Ojo: The "Cholo Word Of The Day" is simply for fun. This is not an academic exercise, therefore I do not spend much time checking for espelling or grammatical errors. Most of the words are not only used by "cholos," but by many people in S. Texas - and their usage can vary. c/s

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I'm Off To Seattle

I take off bright and early tomorrow. I've been really busy getting everything in order and saying my final farewells to folks, so I've neglected the blog. I should arrive in Seattle sometime this weekend, so that's when I'll be online again. Maybe I'll do an audio post! Bueno, I'll be back later.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A little late

This is the view I had from the Hotel room in downtown Seattle. Pretty sweet.

Downtown Seattle

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Culture Shock

My friend from the Valley and I were having a chat about my impending move to Seattle. I remarked to her how I would be one of only a handful of brown folk at the school. I told her it didn't bother me and that in fact, I thrive in those environments. She asked me if I was going to experience culture shock. I told her I experienced culture shock when I went to UT.She told me she experienced culture shock when she went to A&M. She's white and experienced culture shock when she saw so many other white people. Imagine that.

My friend grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. She's originally from Ohio, but her dad moved the family down there and started a very successful produce company. It's interesting that she says she experienced culture shock.

White people often talk about experiencing culture shock in the Valley. We could say, "It's not the same. Socio-economic class has a lot to do with it." And in some respect it does, but it doesn't mean that a gringita growing up in the Valley doesn't feel weird when she goes to a piƱata. I guess we might be able to ask Oso about this, as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

La Gallina

On my way to work I turned up the radio when I heard a song I hadn't heard in many years. I just realized how ridiculous it is. I'm not sure I know how to spell any of the lyrics, so bear with me. By the way, the 3 minute song only has two verses.

"La Gallina esta cacaraciando"
"Pone un huevo luego cacaraciando"

That's it. Then the accordion plays. Oh man, I wish I could find an mp3 of this song.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Seattle Adventures and the CHOLA

I spent most of the past week in Seattle. I went get my things in order before I start law school. Here are some things that happened on the trip:

1. My driver's license expired 5 days before my trip and I didn't realize it until I was getting my ticket.

2. I was chosen by the ticket agents and the airport security to undergo "special security revisions"

3. The old lady sitting next to me on the plane spilled her V-8 on me.

4. I stayed at the Westin in Downtown Seattle in a fabulous room using my Starwood Points.

5. I walked chingos and visited about 20 different apartments/studios.

6. A grocery store clerk called me a terrorist American. The conversation went like this:
Clerk: are you mexican american?
Me: yes
Clerk: you look terrorist american.
Me: what? What's that.
Clerk: you know.
Me: what do Mexican American's look like?
Clerk: accents, long hair, mustache.
Me: we're not all the same. you need to visit Texas. What's a Terrorist American?
Clerk: you know (whispers), from the middle east.
Me: oh, well, ok. have a good night.

7. I went to a Mariners-Yankees baseball game.

8. I found a place to live.

9. I met two pretty damn cool professors: Stephen Burnett and Joaquin Avila.

10. I met a representative from the student group HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Legal Advacement)

11. I got the "special security revision" on the way back as well

12. I thought of the idea to to suggest a name change for HOLA. I want to call it CHOLA -- the Chicano Hispanic Organization for Legal Advancement!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

And There He Was

The thing about splitting town is that a lot of people take the time to say their final farewells. Tonight I went to dinner with some great friends. My old boss turned mentor invited me to hang out with his family. I always enjoy the conversations I have with them. He's got an amazing way of talking. Today he said about President Clinton: "You can fuck one girl, just don't fuck the country." or something like that.

They treated me to dinner at a hip Mexican food restaurant. Their 14 year old daughter went along. I baby sat her and her little bro when I was in college a couple of times and it's interesting to see them grow up. She's a great artist and very sharp.

And there he was. I noticed my good friend from h.s., C., as we walked into the restaurant. There's a special place in my heart for C. He's an extremely smart and talented person. He also almost beat up our Physics teacher in h.s. C. and I first met in 9th grade. We played baseball together. I always respected C. because he wasn't afraid to be himself. He was a smart poor kid. We went to a football game together once and my folks dropped me off at his house. He lived in a small apartment. His father happened to be living with his family at the time and it turns out my dad and him know each other.

C. had an interesting relationship with his father. The man was an alcoholic. He wasn't necessarily around, but he was always pretty kind towards his family. Well, as kind as he could be. C. didn't talk much about his dad to many people. I felt pretty priviledged when he started telling me about his father. C. had a pretty rough upbringing.

