Watch the Biography and Interviews of Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros paints her historical house purple and it is front page news!
My life is such a telenovela! One day I painted my house tejano colors; the next day, my house is in all the news, cars swarming by, families having their photos taken in front of my purple casita as if it were the Alamo. The neighbors put up an iced-tea stand and made 10 dollars!
All this happened because I chose to live where I do. I live in San Antonio because I’m not a minority here. I live in the King William neighborhood because I love old houses. Since my neighborhood is historic, certain code restrictions apply. Any house alteration plans must be approved by the Historic Design and Review Committee. This is to preserve the neighborhood’s historic character, and that’s fine by me.
Because I thought I had permission, I gave the go-ahead to have my house painted colors I considered regional — but as it turns out, they hadn’t been approved. However, I was given the chance to prove them historically appropriate. So I did my research, and what I found is this: We don’t exist.
My history is made up of a community whose homes were so poor and unimportant as to be considered unworthy of historic preservation. No famous architect designed the houses of the tejanos, and there are no books in the San Antonio Conservation Society library about houses of the working-class community, no photos romanticizing their poverty, no ladies’ auxiliary working toward preserving their presence. Their homes are gone; their history is invisible. The few historic homes that survived have access cut off by freeways because city planners did not judge them important.
Our history is in the neighborhoods like the famous Laredito barrio, heart of the old tejano community and just a block from City Hall; it proved so “historically valuable,” it was demolished and converted into a jail, parking lot and downtown police station, with only the casa of tejano statesman Jose Angel Navarro as evidence Laredito was ever there.
Our past is present only in churches or missions glorifying a Spanish colonial past. But I’m not talking about the Spaniards here. My question is, where is the visual record of the tejanos?
The issue is bigger than my house. The issue is about historical inclusion. I want to paint my house a traditional color. But I don’t think it unreasonable to include the traditions of los tejanos who had a great deal to do with creating the city of San Antonio we know today. (genconnection.com)
“My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn”
Lucy Anguiano, Texas girl who smells like corn, like Frito Bandito chips, like tortillas, something
like that warm smell of nixtamal or bread the way her head smells when she’s leaning close to
you over a paper cut-out doll or on the porch when we are squatting over marbles trading the
pretty crystal that leaves a blue star on your hand for that giant cat-eye with a grasshopper
green spiral in the center like the juice of bugs on the windshield when you drive to the border,
like the yellow blood of butterflies.
Have you ever eated dog food? I have. After crunching like ice, she opens her big mouth prove
it, only a pink tongue rolling around in there like a blind worm, and Janey looking in because
she said, Show me. But me I like that Lucy, corn-smell hair and aqua flip-flops just like mine that
we bought at the K-mart for only 79 cents same time.
I’m going to sit in the sun, don’t care if it’s a million trillion degrees outside, so my skin can get
so dark it’s blue where it bends like Lucy’s. Her whole family like that. Eyes like knife slits. Lucy
and her sisters. Norma, Margarita, Ofelia, Herminia, Nancy, Olivia, Cheli, y la Amber Sue. Screen
door with no screen. BANG! Little black dog biting his fur. Fat couch on the porch. Some of the
windows painted blue, some pink because her daddy got tired that day or forgot. Mama in the
kitchen feeding clothes into the wringer washer and clothes rolling out all stiff and twisted and
flat like paper. Lucy got her arm stuck once and had to yell Maaa! and her mama had to put the
machine in reverse and then her hand rolled back, the finger black and later, her nail fell off.
But did your arm get flat like the clothes? What happened to your arm? Did they have to pump
it with air? No, only the finger, and she didn’t cry neither.
Lean across the porch rail and pin the pink sock of the baby Amber Sue on top of Cheli’s
flowered T-shirt, and the blue jeans of la Ofelia over the inside seam of Olivia’s blouse, over the
flannel nightgown of Margarita so it don’t stretch out, and then you take the work shirts of
their daddy and hang them upside down like this, and this way all the clothes don’t get so
wrinkled and take up less space and you don’t waste pins. The girls all wear each other’s
clothes, except Olivia, who is stingy. There ain’t no boys here. Only girls and one father who is
never home hardly and one mother who says, Ay! I’m real tired and so many sisters there’s no
time to count them.
I’m sitting in the sun even though it’s the hottest part of the day, the part that makes the
streets dizzy, when the heat makes a little hat on the top of your head and bakes the dust and
weed grass and sweat up good, all steamy and smelling like sweet corn.
I want to rub heads and sleep in a bed with little sisters, some at the top and some at the feets.
I think it would be fun to sleep with sisters you could yell at one at a time or all together,
instead of alone on the fold-out chair in the living room.
When I get home Abuelita will say, Didn’t I tell you? and I’ll get it because I was supposed to
wear this dress again tomorrow. But first I’m going to jump off an old mattress in the
Anguiano yard. I’m going to scratch your mosquito bites, Lucy, so they’ll itch you, then put
Mercurochrome smiley faces on them. We’re going to trade shoes and wear them on our
hands. We’re going to walk over to Janey Ortiz’s house and say, We’re never ever going to be
your friend again forever! We’re going to run home backwards and we’re going to run home
frontwards, look twice under the house where the rats hide and I’ll stick one foot in there
because you dared me, sky so blue and heaven inside those white clouds. I’m going to peel a
scab from my knee and eat it, sneeze on the cat, give you three M & M’s I’ve been saving for
you since yesterday, comb your hair with my fingers and braid it into teeny-tiny braids real
pretty. We’re going to wave to a lady we don’t know on the bus. Hello! I’m going to somersault
on the rail of the front porch even though my chones show. And cut paper dolls we draw
ourselves, and color in their clothes with crayons, my arm around your neck.
And when we look at each other, our arms gummy from an orange Popsicle we split, we could
be sisters, right? We could be, you and me waiting for our teeths to fall and money. You
laughing something into my ear that tickles, and me going Ha Ha Ha Ha. Her and me, my Lucy
friend who smells like corn.
-Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, 1991
Now, onto business. By business, I mean the business letter 🙂
If you need more help, please go to the Purdue Online Writing Lab
- Be consice. Don’t give them a 5 page essay. Stick to the main point and some reasons and important facts.
- Address your essay to a logical recipient. Don’t send an essay about body image to Pastor David. Don’t send an essay about doctor assisted suicide to Jordan Pate.
- Make sure that you have correct formatting
- Bring a stamped envelope so we can mail it after I grade it
The Oral Presentation
- Dress professionally
- Bring a visual aide
- Feel free to use note cards (you may not read off your essay)
- Speak clearly and seriously for 3-5 minutes (don’t be too funny, this is a formal presentation not the improv)
- Present your facts and move your audience towards your persuasive goal–make us agree with you and take action!
The Final Draft
You should be pretty close to finished now.
- Read the essay OUT LOUD to your parents and LISTEN to their feedback
- Have one of your parents proofread your essay for mechanical errors
- Make sure your Works Cited page is perfect
- Check your MLA format
- Ask yourself, are you persuading your reader? Or just spewing facts?
Everything is Due May 8 🙂