The Sixth Issue of The Cat 5 Review

Who Rules The World VAA_Allyzah Cabugao

(Who Rules the World by Allyzah Cabugao)

The Cat 5 Review is a publication of literature and the arts composed by students at Lone Star College–North Harris.

Volume 4, Issue 1
Fall 2017

Gemini Wahhaj, Executive Editor

Gary Connors, Art Editor
Steve Rydarowski, Poetry Editor
Norma Drepaul, Editor
Mark Barnes, Editor
D.W. Puller, Editor

“The Dream Trip” by Katherine Porras

“She Is” by Albizuri Melissa

“My Melody” by Christopher Edmonson

“Twenty-Nine Palms” by Garrett Jones

“Camp Pendleton” by Blanca Buruca

“Mi Familia” by Reyna Pena

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The Sixth Issue of The Cat 5 Review

The Dream Trip by Katherine Porras

The Cocuy National Park in Colombia is located in the center-east of the country between the Boyaca and Arauca regions. The Mountain range of Cocuy has the largest Colombian glacier, and the lower limit of the snow is 4.800 mt in height. This place is amazing because it has the highest peak of the Andes mountain range in the country. In the summer of 2015, I decided to take a trip by myself to experience the snow in the Cocuy National Park. I experienced many powerful moments.

My first step was searching for information on the internet. I read many reviews and suggestions to prepare for the trip. The best advice are: “Prepare your body to climb high mountains, wear comfortable winter clothes and contact an excursion company to be safe.”  I followed the instructions and prepared for the trip for two months. I believed and trusted in myself, but my mom kept saying “It’s very dangerous, so don’t go alone.”

One Friday at midnight, I met the tour company at the bus station. We traveled 9 or 10 hours from Bogota city to Cocuy town. We arrived on Saturday morning. I was very excited because in the distance I could see bright snow covering the peak of mountain range. In my hotel, I met Mrs Marleny and her son. They were my hosts during the tour. My guide Carlos was standing outside the room.

“Come on Kat!” he said “Today starts the adventure!”

That day, he taught me the technique to walk long distances and introduced me to the beautiful view of the paramo ecosystem.

The real adventure started on Sunday at 4 am. The cold was penetrating my body.

“To get warm we have to start walking,” Carlos told me.

We walked for about 2 hours. I ate my breakfast, and we viewed the extraordinary dawn appear in the distance. We continued the tour on horseback for one more hour. I was very impressed with the beauty of the landscape. We started climbing the mountain. Suddenly,  a small river of pure water, lakes lagoons, and the special valley of frailejon trees appeared. I was amazed. We climbed the rocky mountain for a few hours more, but we still didn’t see any snow. Finally, I saw near me the whitest white color I had ever seen in my life.

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We arrived at the snow border at 1:00 pm. Carlos and I stood on a famous stone thats called “El diablo” (The devil). I took it all in. In that moment, I accomplished my goal, my dream.

Suddenly I heard, “Get ready to head down the mountain and watch your steps.”

We came down from the snowy area. It started to rain hard. My winter clothes were insufficient to keep me dry, and I got hypothermia. When we arrived at the hotel, the guide and his mom saved me from dying frozen. That night was very difficult for me because I felt very bad. I was very cold, I didn’t have company, and I was scared and lonely.

I´ll never forget that trip. I experienced an amazing place. The beauty of Cocuy mountain range is awesome. The snow is bright and the view  of the landscape is unexpected. I learned so many things about high mountain trips: that it’s an excellent idea to follow all the tips and suggestions and that it’s necessary to prepare your body for extreme climate conditions. On that trip, I realized my dream to discover the snow. But the high mountains can be a beautiful and dangerous place at the same time.

The Dream Trip by Katherine Porras

She Is by Albizuri Melissa

Attention all (speak up)― I’m being oppressed. I’ve gone through a lifelong struggle in different realms of oppression: child of an immigrant, brown skinned, Hispanic… female. People in each of these categories are stigmatized on a daily. However, those categories do not define those within them. Now, I’m here to say that despite the negativity projected on me based on my background, my gender does not define me, my worth, or my abilities.