It turns out C. and I both ended up at UT. Wow, that was pretty unusual. We didn't hang out much, but everytime we saw each other, we made plenty of time to catch up. We sat together when we took Art History. We almost got into a fight because some guy was talking to shit to C.

We both always encouraged each other. C. leads a very care-free life and always did plenty of drugs. He still smokes weed like he drinks water. One day I found out C. dropped out of UT. Our senior year. Why? i don't know. I ran into him again in McAllen and encouraged him to go back. He said he was, but that it wasn't the right time. I dont' know what he was going through and I didn't probe.

And there he was today. Working.

"Hey C.," I yelled.

"Orale Carnal, what are you doing here?"

"I'm here with my friends, what's up?"

"I'm finally finishing school."

I smiled and gave him a hug careful not to make him drop the salad bowl he was carrying.

"That lady is a bitch, she's driving me crazy, let me take the salad."

"Right on."

My friends and I ate dinner and talked. I saw C. out of the corner of my eye. He was hustling.

Me fui a despedir and he gave me his phone number. I'm going to call him.

As I left, he shook my hand and said, "I'm proud of you man." I don't think he knows how much that means to me. I'm proud of C. He's back in school. Probably supporting his father and mother. He'll do well and I wish him the best.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Secretary's Day Everyday

I had an amazing conversation with my teacher friends a couple of days ago. It turns out that Secretaries and Custodians rule the school. No seriously! You're probably thinking what I thought - how the? I thought principals wielded all the power.

Well, according to the teachers, the secretaries have control over who gets a new desk, who gets dibs on the copy machine, who gets reimbursed for expenses, who shows you how to file certain paperwork, who gets away with turning attendance in late. A teacher might as well say good-bye to a nice clean room or even a door that doesn't squeak if they piss off the custodians. One of my teacher friends says the custodian who doesn't like her crashes into the room like a tornado and messes everything up.

My friends even told me that the UT Education department makes it a point to let students know they have to get along with the secretaries. The story was hillarious when my friends where telling it.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Para Los Imigrantes

Maneja Beto played a benefit concert for Casa Marianela last night. And they danced. They laughed.

Casa Marianella is an emergency shelter serving immigrants and refugees in Austin.

Casa Marianella has room to sleep 21 men and seven women and children each night. Under regular circumstances, a resident is given one month to stay at the house. The residents primarily come from Latin America, the majority from Mexico.

The show was very appropriate. I've heard the lyrics my friends sing, but hadn't really paid attention to all of them until last night. I wish more of the lyrics were posted on this page, because this isn't a true representation of what I am talking about. Some of the music talks about the immigrant struggle. It talks about the young immigrant men who didn't stop dancing all night. Casa Marianela invited it's residents to the show last night. It was interesting to see. Young immigrant men, young white hippies, and a good number of Chicana/os. I imagine most of the men at the show were not from Mexico, but from South and Central American countries. And they danced. They laughed.

The band opened up with a cumbia tribute to Rigo Tovar. They packed the dance floor and waited during songs. The band played. And they danced. They laughed.

I sat at a table looking at the dance floor, but thinking about many things. I wondered where these men/kids were from, how they got here, and what family they had to leave back home. I thought about how five hours earlier I was at work interviewing a young man from Guatemala trying to get his papers in order. He told me it took him three months to get to the United States. He walked, took the train, the bus, and walked some more. He was robbed three times. He had to leave some people behind. He swam across the river and now lives in North Carolina. He told me he can't go back to Guatemala, because there's nothing for him there. No jobs. No money. No food. "De que vive la gente?" I was curious to understand how people survived. "Me da verguenza decirte, pero roban." I couldn't believe that people stole for a living, but he insisted. His grandparents have been robbed three times in the last two months. He talked about the president, corruption, and leaving his country.

I watched the men dancing and thought of my cousin Edgar. He's still living somewhere near here. I don't know where. He's doesn't have papers. I haven't looked for him. What would we talk about? I could be him. Es primo. First cousin. He's not the only one. I have many cousins here de mojaditos (the addition of --itos, for oso). Am I so far removed. Yes, but not really. They danced. And they laughed. Then the band played my favorite, a rendition of Carabina 30/30 and I danced. I laughed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Raza Payment Plan

I'll be eating chorizo for the next week. My brother's client gave it as a gift yesterday. This isn't the first time. The other day he got bananas and he's received bottles of liquor, pan dulce, cookies, gift baskets with fruit and candy, and a bunch of other stuff.

