Friday, July 22, 2005


Today I got a new pair of glasses - finally. I went to the opthomologist last November, but I had to wait until 2005 to get my glasses so that the insurance would cover it. Of course, the spring was busy and I did not get around to doing it until now. The pressure was on because my insurance ends in August. I will get new insurance from my new place of employment, but I don't know if they have an optical benefit.

Returning to the glasses, I am learning today why you should not wait six years to get a new pair of glasses. While the world is much crisper, I still feel like I am living in a fishbowl (of course the humidity also contributes to that feeling). It is going to take a while to get used to these. On the plus side, whenever I wear my contacts, there won't be that drastic change.

Yesterday I took the car that Sara drives to get washed and waxed. It desperately needed it because it had not had a good wash since I left last year. As the guy was hand waxing it, I sat and overheard the various conversations among the workers at the car wash. They were mostly from the Dominican Republic. There was one short and skinny guy (who also seemed a little slow) who was Puerto Rican. All the others made fun of this guy about his lack of success with women and his not having a car.

As I sat there evesdropping on their conversations, it was clear that they did not know that I could understand what they were saying (barely, though - the Domincan accent in Spanish is a tough one). I also started thinking about the categories in which we are placed in and those in which we place ourselves.

Why am I placed in the same categories as these men at the carwash?

We are Latinos/Hispanos/Hispanics.


I guess we speak the same language - barely.
We are part of the Latin American brotherhood/sisterhood - whatever that means.
We share an "immigrant experience". But not all L/H/H do. And I am quite certain that my experience has been quite a different one than theirs.

We can't deny that these are categories people use whether we place ourselves in them or not. How are these categories determined? Recently there has been a lot of debate here in Boston as to whether Brazilians are L/H/H. The debate has highlighted that these categories are not synonymous. We could ask the same about Haitians, Belizians, and Guayanians. And how about someone from Trinidad who is from South Asian/Indian herritage who migrates to the US? Is she Latina? How about a Peruvian with Japanese ancestry?

These are things I need to think about. I am teaching a class called "Growing Up Latino" this fall and I have no clue as to what that means. My goal for the class is to get the students to ponder the questions that entered my head while waiting at the carwash. I am just not sure where my own pondering will take me.

It's all a bit dizzying - or maybe it's just these new glasses with a different prescription. Who knows?

No comments: