Interview w/ Lucero Sifuentes

Lucero Sifuentes, a 22 year old reporter has been building quite a resume since choosing a journalism career path. She received a Bachelor’s degree in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNC Chapel Hill. She is from Hendersonville, North Carolina but had dreams of changing the world. She always loved writing and even called it “therapeutic”. She took AP English courses at East Henderson High School. She explained how she always preferred written examinations to factual exams. When she applied to UNC Chapel Hill she did not have a particular major in mind. By sophomore year, she had taken sports medicine and psychology related courses. Her roommates were impressed by her powerful ability to communicate through written and spoken word. From then on she shifted her focus to a future in Journalism. She said, “I thank my roommates for encouraging me to pursue this career.” (Sifuentes)

Lucero had to take many specialized writing courses at school. She recalls that some of her favorites included             feature writing, magazine writing, and data journalism. Some of those classes took more dedication than others. She explained that the class news editing was “fail worthy” and “one mistake meant failure, just like in the real world” (Sifuentes). Of course, basic courses are required such as computer programming. Not all basic classes were uninteresting though, as Lucero pointed out her eating disorder class was very enlightening. All of those writing courses were necessary though as nearly the entire job consists of writing articles. The informative writing in AP Style of a Journalist is a major ability that must be acquired.

The journalism curriculum doesn’t include many history courses, but rather teaches the fundamental skills required to be a professional. Still, the students learned a few of the instrumental characters in the progression of the field. Lucero described Ida Wells, a female journalist, and muckrakers who “kept the politicians in check” (Sifuentes). There are no concrete books that serve as landmark texts for student. Rather, professors use prominent news sources such as New York Times and The Guardian as examples of powerful journalism. Journalists learn from each other. For example, Lucero especially admires the advocacy (to help others) journalism of Mexican reporter Jorge Ramos and the anchoring of Elizabeth Vargas.

Whilst still in University, Lucero knew that internships and experience are the best way to climb the ladder in the field. She began by interning at the TV station Univision Warner Cable in Raleigh where she learned valuable skills in TV broadcasting. She also has some experience in sports journalism. She worked for the best sports reporting program in the area, Sports Xtra, and was one of eight who launched a travel sports magazine in Chapel Hill, called “Going the Distance”. After studying abroad in Madrid, Lucero became more involved in international journalism and interned at a bilingual news agency. She used her acquired journalist minded writing at all of these experiences regardless of which side of the camera she was on.

Throughout her career, she has interviewed and met a wide range of interesting people from Emmy nominees to international athletes. That is one of the perks as she explained, “The job is never the same” (Sifuentes) and she gets to meet new people. In addition, journalists are constantly learning through communication. The job isn’t all glamour though, at times interviewees are difficult to reach or difficult to deal with. In addition, a sustainable pay isn’t guaranteed and some journalists have even begun homeless. More experienced journalists can earn up to $60,000 a year and celebrity status journalists, such as Elizabeth Vargas, can earn up to $1 million.

A license isn’t needed, but experience is. There are countless internship and scholarship opportunities worldwide. Lucero has developed a particular interest in advocacy journalism, like her role model Jorge Ramos, and investigative journalism. In advocacy journalism, she embraces a more persuasive approach in order to influence readers. In investigative journalism, she must get the facts of a story and covey them in a comprehendible manner to the reader. Simply put, the job is difficult. But in Lucero’s opinion, the effort is worth it. She said, “Journalism’s purpose is to help the community and spread the truth…we tell stories” (Sifuentes). Lucero has made herself known in the field and will continue to climb the ladder of success to make a change, which is the ultimate goal of journalists.

 

 

 

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The Death of Print Journalism

Journalism is one of the oldest, long lasting, and important professions not only in the United States, but in the world. As early as time, information has been documented and presented. Scribes of ancient empires could be considered early journalists. The field has especially had a huge impact in the development, history, and culture of the United States as a functioning country. The job of the nation’s journalists was to keep the citizens informed of important events. Muckrakers, politically investigative reporters participating in a type of journalism called “yellow journalism”, such as Ida Wells exposed politicians when they were being unjust (King, 2008). In other words, journalists were trusted. Some were even nominated by their peers to become politicians because they were trusted to tell the truth. In recent times, print journalism has lost the national influence it once had. Newspapers and magazines are no longer reaching as large of an audience. Print journalism may be a dying profession due to evolving technology, consumer ideology, and weak finances.

Technology’s Impact on Print

Many experienced journalists believe that the progressing technology and new online establishments are a leading cause in the deterioration of the field. Jerry Buhlman,CEO of Dentsu Aejs Network, explains the importance of technology today by describing the smart phones that half of the population rely on as a type of “second brain”(Kissel, 2013). Journalist, Phillip Meyer, is a strong believer of the idea and has even predicted that the last person will stop reading the newspaper around April, 2040 (Meyer, 2009). Meyer began his career as a reporter and editor for various news sources and has since then gained a lot of experience in print media. He eventually was promoted to “Director of News and Circulation Research” for the newspaper Knight Ridder, a news company that specializes in newspaper and internet. In 1981, he became a professor at UNC Chapel Hill, a leading journalism school. There he researched the practices of the newspaper, including the challenges it faces. He is not the only observer of the dwindling profession. Frank A. Blethen of the Seattle Times and Les Hinton of the Wall St. Journal believe that emerging online news sources are bad for the print business.

Google News is one of the emerging news sources taking over the industry. Les Hinton called it a “vampire of news content” (Wingfield, 2013). He is referring to the fact that Google News compiles several news articles into one platform. He thinks that it is profiting from the work of other news sources. Another media source that is gaining in popularity is Craigslist, an advertising platform. Advertising was once primarily down on the advertising pages of newspapers. Blethen accused the founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark, of disrupting classified advertising (Wingfield, 2013). Online advertising revenue is expected to rise 4.6 percent more by the end of 2015 (Connor, 2015). More businesses and individuals are willing to advertise on Craigslist than on newspapers, which is affecting the financial aspect of print.

