Wednesday, November 18, 2009
"Crazy Loco Love" teaches us about the love between a man and a woman as well as love and acceptance of all the 'familia' of man
After the stimulating discussion inspired by Sheria Reid who writes the blog, "The Examined Life" on Facebook about immigrants, I decided I had to review this new book "Crazy Loco Love", just out in the libary, by Victor Villasenor. I was fortunate to spend 20 years on the westside in an area that was 90% Mexican, because here I interacted with many Mexican people, at work, in bars, in grocery stores, in thrift stores, out walking, on the bus, and my two younger children grew up with Mexican best friends. My daughter went on to college to learn to speak fluent Spanish, went to Mexico City several times connected to a Christian church she joined, and even spent a couple of months down there living with a family, improving her Spanish language skills and learning about Mexico. My best friend for 8 years was Gilbert, who I met in a pool bar (owned by a master). He had characteristics Villasenor describes as some of the most remarkable in his people. The next 12 years Sandy was my best friend who had a Yaqui mother and a German and Spanish father. We met nearly every day for coffee in Fry's for discussion along with George, a down and out white guy, who was always mysteriously silent about his own life.
Villasenor's father was born in Mexico, his beloved mother was Yaqui Indian, and there was a revolution we don't hear much about here in which a million people died. His mother walked with his father to the border of the US to save their lives. The countryside was devastated. They were starving. When Villasenor's father was only 12 he was arrested here for stealing food and ended up in prison where he was treated badly as a Mexican illegal.
I well remember that illegals were treated badly, and the victims of the revolution were not recognized as refugees. The immigration of illegals continued and people always justified their bad treatment of them as acceptable because they had broken the law by crossing the border. Still there was always work for them that kept drawing them north. Villasenor was raised speaking Spanish because his parents had not learned English, and he recalls a lot of bad treatment by his teachers of English, to the point that he was never able to learn English well enough to read. He did not learn to read until he had graduated from college! He got through college by having people read to him. When he decided he had a calling to be a writer, he knewe he had to learn to read. So he went back to fifth grade books and began again, but he says he believes the bad treatment in his classes froze up his mind. He displayed brilliance in several ways. For example, he was a phenomonal chess player in high school and could beat everyone, no matter what kind of reputation they had. He also was able to theorize in math in a way one teacher told him people had stopped doing centuries ago.
He was able to deduce that much of what he was expected to learn was simply memory work, not reasoning about anything, which bored him silly. Later when he studied the Mayans and Aztecs he learned that they had devised the most perfect calendar ever. They also theorized about mathematics starting with zero as the basis which made it a fascinating study tied to the mind in a way that is not taught in our schools. I related to this because I found math very boring. I wanted to go back to the beginning and theorize why math was invented. I thought somehow that was the key to fascination with math. It had to relate to you. You had to have an exciting reason for learning it or it was just going to to seem too fixed in stone and therefore boring.
Along with his instincts about making even math pertinent and alive, he had great psychic powers I think developed through the beautiful influence of his mother and father's love and their philosophy of what needs to exist between a man and a woman to make their children strong. His father kept telling him he needed to know who he was and where he was going so he could find the woman who would help him through the power of the mother in her as he had found in Victor's beautiful and loving mother. His father thought all children should be raised their first seven years to express their feminine side, learning from the mother, because she understands the meaning and purpose of children better than the man by conceiving and bearing them. He worshipped the strength of his Yaqui mother who had saved him with her strength when so many around them died. He would weep when he talked about her long walk with her children, starving, because there was no food. She would tell them to do little tricks to fool the mind so they could forget how hungry they were!
His father became wealthy in the US eventually through his hard work and brain power, so he was able to give them more, and did not know that at one point his son Victor became so confused and had been made to feel so lowly as a Mexican who did not even speak English when he started school, had strange emotional ways, and such intense feelings for girls, he made up his mind to castrate himself so he could live up to the priests' idea of being without sin in the Catholic schools he attended. He was all set with the knife intending to do it as they did the cattle his dad owned on his ranches when an eagle he thought was the spirit of his brother passed on swooped down out of the sky and hit his hand so that the knife sliced into his leg. His father was shocked that his son had actually almost done such a crazy 'loco' thing.
Well, it was pretty loco all right, but bad treatment can do shocking things to the mind.
I know this is so, and if we don't want young people to act crazy, we will not treat them badly in our school systems or any place else. Since I have a half Mexican grandson, Dante, who has been half bored out of his mind in the school system, I can relate and feel alarmed about this. My son Dan went to one school he attended and he said that all but two of his teachers had lost control of their classes. They were not connecting to the kids at all. They were just talking, and the kids were not listening, just like Dante. He said it would have been impossible to listen. So the idea of just shoveling kids through school and demanding they put up with bad teaching is kind of horrifying, but I am afraid that happens all too often. In the teaching of Mexicans especially, some outstanding teachers exist with a calling, but more often than not the education system is not inspiring the kind of dynamic exciting teachers than can hold the attention of young active minds. We are afraid of that kind of teaching. I believe it is us who have lost our way more than the young who are forced to sit in school as though in prison just waiting to get out, get old enough that life can begin.
I am afraid that too much of that kind of teaching existed back when I was going to school, too. Most of my high school classes in a big city, where large minorities went, black and Mexican, classes were extremely dull and boring. I even contemplated quitting school at 15 but knew my dad would take a horsewhip to me if I started rebelling against school that young. I educated myself in the public library and just put up with most of my classes.
So I think we have a long ways to go in teaching the young, but books like this can give us ideas and more courage to allow our young to think, question, say they are bored, instead of beating them down to accepting dullness.
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