Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Encounters of the AB 540 kind

I'm writing this between classes and I'm super hungry, as per usual. Today in speech class I was talking to a fellow classmate about what we were going to do our perspective speeches on. It has to be persuasive and something that we are passionate about, hence the DREAM Act was a no brainer. I've given speeches and talks about it before and doing under the guide lines of the class will help me improve and refine it. I got all my info (pro and con) to back it up and now it's just a matter of making an outline and giving the speech.

During the chat he mentioned that he still didn't know what he was going to do it on and I mentioned to him what I was doing my on and what the DREAM Act is. He told me that he's an undocumented student as well. I didn't get a chance to tell him I was one too. So he was explaining to me how he pays cash for everything and that he got into CSUN, but couldn't afford the 6 g's in tuition, so he came to ELAC.

Weird how that works really. Every time someone talks about the DREAM Act, whether in a class room setting or in public, that's more people who are aware of it and how it can help. My class mate didn't know about it and I knew from the look of reaction I saw in his eyes. I'm positive that the rest of my class hasn't even heard about it either. My speech is on Monday and after today, I know that there is going to be at least one person who is going to benefit from it directly. Even if I speak in front of a thousand people and only one person is awakened, than that's one more person that will join the fight and help spread the word.

Monday, November 23, 2009


November marks the anniversary of my arrival to my adoptive home, the United States of America. 18 years and counting. I may have writen about this before somewhere, but it's always good to revisit some things. I was talking to my mom earlier today and I was joking with her about having a celebration with fire works, hot dogs, hamburgers and apple pie with american cheese on it. 18 years is a long time and we have built our lives in this country. Our lively hoods just like anyone else that has immigrated here, but therein lies the truth.

The story of families uprooting themselves from their home countries usually involves hardship, poverty, political unrest, war, violence and the hunger for a better quality of life. Not with my family. For you see, when my family, mainly my dad, decided to cross over he did it for the sole reason that he was tired of life in Mexico. In Mexico we lived in apartments where we knew almost everyone there, very community like. My mom and dad sold fruit in a tiangis (farmers market) and did well. I loved going to school and everything was cool for me and my two sisters at the time. Then all of my moms family started migrating north and after stopping at our house, they made their way across.

And just like that, my dad crossed and worked in garment factories sending money to my mom and us who lived on my great grandmothers ranch for three months until we made the trek to cross. I was passed of as my cousin of the same age while my mom crossed with my 2 yr and 3 yr old sisters in the hills and out back. She said they crossed really cheap, round $250 to $300 for all three of them. And just like that, everything changed because my dad was bored. Pretty anti-climactic huh ? 18 years later and here we are.

I'm college bound, my two other sisters are working and living their lives and my youngest sister, the one who was born here, is here and going to school. She doesn't have muc ambition right now, even though she see's everything I'm doing and going to school. 18 years of going throug the Los Angeles Unified School system, moving all over and working to make ends meat. I wouldn't dream of changing any ofit because it has made me the person I am right now. Whether it's inspite of or because of those experiences. I'm thankful for my family, my friends who read this riffle ass tripe and support me in their own way. Things could always be worse and after talking to a woman who put her self through my jr college, UCLA and a Masters Degree while being undocumented and not having AB 540, I have it easy. I'm an anamoly plain and simple. Here's to the next 18.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The next chapter

I filled in the application and now it's a matter of time to see if I
get in or not. This is what I've been working on for the last five
years. Transfering to a university. Doing what no one else in my
family has done. I started school in fall 2005 and I'll be transfering
fall 2010. All this work is culminating as transition and growth are
going to take place.

Five years is a long time and I've grown tremendously as a person and
as an academic. I started part-time and I'm full time. I'm still not
sure where I'll get the money, but that isn't going to stop me. It's
all or nothing at this point. This is where I need to be. I've met so
many people that work there and friends there that picking CSUN wasn't
a hard choice.

