For the Child of Undocumented Immigrants, the American Dream Can Be a Nightmare

This is a story about love and sacrifice in the shining city on a hill. It is about the wildest, blindest love story in America, the story of the devotion immigrants have for a country that wants to expel them. This love perseveres past heartbreak; past giving your body, mind, and youth to a country you risked your life to get to, then seeing your own tax money pay for immigration officials to pursue an ambulance carrying a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy on the way to emergency surgery just to detain her and send her to a detention shelter without her caretakers. The curly-haired father who faces violent gangs in his home country: gone. The 5-year-old American citizen who believed his father (who is hiding in a church to give his lawyers more time to fight a deportation order) is just at work and he’ll come home soon: ICE makes no exception for them either. They used to have the decency of knocking down our doors in the middle of the night. It was scary and humiliating, but it was tonally appropriate—it was violence that felt violent. There was the illusion that the reason they were getting away with it was because it was dark; polite society was asleep. Now they are disappearing us in the middle of the day, in front of schools and hospitals and courthouses. Many of the children of these targeted migrants are American citizens. Do you believe, under the circumstances, that this love story could be true?

For the past year, I’ve been researching my forthcoming book, Undocumented America, in which I recount the intimate stories of undocumented immigrants throughout the United States. Regardless of their circumstances, they all have one thing in common—the looming threat of deportation. In early 2017, John Kelly (now President Trump’s chief of staff, but then head of the Department of Homeland Security) issued memos doing away with many Obama-era enforcement priorities, meaning targets for deportation not only included criminals and security risks but overnight became anyone and everyone. Minors and the parents and spouses of American citizens were suddenly in the crosshairs—and it is no exaggeration to say that in this current moment, immigrants are being hunted like animals. Yet when we talk about who deserves protection from this policy, we only talk about Dreamers—undocumented immigrants who arrived in the States as children and who had been given safe harbor here under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). What about those children’s parents, the protagonists of that original love story?

I am one of those children. And I know that love story like the back of my hand.

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio in her parents’ living room.

I was 5 years old when I arrived in New York City from Ecuador. During that first summer in America, my undocumented parents took me to Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers, Central Park, Bloomingdale’s window displays, the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island. “This is America,” they said, spreading their arms wide. I learned about America at home, too. Although my family was poor when I was a kid, my mother’s closet has always been filled with vintage dresses from secondhand stores. She loves dresses that cinch at the waist and flare out extravagantly, and she collects pillbox hats, mink shawls, white dinner gloves, tiny clutches, and gilded brooches. Before she learned the word vintage, she called these dresses “from a time before.” In context: “Daughter, I need a floral dress from a time before to wear to church.” The vagueness annoyed me. I told her that could mean anything from the early Neanderthal period to the Middle Ages. But she would just hum Frank Sinatra as she twirled in her dresses, because we both knew what she meant. She meant the same thing old white racists who want America to “return” to greatness now mean—an imagined snapshot of an anonymous suburb in the 1950s. A Norman Rockwell painting where a girl in a poodle skirt shares a milkshake with a blond boy with a cowlick. A time before.

Once, for a wedding, my mother sewed me into a baby blue chiffon prom dress from the 1960s, hemmed to conceal a stain. I couldn’t breathe in the dress, but I looked like a vision of who she wanted me to be. White. My mother may not have wanted me to be white, but she feared what would happen to me when the world realized I wasn’t. She had big dreams for me. A stay-at-home mom until recently, she told me, when I was little, that I needed to be a career woman; that way, I’d never have to extend my hand to a man to ask for money. America for her means fully empowered womanhood. When she sees glamorous, successful women on TV, women like Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice, she whispers, “I wonder what it feels like to be a successful woman.” Then she pauses for a moment before she turns to me, her voice turning sharp, as she says: “That’s why we stayed, you know. So you could be a successful woman. I live through you.”

While my mom stayed at home, my dad was on the front lines of America as an immigrant, working in the restaurant industry. He faced racist abuse, wage theft, devastating humiliation, xenophobia, grueling manual labor, poor pay. My father has always had the rhetorical style of a Latin American dictator, which is to say wordy, and has also been excessively prone to metaphor. America to him has always meant two different sports—baseball, and soccer. He watched Babe Ruth documentaries all the time and sought out biographies about the baseball star from the library. He admired Ruth for his bootstrap story. Over time, he became obsessed with the New York Yankees and taught himself to understand the rules of baseball. He started taking me to games, buying tickets for seats in the nosebleed section, and once he brought me home a laminated photo of the captain at the time, the legendary No. 2, Derek Jeter, that he purchased from a man on the street. When my little brother was born in November 1998, the Yankees were playing in the World Series. My brother is named Derek.

