Sep 042012
 

I’m not saying Ann Romney is racist. I’m just saying she doesn’t seem to think Latinos are intelligent citizens who deserve equal protection under the law simply because of their skin color and heritage. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Author’s Note: I realize some people prefer the terms “Hispanic” or “Chicano.” I personally refer to myself as “Mexican-American” since I’m a first-generation immigrant. I know we all have our preference, but for the purpose of this article, I’m sticking with Ann Romney’s terminology.

Ann Romney is not running for office, but her recent remarks about the Latino community show the Right’s mentality on minority votes and, on a personal level, showed her contempt for people like me.

At a recent luncheon, Mrs. Romney went on about how Latinos need to understand that the GOP, and her husband in particular, are working in the best interest of Latinos in this country. She gushed over how much damage another Obama presidency will do to us and how we’re just uninformed about current issues and policies.

It’s us, not them, she tells us.

I like to think my arguments are better than just flinging insults or calling names, but I would like to vent a little steam before starting by saying that Ann Romney sounds like any abusive husband on a Lifetime movie telling his battered wife that it’s her fault she’s on the ground doubled over.

Let me explain. Ann Romney said:

“I spoke to women last night and I wanted women to understand how important this election is for their children. But as I was sitting backstage listening, I thought, it’s also very important that the Latino community recognize how important this election is for them.”

I like how she talks about women and mothers and that need to protect the family but seems to think Latinos don’t have those concerns or are somehow different. It sounds like nitpicking her grammar, but it actually makes sense a little later.

“And [Latinos] are mistaken if they think they are going to be better off with Barack Obama as their president. There really is only one way for prosperity, for small business, and that is, this is the simplest way I can say this: If Mitt Romney wins, America wins.”

Mrs. Romney’s assertion that helping small businesses is the best way to help the country falls apart for two reasons. Firstly, she assumes that corporate profits equal social prosperity. They don’t. The top earners in this country have had incredible success in the last several years, but the middle class hasn’t seen significant improvement in THIRTY YEARS. Small businesses are another matter. Yes, they could be doing better, but the self-serving nature of the Romney/Ryan plan is another case. It will hurt not just Latinos, but everyone.

It’s when Mrs. Romney starts talking about why Latinos are specifically deaf to the GOP that I start to put the pieces together.

“You’d better really look at your future and figure out who’s going to be the guy that’s going to make it better for you and your children, and there is only one answer… It really is a message that would resonate well if [Latinos] could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don’t care about this community. And that is not true. We very much care about you and your families and the opportunities that are there for you and your families.”

If I may, I would like to address Ann Romney directly.

Read the rest of the rant at Political Groove

 

May 062011
 

It's so beautiful... no words... they should have sent a poet...

May 6, 2011

When my grandfather died a few weeks ago, it was the third of three people (two family, one a friend), that I had to say goodbye to. It’s been a rough year, what with the financial con-job I worked at for a few months, the wedding next year, and upcoming novel complete with contest, I’ve been stressed like no other time in my life. I wrote two thesis as an undergrad in one year and I still don’t think this matches that level stress.

But yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, Mary’s last day of class, and I felt like cooking something.

I was going to make fish, but I figured I could make some pico de gallo, salchicha, and… I was stuck for a while. What dish could really capture Mexican pride and simulataniously satisfy a 12-hour work day full of class, work, and research papers?

My grandfather gave me the answer…


carne 06 by *avaladez on deviantART

When he cooked, the man COOKED. Years ago, he gave me the recipe for his carne asada, Mexican grilled meat, and I’ve tried to make it for a long time with little success in replicating his unique flavor. I mean, the meat was good, but it wasn’t the same. It was like a photocopy of a photocopy. It just didn’t feel right.

Today, though…

I think I got it.

When my grandparents cook, there is never such a thing as a recipe. They go more by instinct than anything else. They know the specific parts of the dish much like I would know the overall themes and ideas for a story or poem, but I could never really teach someone one perfect way of getting those ideas down on paper. In the same way, they don’t really measure their ingredients, but instead put them in as needed. It’s taken me years to get this close to the actual recipe. I have it written down, but it’s like trying to learn another language by reading it.

