Friday, May 29, 2009

A week for Latino's in the news

Whew, Latinos have really got tongues wagging this week. First, there's Sonia Sotomayor up for the Supreme Court.

Then there's Padre Albert Cutie (Coo-tee-A) troubling the Catholic Church by being photographed with a woman and now changing churches.

It's nice to see Latino's making people think about serious topics rather than debating the same ole mojado issues all the time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Cinco de Mayo

Last year I ordered my Cinco de Mayo dress to wear to school for my Spanish students. I had wanted something similar for years, and I finally found one on ebay. This year I'm at a new school so they got the Cinco de Mayo "surprise" too.

It is so hard to be in a bad mood when wearing this dress. I think I might look for something similar to wear more often. (Or maybe not.) By the way, in the United State Cinco de Mayo is all about the beer.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rainy day productivity

It has been a rainy weekend here in East Tennessee, but I've been super productive today. I've been busy at my KNS blog.

Mexican Cabin Fever
A Scary Precedent
Nonessential Kisses
DREAM Act letter to editor
Cinco de Mayo: It's all about the beer

The nonessential kisses post has to be one of my favorite things to come out of the swine flu.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not the time

While I totally favor the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, I just don't think now's the time to march in the streets for it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reactions to the Swine Flu

I don't know what it is about this swine flu that is making people so nasty. In my almost 11 months blogging at knoxnews, the comments on my posts about the swine flu have been the nastiest, most uncalled for I've ever had. These make the "go choke on a tortilla" comment seem nice.

One would think that we could put aside stereotypes and division and have compassion for the plight of our fellow humanbeings. But obviously there is a crowd of people that cannot do that. I rarely delete comments on my KNS blog, but some of these are so bad that I refuse to perpetuate their sick message.

The most offensive thing I've done is suggest that American tourists, like myself, brought the swine flu into the U.S. rather than undocumented immigrants.

I also think that this is being taken out of porportion. According to that link from CNN, thousands of Americans die every year from the regular ole flu, and hundreds of thousands world wide die from it.

Rather than pointing fingers, we need to help the people affected and protect ourselves with the same common sense meaures that protect us from other illnesses.

My KNS swine flu posts:
Swine flu- latest conspiracy of undocumented immigrants
Swine flu in perspective
A child was the original swine flu carrier?
39 yr old woman first carrier of swine flu?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm ashamed of a fellow Tennessean

What a waste of time and energy on the part of our state legislators. Rep. Stacey Campfield of East Tennessee wants to deny birth certificates to babies born to undocumented mothers. It's things like this that make our state look bad.

Mexico City and the Swine Flu

Swine flu- latest conspiracy of undocumented immigrants?

What a Monday for Mexico City residents.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Me and the Virgin (of Guadalupe)

Since my days as a Spanish student at the University of Tennessee, I have been intrigued by the story of la Virgen de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico and Mexico's version of the Virgin Mary.

As a Spanish student I read about the conquest of Mexico and the appearance of la Virgen to the Indian Juan Diego.

As a Spanish teacher, I teach about la Virgen each December and show the movie Guadalupe.

I've always been fascinated with stories of people who pledge to crawl so far in the Basilica on their knees if she answers their prayers or the gang members who get large, intricate tatoos of her on their backs so that la Virgen "has their backs". There is also a current television series, La Rosa de Guadalupe, that tells stories of how la Virgen is watching over her people today.

During my spring break trip to Mexico City, la Basilica de Guadalupe was one of the places I was most interested in visiting.

I went on a Thursday around noon. It was one of the busiest tourist attractions I've ever seen. I call it a tourist attraction because it was apparent that the majority of visitors were tourists like myself. However, I'm afraid "tourist attraction" doesn't quite fit because most of the people, unlike myself, were there on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts. Those Catholic tourists who found themselves in el D.F. that day went to the Basilica to honor and pay tribute to la Virgen.

As a Christian and Protestant, I view the Basilica as a place full of Mexican culture and history. I believe that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross was enough to redeem me and guarantee me eternity with Him in Heaven. I do not believe that I need to call upon the Virgen Mary, the Virgen of Guadalupe, or any other saint in order for God to hear my prayers. I believe that the work of Jesus on the cross tore away the need to approach God by a third party as was required under Old Testament law.

While all the crosses in the Basilica show Jesus still nailed to them, I believe in a cross that is empty. According to the New Testament, Jesus was taken from that cross dead shortly after he was placed there. His body was taken to a tomb that had been given to him. It was to that same tomb that Mary Magdalene went on Sunday morning. An angel appeared at that tomb to announce that Christ had risen from the dead. I believe in an empty cross because I believe in an empty tomb.

At the Basilica, I agreed to stay for Mass out of respect for my Mexican, Catholic travel companions. Although I certainly wasn't looking for it, I did receive a spiritual revelation there. It was as if Jesus himself were asking me why I can't worship and honor him like all those around me were worshipping la Virgen.

