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					Delta Winds                                                                                  A Publication of
                                                                                             San Joaquin Delta College
                                                                                               http://www.deltacollege.org/org/deltawinds.
     A Magazine of Student Essays
                                                                                             Editors
Volume 16                                                   2003                                         William Agopsowicz
                                                                                                         Robert Bini
Contents                                                                                     Communication Skills
2      A Fading Culture                                                                      Division Chair
       Veronica Padilla finds herself stereotyped as an American in her own family’s                     Paul Kuehn
       hometown in Mexico.                                                                   Graphic Design Production
5      My Relationship With Dad                                                                          Roxie Millward
       Yushan Hu describes the complexities involved in a father-daughter relationship.
                                                                                               Delta Winds is a publication of student
7      An Unfair Incident                                                                    essays from courses at San Joaquin Delta
       Donna Hagen discovers how bonuses for insurance company employees can                 College. It is published each year by the
       result in negligent health care.                                                      English Department of San Joaquin Delta
11     Best Friends Forever                                                                  College, 5151 Pacific Avenue, Stockton,
       Tajmah Jones looks back on her life through the friendships she shared with the       California 95207.
                                                                                               The authors certify that their writing is
       women in her bridal party.
                                                                                             their own creation. The views expressed in
14     The Trip Down the Road of a Life-Threatening Illness                                  these essays do not necessarily reflect the
       Tajmah Jones discusses the effects of her son’s leukemia on her entire family.        opinions of the faculty, the administration,
                                                                                             or the trustees of Delta College. All rights
17     A Lesson Learned                                                                      reserved. No part of this publication may
       Tina Svetlana Gomez decides to run away from her grandparents in the Philippines.     be reproduced for profit in any form or by
20     The Quest for Awareness                                                               any means without written permission.
       Thu Phan proposes educating instructors on how to become more aware and
       more understanding of students with disabilities.
23     Cell Phones at Public Events                                                          Letter from the Editors
       Jacqui FitzGerald researches the growing annoyance of a public disturbance.         Multiple works originally published in
                                                                                           Delta Winds have been reprinted in different
26     The Misunderstood Femme Fatale                                                      editions of a popular composition text, The
                                                                                           Compact Reader, by Bedford/St. Martin’s
       Brian Musich offers an analysis of male and female characters in two poems by       Press. This year, we are pleased to report
       John Keats and Heinrich Heine.                                                      that two more Delta Winds essays have been
                                                                                           selected for re-publication, this time in the
28     ~Goddess~ World Healer                                                              4th edition of a textbook entitled Read and
       Nola Pierce expresses the need to honor the values of nurturing and harmony         Respond, published by Roxbury Press. The
                                                                                           two essays, “AIDS in Africa,” by Raulyne
       over confrontation and conflict.                                                    Kenfack, and “In Defense of the Real
30     “I’ll Always Love You, Mommy”                                                       American Family,” by Kenneth D. Valdez,
                                                                                           were first published last year in Delta Winds,
       Jessica Pittman recalls an emotional family episode triggered by suspicions of an   Volume 15. This means that the voices of
       eating disorder.                                                                    Delta College students will continue to be
                                                                                           heard on numerous college campuses
34     A Dishonest Society                                                                 around the country.
       Jasmine Poscablo analyzes how children learn to accept cheating and dishonesty.     Furthermore, Delta Winds, through its
36     America’s not Heaven, but It’s the Closest Thing on                                 online site, provides a world-wide audience
                                                                                           a chance to read essays by students at this
       Earth!!                                                                             college. One essay, in particular, in this
                                                                                           volume will be appreciated overseas since
       A U.S. Marine reveals the reality of a war scene in Somalia in 1992.                the author is from Stockton’s sister city in
41     The Big Root Beer Float in the Sky                                                  Foshan, China. “My Relationship with
                                                                                           Dad,” by Yushan Hu, was written by one of
       Becky Weeden recreates the confusion of a young girl’s hospital visit to her        the English teachers from Foshan who
       grandfather’s bedside.                                                              studied at Delta College last fall. Delta
                                                                                           Winds continues to serve as a vehicle
43     A Circus                                                                            through which individual students share
                                                                                           their views and opinions with an ever-
       Cary Farruggia finds similarities in family roles and circus performers.            growing number of readers.
Like many other individuals
in her family, Veronica
                                 A                  Fading
                                                     Culture
                                 I’ve read about Hidalgo’s fight, admired
                                 Diego’s paintings, contemplated Sor
                                 Juana’s words, and have realized I do
                                                                                                  ~by Veronica Padilla
                                                                             thought I knew extremely well. Sitting
                                                                             in the back of the plane, I had few
                                                                             concerns. Concern number one: I was
Padilla is pursuing a career     not belong with them. I belong to a         afraid the cabin pressure would make
in the field of education. Her   different group, one that possesses a       my eardrums explode. Concern num-
love for teaching, learning,     bicultural tradition that arises when       ber two: I was worried I would not be
and helping others has come      Mexican and American attempt to             accepted by the individuals I’d soon
                                 harmoniously intertwine. I belong to        encounter. I eliminated the second
from the responsibility of
                                 the group that honors Chavez’s hero-        bothersome thought rather quickly.
being the oldest daughter of     ism, marvels at Baca’s murals and           Why wouldn’t they like me? I thought.
Mexican parents. When            identifies with Corky Gonzales’s poetry.    I’m Mexican too. But once my sneak-
she’s not in school mode, she    But, to be honest, I’m lying to you. The    ers touched those stone-covered streets
enjoys anything related to       Americanization process that has been       and the glances and comments began,
the arts or simply spending      quietly working within me has caught        I knew I did not fit in. I soon realized
time with family and             me so off guard I can no longer place       that to those around me, including my
friends. She finds writing to    myself among the Chicanos mentioned         family, I was only American. I was, to
be the perfect way to express    above. I once labeled myself as pure        them, a tourist—touring a culture I
                                 Mexican; then, with age, I realized I       thought I knew well. Their concept of
ideas that are sometimes
                                 could not ignore the American culture       me was clear: my “Mexican” was in
difficult to describe through    that was growing on me, so I slapped        America and my “American” I carried
spoken words.                    on a new label and called myself            in my suitcase, in my ideas, in the way
                                 Chicana. And now, although I still call     I spoke . . . and that is what the natives
                                 myself Chicana, I’ve realized that the      saw.
                                 Mexican part of this label is slowly
                                 peeling off. I’ve been frantically trying   My Abuelita was the first person to
                                 to stick it back on by gathering the        innocently surprise me with Chicano
                                 scattered pieces of tradition and lan-      stereotypes I was completely oblivious
                                 guage my parents must have considered       to. The first morning with her was
                                 unimportant to mention. I am deter-         comfortingly familiar: I picked up the
                                 mined to regain the Mexican part of me      mess my younger siblings had made,
                                 I have lost. Hundreds of years of family    the beds, then ran to the kitchen to
                                 history and culture is not about to end     help. It was no trouble at all; I was
                                 because of me.                              already accustomed to the routine.
                                                                             Apparently, grandma didn’t know.
                                 The realization of my gradual loss of       “You do that at home too, mi’ja?” she
                                 identity and the feeling that there is a    asked, slightly lowering her eyebrows
                                 definite difference between what it is to   and studying me as though there were
                                 be Mexican and Chicano came as the          something she had forgotten to take
                                 result of an unforgettable visit to my      note of. “Si, Abuelita. Siempre,” I
                                 parents’ home country. For two              answered. My reply must have trig-
                                 months, I was submerged into a culture      gered something within her—her
                                 that, at the young age of eleven, I         shoulders relaxed, the wrinkles around