For my father, baseball seemed like the purest form of assimilation. But he was obsessive about teaching me about another sport, too. He told me that, in America, our family was a soccer team. We all had roles. His position was defense. I was the star kicker. He would protect me and, in turn, I would be my family’s face in the world, bearing both of my parents’ last names. Cornejo, his. Villavicencio, hers. My mother and father worked hard behind the scenes so I could shine on the field, so I could be a Latin American team making goal after goal against their colonial rulers—Portugal, Spain, or England. In Ecuador, my father had been such a talented soccer player that his nickname was Ronaldinho, after the Brazilian soccer star. In America, he passed on the crown to me. Whenever I had a standardized exam or a job interview or was working on an album review for the local jazz newspaper, he would say, “Your team is behind you. Make the goal.” I’ve made goal after goal for 25 years and it’s made my parents proud. But do you want to know something? Pride don’t mean shit.

I never identified as a Dreamer. First, I thought the acronym was cheesy. Second, I feel sick at the thought of the American public pitying me for my innocence, my hands clean from my parents’ purported sin in bringing me here. It’s a self-righteous position I want to kick in the balls—pitying the child while accusing the parents of doing something that any other good parent would have done under the same circumstances. And if American citizens’ love of law and order is so pure that they would have let their children rot or starve or be shot or be condemned to a future of no future instead of coming here, then they’re not fit to shine my parents’ shoes.

My parents are quick to identify as American. They go to the Fourth of July fireworks by the Brooklyn Bridge every year and root for the U.S. in the Olympics. In public, my mother says her favorite book is the Bible, but it is actually Hillary Clinton’s Living History. She has entire passages memorized. (My mother idolized Hillary from the moment she laid eyes on her, which was shortly after a young Bill Clinton shook hands with my mother at a campaign stop in Brooklyn. When Hillary wore headbands, my mother wore headbands. When she forgave Bill, my mother did, too.) My parents train for 5Ks together. On weekends, they go to the Union Square farmers’ market or to Chinatown for dumplings, like any other New Yorkers. My relationship with America is a little more complicated than theirs. I have not inherited the cognitive dissonance necessary to unconditionally love something that hates you, and I am childless—I have dogs, not kids—so I don’t take consolation in the hope that my children will reap what I sow, that I will plant seeds that will bear fruit my children will eat. This all ends with me.

The twisted inversion that many children of immigrants know is that, at some point, your parents become your children, and your own personal American dream is making sure they age and die with dignity in a country that has never wanted them. I have excelled in this country; I am so very much the American Dream that I should be bottled and sold—but the parents who brought me forth, who are responsible for everything from my lovely Catholic school cursive to my commitment to philanthropy, are being persecuted like the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who have laid down roots in the country they love and who now face a painful expulsion. When I watched my parents watching the Winter Olympics this year, the pair of them in front of the television, their hands over their hearts and their eyes sparkling with pride for the athletes on-screen, my eyes were only on them and my heart was in my throat. My allegiance, as ever, is to them; they are the country that I love. What makes me American—what makes the children of immigrants American in the most fundamental of ways—is something we learned from watching how unkindly America has treated our mothers and fathers. Our entire lives have been spent trying to deserve America. America needs to earn us, too.

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is a writer and Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Yale University. She is an Emerson Fellow.

New Meghan Markle book rehashes her time at Northwestern

Actress-turned-royal-to-be Meghan Markle wore heavier makeup and experimented with highlighting her hair when she began attending Northwestern University nearly two decades ago, biographer Andrew Morton writes in his new book.

“Meghan: A Hollywood Princess” — due out Tuesday — explores Markle’s background as she prepares to marry Prince Harry May 19 at Windsor Castle. About a dozen of the book’s 250 pages are devoted to Markle’s time studying theater and international relations at Northwestern from 1999 to 2003 — though not much new information is revealed.

