Saturday, January 31, 2009

After Effects

I'm pretty sure I'm fucked up for life. I mean, even if DREAM passes and I eventually become a citizen, the emotions, frustrations, fears and nightmares won't just clear my mind. They'll linger.

Here are some writings from previous times; times in which I was overcome by the situation, in which I let the anger and fear and frustrations take control. Times that will no doubt never leave.

Sometime in 2004

I look at my 1991 Honda accord. Paint peeling. My clothes are next. Dirty pants. Worn shirt. Stained shoes. Then my hands. Dry. Dirty. Scratched. Rough and scarred. My American Dream. Materialistically speaking I’m nowhere, spiritually I’m lost. Psychologically I’m deteriorating. My american dream is not mine at all. More like a carrot that is forever dangling before me. Constantly: contempt. Cynicism. Anger. Hate. Emotions that cloud my thoughts. How can any one be so selfish?

In 2006

- try one month of the following: lose your social security card. Burn your driver’s license. Move out. (See your mother, becoming frailer by the week; work a meaningless job that does not deserve her. Her tired smile as she tries to comfort you). Go out. Present yourself in front of countless people and try to get that job. Feel that? It’s fear and anxiety. Will it stick? (You have to jump through hoops for me. I have to jump through hoops so that I can flip burgers.) Here you sit, in the fullest vulnerability, naked before this person who holds your future in their hands. “Please sir, gimme a chance I work real hard. Been in a warehouse, I do it all; because its expected of me. Demanded of me. Hoops? Yeah I jump ‘em. For free too.” Now you got it. Either two types of jobs: Fast food or warehouse. Fast food is demeaning; at 24 with a bright yellow uniform and a clip on tie that has a goddamn smiling burger on it (You always wanted a job where you have to wear a tie right?). You’ll work the drive thru, and get spit on so some hick teen can get his kicks. At the cash register, an american citizen who never accomplished anything in his life will cut you up, “you pathetic son of a bitch loser get a real job or go to school move out and better your self oh you’re probably too lazy or stupid do you even speak English”, why? Because he can, because it makes him smile and everyone knows “we love to make you smile”.

Warehouse is half a step up, or down. Depends on whether you’re a pessimist or an optimist. Regular schedule: Monday thru Friday, cold winter days and unbearable summers. You’ll suddenly lose interest in that “hip” fashion sense you were once so proud of. Here it’s jeans and a shirt, sometimes the same ones. At least you don’t smell like beef and cheese though, nah sweat it’s better. No greasy body to take home afterwards just sore muscles cut up hands (you always wanted working mans hands) and absolutely no respect. You’re the warehouse whore, do anything for anyone. The warehouse will provide countless opportunities for you to see how hilarious the fix you’re in is. You’ll meet a Vietnamese man, Phuc. Two months in, then he’ll ask you to call the DMV and schedule his driver’s test appointment for him. Heh. First time for everything right? Or a Chinese senior “citizen” who doesn’t speak a word of English but is 100% american citizen, yes sir. What’s that on the radio? An immigration raid next door. Shit. You’re the only one here who speaks perfect English so why are you hiding in the back of the warehouse afraid that you wont make it to your sister’s graduation that weekend, planning a way to get out or how get back into the U.S. of A, or how to get to Queretaro where you think you have an aunt you once might have met, maybe. Shit, you’re missing your lunchtime for this too. False alarm. For how long?

When the day is over, back home. Long drive, it is even tenser than at work. Is that highway patrol behind me tailing me? Shit what did I do? Shit shit slow down, no speed up. Damn, show no fear they can tell when you’re afraid it’s reflected in your driving. Relax.

