The Modernista Phenomenon

Soy una gitana por adopción.


Didn’t get that the first time? Okay, maybe in English this time. With big letters:




That better? *wink, giggle*

No, this is not a belated April Fool’s joke…more like, “I was adopted when I was twenty-three, but it didn’t dawn on me until a few months ago and then I thought it prudent to keep it to myself (and a few close friends).”

Remember how I said last May that I have a Calderón friend? Al parecer, soy Calderón también. (Apparently, I’m Calderón, too.) Interesting conversation we had a few months ago.

At some point, I decided it might be an interesting idea to change the names in League of Lost Souls and rewrite it as a full-length novel. (Turns out it has a lot more than a few name changes, but you’ll have to wait until I get to the Backlash page on Novelpedia to learn more about it.) Anyway, I re-read a part wherein Clea talks about testing her “missing” uncle for romanipen (the Romani spirit) and I asked Tana how one would go about testing for that. (I don’t remember the actual conversation we had and I’m too lazy to go through all of my instant messaging archives since I got my new laptop in October/November, so prepare for some massive paraphrasing.)

Me: Hey, Oma…I was just re-reading League of Lost Souls in preparation for working on Backlash and I just got to the part where Clea tells Abednego that they’ll have to test him for romanipen before he can be allowed into Clan Nalachen. How would one go about doing that? [“Oma” is actually German for “grandma”, but that’s what I call her in generic conversation. I’ll call her Mamo for the rest of this post.]

Tana: Why would you want to test [certain gentleman] for romanipen, sweetie? I’ll accept him into the family when you marry him.

Me: Thank you, that’s very nice. But I meant me, since I’m an Outsider and all.

Tana: Aren’t you my daughter?

Me: Yes…?

Tana: So doesn’t that make you Romani, too?

Me: Crickets as the realization strikes. But don’t I have to go through an adoption ceremony? And don’t Tia Juana and Tia Reina have to agree to it? [I refer to my “aunts” in Spanish terms, so “tia” means “aunt”–“Tia Juana” is “Aunt Jane” (I generally refer to her as Tia Jane) and “Tia Reina” is “Aunt Queenie” (Mamo tells me that Tia Reina‘s name roughly translates into “Queenie”, so I call her “Reina”, which is Spanish for “queen”.)]

I realized through further discussion that the answer is “no and no”.

On a familial level, it’s her child and her choice. No one has a say on who Mamo adopts, especially since she’s unmarried. On the clan level, they still don’t have a say (though I imagine Tia Jane and Tia Reina have some input), as Mamo is the eldest and therefore became matriarch when Abuela and Abuelo (her parents) passed away. Furthermore, as Mamo is unable to naturally have children, Tias Jane and Ronni don’t plan to adopt (as far as I know) and Tia Reina has no children (as far as I know), it’s her obligation as matriarch to adopt and provide for the future of the family.


So, what does that mean for me? Well, let’s run back to that blog entry for starters.

It’s perfectly possible for Romani to live in houses. Forget “possible”! I imagine all of us live in houses now! (And if they don’t, they’re either foreign or not modernistas. But more on that later.) I live with my biological (Outsider) father, Mamo lives with three Outsiders (can I call them “English” like the Amish do? That sounds much less…harsh…), I plan to live in a house of my own sometime down the road… | But I could see where modern travel trailers would be a positive to Romani life. One part that didn’t make it into the fan fic–but may make it into the actual novel–is that every family in Clan Nalachen has a trailer. (Mamo said that traditionally, a hand-decorated vardo would be given to newlyweds, so this would continue that tradition.) When it’s hurricane time, the families throw their belongings into the trailer, hitch up and head for safer ground. Why couldn’t/wouldn’t Romani in hurricane zones do the same?