It seems like Markle — who was spotted in Chicago last week — had a pretty typical college experience. Here’s a roundup of the Chicago and Evanston mentions in Morton’s book:

• Markle’s family has roots in Chicago. Her father, Thomas Markle, grew up in Pennsylvania and later moved to Chicago. He worked as a lighting director at WTTW-Ch. 11. He married Roslyn Loveless and they raised their two children, Yvonne and Tom Jr., together in Chicago until the couple split and Tom Sr. moved to the West Coast. He wed Meghan Markle’s mom, Doria Ragland, in 1979. Meghan Markle was born in 1981 in Los Angeles.

• Attending Northwestern University was an early dream for Markle. Morton reports she played Little Red Riding Hood in her high school’s March 1997 production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods.” In the production’s program notes, she predicted that Northwestern would be the next stop on her way to Broadway. She matriculated in 1999. She lived in the North Mid-Quads residence hall and intended to study English.

• She had a difficult transition from the “melting pot” of Los Angeles to “overwhelmingly white” Northwestern. Morton said Markle overheard or was subjected to crass racial slurs from her classmates. “As she was light-skinned, many fellow students didn’t realize she was biracial, making her a fly on the wall as they made racist jokes or expressed bigoted opinions,” Morton writes.

• Markle had impressive lines on her college resume. She secured an internship at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina (which she discussed in a 2013 interview with Marie Claire magazine) and brushed up on her Spanish while studying in Madrid in 2002.

• But she was also a “party animal” in college. Markle rushed Kappa Kappa Gamma, which “embraced her warmly” — except for the sorority members who thought her “too assertive.” She participated in Northwestern’s famous Dance Marathon, which helped her work off the “freshman 15” she put on during late-night trips to Burger King. She used a fake ID at the Keg, an Evanston bar that closed its doors in 2013.

Many of those details were reported by North by Northwestern magazine when Markle returned to her alma mater in 2014 to discuss her role on the USA Network drama “Suits.” Morton’s book even includes a quote from a student who attended the event — her name is misspelled the exact same way in the book as in the magazine’s online story.

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Twitter @tracyswartz

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Virginia Beach resident who found success as an author two years ago is working on another book | Bayside Beacon with Irene Bowers

I laughed aloud when Bill Geroux, author of “The Mathews Men,” described himself in the early stages of book publishing as “an apple-cheeked girl on a Greyhound to Hollywood.” He is funny that way, his quick wit making for good company.

Bill and I go back a bit, our boys playing club and varsity soccer for years, and all the parents in a “fever dream” as he puts it.

“The other night it was frigid and raining, and I thought about how many times I’d sat in the stands at the Sportsplex, watching practice in the most horrible weather,” he said. “And I missed it.”

That pretty much explains the fever dream of those of us who wear out bleacher seats, sacrifice weekends and ponder future careers for children who shine at sports. But Bill had another dream, too. While we shivered on the sidelines, he was waiting patiently to turn up the heat on a book.

A longtime reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, he said it started 25 years ago while interviewing old-timers at the Oceanfront. As he stood to leave, one mentioned seeing two ships in flames after being torpedoed by a Nazi submarine, off Virginia Beach in 1942. Bill sat back down.

The doorknob confession was so spectacular he began to research it. To his astonishment, wolf packs of German U-boats sank ships right off America’s shores, even mined the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.

Their prey? Commercial cargo ships manned by merchant mariners, carrying fuel and supplies to support the Allies. Germany targeted them, hoping to break the supply chain to Europe, and the losses suffered by unprotected mariners were extraordinarily heavy.

“I knew it would make a good book, but I didn’t have an angle; it needed to be more than a catalogue of ships that went down,” Bill said, so he put the idea on the back burner.

Think of his brain as an Aga cooker: even turned off, the heat is always on. Twenty years later, in 2011, it flared up.

Bill had retired from reporting and was employed as a proposal writer for Maersk Line, Limited, a global shipping company whose enormous container ships routinely transit the Chesapeake. He was killing time at lunch in the Sargeant Reading Room when he idly pulled down a dusty cruising guide to the Chesapeake Bay.

“It fell open to a page about Mathews County, and I read that many of its men had died as merchant mariners in World War II,” he said. “The hair on the back of my neck stood up; I knew instantly I had my book.”

Bill once had lived in Mathews County, a quiet peninsula of farmers and watermen on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay, and he got after it. In particular, he was taken with the Hodges family, whose patriarch and seven sons entered the war.

Eventually, he had his manuscript and made the leap to author when he no longer could stand the mockery.