There were thousands there that day to pay tribute to la Virgen de Guadalupe. There is no spiritual tourist attraction like that for Protestants. Most Protestants, myself included unfortunately, are hard pressed to go to church once a week, let alone travel to a site central to their faith like Mexican Catholics.

I returned from Mexico as if from another world. My experiences during one week in el D.F. have made me re-evaluate certain things about my life on this side of the border. One of the most important of those is the state of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I am now challenged to live for Him in a new, fresh way.

My Mexico Adventure

I returned from Mexico City four days ago and I'm still battling culture lag. It's taking me a few days to pick up the pace in my normal life here. I miss D.F. I'm still processing my thoughts and experience, but I plan to write more on it soon.

In the meantime, here's a video of dance lessons I got in Xochimilco, Mexico's version of Venice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

ICE v. Border Patrol

Talk about government agencies that can't get along. Now it's getting personal.
ICE Raid on Border Patrol Agents Home

Monday, April 6, 2009

So it's Immigration Awareness Month

I learned last week that it is Immigration Awareness month. (Who decides these things, I don't know.) I was blogging about it Friday afternoon on my KNS blog. Then I saw the news about the shooting in New York, and I wrote this.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tinga- My Favorite Mexican Food Ever

Tinga takes a little longer to cook than some dishes, but it is well worth the time.

3-4 split chicken breasts (grocery stores have sales on these a lot)
1 onion
3-4 fresh tomatoes OR 1 can tomato sauce
1-2 chipotle peppers (start with a few and add more for desired level of spiciness)
Canola oil

1. Boil chicken breasts for about an hour.
2. In a blender, mix tomatoes (or sauce) with chipotle peppers.
3. Slice onions into thin rings.
4. When chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from pot and let cool. Discard fat. Using two forks, remove chicken from the bone and discard bone. Shred chicken into thin pieces.
5. In medium size pan, add approximately 3-4 tablespoons of Canola oil. Fry onion slices in oil until tender. When onion slices are tender, add shredded chicken. Stir chicken and onions for several minutes, then add the salsa from the blender.
6. Add salt and let sautee for 5-10 minutes.

Mexicans eat tinga with tostadas.

Tip: If the salsa is too spicy, cheese or milk products relieve a burnt mouth. Queso fresco is especially good with tinga.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Work 24/7 for $650 a month

These guys definitely win the "my job sucks more than yours" contest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Perfect Fifths- Getting Closer

I discovered the Jessica Darling series about a month ago. I finished the series in a few days. Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie seem to have found the time for their love in Perfect Fifths, the final novel of the series.

The book doesn't go on sale until April 14th, but you can pre-order now.

Megan McCafferty also has a contest going to give away advanced reader copies of Perfect Fifths.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Economic Stimulus Solution

Dear Barry,

It looks like this economic mess is making your term more difficult than you anticipated. There are a whole lot of people who are mad at your or really don't like you at all. There's more bickering going on than solutions in Washington, and it seems too much like that ole thing from elementary school "I don't like him because he doesn't like me and my friends."

I've got a solution to help you out. The way I figure it, there are 305,790,906 people in the United States right now. The stimulus bill your buddies in the Senate passed today costs $838 Billion bucks. Very few people are satisfied with the way you and your buddies want to spend those $838 billion buckaroos.

So, why don't you just split the $838 billion bucks between all of us 305,790,906 Americans? That's $2,740.43 per American. We're not really all that greedy. Let's round it to $2700 and you can keep $40.43. (You'd save $12,363,126,329.58 just by rounding down 40 bucks.)

Just give every American a check for $2,700 and tell them to spend it before you change your mind.

I've been thinking about what I would do with my check.

1. I would buy the Kindle 2: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation) for $359. (I'll even buy your books for it!)

2. I also want a new laptop. The Sony Vaio costs $1529.99.

(I've still got $811.01)

3. I would also invest in the local economy at the Spa at Oak Haven. Their Signature Series Package looks heavenly, and it only costs $480.

4. I would buy up 5 bottles of RareMinerals Purely Nourishing Facial Moisturizer because that stuff is AMAZING! That's $160, but there's a store near me that gives locals a 10% discount. That means I'd have $16 for lunch and dessert.

(I've still got $171.01.)

5. I'd have to go out to eat. Olive Garden has a very nice Black Tie Mousse Cake. I'll take a hundred bucks and tip well.

6. I gotta be honest. I'd take my last $71 to a local gas station to buy tickets from the Tennessee lottery. There are two benefits here: 1. I am investing in an opportunity to get more money with which I could continue to stimulate the economy. 2. I'm giving money to education in the state of Tennessee.

So I'll be waiting for the check. If you want to save on postage, just shoot me an email from the BlackBerry and I'll give you my bank info. Or we could just use PayPal if that works for you.

Don't worry, I'll help my husband spend his too.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Things We Teachers Carry

My thoughts on teachers and guns are in today's Knoxville News Sentinel.

