(And now for a political interlude)

Dear Dictionary of You Readers,

I’ve been AWOL from this site, which means so much to me, for two reasons: first, I was putting out “Love in Translation,” a book of essays compiled from this blog. Second, in 2016 and certainly now in 2017, pretty much all I can think, read or write about is U.S. politics.

If you’re in a similar bind – and especially if you, like me, are craving real conversation about the problems we’re facing – I hope you’ll follow me over to Shadow Cabinet, my new series of interviews with women leading the struggle for human rights in the United States.

I’ll be publishing weekly interviews (weekly-ish – some weeks my daughter may have other ideas for me), short and sweet, on Tuesdays. They’ll be focused on what each woman is doing to make a difference in our country, how we can support her directly, and what lessons we can take from her experiences to emulate in our own communities. The first interview, coming this Tuesday, will feature Allegra Love, founder of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project. This immigration lawyer is inspiring and tough, but also offers supremely useful tips for helping our local nonprofits without overwhelming them.

Read more about the effort here. I hope some of you will follow Shadow Cabinet (you can sign up via email on that site, right-hand column, or follow along on Twitter @shadowcabinet45) and contact me if you have any suggestions.

I hope to get back to blogging about Costa Rican language and culture soon, but in the meantime, you might enjoy a new series I began over at The Tico Times entitled “The World in Costa Rica” – stories of immigration to Costa Rica in all its rich and diverse forms.

Thanks again for all your support!

An interview about ‘Love’

kso-pic-smallThis was an amazing week and I’m so grateful to you for your comments and shares! Earlier this year, Tico Times Managing Editor (and fellow writer-mom) Jill Replogle asked me some great questions about Costa Rica, writing, juggling family and the immigrant vs. expat debate. The TT published the interview on Monday and I’m proud to share it here as well. 

…Stanley, 37, arrived in Costa Rica in 2004 and has worked as a reporter, editor, speechwriter and freelance writer, as well as in a variety of roles in the nonprofit sector. After the birth of her daughter in San José in 2013, she began writing about Costa Rican language and culture, both on her personal blog, The Dictionary of You, and in a popular Tico Times column called Maeology. Many of these writings are included in the new book, which follows our Publications Group’s first title, “The Green Season,” by Robert Isenberg (2015).

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The book is here – thank you!

The book based on my writings here on “The Dictionary of You” is finally in print, and I am so thankful to each and every one of you for joining me along the way. All those of you who have been clueless brand-new parents, or lived far from home, or experienced loneliness – ok, pretty much everyone – will understand what it meant to me to get kind and insightful comments on my musings from everyone from my mom, to old friends, to total and totally wonderful strangers. I would never have dreamed of a book without that feedback. Some nights, it was a real lifeline.

I’ll be honest: it has felt downright frivolous to continue pouring myself into a project so sunny, small and hopeful during the past several weeks, tough ones for both the United States and Costa Rica for very different reasons. But to paraphrase an artist I love, sometimes you have to focus on whether what you’re putting out into the world is positive or negative. I’ve tried to do that, and I hope that a small story about love and language across borders provides a little blast of positivity for readers this holiday season.

Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart! And please head on over to my new (and very much in its own infancy) author website, katherinestanley.com, for all the details on “Love in Translation: Letters to My Costa Rican Daughter,” hot off the presses at The Tico Times Publishing Group and available worldwide on Amazon, or for delivery in Costa Rica from The Tico Times Store.



The problem with valleys

What do people buy before a storm? Water. Batteries. A box of wine – fine, two, and I’m not sorry. We fill our carts with comfort, collect retail horcruxes, seek the magic combination that will hold back the flood.

In San José, Costa Rica, on November 23rd, 2016, I buy a rechargeable lantern just in case.

I’m watching two storms. One’s a bright puff whirling toward our coast on the weather map. The other is a man who wears that same shape on his head, disturbing, blond. A man whose ringtone by now, I assume, is “Hail to the Chief.” The hurricane is named Otto, just like the Costa Rican congressman who said this week that the blond-haired man is an inspiration. A cold wind blew through my heart when I read it: no place is immune.

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This one’s for the girls (chinear)

Dear E.,

As you already know, the word chinear means “to baby,” “to spoil,” “to take care of.” It’s ubiquitous in Costa Rica and in other parts of Latin America. A child, or adult for that matter, who is chineado/a is spoiled rotten, but the verb chinear doesn’t have that negative connotation. It means rocking a baby in your arms, breathing in her scent, tending to her every need, even blissing out.


I’ve found myself thinking about this word quite a bit this week, which was not a good week for women in the United States. Or from the United States, like me. Or descended from it, like you.

I thought a lot about what women endure, and what we rise above, and how we nurture or neglect ourselves.

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Toddlerhood (mocosa)

Dear E.,

I am trying to return to my habit of writing to you here, interrupted for the better part of a year by the effort of producing a book (coming out soon, I swear). But that’s just one reason. The other is that I ran out of momentum, out of fodder for my love letters to Costa Rica. Looking back, I realize that my ever-fluctuating feelings for my adopted country were modulating into yet another key – as did, for different reasons, the tenor of motherhood.


I’ll explain later.

New motherhood can be tender, thoughtful even romantic. Romantic in an “I’m covered in puke and I think one of my nipples just fell off” kind of way, of course, but romantic all the same. If you’re lucky, there’s lots of gazing, silence, contemplation and gratitude. Life slows and sweetens. Everything seems precious, including the country outside your window.

Then things change. People can, and often do, have both a newborn baby and no sense of humor; believe me, I’ve met quite a few. But people who are the parents of toddlers without honing their darkest wit; who haven’t given up, at least for now, on 95% of the parenting goals they had before giving birth; who don’t question their own sanity on a daily basis (not their kid’s, because the kid is clearly insane); and who haven’t laughed until they cried while surrounded by a growing pool of toddler urine in the aisle of a store… well, such a parent is not a person I want to have a beer with.

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We’re having a… book!


A taste of Priscilla Aguirre’s delightful work.

Dear Friends:

I am happy to share the news that The Dictionary of You is becoming, well, an actual dictionary, on actual paper – a collection of my essays will be published as a book in a matter of weeks by The Tico Times Publications Group here in Costa Rica. It is being illustrated by the wondrous Priscilla Aguirre, an artist whose work I dearly love and is displayed on my walls at home. She is the creator of the popular Holalola line and captures the beauty and whimsy of San José like no one else, as you can see in the image at right (unrelated to this project, via the Holalola Facebook page). It is a dream come true to be working with her.

The book, which compiles musings published here and in my Tico Times column, “Maeology,” would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of all of you, and I am so grateful. I will be sharing more information in the weeks ahead, including the cover image, title and, eventually, Amazon link.

If you have any suggestions as to authors or other folks who might be interested in this book and willing to provide a blurb or review; media contacts who might be interested in covering it; potential points of sale, or locations for readings; or any other suggestions for me, I would be love to hear them. The Tico Times Publications Group is not even a year old, so we need lots of support in getting the word out!

Thanks again, and have a wonderful weekend.

Love, Katherine, Adrián and the indomitable Miss E.