pepe, her husband, didn't need to travel as much to oversee tobacco plantations. Caguas was also the town where both Mamá and Papá were from, so there were plenty of familiar faces to welcome them and their children. To eight year old Rigo, this was the most amazing place she'd ever been to, complete with a brand new puppet theater, a store that sold every kind of luxury item (from canned fruit to Victrolas) and even a park where kids played

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  • A Latin Gringa Gets Culture Shock when She’s Not Latina Enough

    If you're a Latina who's lived in a city mostly isolated from all things Hispanic, culture shock can come when you realize just how un-Latin you've become.Rethinking what makes me LatinaRethinking what makes me Latina

    I've had the opportunity to live in three very distinct parts of the country. I've enjoyed the sweet twang of the antebellum South; the down-earthiness of the Midwest fruited plains; and the jaw-dropping natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. But other than a couple of friends or a restaurant here and there, I'd never lived in a uniquely Latino community until I moved to Miami.

    Miami, with its constant flow of Latin American immigration, is a city infused with the sounds and smells of the culture I grew up in. It was no longer the idea of Latin culture; I now lived deep within. Between the salsa music coming out of cars in traffic jams, to the tantalizing coffee smells emanating from whole-on-the-wall Cuban cafes, I felt like a kid in the proverbial candy store. But to my amazement, I felt awkward and a bit out of place

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  • Pray in English, Cuss in Spanish: Livin' La Vida Bilingual

    Livin' la vida bilingualLivin' la vida bilingual

    I'm a Latina who lives and works in two different languages and cultures. The choice of when to use one language over the other is usually self-evident: parents that only speak Spanish, a meeting with English-speaking colleagues, and so on. But as time passes, I've come to the realization that choosing one language over the other in specific situations reveals how I feel and who I really am in better and surprising ways.

    For example, have you ever noticed what language you pray in, or cuss with or speak when making love? Not only did I ask myself these questions, I went home looking for answers from the bilinguals in my family.

    Here's what I found out. See how you fare.

    PRAY: I pray in English, but if I have to say El Padrenuestro (the Lord's Prayer), which I learned as a child, that goes in Spanish regardless. "I pray in English," says my sister Loida, "but my soul's expression is in Spanish."

    They May Look Gringa, but They're Totally Latina!

    CUSS: I

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  • The Abuela Chronicles: The Trouble with Papá’s Siesta

    Abuela Rigo lived a life full of adventures and hardships. She loved and fought for what she believed in and for those she loved the most. Her stories growing up very rich (and then very poor) in Puerto Rico are the stuff of legends, and I'll try to share them- and her- with you. Welcome to The Abuela Chronicles.

    The trouble with Papá's siestaThe trouble with Papá's siestaThe Comerío house was finally closed for the season, and the brand new Ford T was packed to the gills with the family's belongings. Don Pepe (Papá), his wife Petra (Mamá), the four kids and now four year-old Rigo were ready to head out once again. Pepe was the supervising manager of one of the largest tobacco production companies in Puerto Rico, and his job required him to move to a different town every few years to oversee a new operation. This time, they were traveling to the town of Coamo, and the kids seemed more excited than usual. Papá had mentioned that there would be a surprise at the new house.

    "It's a dog!" the children screeched with delight at the sight

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  • The Abuela Chronicles: The Lizard in the Shoebox

    It smelled like the rice was burning, so Petra made her way slowly into the kitchen. The big bump on the left side of her stomach had grown, and it hurt every time she moved. She'd try cataplasmas (poultices) and sobos (ointments), but nothing seemed to help. She even wrapped one of her husband's leather belts around her waist hoping the tumor would "go down." Suddenly, there's a sharp pain on her side, and she needs to push. It felt just like giving birth! Another scream and her husband comes running in time to see what looked like a fetus now lying on the kitchen floor. "Pepe, go get the midwife! I think I just had a baby," said Petra, her face full of sweat and fear. The city was Comerío, Puerto Rico, and the year was 1917.