Print’s Financial Turmoil

Elliot King, a journalism professor, believes that economics is important knowledge for all journalists to have in order to use their skills efficiently (King, 2008). Advertisement platforms, such as Craigslist, and subscriptions to online sources are breaking the financial pillars of print journalism (Wingfield, 2013). Readers of newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post expect free content. Those news sources are providing the same information that online sources provide with no profit. Therefore, the competitor’s profit increases (Kissel, 2013). The New York Times lost 74 million dollars and 40 percent of its ad revenue to Craigslist (Kissel, 2013). The Guardian, another big newspaper company, fell 50 percent in revenue to online publications between 2005 and 2013 (Kissel, 2013). It may seem like a large loss, but the impact is even greater on smaller publications. Some, such as The LA Times, become less relevant. Many more end altogether such as The Baltimore Examiner, Tucson Citizen, and The Kentucky Post (Kissel, 2013). 42% of the worldwide media expenditures today go to the television industry. 24% percent goes to digital outlets. Print sources spend the least and receive the least with newspapers spending 12.8% and magazines spending 6.9% (Connor, 2015).

Consumer Ideaology

One huge difference in online and print sources is the speed of information availability. Online sources are able to upload information about an event immediately as it happens. Meanwhile, print sources are restricted by the time is takes to write, edit, process, and print a full newspaper. Many of the more prominent sources are diligent in their efforts to be punctual. Jon Stewart, a political writer and TV personality, vocalized his appreciation for print media, claiming there is “merit in printing news 24 hours after it occurs” (Kissel, 2013) Availability is a factor that consumers take into account when looking for a news source. Another factor is unbiased honesty. Meyer explains, “Journalism students need to know that good journalism consists of news stories that are well reported and written in a fair and balanced way” (Meyer, 2009). In addition, he says that local news will become irrelevant if the writings are not honest. Local and national newspapers need more editorial investment. Meyer explains the “influence model”. News organizations traffic social and commercial influence. Socially, they get loyal readers. Commercially, they influence those loyal viewers’ purchases using advertising. Essentially what he means is that good journalism earns more money. Good journalism consists of credibility, accuracy, readability, and editing. The model is not fully tested and it would be very difficult to test thoroughly (Meyer, 2009). A big aspect of print journalism that is being affected is creditability. Online outlets such as Buzzfeed and Twitter allow “the average Joe to become a journalist” (Kissel, 2013). Still, some believe that online giants of the industry are actually coming to the aid of print journalism.

Assistance to Print by Technology Giants

Many owners of popular online outlets have been known to actually help the print media industry. Google News, the company accused of profiting off of others’ work, financed journalism fellowships for 8 people. Craig Newman, blamed for ruining classified advertising, financed an ethics book for journalism. The Co-Founder of Facebook, a popular news source for youth, saved New Republic magazine by purchasing the company. Jefferey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, bought The Washington Post also to save it from financial bankruptcy. The founder of eBay started an online Hawaii news service and Steve Jobs from Apple advised newspaper how to adapt to the “tablet era” (Wingfield, 2013). Leaders of the online media movement claim it is the fault of the print newspapers for letting the tech giants do the job better. Merrill Brown, the Director of School Communication and Media at Montclair State University and former editor of MSNBC.com, defends his online colleagues from the claim that they don’t care about journalism with “They value it and are concerned for the country”(Wingfield, 2013). Craig Newmark defends himself by stating “I am waiting for evidence”. He is referring to the idea that online outlets such as his website are discrediting the whole profession of journalism. He adds that there is financial data that shows that print media agencies are losing revenue over recent years, but there is not evident proof that points fingers to online outlets as the culprit (Wingfield, 2013). Esther Wojciki is a journalism teacher at Palo Alto High School in California. She teaches the fundamental properties of the newspaper to her students. She supervises her students when they work together to create their own newspaper and has even mentored pop culture icons such as actor, James Franco. She is also the mother-in-law of Sergio Brin, the co-founder of Google. She defends Sergio and other website owners with “They are concerned for American culture” (Wingfield, 2013). She understands that journalism and journalists have a huge impact on American culture. Some denounces the claim that Americans rely too much on the internet and do not read the newspaper at all, therefore ruining the future of America.

A Modern Journalist’s Perspective

Lucero Sifuentes, like Esther Wojciki, knows what it’s like to have a journalist perspective from both print and new age platforms. She is a graduate from UNC Chapel Hill, the same school where Phillip Meyer studied the newspaper. Since then, she has written for several newspapers and worked at a TV station. She agrees that technology is one major contributor to the end of print. She thinks technology makes it “easier to ignore print” (L. Sifuentes, personal communication, November 17, 2015). She adds that newspapers are simply less convenient that online news sources. She remembers an experience in which the news was reliable, but the channel through which the information came made a difference. “One of my political science professors at UNC made us order a tangible print subscription to the New York Times as part of the class requirement. We were told to keep up with the papers all semester in order to use them in our final projects. People had piles and piles of paper and couldn’t remember what day which story was. Online, there is a search database. It’s just way too easy. At this point, I get news alerts to my phone so I don’t even have to actively look for news stories. The breaking news comes to me. It’s hard to put in effort to go get a paper when others are offering you easier alternatives” (L. Sifuentes, personal communication, November 17, 2015).

Still, she believes that in order for newspapers and magazines to stay relevant they must embrace the digital age and make websites and apps themselves. Embracing technology will allow the news companies to stay relevant to consumers and financially stable. Many journalists would agree. In a profession where the information is their business, all journalists need to know what the consumers want. She supports this by positing, “I don’t think it’s important for the physical newspaper to stay relevant, but rather for news companies to know how to use their resources to stay relevant by using recent technology.” (L. Sifuentes, personal communication, November 17, 2015) She still has faith that the newspaper industry won’t go obsolete for a while. She states, “I don’t so much think print is completely over, because I think the older generations still appreciate it, but I think it will decline with future generations until these agencies are purely online” (L. Sifuentes, personal communication, November 17, 2015).

Conclusion

Journalists need to be reliable and energetic to gain and keep loyal consumers. There is infinite demand for the product that journalists produce and consumers will seek out the most credible and honest sources, whether they are online or in print. Print journalism is considered by some as the kind of “unloved relative” (King, 2008). Still, scholars around the world admire the career for its long lasting importance in American culture. Print media is losing popularity and it is possible that the evolving technology is a major cause for the decline in the progression of print media. In addition, consumers of news might prefer the availability of online sources in comparison to traditional print sources. Another reason for the field’s decline could be poor financial decisions by major newspapers and magazines. Regardless of platform, journalism has influenced American and world culture in many ways. It will continue to influence the lives of citizens all over the world, changing forms throughout all time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Connor, J. (2015). Digital Advertising Climbs, While Traditional Media in Trouble. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/24/digital-advertising-climb-tradional-media-trouble_n_6930958.html.

King, E. (2008). The Role of Journalism History, and the Academy in the Development of Core Knowledge in Journalism Education. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 63(2), 166-178.