                                                         2
her eyes fell back into position and her   skin and her long, dark
hands resumed the flattening of little     brown hair which moved
maza balls. I was positive the next        swiftly behind her as she
words out of her mouth would be an         chased her brothers. I’d
invitation to make tortillas. Wanting to   look down at my pale
avoid making the little disks I secretly   skin, run my fingers
hid under my place mat at home, I          through my short, reddish
told her I’d sweep and mop instead.        brown hair, wondering why so
                                           many girls looked like her and
The look she had just finished putting     why I wasn’t one of them.
away managed to find its place upon        Hoping she’d ask me to play,
her face once again. This time, the look   I walked downstairs, sat on
seemed to question, “You know how to       the steps to the doorway and
hold a broom?” I took the broom            waited. After what seemed
within my hands, walked to the             like an eternity, the girl
furthest spot away from the kitchen        began to walk towards
and cautiously swept. Out of the           me. My happiness
corner of my eye, I saw Abuelita nudge     ended quickly as I
my Tia and softly whisper to her, “You     realized my
help me sweep later.” I am ashamed to      Spanish was
say I was furious with my grand-           not only
mother. My Mexican cousins and other       comprised
children, some even younger than I,        of rolling r’s
helped her with chores all the time and    and ñ’s, it was cre-
she never complained. What was I           atively united with gh’s that sounded
doing wrong? The floor was so clean        like f ’s and ch’s that sometimes sounded
you could practically eat off of it, the
plates were spotless, the beds had no
                                           like k’s. There would be no way for me
                                           to live through a conversation without      My Abuelita was the
wrinkles, and yet, she assumed I
couldn’t do housework because, ac-
                                           the urge to utter a word in English. I
                                           felt embarrassed to say those beautiful
                                                                                          first person to
cording to her, I didn’t do it at home.
How I wished that I had gone to the
                                           Spanish words accumulating at the tip
                                           of my tongue. I imagined the embar-
                                                                                       innocently surprise
ranch with Abuelito instead. But then
again, I was probably better off with
                                           rassment I’d face if a word came out
                                           wrong. Every step she took made my
                                                                                         me with Chicano
grandma. Abuelito would have made          heart pound so much I was convinced              stereotypes
me get onto the donkey that had            she could hear it, just as I could.
managed to drag my cousins through         Finally, dreading the worst, we were
rows of thorn-filled bushes and trees.     face to face and she spoke. “You’re not
Yes, I was better off with grandma.        from here, are you?” Her words were
                                           cut short by a voice that shattered every
Frustrated with seeking to impress my      feeling of acceptance I tightly held on
grandmother, I spent many days on the      to. “Marita, don’t talk to her. Can’t you
balcony listening to music, drawing        see she doesn’t want to talk to you?!
endless rows of brightly colored houses    She’s just one of those stuck up Ameri-
and watching people pass by. There         can girls. Come inside.” She left, and I
was one little girl in particular I saw    ran to Abuelita and cried.
often. She seemed to be around ten, a
year younger than I. I recall her tanned   From then on, I tried everything to

                                                          3
                          avoid going outside; I couldn’t stand         correct. I am aware the children are use
                          the embarrassment. Although I ex-             to that in America, but it is not okay
                          hausted the details of the rejection,         here.” As he spoke, I attempted to
                          Abuelita remained convinced I was             make myself smaller—it didn’t work.
       Mass was           being ridiculous. “Ay mi’ja, people just
                          think you’re stuck up because you’re so
                                                                        Those around me, I thought, knew the
                                                                        priest had said that because of me.
 comfortingly familiar.   quiet. Forget about it. Go get ready for
                          church.” Abuelita’s words were not            Once in the United States, I released
  Perhaps this feeling    much comfort, but I was relieved to
                          think embarrassment would not follow
                                                                        the anger I had felt at not being
                                                                        Mexican enough and transformed it
 should have hinted at    me to church . . . . I was wrong.             into a frustrated concern to find my
                                                                        roots. Have I just been frightened by
the awkward situation     Mass was comfortingly familiar. Per-          the Americanization process I have
   I would soon face.     haps this feeling should have hinted at
                          the awkward situation I would soon
                                                                        seen take others over, and therefore, see
                                                                        the presence of a Pocha (a full scale
                          face. When it came time to receive            Americanized Mexican) in me, instead
                          communion I got up, right hand under          of a Chicana? I suppose it is possible
                          left, ready to receive a symbol of the        that by thinking of things too much
                          only thing that was not different in          one begins to believe they are coming
                          Mexico—my religion. As it came to my          true. Or am I gradually losing a part of
                          turn, I made no eye contact with the          me? Whatever the case may be, I’m
                          priest but looked down at my cupped           determined to keep my language and
                          hands. It took me awhile to realize he        traditions alive. If it’s possible to
                          wasn’t placing the Eucharist within           surpass the amount of culture my
                          them. As I looked up, he sternly whis-        parents hold, I’ll gladly do so. I’m
                          pered, “Open your mouth.” I was               worried about what may happen to the
                          confused. “Open your mouth?” I                generations after me if I and others of
                          thought. “But why?” I found myself            any ethnicity do not know enough
                          saying in Spanish. “Because that’s the        about our own culture to pass on and
                          way you should receive communion,”            keep alive.
                          he answered. This idea was something
                          new to me, something different, and
                          later I learned from grandma, some-
                          thing they did in Mexico. Flushed face
                          and all, I managed to crack my mouth
                                   open, then stumbled to my seat.
                                     Mass ended with the following
                                       words, “I know many of you
                                         have come for the fiestas
                                           of the pueblo. Those of
                                             you who have chil-
                                                  dren, please
                                                     remind them
                                                      that the
                                                       communion
                                                       should not be
                                                      received in the
                                                      hand. It is not

                                                   4
`ç exÄtà|ÉÇá{|Ñ ã|à{
Dad
Dad was lying there in the hospital, his
                                            ~by Yushan Hu

