Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why Chico Lingo?

In two days we vote, in a momentous presidential election, and it’s about as good a time as any to start a blog. Why start another blog? The Internet is already a vast sea of words and ideas and rants and offbeat perspectives, and do we really need one more? I’m not sure we do, but I am sure my voice should count, and that’s why I’ll vote on Tuesday, even knowing that tens of millions of others will do the same, and that’s also why I have decided to start a blog, to leave my voice behind, even if it’s just a nearly quotidian voice I start on Friday evening, and edit on Sunday night.

I do have selfish reasons to start a blog. I want to force myself to write more, particularly at those times when I have not in the past. I also want to explore the tidbits of ideas that occur to me, questions perhaps that pop up about writing, reading, Latinos in America, money and investments, families and fathers, and so many other issues that do comprise my daily life. This weekly blog: between an aphorism and an editorial.

Dear reader, what I can promise you is that I will make an effort to be honest about why I am writing whatever it is that I am writing. That honesty won’t be without bias, but it certainly will be chock-full of questions I ask myself, and try to answer for you and for me. Perhaps, dear reader, you will help me to develop my self-consciousness, certainly one important, yet never-ending goal of my writing and reading.

Why is it that the United States is fast becoming a nation that doesn’t read? And what I mean by reading is not the ten-minute sit-down to read this blog, but a multi-day focus on a good novel, for example. What has this lack of literary patience done to our thinking? To our discourse? Of course, TV and movies are the imaginary vehicles through which we now lose ourselves, but if that’s so, what flimsy selves we must have. And as time goes on, we forget that perhaps we were once not like that. Or was reading and thinking, for hours upon hours, and days upon days, only a nostalgic, non-existent past? Perhaps this kind of reading was only the luxury of an elite. I don’t know, and I’m not sure, but I do know that when I read, when I take the time to read, when I read to my children slowly, and deliciously, immersing ourselves in a good story, there is nothing else like it in the world.

So perhaps another reason to write this blog is to create a different blog. A semi-thoughtful blog, yet still immersed in this self and its peculiar, momentary questions. I don’t condemn the medium of the current Internet, but often, yes, the message. I will also be guilty, I’m sure, of being petty, immediately reactive, rather than truly thoughtful, but I will try to catch myself. That’s what I promise.

Why ‘Chico Lingo’? The two words came to me whimsically, after I imagined my abuelita saying them to me, as in “Mira, este Chico Lingo!” That is, “Look at this little upstart, this imp!” Doña Dolores Rivero may have actually said ‘Chicolito’ or ‘Chiringo,’ or some other half-admiring admonition, also invented by her. Let’s just say Chico Lingo means ‘little gadfly,’ perhaps Socratic if you like philosophy, with a hint of the literary, in ‘lingo,’ and ‘chico’ for tidbits of ideas, for ‘Chico’s Tacos’ in El Paso, for once being a boy who always loved stories under oak trees and next to irrigation canals. That sort of thing. You can make up your own meaning to ‘Chico Lingo,’ or you can even ask yourself why we demand that many things we say, or write, must have a clear-cut meaning or reason behind them. What kind of odd creature demands that? How, moreover, does play spur a new way of thinking, a new language?