“My oldest son likened me to Jack Torrance from ‘The Shining,’ forever writing,” said Bill, laughing. “I thought, ‘I’m going to get an agent and do this.’”

The agent, found in an online search, loved his book but warned that the first step was a learning curve; rejections would teach them how to improve their proposal. They worked hard, submitted the proposal and prepared to wait.

Merely two days later, the agent contacted Bill at work and informed him a major publishing company, Viking Penguin, wanted to interview him that day. Bill told his supervisor, “I gotta go home,” and left work.

“Nobody knew I was writing a book, much less trying to sell it,” he said, noting the phone interview lasted 45 minutes. “Even I didn’t think it’d ever get published.”

The next day at work, his agent called and asked if he was sitting down. “I sort of panicked and found a private meeting room,” Bill said. He had been offered a book deal generous enough to devote to it full time.

He was stunned. “I went to my supervisor and said, ‘I gotta go home again.’”

His boss assented but asked if everything was okay.

“Okay?” Bill recalled. “I was so wound up, I don’t even remember the drive home.”

He retired from Maersk and committed to the book. In 2016, “The Mathews Men” Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-Boats” was released to glowing reviews. It is meticulously researched but reads easily; compelling, heroic and long overdue.

Despite a World War II casualty rate second only to the U.S. Marines, the merchant mariners were not given veteran benefits, and their considerable contributions were largely ignored. Bill accords them the credit they deserve.

When we met in March, he was finishing up a second book deal about the ghost ships of Archangel, Russia. It had involved research at the top of the world and an eventual need for translating Cyrillic script to English.

Bill is an investigative journalist with an instinct for stories despite the hapless ingénue, fever dream front. He had put out a request for translators on Nextdoor.com and made a discovery.

“I had no idea,” he said, grinning. “But Kings Grant is full of Russians.”

Let me guess. Another book has been lit.

Cleo Wade’s book ‘Heart Talk’ encourages a healthy soul diet | Entertainment

NEW YORK — Cleo Wade is known for not only her poetry, but her positive, uplifting Instagram mantras that have earned a following that includes Yara Shahidi and Jessica Alba.



Cleo Wade

This March 20, 2018, photo shows poet and activist Cleo Wade posing for a portrait in New York to promote her book, “Heart Talk.”



So it’s not surprising that on a day when she’s running around like crazy promoting her new book, she doesn’t complain about being tired, but has another affirmation that fuels her eternally optimistic outlook.

“I (recently) went on a complaint cleanse,” said the poet and activist, whose reasoning was simple. “‘Your dream book is coming out into the world, it’s exactly the book you wanted to make. You can find a way to not complain about the logistics, work and people and things that come with it.'”

“Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life” isn’t a self-help book, but it contains plenty of verses from Wade that are aimed to feed the soul — she calls it a “healthy soul diet.” Her inspirational slant has led her to be being called the Oprah for millennials. The book covers everything from self-worth to relationships.

“What is the opposite of self-care? Self-abandonment. We’re also in this state of not being able to practice self-care in our dynamics with our neighbor, our partner, our boss, our colleague, the world,” she said. “There’s so much nourishment that is needed for that space, in order for us to feel really cared for so we can recognize how to care for other people.”

AP: You spend hours with fans at book signings. Why is it so important for you to give people your full attention?

Wade: There is a desire for people to be seen and heard. We can’t possibly learn how to love our neighbor unless we find common ground with them. But also we can’t understand how to listen to others if we don’t listen to ourselves. Whenever young people email me about heartbreak I tell them, this is the most divine point in which to listen to yourself because there’s such an education as far as your learning, your needs and desires.

AP: You must find wherever you go people want deep conversation and encouragement.

Wade: I’m definitely the person that if I am in a space, I’m looking for the macro-connection and if I feel like I can’t take that on, I just stay home. For me, I definitely have that boundary of if I don’t feel like I could really be in that space, hear about your life, show up for you, and offer the best of me to you, then I know that’s a day that I need to stay home.

AP: Where does your outlook on the world come from?

Wade: (Laughs) I definitely think a lot of it comes from growing up in a place like New Orleans because it’s a deeply expressive culture. Also my dad is an artist, my mom is a chef. Having these people with such clear manifestations of what they like to do with their time, it definitely fueled me to understand that there is a very individualized thing you can do in the world.

AP: Social media has really helped you spread your message but do you find it can be toxic sometimes?

