Fearful, I reject this.
unsociable, Like my cat. She has a strict schedule. Pretty much no in the day. Oh yeah, she’ll meet your car and roll around on the driveway playing pretty kitty, but she won’t let you touch her.
She waits for me at night, curled up in a corner of the bedroom. I open a book. She meows and head bumps the book. No hb’s for humans. I scratch between her ears, her neck, under her chin, maybe we do elevator butt. Then, I push her down next to me and return to my book. She usually moves to the foot of the bed, right where my feet will go.
Turn off the light. She makes her way up to me, lays down as close to me as she can get, but with her head facing out so she can make a quick getaway. I’m mostly not like my cat. Not so regimented. I hope.
inhibited, I can’t own this.
reclusive, I like the sound of this. It’s solitary.
Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely.
aloof, I wish.
indrawn, as in introspective, yeah.
Informal standoffish, Rube version of aloof. Oh yeah, baby.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The telephone rang twice before the machine answered. Lydia paused, fingers over keypad to hear who was calling before answering.
“Hello. How are you?”
“I’m sooo happy to hear from you,” Lydia said, meaning every word of it. Garry had been her lover through three years of college and one year of graduate school thirty years ago. He lived 60 miles away and drove in on weekends, and usually midweek, as well.
“I left a message on your voice mail about a month ago,” she said.
“Oh, really.” He was flattered by her exuberance.
Lydia had dropped all pretense when she turned fifty. She never toned down her enthusiasm. People either basked in it, or thought she was faking.
“My home or cell?”
“You told me to call your cell,” she said.
He was married to his fifth wife. They'd met a year after his divorce from his first wife. During the weekend years, Lydia had thought she might become Mrs. Garry number two. They discussed it, but their timing was off. She went to graduate school out-of-state and they opted for an "open" relationship.
“Damn, I’ve been having trouble with my cell. Why did you call?”
“Check up on you, of course.”
They laughed. Garry was twenty years her senior. When he hadn’t returned her call, she’d worried that he might be dead, but she didn't say that.
“Probably something to do with politics,” she said instead. Garry and Lydia had always found it easy to talk with each other. Their weekends had been filled with lively political debates which added an unexpected sensuality to their lovemaking.
Their conversation now flowed from the presidential candidates to the economy to the environment to family, mainly the children: his and now, hers. They took care to avoid discussing their spouses. Garry’s wife was notoriously jealous. Lydia’s workaholic husband veered in the opposite direction.
Garry launched into a description of his latest entrepreneurial venture, something high tech. He was very creative, and extremely wealthy. He'd made investments in every state she'd moved to in order to write off his travel. While he spoke, Lydia imagined his head, now partially covered with silken white hair, bobbing up-and-down between her legs.
“So I just need to raise another million,” Garry said.
“Well, at least you have some,” she said, meaning hair on his head, not money.
“Yes,” he said, “but not enough.”
“But you’re sooo amazing with what you do have,” Lydia said, sounding like a love-struck nineteen-year-old.
Across the miles and years, they laughed again.
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
A Latina by any other name would still be a Latina. That means a Latina with the last name O’Briant which sure sounds Irish can still be a Latina. Confused? A short history of names might help:
My maternal grandmother was a Sandoval who married a Gallegos. My mother married the O’Briant. My olive-skinned mom proudly relinquished her father’s Spanish surname because of the discrimination she’d experienced growing up. She also emphasized English in our home because in her hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico, her first language had been forbidden in the schools. For her, an Anglo last name was a step up, and she didn’t want her children to experience the same prejudice she had endured.
She took it a step further with me by trying to keep me out of the sun and by slathering a bleaching cream called Black/White all over me. Mom threw herself on the bed and wept the time my father brought me home from a day of fishing. I didn’t have sunburn but an enviable tan people pay good money for nowadays.
After my parents’ divorce we moved from Texas to Santa Fe where mom’s parents still lived. My grandmother spoke only Spanish and my aunts and uncles spoke a lively mix of Spanglish. Grandpa was especially creative. “Don’t get so exercise!” he’d say, meaning don’t get excited. English was still emphasized in the barrio schools I attended, but at least now you could take Spanish as an elective. Not that my blossoming Spanish helped me blend in. There was still the O’Briant last name with which I had to contend.
Pachucos attacked both my brother and me for having an Anglo surname. The idea that despite all her effort her children would still experience discrimination never occurred to Mom. There is no blame here, but it does explain my cynical worldview.
So, where did the Ramos in my name come from? When I began writing, I chose a penname borrowed from the slender, bookish part of a widely traveled couple who gave me a subscription to National Geographic when I was ten. That magazine opened my mind to possibilities beyond the Santa Fe city limits, but I also wanted to proclaim my heritage, and not from the ground looking up as I had once done with my childhood tormentors: “My mom is Spanish!”
In the early 70’s I attended the University of New Mexico. Racial and ethnic divides, as well as the Vietnam War, were the subjects on campuses across the country. My junior year roommate was a Navajo girl whose parents had fled the reservation for Albuquerque suburbia. Genevieve had been raised among middle-class Anglos and been a cheerleader. She wanted to get married and have blond, blue-eyed children.
“You remind me of my mom,” I said. It was around this time that Whoopi Goldberg did a skit about a young black girl wearing a towel around her head and pretending it was her “golden locks.”