Kissel, M. (2013). The Decline of Print Doesn’t Mean the End of Print Journalism. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/29/decline-print-media-journalism-web

Meyer, P. (2009). The vanishing newspaper: Saving journalism in the information age. Missouri: University Of Missouri.

Sifuentes, L. (2015, December 16). [Personal Interview]

Wingfield, N. (2013). Technology Industry Extends a Hand to Struggling Print Media. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/business/media/technology-industry-extends-a-hand-to-struggling-print-media.html?_r=0

Into The Wild Sociological Analysis

Chris views culture as completely materialistic. The biggest scene to exemplify this view is the celebration dinner after his college graduation. Chris sits with his sister, mother, and father in a somewhat classy restaurant. His mother brings up the fact that his car is old and must be replaced. She says that his father and she are going to purchase him a brand new one. He quickly rebuts saying that he is fine with the car he has. It is clear that his parents care a lot about their appearance, and how their children make them look by association. A fancy car would not only demonstrate Chris’s success and wealth, but that of his parents as well. Chris knows this, so he goes on a rant saying how all everyone wants is “things, things, things”. In other words, he disapproves of the material culture and the value put on it. Material culture is the physical and tangible possession component of life. For example, in today’s society cars, clothes, and money are symbols of wealth.

In addition, he has a negative view of customs such as marriage. This is most likely due to the fact that the marriage he viewed all of his life was a sham or as his sister put it, a lie. He does not know what a healthy relationship is because he has never seen one before. Not only was the marriage of his parents a lie, but his whole family was a lie. First, his mom was the mistress of his father, who was married when he was conceived. Second, his parents constantly fought but stayed together regardless. Therefore, the pain was prolonged. The film never said this outright, but perhaps the entirety of his college education was his father’s idea. It did not seem as though Chris was the academic type. Although he is intelligent, I do not think he would want to succumb to the educational institution.

We see him interact with primarily one culture: hippies. But as Jane describes, there are many kinds of hippies, like rubber tramps and leather tramps. They, along with the residents of Slab City, did not have the standard views of life. Rather than have a career in the regular modern world, they created their own world apart from the complications of daily life. What they were left with were the simple joys in music, nature, and family. The same was with the foreigner hippies Chris met in the canyon. They found happiness in each other and freedom from society. He also met Wayne, who taught him hard work and what it means to provide for oneself. Still, the prospects of that lifestyle may have been ruined by Wayne’s eventually criminal trouble. After Chris returns from Mexico, we get a glimpse of what would have been Chris if he had stayed with standard culture. It seems as though the thought of it made Chris sick. The last culture he meets is that of the solitary elderly (after meeting some naked hippies in the desert). It is with Ron that Chris experiences spirituality and almost gets a sense of what having a loving father feels like.

I would not consider him a part of counterculture only because he does not actively oppose the main culture. Although he lived all of his life in standard culture, he decides that it goes against what he believes in and moves away to create his own in Alaska, by himself. It seemed as though Chris was tempted to join some of the people he met. Still, he decides that what he needed was to be apart from culture altogether, which in itself is its own culture.

Although Chris’s upbringing seems to have been common, what happened inside the house was much different. He experienced judgment and viewed abuse at its worst. I think Chris would have a conflict perspective. He knew what it meant to be high class and later discovered what it meant to belong to no class at all. We discover through Corine that Chris took many courses related to inequality, like one on condition in Africa. Those classes may have seemed irrelevant to most, but maybe they had an impact on Chris. Surely, he knew that society was unequal. Perhaps that is why he gave his savings to charity. In other words, money wasn’t always allotted to those who deserved it. Also, he has a conflict perspective on school as an agent of socialization. Chris may have had a college education, but he didn’t use it at all. I imagine he viewed institutionalized education as a training center for corporate drones. Students are expected to learn their craft and take their place in society. Still, they do not develop a sense of self or socialize. Students are too focused on getting into college and then getting their degree, and then graduating. Throughout the process, they never socialize for their own well being.

Humans must do this through experience, which is definitely something that Chris had. Corine describes that Chris was always adventurous. He was once found in a house down the street in the middle of the night, standing on a chair, with his hand in the house owner’s candy drawer. This seems like a metaphor for Chris’s adventurous vigor. He must leave comfortable society (his house) to walk down the street (travel) and get on a chair (potentially dangerous situations) to find the candy in the candy drawer (to find the meaning of life). Perhaps this assumption is a stretch, but it is not too farfetched. We may never know what truly went on in the mind of Chris McCandless. We do know what his home life was like. Aside from home troubles, his life seemed perfect (in culture’s standards). He had money, an education, and supporters. Only one thing is certain: Chris was certainly unique.

Rhetoric of SNL

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night with your host Oscar Sifuentes”. That phrase is usually said by the narrator after the opening sequence. It states the host of the weekly episode. Every episode of SNL begins with a cold open, which is usually a political skit. Regardless of the nature of the skit, each cold open ends with one of the actors breaking character and yelling “Live from New York, its Saturday Night!” The show once went by the name Saturday Night when it first aired on NBC on October 11, 1975 (Saturday).Saturday Night Live is a long running comedy television program that features a variety of live skits, thus categorized with the term “variety show”. Every episode is hosted by a celebrity guest who performs an opening monologue after the cold open and participates in sketches throughout the show. Along with the weekly host, each episode features a musical artist to perform twice during the hour long show, except for Prince who was the first artist to perform one, 8 minute performance. The show’s comedic timing, entertaining hosts, and musical performances give it the appeal to reach a large audience of different fan bases.

Lorne Michaels’s name is synonymous with the program. He is the producer, director, and head writer of SNL. In many ways, he is the author of SNL. He writes the skits in a way so that it will impact the audience in more ways than just laughter. The audience is primarily adults in the United States, but it is very likely that the program reaches audiences globally. The jokes include satirical humor pertaining to issues plaguing the Unites States and for that reason the audience is primarily the United States. Aside from just relatable and often times raunchy skits, the show puts a comedic spin on news events in a segment called Weekend Update.

Weekend Update is an informative parody of classic news programs. It is one of the few sketches that is consistently in every episode. It consists of usually two of the shows players relaying news events of the week with a comedic spin. Logically, logos, the sketch gives real information about the weeks most important or unusual events. The sketches include both national and international news. For example, the fake news anchor may say something like, “Kim Jong Un won the election in North Korea”. Then they would follow with, “He easily defeated his challenger, Or Else” (Saturday). The effect is humor along with the knowledge that North Korea’s government may seem corrupt to the typical American.