                                            take a break. Of course, Dad worked
eyes staring at the white ceiling. His      the hardest. He never stopped with the
face was particularly red because of        endless housework. Later, at the dinner
apoplexy. I was left to take care of him.   table, we were required to shut up. This
It was my turn. I walked close to him,      was one of his rules. Dad would be
scared. I didn’t know what to say. I        extremely angry if we talked while
never knew what to say. “Your great-        eating. I never had a chance to tell Dad
grandmother had been lying in bed for       that I was frightened of his returning
ten years before she died,” Dad sud-        home on weekends. I was so scared of
denly began, his thick tongue moving        his powerful, sharp eyes that I felt just    Yushan Hu, 35 years old, is
slowly and with difficulty. It was the      like a tiny mouse.                           a teacher from Foshan No.3
first time in thirty years that I had
                                                                                         Middle-School, China. After
talked with Dad for an hour.                There is an old Chinese saying: “A
                                                                                         studying at Delta for three
                                            tiger-like father will never have a dog-
In my childhood, Dad and I had a cat-       like son.” In other words, a                 months, she is going back to
and-mouse relationship. He was always       domineering father will never have a         China to go on with her
a powerful big cat who liked to control     cowardly son. When I was a teenager,         teaching career. “I love my
the whole situation. Dad worked in          my character was somewhat like Dad’s.        job. I am going to tell my
another city and came home only on          My relationship with Dad had changed         students what I have
weekends. When he was home, there           from a cat-and-mouse one to a com-           experienced and what I have
was never peace in the family. Since        petitive one. We quarreled. We               learned here at Delta
Mom worked eight hours a day and            disagreed with each other. I was no
                                                                                         College.”
took care of three daughters, Dad           longer a mouse. I was a little tiger ready
thought it important for all of us to       to challenge while he was a big one
help finish the housework on the            protecting his own land. Both of us
weekends. The first thing he did was to     wanted to be the boss. It annoyed him
inspect every corner of the house to        that I was out of his control. As he
check whether his daughters had done        realized this, he tried to maintain his
something wrong. Then he gave orders        authority, and I went on challenging.
to the three of us. His voice was so        When I gave him my test papers to
loud that our neighbors probably            sign, he usually teased me, saying that I
thought we were all lazy girls. We had      was poor in my studies. But I would
to stand by. No one had a chance to         never be defeated. I questioned him,




  There is an old Chinese saying:
             A tiger-like father will never have a dog-like son.”
                                                            5
                           “Have you ever been the top student in     neighbors are astonished at that stupid
                           your studies?” When he checked my          mailbox. Dad is making a fool of
                           homework, he laughed at my poor            himself.” That mid-autumn festival I
                           handwriting. I would blame him for         was absent from the gathering when
                           my penmanship, saying it was caused        everyone in the family shared moon-
                           by his bad genes. There was always a       cakes together. So when I came home
                           smell of gunpowder in our short            from school during the winter vaca-
                           dialogues. I knew Dad’s handwriting        tion, he took out a freezing, cold
                           was wonderful. But he never thought of     moon-cake from the fridge and “or-
                           teaching me. He just went on laughing      dered” me to finish it. God knows! He
                           at my poor attempts to write. That was     had saved it for three months! If these
                           his way of keeping something from me.      were hints about Dad’s love, they were
                           He wanted to be better than I in order     difficult to understand. It took me
                           to beat me down. He felt that was his      some time to consider his ridiculous
                           privilege as a father.                     behavior as a kind of love.

                           Though our relationship was distant, I     My relationship with Dad made me
                           never denied Dad’s love for me. But his    upset. I had changed from a mouse to
It was the first time in   way of showing his love for me was so      a little tiger. He was still so overbear-
                           frustrating that I had to think about it   ing. I regarded his special love as
thirty years that I had    before I noticed it was there. When I      nonsensical. Now, Dad is in the
  talked with Dad for      was studying in a famous university far
                           away, I wrote my first letter home. Dad
                                                                      hospital. He is getting old and sick. He
                                                                      is losing his power while I am gaining
        an hour.           didn’t write a single word to me.
                           However, he spent a weekend making
                                                                      my maturity. Isn’t it time for us to sit
                                                                      down and try to understand each
                           an especially big mail-                                         other? If there is
                           box that he painted                                             another thirty years,
                           silver. It was twice as big                                     shall we begin from
                           as our ordinary blue                                            the very
                           one. My sister wrote to                                         beginning, Dad?
                           me and said, “All our




                                                  6
         A      FAIR
           N UN T
          INC IDEN                                          ~by Donna Hagen


It is a very disturbing thing to receive a   the day he received the phone call… a        Donna Hagen has been a
diagnosis from your doctor that you          recent skin biopsy revealed that this        student at Delta College for
have cancer. First, there are many           stubborn rash was actually a rare form       the past two years. She is a
questions that need to be answered in        of skin cancer.                              liberal arts student and
regard to the severity of the disease and
                                                                                          plans to transfer to CSU
what the options for treatment are.          As you might imagine, we were devas-
Then, there is the unhappy task of           tated. Our doctor reassured us that it       Stanislaus. Mrs. Hagen is
telling loved ones. Through it all there     had been detected early and was not          married and has five
is the unsettling reality of facing your     considered life threatening. We were         children. Besides writing, she
own mortality. After the initial shock       told about a clinic at Stanford Hospital     also enjoys music and
wears off, you will undoubtedly go           in Palo Alto, California, which special-     gardening.
through a myriad of emotions that may        ized in the treatment and management
include denial, anger, fear, and grief.      of this rare disease. The treatment he
None of these things, as unpleasant as       described consisted of a daily applica-
they may be, can compare to the worst        tion of a chemotherapy ointment. This
experience of them all, which is dealing     ointment, when applied to the skin
with your insurance company.                 daily, might halt any further spread of
                                             the disease, and in a few cases was even
A couple of years ago, my husband saw        able to completely eradicate it. The
a dermatologist for a skin condition         doctor insisted that my husband be
that had plagued him for several years.      seen immediately and called to sched-
He had been to our family doctor many        ule an appointment for him before he
times and had tried several different        even left the office. It was at this first
creams and ointments but it only
continued to get worse. I’ll never forget
                                             visit to Stanford Hospital that our
                                             insurance nightmare began.                   Finally, I was able to
                                             I was very relieved when I was told
                                                                                          speak to a human to
                                             over the phone that Stanford accepted
                                             MediCal patients. That first visit
                                                                                             explain that I
                                             included every medical test you could
                                             think of and even a few you’d rather
                                                                                               needed an
                                             not think of, but we drove home                exemption form.
                                             thankful that everything possible was
                                             being done to keep my husband
                                             healthy. When the doctor finally called
                                             us with the results, we were happy to
                                             hear that in regards to my husband’s
                                             health everything was going pretty
                                             well, but with regard to our insurance
                                             we were in big trouble. Apparently,
                                             since MediCal was now being under-

                                                            7
                                                                       them. Four days later we received a
                                                                       letter in the mail denying our
                                                                       request for exemption because we
                                                                       had not returned the forms on
                                                                       time.