Friday, February 6, 2009

They Caught Him

Julio Fernandez is spending some time as a guest of the city of Raleigh before he becomes a guest of Sevier County.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Current Addiction

Or How My Cell Phone Encourages My Writing

I love my MOTO Q. A few months ago I decided it was time to upgrade my cell phone. I'm not really a texter, but I kinda wanted to try a Smart Phone. I read up on it because I didn't want to pay a lot of money for something I wouldn't like. I leaned toward a BlackBerry at first, but then I noticed the Windows compatible phones. I really liked the fact that the Windows compatible phones have Word and OneNote. I went to the local U.S. Cellular store and fell in love with the lime MOTO Q. The sales lady told me to give it a week or so and then I'd like it. I was totally in love after a few hours.

I love this phone because I'm always in touch with the rest of the world and it eliminates boredom in many situations. I've had bronchitis the last couple of weeks, so I've spent several hours in doctors' offices. There have been a few days when I hardly felt like getting out of bed, and this phone let me email and work on a rough draft. I only had to move my thumbs.

That reminded me of my fiction writing in high school. To occupy myself (and my friends) in certain classes, I wrote short stories on my TI-something calculator. (That was in the late 90s before the days of cool cell phones and text messaging.) I would write and pass the calculator on to my friends to read.

In a sense I feel like my writing has come full circle. I've gone from writing on a calculator to a Smart Phone. But more people are reading the Smart Phone material. (I wrote my December column for the Knoxville News Sentinel on the MOTO Q.)

I think I'll go work on some writing projects that don't fit well on the MOTO Q.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Amnesty as Economic Stimulus

An amnesty would stimulate the economy? As pro-amnesty as I am, I just don't buy it.

What's your name? en espanol

My teaching schedule changed a few weeks ago. I'm currently teaching all Spanish I classes. I like Spanish I because it's a whole lot more fun than Spanish II. But the Spanish textbook writers get on my nerves. I question the amount of time they've spent in a classroom.
One of the first things new Spanish students need to know is how to ask someone's name and how to tell their own. All Spanish textbooks I've seen use the "como te llamas?" translation, which literally means "what do you call yourself?" But the books fail to give the literal translation, so students inevitably say "me llamo es" which makes any good Spanish teacher cringe. "Me llamo es" DOES NOT mean "my name is."
The correct way to talk about names:
Como te llamas? What do you call yourself?
Me llamo Kesi. I call myself Kesi.
Cual es tu nombre? What's your name?
Mi nombre es Kesi.
Quien eres? Who are you?
Yo soy Kesi. I am Kesi.
That's not so hard, is it?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mexican Kisses

Need a Valentine's Day date spot? Why not head to Mexico City to be part of the world's largest kiss?

Mexican Carlos Slim to Rescue the New York Times

A big American newspaper has to take a $250 million loan from a Mexican. We must really be in a recession.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Stimulated the Economy Today

After being snowed in and sick for the past week, I really needed to get out of the house today. I'm running low on makeup, so I decided to go to Pigeon Forge and spend a gift certificate I got for Christmas.

I could drive at the speed limit (and sometimes above) in Pigeon Forge today! Crossing traffic wasn't a big deal. Tourist season is over for a few weeks, maybe a couple months at most. I took advantage of the situation.

The esposo and I had lunch at The Blue Moose. I've heard great things about their wings, but the esposo wasn't impressed. My burger was okay, but not the best I've ever had.

Then I went to The Colour Bar and Spa in Walden's Landing to spend my gift certificate (and a little more). They sell Bare Minerals makeup. I love Bare Minerals because it doesn't feel like I've rubbed my face in a mud hole. I'm excited because they've got a new skin care line, but as my luck goes, they had just sold their last pump of moisturizer. The good news is that means another trip for me this week when it comes in.

The Colour Bar also sells Bumble and Bumble hair products. I do sometimes feel a little stingy when I spend more than $10 on shampoo, but it is so worth it. Their thickening spray is a miracle tool for girls with limp locks like mine.

Then I went to Books a Million. It's the only real bookstore in the county. And some days it really doesn't qualify. I picked up the Obamessiah's book,The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Vintage) and a couple of magazines. I also got a wooden puzzle contraption for the esposo. It kept him occupied while I went Belk, but I'm going to have to do some Googling to find out how to put it back together.

My main goal in Belk was to find some new sunglasses since I stepped on mine a few weeks ago. Everything in the store was on sale. Exept sunglasses. And I refuse, no matter how much the economy is depending on me, to spend $40 on cheap sunglasses.

The Belk trip wasn't a total waste. I did find a cute shirt and a pair of pants for less than $35. The pants only cost $11! Walmart pants cost more than that. The only problem is, every pair of black pants I tried on were long enough for 7 foot Amazonians. I'm going to have to learn how to hem because local seamstresses charge a small fortune.

So I'm proud of myself today. I did my patriotic part to help the economy, I stimulated my brain, and I exercised self control in three stores. It was a good day.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Google 411

Google now does 411. For free. That's the coolest thing I've seen all day.

Students' Opinions of Teachers

As a fourth year teacher, I've learned to be thick-skinned.