See your friends. Comfort. Laughter. Ease up man. You’re young. Live your life man. Enjoy it. Quit being a whack ass. Goddamn you’re depressing me. You don’t have it that bad. Learn to apologize, “sorry, I sometimes forget what a downer I am”.
Occasionally, more often than not you’ll forget about it. It’s an effect that happens, your senses start to numb and you get into the routine of things. Hell you’ll even start to feel like you belong sometimes. Then some teenage girl at the mall will ask to see your ID while you pay for your american eagle shirt and you’ll feel your color rising up. Red faced and shaking you’ll point out that it’s on the card. I swear it’s on the card. You’re scared shitless, that old ID anxiety taking hold of you, and this chick is thinking about her date last night.

Later someone will tell you “why don’t you just go home?”. You’ll sit in your car at 3am thinking about that, finally saying to your self, “I thought I was home?”. Then you’ll go to sleep and rest up, for tomorrow is a new day with new hope.

The weight that we carry is of monumental proportions. We work, often to support not only ourselves but also our families. We study so we can better ourselves. We try to hide this anxiety, because we can't tell others about what we're going through, it's our burden.

I've been thinking about this more and more, and realize that there has not really ever been any mention of the psychological and emotional effects of being a fully assimilated undocumented youth. Aside from not being able to utilize our diplomas, and the incessant passage of time (a re-occurring theme of mine), the psychological scars are of concern.

It's like doped up post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, contempt, depression, anger, all wound up into a nice little package.

Add to that the guilt that comes with knowing, that in the grand scheme of things we don't have it all that bad, and bingo! you're officially fucked up.

Anyways, it's late and I'm rambling.


I found some footage i took from the SJ rally back in April 10, 2005, this was the one of the first marches to follow the one that took place in Chicago, and I had just come out of class (back then I carried my camera everywhere). I believe the turnout was about 10,000 ppl. The next one, on May 1, 2005 was in the hundreds of thousands.

The second Video is of the 2006 March in San Francisco. It was more festive and full of youth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Ok. I got one.

I'm going back to the Bay Area. Got a job, pay sucks but on the flip side its not fast food! yay. I kinda wanted a server job. Meet more people. But this will do for now.

It's always an ambivalent feeling for me when a get a new gig. First I'm glad and relieved that I actually have to stop looking for one, but then my mind focuses on how overqualified I am, or how it's still the underground economy that employs me, or even worse, how If only I had legal status I could actually make a decent wage and help out my family.

Oh, also while driving home today I was thinking about the future and all of the random things I want to accomplish. The engineering jobs, the MBA, the photography/film career and teaching. As for teaching I've been debating what to teach. I finally came to the conclusion that I want to get my teaching credential so I can torture kids with math problems!

Anyhow, posts may subside for a while. My apologies, since I will have limited internet access from my tia's living room. :)

For the "love" of money.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Passing the Time

I've been bored. Picked up my Old Cannon Rebel and messed around. Unfortunately my scanner sucks.

One of my short term goals is to take some photography classes at a JC, and then get some actual structure to my shots, work on composition, as well as learning to develop the film myself. Right now i'm more of an uneducated, point and shoot photographer. Eventually the idea is to get good enough to be a freelance photographer, or even a photojournalist. But that's all in the future.



After Work

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Marching for each other

After three weeks of beautiful summer-like weather, it rained. Clouds filled the skies, a winter chill was in the air and a dull feeling hung about. Not exactly the best conditions to go to a protest; to be honest I was dreading it.

Yet I feel committed to doing so. I have been participating in the bay area marches since April 10, 2005. The first march was a catharsis for me; to finally be out in public, letting out so many frustrations and stating "here I am".

For this march there was also the reward of meeting some of my fellow DAP members, fellow DREAMers. Geronimo and Gateway, who having never been to a march before, were excited. Personally, I did't have a good feeling about this time, having seen the slow decline in participation at events like these, and factoring in the weather conditions, I knew our turn-out would be low.

So when I saw the light crowd at the starting point of the march, part of me almost hit the abort button. Thoughts of "what will this accomplish?" and "ugh" filled my head.

But in the end we marched. We yelled. We cheered. A crowd of mostly students, mothers and hopefuls. We found support in one another, and even if this time no one may have been listening to us, we were listening to each other.

