I have started classes already and I’m already a little overwhelmed by all the reading I’ll have to do this semester. I also have that lingering high school complex to be the best in the class lurking in the back of my mind. I’ve been trying to banish it by just telling myself to have fun with my courses. Just do my best and get a good experience out of it. My professors were great, but I was a little worried with my Latino lit class at first. I like my professor but she’s a little timid, not like the other powerful female English professors I’ve had/have. However, I think the class will be an enlightening experience. Today we talked about how Latino literature IS American literature and often struggles with issues of identity and something clicked in my head, an immediate connection to this literature and its authors.
Although I’m not really a first generation Cuban in the sense that my parents are very “Americanized” since they have been in the US since they were very young and I didn’t grow up in the “barrio” or in the heavy shadow of cultural obligation, I too struggled with identity. For me, growing up in small town, white bread, Tennessee and searching for some kind of answer to the question, “Who am I?”, I clung to my cultural heritage as a way to make myself unique and special, to make my identity something definitive. I never wanted to fit in; quite the opposite; I wanted to distinguish myself in every way possible. So I made sure everyone knew that I was Cuban, in elementary school showing other kids where it was on the map, in the rest of my school career vigorously educating them when they said, “But you don’t look it…” as if I could not possibly be Cuban because I wasn’t dark-skinned.
However, while I was educating my peers about the diversity within the Latino community, I also paradoxically worried I wasn’t Cuban enough, especially since I didn’t know Spanish, even though I knew that there is no “standard” to being Cuban and you should never limit yourself by your ethnicity. I still cling to it occassionally when I feel unsure of myself but now I’m in a more diverse (comparatively) community where there’s lots of different Latinos, even other Cubans besides me. Maybe it’s not so special, maybe I can’t base my identity, my need to feel unique, solely on being Cuban because it makes me feel safe, but I can still keep that orgullo which is definitely distinctly Cuban. And I can still ponder my identity, something my professor said was uniquely American (though I don’t really agree). I know better now. I know am Cuban no matter who I am. I know that my identity is comprised of more parts than I can count and that it don’t NEED to pin it down. I just need, to be so very cliche, to be myself and let go. I’m more complex than a single label can encompass.
I found some awesome photography by Dulce Pinzon on Guanabee today. The “Super Heroes” series depicts working immigrants who work to send money home to their families in costume as popular super heroes and the other is a series of portraits of Latinos with various cultural backgrounds, showing the error of trying to categorize Latinos into one neat color-coded group (also something my blog name makes fun of). Here’s a few photos and the links to Guanabee’s posts:
Photographers Dulce Pinzon Presents Latin Immigrants As Superheroes
Color Us Latino
I’m all moved into my dorm and have started my new job as a Reeve (i.e. dorm sentinel), but since classes haven’t started I am quite bored and have been finding random things to occupy my time. Yesterday for example, I made a blank journal using some leftover cardboard from move-in and a Whole Foods bag (best store ever). It’s a little shoddy, but I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve been looking up a lot of book-binding and altered books projects on Craftster.org and I’m getting really inspired, even fantasizing of making my own line of super-pretty handmade journals and selling them. I’m also waging a war with the odor of mildew still lurking in my fridge after repeated attempts to deodorize it. You see, Ryan was using it and when he stopped he didn’t leave the door ajar so it wouldn’t get all mildewy. Now I have a stubbornly stinky fridge that makes me lose my appetite for anything in it. I’m still considering getting the $90 fridge in the bookstore because I really can’t stand it.
I bought a bunch of groceries at Kroger the day I moved in, half of which I won’t eat. Among the things I have been eating are ramen noodles (of course) which I occasionally spike with tofu (but that’s kept in my fridge so I unconciously shy away from it), baked sweet potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches, and oatmeal. No cuban food yet but now I find myself craving it. Besides, I promised the cleaning lady on our floor that I would cook her some. :D The kitchen in my building, however, has absolutely no supplies and neither do I. So I need to buy some, and spending more money is not something I want to do right now, considering I’m already in a bit of debt. We’ll see.
In other news, my talented artist of a brother created a piece about me for AP Art and included quotes from this very blog! Here it is (Click for larger photo):
Yesterday, the amigas had a “surprise” homecoming party for Angela who just got back from her adventure in France. I made little chocolate cupcakes with a French flag of sprinkles on each (that’s the project I was referring to in the last post). They turned out really cute and tasty. Angela had a wonderful time in France and hearing her stories multiplied my wanderlust by infinity. I really want to leave the country now. However, I will have to cope with the fact that I will be in the country for some time longer…*sigh* I’ll have to find adventures here.
Today, we (Me, Morgan, Angela, and Lisa) are going to the big band festival in Nashville tonight. It’ll be our last hurrah before the semester since I leave Tuesday and Morgan leaves Thursday. We usually go to the Shakespeare festival together but since that doesn’t start for another couple of weeks this will be a nice substitute (and a good opportunity to break in my new white fedora :D). I don’t have much to write about right now since my cooking has severely declined. And we’ll see how that fares when I go to school in a couple of days.
So last week my sweet tooth went into overdrive. I randomly made cheesecake lemon bars. I bought a fine bar of chocolate. I made MORE dulce de leche. And I basically ate constantly. As a result, now the thought of anything sweet and heavy makes me sick. The past couple days I’ve had basically no appetite but have been eating small, light veggie/fruit based meals, which is probably great for my health anyway so hopefully I’ll keep it up. Since I haven’t been up for heavy foods I haven’t been cooking the usual cuban fare of rice and beans so I’ll have to search for lighter options. I think I just burned out on it a bit. Something that is a Cuban staple but still sounds good right now is aguacate (avocado!), and it’s healthy. But since I can’t eat an avocado by itself (well, actually I can, quite easily, but it doesn’t make much of a meal…) I’ll need to look for recipes.
In Memories of a Cuban Kitchen, Mary Urrutia Randelman writes that “green salads and vegetables were not a common part of Cuban cuisine” due to the influence of 1950s American cuisine that championed canned vegetables and fruit over fresh (thanks Uncle Sam). So salad meant ham or chicken salad made with mayonnaise and “fruit salad” was made of fruit cocktail. Lettuce leaves were mainly used as garnish. Popular vegetables in Cuba were were avocado, boniato (white sweet potato), yuca, calabaza (West Indian pumpkin), malanga and so on. Radishes, eggplant, and okra are also sometimes used. Also salads are hardly used as a main dish but rather as a complement to other dishes. I’m looking through the recipes which range from traditional to her own creations and there’s actually an avocado and mango salad, which sounds weird enough to be intriguing (there’s also an avocado and pineapple salad.) I’d like to give it a try but I actually have an cooking assignment, but I can’t say what it is because it’s a surprise for *someone* and I don’t want to ruin it if *someone* actually reads this.
In other news I had my last day of work yesterday so I’m free until next Tuesday when I have to move into my dorm, the thought of which freaks me out. I can’t believe it’s already here. I was excited before but…where did my summer go? I’m trying not to think about it too much but I’ve got to start preparing so it’s inevitable. Also, I turn 20 on Sunday. Finally, I’m leaving my teenage years behind. It’s corny but I can’t wait to tell people I’m 20. Makes me feel so grown-up! (Which is probably an indicator that I’m actually not…;P) Ah well. I going to continue working on a little project I’ve started, a little mirror compact with a vintage photo on the cover. Adios.