forget family unity, just buy yourself a green card

March 30, 2007

The Republican’s new plan for immigration reform includes a $10,000 fee for “applying” for one’s green card.


…until the world improves

March 29, 2007

I just watched an incredible movie. I’ve been writing an immigration feature the last few days and between the day job and Qdoba, I’ve been really busy. Tonight, as I’ve turned in the story, I’m relaxing with some red wine and my latest Blockbuster arrival. This article is not an opinion column, like I write for the Journal Sentinel, but an actual newsy feature. It’s kind of a big deal because it’s the first non-opinion piece I have ever had published.

Anyway, I occasionally put movies in my Blockbuster online queue that I know nothing about, just because I like one of the actors, or the director. I’m not sure when I added “Dirty Pretty Things,” but I know I didn’t realize it was about the underground lives of illegal immigrants in London.

So, ironically, the film is about my pet topic, the issue I know most about politically, yet set in another land, where, if the things in this movie are based on the truth, the situation for illegal immigrants is far more dangerous and unstable.

The film, starring Amelie‘s Audrey Taotou and British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is dark and deeply moving, but not so overwhelming that you finish with a sinking sickness in your stomach, which is how I feel when I see certain movies about politics, religion, and the sad state of certain places and peoples of the world. In addition, the characters are colorful and sympathetic, and by the end, you are cheering for both their sorrows and triumphs.

Oh, and I should add, I pulled the words for this title from the character Guo Yi in the movie.

jog down blog memory lane

March 23, 2007

I just completed an interesting exercise in organization and memory. When I relocated my blog to wordpress from blogger (exactly one year ago), all my old posts were brought over and dumped into the “uncategorized” category. I guess I’ve never been quite bored enough to categorize them until today. In order to put them into categories such as “friends,” “daily grind,” or whatever, I had to open all those old posts and at least skim them.

It’s kind of a journey through the most confusing time of my life reading some of those posts. There was a lot of joy there, with new love and marriage, being a home-owner and moving into a new form of independent adulthood, but also a lot of spiritual wrestling, things that I suppose I ponder less and less these days, as I settle into being a strange breed of non-practicing Christian, an almost agnostic who still believes in the teachings of Jesus but doesn’t really believe Christianity as it is taught in most American churches is true. That long phrase, is, unfortunately, the best way I can describe my faith right now. It’s not simple. It doesn’t fit in a box. It’s okay.

I noticed back a year or so I wrote a lot about getting back to writing. Today, with having traded my restaurant career for an utterly unstressful job, I see endless opportunities out there, thanks also to some classes, the community columnist experience, and a recent writer’s festival. I’ve had a revelation in the last few weeks that I should pursue writing about immigration-related issues. I am acquainted with, albeit via the internet, a whole host of people with interesting stories that could be covered.

Last week I queried a few of the Madison papers with a story of someone I met on and was contacted three days later to write the story. I will post the link when it is published. I don’t want to give away all the details of this couple’s story. It will be, I hope, the best thing I have had published thus far in my life. Following that I will be pursuing some larger outlets with a truly tragic story of one of the women on another immigration board, whose husband was murdered in Mexico recently while separated, him waiting out the waiver process for almost a year, while she stayed in the U.S., working and caring for their two children. It’s an amazing opportunity to stress the oft-ignored family unity clauses in current immigration law.

I don’t know where this is all taking me, but I have so many writing-related ideas right now I can hardly entertain them all, and while I’ve always loved to write, I’ve never had nearly the number of practical and feasible opportunities to do it as I do right now.

All this has been made possible by my career change, and I can’t express how glad I am about it, despite still loving the 10-15 hours a week I am currently working at Qdoba. Those hours are my link back to the time my whole life changed, the months after graduation, working at Chin’s with Fermin, the setting of my spiritual crises, the activity, the excitement, and outlet for my leadership skills. After a frustrating stint at another store, I’m back working at my favorite Qdoba, the busy one on Highway 100 and Bluemound Road, the one I loved working at before I was promoted and started the long, unsatisfying role of being a General Manager. It’s good memories there, and strangely, many customers who I no longer recognize seem so pleasantly surprised to see me, even asking where I have been for the past two years.