My job as a high school Spanish teacher is to prepare my students for college Spanish classes. (According to the state of Tennessee, that will change for current 8th graders.) So I don't really care if Spanish word order makes students mad or if they think Latin American geography is pointless. I present the material in a variety of ways that will help students learn. If students study, my class and those of my colleagues are not that difficult.

I take most of the complaining with a grain of salt. A certain amount of whining is to be expected from teenagers. I didn't love every assignment I was given in high school, and I would complain if I had to take Geometry right now. No one likes to hear this when they're doing something they don't like, but I believe that sometimes you have to do things you don't like is a good piece of advice for the real world. I didn't like college biology or anthropology, but I like that college degree they helped me earn.

I read Tuesday's Knoxville News Sentinel. I usually read it online, but I got a "real" paper on Tuesday. The KNS has recently reformatted the paper. Their weekly teen feature, Text Me, moved to the back of the section where it used to be, and they turned the front page of the section into School Matters. The headline of school matters caught my eye. So it made me curious about what they would run in Text Me to compliment that. (The format of the Text Me section is confusing, but worth a read.)

I'm really not surprised by teenagers much, but their responses shocked me. As a teacher, I am well aware of respect issues between teachers and teens, but I didn't know trust was such an issue.

Do you think teachers/administrators with a proper permit should be allowed to carry a gun to school? Why?
No, it's just doesn't sound safe to me. Some teachers might go crazy or something.

No, they could get mad and do something bad.
Absolutely not. If teachers carry guns, what is to prevent students from bringing them to school? And the fact that a teacher that doesn't like you may be carrying a gun is not a comforting thought.

Is this what students think about their teachers, or is this random sampling full of suspicious people? Do students worry about crazy teachers out to get them? While there are the Erin McLeans out there who disgrace all teachers, is there a reason students have this opinion of the average teacher?

What do real teens think?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sopa- The Easy Mexican Soup

I love soup this time of year. Mexican soups are about the only ones I'll eat. They have two different words for soup- caldo, which is usually a hearty broth, and sopa, a simple pasta based soup. I love sopa because it's super easy compared to most Mexican dishes and it's cheap.

The pastas used for sopa come in fun shapes. I prefer the smaller ones like stars and ABCs.
Moderna is the main brand of these. Most grocery stores and Wal-Mart sell these. Mexican stores usually sell them cheaper. In Dalton, GA, where the Mexican population is quite large, they sell them for 25 cents each.

Moderna pasta
3-4 Roma tomatoes, canned sauce is okay, but fresh tomatoes are best
clove of garlic
piece of onion
2 chicken bullion cubes

Blend tomatoes, garlic, onion, and chicken bullion cubes in blender.
In a small pot, heat small amount of Canola oil and add pasta. Stir until pasta is golden brown. Drain any excess oil.
Add mixture from blender.
Add water, abt 2-3 cups.
Salt as desired.
Bring to boil and let simmer until pasta is tender.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The First Snowfall of '09

I've experienced change this week. After several years of lackluster snowfall in Sevier County, we finally got some pretty white stuff. While we didn't get a lot of snow, it was still very pretty. And it's still laying around in a lot of shady places. There's an old saying here that snow that sticks around for a few days is just waiting for more snow.

Sofia, Tiger, and I had fun in it Monday.

Sofia wasn't sure whether or not she liked the strange white stuff. I threw her snowballs, but she got very upset when they disappeared on the ground. She tried to dig up the yard to find the balls, but luckily it snowed again and covered up her mess.

Tiger was much calmer about the whole situation.

Today, two days after the snowfall, there was plenty for Tig to lay in on the front porch.

Tig's preferred spot on the back porch. The end of the back porch is Tig's temporary home since his kennel was destroyed. He loves to stick his nose out and watch the snow land in his neighborhood.

A shot of the second round of Monday's snowfall from my cell phone.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm tired of the Obamessiah thing already

I know that is so very politically incorrect. I know I will be accused of being a racist. Race has nothing to do with it.

I have seen so many people on tv and read so many things on-line today about Obama being the answer to all our problems. Sure, he ran on a platform of change, but he's just a man. I hope to be surprised by some of the positive changes he succeeds in making in the next four years. I just don't think it's fair to ourselves or him to expect him to solve all of America's problems. Sure, he's in a Spiderman comic now, but he isn't the superhero so many want to make him out to be.

Call me crazy, but I'm not naive enough to believe that I no longer have to worry about putting gas in my car or paying a mortgage.

Someone who agrees.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A reminder for Twilight lovers

Amazon is now taking pre-orders for Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edition) which will be released on March 21st. I just ordered mine. It wasn't a great movie, but I still can't wait.

Something I've been watching

I've been watching Joel Rosenberg's blog lately. Rosenberg's books deal with the end times and the prophecy of Ezekial 38-39. While most of his books are fictional, there are several circumstances that have come to pass after he wrote about them.

I looked up his blog when Obama won the election in November. He had a very nice post about President-elect Obama.