Wade: It can either be used as a tool or a weapon. I always encourage people to really monitor their media diets. I don’t think food is the only thing we digest. We also ingest information and if you’re finding your media feels really divisive or if it’s making you judge or covet in a way that doesn’t make you feel good, then it’s time to maybe switch up your media.

Author Q&A with Daisy Hernández: “I was confused why the American Dream didn’t get to include everyone”


Daisy Hernández’s memoirs – arranged into three parts of essays in the book “A Cup of Water Under My Bed” – show just how strongly Colombian and Latino cultures can manifest themselves abroad. The daughter of a Colombian mother and Cuban father, Hernández was raised in New Jersey in the U.S. and maintained a deep connection with her Latina roots in her narrative that weaves between the hilarious and the tragic.

From the book’s namesake superstition used to catch bad spirits to the sprinkled assortment of iconic dichos said by her mother and aunt throughout, the essays are quintessential of growing up as the child of immigrants in the U.S. where the image of the “American Dream” can often turn into a much tougher reality. Hernández, who also recalls her coming out as queer to her family in the text, uses “A Cup of Water Under My Bed” to beautifully remind us that nothing matters more in defining our own identities and the connections we make than the language and words we use.

“Us. My future is always plural. It is always about my mother and my father and my aunties and my sister. The pressure is enormous, and La Viejita is here to ease the sensation that comes over me whenever I think of the years ahead: the feeling of a fist squeezing my throat,” Hernández writes.

Currently serving as a professor at Miami (OH) University and working on a literary biography of the Chagas disease, Hernández spoke to the Bogotá Post via telephone recently. Excerpts follow.

Bogotá Post: I want to get to your book and I’m sure you get this question a lot, but I have to ask you about the time I think you were writing something for NPR and were using the word ‘gringo.‘ Fox News and (former host) Bill O’Reilly charged – which hilarious coming from Bill O’Reilly of all people – that you’re using racist vitriol. What was your response at first of those charges and has your response or view on the word changed at all since then?


Author Daisy Hernández

Daisy Hernández: Before it was on Bill O’Reilly show I was just noticing how the article was getting a lot of comments online. And so I tried to engage some of those readers online by explaining who you know in different communities. I would say that often in Colombian (communities), at least where I grew up it was a pretty neutral term. I didn’t think of it as derogatory. But all of my chicano friends called me to be like,’ I can’t believe NPR  let you get away with that.’ I did not seeing see it as being racist language on my part.

If anything it just pointed to the complexities of Spanish and different cultures. Because there was someone at NPR who checked the article for sensitivity reasons and he was Cuban and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with ‘gringo.’ My thoughts on it have not changed but I do more explanation when I’m talking and using the word at colleges.

BP: With the “Qué India” essay, there are definitely sayings like that which you hear in Colombia that are a little problematic like the phrase “trabajando como un negro.”

Do you think Spanish speakers could use a revolution with some of these phrases? And is it ultimately okay if it comes from people in the U.S. who speak the language or Latinos living there – Or isn’t there an inherent problem if these people come to Colombia and say you need to change the way you speak?

DH: I think communities in Latin America, as well as communities here in the U.S. share a lot in common in that racism is prevalent. And you see that in the language so the phrases of um, you know calling someone an Indian, or as you’re mentioning to describe the black community, I think they are just really incredible and powerful indicators of the racism in the community and a lot of times it gets it does get dismissed by saying: ‘Oh, that’s how we talk here. That’s cultural.’ Racism is not cultural. It’s just racist.

And I think you’re seeing you know a lot more organizing happening in Afro-communities across Latin America. We definitely have a different history in the U.S. to race relations than we have in Latin America, but it doesn’t mean that Latin America isn’t racist and that we’re not seeing that in the language. I do think Latin America needs to change around race. It’s happening slowly in the same way it’s happening slowly here and is a very unfinished product.

I think it would be problematic for white Americans to go to Latin America with an agenda of changing how people talk about race because that evokes so much of the colonial past. And not even the past, but the current political situation as well of the U.S. trying to run Latin America. I think those of us who are Latina in the U.S., even those of us like myself who are the daughters of immigrants from Latin America, I think we do have a right to call out people for their racism. Even if we didn’t grow up there or spend a lot of time there, that’s still part of our community. I don’t think it’s as powerful as when it’s someone from the outside. I don’t think me going to Bogotá and saying ‘You all need to change the way you talk about race’ (laughs) is super helpful. Even though I see the country as being a significant part of my world I recognize that I didn’t grow up there.

