Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Feature Article



The parking lot has a few spots left. Cars zipping past each other, racing for empty space next to the shaking ballroom with every thud thud of the music playing inside the brick- lifeless walls of the building. “Ahora vamos a empezar la presentation, now we will begin the presentation... de nuestra bella princessa, of our beautiful princess… Heidy Jacqueline”.
At that moment, she didn’t think she would’ve felt so nervous and self conscious even with herself standing at the entrance in a beautiful green, custom, handmade, 180,000 thousand dollar dress with a white lily hanging at the side with two great lily pads around her legs that fall underneath her bedazzled green corset fitting her just perfectly around her body. Make-up done. Hair done in big long curls that fall freely at her waist, bouncing with every step she took in her gold sparkly flats. Nails done; french tipped with a matching lilly on her thumb and big toe . All she has to do is take one step and begin her one special night.
The music begins. She takes in a deep breath.


Her parents walk in first, hand in hand, and the audience applauses slowly one by one.


Her siblings walk in quite quickly like little mice scattering when the light to the kitchen turns on, shyly to stand behind their parents.


She steps into the ballroom. Scattered applauses grows louder. People are now standing.

“I can do this”, she whispers to no one.


She’s met up with the rest of her family in the middle of the ballroom and stares at the familiar faces, all whom have come to see her and be here on her special day.
The room is beautifully decorated, even better than she had imagined when she spoke to the set designer the night before. Twinkling lights on the once pale white walls now popping with color from the see through fabric covering its bare nudity. The tables decorated with the thick green linen cloth that matched her dress with green and a contrasting light nude color. The water lilies in the center of the table, floating and just chilling in the bowl, sprinkled little mini stars all around, resembling her favorite movie Princess and the Frog- the main theme of her Quinceañera.
Everyone in the ballroom is all dressed up and quietly waiting for the ceremony to begin. The whole room signs in with the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bowing their heads in prayer lead by Heidy’s uncle, Pastor David. As he is praying aloud to bless this special ceremony, little four year old Janery comes next to Heidy and grabs her hand.
“Heidy, look I have a dress on just like you,” she whispered grabbing her dress to show Heidy the flower on the exact same side as Heidy’s quinceañera dress. Same colors only Janery had white tights underneath with a matching white little sweater over it.


Everyone now took their seats and Pastor David began with an hour long sermon on what the true meaning of growing up is and what we might see in the future. How only with God and Jesus Christ in our lives can the young people of this world live to the fullest happy, peaceful, and satisfied.

Janery grabs Heidy’s hand, admiring her nails. Heidy can only think, How fast time flys by. I remember you were so tiny, and now look at you! Man, I can’t even remeber how it was for me at your age. And at that moment she flashes back into the depths of her memory seeing a man and a women arguing- No! This is my day and I will not let anything ruin it.

“Heidy, puedes venir aqui adelante.. can you come here to the front,” Pastor David says motioning with the wave of his hand to go up.

She nods her head as she walks up to the front where her parents meet her, smiling from cheek to cheek. David begins another prayer, only this time Heidy’s parents end it with a blessing of their own to their young beautiful young lady. Everyone in the ballroom signs off, once again, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, ending the mass of thanks.

“Ahora… now… La comida esta preparrada para que cenen… the food is ready for y’all to enjoy. Por favor… please… ponganse en linia para servirsen.. get in a line to serve yourselves”, the announcer for the night implies with his arm instructing the direction of the food tables in the back.

The word “quinceañera” is derived from the two spanish words “quince” meaning “fifteen” and “años” meaning “years”. Today many hispanic girls are having quinceañeras and I can’t help but feel like most of these girls only care about the party, when in fact quinceañera’s are a modern coming-of-age tradition that is rooted to the coming-of-age traditions in ancient Aztec society.