I looked up his blog and added it to my Google Reader when the latest Israel and Gaza trouble began. Rosenberg has been in Israel for the last few weeks. His latest post is worth reading. I find it very interesting for Christians and non-believers alike.

A Sofia Sunday

Why I love Sofia:

Sofia is very talented, as you can tell. She's 11 months old now. She knows how to quench her thirst. She unscrews the cap by herself and gets the top of the bottle in her mouth. The challenge is currently getting more water into her mouth than she does on the floor. She doesn't really mind a big puddle of water on the floor because she can always lick it up.
Her new talent is standing upright on her hind legs with no support for about 10-15 seconds at a time. She loves to stand upright in her kennel with her front paws braced on the fencing. When she's inside and doesn't think I'm looking, she likes to brace the front paws up on the counter or table to see what's out to eat.
But this past week, she pulled herself upright to check out the counter without getting close enough to brace her paws on it. She did it on two separate occaisons. She stands there and looks around for 10-15 seconds. I've been giving her a bit too much people food. I think that's confusing her. She assumes that two-legged, upright creatures get to eat her favorites like corn bread and green beans and roast and chicken all the time, so she needs to be an upright creature inside too.
The other night I started Made of Honor with Patrick Dempsey while Sofia was in the house with me. It was just us girls and the tv. She was having fun rolling on the carpet and rubbing her side against the couch. Until Patrick Dempey's character, dressed as Bill Clinton, climbs into bed with an unsuspecting woman who was not the intended Monica Lewinsky. The unsuspecting woman screams in the movie. The unsuspecting Sofia jumped up growling. She barked and growled and ran around the house to the door. She demanded to be let outside. She sniffed the driveway a minute to assure herself that there was no threat. Then she came happily back inside. Now that's a guard dog.

A fellow lab lover

I enjoyed this sad article in today's Knoxville News Sentinel by fellow community columnist Stan Giles. It makes me want to beat up careless drivers who hit dogs and the stupid Chinese companies that poisoned America's pets. Stan had a nicer take on the issue.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Southerner's To-Do List

Southern Living has a to-do list for southerners. Some of them, like NASCAR and rafting, hold absolutely no appeal for me. I have always wanted to go to Savannah for St. Patrick's Day. I can't believe the price of these sweet grass baskets. All those pics make me want to go to Charleston and Savannah!

Best Weekend Getaway

Southern Living has named Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg the Best Weekend Getaway. I haven't read the article yet, but WBIR gives a preview. For locals, "getaway" has another meaning from April-January 2. Get away is what we do when we stay as far from the Parkway as possible during tourist season.

This whole tourist thing is a complex issue. I think I'll deal with it after I read the article.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Movies every gringo should see

It's perfect weather to spend a little time curled up on the couch watching movies. I think movies are great for learning more about the culture of other people. Good movies can totally transplant viewers in their worlds for two hours. I have a few favorite Latino movies that do just that.
  1. My Family is probably my favorite Latino movie. It's definitely in one of my top 10 faves of all time and genres. It totally encompasses almost all of the issues Mexicans face in the U.S. I love the history it unveils and the way it portrays the side of the story that we gringos aren't used to.
  2. Edward James Olmos is THE staple Latino actor in Hollywood. The great thing about him is his diversity. I love him as Paco, the narrator of My Family. He was the inspiring teacher in Stand and Deliver. I love to hate him as dictator Rafael Trijillo in In the Time of the Butterflies based on Julia Alvarez's book In the Time of the Butterflies. He was Selena's dad in Selena . He was the hard-core head of a Mexican prison gang (view discretion is advised) in American Me. Most recently I loved his work as Jess, the anti-immigrant, Mexican-American patriarch of the Gonzalez family of East L.A. in the PBS television series American Family - The Complete First Season. (Watch one episode and I promise you won't believe it's from PBS!)
  3. I recently saw Under the Same Moon. I cried during that movie and movies rarely make me cry. It does a great job of portraying the hopelessness of our current immigration system.
  4. A Day Without a Mexican is a great movie for poking fun at the U.S.' ridiculous immigration system and the anti-immigrant phobias of the masses.

Have fun viewing and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Social Studies Education, Please

The current trend in education is an obsession with math and science. I call it an obsession rather than a focus because that is all teachers hear about. We have to raise achievement in those areas so that our students can compete with those from China and Japan. (I AM not going to let myself get started on that.)

I am well aware of the fact that most people consider all Latinos to be "illegal Mexicans from Guatemala and Honduras" as repeated in one of my favorite movies, A Day Without a Mexican.
I guess I really hadn't thought about it, but I learned a new stereotype tonight.

I was in line at a local gas station where I witnessed the following scene:
Clerk: Lays cigarettes down on counter and tells Bubba the total.
Bubba: Wow, 'at's a lot cheaper than them A-rabs.
Clerk: Which A-rabs?
Bubba: Those down the road there.
Clerk: Rolls his eyes and shakes his head. They gotta charge that so they can make money to send home.