BP: In the essays, there’s a pretty common thread throughout the essays of hate and discrimination. I think it kind of crescendos with the murder of Gwen, but also the treatment throughout of your family and other immigrants. Were some of your stories meant to kind of turn that perception of the American Dream on its head?

DH: Oh definitely, I definitely wanted to interrogate the image of the American Dream because that’s what I had also been raised on culturally as well in the US. So I was very confused as I grew older why the American Dream didn’t get to include everyone. It didn’t seem to include my parents.

Sometimes I thought, ‘Well my parents got to buy their house and that’s a big part of the American Dream,’ but then NAFTA happened and it was sort of this precarious financial situation that we were in.

As I grew older, it became clear that the American Dream was like also a very isolating phenomenon or experience where it was like you focus on you and on getting yourself to some higher material level. But it didn’t always necessarily include people from the community and bringing others with you.

What does it mean that I’m dropping my dad off at the unemployment agency and I’m going to a class on economics in college? Just these stark contrasts of different parts of my life.

BP: Another thing I found really interesting was when you talk about coming out. Everything in that chapter seems to always kind of focus back on how everything centers around dialogue and language. I’m sure it can be a very confusing time. Did language, and specifically writing, give you a sense of what was real during that time? And maybe being bilingual, did that give you a sense of like an anchor to get you through an otherwise confusing time?

DH: Yeah, I actually started this book with that second part. You know, the book is organized into three sections: the first a lot about family and religion, the second about sexuality, and the third about work. I actually started the book with that Part 2 of sexuality because I didn’t understand what I was experiencing both with myself and with my parents and I didn’t know how to make sense of my attraction with women and with transgender men. I didn’t know how to fit my queer life into the expectations that my family and I had had of me and I started writing just to kind of make sense of it.

I didn’t go through a period of pain or confusion. I did go through a period of – as I write in the book – of like being scared of people finding out before I was ready to tell them. I remember being really afraid that my sister would find my journal. Luckily no one else in my family read English and my journal was in English.

The writing made a huge difference in understanding not so much my own sexuality but really to understand well how did that fit in this cultural context that I had grown up in?

BP: And I think you mentioned in one of the early essays that the Spanish sayings – the dichos – ultimately inspired you to be a writer. Whether it’s Colombian Spanish or Cuban Spanish, do you still find artistic inspiration from these sayings or is it more kind of a connection to your parents’ cultures?

DH: I definitely find that the dichos wake me up to language and culture. Because I’m usually hearing them in a context of migration, they just tend to be really fun.

Awhile ago when I was telling my tía, who’s there in Bogotá, but I was telling her something like some news about the family and it was the first time that she was hearing it. So she was like, “Hasta ahora me desayuno” like “I’m only finding out now.” I love that and so now every time I’m shocked about something I’m saying “I’m just eating breakfast now!”

At one point with this memoir, I actually considered organizing the whole book around the dichos. I still want to do a book of essays structured around dichos because they’re just so fun. They just make you pay attention and think about language and they come to be really rich in imagery.

BP: Your memoirs take the title of it and you mention it throughout of these kinds of superstitious or spiritual traditions like the cup of water under the bed. This, to me, just like the dichos is something like super Latino or even super Colombian.

Do you think that this embracing of cultures when you were a child allowed you to really feel these traditions serving as an identity marker between your Latina self and your American self?

DH: When I was a child, I wouldn’t have used that language. Now when I look back on it, of course. I think just the dichos themselves were forming identity. But when you’re growing up and I think of the common experience with children of immigrants, which is like everything about your parents annoys you.

I felt like I saw a Spanish as a barrier to improving and working on my English and I was often frustrated that my parents didn’t speak English. Now, of course, I’m so grateful that they didn’t because I think I would have lost the Spanish if they had spoken English to me at home.

I think that’s also part of why when I started writing about sexuality. I also came back to experiences with my family because I did have such a strong sense of an identity as being the child of Colombian and Cuban immigrants and queer sexuality was never, of women specifically, was never really discussed in that context. But you know I had these dichos and I had these rituals and it’s like how does being queer now fit into all of this?

BP: By virtue of being in the U.S. and living there your entire life, do you feel now that, especially in this current political climate where migrants are made to be terrified of going outside, do you think that’s America with a systemic response of trying to whitewash everything and drive out any differences?