I’m close. So close.


- Love Recipe - by ~quaerion on deviantART

Any self-respecting Mexican knows how to cook. My uncle could make chimichurri from scratch or whip up a caldo de rez to make you forgo vegetables for a month. My grandmother makes delicious dishes with everything from bell peppers to chicken. She’s like Midas with food.

While he was alive, I tried to replicate my grandfather’s recipe. Now, with him gone and only my memories and a piece of paper to guide me, I’ll keep trying to reach that pinnacle of flavor he created so many times for us on special occasions. It’s like kendo training… I’ll just keep going for the rest of my life, getting ever closer to that elusive perfection.

And I’m okay with that.

Years ago, I wrote a poem for my grandfather and his skills. I figured it was appropriate today. Scroll afterwards for the links, and I hope none of you did anything regrettable on Cinco de Mayo.

Alquimista1

Dried leaves and sticks,

Crushed color and aroma

From plants I could never pronounce.

Papi kept them in plastic bags and jars,

Autumn in a pantry, an old hechicero’s2 alchemy.

He summoned a nation with each dish:

August heat, like the Tamaulipan desert,

Unyielding, like El Grito de Dolores3,

Or cool and green, like a Cuernavacan4 spring,

Subtle as a pretty morena’s5 wink.

One bite and you thought you’d die

From the cinnamon burn in your blood

And la lengua cortada6 would make you mute.

A bowl of pozole7 was a hundred miles of fields

And boiled muscles under the Aztec sun.

The heat in our tingling veins sang

A slow mariachi ballad,

The living history of our family,

And the old hechicero sat and listened,

While fragrant Mexican autumn filled the room.

1“Ahl-kee-MIS-tah”: Spanish for “alchemist”

2“Eh-CHi-SE-roh”: a sorcerer

3Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest in Mexico, gave what is known as “The Yell of Dolores.”  On the morning of September 16, 1810, he rang the church bells and called on the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish, calling out “Mexicans, long live Mexico!  Long Live the Virgin [Mary] of Guadalupe!  Long Live Fernando VII!  Death to the evil government!”

4The city of Cuernavaca is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” for its mild weather and seasonal rainfalls.

5Morena(o) is a term for someone who is darker skinned, and most likely has native Mexican blood in their heritage.

6“LEN-gwa cohr-TA-da” literately means “cut tongue.”  It is an expression used to symbolize the feeling of very spicy meals on the tongue.  Even people accustomed to spicy dishes reach their limit when they proclaim they have a “cut tongue.”

7“Po-SOH-leh” is a traditional Mexican dish, similar to a stew, made with cacahuacintle corn, pork, and guajillo peppers.  It is often topped with radishes, lettuce, onion, lemon juice, dried oregano, and powdered chili.  It has a very strong aroma and taste.


remedio universal by ~srintestino on deviantART

Link time! And yeah, the comic’s hilarious if you know Spanish. If enough people ask, I’ll translate it.

  • And finally, to get your weekend started right, I give you the most metal puppy EVAR!

Mar 192011
 
 March 19, 2011  Posted by at 9:34 am March Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »

March 19, 2011

My grandfather died, peacefully, in his sleep.

The last week was filled with tears, laughs, and family. My grandfather was fortunate enough to see his children, his grandchildren, and his great-granddaughter before finally closing his eyes for the last time.

But I won’t remember him as the man lying in bed for the last ten months. This past week, as bittersweet as it was to finally see him at peace, with no pain, will not be the memory I carry with me.

On Sunday, before the ambulance arrived to take him, I had a few moments and I gathered enough strength to say, “Papi, gracias por todo. Te quiero mucho.”

Papi, thank you for everything. I love you very much.

He looked up, and it was one of the few times I’ve ever seen him even tear up. He looked at me and said, “Todo eso fue de amor… Haz lo mismo en tu vida, y nos veremos despues.”

All of it was out of love… Do the same in your life, and we’ll meet again afterwards.