It's a who's who of Chicano Studies and they have a great journalism
department as well. I don't know how long it'll take me to make it and
finish getting my B.A. Because once I get it, I'm going into graduate
school and getting a masters. I can do it because I believe in myself.
I believe in what I do. My purpose and cause. Generation 1.5. I have
support from friends and family and that helps. But I gotta take it
one step at time. First I get in, then I get my classes and then I'll
pay for it. And man, am I gonna pay.

~ con safos ~

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Talkin' bout that DREAM Act

My mom'z is one of my biggest motivators tambien and that's what I had
the opportunity to do today, motivate. I've mentioned in the past my
exploits talking to people and students about what the DREAM Act is
and AB 540 and each time I do it, it's different.

Today I talked to kids in a school that focuses on helping the
students get their high school diploma and career training in the
future of America, green jobs. Someone has to fix those solar panels
and other stuff like that right ? It's the future, today.

Anywho, there were only four kids and an advisor, but you know what ?
I had a blast talking to them. Ironic though that I took 90 talking
and for my speech class I gotta limit my speech on the DREAM Actto 10
min. Hmmm .... I explained legislation, support groups, blogging,
social/group support and my personal experiences to spice things up a
bit too.

It was cool because all the kids knew what I was talking about and
they weren't bored either. They paid attention to almost everything I
said. And you all know how I love attention :-) It was a great time
and even though there were only 4 kids, that's 4 more that know about
AB 540, the DREAM Act and they want to help pass it. That's 4 more

~ con safos ~

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Ganas is what my parents tell me to give so I can reach success beyond
anyone else in my family.
Family that has worked fields and menial jobs all their lives to make
ends meat everyday.
Everyday the burden of living up to those expectations grows and gets
Heavier than any other load I have ever carried, yet I know of people
who carry the world on their shoulders.
Shoulders that need to rest, need to be massaged and need the burden
to be lifted.
Lifted from the ground, grown in the dirt and nurished by the sun.
Sun that shines and guides us, the people of the sun into the next
day, day after day.
Day that will end in harmony or agony because suffering is a part of
Life that is connected to everyone, one way or another, echandole ganas.

~ con safos ~


I'm helping a friend with a paper they're writing and these are some questions she asked.

1. How old were you when you arrived in the US?

~ I was seven years old. I had a cousin who was the same age as me, so my uncle and aunt told me that I needed to pretend to be him so we could get across. They had me memorize their names and answers to questions in case border patrol asked. I slept through the whole thing and when I woke up, I was in East L.A. the next day.

2. When did you find out you were undocumented?

~ I knew I was undocumented from day one because of the way I came in. Growing up and going to school, there was a stigma placed on the term “papeles” or papers, referring to having legal documentation that you are in the country legally. Through out school, I would always pretend to have papers and bluff my way out of conversations that inquired about my status. My parents also lectured my sisters and I to not let anyone know we don’t have papers, almost as if it was telling people we had a horrible disease. This went on through out my life.

3. Did you feel that college was an option for you when you were growing up?

~ There was a certain point in which I did because that’s what teachers tried to instill in kids. Go to college and be a doctor or something, always asking that general question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It wasn’t until junior high and high school that I started to become more self-aware of what my possibilities were and what I was able to do, giving my situation. With out real support from my family or peers, I gave up on going to college because I didn’t think I was smart enough and because at the time, I didn’t know undocumented students could go to college.

4. Why didn't you go to college immediately after high school?

~ I went to four different high schools in four years, I didn’t care about my education beyond graduating and the school didn’t either. After high school I spent three years working with my family working a hot dog, fruit and shaved ice cart in various parts of L.A. until we found a spot in East L.A. Later on when I was working at a skateboard shop, through the encouragement of the owner, I decided to go back to school.