Sometimes I just have to keep my mouth shut because a fight, verbal or otherwise, in a gas station is a no-win situation, no matter how correct I am. It wasn't the totally ignorant reference to A-rabs that bothered me so much, or the way that so many people think "furners" come here just to send money home.

Those "A-rabs" aren't really Arabs at all. The owners of the gas station down the road are Indian. I didn't want to explain the difference in Native American Indians and Indians from India, the country. Next time, I'll drive on down the road to them when I need gas.

This is why politicians like Dick Cheney make stupid remarks about Appalachia and big, fancy city folk make tv shows like Outsider's Inn. I live in Sevier County, Tennessee, which prides itself on being a prime tourist destination. If a tourist had been standing in line behind me today, I do not think they would have left with a very positive opinion of Dolly Parton's hometown.

I was in a local bookstore over the weekend and I looked at Ann Coulter's Guilty: Liberal . I don't agree with Ann on much, but I think she hit the nail on the head on one topic. On the book jacket, there is an excerpt in which she states that 7th graders know more about putting a condom on a banana than they do geography. I totally agree.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I Heart W

Okay, so I voted for W. Two times. I don't agree with many of his policies. Human rights in the U.S. have suffered since 9/11. He's been a lame duck since Obama and McCain began their campaigns.

But I'm gonna miss him. I don't think Obama will be quite as entertaining.

When I'm having a tough day at work, I am going to start finding websites like this one to lighten my mood. I think W can help me survive those tough days with teenagers.

Recent Reads

I found The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Story to Screenplay in my local bookstore last week. I've finished Fitzgerald's original story, and I doubt I will read the screenplay.

Fitzgerald's story was okay. It was definitely shorter than the movie. This is one of those rare cases where I think the movie is better than the book. There are a lot of things that were changed for the movie, but it would be almost impossible not to change a lot when adapting a short story.

I've also just finished reading Confessions of a Shopaholic (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Sophie Kinsella. The book was okay. I found Rebecca Bloomwood annoying at times. I'll probably read the other books out of curiosity if I find them at McKay's, the best used bookstore in the world.

I've seen the previews for the movie several times now. Judging from the previews, I don't think the movie will be very true to the book. But that might not be a bad thing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What I want to say to liberals who would tell me I'm wrong

One thing that really bugs me these days is people trying to make me feel inferior, uneducated, ignorant, or redneck because of certain views I hold. Most of my confession could fit into that category.

I had a total ah-ha moment a few weeks ago when reading Megan McCafferty's Second Helpings: A Novel. Jessica Darling decides to attend a protest at Columbia Univeristy with Paul Parlipiano and his friends. Paul graduated a year before Jessica and was the object of her obsession for a very long time until she learned that he is gay. Jessica is excited about the protest and a chance to hang out with Paul and his friends.

Jessica gets her bubble busted when she gets there and Paul immediately starts criticizing her GAP jeans and preference for Coke. He is appalled that she doesn't know the inhumane conditions of workers in GAP factories and the corporate imperialism of Coca-Cola. He declares ignorance is not an excuse.

Jessica finally gets enough and responds- Paul and his friends are too busy protesting everything that they don't stand for anything.

Jessica: "I'm entitled to my opinion."
Paul: "Not if your opinion is wrong."
Jessica: "It's my opinion. By definition it can't be wrong."
Paul: "Well, it is."
Second Helpings: A Novel by Megan McCafferty p269-272

I feel like that's the conversation I'm having with the media and liberals who find my opinions not quite sophisticated and enlightened enough. During the presidential election, the media sent the message that if you didn't support Obama and change, your opinion was wrong and didn't matter. It's okay for athiests, LGBTs, and all the special interest groups to voice their opinions, but conservatives are accused of being close-minded bigots if they defend their points of view. When we demand a voice for all, let's not exclude those whose voice is contrary to our own.

I Confess

In the spirit of the January issue of Skirt! magazine, I'm going to do some confessing of my own.

10 reasons many people would consider me uncool:

1. I like Sarah Palin. I think this clip gives a pretty accurate portrayl of the situation. I like Sarah Palin because I can more readily identify with her than Joe Biden. As a woman, I have much more in common with Sarah Palin than Hillary Clinton. Palin definitely fits in better in my neck of the woods than Clinton, and apparently others feel the same.

2. I would let Brad Paisley check me for Ticks. Country music isn't considered cool by many people, but I love his songs.

3. I don't like alcohol. I think it tastes the way I imagine motor oil would taste. Plus, I really don't like throwing up and that's definitely not my idea of fun with friends. At the risk of sounding like a public service announcement for youth, I prefer to remember where I've been and what I've done.

4. I have recently had a crush on a 17 year old vampire and a former druggie/male slut turned reformed philosopher. Guys who want relationship pointers should meet Edward Cullen and Marcus Flutie. (I hope I don't need to provide a link to Edward Cullen.)

4. I am a conservative Christian, which has a lot to do with number 1. I agree with Rick Warren's religious views, and I believe he is a good choice to deliver the invocation at the inauguration.