                                                                        Once again I found myself on the
                                                                        phone navigating the bureaucracy,
                                                                        requesting another form, receiving
                                                                        and faxing it the same day, only to
                                                                        be informed again by mail that we
                                                                        were being denied the exemption
                                                                        because we had not returned the
                                                                        forms in time. By now we realized
                                                                        something was very wrong. We
                                                                        spent the next six weeks calling,
                                                                        faxing, and repeatedly being denied
She was mocking me      written by either Blue Cross or Health
                        Plan of San Joaquin County, my
                                                                    a simple exemption that would allow
                                                                    my husband the treatment he needed
  for crying on the     husband could only be seen by a doctor      to stay healthy. As absurd as this whole
                        or hospital on their provider list.         thing was, I was sure that a phone call
 phone as I begged      Neither Stanford Hospital, nor our          to the right person would fix it. This
her to do something     doctor, was included in that list. He
                        told us there was one other option: to
                                                                    became one of the biggest nightmares
                                                                    of my life, but the most painful part
 about the situation.   apply for an exemption. This exemp-
                        tion allowed a person with certain
                                                                    was yet to come.

                        diseases such as cancer to be seen by       During one of my almost daily phone
                        any doctor in the state of California.      calls to the main office, I asked to
                        Unfortunately, this would only apply to     speak to a supervisor. The woman who
                        future expenses and not the hundreds        then spoke on the phone had abso-
                        of dollars we had just unknowingly          lutely no compassion for my situation
                        incurred. I remember thinking that a        whatsoever. As I once again explained
                        simple phone call should clear this         the paperwork cycle I was trapped in, I
                        entire thing up. Nothing could have         imagined her to be rolling her eyes,
                        been further from the truth.                bored to death, perhaps filing her nails
                                                                    as she listened to me plead for her
                        Trying to get through to the Health         help. In fact I did hear her let out a
                        Plan of San Joaquin County was one of       rather rude yawn. She repeated a list of
                        the most irritating and time-consuming      instructions for me that she had either
                        things I have had to do. After being put    memorized or was reading from a
                        on hold for what seemed like forever, I     script. I did my best to keep my
                        had to navigate through a phone             composure as I explained to her how
                        system with more options than most          many times I had done exactly what
                        phones have buttons for and certainly       she was asking me to do, only to
                        more that I could keep track of. Finally,   receive a computer-generated letter
                        I was able to speak to a human to           denying my request. I told her also of
                        explain that I needed an exemption          the many times that I had called asking
                        form. We completed the form on the          for someone to help resolve this
                        day it arrived and faxed it back to         situation.


                                                8
This supervisor was still convinced that
I was not in compliance with their
                                            “good.” She proudly told me of her
                                            annual bonuses, bonuses given for her       Granting my husband
procedures and decided to prove this to
me by playing me a tape of an earlier
                                            “success” at what she did. Her job was
                                            to keep people enrolled in the Health
                                                                                         an exemption would
conversation we had had. As she played
the tape for me, she did not realize that
                                            Plan of San Joaquin County and
                                            apparently she did that using whatever
                                                                                         have threatened her
her own comments had been recorded
as well. I could clearly hear her joking
                                            means necessary and at the expense of
                                            the health of the patient. Granting my
                                                                                                bonus.
about what a pest I was. She was            husband an exemption would have
mocking me for crying on the phone as       threatened her bonus. I was ready to do
I begged her to do something about          a little threatening of my own.
the situation. She tried to shut the
recording off, but it was too late.         I learned that MediCal recipients are
When she came back on the line, she         allowed to choose between two health
fumbled over her words. I was so angry      plans, Blue Cross and Health Plan of
I could barely speak. I asked this          San Joaquin County. This allows for
woman how in the world she could go         some competition between the two
to work everyday and treat people this      providers and some options for the
way. What she told me caused me great       client. If one entity is not sufficiently
sorrow.                                     meeting the client’s needs, then at
                                            enrollment time the client could switch
The supervisor on the other end of the      to the other. Hopefully, this would
line — who had the power to approve         encourage each company to do its best
my husband’s request for an exemp-          so that the enrollees would not switch
tion, which would allow him to receive      plans. Exemptions, such as the one we
the needed cancer treatment — told          were applying for, are only granted
me that she was very good at her job. I     when neither entity is able to provide
questioned her as to how she defined        the specific treatment necessary for


                                                           9
                            serious illnesses like cancer. You would    really shook our faith in humanity. It is
                            think that, under these circumstances,      very difficult for me to comprehend
                            Health Plan of San Joaquin County           how dehumanizing this whole
                            would work on behalf of the patient to      healthcare system has become. We live
                            get the treatment needed, even if it        in a nation that has made some of the
                            meant losing an enrollee. I am so sad to    most brilliant advances in medicine
                            think that a person in a position of        and yet every day, individuals are
                            authority would use her power and           denied access to the treatment they
                            influence to get bonuses for maintain-      need because of health insurance rules
                            ing accounts rather than for serving the    and regulations. People suffer in silence
                            best interests of people whose lives        while somewhere a clerical worker
                            literally depend on the treatment. I’m      determines their eligibility to receive
                            sorry to say that had I not taken some      benefits. Every day, important deci-
                            extreme measures, the employees of          sions, which directly affect the health
                            Health Plan of San Joaquin County           care an individual receives, are made by
 It is very difficult for   would have been happy to let my             individuals whose judgement is being

  me to comprehend          husband go on indefinitely without
                            ever getting the treatment he needed as
                                                                        clouded by bonuses dangled before
                                                                        them. In their minds they are “good”
 how dehumanizing           long as he maintained his enrollment
                            status.
                                                                        at what they do, because they are
                                                                        financially rewarded for it. Perhaps if
this whole healthcare       Our nightmare finally ended after we
                                                                        they had to look into the eyes of the
                                                                        cancer patient desperate for a cure,
 system has become.         wrote letters to elected officials in our
                            area and had our case assigned to an
                                                                        they would feel a deeper responsibility
                                                                        for what they were really hired to do.
                            ombudsman. However, this incident




                                                    10
   Best Friends
     Forever                                            ~by
                                                        Tajmah Jones