My roommate and I took a class called Hands Across the Border that emphasized the major racial and ethnic groups in New Mexico. The names that follow are circa 1970: Mexican, Spanish, Anglo, Indian and Black. The problem for the Latinos was that we couldn’t make up our minds what we wanted to be called: Latino, Mexican American, Chicano, Hispanic or Spanish American. That last description was hotly debated because there was a difference between Northern New Mexicans and those who lived closer to the Mexican border.
If you called yourself Spanish, as my mother and her generation did, then you were thought to be putting on airs. “You may be Mexican,” she told me, “but I’m Spanish.”
My novel, The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood, is a family legend, with some romantic/erotic embellishment. The sisters adopted Anglo children whose parents had died on the Santa Fe Trail. Spanish became their first language and they took the Sandoval surname. But they still encountered discrimination. The book explores the impact of the Mexican-American War on the sisters. Alma’s elopement with a young Texan is my mother’s story.
Prejudice and racism happen all over the world, but when it comes to Latinos, we’ve relaxed with the uproar over names because, well, we’re everywhere. The Census Bureau explains that “People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race and from a multitude of countries: America, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America, to name just a few. The AP Stylebook’s recommended usage of Latino includes not only persons of Spanish-speaking ancestry, but also more generally includes persons “from-or whose ancestors were from-Latin America, including Brazilians.”
Before the U.S. Census caught up with what was happening across the country, Time Magazine (1993) did a cover story on mixed marriages and what an American would look like in the future. Go here to see the beauty on the cover. She looks Latina to me.
Japorican and Blacklao (Black and Laotian), Blaxicans and Filatinos (Filipino and Latino), you can call me Mexrish or a Leprechana, but I prefer Latina because it encompasses a positive and powerful group of people, and it’s a mix of all that I am.
Also at Latino Voices, The Huffington Post
Follow Sandra Ramos O’Briant on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sramosobriant
Friday, November 18, 2016
Oxford Dictionaries just declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international
word of the year. The heart of the definition is how public opinion is
shaped less by objective facts and more by emotional appeals.
Which brings me to the movie, Miss Sloane, directed by John Madden
and starring Jessica Chastain. Billed as a political thriller, I prefer to call
it a drama filled with plenty of edgy twists and turns, and, yes politics
are involved. On its surface, the game is about the gun lobby and its
opposition. The real story is about Power—its pursuit, the avid hunger
for it, and who can play the game best. The movie is also a character
Enter Elizabeth Sloane, the Machiavellian heroine/villain of the movie.
She’s a successful special-interest lobbyist on Capitol Hill, who is driven
to win and appears to give no empathy to the various causes she
represents, or to the people she uses to achieve her goals. She
manipulates not only the truth, but the emotions of the people
People in business cultivate a placid demeanor that reveals nothing
of what they might be plotting, I mean, thinking. Women generally
have to work harder at this since we’re encouraged from childhood
to be open, amenable, and cooperative. Miss Sloane didn’t get that
memo. Jessica Chastain not only plays a brilliant, unscrupulous character,
but she manages to conceal all emotion while she’s scheming. Her private
time is another matter.
I like my heroes and heroines to be a mixed bag of angel and devil:
Miss Sloane epitomizes this, but it takes a while for the cracks to show.
She’s an insomniac who pops prescription uppers to keep going. So she’s
got a bit of ADHD. Who doesn’t?
She hires a male escort to meet her in bed—sex and no emotional
exchanges, please. This humanized her for me. Don’t count on erotic
scenes here, Miss Sloane is on a schedule and while she’s squeezed t
his interlude into her calendar, her orgasm only requires his cooperation.
She’s successful, but what will her next challenge be? For some
inconceivable reason, she resigns from the most powerful lobbying
organization in Washington. Her employer accepts the gun lobby’s
appeal to get the female vote against a bill requiring background checks
for firearm purchases. She leaves to go work for the other side fighting to
pass the bill, taking her crew with her, all except for Jane Molloy
(Allison Pill). She remains behind and asks for a raise.
Is there some personal history that would explain Miss Sloane’s decision?
The story turns on our lack of backstory. No flashbacks, folks. No gun
violence revealed in her childhood. But that doesn’t mean her crew might not
have experienced such barbarity. Miss Sloane is not only willing to use such
a personal history but she’s ready. She leaves no stone unturned, no file
unread, no internet device unhacked. The most remarkable aspect of the film
is how viewers don’t question this pristine—no doubt Ivy League educated—
female’s access to back alley nerds, the techno-henchman of the 21st century.
The back alley scenes are dark, wet and dirty. No secret knocks, but Chastain
does look over her shoulder before entering.
She appears to be winning public opinion in the gun control battle and her
former firm calls for an “inquisition” into her tactics. Miss Sloane anticipated
this. The pressure mounts. A few more cracks appear in her façade: she throws
some stuff around in the privacy of her office. Still, Chastain makes it a
momentous desk-clearing. A few exhausted tears, and more pills slide down
her throat while she plans her next move. Make sure you surprise them is her
Miss Sloane is in control of her future. She’s all about choices. Prepare for the
post-truth ride. You’ll be surprised.
Opens: Nov. 25 (EuropaCorp. USA)
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alisson Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston, John Lithgow, David Wilson Barnes, Dylan Baker, Raoul Bhaneja, Chuck Shamata, Christine Baranski
Director: John MaddenScreenwriter: Jonathan Perera
Also at Huffington PostFollow Sandra Ramos O’Briant on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sramosobriant