5. I am not a good judge of sexual orientation. I worked retail when I was in high school. I worked with one assistant manager for months and didn't realize he was gay until a co-worker told me. I went to the guy's apartment for a store party and saw a curio cabinet of Precious Moment's figurines and thought it was wierd he was keeping those for his mom. He was upset with the guy who told me. He kept it from me and an older co-worker because I was too young and innocent and she was too staid and respectable to know.

6. I am not convinced that Obama can change the world. I didn't hear him talk specifics too much. Hopefully, he can change at least a small part of our country.

7. I like to listen to George W's speeches. It's better than SNL.

8. I spent 15 minutes in lock-up. When I was working as a court interpreter, I accompanied a child protective services worker, a female who was my age, to the county jail to complete paperwork with a Spanish-speaking mother who had lost custody of her child. There were a lot of official visitors that day and the guards were out of room in the usual meeting spots, so they locked us in the church room with the woman and a walkie-talkie. After about 15 minutes, we had the paperwork complete and started trying to call a guard to let us out. It didn't work. After a panicked few minutes, I finally got a signal on my cell phone and called the jail. There line was busy. I had weak signal issues again. We began waving our arms in front of the security camera. No response. I finally got a signal again and called the court clerks office to tell them to use one of their secret numbers to call the jail and tell them to free the child protective service worker and the interpreter. Five minutes later, a jailer strolled in laughing, saying that a fellow jailer must have given us the radio with low batteries. I didn't do many jail visits after that.

9. I love fast cars. In high school I demonstrated the superior speed of Casper, my white Pontiac Sunfire, over my male friends' cars. A Pontiac Trans Am is my dream car.

10. I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Dream Act. I believe that the current immigrants in this nation are not unlike those of previous generations who come here to seek a better life for themselves and their children. I do not believe that children should be condemned for the actions of their parents.

Am I totally unpopular now? Anyone else want to confess?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Marcus Flutie: Reformed Bad Boy turned Philosopher

I met Marcus Flutie a few weeks ago in Sloppy Firsts: A Novel
by Megan McCafferty. I had seen these books in bookstores before, but I hadn't had time to check them out. After reading Writer's Digest's February feature on Megan McCafferty, I decided I had to make time to read Sloppy Firsts.

Marcus Flutie is the archetype bad boy who reforms and woos the class brainiac. Over the course of the series, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, and Fourth Comings, Marcus develops as a complex character. Marcus and Jessica, the narrator of the books, develop a relationship junior and senior years of high school, go off to college, get first jobs, and grow up over the course of the series. The final book in the series, Perfect Fifths, will be released in April.

Marcus Flutie is better than Edward Cullen because:
1. he grows up
2. he isn't perfect
3. he doesn't stalk his girlfriend
4. he is a more complex character
5. he doesn't unreasonably raise women's expectations of the real men in their lives

I can't wait for Perfect Fifths to see how this series winds up!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Change and Immigration

A history of immigration to U.S.

Change and Immigration

A history of U.S. immigration

Why do these things happen to me?

No, this isn't the aftermath of a tornado. Tiger's kennel didn't survive the torrential rains we've had lately. It seems like it has rained almost incessantly since Christmas.

As I was getting ready to leave for work this morning, my husband came and told me that Tiger, our unplanned pup, had a little problem. My husband said his kennel had fallen down. I figured he really meant that the tarp covering his kennel had fallen from all the rain. He came back a few minutes later and told me to go look outside because Tiger's kennel had really fallen in the rain. Well, he was right.
So before we could go to work, we had to extricate Tiger. I figured he had escaped and was prowling the neighborhood, but on closer inspection I saw that a bar had fallen on top of his house and blocked the entrance. Thankfully, Tiger was inside his house during the collapse and was protected from falling debris. My husband had to lift the kennel so I could pull his log cabin dog house out. We put his house under a tree and chained him to the tree so we could get to work.

What I really want to know is how Sofia, my chocolate lab, could have let him stay in there all night. If a squirrel moves too close to her kennel, she barks. If a deer dares to move in the woods, she barks. I'm not talking normal barks. Sofia goes into territorial defense mode. So why didn't she bark when Tiger's kennel fell on him?

I thought that was the end of the story. I got home from work this afternoon to find Tiger out in the pouring rain looking at me. The silly dog looked like a drowned rat. I had to let him in the house to dry him off. He was so happy, he decided to climb on my lap while I towel dried him.
He's currently trying to sleep as I type, but he keeps waking up every time my heating unit cuts on. (He's a bit of a 'fraidy cat, but that's okay after his traumatic night.) When the Mr. gets home, we have to go back out in the rain to arrange some kind of temporary shelter.

Why not just let him spend the night inside? I, the owner of two dogs, am allergic to dogs and cats. So once we get a shelter up, I'll have to vacuum the whole house so I don't wheeze all night.

But, I think Tig's worth it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I've Been Unfaithful

There's this one I've known for several years now, but now there's this new, exciting one around, and I haven't been faithful to the old one.