As mothers and aunts bustle around          years, and finally early
us, my bridal party and I stand in the      adulthood. In life, I
crowded, hot bathroom. The girls are        believe we are given more
already beautiful in their antique-         than one best friend and
yellow, lace dresses and neatly curled      each one can represent an
ringlets; they gather around me to          influential stage of life.
touch up my hair and make-up as they
argue about what shade of lipstick          Dana is the best friend who represents     Tajmah Jones is a 28 year-
would look better with my complex-          my childhood. Mr. Johnson’s fourth         old Delta College student
ion. I peer out the small, open window      grade class in the small, mountain town    who is returning to Delta
as the guests arrive for the most impor-    of Twain Harte brought us together         after five years to continue
tant day of my life. Anticipation grows     and we became instant companions.          her college education. She is
as I watch groups of people enter the       Snow days were spent together and
                                                                                       undecided on whether to
picturesque Japanese garden, lush with      peanut butter and marshmallow sand-
                                                                                       pursue a career in social
its greenery and colorful flowers. A life   wiches were shared. Building forts and
of memories walks by with the arrival       tree houses in the summer always kept      work or teaching, but is
of each friend and family member.           us busy. At these places, a secret club    presently working on her A.
Everyone is there from my third grade       was devised in which she was the           A. degree. She has been
teacher to my old classmates in high        president and I was the vice president.    married for almost six years
school, and even my great aunt and          Any member had to be approved by us,       and has three beautiful
uncle that I have not seen since I was      with a fee of a dollar. Everyone wanted    children. When not at school
small.                                      to be in our club. My best friend was      she enjoys spending time
                                            always a leader and I admired her and
                                                                                       with her family, reading,
There are memories I can attach to          wanted to be like her. As a matter of
                                                                                       writing, photographing and
each face. Tears begin to well up in my     fact, most of our quarrels were due to
eyes as the time to walk down the aisle     me “copying” her when I had my hair        scrap booking her family
grows near. Diane, my Maid of Honor,        cut similar to hers or when I bought       photos.
is quick with a tissue and comforting       the same shoes as she had. But of
words. Meanwhile, my bridesmaids,           course, the fights never lasted for long
Dana and Felicia, are busy adjusting        and we became inseparable again —           Any member had to
my veil and train. Candice, my last         although miles did separate us the
bridesmaid, amuses me with silly faces      summer before our sixth grade year           be approved by us,
and stupid jokes to ease my nerves.
What would I ever do without them?
                                            when my mother’s new job forced my
                                            family to move two hours away from          with a fee of a dollar.
These four women are my best friends.       Dana. With the miles between us, our
For me, each of these women, different      visits became less. Leaving my child-
in their own ways, represents a person      hood behind, I would enter
who was extremely important to me at        adolescence in a new place. Then Dana
a certain period of time in my life: my     became one of two best friends in my
childhood, my adolescence, my teen          young life, but to me she would always


                                                          11
                                                                                  like and this is where we
                                                                                  also promised each other
                                                                                  that I would be her Maid
                                                                                  of Honor and she would
                                                                                  be mine. At these
                                                                                  sleepovers big secrets such
                                                                                  as a first kiss or a new
                                                                                  crush were always revealed.
                                                                                  Sadly, our weekend
                                                                                  sleepovers ended when
                                                                                  once again my family
                                                                                  moved and along with my
                                                                                  teenage years a third best
                                                                                  friend also arrived into my
                                                                                  life, but Diane would
                                                                                  forever remain my “sister.”

Besides boys, we were                                                               After we had moved to
                                                                                    Stockton, Felicia became
also focused on Guess                                                               my best friend at Tokay

  Jeans and Espirit                                                                 High School during my
                                                                                    teen years. Although I may
       clothing.                                                                    not have shared the close-
                                                                                    ness with Felicia that I had
                        be my favorite companion during my            with Diane, she was the one person in
                        childhood years.                              high school I trusted completely. If it
                                                                      were not for us being totally engrossed
                        Along with a new school in the valley         in our boyfriends, we probably would
                        “hick” town of Oakdale, I also gained a       have become inseparable also. Felicia
                        new best friend, Diane. Diane, for me,        and I were not exactly popular in high
                        mostly represents my adolescence.             school; we were actually kind of loners
                        During the awkward years of junior            together. At school we joined the same
                        high school we became attached at the         clubs and we were athletic sports
                        hip and boy crazy pre-teens together.         trainers for the football and soccer
                        Where there was Tajmah, there too was         teams. Outside of school we both were
                        Diane. Besides boys, we were also             employed at a local Taco Bell. Long
                        focused on Guess Jeans and Espirit            hours were spent at each other’s houses
                        clothing. Discussing what band mem-           studying for tests. School dances and
                        ber was the hottest of Bon Jovi or            football games became fun double
                        Poison while doing each other’s hair or       dates. My best friend, Felicia, was the
                        make-up was a favorite past time.             only friend at my high school that
                        Fights over boys sometimes occurred,          truly knew if I had lost my virginity or
                        but no boy could ever part us com-            not. Complaints of having an overly
                        pletely for long. We were as close as         strict and protective father were shared
                        sisters and “sister” is also what we called   with Felicia. Our friendship was the
                        each other. On the weekends or during         only friendship that remained secure
                        school vacations, we had sleepovers           from rumors, jealousy, and popularity
                        where we spent the whole night talking        contests, which had been the reasons
                        of what our future weddings would be          for my other high school friendships to


                                                12
tear apart. But eventually, with the        or two. With time our relationship
arrival of graduation, the new pressures    grew; we eventually became roommates
of adulthood upon us, and little time       and soon we threw our own get-
left in our busy lives, our relationship    togethers where we invited the Carlos
did tear apart a little. A best friend is   and Luigi’s crew and their friends. This
still what I would consider Felicia         friendship was full of the best times of
because she was the one friend that was     my life. At one point, the day came
beside me in a few of the hardest years     that I met the man that would be my
of my life, my teenage years.               future husband. Later I became preg-
                                            nant with my first child. Having the
After high school, I was employed at        new responsibilities of motherhood, my
Carlos and Luigi’s and that is where I      priorities had changed and our fun
met Candice. To me, she represents my       times and outings did not happen as
best friend during early adulthood or       often. Then the day came that Candice
should I say my early twenties. As          decided she wanted a change of pace in
hostesses, we shared many shifts            her life and moved to Alaska where she        Our friendship was the
together and enjoyed conversation and       met the man she would marry and had
laughs in between seating guests and        her first child also. Although miles and        only friendship that
making tortillas. From a relationship as
co-workers, it grew into a friendship.
                                            life have separated us I will always
                                            consider her my best friend; she is the       remained secure from
Candice and I did many things outside
of work together. Our days off were
                                            one I shared life with back when I was
                                            single and living it up without the
                                                                                           rumors, jealousy, and
often spent taking road trips to San
Francisco or to Sacramento. Roaming
                                            responsibilities of a family.                   popularity contests.
the outlet stores and the malls were        But now, as I stand nervously at the
usually on our agenda since Candice         entrance of the garden watching each
was a shopaholic. She and I loved to        of my bridesmaids walk down the aisle
hang out at parties and dance at local      that is surrounded by a sea of people’s
nightclubs where we would check out         faces who have entered my life at one
the guys and pick up a phone number         time or another, I come to a realization.
                                                     Out of all the faces that are
                                                       here to celebrate this happy
                                                        occasion with me, the people
                                                         who have had the largest
                                                          impression upon my life,
                                                           besides my parents, will be
                                                           standing right beside me as
                                                          I say my vows to my hus-
                                                          band. No matter how they
                                                         may change over the years or
                                                         what influential period of
                                                        time in my life each of these
                                                       women represents to me, I
                                                       will forever call each one of
                                                       them my best friend and they
                                                      will forever hold a special place
                                                      in my heart.