At fifteen, the Aztec girls were moved and groomed by other women other than their own mothers in the area. The girls were taught how to do several different duties that an Aztec women does. This tradition was to acknowledge that the fifteen year-old girl now entered maturity and her next stop is to adulthood where she is now able to take on roles that are reserved for the older women of the community. Now a days, quinceaneras are a lot different from back then. Over time, it modernized just like the US and become less about a coming-of-age tradition to more of a huge birthday bash, which technically it is.
 She stood there greeting all of the family members and friends. Walking, around with a huge smile on her face.
"Wow. So this is what it's like to be a princess", she thought to herself.
"Heidy can you stand up in the front please", Sayde the photographer says. She walks to the front and turns to face the tables full of familiar faces and awkwardly smiles. She tugs at her white lily on the side of her long puffy dress and fixes her corset.

In each quinceañera, the birthday girl is dressed in beautiful gown which back then was white, symbolizing purity, or pink, to symbolize youth, but as times have changed, the quinceañera chooses the color of her dress to her liking. She then is taken to a church, after getting ready,  where there is a Misa de Acción de Gracias, a Mass of Thanking. This is still a current tradition.
The mass is an occasion wherein the community gives thanks for the blessing of the quinceañera. At the end of the mass, small gifts are handed to the guests while the quinceañera offers her bouquet to the Virgin Mary before being escorted out of the church by her chambelán, or escort for the rest of the night. This now reaffirms her transition into adulthood.
After the mass, there’s a reception at a ballroom where friends and family are invited to attend. This reception starts off by the presentation of the court of honor, which consists of 14 damas (girls) and 15 chambelanes (boys). citation
Now a days, the number of the damas and chambelanes are up to the quinceañera- sometimes there’s just the chambelanes and no damas, others just damas. Once the court is presented, the quinceanera makes her grand entrance. Traditionally, she enters with the escort of her father
but recently, more modern and dramatic entrances are favored by the quinceañera. Shortly afterward, the quinceañera goes into the waltz with her father which is then transferred to a waltz with her main chambelan and then turned into her full court choreographed waltz and recent tradition has seen the addition of another dance, a modern music choreographed surprise dance practiced by the court and quinceañera months before the celebration. After these dances,  there is a Bridis, or toast. Then is the lighting of the fifteen candles on the cake. Traditionally, the lighting of the candles is done during the mass having the quinceañera lighting her candle then passing the light to her parents candle and her parents lighting their parents candle and so on. However since families and generation gaps are now so thinly spread, this is no longer a viable practice, leaving just the normal “Happy Birthday” song and Las Mañanitas, a mexican birthday song.
After several flashes, click click click, photos with family, click click, and friends, click, was finally over. The DJ begins to play music. "Vamos a darles un buen applauso para Heidy y su papa Javier Maya....Lets give a great round of applause to Heidy and her father Javier Maya".
Everyone in the ballroom begins to lean forward and take out their phones to record the great father daughter dance. "Tiempo de baltz un dos tres un dos tres sin parar de bailar.." goes the chorus of the song.
"I want you to know that I am very proud of you", he whispers in her ear,
"I am honored to have helped you make this dream come true for you".
"I love you papi", was all she could spit out as she was crying on his shoulder. The song begins to fade and a roar of applause fills the air.
Finally is the after party, where the DJ just blasts music. But before, This wasn’t part of the celebration. The whole day would be scheduled as the mass, the dinner, the dances, and the other practices like the changing of shoes- from flats to heels, followed by the waltz of the last doll,  where the quinceanera is given her last doll and dances a waltz with her father symbolizing the goodbye of her childhood, and then the last waltz with her father in heels, symbolizing her adulthood now.

"Ahora....now, tomale maestro... take it from here master. Tribal starts to play and everyone begins to stand up and go onto the dance floor. After several hours passing, people began to ;eave with their sleeping children and their intoxicated husbands home.
One last song was played and Heidy began to help pick up the trash on the tables.
"NO no no no no no. You go ahead. We got this," says a lady who happened to have been watching her for a while cleaning up tables by herself. Heidy thanks everyone for all of their hard work and walks to the van where she instantly falls asleep.

