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.

13 Responses to “La Neta: A Latina Guide to Losing it All”

  1. Stephanie Diaz Reppen says:

    This is rad. I think about this all the time– just letting failures be failures. Straw as straw.

  2. Kate says:


    This sounds like a fabulous undertaking and I look forward to reading your installments. Great premise and something I believe we all need to grow more comfortable with.


  3. Elvira Vazquez says:

    Hola Paloma,
    I’m not that familiar with blogs, etc. How do I sign up or where do I go to read your writings? I love this ideology of acceptance and look forward to reading your stories!

  4. Dustin says:

    Sometimes our failures are not even failures. There are many things that systematically place undue burdens and stress on our already hectic lives.

    This was my experience in college. I often regret not making the final cut in getting my 3.5 GPA (I ended up with a 3.4), but what I have come to realize is that I was also working 30 hours a week, taking care of my wife while she was on bed rest, and taking on more classes than most could handle in a year, let alone a semester.

    In the end, sometimes we fail at our goals. However, this in no way is an indication of failure. Sometimes in defeat, we actually succeed.

  5. Tomas Salas says:

    look forward to reading your words of wisdom Paloma. We all lose something and everything at some point in our lives and of coarse at the end of it. Good and bad things they all eventually goes away or turn into something else. I’m okay with that, really I am. much love and respect!

  6. John Stoner says:

    Yeah… I feel like there’s a relationship between impermanence and presence. Presence to the shittiness of the present moment, and consciousness that the shittiness passes. For me, personally, the second gives me the courage to absorb myself in the first, to whatever extent I do. Perhaps that limits the depth of my absorption. I dunno.

    Getting through what’s hard without crutches. Hm.

    • Paloma2013 says:

      When I burn my hand reaching for the casserole in the oven, it hurts. I know it will not hurt in that particular way forever. What compels me to write about this is that there is a strong tendency to stigmatize and efface that burning moment. We live so much of our lives in the burning moment. Maybe we can find a space on the family altar for its specificity.

      • John Stoner says:

        true, but you didn’t always know that. We aren’t born understanding time that well. You might be better able to reflect on the development of that understanding than I, being as you have a kid and you’ve seen someone develop it up close.

        I imagine there are different phases of understanding time. There’s the pure this moment-ness of a pre-object permanence infant, there’s the first time we imagine forever or our lifespan, there’s the development of patience, and the awareness of this-too-shall-pass.

        I wonder if what you’re talking about belongs in that frame, at an adult level, circling back and embracing those awful moments in life, living them as fully as we like to live the best moments. Absorbing ourselves in them, but with all the additional power of adulthood.

  7. Roxy says:

    I absolutely cannot wait to read these installments. This concept resonates so much with me. You are such an inspiration, Paloma!

  8. Kimberly says:

    I look forward to reading this!

  9. Xenia says:

    divorce, abortion, unemployment, motherhood, care giving, and loneliness

  10. Xenia says:

    looking forward to reading the posts (divorce, abortion, unemployment, motherhood, care giving, and loneliness — all issues I can relate to)

  11. Andrea Cruz says:

    I love this idea! There is an art to falling down, but it’s about how we manage to pick ourselves back up. Is this a new book you’re writing???

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