                                                           13
                                                  The Trip Down the Road
                                                 of a Life-Threatening Illness                      ~by Tajmah Jones
                                                In the days before my        small needles from a booster shot prick
                                                son’s diagnosis, my          him was now being dug into with
                                                family’s life was like any   gigantic needles long and thick enough
                                                other’s - my family was      to travel through the bone in his hip or
                                                made up of my husband,       to reach the spinal fluid in his spine.
                                                my two children (both        My husband and I, week after week,
                                                under the age of three)      would try to calm our child during
                                                and myself. My husband       spinal taps and bone marrow aspira-
Tajmah Jones is a 28 year-      and I both worked; he worked during          tions as he would kick, scream, and cry.
                                the day and I worked in the evenings.        Finally, we fought with the doctors and
old Delta College student
                                We were a typical young American             forced them to allow sedation for him,
who is returning to Delta       couple trying to survive and pay the         but our son’s emotional anxiety about
after five years to continue    bills while still juggling a family life.    these procedures never went away.
her college education. She is   During this much simpler time in our         Today he is still a severely anxious and
undecided on whether to         lives, before we had ever been faced         fearful child.
pursue a career in social       with a life-threatening disease in our
work or teaching, but is        family, I had never realized how the         As for the chemotherapy, although it
presently working on her A.     effects of such a disease could spread       was used to rid him of cancer, it also
A. degree. She has been         way beyond one’s health. But once            had many serious negative side effects
                                Leukemia invaded my baby boy’s body,         on his health. Our son lost his hair in
married for almost six years
                                not only did it change his health, but it    clumps. Eventually, we ended up
and has three beautiful         also invaded and affected our whole          shaving it all off, and to help him
children. When not at school    family in many different ways.               through this, his daddy shaved his head
she enjoys spending time                                                     too. At times, our son would develop
with her family, reading,       Anthony’s health started to deteriorate      sores in his mouth and throat, making
writing, photographing and      at the end of May 1998. Within a few         it impossible for him to eat solid foods.
scrap booking her family        weeks, we realized something was             I tried to make it better for him by
photos.                         seriously wrong. On June 10, 1998,           allowing him to have a diet of choco-
                                Leukemia became the diagnosis for my         late pudding, but it could not ease the
                                son. My son had changed from an              pain completely. In the future, he may
                                extremely active, rough-and-tumble           not be able to have children due to
                                little boy into a severely weak, lethargic   chemotherapy. Neurological problems,
                                and sick child. It was heart wrenching       developed since his chemotherapy
                                to watch this disease suck the life from     began, have caused problems with his
                                his tiny body, but what was equally as       fine motor skills. He now walks on his
                                hard to watch were the effects of the        toes. Chemotherapy also depleted his
                                chemotherapy and medical procedures          immune system, which made him
                                that were required to save his life.         tremendously susceptible to any cold,
                                                                             flu and infection.
                                The painful procedures, I believe, were
                                the worst for Anthony and us, as             Because Anthony’s immune system
                                parents. A child only used to having         became severely low, we had to change

                                                        14
many personal habits also. Constant       dures. Our lives had become a whirl-
hand washing before touching Anthony      wind of appointments. My family
or after he touched anything became a     became close to the staff and the other
part of our routine. He could no longer   families at the clinic who also had
eat fruit with skin or have plants or     children with cancer. During this
flowers around him because of the         intensely straining time, we appreciated
pesticides. When we were in enclosed      having individuals to talk to — indi-
areas with many people, he had to wear    viduals who understood our exact same
a mask. The house and his toys had to     pain. Through these people, we discov-
be cleaned thoroughly to rid them of      ered support groups and events for
any unwanted bacteria or germs.           children with cancer that we still attend
Despite all these precautions, at times   to this day. These became a special part
he would still catch a cold or the flu.   of our lives.
When someone with a normal immune
system has a cold, that person can
usually simply buy an over-the-counter
                                          Anthony also had a favorite nurse that
                                          he looked forward to seeing each time
                                                                                        My husband and I,
medication and his or her immune          he had an appointment; she would kiss          week after week,
system would fight it off, but for        away his “owies” and find Power
Anthony it was different; it usually      Rangers in his ears. These were won-        would try to calm our
meant a trip to the hospital and some-
times a hospital admission. As a matter
                                          derful people who we only met due to
                                          my son’s illness, but who made our lives     child during spinal
of fact, the Hematology/Oncology
ward and clinic at the Sacramento
                                          much richer. In a sense, we had a new
                                          family at that home away from home.
                                                                                          taps and bone
Kaiser was our home away from home.       More time was spent at that clinic and
                                          in the car than at our true home, but it
                                                                                      marrow aspirations as
Immediately following my son’s diagno-
sis, we were admitted into the
                                          was necessary and that was all that
                                          mattered. Our schedules had changed
                                                                                      he would kick, scream,
Hematology/Oncology Ward of the           drastically; the days of coming and                and cry.
Sacramento Kaiser. Anthony and I were     leaving to work and home were a
there for a month. After Anthony was      memory. Not only had the clinic and
healthy enough to return home, we still   the hospital become our new home,
had to return to the clinic in Sacra-     but also caring for my son had become
mento three times a week, at first for    my only job.
his chemotherapy and medical proce-
                                                           Once my son’s doctor
                                                           spoke to us about
                                                           what caring for a
                                                           child with Leukemia
                                                           would entail, I
                                                           realized I could not
                                                           keep my two part-
                                                           time jobs. Time was
                                                           precious now, so I
                                                           quit two waitress jobs