I started playing instruments in the seventh grade. I started with the piano and later went onto the flute through middle school. When I got into high school, my band director started by saying if anyone wanted to play any instrument he’d help them as long as they’d do their part to learn. I found his statements to be true. In my time in his band program, I became fluent in multiple instruments: Alto Sax, Sousaphone, and Drums. I found that drums were the love of my musical life. The vibrations sent through my body when I got a good shot on a snare while playing set, or the deep gut rumbling of hitting my zones on the bass drum were feelings I felt and would long for whenever I was not playing drums.

My sophomore year of high school is when I officially started playing drums. I started off in the fall marching season on the fourth largest bass drum ― it weighing about forty-five pounds. The WGI (Winter Guard International) season I swapped to the smallest twenty pound bass drum weighing the same as a snare. That season I actually also got noticed as “Most Outstanding Member.” The following season we had a major injury happen to one of our players. Our bass five player would be out for the whole season. I was next in line ― the drum weighed 60 pounds.

So much weight was not easy to carry at first, and I experienced back spasms on a daily basis at the very beginning. The first time I carried the drum for a full three hours I teared up, mostly to get through the pain. I later found out our center snare ― a boy ― told the instructors he didn’t think I could handle it. Ding one on people looking down on my physical/drumming abilities because I’m female. As the season continued, I made it a point to be the best. I was always practicing and never let weakness show as I carried the drum. Instructors noticed and told the drumline to take after me ― this upset most of the males.

To minimize the pain, my papa made me extra padding for my harness, and it was never much of an issue to anybody. Again, I was carrying the heaviest instrument in the band. Our final performance of the season, the center snare had an issue with me again ― complaining to the lead instructor, “I don’t understand! Just because Melissa is a girl she gets extra padding.” The instructor defended me and insulted the snare drummer at the same time, “ She is the most badass out of all of you; she never complains, she rarely messes up, and she never gives up. You just don’t know what goes into carrying that much weight on your shoulders.” He shut-up right then and there.

[Un]fortunately, weeks later I moved to Texas. I felt like I’d lost everything important to me. I began to eat… a lot! It was Christmas break and I was away from the people who meant the most to me. I figured I’d try to be proactive since I’d be going to a new school. I typed up emails to who would later become my band directors. However, I never sent them.

My first day of school I made it clear to my counselor that my main goal was to be on the school’s drumline. Right then and there she took me to go meet the band directors. Oh boy, was I nervous. I explained to them my previous experiences.

After I was finished speaking, one director replied, “Girls don’t do that here.”

My heart dropped. I’d done it before… so why couldn’t they just give me that chance to show them.

In the following weeks, I just let everything go: my grades, my social life, myself. After posting a Facebook post, I received an overwhelming amount of support in favor of at least trying to gain a spot on the drumline. I decided I would try, not to please or prove to anyone that I could, because I already knew I could. But I did it for myself. I needed to get back into my right state of mind. Drumming could help me to do that.

I began utilizing my seventh period to practice drumming, technique, marking time, as well as basic fundamentals. I even got members of the actual drumline to help me out! The percussion director definitely took notice, and passed it along to other directors. I was not about to let up.

One day I decided to speak to the marching director, a female. I state her gender because she didn’t believe in me ― her fellow female. I pleaded for the opportunity to be given a shot for the drumline but she would not let up. She said I would march flute, and flute only. She went as far as to even stating, “You will never be on drumline.” I was devastated ― I called my mom, and went home to begin stuffing my face with food.

I probably gained about twenty pounds in about five months of living in Texas. Extremely unhealthy decisions are what I was constantly making. I even went as far as making the wrong friends and doing some regrettably unhealthy things. Don’t get me wrong ― what they choose to put into their bodies is totally their choice, but as for me… it’s not my scene. After that lapse, I chose not to feel sorry for myself any longer. I knew what I was to do.

I dove straight back into it after a few weeks of self-pity. I came back to drumming better than ever before and I wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way. As a matter of fact, I was going straight to the head of the music department! Mr. Herbert is what they called him — he’d never really settled with me right; however, I wasn’t going to let him intimidate me. I told him my plan detail by detail and he let me know that he would allow me to try out for the drumline, but if I didn’t make it there would be no place for me in the marching band.

The weeks followed and the audition process began— I was the only girl in a testosterone fueled audition room. Oh boy, were these boys intimidated! The percussion director was going on exclaiming, “She’s a girl and she’s still better than you guys!” As if I couldn’t be! A lot of them were, as they say,… hating on me. IN THEIR FACE BECAUSE I MADE IT!

