About Quiet Laughter


I've always been fascinated by cross-culture. I am, like so many of us, a mutt: Mexican-Irish-French. I'm fluent in both English and Spanish, and I can stumble my way in French, Papiamentu, and Dutch. I live on a 150K-inhabitant island where diversity is the norm: all the locals speak four (yes, FOUR) languages, and they speak all four way better than most people speak any second language. Over 50 nationalities — Antillean, Dutch, Colombian, Dominican, Venezuelan, German, English, Canadian, Spanish, Portuguese, Argentinian... well,  you name it — cohabit in relative peaceful conflict. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and several other religions smile at each other from the doors of their places of worship.

It seems magical to me, this diversity — this tolerance! — and it crops up with reliable frequency in my writing. I want to explore those cross-cultural exchanges, dissect the point where conflict often emerges elsewhere to find out why it doesn't when it doesn't (here in Curaçao, for instance). I am enthralled by the differences, and always awed when, after careful and detailed consideration, those differences fade into a similarity that, in its uniqueness, is more than human... It borders on the transcendental.




That woman in yellow with the silly blue cloche-type hat? That's me. The man holding me so lovingly to him? The world's most wonderful man. No, I mean it. Listing evidence of his wonderfulness would require a blog of its own, so suffice it to say here that none of this would exist without him. 


I've always been writing. I began keeping journals very early on; I remember receiving a Snoopy diary, complete with lock and a key (which I promptly lost) when I was maybe five. The first entries were short and eschewed much detail, but soon the pages became too small for everything that was worth observing and dissecting. I changed to the classic composition notebooks; the sight, rare nowadays, of those squiggly black-and-white covers still fills me with a sense of private rumination, of individual introspection. In those notebooks I discovered the incredibly complex range of feeling and thought that is myself, that is every human being ever born.

When I was eight, I won a short-story competition at school. I started writing fiction because of the bedtime stories my mother told me. They'd never been of the traditional kind. No, she made them up as she went along, and they never reached an ending, happy or otherwise, in a single night. They never made me sleepy, either. At some point my dad would call out, 

"It's time to sleep, girls."

And that was that, at least for that night. Left alone, head spinning with these wild tales of princesses and fairies and animals that talked and got saved by little girls like me, it wasn't long before my imagination began to spin the thread by itself. And from there it was naught but a tiny step to the pen, as soon as I learned how to use one.

It was one of those bedtime stories, titled something like "Little Birds at Christmastime", that won the school competition. I was pleased, at the praise from my teachers and my parents, but mostly I was surprised — no, exhilarated — that I could tell a story that other people might like. 

I was addicted.


Years later, through some very serendipitous happenings involving a crossed telephone wire (remember when that could happen?), I became involved with a small group of young poets and writers that began the community's first literary magazine. It was called Tinta Seca, and it lived successfully up to a couple of years ago (2012, I think). I only participated for a year or so in this project — life loves to put our mettle to the test — but what a year! To see my work in print for the first time! To give readings in public (to an admittedly small audience, but hey)! Tinta Seca, and the wonderful people who made it happen, gave me my first taste of what it feels to be a writer

I knew it, then. This was the thing that I wanted. Most of all and more than anything, I wanted to be a writer. To write things that others wanted to read, yes, but — more powerfully as time passed — to write the way an artist paints: to render a portrait of the world, and get the world to look in as it would into a mirror, magnifying the glory and the decadence to the point where it must be not only looked at but acknowledged.

It took me nigh on two decades. No, not to achieve it; to begin.



14 comments :

  1. Your blog pulled me in although I was just taking a look through it. I found your comment on Write it Sideways, and always like to take a look at last articles by writers. I'm a mutt too, not as mixed up though;Indian, Pakistani, Arabian and a teeny bit of Egyptian somewhere along the line. I could relate to your article "Expat", I've spent half my life in Canada, then Pakistan (Karachi; city of lights and often fire)and now I am back again. I feel I don't belong 'completely' anywhere. I love to write and that is the one place I feel I 'completely' belong. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages of being an Expat. The best advantage being all the writing ideas you get.

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    1. Khaula, thank you for your visit, and I'm so glad you liked the blog :) Yep, mixture is the key to richness, I think, and living as an expat does, indeed, make you homeless in many ways--it also makes you a deeper person--and a better writer :)

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  2. Glad to meet you from the Childhood Monster Blogfest. I'll be following and reading.

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    1. Thanks, Brian--same here! Glad you liked the blog, and I look forward to trading blog-visits :)

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  3. What an incredible story, I am glad you found your muse again. I am learning to speak Danish and the thing I love most is the cross cultural experience, we are one we are many, which by the way is also may favourite thing about Australia, where I was born. I look forward to more and I have been struggling with some inspiration for my L is for laughter post and I think I have started musing now.

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  4. Ida, thanks so much for the visit! So glad you liked the blog and that it helped you to find inspiration for your L post :) I'll make sure to check it out ;) Have a wonderful day!

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  5. I was also a story-teller as a child, though I only really started writing as an adult. Like you, I'm fascinated by multi-cultural societies. Thanks for stopping by My Rite of Passage - Belinda.

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    1. A pleasure, Belinda, and I look forward to staying in touch through our blogs. Happy new year!

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  6. What a fascinating life! I lived in Cuernavaca briefly as a teen and went back to see our old apartment building in 2005 -- completely unchanged since the 70s.

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    1. I remember reading a post you wrote about revisiting Cuernavaca--actually, I think that's how I found your blog :) Thanks for the visit, and happy new year!

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  7. Hey Guilie,
    I cant Thank you enough for your kind words of appreciation on my blog post. I feel so relived after reading your comments. It had encouraged me to write further, having said this I really love your blog, it's so nice to read about you and your stories.
    I thank the person who gave you the first snoopy diary, which I believe gave birth to this wonderful writer.

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    1. It was a pleasure to find your blog, Ananya, and I'll be visiting often. Your IWD post is brilliant; so authentic that the frustration at the injustice of the constraints you face as a woman shines clearly, powerfully, through. I shared it on Twitter, too, and I hope many other people visit, and read, and realize that she who does not speak is she who accepts. Long ways to go, but posts like yours make me realize there is hope :) Thank you for that.

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  8. Oh, such a fascinating story and life! No wonder why you have to write! Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm so happy that A to Z helped me find yours! I'm looking forward to reading more of your writing.

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  9. Hey! stumbled upon ur blog by chance and its such a nice discovery I made today! Liked ur introduction post about your journey to blogosphere. Happy blogging!

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