                                                        15
                          to stay at home and care for my sick         peace among the chaos. A play thera-
                          son and his little sister. Due to the loss   pist helped Anthony better understand
                          of income, credit card bills went unpaid     the medical procedures and the reasons
                          and other bills fell behind. Paying the      for them. Although this was a difficult
                          bills were no longer my family’s first       time in my family’s life, there were
                          priority as before; saving my son’s life     many things that we gained and
                          was. With help from many cancer              learned.
Once my son’s doctor      organizations, we paid what we could,
  spoke to us about       but eventually filing for bankruptcy was
                          the end result. To me, it was worth the
                                                                       Despite the many negative effects, I can
                                                                       definitely say that I have gained knowl-
what caring for a child   consequences of having a bankruptcy
                          on our credit report. There was no way
                                                                       edge and awareness that I would never
                                                                       have had if not for my son being
with Leukemia would       I could have worked to pay those bills
                          and taken care of my son at the same
                                                                       diagnosed. When I became a parent of
                                                                       a child with Leukemia, I gained knowl-
  entail, I realized I    time; life had become too stressful.         edge about the disease and many other
                                                                       types of cancer that I would never have
could not keep my two     With the busy schedule, the emotional        known otherwise. This knowledge
                          pain, the fear and anxiety that my child     helped me to understand the need for
   part-time jobs.        might die, the new financial strains,        better cancer research, donations and
                          the absence of my home and family,           fund-raisers. I researched what would
                          and the continual exhaustion, I felt the     be beneficial to my son in case of a
                          stress was enormous. Not only was I          relapse and learned about the benefits
                          under tremendous pressure, but my            of cord blood. My youngest child’s cord
                          husband was also. While holding all          blood is now stored in case Anthony
                          the financial pressures upon his shoul-      should ever need it. Life with a life-
                          ders, my husband had to continue             threatening disease in my family has
                          working his regular job and was unable       made me aware of how precious life is.
                          to see his sick son as often as I was.       I never take it for granted. Our family
                          Anthony, too, had emotionally fallen         no longer worries as much about the
                          apart; he was a young three-year-old         small stuff and always tries to make
                          child who could not understand why           time for each other now.
                          this was happening to him. Due to the
                          confusion and stress he was under, he        Life since my baby boy’s diagnosis of
                          would act out with poor behavior. As         Leukemia has been an extremely
                          for my little girl, she did not under-       difficult road to travel. As I stand near
                          stand why she was left at Grandma’s all      the end of that road, at the point where
                          of the time and she was under stress         my son has entered one year of remis-
                          also because of the change in routine        sion off chemotherapy, I understand
                          and missing her family. Fights between       that my family has learned an extreme
                          my husband and I began to occur.             amount from this trip. Not all the
                          Many times when there is extreme             effects of having a child with Leukemia
                          stress in my life I tend to take it out on   have been positive, of course; but now I
                          the person I am the closest to, which        realize that before life may have been
                          ended up being my husband during             easier, but now our family’s life is much
                          this difficult time. Eventually, I sought    more meaningful.
                          out therapy for
                          depression.
                          Therapy and the
                          support groups
                          helped me to find
                                                  16
A Lesson Learned                                           ~by Tina Svetlana Gomez

“It is hard to survive the seventeen years   way, but she does not notice the
of my existence alone.” I have lived         brackish tears racing down my face.
with my grandparents all the days of         Do I blame her? She is old and cannot
my life, and they do whatever they can       hear me. But, I feel like I am simply
do for me. In fact, my grandfather is        existing; I am not actually living.
my wake up call every morning. He            Feeling frustrated and helpless, I run to
cooks my breakfast and prepares the          my room and slam the door as hard as
bath tub while my grandmother washes         I can. My arms are in pain, but this is
my clothes and irons them. My parents        not the reason why I am screeching out
live a thousand miles away from each         loud. Anyone who can see me will
other—my dad in the United States            think that I am silly because I look like
and my mom in Manila. All the years          a kid abandoned by her mom. How I
of my life, I have been living with my       wish that were the case! That would be
grandparents and a few relatives in San      better than to have imperceptible           “Nothing in this world is
Juan. My grandparents are firm and           parents. To tell the whole world that I     permanent. Eventually, things
determined to give me a prosperous           am angry by screaming is easy, but          will change like the way we
life, but they do not know what it is        nothing comes through my mouth. As          aspire it to be. However, we
like to exist alone—alone at the heart       I agonize, I feel like I am in the middle   must stand and lead now to
of a vague, chaotic and endless battle       of nowhere. I am running as fast as I
                                                                                         make small beginnings.”
for emotional survival. Yes, I live almost   can, but the road seems endless. People
                                                                                         Tina Svetlana Gomez believes
like a princess, but deep inside, I suffer   are around me, but I appear invisible.
and starve for things money cannot           No one can actually see me. I close my      that the youth of today are the
buy. At my extremely young age, I fight      eyes and cover my ears. Tears start to      only weapon to attain the
the devils—the demons that I create.         well in my eyes and my heart begins to      change that our world needs.
                                             bleed. My knees and hands are shak-         Because of that principle, she
“It is hard to survive the seventeen years   ing. I talk to God, “Please tell me what    wants to major in Political
of my existence alone.” There came a         to do. I cannot take this anymore!”         Science at UC Berkeley. She
time when I wanted to share my                                                           also aspires to teach and write
emotions with them, but I am hesitant        I hurriedly pack my things. My mi-
                                                                                         her own book, in God’s time.
to do so. I prefer to unravel my knots       graine is poking my head, but I
                                                                                         This adventurous seventeen-
and qualms all by myself. Why? Be-           disregard the soreness. Where to go? I
cause I believe that no one truly cares      do not know. After all, no one cares        year-old freshman was born
about me. Yes, I am skeptical of all         about me! With a snap of a finger, I        and raised in the Philippines
things in my life. My high school            become a rebel. The girl that used to       and migrated in the USA July
classmates used to say that I am loud,       be praised from her classmates and          2002. She spends her free time
and I admit it! Maybe that is my only        relatives abruptly changes her color.       reading, singing and winning
way to express what I sense deep             When my grandparents are tightly            friends.
within: the feeling of emptiness, of         sleeping, I come out of our dwelling
desertion, of loneliness.                    like an escaping burglar. Taking little,
                                             careful steps, I leave the house. In the
I cannot breathe anymore. In the             darkness of the night, I saunter the wet
middle of nowhere, I suddenly cry.           and lonely streets of San Juan. Rain-
From the veranda, I watch my grand-          drops are my only comrades. Maybe
mother sitting on her favorite couch,        the crickets hanging on the trees are
reading a comic book. She is facing my