5. What would the DREAM Act do for you?

~ Change my life for the better. I would be able to legally work, drive, own property, pay taxes and have a better quality of life. Psychologically and emotionally I would be a happier person because I wouldn’t be dealing with personal issues of doubt and unworthiness. It would mean that going to a University is achievable because I would have a good job that would allow me to pay for my tuition and maybe take loans out. I would qualify for scholarships, internships and academic programs that will help me in my career. It would mean that I would not be hiding and suffering in the shadows because of what my status means. No more living in fear of being deported and having some normalcy in my life.

6. What is your major in school, and what is your panned profession? Why?

~ I’m a Journalism major at East Los Angeles College. Might minor or double major in Chicano Studies if things go well. For the moment I have no real long-term goals beyond becoming a freelance writer and/or getting a paid position at a newspaper or magazine. Blogging online has gotten me a reputation for bringing local news to my community and I hope to be able to make a living off it in the future. The success I have found online is because of my passion for writing. That and I’m a big loud mouth who like to know everything and tell everyone everything, which makes me a perfect journalist. I have an easier time writing than in any other medium. I love the rush of getting a story, talking to people; writing it and having people form opinions of it. I have come to a balanced point in my writing and life in which I let my writing take me places, rather than me taking it somewhere else.

7. Where would you like to be, or where in life do you imagine you would be were it not for your undocumented status? What opportunities do you feel you have missed as a result of your situation?

~ It’s a double edge sword that hangs over your head like a damocles dagger. One the one hand, I have developed personally beyond anything I could ever imagine. My situation has given me a view on life than not many people get to see and in turn, humbled me and made me a stronger individual. I have perseverance and ambitions that are fueled by my experiences and I am able to offer a different perspective on everyday happenings from my point of view. I would not be the person I am if it wasn’t for being undocumented. At the same time it is a burden that can cripple and break a person down if they do not have the proper support system. Being undocumented means that you live in the shadows and that has a lot of psychological ramifications that range from severe depression to apathy. Given the clarity I have found throughout the years, I am happy to be where I am and the situation I have placed myself in. Ideally I would like to have legal status, but until that happens, I make the best of the situation. I can’t picture myself doing anything else beyond what I’m doing now. Even though I have missed out on opportunities to travel and have a “normal” life, I have gained much more than I have lost through the people I have met, events I have attended and the infinite possibilities still available in the near future.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Role reversal

Rejection is nothing more than life telling u, "I know u wanna go
there, but that's not where you need to b."

It's funny how things work sometimes. Earlier today I texted those
words to a friend after she said she had a fear of rejection. In
particular to her applying to graduate school and getting rejected.
Ever notice how we can help other easier than we can help our selves ?
It's .... Interesting to say the least.

Another friend, the one I use to live with, told me today that his
family is hurting and struggling to get by. They can't affornd to pay
rent a d they're getting despirate. His family isn't undocumented like
mine. They're older and passed that age of working. They don't speak
any English and have no work skills of any kind. With 5 people living
in a small, two bed room house, things are tight to say the least.

I thought about what they go through and my parents popped into my
head. They both the same. No English and almost no work skills, beyond
making their own work. I.E. My mom selling her tamales and my dad
getting work where ever he can. Yet, they manage and we are better off
than my friends family. I really don't know what to make of things
really. They have papers and acres to things we do t have like
services and jobs. Yet, my parents are better off than they are.

Even my friend, who makes really good $$, strugles even though he
lives at home and suppportd his family. His job allows him to do that
and then some, yet I let him borrow money so he can pay a bill.
Although at this point I owe them that and more. It's easy to say that
things are different because of specific details, but in the end it
comes down to family. I just find it odd that a family with resources
to everything we don't have can't make it in this day and age. I know
things get hard, but how can people let it get to that you know.

Another thing that's been bugging me is gender roles. Basically it
goes like, "you are a male and therefore you need to have this and be
this way. You are a female and therefore you need to be this way and
and have this." Yet, as I mentioned this to someone else, I find
myself on the opposite end of the field.

Part of the reasons, not the main mind you, that things didn't work
with the last relationship was because of the reversal of roles. I'm
not a man because I live at home, don't make money, don't have a
college degree (yet) and other things that of that nature that would
constitute my masculinity. My words here. Because I'm not "this way"
things don't work.