I continued through the season and became one of their best members. My motto was always practice the way I perform. One would never believe who noticed― “Ready, Halt!” shouted the FEMALE director. Glancing at me, she began, “There’s one person I see here that’s always putting her all forward. She never lets up, and that person is Melissa Albizuri right here.” She went on and even went as far as to hug me, also stating, “Everyone be like Melissa, be a Melissa.” She’d noticed, and now more than ever, people viewed me as an example.

I had finally felt like I had made it and I was so happy. Months later I was able to sit down with the female director and let her know just how she made me feel. In my story she’d been a major “villain” as I put it. I even told her, “You’re a teacher, and you’re supposed to believe in your students… I felt you never believed in me.” She began to cry and apologize profusely. She stated that in her twenty-plus years of teaching she never wanted to make a student feel that way. The way she did me.

Anyways, I let bygones be bygones. At the end of the year I was noticed as the “Best Marching Percussionist.” I’d done it as I knew I could. I hadn’t let anyone stand in my way!

Although I do not need to prove myself to anyone, I will be a tax on all who choose to partake in stigmatizing those who are different or they’d just feel are lesser than them― something that happens to many all too often as it happened to me. Moving past trying experiences is what I’ve found myself to be good at. In this experience, which led me down the dark roads, what could be described as depression and a major eating disorder, I was able to overcome all obstacles and ultimately pave a road for females to come in that particular environment.

Who am I? Someone who doesn’t give up, someone who can, and someone who will.

She Is by Albizuri Melissa

My Melody by Christopher Edmonson

Searching for my voice in a sea of musical notes

swimming against the current to find

my own melody. I’m free.

Within this source, my heart dances

to the bass of its drumbeat.

(double-sharp, double-sharp).

Intervals play on me

diving deeper into their blue undertones.

 

Searching and searching for my pitch

in a sea of musical keys

swimming for my life to find

my own melody. I say I’m free.

Within this harmonic range, my soul

dances to its  pulse

(whole-note, whole-note).

Intervals play on me,

gasping for air. Who will I be if I dare

not to be ME.

My Melody by Christopher Edmonson

Twenty-Nine Palms by Garrett Jones

I lived in a small town in the mountains called Twenty-nine Palms. It was a very quiet city where the most you could hear was cars beeping their horns because the line for the only McDonald was so long you could take a five-hour nap and still the lines wouldn’t move. The one thing that made the town so amazing was all the military trucks going up and down the streets. The city was a military town, so every morning at 5 AM you would see trucks the size of 18-wheelers, tan and green camouflage jeeps, and the van filled with different kinds of marines, and I was one of them.

I was Cpl Garrett Jones living in a town way in the mountains, as in, if you look at the only thing you will see is mountains filled with tons of sandy everywhere. Mountains bigger than most buildings in the town. Once in a while, you see marines climbing to the top to leave their mark in life. I climbed the biggest hill they had on the base. It was called Baby Jesus. When I got the top, there was nothing but empty desert land for miles. It made it seem that we were far away from everyone and no one could find us, but really this was close to all the major cities.

If climbing a mountain was not the hard part of the day, all the PT (physical training) would kick my butt. Every morning around 4 AM, my platoon would be meeting at an open track to start our run. The track went on for miles and had a lot of twists and turns, and every half mile it would be a pull-up bar or an inclined sit up bar. We would take off when there was nothing but darkness and end when the sun was high in the sky. My whole platoon would be drenched from head to toe with sweat, gasping for air because we ran so far and so fast. When the P.T ended, it always made us stronger and better.

After a long and hard morning of working out I would shit, shower, and shave and head to work. I worked in a warehouse half the size of Walmart, filled with high-end military gear. My job was to give marines things they need for combat. One time, my whole unit filled and over thousand marines came to the warehouse all at one time to get special clothing for a deployment to Okinawa, Japan. It was an easy job and a very repetitive job and anyone could do it. The most excitement I would get out of the job was when it was a slow day and all my coworkers would get together and have fun in the warehouse.