The main appeal used in the entire show is pathos, or emotion. Happiness is often caused by a joke. SNL is full of jokes. Therefore, the show’s humor often creates some level of happiness to most viewers. Although some of the news events occurring around the world may be devastating, the writers know how to make the retelling of those events appealing comedically rather than in a depressing manner. The show SNL was and still is a comedic way to cope with devastating events. The show serves as a distraction from the emotional pain. Still, the show tries to not cross the symbolic line with their humor. In that way, the show is very helpful to those that worry or have been personally affected by events discussed during Weekend Update.

Many of the jokes during Weekend Update often come at the expense of prominent figures. For example, the show very frequently jokes about Obama and how many very openly disapprove of his health care initiative, Obamacare. The show is a friend to Obama and has even had him on as a guest, so the jokes aren’t taken too harshly by the subjects of the jokes. The jokes question his character and motives. Still, sometimes the jokes will work in favor of the United States, making the country look better and less “damaged” than other countries. Those jokes will evoke patriotism from the American viewers, which is a form of character. In that way, Weekend Update even uses ethos effectively

The context of the event depends on what happened that week. For example, when Presidents give speeches, Weekend Update will surely dissect those speeches and joke about the speakers themselves. Many of the jokes are usually related to the US and other countries might not understand them, but like mentioned before Weekend Update also covers global news. The fact that other countries’ viewers may not understand American government or culture would be a constraint of the show’s conveyed message. The idea of spreading knowledge of national and global news in a comedic way would be the shows exigence, or purpose.

Saturday Night Live is still running strong today. As long as the country goes on, there will be issues. As long as there are issues, there will be material for the show to play off of. “In any rhetorical situation there will be at least one controlling exigence which functions as the organizing principle: it specifies the audience to be addressed and the change to be effected” (Bitzer 7). Some people will love the show for its jokes, lovable characters, and great live music. Some will love it for its satirical political skits. Many admire the shows honesty. It doesn’t sugarcoat when it recollects events. It doesn’t hold back in providing the viewer with an opinion if the viewer can’t make one for them self. “In short, rhetoric is a mode of altering reality, not by the direct application of energy to objects, but by the creation of discourse which changes reality through the mediation of thought and action” (4). It causes the viewers to think about the issues. It may be at times offensive, but it is still a defender of rights for all. In a country like the US, famous for ignorance and blatant racism, it’s when watching SNL or events like The Olympics that many feel most patriotic. The show’s writers know how to get people to pay attention and that’s what rhetoric is all about. The show is logically, ethically, and emotionally appealing and that is why it is successful in attracting and keeping loyal viewers.

 

Did You Get The Joke?

When parents don’t want to deal with their problematic kids, they sit them in front of the glowing wonder known as the television. Needless to say, I was a crazy child and was constantly watching TV shows. I have probably seen every episode of the golden age of Nickelodeon and Disney, which included shows such as All That, The Amanda Show, That’s So Raven, and so many others that are fundamental of a 90s child’s memories. The thing about kid channels is that all of the shows are comedies, or at least meant to be. Those sitcoms made me contemplate what comedy really is and how it works. I, and so many other kids my age, have unintentionally memorized whole episodes of dialogue and plot. Sometimes I would go to school and quote lines from my favorite shows (often adding my own commentary) and be overwhelmed by the laughter and happiness that I introduced to the room. I was especially surprised that I got the girl I liked to laugh. After the group of children dissimilated to resume their daily activities or finger painting and reading (and by that I mean just looking at the pictures), my crush came up to me and with a smile said, “You’re really funny.” It was in that moment that I realized that humor was a respected trait for a person to have in society. It was in that moment that I would realize what I wanted to be, an entertainer.

Saturday Night Live is a long running sketch comedy show that has been on since its premiere on October 11, 1975. It airs on Saturdays; it starts at night, and it’s live (pretty self- explanatory). Late night shows, such as this one, are usually aimed at adult audiences; therefore, the jokes are a little more risqué. I recall at a young age watching the show with my family and them laughing at some joke I didn’t understand. The joke itself is irrelevant; it was probably just Will Ferrell doing a satirical impersonation of George Bush, as he is very popular for. The next day I went to school and started saying “Hey, I’m President Bush” in the most redneck accent I could. Most of the kids in my class had actual redneck accents and didn’t understand the joke. I know for a fact that those grade schoolers probably didn’t get the humor in poking fun at the infamous President. After looking out at a sea of twenty pairs of young beady eyes glaring at me with blank faces, I was done quoting TV lines.

George Lopez and Gabriel Iglesias are both Mexican-American comedians that I grew up watching as well. If you are Hispanic, then you know that jokes in Spanish usually involve Spanish curse words. If those jokes were translated, kids in American schools would be scolded for repeating them in public. My best friend would often tell me such jokes (unfortunately I don’t remember any of them). He was a class clown of sorts and always had people laughing. Still, his jokes were usually at the expense of others. This got me thinking of the different types of humor. There is also the type of humor where the comedian’s jokes are at their own expense. For example, every single one of the long time Youtuber Shane Dawson’s videos features a joke about how depressed or fat he is. That type of humor was even displayed in an episode of SpongeBob when Patrick was willing to fall on his face just to get people to laugh. I, like Gabriel Iglesias, prefer the everyday type of humor where daily events are told in a comedic manner. Events like my DC excursion, me falling out of a moving car with a child as a parachute, and shooting my TV with a toy bow and mallet (I used a xylophone mallet instead of a toy arrow) have made me quite knowledgeable in how to retell a story to get a positive reaction out of people.

After years of watching the TV shows that I did, you almost expect to hear a laugh track every time something comical happens in your life. The ABC show The Middle follows the life of a fictional stereotypical American family in the Midwest, the Hecks. Many families like my own are attracted to the accurate portrayal of middle class life when many other shows don’t touch on the subject of financial instability. I am 99% convinced that the writers of that show are following my life and using my family’s adventures to their advantage. The children of the show are basically my sister and I. My sister is athletic like the oldest son, Axl, but has all of the misfortune of the sister, Sue. My mom is hard working and my dad is very serious like the parents of the show. Brick Heck, the socially awkward youngest child, is a perfect replica of me at his age. The time my family traveled to Washington DC to get my sister’s passport for her Spain travels felt like an emotional, 2 part, season finale of a popular TV show such as The Middle. The temperature was below zero, my mom broke her heel walking down the cobblestone street, we got lost (very lost), and the whole purpose for our trip was nearly unfulfilled. I knew we were in trouble from the second my sister said, “I need to go to the Spanish embassy in Washington DC”. I am also convinced that my family’s life acts as a popular sitcom in a parallel universe and the Brick of that universe is convinced of the same.