So to all those soon to be quinceañeras, this one is for you. Don’t just have a party. This is you’re coming-of-age ceremony. You know what you want in life and having the biggest and baddest party isn’t what is going to start you into your adulthood. Coming-of-age is where you leave all the childish like behavior behind, pick yourself up and strut out into the world as a new woman. As a woman, you will go a lot farther than as a child. A quinceañera is you’re start.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Whom then shall I fear?

We all have something we fear.

Whether it's something small like ants, spiders, flies, birds, dogs, and anything else like that. Then there are the bigger fears; heights, dying, not knowing what to do, stage fright, nightmares.

In the bad there is still some good and in the good there is still some bad.

That's the thing with us humans. We look at the bad and never see the good and we look at the good and never see the bad. But like in Thoreau's Civil Disobedience he gives out big pushes to the people and slaps them right in the face telling them, "Look at this country of ours! Do you not see how messed up it is? Quit with the same old procedure and get up and fight for justice in this injustice." Some got the message, others not so much. Thoreau is a great example of someone who sees the bad in the good and the good in the bad. Throughout his passage, Thoreau didn't want to completely shut down the government. He simply wanted to make it just and fair to all of the people. He has courage.

What is courage?

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one.

Fear. Here is is again. Fear is within everything, but the only thing bigger than fear is courage.

In several movies I've seen there are millions of acts of courage being taken. In the Hunger Games, Katnis volunteers as tribute taking her sisters place in the sinister games when he name is drawn, Rise of the Guardians, little boy Jaime finally stands up against the boogyman saying "I believe in you but I'm not afraid of you", Divergent, Tris learns that she's divergent and puts a stop to the corrupt government when it goes out of hand. All of these acts of courage are shown in several other movies, but not acts of courage occur on the screen. Acts of courage come out of a person when they feel that something isn't right.  Yin yang.

When I was a baby, my mom was abused by my father. Big term, I know, BUT until I was 3 years old, she decided to leave. She was done with his bull and she was done with how unhappy her life was. She took me, grabbed our things and walked out, took a bus and moved in with my uncle for a while. That my friends took a lot of courage. For three years, she didn't leave afraid of him coming after her and beating her to death. Once we settled down, she pressed charges and since then we haven't heard of him, until 10 years later I got a phone call. Yin yang.

It was my turn to be the on to act with courage. Took a lot of nerve for him to call me after 10 years, but we still met up. All of us. My mother, my step-father, me, and....him. It was hard, but it was done. We met, sat, talked for what felt like an eternity in hell, and then he left. That was it. He was a bad man, but he had me in mind after all these years. Yin Yang.

I guess it was an act of courage he did as well too because he showed up too. Maybe everyone has had an act of courage and or are courageous.

Can you see the good in the bad and the bad in the good?

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Let it go"

 Everyone has a heart. It only takes a little effort to overcome "bad times".

Some are born with perfectly normal hearts. Some are born with difficulties within the heart. Some damage their own hearts from committing heinous acts or from experiencing something tragic that really takes a tole out of them.

Some don't have the best childhood. Some experience neglect. Some never know how to love. Some don't know what it is to be loved, to care, to be kind, to be respectful, to have a real smile on their face . Some experience abuse.

 So why is it that people loose the innocence of civility? Is it because of the world and the experiences we encounter? Or, is it because we can't let go?

I didn't have the best childhood. Neither did my mom, or my mom's mom, or her mom, and so on and so on. That's where the problem is. People don't know how to let go. Not just that, but people don't know how to overcome the problem and break the chain. This is where civility is taken away.

Civility means to be polite and respectful towards others.

"Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and 
encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing 
thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes 
courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good 
health. Taking an active interest in the well-being of our community and concern for the 
health of our society is also involved in civility." 
                                                     --P. M. Forni

 The fact that my relatives can't let go is a huge interference with their civility. They are so "butt-tight" about the past that their entire lives revolve around it.That's one thing that you don't want to have in your life. Instead of keeping those bad times locked onto your shoulder, let it go and use all that past to change into the person with true civility, your true self. Everyone has something they want become, to use, to endure in life and be proud of. So let it go.