My coworkers were like my brothers I never had. We all lived in this small town so we got very close. Every weekend we would head down the hill to major and hang out. One time three of my coworkers and I drove three hours to Las Vegas to party and gamble. My coworker put five hundred on the Russian roulette table and bet all on black 21.  We told him it was a bad idea and he should pull back on his bid, but he felt like it was a sign that he could win it all. We all watched the ball spin around the table, everyone holding his breath. The table finally started to slow down, and we all stared at the ball as it bounced from number to number. The number bounced from numbers 24 to 8 and finally 21. We all jumped for joy and crazy: my coworker had won a bunch of money. We couldn’t have had a better trip.

My military lifestyle was very fun and crazy. I saw many things and met a lot of people. It was a good life and taught me how to grow up and be a man that knows how to take care of my business. Most people couldn’t live the life I lived and I would not push anyone to lived it unless you are mentally and physically ready. I myself cannot wait to go back to Twenty-nine Palms and see how it has changed.

Twenty-Nine Palms by Garrett Jones

Camp Pendleton by Blanca Buruca

Driving North on the I-5 in Southern California’s coast, there are two views you can’t miss. To the left, you’ll be in awe by the panoramic view of the blue ocean mirroring the luminous sun. If you look to the right, you’ll drive about twenty miles of undeveloped hillside where the largest Marine Corps base on the west coast is located.

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Before entering through the main gate, you’ll either be greeted with a courteous smile or bluntly told to pull aside for further inspection. Paradise is a continuous desert road with hills, towering palm trees, and an occasional rattle snake slithering in the middle of the road. We share the road with different vehicles. It’s not rare to see a soccer mom driving her minivan next to a humvee, a seven ton truck, or even a LVSR 16/870. Highly explosive munition trainings can shake up a house. Loud booms all due to mortar fire can be heard up to fifty miles away. That’s what people who live on base refer to as the sounds of freedom. It is a training base, but it also houses many military families. Camp Pendleton is like a small diverse private town with a beautiful front row sunset view.

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Camp Pendleton is about the size of the state of Rhode Island with different housing areas throughout base. Housing is assigned based on eligibility and the service member’s rank. There’s officers’ housing, which is private and gated. The officers usually get the best housing area on Camp Pendleton because it is right next to the ocean. Living by the ocean is a big deal because most houses don’t have air conditioning, so they rely on the ocean’s breeze for cooling during the hot weather. Higher ranks are Officers and Staff NCO Marines E6 and above. Their houses are bigger and newly renovated with spacious floor plans, three to four bedrooms, and no attached neighboring walls. They have walk-in closets, dual sink bathrooms, large backyards, and double car garages. Junior enlisted marines live in two or three-bedroom, town-home style housing with small backyards. It’s located inland and further away from the ocean where it can get ten to fifteen degrees hotter in the summer. The houses are smaller with razor thin walls. You can pretty much join your neighbor’s conversation. Street parking can be a hassle for those families with more than one car. Diane and her family live in a decent housing area at Camp Pendleton. “Living on base is fine,” she says. “This particular base, I’m not too fond of because of the desert and canyons. The giant spiders and snakes in my backyard scare me. Living at Camp Pendleton has been an experience. We’ve had it all, but I think we learn to be content with whatever you have. Our family is always happy to make it our home.” Living on base is adequate for those with limited income and it’s a personal decision that depends on personal circumstances.

Hundreds of military families reside at Camp Pendleton from all walks of life. There are people from the East Coast, Midwest, and the South. An average amount of time for those who live on base is about three years. To some people, it may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t. It’s difficult to make friends because families move so often. I made a wonderful friend while living in Georgia. Her name is Monique. She is Guyanese originally from Vegas, Nevada. Her husband, Giuseppe, is Puerto Rican and Italian from Cleveland, Ohio. Both of our husbands worked at the same recruiting station near Atlanta. When her husband’s recruiting duty was over, they moved to California. Two years later, my husband received his permanent change of station orders to Camp Pendleton, and I was so thrilled because I already knew my friend Monique was living there. Unfortunately, her family only had a year left before they had to move again.

She was my only friend at the time. We would go check out local restaurants and dessert bars based on their high Yelp reviews. We both agreed that not all good reviews are true. When my husband was gone for weeks to the field for training, I would hang out at her house, watch TV, and drink wine. Monique knew well the dreary feeling of walking into an empty apartment, that’s why she would always invite me over so I wouldn’t feel alone. My husband and I got to spend Thanksgiving at their home. We got to hang out one last time at the Marine ball and had so much fun. Military families hardly get to go back home and spend holidays with their own families. The friends we make become like our family. It was bittersweet on the day I went over to her house and saw those brown moving boxes everywhere. It was moving day again. I realized that once she moved out, I wouldn’t have anyone to hang out with anymore. However, I was excited for her because they were moving to an actual paradise, Hawaii.

