This glossary evolved out of a writing activity in our Chicanx Literature class (CLS 4020) at California State University, Los Angeles in the spring of 2021. The assignment was to celebrate the mighty lengua and produce vignettes about cultural expressions we grew up with. The entries that follow are short excerpts from longer vignettes.
Yesterday I read Gustavo Arellano's most recent piece in the New Yorker, “In Praise of Flour Tortillas, an Unsung Jewel of the U.S.- Mexican Borderlands” and I felt vindicated in my love and obsession for tortillas de harina.
Yesterday, somewhere in Arcadia, beneath the dappled shade of trees that I don't know the names of and large colorful dangling flores de papel, I ate hotdogs and tacos and drank lots of alcohol. It was Saturday, after all, and Lillian, who was sitting to my right, took it upon herself to become the bartender at our table. She's good.
Anything can happen in a dream. Anything can happen in Bruja. Cats multiply and scurry; sharks lurk in lakes; an ocean wave floods a living room one minute and then becomes a calm ripple the next.
Back in 2014, soon after posting the above picture on FB, Sylvia noticed that the photo of her and her girlfriend Lillian, interlocked in a kiss, had suddenly disappeared from her wall. Someone had “disapproved” and reported the picture, claiming the image contained nudity.
We’ve seen them repeatedly—images of women soldiers from the Mexican Revolution. Sometimes they appear in Agustίn Victor Casasola’s black and white pictures, sitting atop train cars with their heads covered in rebozos, or standing solo by the train tracks, donning men’s clothes and cartridge belts crisscrossed against the chest, or as a firing squad in long flowing dresses, pointing their 30-30s up towards some mythical horizon.
Shortly after tatiana de la tierra passed away in the summer of 2012, her website went down. My brother managed to temporarily put it back up. Later in the year, though, the link was dead again. For the past two years, the website has flickered in and out of existence. Mostly, its been dormant.
The motif, el hilo, that runs through Myriam Gurba's latest collection of stories is death, and when it comes to writing about death, Gurba knows how to kill it. Yes, la muerte es triste (that's why La Llorona can't stop crying), but Gurba's stories remind us that from the mulch of the dead bloom flowers.
This past week was finals week for me, both as a teacher and a graduate student. When I wasn’t grading student essays, I was cramming for my own exams and rushing to submit final portfolios. Imagine an out of shape 44-year-old baseball player sliding into home plate. Asί terminé.
I haven’t written a blog since my father died at the end of September. I tried, but every time I came to the computer, the blank page reigned, the silence inside me reigned.