Getting gifts isn't new. It's been like this all my life. People would take my dad oranges or onions for doing something for them (oranges and onions grow in the valley). I've also seen people receive crazy things like parrots, little chicks or even furniture they made, but that's more rare.

I think we give food because that's what we have. That's what most people have and need. I wonder if it ties in to our need to make sure all people are fed? I always make fun of people taking home "el platillo" from a party, but there's probably a very practical reason as to why we do it without thinking twice.

And yes, sometimes we use products and services as payment instead of cash - because that's the only thing we have. I remember coming home to find all kinds of fish in our freezer one day. A man who owed my dad money went fishing, caught a bunch of fish, and brought them to my family. The debt was paid. My cousin has a new patio because some dudes owed him cash.

Paying with services even extends to municipalities in South Texas. My mom got a ticket for no insurance or something once and couldn't pay the fine. She talked to the judge and offered to work cleaning the court's office for a couple of days. The judge said, ok. It worked.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Cruz de Madera Gringa

I went from one extreme to the other today. My cousin invited me to her kid's b-day party. She married a gringo. They live in a very affluent part of Austin and have very affluent neighbors. I felt like I was the only Mexicano at this 5 year old b-day party. I give her her credit for buying little Ethan a pinata.

I don't think it sinks in to those folks that my prima is a Latina until they see me. They don't treat me any different, but I see them do a double take. I wonder how my cousin is ok with only having gringito kids at the party. I know that's where they live, that's the environment they are in, but damn, I would just feel weird. I would feel like I'm denying my kid his culture. There were no black kids either. There was one Asian. I wonder if I would think this if there were only Mexican kids at the party? Would I wonder if my brother-in-law would feel weird if there were not gringitos there?

I stayed for a while and hung out. I love playing with the kids. I wanted to talk to my cousins. None of my siblings talk to them. I'm the only one. They don't dislike each other, but our families were never close. We don't have much in common. So I stayed and I talked. I talked like I write. In Spanish and English. And they laughed. And they joked. And the entire time I thought about what I was going to do in a couple of hours and how my cousins would never go to something like that.

I was going to watch Michael Salgado at the Old Pecan Street Festival. The raza was out in full force. Kids with mullets and silver teeth, just like their parents. Pelados wearing sombreros and gold chains. Girls wearing tight pants. And the regular raza was out too. Some dude standing behind us offered my friend and me weed, "hey man, wanna hit this?" We kindly refused, but said thanks. We waited until Michael Salgado played one of my favorites, Cruz De Madera (not sure the MP3 is working), then we went to eat a hot dog. I thought, "I wish my cousins were here," but I knew they would not feel comfortable. I know it's hard. We assimilate and acculturate. It's happened to me, but I hope I never lose my culture. Listening to Michael Salgado - that's not my culture, but it's part of what my culture has evolved to. I just hope there's something I still hold on to later in life. Something I pass down to my kids or sobrinos and sobrinas.

And I'm Gone!

One month from now I will take the next step in my life. I'm moving to Seattle. I'm making the drive from Austin, TX to Seattle, WA. I'll be driving my pickup truck all the way and I hope to make stops in El Paso and L.A. I know I haven't really discusses my move on here, but I figured I might as well let everyone know now. I'm going to attend the Seattle University School of Law. I wanted to go to a school in Texas, but my LSAT scores, which I took five years ago,were ridiculous.

I opted for Seattle University because I read a little bit about their program and it seemed interesting. There were a couple of faculty members I was really intrigued by and my brother went to the same school. Well, it turns out I made a pretty good choice. Seattle University School of Law is ranked near the bottom of the top 100 schools, BUT I just found out that it's ranked #1 for their Legal Writing program. The school is also ranked #5 for its Trial Advocacy program.

I'm really looking forward to moving to Seattle, but I'm also a bit hesitant. I've never lived outside of Texas, but I understand this might be my only time to do it. It won't be my only opportunity, but maybe the only time I will want to live outside of Texas. Aver que.

The last 5 months in Austin have been great. I've been able to hang out w/ my old college friends and meet some new fantastic people. I've been doing stuff I love. I'm comfortable. I look forward to finding an apt. in Seattle and getting situated. I look forward to starting school, even thought I haven't been in school for the last 5 years.