So, I find myself the odd man out here being cut by a double edge
sword. My experiences being undocumented have taught me lessons that
take years to learn and I have reached a point in my life in where I
know what I want and what I am looking for. Yet, being undocumented
bars me from reaching those goals and accessing my full potential. And
so the problem is fused with the answer.

Basically, And not to be cocky or boastful or anything here :-P, I
have become self aware of the fact that I am the kind of guy that
women look for. Sensative, caring, romantic, thoughtful, blah, blah,
blah etc. yet .... all I lack is the economic support to back it up.
Interesting no ?

People judge you by how much you have and can give. It's human nature.
To seek out the best partner to mate with and reproduce. To seek out
the best provider for yiu and your would be children. It's primal
really. At this point in my life, I'm the monkey in the back eating
bugers while the alpha male empregnates and beats all the other female
monkeys. I have come to a conclusion, people are shallow not matter
how much education they have or how much they think they've unlearned
that bull shit.

So my question to myself now is do I find the middle ground ? Do I
make an effort to have extra $$ to take a date out and not go broke ?
Wear clothes that are a little nicer and make me look a little nicer ?
Do I forget/ignore my writing and community services and focus on just
getting $$, a place of my own, a car and papers while I'm at it ?

There inlays the problem. I'm the way I am because I don't strive or
want those things, yet I need them to be happy, supposably, and to
attract a partner. Hmmm .... To be alone and happy with my life or two
slave away for things and end my lonelyness. Quite the dilly of a
pickle yes ? Well the answer is simple, I need papers. That is all.

~ con safos ~

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On health care

I don't have any. Surprised !?! Well you shouldn't be. I wrote about
this issue somewhere sometime ago, way before anyone was reading my
rants so I'd figured I'd give it another shot since I fell face first
from my skateboard. I fell on my knee, this was a week ago now, and it
still isn't right. Nothing critical, just ackward pain, like it's numb
and sore.

So health care. When I was a kid my mom relied on free clinics that
gave innaculations that allowed me to go to public school. The same
for my sisters. In the 17 years I have been in my adoptive home, I
have only been to the hospital once, when I popped my ear drum. Stupid
teLly cause I laid down with a cotton swab in my ear. When they were
fixing it, it took five guys to hold me down and I screamed like a
banshee. Brutal.

Those free/low cost clinics were as close as I got to any health care.
I haven't been to a dentist or seen a doctor. At this point Im scared
of going because of everything that they'll find wrong with me. My
parents didn't have time to worry about our health trying to make a
living and what not. Come to think of it, it's a miracle I'm somewhat
healthy considering the circumstansens. Health insurance is outta the
question until I can afford it by working, which I can't do legaly.

So if I got sick really bad or needed any other type of medical
attention, I would be screwed. One time my mom'z cut her hand pretty
bad and the hospital wouldn't take her in unless my dad gave them a
credit card. So he came back to the house to get while she almost bled
out. Putos. If I were to get hurt, the medical bills would kill me so,
like everyone else I take home remedies.

A sobadora (massage specialist) fixed a really bad ankle twist I gave
myself riding a dirt bike. I was down for two weeks and and even now,
that ankle has a calcium deposit. But can you imagine what people with
degenerative diseases have to deal with being undocumented and broke
and needing daily medial treatment !? It's a horror I would never wish
on my worst enemy. But they get by. The only upside to this is that
when you are undocumented, you don't do anything fun because of the
fear of getting hurt. Come to think of it, that's not a good thing.
There is no good side to this dilema. It's just another side of the
billion sided dice that is the life of undocumented people.
~ con safos ~

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Look at what I made in photo class

Flying Ship

In times of hardship

in times of sadness

there's a place the traveler can let his mind return to.....home.

I still don't know what kind of past the traveller abandoned when he left his home behind.

I still do't know what kind of sorrow he bears

but the traveller can keep walking foward because he has something which sustains him.