DH: I think it’s definitely a reaction to the rise in immigration and it’s really not new. For a project that I’m working on now, I’ve been looking more at immigration that happened in the early 20th century and at the end of the 19th century. It was just vicious political reactions back then, too. And that was also with Mexicans and the Chinese. Also with Jewish and so forth. It’s almost these common and predictable reactions that Americans have for a rise in immigration from countries that they don’t want.

Even with Trump, he does want immigrants. He just wants them from Norway. He’s pro-white is what he is.

I think that’s part of the reason that Latinos of any country will never quite be at home in the United States because, as we have been historically, we will always be seen as being brown even when we’re not brown.

BP: Did you get to travel back to Colombia at all as a child?

DH: I came a few times before the age of seven. I was coming of age in the 80s and so the last time I was in Colombia as a child, it was 1982. And then after that with everything that was happening with both the war there and the narcos of the Pablo Escobar era, my father didn’t want us traveling to Colombia.

I grew up not going to Colombia at all, which is really sad and is one of my regrets of childhood. Not that I had anything to do with it, but I wish I would have been going back and forth as a child because I see with my friends who went to their home countries as children that it gives them a particular ownership over their language and over their own cultural identity.

It’s like I did grow up with Colombia, but Colombia was on the telephone and on the news and in letters and money that my mother would send back home. We would do tape cassette recordings back in the day so that my grandmother and my tías could hear my voice and my aunties voices.

Daisy Hernández will be in attendance at the International Book Fair of Bogotá for a series of talks and panels in Spanish from April 20th to the 22nd. Her memoir Un Vaso de Agua Bajo Mi Cama is available now in Spanish by Rey Naranjo.


Blue Volkswagen Bus « CBS New York

LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – It was love at first sight.

Eight years ago, Kyle Cropsey slipped a note inside the window of a blue 1971 Volkswagen bus.

Cropsey – who was 16 at the time – wrote that the bus was his “future car.”

Fast forward eight years.

Cropsey got a call from Cris Mead, who lives in Oakland, Calif. It turns out Mead’s father Cornelius owned the van and kept Cropsey’s note. Cornelius Mead purchased the van back in 1971 and used it to take cross-country trips, and kept a log book.

After Cornelius passed away, Cris was cleaning the bus out and he came upon Cropsey’s note in the log book.

The Mead family then decided to give Cropsey the van, on the condition that he restore it and “go on plenty of adventures.”

Cropsey says “it was fate.”

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Rosie book review: Rose Tremain’s memoir has a dream-like distance

“I can sometimes conceive of my childhood as a long journey towards the one-syllable noun I could properly own: Rose,” writes Rose Tremain, explaining that she answered to ‘Rosie’ until she was twenty. This confession is an early indication of just how significant distance is in Tremain’s first work of non-fiction.

Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life is exactly what the title suggests: no comprehensive autobiography of the celebrated novelist’s life, nor the story of her formation of a young writer (though footnotes do explain the real-life origins of some of her fictional characters, episodes and settings), but rather often dream-like vignettes of a girl – and a world – that no longer exists.

Born in 1943, Tremain grew up in Chelsea – “a pleasant but ordinary little London borough then,” she points out – amongst the bombsites and the barrowboys. Holidays, however, were spent at Linkenholt, her grandparents’ large, gabled manor house in Hampshire, a rural “paradise” for young Rosie and her sister Jo.

Love, unfortunately, is largely absent in both homes. Rosie’s mother’s parents have never recovered from the loss of their two young sons – one from a burst appendix, the other in the First World War – bereavement rendering them unable to love their daughter Jane. She, in turn, struggles to show affection to her daughters, “perched,” as she so often was instead, “on an abyss of anger” with them.

Rosie’s father, a not very successful playwright, was barely present – his daughters seeing him so rarely, “we had no real idea who he was” – even before he and Jane get divorced and he disappears from their lives permanently. Jane reacts to this abandonment by embarking on an affair with her ex-husband’s cousin, whose wife, in turn, begins sleeping with another (married) family friend.

“The grown-ups had entered a period of sexual madness, quite beyond us to comprehend,” Tremain observes, “making up for lost time,” she concludes, the war having stolen their youth. What saves Rosie during these years of emotional neglect is the kindness and love of her nanny ‘Nan’.