I have even been told by people around me that I should get a TV show after I tell them some of my adventures. I definitely could see that happen. Each of my family members would make great characters. One of my cousins, Chato, is very witty and adult-like in the way he converses with people. I have to be careful with what I say around him because he is quick to turn my words into a self-inflicting weapon with his insults. He was my parachute when I fell out of that car I mentioned earlier (he opened the door on purpose just so we would fall out). My grandmother would also make a great character. She is wise but has a very short temper. Her road rage alone would make a great episode. I recall the adventure in which she drove my cousins and I around and we came across a turtle in the road. We stopped and put it in a plastic bag. Just my luck, a police showed up and questioned our actions. My older cousin (I have a lot of cousins), Bianca, translated for my grandmother. “I’m sorry sir, we just wanted to save this turtle” With the batting of all of our eyelashes, the officer was gone. When we arrived to the house, the bag had a hole in it and the turtle was never found. Experiences like the turtle rescue and DC trip proved to be useful as I learned how to be a good storyteller.

My show would be funny, emotional, and inspiring. I may seem conceited, but I’m not claiming to be the wittiest person in this universe (maybe in the alternate universe where my show is a hit). I’m thankful that I watched so much TV as a kid. I was inspired by my sponsors’ humor to create my own type of humor. I thank George Lopez, my best friend and his offensive humor, and all those countless shows for teaching me how to tickle someone’s funny bone. I was inspired to pursue entertainment because I now see comedy as an inspiring tool. I and so many others have learned through comedic experiences about themselves and the world . Life is like a TV show and I can’t wait for next season.

 

The Wizard of Oscar

For the record, I was called the “cutest baby to ever exist”. Still, my birth almost came at the ultimate price. I was born on October 28, 1997 in North Carolina. I am my mother’s second child, 4 years younger than my older sister, Lucero. My mother is a strong woman, but a troublesome child like me always puts up a fight…even at birth. My mother tells me she nearly broke my father’s hand during contractions but was advised not to grasp anything too hard as it inhibits the birthing process. Fast forward a few hours and I was born. When my sister was born the doctors took her away to clean her. I was automatically put on my mother’s chest. She says that she looked at my face and all she could see was my father’s face as a baby. She explains to me that the feeling a mother gets after giving birth is an inexplicable feeling of happiness. The birth was 24 hours long.

A short time after I was born my mother, Rosa, continued to have contractions and she could only wonder if she was having another baby. It turns out that the placenta was never properly expelled. My mother was bleeding out and she feared the worst. She was rushed away so the proper procedures could be done. She tells me that the doctor began yelling at her, “You have a baby boy upstairs that needs you! Don’t give up on him!” She was given a shot that would essentially allow her to endure the pain of having the placenta scraped out. By the time the whole problem was resolved, almost all of her body’s blood had been drained. So you can say that my birth was quite an episode.

On the bright side, at least I had my looks. The nurses said “Normally if the baby is ugly we don’t say anything, but this baby is the cutest one we’ve seen yet” Apart from the situation from my mother, my birth was a success and I was healthy. I was pinkish-white and crying like a newborn should be. I also had blonde hair that I would continue to have throughout life except for the transition of the hair on my head to brown with limited blonde. Relatives and family friends would joke around saying that there is no way that I could be a product of my father. He is a tan Mexican man with dark hair and green eyes. Thinking about it now I have grown into his image. My eyes are now a green-brown variation, my nose is big like his (we joke about it sometimes), and people say we even walk the same. Still, I have lighter skin like my mother and her mother.

There was once a time as an infant when I cried and cried and no one knew why. My parents worried there was something wrong internally. They rushed me to the ER. Later it was discovered that the circulation was cut off from a hair or thread on my toe. It was cut off and I assume I got better, but we were sent to a specialist anyway to check for any permanent damage. As there were primarily only elders seen at this specialist’s office, once again all the patrons were taken aback by my baby beauty. This was just a story that it is constantly brought up for some reason at home and I find it quite an odd story.

My mom says I was an easy baby especially compared to how my sister was. I slept well, I ate well (for the most part), and I was active. Me being active would come to be shown in the adventures I would get to as a began to be able to walk. We lived in my grandmother’s home at that time that I still visit weekly. It feels like a second home or a sanctuary. My grandparents or as their grandchildren call them “Mami Rosa and Papi Hector” (the Queen and King of our dynasty), constantly remind me that I should feel at home when I’m there. That house is filled with great memories of my childhood and that may be the reason that I regularly have dreams that I’m being attacked by some villain or monster and the only safe place is the house. As soon as I could walk, I was getting into trouble. I spilled shampoo bottles down the tub drain (Dextor‘s Laboratory wannabe) and hid in clothes racks in stores. It was a fun time.

Around age 2-3 I watched primarily Sesame Street and Barney. Later at age 4, I became obsessed with Power Rangers. I’m not sure what exactly it is about the show that appealed to me. Maybe it was the colors, the action, or the concept of teamwork. I use to try to fight everyone after watching that show. I would try to fight my sister to no avail. When at school or the park, I would get a group of 6 or so (boys and girls) and say that five of us would be the power rangers and the other would be the villain that we fight. I recall getting in trouble for fake fighting although we never hurt each other…to an extreme. My adventure role-playing skills were and still are the best. I have always had a crazy imagination. Someone people have wild imaginations; well I have a rabid imagination. I could turn a stick into a wand, a sword, a staff, or spear. I would pretend the empty space behind our couch was a volcano and dramatically would fall in it. At times I would even pretend I got shot or stabbed and do a dying monologue related to the adventure I was pretending to be in. I even made myself cry real tears. I would be a great actor.

At this age I went to many different childcare programs. Often, I was with family or friends. Still, I have a vivid memory of being at several Head Start daycares. One was at a church and was called “His Kids”, we watched movies, ate snacks, and once again role-played using our imaginations. Another took place at a building called Heritage Hall, called “More at Four” I recalled going to the pool or going to movies. The last was at an apartment complex and was specifically for children of immigrants. My grandmother, Mami Rosa, worked there as a caregiver of the children. I recall going into her classroom with my older cousin, Martin, and sitting on the top bunk of a bunk bed covered with stuffed animals. It was the only time I’ve ever received special treatment. I also recall dressing up as Blue from Blue’s Clues for Halloween trick or treating at that program.