The Marine Corps birthday ball is the most formal social event Marines celebrate in November. Ball season is also a time of the year that the spouses anxiously look forward to because they get to dress up in beautiful fancy gowns. It’s like going to prom but for adults. I used to get excited to go dress shopping, but shopping alone isn’t as fun. I saw a post on the Armed Forces YMCA Facebook page where they were seeking for volunteers for their dress giveaway event. In my attempt to make new friends, I built the courage to break out of my comfort zone and signed up. I didn’t sign up for a free dress. I took it as an opportunity to mingle and possibly meet other wives to hang out with. These dress giveaways are very popular among young wives where hundreds of them show up for the event. They offer a sense of community where you can meet and interact with other wives who are also preparing for the ball. Unfortunately for me, out of the hundreds of faces that I came across, I only interacted with two other ladies. I think trying to make friends as an adult is hard. You can meet people either from work, volunteering, or from school. At least, for me, I want to build a friendship with someone who is loyal, that I can trust. I don’t feel discouraged because I know there will be future opportunities to attend other events.

Life on base can be simple. You have to remember to keep yourself out of trouble. You have to learn acronyms and abbreviations as second language. Military time always confuses me. If I ask for the time, my husband likes to complicate my life and tells me in military time. He says, “Marine Corps loves to use acronyms, I don’t know why, but we have acronyms for every freaking thing out there. Like I, sometimes I get confused on what we’re talking about. I know, hmm… I can tell you hey, if I say ma’am I’m going to BAS, most people would be like the f**** you’re talking about? You know… but when you’re on base is like, oh BAS got it, cool. In other words, you’re going to medical, got it. BAS stands for Battalion Aid Station, so therefore, oh ok man, going to medical, good to go. You know, hey I’ll see you at 2100, outside be like, the hell is 2100? You now, 2100 is 9:00pm”. I am one of those people that looks at him crazy because I am not fluent with their lingo.

Being cordial to everyone is a must. Basically, you’re in a military world, you are a reflection of your spouse. You can’t go around speeding on base. If you get a ticket, it’s like him getting a ticket, it looks bad on him. My husband always tells me not to get in trouble, not curse anybody out. “Don’t go fighting anybody.” I’m not going to do that, but you do have to be on your toes.

Marines would come in for a haircut while accompanied with their spouses. I enjoyed my job working at the Mainside barbershop on base. It was always busy on the weekends, and for many, getting a haircut on Sundays was like a ritual even if it meant waiting almost two hours for a ten-minute haircut. The barbershop was no exception for the dress code policy. The dress code is not a strict one. It enforces an expectation of decency for both marines and dependents. I would see a few junior marines getting called out by a Staff NCO and sent home to change clothes because they were wearing sweat pants, basketball shorts, or sleeveless shirts. PT attire inside a facility is frowned upon. The Marine Corps takes pride in being the most elite branch in the military. This is why it enforces good order, discipline and morale among those at Camp Pendleton.

Uncertainty becomes part of life. Therefore, time is a valuable thing. There is an approximate idea of the length of time that families spend at a duty station, but dates always change. As Diane, a fellow military spouse said, “There are times when you can’t, you can’t schedule things way, way out in advance and that can hinder life at times. It gets to a point where if family asks when is the next time you’ll visit, or where are you going to get stationed next, the only thing you can say is, I don’t know. I say to people, I don’t know a million times. If your husband doesn’t know, you don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to happen in a year, you don’t know if you’re going to move, if he’s going to get off early or stay late for work, you can’t plan vacations or other things because you never know what’s going to be going on, what’s their mission at that time.”

It is an illusion to believe that being apart from your spouse, relocating every few years, being away from family, constantly having to make new friends, learning new habits to fit in, changing jobs or putting careers on hold gets easier over time. Families do as much together and create memories because the service member always needs be ready when duty calls.

Corporal Martinez is a Marine who was married and has experienced that emotional strain. I asked Corporal Martinez if he could tell me something about a military relationship, and he said, “It’s just different stuff that puts, really tests that marriage. So, before you get married, just make sure that your significant other is willing to put up with that.”