Which reminded me why I came out after all.

We don't have to go at it alone anymore, not like before.
- El Random Hero

On President Obama

I drank the kool aid. I drank it early on and then wanted more. Last year's election was of monumental importance to me, because it was a gauge on the possibility of a new approach to immigration. So I started researching the candidates early on, like 2007 early. I scoured through articles and books, and became addicted to NPR and CNN coverage.

So when I read Obama's "Dreams from my Father" it was done in a completely neutral and analytical way. But I was blown away. Mainly because the book was written some time before the man had begun his political career, and because of the honesty that seeped through the pages. That's when I found the kool aid.

As the primaries progressed, I became more grounded; Obama did some things that took some of his angelical glitter away (like starting to wear the flag pin, or voting for the FISA bill or disowning Rev. Wright). And so the kool aid became Bitter sweet.

But I strongly believe that he was the best choice for the situation at hand.

On Tuesday when he became President of the United States my faith in this country was reaffirmed, which was a crucial thing for me since the last 8 bush (not capitalized) years have left me doubting a lot of things. Best of all after hearing his speech I am once again hopeful of the future.

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
- President Barack Obama

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Great Post By El Random Hero

I saw this at Citizen Orange and decided to re-post it here since it resonated with me so strongly.

Every day is the same. An endless routine that never ends no matter how bad you want it to. You're stuck in eternal purgatory because of a decision your parents made for you when you were only seven years old. Too young to understand what's going on, but old enough to know that things would never be the same again.

For the last 16 years of your life, you've adapted and embraced your adopted country, assimilating and succeeding in spite of all of the daily hardships that you have to overcome. You ask your parents why they decided to bring you to the U.S. and it's always the same answer, "Te queriamos dar las oportunidades que nosotros nunca teniamos," but that isn't enough. It's never enough. Good intentions have led to some of the most horrific atrocities in human history, but you can't blame them. After all, they're your parents.

Growing up in the shadows, you learn to adapt, to hide your true identity like a costumed super hero. No one can ever know the real you because you don't know how they'll react. All you want to do is be another regular person, but eventually you realize that you're not. You excel in your studies and take advantage of the system, fulfilling the destiny your parents laid out for you.

You're the first in your family to graduate from high school and the first to attend college. Your family recognizes your accomplishments like religious worshipers that are celebrating the second coming of their savoir, but that's when all hell breaks loose. You suddenly realize that the secret you've been harboring your entire life is the only thing holding you back from achieving your destiny. You learn that there's no place for you, no chance to succeed without having to sacrifice what seems like your first-born child.

However, through various resources and loopholes you learn that it's not as bad as it seems and most importantly, that you're not alone. You find others like you, those who have shared your struggles, lived your hardships and dealt with the same dilemmas. "Ohh you're an AB 540 student too?" referring to the legislation that allows undocumented students and out of state residents that graduated from a California high school to qualify to pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities.

You continue on with your education because you know that's the only way you'll be able to succeed in this world, with an education. You enroll in a community college; you sign the affidavit that says that you're in the process of having legal residence or that you'll apply when you are eligible. You pay cash for tuition and for books with the help of family, friends and by working various jobs on the side.

You slowly learn to take advantage of your schools facilities, to survive in place that isn't suppose to help your kind. Like in high school, you excel in your college courses and garner attention from teachers who believe that you have something special, a drive to accomplish anything you set your mind to. They encourage you to apply to universities, they're willing to give you letters of recommendations for scholarships and they'll support you anyway they can. But you lie to them.

You tell them that you missed the deadline for the application to a university or a scholarship, but in reality you know that the only reason you didn't go through with it is because you know you don't qualify. You know that in the small print, "must be a legal U.S. resident" is a requirement you can't fulfill. So you continue to lie and keep it a secret until you just can't deal with it anymore.