When I began kindergarten at Upward Elementary School, I was 6 rather than most kids who were 5 because of the age deadline. I don’t recall if I was nervous or excited. It was a big step though, as it was my first real step into education. My school taught kindergarten to 5th grade, meaning the ages ranged from 6 to 11. Luckily for me, my sister was in her last year when I first entered the school so I had at least one familiar face there with me. In addition, I had a couple more cousins there. I even had my father’s workplace only a fence jump away at a factory next to the school, which caused me some trouble.

I was always testing my limits, even in kindergarten. One time, my class was taken to the gazebo in the school garden which had a perfect view of my dad’s workplace. My father waved to me and I got very excited to know I had a family member so close to the prison I called school. Sitting on the wooden bench of the gazebo, I threatened to my teacher “I’m going to jump the fence and go with my dad.” She shook her head and slowly started getting closer to me in a manner a hunter would slowly approach its prey to prevent startling it. I started sliding down the bench further away from her. This continued until suddenly I felt a sharp pain go up my back emanating from my spine. I started screaming in pain. I could not even explain what was happening so they got my sister out of class and told her to console me. She eventually interpreted my babbling and realized the pain was coming from my bum. She had no other option then to look at my bare behind to find the source. She immediately found that I had a splinter the length of a toothpick sticking out of my pink cheek. Every time she attempted to pull it out I only felt more pain. I spent the rest of the day in pain; there was nothing anyone could do. The next morning I felt a dull pain, rather than a sharp one like before. I asked my mother what happened and she confessed that in the dead of night she went on a secret mission. With my sitter’s guidance, she used tweezers to remove the wooden shrapnel. For all I know, she could have been lying and the splinter is still in there, imbedded in a non painful position. I know that could happen because my older cousin, Martin, still has a piece of glass in his knee from his childhood (of course with an ugly scar). Still, I learned I have the potential to be a heavy sleeper sometimes and never to try to escape elementary school.

My anger began evolving as I was surrounded by other children. I was always a demonic child, but I never attacked strangers…until Easter of kindergarten. All children are given baskets and Easter eggs are strategically spread around the school campus, indoors and out. All students are let go at the same time and the race begins. The only prize is the candy in the eggs and the bragging rights of having the most eggs, which I was determined to have. Still, all missions will have opposition. This time the opposition came in the form of a 6 year old, redneck little boy, Blake. I was near the track when I leaned down to get a gold egg, when the contents of my basket fell out. I literally had too many eggs in my basket. As I was recovering from my fall, Blake swooped in to take advantage of my misfortune (which I now respect as it was a competition). For a split second, my emotions blended. First I felt confusion, then disbelief, then finally…anger. Red hot anger. My fists clenched, I jumped on his back. I used my weight to pull him to the ground and started pulling his hair and even smashing his head into the grass a few times. I’m not sure how much time passed, but I remember being hauled away over the shoulder of the gym teacher, kicking his stomach and punching his back all the way back to the principals’ office. My head pounded with anger. I don’t recall what discipline I received, but I knew I had the potential in me to be bad. A similar incident occurred at the park playground in which another little boy tried to take my toy, but he was not hurt. Neither was the kid at Easter. I only got into trouble two other times in all of elementary school. One for trying to leave class early and the other for laughing with my friend about how his neighbor peed her pants.

Anger wasn’t the only emotion I was feeling at this time. Like most families, my parents fought. Not physically, but verbally. My ears were constantly flooded by the arguing that echoed around our tiny house. I was scared to sleep alone. Embarrassingly enough, I slept in my sister’s room with her until around age 10. I believe it has actually helped our relationship. At the time like I mentioned, I was evil. I spit on her, stabbed her with pencils, and hit her in the head with a stapler. Still she always had my back. I have another vivid memory of sitting in my sister’s room in the dark. It was sometime around midnight. Our parents were yelling about bills or something of that nature. My sister had seen the worst of my dad’s anger, when he was drunk. By this time, he had stopped drinking as much. He never hit us, other than the occasionally spanking when deserved. I have heard stories of him getting in fights at family barbeques and shooting a gun into the sky outside when angry and drunk, a dangerous combination. At this time, I faced the wall and just started tearing up. I didn’t like hearing anyone yell, especially not my beloved parents. I saw their shadows pacing back and forth under the door. My sister turned over in the bed and I felt her cover my ears, she whispered to me. “It’s ok, it’s ok, just go to sleep” At times I think of this event and start to cry, like I am when I write this. I think of how strong my sister, Lucero, is. But even the strongest of us humans can’t avoid mental disorders. She suffers from major depression and Body Dismorphic Disorder. When I first learned that mental disorders can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, I immediately thought of the time I as a child, with my possessed like anger, hit her in the head with a stapler. I couldn’t help but think that her disorders were my fault.

Sometime in the early elementary years, my parents decided to travel back to our mother country Mexico, to visit family and ultimately allow my sister and I to become more I touch with our roots. I remember crossing the border. Because we are all American citizens, the process was as easy as entering a subway terminal in New York. Now I think about how many families have been divided by that barrier. We went to my father’s home state, Durango, first. I remember going to my Tio Abui’s ranch. It was a fairly modern house. His son, my cousin, had an Xbox. Instead of ants, the country had small scorpions crawling along the wall and floors. The sun was scorching constantly. I enjoyed the small community. During this time the film The Incredibles had just been released and I loved not only the idea of superheroes, but the concept of a family that looked out for each other. I remember the film being out because I would walk to the local shop across the street and buy little sweet breads that came with The Incredibles pencil toppers in the packages. I didn’t even like the bread but I wanted the topper.

I also had a lot of trouble learning to share in Mexico. My cousin, Aaron, was a little bit younger than me and was intrigued by my American Power Rangers toys. I was constantly being scolded by my parents for 1) not sharing and 2) actually physically punching him to keep him away from my toys. My time in Mexico all blended together into a few distinct memories. We went to a Mexican theme park and I nearly had a heart attack at age 8 on a roller coaster called “Crazy Mouse” which seemed as if it was going to go off the rails at every turn(which I wouldn’t doubt seeing as the ride was constantly creaking). I learned to say grape in Spanish as I was conditioned that if I wanted to buy a “paleta” from the local vendors that I must be able to ask for it myself. When the vendor asked “Que sabor?”(What flavor?), I would reply simple “uva” (grape). I scared a Chihuahua in a pizza shop and made it pee on the floor in a corner as well in Mexico. Next, I nearly drowned a puppy in a barrel of water not because I was evil, but because I wanted to teach it to swim. I also saw the “uglier part” of Mexico. The part with mud roads, porta potties, and flies….armies of flies. I particularly remember one nightmarish event when we left the truck doors open and when we returned to it, every surface was covered in flies. I recently asked my mother if she remembers that particular event and she replied, “Kids remember things differently.” When I thought about it, did that ever even happen? Or did my overactive imagination dramatize what I actually saw?