It’s an ambivalent lifestyle in which we have reached a place of acceptance because we know that supporting your spouse, taking care of your family, and being together is all that matters.

Camp Pendleton by Blanca Buruca

Mi Familia by Reyna Pena

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I hope one day I get to run through the fields in the land I was born, eat the fruits that are grown, and walk the streets that make our small town, like my parents and siblings did.  The town I’m from is  an open and free land where you can run and enjoy nature.  We lived off the crops that are grown. It varied from beans, to peppers, to corns and fruits. If you didn’t get out to the Cerro to plant you didn’t eat, because that was how we survived. Residents would trade crops with each other; it’s a small town so everybody knows one another. The men spent most of the day at the Cerro taking care of the plants and maintaining the land. They would also raise animals from chickens, to pigs, and even turkeys. The women took care of the house,  kids, and made sure a hot cooked meal was ready for when the men came home.

When someone from the town had a party all the women cooked and the men prepared the meat, killing and defethering the chicken so it was ready for the women to cook it. Women were in charge of preparing the mole, which is served on special occasions. Other women were in charge of  making handmade tortillas. There was only one church in our town which everyone goes to every Sunday. The church was the tallest building and the center of our town. Our transportation wasn’t fancy cars but four legged mules. People did not have running water in their house. They had to go to the watering holes and carry the water back home. There was also no air conditioning, but it was not a problem because most of the people were already used of it. Most people could not afford a bed, so they would have to sleep on the ground. The only light source was the sun, so at night lanterns and candles were used to see. There were times that we walked bare foot, touching the hot ground and hard rocks. We had to wait until my grandfather could get the materials and make us some typical Mexican sandals “guaraches”, which were also used to discipline the little ones.  The guaraches were made from tires and cow skin. Our grandmother would make my sibling and me our clothes. My family and I did not live in the city, so we got to enjoy what the world provided for us.

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When we came to America, many things changed for us. We went from living in a town with no running water, A/C, and having to grow our own food to a city made a big impact on us. Everything was so different from what we were used to. We came to a new world, people, and different races. My family and I had to enter the country illegally, which caused us to be really careful about what we did. I remember as we grew up my mom would tell us “anden con mucho quidado y no hagan travesuras”. There was always fear that we could get caught by the government. I was unsure why my parents were afraid of but they put that fear in all of us.

We lived in a two room apartment for eight years. My sister and I always shared a room with my parents and my brothers shared the other room. I enjoy sharing a room with my sister. When I had nightmares I would hug her tight and she would tell me, “Duermete es solo un sueno no es verdad”. In the middle of the night I would wake her up, because I was afraid to walk the floor. The apartment was infested by rats. In the middle of night she would carry me and take me to the restroom. My sister Doris would say she hated taking care of me. She said recently, “I didn’t like the fact that I had to take care of you while I was still a kid. I remember carring you in the middle of the night so you can use the restrooms stepping on the rat’s tails. I was also afraid but didn’t wanted to show you. As we grew older I hated it because if you did something wrong I would get the spanking because it was my responsibility to take care of you.”

We had to grow faster than a typical kid. Our parents taught us to be responsible and looked after each other. I always thought that I grew up too fast. We had to mature faster than other kids and protect each other.

In the beginning we did not have much, but compared to where we came from we had enough to be grateful for.  Our  car was not fancy but took us where we needed to go. Our clothes were bought from Fallas Paredes and our shoes from Payless shoes. I did not care about material stuff until the girls at school started making fun of me.When I had trouble with other girls in school, I had my sister to protect me. She fought with a few girls because they were making fun of me. I was always so timid because of all the fear my parents put in me.  My brother also had trouble with other kids because of our clothes or shoes.Our transition to the United States could have been easier, but there were some people who made it hard for us. My brother Osbaldo told me a story about something that happened to him. “I was still learning the ways of the americans. I had people screaming at me mad to learn English or go back to my country.” They made us feel unsured about ourselves. My parents wanted a better future for us but other people seem to make us feel like we were doing something wrong.