    Basilia, the town's comadrona, came in a big hurry and found what looked like a tiny baby girl limp on the floor. She picked her up, noticing immediately the baby wasn't much bigger than her own hand. She quickly warmed up olive oil, and started rubbing

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  • They May Look Gringa, but They’re Totally Latina!

    They speak Spanish fluently, ask for "bendición" when they visit family and enjoy their arroz con gandules as much as the next chica, but by their looks you would never think they're Latina.


    Fighting the stereotype of not looking LatinaFighting the stereotype of not looking LatinaJust like not everyone who has dark hair and a dark complexion is Hispanic, fair-skinned Latinas also have to fight a stereotype of their own. Some people don't expect them to speak Spanish or have a Latin family because maybe they're blonde or have super straight hair. These ladies usually have to decide whether to "come out" or pass as non-Latin. While at times their revealing stories can be funny, having to "prove" they are indeed Latinas can be a bit exhausting.

    I sat with Amber (a fair-skinned brunette with freckles) and her sister Heather (green eyes and freckles, too) to talk about what happens when they identify themselves as Hispanic in public. While a history lesson usually ensues, it's having to exhibit Spanish linguistic prowess that sometimes leaves them in an awkward

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  • Food-spoiled: When Only Mami’s Cooking Will Do

    I'm just food-spoiled (iStockphoto)I'm just food-spoiled (iStockphoto)When Latinos (and non-Latinos) are hungry, we fall into one of two categories. Find out if you're as "spoiled" as I am.

    It's five o'clock, and I'm leaving work. I'm cranky, hungry and tired. The good news: I'm a single woman with no husband or children, so I don't have to get home to fix rice and beans. The bad news: I'm a single woman with no one at home to fix me rice and beans. I want my mami!

    This dilemma is what gives basis to my daily dinner conundrum. We all encounter a what-am-I-going-to-eat moment at the intersection of "I'm way hungry" and "Who's going to cook?" How we determine the solution defines what kind of eater we are. Some people are food-responsible: they cook their dinner, eat fruits and veggies and avoid carbs. Basically, they don't do what I do: use food for enjoyment, to soothe their emotions or to keep that feeling of being at home when mamá cooked. In other words, they are not how I would describe myself- food spoiled.

    Define it

    I've arrived at the

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  • The Gringos in My Family—surviving Being Married to Latinos

    When it was time to fall in love and get married, all my siblings married Americanos. That's right-white, red-blooded, not a pinch of Latino-Americans. Soon, there were holidays together, the next generation of children was born, and we basically merged into a nicely-mixed (sometimes mixed-up!) family. But one day I started to wonder- has anyone ever asked them what it has been like to be a gringo (and I use this term with great love and affection) in a Latin family?

    I sat down with my in-laws--Sarah, Sammy and Brad--for a first-person account of what it's really like to marry Latino.


    Pre-conceived notions of married life

    Sarah: I had none, mainly because of where I grew up (Virginia Beach). This was a very diverse area where many Navy families lived, and I made friends with many of them. Some of my friends there were of Mexican descent, although none were Puerto Rican.

    Brad: I really had no pre-conceptions. It was all new to me!

    Sammy: I thought it was neat!

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  • Bi-Racial Dating in the Latino World

    Bi-Racial Dating in the Latino World (iStockphoto)You can't imagine how elated Mami was when she heard I was dating again, an event as rare as the pass of Haley's comet! "So tell me all about him," she said. "Well, he's from San Diego, from a very entrepreneurial family, he has a graduate degree in political science and works for a major international company here in town." "I can't wait to meet him!",she exclaimed eagerly. "Now, Mami. I gotta tell you, he's black."

    All of a sudden, silence.

    Pero, nena, wasn't there anyone else??

    What?!! This coming from a woman, herself from casta Spanish blood, who when she started dating that really cute, dark guy from a San Juan barrio (who is now my father) was threatened to be sent to Spain for the rest of her senior year? I couldn't believe her lack of understanding given her own experience, but there it was. My mom was prejudiced!

    "No!" she said, "Is that I'm concerned how people will look at you when you walk down the street; plus no one in our family has ever dated a black person, and,

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Pagination

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