Physically, I was a late bloomer. I actually remember going to the doctor at around age 12, a little bit before middle school and him telling my mother that I was a late bloomer. I was a very picky eater then, not at all like I am now. I was a scrawny little kid, an easy prey for bullies. I temporarily attended the Boys and Girls Club, where my mother had once worked. I remember crying as soon as I saw the building in sight. I am very attached to my mother. When she would leave me at daycare, I would hit the door and cry. I never quite connected as much with my dad, he was a harsh man. The only times I felt like he cared about me was when he would take me to the flea market on the weekends and buy me used Power Rangers toys which I cherished so much. I actually wished I never gave those memories of my childhood away. Also, when he passed out because I started choking on a chicken bone and nearly died (I was always getting into live threatening situations like that…more later). I learned that he really cared when he was my hero from bullies. At the Club, we all had lockers that we could put our things in, one day I arrived late and was putting my things in one of the lower lockers. I finally found an empty one and put my things away. Before I could leave the room, these two older kids walked in and noticed the locker I put my things in. One said to me, “That’s my locker”. I was too scared to speak. Him and his friend laughed at me and took out my X-Men backpack and put it into the highest shelved locker, knowing well there was no way I could possibly reach it. I ran out as soon as I could, hoping to avoid any further conflict. I continued with my activities (Hell like always) and when my age group finished for the day we went to the locker room to get our things and get picked up. My father showed up and I was alone in the room without my bag. “Donde esta tu mochilla?” or “Where is your backpack?” I explained how the tyrants took control of my original locker and locked my belongings away in the highest tower. He thought for a moment and then without words, he got my bag from the high locker. He didn’t stop there though. He opened the bully’s locker which had no lock, took out his bag, and put it in a locker hidden in a corner on the other side of the room, a locker no one ever used. Then he found a lock on the floor and locked away the bully’s things. He looked at me and smiled. I felt connected. I felt cared for. I felt loved.

I’ve had my fair share of health endangering situations. I broke my collar bone doing a flip in gym in 5th grade. I dropped a few TVs on my head trying to move them myself. I choked on countless chicken bones. I locked myself in cars. I tried to swim in our kiddie pool alone, which somehow always had tadpoles days after we cleaned it. I got hit with a pool stick at the Club (which reminds me of my hatred for that place and the game billiards). I’ve fallen out of a moving car in a Target parking lot with a child on top of me (hes the one who opened the door). I’ve broken my wrist (and a few years later I accidentally broke someone else’s wrist in the same exact way). I got the swine flu when it was the “scariest disease of the time”, even though it felt like a simple cough (I’m pretty sure that doctor wasn’t even a real doctor). Yes. I am quite a handful. I never needed surgery though gladly.

It was odd transitioning from elementary school to middle school. I was a top dog in elementary school. I was one of the smartest (9th grade reading level, AIG class, Spelling Bee captain) and athletic (ran mile in under 8 minutes). Once again, I was one of the smallest in the grade. Middle school was a blur. I didn’t like it very much, which is good. I really wouldn’t have wanted to peak in middle school and I know some that did: dumb jocks. Although for some odd reason all of the football players were in AIG (Academically and Intelligently Gifted) classes with me. I tried to hang out with the “popular kids”, and then I realized how oblivious and vapid they were. I was bullied, kind of. Not physically but verbally. Most of it was my small size and clothing choices (which is an odd thing for boys to bully for). In my defense, none of my clothes fit either because 1)I was outgrowing them, 2) they were on sale at Goodwill(which everyone seems to love now, dumb hipsters), 3) or they were too large of hand-me-downs from my 6 ft. tall cousin, Martin. I especially remember being teased about online bought glasses I had to put rubber bands around to cover the feminine style and short shorts that I had to wear for gym because I had nothing else. I first experienced racism in a school setting, oddly enough from the other Mexicans. Apparently I was too white to hang out with them. Here is a story about a young boy outcast from his own kind.

Chocolate chips from that cookie I just ate at lunch still melted on my tongue. The sun was radiant. To most kids the bright light and warm temperature during recess would only add to the experience, but to me I could only think of the sunburn and tomato-red appearance that would inevitably come. My dad taught me to be an optimist, so I chose to still take advantage of this temporary academic break and have fun with my peers. My best friend went to play soccer with the other Latino boys. I thought, “I love soccer. I’m going to go show off my skills!” I ran over to the large field where the game was taking place, a layer of sweat already dripping down my face. Teams were being chosen and I wondered whose team I was on. I turned to the captain of the soccer team and surprisingly asked, “Whose team am I on?” He gave me a standoffish glance and replied, “Mexicans only.” Confused I rebutted with, “But I am Mexican.” At this point, our conversation had become quite the spectacle. He laughed with his minions and said, “You don’t look like it, and it doesn’t matter because we already chose teams.” They immediately forgot my existence and began the game. My best friend gave me a shrug that said, “What do you expect me to do?” and continued playing.

I don’t fit in. My last name makes me an outcast from non Hispanics and my appearance made me a pariah amongst my own. At times I feared going into locally owned Mexican stores. Not because they were scary, but because I thought they were going to kick me out for “not being brown enough.” It seems absurd now, but at the time it was one of my greatest fears. Of course I’d experienced racism, but never openly from those with whom I was supposed to feel at home. I would cry to my mom and tell her whilst choking on my tears, “It would be easier if we were white, everything would be easier.” She would console me, saying that those boys were closed minded and one day I would help destroy stereotypes by being an educated and successful, proud Mexican boy.

All the school awards I’ve accumulated along the years show progress to that prophecy my mother proclaimed. I use personal experiences and news stories about ignorant citizens shouting at innocent old Hispanic ladies to get out of their country as fuel to my efforts to be a household name. I strive to be someone that helps unite. I hope that one day people will stop using color as an excuse for hatred and rather respect the person wearing the skin as a fellow human being.