A place which accepts him.

He can walk foward step by careful step.

Originally posted on myspace on July 22, 2006

Monday, November 09, 2009

Letter from Acosta

The following is a letter Oscar de la Costa wrote to his wife, Betty


I am a rotten son-of-a-bitch. Now what shall I do ? I'm miserable,
but, what shall I do ? Hoe could I try when I didn't know what to try
or work at ? Please belive me. I will try to be more serious. I know
that you are the best woman that I have ever known. You are, above
all, loyal, and you are what the Mexicans call "buena persona," that
is a good, kind, considerate person.

There have been certain things which you have exhibited that displease
me, but, holy smoke, not enough to make me do and act the way in which
I did. Basically, the problem or te reason for the conflict lies
within me. But so help me, I don't know what to do. Please forgive me
for being a sick bastard. Maybe I'll go to a neurotic psychiatrist.
Maybe ?

Your husband,

Oct. 24 1957

~ con safos ~

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Day by day

I was talking to the security gaurd at work today and i found myself
using the words, "yeah. Me and my ex-girlfriend..." Took me by
surprise because I found myself saying words I never wanted to use
again, unless talking about PREVIOUS ex-girlfriends who can't seem to
grow up. Our talk was about how the gaurd is trying to liven things up
with his wife of 17 years and mother of three kids. Seems parenthood
got the better of both of them and when I started telling him about
all the things I know about and go to, he looked to me as if I was
saving his day.

The transitions both in the begining and in the end of any
relationship are inevitably ackward and/or painful. Course I don't
have to point that out to annyone reading this. We've all been there
once or twice. It's a universal feeling really. Everyone can relate to
feelings of rejection and solitude. Up and down, back and forth.
Thinking about what if this, what if that. If only I did this or that.
If only I was like this or like that. Or in my case, because I'm like
this .....

The reasons don't matter. It's all relative in the end. Course that
doesn't mean the thoughts are not there. Of course they're there !!!
They crepted in there on my walk home. Yet, when I got home they
subsided. It's like, when I saw my mom's making tamales and sis
watching tv, it all went away. That deep feeling in my chest that made
me feel as if there was a gaping hole in there. FYI I was born with a
holding my heart.

It's funny how when in these instances of deep thought I become all
smart and coherent. Total opposite of me a few years ago wheni would
punch walls till my knukles bled. I'm proud of myself in those
instances. I have made progress. The only hard part is detaching the
lines I make up to things happening like this to me not having papers.
That is the hardest part. To see beyond the limitations that hold me
back to certain extents. Would things have been better if I did have
papeles? Of course they would but that's beside the point.

The trick with me is that i work backwards in the sense that as a
reporter, I'm meeting the people that will help me and going to places
that will encourage me. I've been told that I work backwards a few
times and that's why things are like this. I work only enough to have
cash. My focus is devoted to school and my reporting endevores on
blogs and in papers I write for. Things I wouldn't be able to do
because I'd be working too much to support myself.

So what that I still live at home. I still wear clothes from YEARS ago
and so what. I'm not here to impress you or anyone. I always get to.
You gotta be THIS way to fit in. I don't. Pfft screw you. During my
walk I thought that if I were to stop writing completely in terms of
blogging and in newspaper, I would haveTONS of time to work, get my
own place, finish school faster and be able to stand on my own two
feet. Well that's not me. I live to write about what's happening in my
community, pedejadas in my head and how I see the world. It's gotten
me this far and if I keep getting better at it, it'll get me farther
than I can ever hope. None of it is a waste of time because my time is
for helping where I can. The one thing that I do knowis that no matter
where I end up and where the wind takes me, I haveno regrets. For tis
better to have loved and lost, that to have never loved at all.