I was struck by the similarities between Tremain’s childhood and that of the novelist Penelope Lively – the divorced, ineffectual parents; a beloved nanny who becomes the mother figure; a grandparent’s country house that looms large, and an episodic approach to conveying these experiences on the page. Both Lively’s memoirs Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived and A House Unlocked piece together a whole out of fragments, but Tremain takes this tactic one step further, setting up a distance between herself and her material that makes for sometimes exasperating reading.

That her inattentive mother remains ‘Jane’ throughout, for example, is understandable, but what little insight Tremain affords us of her own thoughts and feelings often have a sense of sterility. Unlike Lively, who went on to Oxford, Jane decides she doesn’t want a bluestocking for a daughter so Rosie has to abandon her academic ambitions and is sent to finishing school in Switzerland instead: another long since extinct world.

Although more decorative than elucidating, Rosie is endlessly intriguing.

‘Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life’ is published by Chatto & Windus, £14.99


‘Your Genius Within’: Auburn hypnotist to talk dreams, inner strength | Lake Life

How did Victor Garlock know he had hepatitis before his doctors knew?

The 75-year-old psychotherapist specializes in dream interpretation and hypnosis, and one night he dreamed that a bloodmobile was in town. He remembers that he signed up to give blood, but then informed the nurses that he couldn’t because he’d come down with the liver disease. 

The dream came true: Garlock was diagnosed within the week. The semi-retired professor has heard of similar experiences from students. During a dream class, a student said she’d had a nightmare about getting bitten by a rat on her breast. When she woke up, she noticed a bump, leading to an early cancer diagnosis. 

“The question is, how can your mind possibly read something that subtle and that difficult, and your conscious mind have no idea?” Garlock said. “We have a lot more power than we think.”

Garlock explored that topic in a book he wrote, “Your Genius Within: Understanding Sleep, Dream Interpretation and Learning Self-Hypnosis.” He will talk about his book, which was published in 2012, Thursday during “word, revisited,” a bimonthly community program hosted by the Cayuga Museum in partnership with publications Olive Trees and aaduna.

Besides his published works, which include columns in The Citizen, Garlock is coming back to Cayuga Community College to teach a one-credit course on sleep and dreams through the psychology department during the fall semester. He also practices locally at The Center, a wellness spa and therapy group located at 1 Hoffman St. in Auburn.

Garlock said he uses hypnosis in his practice to help patients recall dreams or find things inside of them that will help them with a problem. He teaches patients to relax their bodies and minds, eventually teaching them how to hypnotize themselves. The techniques have helped patients lose weight, quit smoking, get better sleep, manage pain and even recall repressed memories, he said. One woman, who had blocked out memories of being assaulted, was hypnotized and then able to recall her assailant. Law enforcement was able to catch the person, Garlock said.

He’s even helped a player on the Olympic basketball team. After an injury, the athlete had developed fears that prevented him from playing at his best. Garlock said they worked on helping the player focus, abandoning his fear for mantras like “you’re going to do it” and “do it.” 

“I hadn’t expected someone to see me for that,” he said. “I have a good time.”

Garlock also practices what he teaches. He uses self-hypnosis while in the dentist’s chair. He’s had his gums trimmed without anesthesia, he said, though sometimes he’ll need pain medication afterward. 

The psychotherapist knows that not everyone may be so receptive to these kinds of techniques and methodologies. Some of his patients, he said, come to him for help as a kind of last resort. He’s well aware of some public perceptions about hypnosis. 

“Hypnosis is not something where the person controls (another),” he said. “That’s the kind of myth where people are running around like a chicken for entertainment. All I do is help the person. It’s a kind of focused concentration where you tap into your imagination, your own ability to concentrate. It’s really about focus.”

Garlock said none of what he does should be a substitute for visiting a health care professional, but he loves helping people find a different avenue to confront their challenges. It’s something he’s been doing for decades. He got his doctorate degree in the mid-1970s from Cornell University, where he was exposed to professors who were interested in dreams and hypnosis. He continued exploring that interest when starting to teach at Cayuga Community College. He retired around 1999 and opened up a clinical practice in Florida in addition to his space in Auburn.

Garlock spends more time here than Florida now, but he helps patients in both areas. He hopes to reach as many people as possible through his books, his columns, his practice and his talks, so everyone can discover their inner genius. 

“We have more within us than we think we have,” he said. 

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.