Don't worry, my marriage isn't in trouble. I'm talking about Mexican restaurants.

For several years now, I've been going to La Carreta Mexican Restaurant. It's kinda like my Cheer's. All the waiters know my name, my dad and brother, and have witnessed a lot of my dates with my husband. We speak Spanish together, complain about my fellow American diners who tell them that they don't serve "real" guacamole, and I give every day business advice. When I call in to-go orders, the waiters always know it's me. The only problem is, their food isn't always delicious these days.

I heard a few weeks ago that there is a new Mexican restaurant in town, El Paso Mexican Restaurant. I was intruiged, but I didn't really want to go at first. It just felt kind wrong. But I broke down and went with the esposo one night. The atmosphere is very cool. It is more chic and classy than corny, stereotypical Mexican. And most of the food I've tried is very good. I normally like something a little more "authentic" than quesadillas, but their quesadillas con pollo are to die for.

So after a 2-3 week absence at La Carreta, I just went to pick up supper. The waiters were asking about my job, Christmas, and asking where my brother is since it's been a while since he was in. And to add to my guilty conscience, supper was so good.

I think I'm going to continue two-timing my fave Mexican restaurant. If I were Catholic, I'd probably have to go to confession over this.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

An American-Mexican

I have come to consider myself an American-Mexican. That’s not a typo. I am intentionally calling myself an American-Mexican instead of a Mexican-American. In the world of hyphenated identities, the first adjective refers to the ethnicity or race a person is born into or most identifies with. The second adjective refers to the new nationality or ethnicity being assumed.

I put the American first because it is my nationality, my birthplace, and my heritage. I spent the first twenty years of my life knowing very little of the world beyond our borders. Sure, I was well read, in college, and aware of current events, but I didn’t really pay attention to the every day lives of those not fortunate enough to have been born in the United States.

When I changed my major from creative writing to Spanish, it was because I wanted to be able to talk to the Latinos moving into East Tennessee. I wanted to enable communication between my fellow Americans and the Latino immigrants moving here. When I realized that real people could understand my Spanish, I didn’t really mind conjugating verbs.

Many people assume I met my husband and then learned Spanish. I was in my last semester of college when I met my husband. I was teaching an English as a Second Language class at my church and his two younger brothers were in my class. (He was in the advanced class.) We dated for a couple years while I worked as a court interpreter and began teaching high school Spanish.

Over the last five years, I have had many experiences that make me feel the need to add the Mexican part at the end of my identity label. I’ve learned how to cook Mexican food from a lady from Michoacán (and it’s hard to get much more Mexican than Michoacán). I am very comfortable with Mexican slang and tend to speak with a Mexico City dialect. I absolutely love Mexican telenovelas (soap operas). I’ve got an iPod full of real Mexican music. As evidenced by my blog at the Knoxville News Sentinel, I can more articulately support comprehensive immigration reform than most Latinos.

So I think I’ll add the subtitle to this blog and let you know a little bit more about a bicultural existence in the hills of East Tennessee.

Another One Bites the Dust

First Beto Gonzales, now Bill Richardson

Saturday, January 3, 2009

North Carolina Follows Tennessee's Lead

North Carolina Follows Tennessee's Lead

In Defense of Twilight

I enjoyed this defense of the Twilight series. I've read a lot of critics who relegate these books to the teeny bopper pile and berate Stephenie Meyer for daring to write books that promote abstinence and other anti-feminist values. I'm tired of the only acceptable books being those that buy into the Sex and the City lifestyle.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sarah Palin a Good Neighbor?

Sarah Palin Wanted for Neighbor

New Year's Eve 2008: Mexican Style

I embrace authentic Mexican celebrations. There are only a few times a year that we celebrate "the way they do back home." Authentic celebrations, the way they do them back home, usually involve a whole lot of work. Homemade tamales and carne asada are okay for certain celebrations, but the big celebrations involve killing an animal. If the men don't get to kill it themselves, it really isn't "the way they do it back home."

We haven't done Christmas Mexican style since 2006, the Christmas that inspired my short story. This year I stuck to a lamb from the grocery store for Christmas, but the brothers-in-law wanted to do an authentic New Year's Eve celebration.

Thankfully, I wasn't as involved in the New Year's mole as I was in the 2006 Christmas lamb. Mole is a special salsa made from several chiles, spices, and chocolate, among other things. (To my gringa eyes, they use everything but the kitchen sink.) This salsa is then used to smother chicken or turkey (hence the animals that were slaughtered).

Over the last few years, I have gotten tougher than I used to be. I didn't flinch when my brother-in-law slit that lamb's throat. I didn't run and squeal when my brother-in-law chased me around the kitchen with the skinned lamb's head. I surpressed my gag reflex when Tiger threw up on me in the car as I drove him home from the vet's office after his "surgery." I didn't flinch as the guys killed the chickens and the turkey for New Year's Eve.

But I after watching the senora wallow the dead animal carcasses all over the kitchen sink, I decided that was one traditional dish I would not be partaking of.