Living in an apartment complex was beneficial for my parents because most of the time they were working so my m om had the neighbors look after us. I remember my mom siting us to eat before she left. My favorite childhood food that my mom always made was “sopa de fideo”. My mom made sure we ate, left to work, and order us to clean the apartment. It was really stressful for my parents because they had to spend most of their time working multiple jobs for low pay.  Our parents working multiple jobs meant we were left on our own with little supervision. We spent  most of our time outside playing with other kids from the apartment. We played basketball with the other kids from the apartment complex and divided it boys vs girls, which meant that games ended with one girl getting hurt and crying.

We were the troubled kids, always getting into trouble because we really didn’t have any parental guidance. We gathered with the other kids and made a plan to steal candy from the corner store. One group would actually buy candy and distract the tender; the other would steal candy. Once we were out of the store, we all gathered in our handmade tree house. It only had boards were we could sit on, with  no walls. Eventually the apartment manager found out, but did not have proof we did it. There was a pear tree my brothers would climb and get us pears. Many people complained that the pears would break their car windows. So the manager had the tree cut down. My Brother Alberto enjoyed climbing the pear tree. He said “climbing the pear tree would remind me of our town because I used to climb the fruit trees. I would get fruit for y’all because y’all were still to small to climb.”

We looked out for each other, as my sister would say. “We raised one another to always be there for each other through the good and bad.” All we had was each other, we had to learn from our mistakes. We did not have any guidance, other than take care of each other, bettering ourselves, and being someone.

My mother did not  have time to show my sister and me a lot of things. My mom was old school, so she liked for my sister and me  to have long hair. I hated my long hair because I had many kids called me Pocahontas. She didn’t have time to help me maintain my hair after she got multiple jobs. She stopped doing my hair with braids like when we first arrived in the United States. Our hair was so long it almost reached our knees. Most of the time, my hair was tangled and full of lice. As my sister and I grew older, my mother never talked about what happens to a girl. We had to get that information from the teachers. I remember receiving my first bra from the next door neighbor. The neighbor Villalobos told us that as we grow older our body changes. Our friends showed us how to shave our legs and our armpits. They were close friends, so they knew that my mom was always busy. The neighbors in the apartment complex were like family because they looked after us.

We never went to church as a family, but one of our good friends and neighbor introduced us to a church. We attended her  bible studies in her apartment once a week . We learned many things from her bible studies. One day, a big yellow bus came to the apartment complex. They asked our parents if they could show us the word of God. Every Sunday we would get on the bus and go to church. I loved going to church because it gave us a place where we can be kids. We forgot of all our responsibilities at home. If it wasn’t for that we would not learn anything about the word of God. In the summer, we were left behind and all the kids from the apartments would travel with their family. Our parents would be working most of the time. So we didn’t know anything other than our home and school.We didn’t know that there were more places other than Houston.

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My siblings and I were different in many ways. My brother Alberto is mostly like me, we are both anti-social. He started working at the age of fifteen with one of my cousins. He stocked Guerrero Tortillas at the stores.  It was a good job for him because he didn’t have to communicate with other people. My brother Osbaldo also starting working at the age of fifteen at Shipley’s donuts. He was more social, loved talking, and expressing himself. My sister Teodomira (Doris) stared working at aged fifteen also. She changed her name because she never liked it.  She was social and had many friends.  Sometimes she was lazy and did not do anything around the house. She worked at Shipley’s Donuts as well. My siblings tried to put me to work at Shipley’s, but that was not for me. I had trouble in math and speaking. My father has been working for Shipleys donuts for more than twenty years. He is a baker, so he does most of the heavy lifting. With many years working there he hasn’t got a race or promotion. There have been occasions where an immigrant worker is taken advantage of because of their status.

I was the youngest of my siblings and I always took care of them. I remember I made sure my siblings ate and the house was clean. At a young age, I remember standing on a chair and reheating the food our mom left us and heating the tortillas on el Comal. When I was thirteen my mom decided to take me to work with her. She believed we were spending too much time outside. I never complained to my mom for taking me to work with her. I always wanted to help my mom some way. She was always tired and I hated seeing her that way. I admire my mom so much because she had to sacrifice a lot of things. She is so brave for bringing my siblings and me to the United Sates. My parents have worked hard for so many years. Employers took advantage of them and didn’t pay them because they are immigrants. My parents did whatever they could to give us a better future.  My siblings and I value where we came from and where we are now thanks to my parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mi Familia by Reyna Pena