Lunch at Aranda's
I've been to Aranda's two times in the last 4 days. It's a small restaurant that serves typical Mexican plates, many type of delicious tortas, and of course tortillas. I asked the man behind the register if it was a franchise, because I've seen chingos of these, and he told me there are a bunch, but they are all family owned. In Houston primarily, Austin, and Dallas.
Aranda's is also a fantastic place to talk. On both occassions I visted with friends for a very long time. We talked about immigration, education, the war, and other things. I told my friend about a young Mexican American girl at my brother's office. They have a tax business next door and I walked in to get some water. I saw the 19 year old girl fighting to stay awake as she did her homework. It was College Math. I don't know what that means, but she told me she was doing "patterns and stuff." I didn't ask more questions about that because I would have had to fake a heart attack if she would have asked me for help.
I asked her where she was going to school: ACC (Austin Community College). I asked her what she was studying: I want to be a para-legal or on t.v.
(notice the use of the word "really" in the following conversation)
Me: Really, I used to to be a t.v. reporter.
Her: really? Wow.
Me: Not really. Lots of work. Lots of dumb people. Little pay.
Her: Oh. It's like journalism right?
Me: Yea, hey, why don't you become a lawyer, like this guy (I point in the direction of my brother's office).
Her: No, I can't. That's too hard. You have to have brains.
Me: Well, you just have to apply yourself. You have to study.
Her: It's like being a doctor. It's so much school.
Me: Not really, but you do have to study. You should do it.
Her: (smile, wishing I would get the hell out of there)
Me: ok, good luck.
I felt helpless, because although this conversation didn't reveal it as much as I would want to, she doesn't realize she CAN go to law school or do whatever the hell she wants to do. She CAN pay for school and she CAN get a 4 year degree.
She's not going to believe she can because some pelado tells her. She already thinks I'm a privilidged kid, because she sees my walking around the office and because my brother is a lawyer. I don't really feel it's appropriate for me to sit down with every person and tell them that I was probably in the same or worse situation than them when I was a kid (but I had good parents).
I told my friend I didn't know how to encourage these kids (and people in general) how to go to college. Do I have to fill out an application for them and show them school plans? Financial aid forms? I can't. I won't. I just can't. I'm trying to do that for some close friends and it's draining. What do we do?
How do I tell her that an associate's degree is good, but that she should get her college degree. I just don't know.
Then we started talking about immigrants and Mexican Americans. My friend and I are pretty liberal, but we realized we kept ragging on Chicanos. We no longer come up with excuses as to why raza is sitting around at 1pm drinking beer in front of their houses instead of working. Granted this is a very small portion, but back in the day, she and I would have probably made excuses for them. We would have said something like: "they're a product of their environment. they went to shitty schools, they can't get good jobs, let them be. we should be helping them, not criticizing them."
No more. We figure if immigrants, who speak no English, have no history here, have no rights and often no family, can get jobs and work hard, why can't the rest of the raza. Now, it's not fair. I'm singling out Chicanos, but maybe that's because it hits close to home. Man, if we all worked as hard as immigrants do - wow, chingado. She went on to tell me that "I never watch this show," but the other day I saw Newlyweds (w/ Jessica Simpson). The husand apparently hired landscapers to do some work. They were Americans (I think mostly white and black). It seems that after 4 hours Nick, the husband, was pissed off because the crew hadn't done caca. The MTV show kept showing cut-a-ways of them smoking and screwing around. The next day the dude hired a crew with a "spanish surname" and when the guys showed up, they were all raza. My friend says you could tell they were recent immigrants. She said that the show made it a point to illustrate how happy Nick was with their job. They showed them working en chingas and not stopping for breaks or complaining about the heat. The job was excellent. Wow, interesting point to make on MTV.
Anyway, those are just a couple of the we talked about at Arandas.