~ con safos ~

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Second thoughts

It's funny how the days events connect sometimes. I read the story "Finger Dance" in the book, The Republic of East L.A. by Luis Rodriguez and it hit a soft spot. It's a short story about a family enduring the transition of their father/husband making the transition into the other life after he gets stomach cancer. Sorry for spoiling, but pick up the book anyway and read it. So here is where I make the connections to that story. In the past I've written about my father in a not so positive light and if you have stressed relations with your father or family, you know how it is and you ave an understanding of where I come from.

Still, that doesn't excuse it what I wrote, even though that's what I think and this blog is a sort of "safe" zone for that stuff. Cause you know a blog on the internet is the best place to tell secretes :-P I digress from my point, which is that maybe I'm too caught up in my own shit to cut the old man some slack you know ? It's like this. Friends have been loosing family members this year and even though I wish I could say something to make things better, I can't. No one can really. You just support them anyway you can and be there for them. The thing is though.... that story hit close to home because of the circumstances of it and a friend who went through the same thing. It's only when something hits that close that we pay attention no ?

So from there it kept getting more and more intimate, as if Rodriguez took that part of my life and made me live through that, because it's a possibility. Not only that, but Dia de los Muertos and a full moon can make anyone a little extra emotional. So fast forward to me eating at home today after I got home from school and I see some grammer excersises on the table thinking they're my sisters for an assestment test, but they're not hers. They're my dads. Turns out he's taking a class in the evenings to brush up on his English. A man who never made it past elementry school because he had to work to survive. Never had an opportunity to get an education. He's borderline illiterate but he's there.

Took me by surprise really, especially as he made his way out the door with his jacket and homework in his hands. Thinking about that and the story I read hit that soft spot. Specially since a part of the story put focus on the strained relationship the kids had with the dad and how they never really showed affection to each other, weren't there and all that mumbo jumbo. My life mirrors that so I got to thinking and thinking usually leads to writing and here I am. It's selfish to write some of the things I write knowing other people are enduring worse, but I'm only human. We learn as we go and I learned that I gotta be more self aware of what really is important in my life rather than the drama happening around me. It's hard to do that on a daily basis, but we can't forget about it.

Now I can't help wonder about my mom's and what she may be thinking about. She's the same, never went to school because of family needs and what have you. I stop and ponder on whether I should be doing more to help them in that aspect, but I have enough to worry about as it is. Sound selfish but it's the truth. How can tey expect me to make it when I still gotta deal with them to the point that it holds me back. Nah man. I'll do what I can but it ends with me. These cultural traditions of working for nothing, oppressing women and all that Mexican BS end with me. They're getting reshapped and adapted into more positive traditions rather than negative ones. I'm the first in my family to get this far, c
~ con safos ~

Sunday, November 01, 2009


It'll get ya. Time and time again I have moments in life that seem
like I'm getting picked on, like everything bad only happens to me and
only me. At this moment I'm nursing both a cold and a broken heart.
Yet, as I was taking a much needed walk I realized that I'm not a
stranger to this road. Yes I too have broken a heart and guess what ?
It sucks. It sucks ass. Hard. In case you're wondering that last post
was about it.

This realization doesn't make things any easier of course. Oddly
enough the circumstances in both instances are quite similar just on
the opposite ends. It kinda makes me feel like apologizing to that X,
BUT I have runned into her at school and she's the same. So yeah ....
Sorry Love & Hate in L.A. I won't be getting married anytime soon.
Thatnks for the support and enthusiasm though :-) Speaking of karma, I
miss "My name is Earl." Jason Lee is a great actor and I related a lot
to him on that show.

So what am I going to do with myself now you ask ? Well I gotta get
over this cold as soon as I can because there's work to be done. This
person entered my life spontaneously and totally unexpected and now
she is no longer there. I have realized a few things these past couple
of months not just about myself, but those around me. A long time ago
I decided that I would leave behind people who didn't bring anything
positive in my life. Even if this means that I spend my days alone. In
time, things will get better and I will remold my relationship with
her because she brings positive energy into my life and I in hers. We
all have are faults, but it's nothing that can't be over comed in
time. I myself keep growing and learning. This experience is no
different. It's only a matter of time.

~ con safos ~