Margarita by ~EloyMR on deviantART

Love…

My grandfather was one of the toughest men I’ve ever known. I don’t mean that in hyperbole. He helped build the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, California, a bridge we always called “Papi’s Bridge” when we saw it. We still call it that if we see it in a movie.

He helped raise four children who went on to become teachers, businessmen, and who in turn have grandchildren who have gone on to travel the world, learn a total of five languages, work in film, government, education, public service, and business. Several years ago, though, Papi came home and told us he’d gotten his GED. We didn’t even know he’d been preparing for it. He was retired. He told us, matter-of-factly, that he did it to show all of us that nothing stood between us and achieving our dreams. If he could do it, we could do it


Azucena by ~scalybur on deviantART

Papi was a cook. He could make carne asada so good we asked for it on special occasions. He knew a recipe for a chocolate cake that even people who didn’t like chocolate liked. If Aristotle is right and everything is a shadow of a perfect form, one perfect version of that thing, then my grandfather’s carne asada and his chocolate cake are the form of every other piece of meat and dessert.

My grandfather didn’t plan things so much as he just did them. I don’t mean he was impulse. Far from it, but when he set his mind to it, he could do anything. The first time he bowled, my cousins and I invited him to join us. We kids were having a blast when Papi went up and knocked over every pin. When he did it a second time, we accused him of having secretly played for years. Confused, he just said, “El chiste es que lanso la pelota y tumbo los pinos, verdad? Eso es lo que estoy haciendo.”

The point is to throw the ball and knock over the pins, right? That’s what I’m doing.

To him, there was no such thing as failure. “Pedro” is the Spanish form of “Peter,” which is usually translated as “rock.” My grandfather was one of the toughest, strongest men I’ve ever known. The doctor told him he had five months to live. That was eleven months ago. This week, the doctor said he had maybe three days. He stuck around for six, I’m sure just to show the doctor he was an idiot.

Despite his skill and roughness, he was first a family man.


Lilly- by ~dragy88 on deviantART

When my sister and I were younger, we would get up early to watch cartoons. My grandfather always used to sit in a big recliner. It was his chair, his throne, and my sister and I got to sit on the armrests with him on Saturday mornings as we all watched Bugs Bunny cartoons. This man who worked with steel and could intimidate anyone if need be… watched cartoons with us on Saturday mornings.

Though he rarely said he loved anyone, everything he did, even his cold demeanor, was to teach us something. It was to teach us respect, to teach us how to stand up for ourselves, to show us that life goes on.

In the end, I heard him say, “Los quiero mucho.”

I love you all so much…

But we always knew. Being humble is not thinking less of yourself. Being humble means thinking of yourself less, and that’s what my grandfather did. Like he said, everything he did was for his family, out of love, and God help anyone who stood in this man’s way.


stone-shaped heart by ~CatchMe-22 on deviantART

Nietzsche once said that anything done out of love is beyond good and evil. My grandfather was not particularly religious, though he was a man of strong faith in people and what they could do. He lived his life to give others the chance to achieve something greater than he ever could. His legacy lives in his family and the morals and drive he instilled in us. He was more than a superman. He was and will remain the standard by which we judge our own actions.

He taught me the meaning of love. He wished my fiancé and me a happy life together. Then, last night, before he took one final morphine nap, he asked my grandmother, “Ya ví a todos?”

Did I see everyone already?

My grandmother told him he had, and he smiled, just barely, and said, “Ya me voy a componer.”

I’ll be better soon, now.


San Pedro Sunrise by *bssc on deviantART

Six hours later, with my grandmother at his side, he quietly passed. He held on, despite almost no lung capacity and a weak heart, just to make sure his family could see him one more time as they traveled over half the continent to get here.

He did it out of love.

Pedro Ramirez was a father, grandfather, friend, and the patriarch for my family. He’s lost a son, become an American, and argued until the last day. To me, he will always be Papi, a strong, gruff man who, despite his upbringing and tough life, used to laugh at Bugs Bunny with me.

I’m not sad for him, but I’ll miss him terribly.

Adios, Papi.