My depression started worsening in middle school. Partially due to the teasing and partially from puberty I suppose. It must have started earlier though; I just didn’t know it was depression. I recall having a “mid-life crisis” at age 10, now I know what it actually was. Also, scary situations involving suicide made me realize that what I did had impacts on others. I also had my first real crushes on girls in middle school (I had a girlfriend in elementary school, but she was too clingy). Long story short, this girl (lets call her Sally) I liked was friends with one of my guy friends (lets call him Bob). She confided in him and told him all her secrets. I would text him while texting her and ask him what I should say to impress her and it usually worked. She posted online that she was moving and I was very sad about it. I asked her about it because at this point we were somewhat close. She told me her father had a job opportunity on the West Coast. I asked Bob why she was moving and he said it was a secret. Eventually I did the whole “you can trust me” thing to convince him to tell me. He eventually told me it was because she had a life threatening brain injury and she had to go have surgery. I must have forgotten that it was a secret, or maybe I thought our friendship was better than it was, because I gave my good wishes to Sally. She eventually found out that Bob told me and was angry with him. Bob texted me specifically, “If I lose her tonight, I lose my life tonight”. My heart broke. To think that I would be the reason someone lost their life was emotionally and mentally devastating. I panicked and told my mother and she said not to worry, kids are bluffers. I even went as far as to text his sister to watch out for him. Thank goodness he was a bluffer and we stayed friends. Still, things were never the same and I never trusted “friends” as much. I felt bad for being a busybody and for going back on a promise to keep a secret. Now I keep as far away from secrets as I can and if I must be confided in, I make sure that it never spills from my mouth.

Middle school ended three years later, an odd experience. I found a true group of reliable friends that would be going to the Early College with me. I had to part ways with my best friend since 1st grade. We tried to keep in touch, but contact dwindled out. High school was oddly enough less scary than middle school. Early College was a school that requires an application and dedication to get into. I knew that my fellow classmates would not be the same vapid and oblivious kids I knew previously. After 4 years, I can say that although extremely academically and mentally challenging, this school has some of the most interesting kids in the state. Our school could have an after school teen drama comedy show and get amazing ratings. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of putting a 14 year old in a college style classroom with full grown college students was terrifying. Of course I would get the occasional odd stares from 27 year olds in the classrooms, but I liked the feeling of being a young overachiever. I had somewhat accomplished my childhood dream, being a child genius (Dextor’s Laboratory, Jimmy Neutron, Baby Geniuses, etc.).

Like mentioned before, a program like this does not come without stress. The teachers are crazy, the work is intense, and you can forget about having a social life. The semesters go by fast and my hardest classes were my first ones. That was probably just because I was getting used to college classes. My school didn’t have conventional things like sports teams and dances, but they really try. I honestly think it was better in my earlier years. Obviously, I didn’t have the usual high school experience. I did have a job though. I helped my uncle with his lawn care business. It was the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done. At least I now know that I don’t want a physical job like that one. When I went to drivers ed, I saw some of my old middle school classmates….dumb as always. I first drove during my driver’s ed course and I nearly died (again). I still don’t have my license. When I went to take my driver’s test, the woman at the DMV emotionally scarred me for life. I don’t know if I’ll ever get my license. Most schools have career days, we have to do an extensive research project about a possible future career every year excluding senior year (we do our senior projects during our junior year). Since I skipped a grade, I have had to do one of those projects 4 years consecutively. Freshman=Soccer Player, Sophomore=Journalist, Junior=Veterinarian, Senior=Filmmaker. All are very different. Like most humans, my mind is constantly changing. Filmmaker or actor is what I’ve always wanted to be but I was too embarrassed to choose it for those projects because I knew teachers and parents would tell me “That’s unrealistic”. I’ve decided I’m going to do what I want for a change.

I’ve managed to control my anger a little bit better. Although, when I do get very angry I start to creepily laugh. I think it has something to do with my bottling up my emotions and them coming out at random times. My depression is about the same but I have learned ways to diminish it. I actually went to one therapy session when my anger was at its peak, but I didn’t want to go back because I knew it was expensive and it would cost my parents money. “I’ll just figure it out on my own”, I thought. I’ll probably get more therapy eventually. I’ve grown into my body more since puberty. I’m still scrawny looking but I am about normal height now. Sometimes my friends tell me that I’m getting too tall and I just want to hug them. I’ve often described my life as a comedy sitcom. If it were, then a season finale would have been this year, my sister Lucero’s college graduation.

The last time my sister and I were at a graduation together, it was her high school one. I nearly missed hearing her name being called because my cousin, Martin, wanted to leave the stadium to go get a soccer ball. Spanish last names usually start with an ending letter meaning they are called nearly last at graduations. I can’t blame him for being bored. Now after lots of money in loans, she was graduating from UNC Chapel Hill with a Journalism major.

The day went fine. We did encounter some problems, like always. We couldn’t find the stadium. It started raining (at an outdoor graduation). Of course, dramatic family members had to make the graduation dinner at a public setting much more difficult that it had to be. They loudly insulted the workers, spit out their food, and just kept whining. I felt so bad for my sister. This was supposed to be her day and it seemed as though the odds weren’t in her favor. At her last graduation (High School), someone was arrested in front of our house. Maybe graduations are bad luck in our family.

Later, our aunts and grandmother apologized for being difficult. We still came together to celebrate this momentous occasion in my sister’s life. Events like this go to show the family bond in the Mexican culture, as well as their attitudes and tempers. The bond could be shown by something as small as this or by the story of my uncles. Long ago, when my Papi Hector was still in Mexico, his family got into a feud with another family. There was a shootout and the youngest brother on my grandpa’s side, Raul, was caught in the crossfire. To retaliate, my Papi Hector’s other brother wiped out nearly all of the other family’s men. He avoided prison, until he married a drug dealing American woman and was arrested for that. He spent his last days in prison. Recently, all of the family came together for the funeral.

I’ve learned something about the difference in cultures whilst living a Mexican culture in an American setting. In American culture, the kids spent 18 years under their parent’s roof. They slowly start demanding control. They start to drive, get a job, and spend more time away from home. I cannot count how many times I have heard a white, American child say “I hate my parents, I can’t wait to leave home”. They want to go to college. They want to go to a college far away from home. I’ve heard three times in a week “When I turn 18, I’m going to the furthest college from my parent’s house. I’ve spent enough time with them. I need my space”

In Mexican culture, the kids grow a close relationship with their parents. We spend more time with them. Most Latino kids either get a job to help pay bills after high school. If they do go to college, it is usually a school close to their home town. We see our parents every day. If we don’t see them that day, then we call them. There is a constant line of communication open. We can rely on our family for help. One time, my sister was home from college and mentioned that she missed my grandmother’s arroz con leche (a Mexican dessert consisting of rice and condensed milk). My Mami Rosa heard about it somehow (word travels fast in the Latino community) with her wolf like hearing and rushed off to the store in that moment to buy the ingredients to make it. I’m proud to have the family I have and be the individual I am.

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