La Neta: A Latina Guide to Losing it All

Introducing La Neta

Paloma Martinez-Cruz

The humorous science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams provides advice to the intrepid, intergalactic hitchhiker: DON’T PANIC. I thought these words were a good way to introduce the present series on loss, failure, suffering, and survival. Much ink is spilled about how to succeed in life. It seemed to me that very little was being said about the other side of the spectrum, namely, how to fail. We fall down many times in love, career, health, family, friends, finances, creativity, beauty, style, passion. It occurred to me to develop a series that drew on both the analysis of prevailing data about our communities, our creative and critical voices, and the personal narratives that remind us that we can find strength in each others experiences in the universal moment of defeat. Proyecto Latina has graciously provided me with the space to undertake this project.

La Neta is about our failures. In the coming installments, a few themes I plan to address include, but are not limited to, divorce, abortion, unemployment, motherhood, care giving, and loneliness. I am hoping that you will tell me about the other topics you would like to see me cover. I believe that these experiences are our teachers. How can we become useful human beings without valuing our defeats? We can’t. And since that is the case, I vote in favor of rolling up the sleeves and doing the hard work of looking at our lives as they truly are. Instead of sweeping all the broken shards under the mat, let us get to the matter of getting many things wrong, and being brave enough to call it a useful existence.

The intention of La Neta is not to fix your problems, nor to console you when things don’t work out as you would like them to. We are all broken. We are all misshapen, weird, lonely, sick, and starving for the cure that will make us less misshapen, weird, lonely, sick, and starving. I am not writing to say, “Let’s be strong in the broken places,” because that would be trying to spin gold from straw. Let straw be straw. Let’s challenge ourselves to be cool with all this straw we are dealt. Also, I am not writing to tell you, “There, there, it will all be better.” Sometimes things get better, and sometimes they get worse. I’m not interested in the Pollyannaisms of, “tomorrow is another day,” or, “remember how many marvelous things you should be grateful for.” If today sucks, let today suck. It is your right to NOT be okay.

There is plenty of writing about the steps you need to take to improve yourself, and this writing is wonderful. Who doesn’t love learning how to set a table, or dress for an interview, or confront a lover’s hurtful behavior? However, La Neta is not about improvement, it is about acceptance. And remember: DON’T PANIC! You now have a handy guide to losing it all.