In Disney's new movie Frozen, Elza was afraid of hurting the people of the kingdom after hurting her sister. She isolated herself and lived in fear. In fear that she couldn't control her power, but in the of the film, she finally learned to let go of fear, of the past. Want to know with what? With love. Love that came from the civility that aroused within her.

It all starts with civility. Politeness. Respect. Courtesy.

With civility towards yourself you bring peace to you and to others. You will learn to accept your past and let go, learn how to love others and yourself, be kind, and smile for real this time. Civility that will be shown through you, your past, your future.

So let it go.

Monday, February 24, 2014

An Open Letter to an Author

Dear Mr. Eugenides,

 My name is Heidy and I am a high school junior. I was asked to choose a novel of my choice (with the approval of my English teacher) for a book club project and I chose your book Middlesex. I chose this book because the title itself is interesting and then also because my friends who have read your book already recommended it, and here I am already through with it. Let me just say... wow. You know how to write a great novel. This specific book had so much going on, i sometimes had to re-read the entire chapter just to understand what had just happened to Lucky or Tessie. The themes in the book really seem to affiliate to the different generations set up in this novel.
 To be honest, I never would've imagined how horrible humans in our society are. I knew that people were rude and immature but the characters in this book against what isn't natural really know how to show their feelings through hatred and disgust in their physical aggression and aggressive verbal communication. I cried imagining those men beating up Cal.

"No sooner had the other one done so than he let go of me as though i were contaminated. He stood up, enraged. By silent agreement, they began to kick me. As they did, they uttered curses. The one who had pinned me drove his toe into my side. I grabbed his leg and hung on.
 'Let go of me, you fucking freak!'
The other one was kicking me in the head. He did it three or four times before I blacked out."

  I knew that I was a sensitive person, but just imagining the torture Cal went through just in those few sentences really connected with me emotionally. I won't go into detail, but my past wasn't the very best. As a matter of fact, I honestly believe that if I still lived in the same house with that man at the age I am now, I would've ran away just like Cal and unlike Cal, I wouldn't return. Luckily, my past is my past and I will never be able to go back to it and my present is worthier.

 Other than horrendous images, there were also some rather enraging moments I had with this book.
"I hope you learn a lesson from this. mixing with the wrong crowd can sink you. You seem like a nice guy, Mr. Stephanides. You really do. We wish you the best of luck in the future."
This quote is the story of my life right now. I hang out with the "wrong crowd" and have had many adults that are concerned ask me and anonymously tell me "to find better friends." I've found those "better friends", and they stabbed me in the back. Here Jimmy Zizmo is the bad influence on Lefty's life. My group are bad influences on me, yet just like Jimmy, they stood next to me and helped me get back on my feet. Those better friends just left me to the side. So, yeah this quote enrages me because if Lefty never had met Jimmy, Lefty never would have even gotten to where he almost was, like myself.   

This book of yours is truly inspiring. I mean in the sense of believing in what you believe in and continuing strong. Standing up for your rights. Our beliefs. I'm glad I read this book.

Heidy Quintana

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Work of Fiction- Part 2

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Total Pages: 529
Pages read so far: 529

6. This book is set up in chronological order, spanning 80 years of a stained, near- mythic Greek American family history, as 41 year-old hermaphrodite who was raised as Calliope, explaines a fateful incestuous union in a small town in the early 1920s suburbs of Detroit and a confusing love story to modern-day Berlin.

9. This novel is once of the most complex novels I have ever read. There is just so much going on that I sometimes had to re-read the chapter to understand what was going on. For exapmly, the fact that it changes scenes from Cal's life in Berlin then back to Desdemonia and Lucky in the 1920s. I for one had trouble with identifying what was being said. I liked this book, actually. It not only gave backgound information on the history like in page 71 the author embedded a story about a Princess name Si Ling-chi from China whom discovered silk and thus started the Silk trade, but it also had an interesting plot and structure. I never would've guessed the events that would occur after one scene. Like I didn't see Callie getting hit by a tractor from running away from the Object's brother whom she just kicked his ass for calling her and the Object lesbians after getting caught fingering each other. WOAH! But, man this book certainly is a thumbs up.