You've lived with it for so long that you wish things would change for the better. You hope everyday that someone, somewhere will make a law or pass legislation that will open up a pathway to become a legal resident. Instead, you read about I.C.E raids tearing families apart in the mid-west, deporting people whose only crime was trying to work and support their families here in the U.S. and back in their home country.

You read about the number of hate crimes rising against undocumented citizens who didn't see it coming. You read about the DREAM Act failing to get enough votes in the senate again because the policy makers don't want to reward people who have broken immigration laws or to encourage more people to immigrate. You explain to them that under the DREAM Act, only those who have graduated from high school, have a college education, have good moral qualities, have been in the U.S. before reaching the age of 16, and haven't committed any crimes are eligible for legal status.

You explain to them that only after meeting all of those qualifications will the DREAM Act benefit you. But your words fall onto deaf ears because of their narrow-minded views. They say that by allowing all of these extra students in, resources will be stretched further than they already are. They fail to realize that the system can handle the extra students who have gone through universities without any financial aid. You tell them that all you want is the opportunity to be a contributing member of society and of your community.

Al you want is to help out the next generation of kids who will have to endure the same hardships you went through when you were growing up. You want to tell them that you're already an American; you just don't have a paper that says it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Immigration March Jan 21, San Jose.

There will be a march in San Jose on Weds jan 21st. the march will begin at four (usually starts from tully/story and heads down santa clara street) and will head towards city hall (at approx 6pm) Organizers will then have speeches and such.

This is part of a series of similar marches that will take place around the country to show support for the DC march.

I encourage any of you close to the bay to attend. Maybe we'll bump into each other

more info

Racial Profiling

This should NOT be allowed to happen in this country. Arpiao and his deputies should be held accountable for their racist profiling.

I was reminded of something similar that happened to me in 2007.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Urgency of Now

Sometimes it feels as if everything is spiraling uncontrollably into some unknown point where the outcome is blurred. Other times everything feels like it's under control.

This is not one of those times.

On Wednesday of last week, through circumstances out of my control, I was "forced" to lose my job. Now this job wasn't anywhere close to being my ideal job, yet it did pay the bills and I had made considerable sacrifices in order to get it. See to be close to this job I had been living in my Aunt's living room for the past four months. My life consisted of going to work, sleeping at my Aunt's and then doing it all again the next day. It was worth it.

Regardless of the fact that the job was demeaning on so many levels, and that it killed any sliver of social life that I had left,it paid somewhat decent and it was allowing me to help my parents financially, as well as to save some money.

On Wednesday things got complicated, lies were formulated, a job was lost and I had to once again find myself questioning the path that my life has been taking.

In reality my unstable lifestyle began when my family moved to another town in order to afford a house. I stayed behind to finish high school. Eventually I ended up moving in with my family for about two years, only to once again relocate to the big city (no, not NYc unfortunately) because of my stubbornness to get a college degree.

It just so happens that the city where my school was is one of the most expensive places to live in the nation, so for the past five years I've been living out of a suitcase. Crashing from place to place, in friend's couches, renting spare rooms, a small stint where I had my own apartment (which cost way too much), and the occasional nights spent in my car.

This was all done with the end goal of getting a degree and becoming "somebody". I refused to succumb to the "comfortable" stereotype that is provided for those with my status. You know, the lazy illegal, who barely made it through high school.

But a few months back, with the degree in hand and no job prospect in sight, I took the aforementioned job. And now it's gone.

I find myself in a strange point in life. Mid-twenties, back at my parent's place and no job.

Granted I'm not gonna just sit here and wait for one; I'm going bust my ass to find whatever work I can. But as Cantinflas (a famous Mexican philosopher) once famously said, "Ahi esta el detalle" (there lies the detail)

Here I am unemployed, with a degree in a field that is in huge demand in this country, and I'm going to be applying at fast food joints for work...

This is where Dr. King's words come into play:

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there 'is' such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action" - Dr Martin Luther King Jr

I'm faced with that urgency of now. If tomorrow is indeed today, then I need to do everything in my power to help pass the DREAM Act, because it's getting close to being too late.