Impropriety: purity is a huge, huge thing with my people. I’ve openly said before that I’m a virgin (in practice) because I’m saving myself for a man I love, that I don’t want to cheapen the experience. I don’t know about traditionalists, but as a modernista, I will definitely emphasize to my daughter that it is neither prudent nor healthy to have multiple sexual partners. I won’t necessarily say “you have to wait until marriage” or “you have to wait until you’re in love”, but I will suggest that it’s best to ask yourself, “Is this something I really want to do?”, when you’re sober no less.

Running Roughshod: I was raised by English (and am biologically English, not Romani), so I was raised on an “equality first” bent. However, my adoptive people are matriarchal. Remember how Mamo said (in the other entry) that the women can take a man out of leadership just as easily as they can put him in? Yeah, that stays. I can’t see that changing as part of my modernista beliefs. Any man that tried to fuck with my clan like Shadrack fucked with Willa and Timo? Fuck no. In the words of Lady Macbeth: OUT, DAMN SPOT! OUT, I SAY! Have you ever seen King of the Gypsies? (I wasn’t going to because I know damn well that every time Hollywood gets its hands on my people, the result is rife with–often laughable–inaccuracies, but Mamo said it wouldn’t hurt anything and it would be a good learning experience.) No kings, no queens, no royals, no nobles. Where I’m at? Heiress of a clan that–when I reproduce–contains all of four families? That’s as good as it gets, ladies and gentlemen. League of Lost Souls is nothing more than a fairytale. (I can see multiple families gathering together as sort of a community association, but that’s few and far between, I’m sure.) No deathbed pronunciation of a new queen (like that scene with Sterling Hayden and Eric Roberts)–my daughter takes over the clan when I pass. (Not that there will be much to take over at that point, but anyway.)

What else am I missing? (The following are more of my thing as a modernista.)

  • It’s okay to marry English. I heard one of the big things on American Gypsies was that the dad wanted the kids to marry other Romani. Really? You think that’s going to fly after Hitler killed so many of us? I mean, yeah, we’ve bounced back globally since World War II, but I would like to restrict my heirs to marrying Romani as much as the Malfoys would like to restrict theirs to marrying mudbloods! (In other words, no!) Same goes with adoption, if it’s found necessary.
  • NO ARRANGED MARRIAGES! Willa and Timo doesn’t happen in real life (at least not with me). Mamo says that it’s necessary sometimes, for the good of the family or the good of the clan, but something is always done to make it palatable between both sides. In the modernista world, the same goes: not unless no other way can be found.
  • You don’t have to wear a headcovering if you’re married. I saw photos of the mom from American Gypsies and she was just…I mean, that’s okay if you’re a traditionalist (and they clearly are). But I say “not unless you want to. And then go with something inconspicuous, like a baseball cap or a cloth headband if you’re indoors.” (I could see wearing a mantilla or some other sort of lacy veil to a formal event, though–that only seems right.)
  • No stealing, pickpocketing, cons, etc. That has to be the number one stereotype among my people. Here’s a hint: if you think it’s wrong, it probably is. That being said:
  • Stay the fuck away from stereotypes! Mamo had nothing to train out of me, as I was raised English. That’s the advantage of selecting a twenty-three year old heiress that wasn’t raised to type. Along with the above, the best thing to say is, “If you saw it in King of the Gypsies, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, The Finder, American Gypsies, Chocolat, The Golden Compass or anything else that features Hollywood’s imagery of the Romani, DON’T FUCKING DO IT!!!


Okay, Dayanara’s revelation time is over, everyone, go back to work. Nothing more to see here–at least until I post a review of King of the Gypsies.

What’s that? Would I let actors who have played Romani near my family? Maddie Hasson without a doubt. Toby Hemingway and Brooke Shields, I would really need to know more about. (No, I really don’t feel like I know Brooke after all these years, actually.) Eric, honey, you’re a hottie with your glasses off, but Mamo and I agreed early on that one of my responsibilities as heiress is to keep you away from my adoptive family. Sorry.

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