Well, it’s countdown to Friday night. Mine’s going to involve buying some grass seed and perhaps some barriers for my newly expanded vegetable garden. Then, perhaps some wine, some homemade curry, a movie.

reading material

March 21, 2007

A friend alerted me to this excellent article on immigration and reform…

holidays, gender roles and smooth rock

March 20, 2007

This weekend, my friends Joe and Rachel stepped way out of the box by hosting a yacht-rock themed double birthday party on St. Patrick’s Day. And let me say, it was great.

I could never pull off a themed party. I dread baby showers, all that pink and yellow and those games, God help me the next time I have to dig through a diaper full of melted chocolate, I hate them. When someone tells me they are going to a bridal shower, I have to control my instinct to smirk (because I don’t have to go) or make a sour face (because I am imagining all those hideous bows and ribbons tied into a paper plate).

Maybe I can’t help it. After emerging from several years of adolescence living with my dad and younger brother, I never really recovered until college, when I discovered, it’s cool to embrace some traditionally female habits. I went through a very brief period of liking the color pink, about the time I started dating Fermin, but those days are long gone.

Today I enjoy gardening and cooking, but I’ve never wanted to dress up for any sort of costume party or organize activities for a group of people. I’m 28, and as I’ve done all my life, I let my hair air dry on my day to work (or wherever), and spend exactly three minutes putting make-up on in the morning. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy buying shoes, and jeans…

My point is, many of the finer points of being a traditionally good woman, like hostess abilities, following traditions and social rules are totally lost on me. This may all be related to my issues with tradition. Like, getting married at the Courthouse in Milwaukee and never regretting it, especially after hearing many new-bride friends talk about their weddings.

In fact, every time a close friend navigates their wedding planning and execution (which has basically been constantly for about eight years now) I take a moment to reassess my feelings about weddings, about whether I feel I missed out. And surprisingly, to myself anyway, I never feel I have.

But back to yacht rock, perhaps the reason I so look forward to Joe and Rachel’s parties is that they are so different. I mean, they are planning a Canada Day party for God’s sake, how hip is that? And while I have no idea how they came up with the idea of theming a party around smooth rock (think Steely Dan) and nautically themed beers, I know it will never be done again, or at least I will never be invited to one again.

Besides that, there is no pretention at these parties. When you come up with an idea so equally fresh and preposterous, it hardly evokes your cousin’s last baby shower. You can come wearing, say, jeans and a t-shirt, or, plaid (think rainbow colors) cotton shorts, a maroon polo, a horrid blue suit jacket topped off with a captain’s hat and white tennies circa 1988. You can drink beer from cans, neon wine coolers, or a martini. And nobody cares.

This is also the beauty of having a healthy number of journalist-types among one’s friends. They are inteligent and well-read, but usually bitter and jaded enough by their mid-20s to be down-to-earth, fun companions. I became bitter and jaded with many of them, so we get along well.

Here’s to great friends, bucking traditions, and Canada Day 2007!

friday afternoon boredom

March 16, 2007

The last few months I’ve been helping a friend out with her web site, which is kind of humorous, because I know next to nothing about web design. She was looking for a simple, cheap way to get a nice-looking web site to help start up her personal chef business, and after talking it over with a few people, she decided to try to use a blog format.

I love wordpress, especially after using blogger, and had just had enough experience with the basics of it to help her along. It turned into more work than expected, but it was a great project to jump-start my desire to learn a little more html and CSS. During this process, I decided to purchase my own CSS upgrade, so I can play around with my own site here and there. Moral of the story, you may be seeing construction for a while. Oh, and please check out our handiwork at your leasure, especially if you are needing a personal chef in Milwaukee.

What I really wanted to share with anyone reading this late Friday afternoon, however, is the beauty of dooce. I discovered dooce a few months ago after checking out the links on Rachel‘s page, and was instantly impressed with her exquisitely crafted wit and sarcasm. I’ve been hooked on her blog ever since.

Yesterday, after having a crappy day at work, when I realized I was not getting nearly the commission check I expected (long, irritating story), I read her new post on hate mail (she gets like 100,000 hits a day or something ridiculous like that). I made the mistake of sipping water as I read and almost spit it all over my keyboard a few times. My co-workers were also stressed out about the commission situation, so I happily introduced them to dooce, so they could laugh out loud at their desks too. So, if you need a laugh, a little pick-me-up, please enjoy.

Disclaimer: dooce is both irreverant and at times vulgar, and I love every word of it!


March 14, 2007

If you like, you can read my latest column published today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The link is here, or on the sidebar, under “living in the city.”