5."I hope you learn a lesson from this. mixing with the wrong crowd can sink you. You seem like a nice guy, Mr. Stephanides. You really do. We wish you the best of luck in the future."
This quote is the story of my life right now. I hang out with the "wrong crowd" and have had many adults that are concerned ask me and anonymously tell me "to find better friends." I've found those "better friends", and they stabbed me in the back. Here Jimmy Zizmo is the bad influence on Lefty's life. My group are bad influences on me, yet just like Jimmy, they stood next to me and helped me get back on my feet. Those better friends just left me to the side. So, yeah this quote enrages me because if Lefty never had met Jimmy, Lefty never would have even gotten to where he almost was.   

Monday, February 17, 2014

Work of Fiction- Part 1

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Total Pages: 529
Pages read so far: 106

2: Main Character: Calliope Stephanides. Now known as Callie is a hermaphrodite which makes her known as Cal. Cal unravels a guilty family secret that's three generations long to explain her condition. She will end up revealing the end of how she is the way she is and will explain her life in the present tense.

3. I like how Cal starts off with a little bit of her character and then starts how it was that she was made, then to the generation by generation sequences afterward. It's in chronological order which doesn't make things hard to keep up. I don't like however, the fact that its traced so far back in time. I mean, I understand that you have to go all the way to the beginning to actually show where things started out in, but the time periods are just too far back. The time does explain how each character is the way they are, but still. It's still a good book.

5. "'We fell in love,' Lefty said. He'd never announce it to a stranger before, and it made him feel happy and frightened all at once."
This quote, I don't know, made  me feel excitement. As far as I've read in the book, the fact that Lefty is allowing his and Desdemona's relationship be alive and real to the world just gave me joy and hope for their relationship. They are cousins married together, but in America now, Detroit to be specific, they can start a life together that will make them happy, but then again things like their relationship has its tolls.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Home is whenever I'm with you...

 We are like pets. We were raised a certain way with what is right and what is wrong just like a cat or a dog is trained to behave and obey. At some point we go to school, make friends and get influenced or involved with many new ideas and tactics that we never knew before like who to like and who not to like.
Unspoken rule #3764536. 
Unspoken rules that help us belong.

 Unspoken rules are rules that aren't said or written but simply known from a phrase, a gesture, or an action. Like in high school. High school is FULL of unspoken rules. Becky is walking down the hall with her best friend Sarah. As they pass a couple, a girl in a green sweater leaning against a stick-figure of a guy, Sarah mugs them with dark beady eyes growling at the sight of them.That right there is and automatic "Don't talk to her or him." Unspoken rule #785947685. Girl code and guy code are unspoken rules people should already know what's up. Unspoken rule #997694798740. If one doesn't know the codes, then he or she will not belong. Unspoken rule #14556

 The meaning of belonging is just as it sound, to be a part of something. These unspoken rules are a major part in the pathway of belonging. They are what creates a group in the first place. It sets a boundary; a boundary that is strictly enforced. In our own homes there are strict unspoken rules that we already know from our mothers tone in her voice. "Don't put your feet on the couch." Okay, no feet on the couch. Unspoken rule #5687946975. "Can you move?!" Keep at least 10 to 15 feet away from her. Unspoken rule #21454351384321. So many types of tones in a mothers voice is an indication at whether you should run or not. "Honey, could you make some popcorn?" Mom's in a good mood meaning movie marathon tonight! Unspoken rule #196705967905. With any authoritative figure we know, unspoken rules are what keep us belonging on the good side.

 Whether it's being at home or going to school, unspoken rules are what made you who you are and where you are. Belonging in the place you should be in.