                                                           17
                           thinking that I am on dope because I
                           am talking to myself.
                                                                       I prefer to unravel my knots and
                           Sparkling lights and loud sounds
                           coming from different establishments
                                                                             qualms all by myself.
                           awaken my stagnant thoughts. Suffo-
                           cating smoke from vehicles covers the
                           whole place. The city is the exact
                           opposite of our town; it is extremely
                           noisy and unruly. While waiting for
                           the bus, I sit on a filthy bench on the     heart: The boy and his sick mother are
                           murky corner of the street to rest my       sharing the small piece of bread that I
                           back and feet. I take off my navy blue      gave him. His mother cannot walk. She
                           jacket because the rain has saturated it.   is lying on the cold and damp street.
                           “Stars don’t even take a glimpse of me,”    My vision turns fuzzy. Tears begin to
                           I whisper to myself. Yet I am amused        roll down my cheeks as if I carry a
                           because I feel like a movie star portray-   fountain of water in my eyes. And at
                           ing a prodigal daughter role in an          that point, I almost become hysterical;
                           independent film. Midnight drizzles         I fall onto my knees and I cry like a
                           continuously bathe my face and wash         feeble baby. I know that the bus is
With a snap of a finger,   the traces of tears from my cheeks. As I    coming, but I choose to ignore it. I
                           look at the lights on the post, I exam-     walk back to the bench where I sit and
  I become a rebel.        ine my conscience: Am I doing the           gaze at my muddy sneakers. I realize
                           right thing? My dense ego shouts with       that my grandparents are indeed proud
                           pride, “If they do not find me, they        of my achievements, talents—me in
                           will surely look for me. At long last,      general. Even though my parents rarely
                           they will…”                                 see me, they never fail to call me
                                                                       everyday. It feels heavenly to perceive
                           Ate, pahingi nga po ng piso . . . Gutom     the positive side of my being. Sadly, I
                           na gutom na po ako (Can you give me         had never recognized it. One of the
                           coin? I’m starving.) A five-year-old boy    best decisions that I ever made in my
                           has disturbed my thinking. He is            entire life takes place in that instance: I
                           awfully thin and haggard. His small         decided to return home. I clutch my
                           and dirty fingers are inside his mouth.     backpack and walk two miles to be
                                                                       home.
                           Bakit hindi ka pa umuuwi? Gabi na ha.
                           Nasan nanay mo? (Why are you still          All the lights in our house are turned
                           here? It is already dark. Where’s your      on. Our front door is open and a
                           mother?), I reply while giving him a        crimson car blocks the driveway. For
                           piece of bread from my bag.                 the first time, I see my grandfather cry.
                                                                       My mother looks upset and teary-eyed.
                           May sakit po ang nanay ko. Salamat nga      Hugging my grandfather is my grand-
                           po pala sa tinapay (My mother is sick.      mother who is looking at my anxious
                           By the way, thank you for the bread).       mother. Suddenly, my emotions
                           Then, he runs toward the other side of      change. I am now exceedingly in shame
                           the street. He looks overjoyed and          about what I have done. Honestly, I do
                           relieved.                                   not know if I still have the confidence
                                                                       in me like when I deliver a speech in
                           Curiously, I quietly walk after the boy.    school—chin up with a hundred
                           The next picture melts my stubborn
                                                  18
              A five-year-old boy has disturbed my thinking.



percent composure. It is clear: I did a ridiculous thing. Within a split second, I
notice my grandfather staring at me. His eyes are not overflowing with anger, but
with love and concern. Hastily, I run to my grandfather and hug him tightly.

Patawarin nyo po ako! Hindi ko na po uulitin, promise (I’m very sorry. I will never
do this again, promise), I exclaim with a coarse voice. He did not know why I was
apologizing. Instead of blaming me or shouting at me, he cries again.

Bakit? Ano bang problema? Anak, huwag mo na ulit uulitin yun! (Why? What’s the
problem? Do not do it again!), he utters with a sound of relief.

My mother is leaning sideward on the door with a loving smile on her face. She
does not say a word, but her expression speaks that she has unloaded a burden
inside her. My grandmother, crying again, snatches the telephone from my mom’s
hand to call our relatives. I hardly notice that the rain is falling down from heaven
again. Maybe God is welcoming and congratulating me since I am back from a
turbulent experience.

“It is hard to survive the seventeen years of my existence alone.” This is what I
used to think. Now, even in my wildest dreams, running away from home never
crosses my mind. As my other relatives start to fill our house, I spy a declamation
trophy I received last year. At the bottom of the trophy is a picture of me and my
grandfather receiving the award. I do not know why I smirk, but one thing is for
sure: I will never run away from home again.




  And at that point, I almost become hysterical; I fall onto my knees
                       and I cry like a feeble baby.


                                                           19
                                The Quest for
                                Awareness                                                 ~by Thu Phan
                                         The most significant disabil-       Other instructors get confused and lose
                                         ity issue facing college            their confidence when suddenly they
                                         students with disabilities          see a student who is physically chal-
                                         involves interaction between        lenged in their classroom. For instance,
                                         instructors and students who        one instructor on the first day of class
                                         are physically challenged.          announced, “They didn’t warn me that
                                         Instructors have the responsi-      I was getting a disabled student in my
                                         bility to be aware of students      classroom, especially a visually-im-
                                         with disabilities. A few            paired student.” Such instructors are
                                         instructors do not have the         shocked and perhaps feel threatened by
                                         skills and the tools necessary      the circumstances. Sometimes instruc-
                                         to prepare them to interact         tors speak to students with disabilities
                                         with students with disabilities     in an inferior tone and do not give
                                         and to treat them fairly. This      them the same respect they give to
                                         is a continuing problem, and        students who are able-bodied. These
                                         I am obligated to address this      instructors patronize the students who
                                         issue because I feel that all       are physically challenged, viewing them
                                         students who are physically         as incapable individuals.
                                         challenged have the right to
                                         learn and receive a strong          Finally, there are instructors who will
Thu Phan was born in            education. Education is the key to self-     not accommodate students with dis-
Vietnam and came to the         empowerment and independence.                abilities simply because these
                                                                             instructors do not want to tolerate the
United States when she was
                                The majority of instructors are com-         specific needs of the students with
two years old. She has three
                                passionate, understanding, and will          disabilities. In one instance, a student
sisters, two brothers, and a    accommodate students who are physi-          could not attend class because the
family dog. She will be         cally challenged. These instructors are      elevator was broken and she used a
attending the University of     optimistic and are willing to challenge      walker to help her get to class. An
Pacific in fall 2003 to major   themselves to work with students with        instructor remarked, “Well, you could
in psychology. Her long-term    disabilities. However, some instructors      have found other ways to get to class.”
goal is to be an advocate for   perceive that students with disabilities     The only way she could have attended
people who are physically       are deceitful, threatening, incompetent,     class was to have somebody carry her
                                or burdensome. Some instructors view         up three flights of stairs. If someone did
challenged. She wants to be
                                students who are physically challenged       carry her to and from class and if they
their voice and their
                                as using their disability to their advan-    both fell, who would be liable?
spokesperson. Additionally,     tage. These instructors feel
she wants to be a               uncomfortable having students take           I have encountered one instructor who
motivational speaker on self-   their tests in Disabled Student Pro-         betrayed me, viewed me as a machine
empowerment.                    grams and Services (DSPS) because            because of my wheelchair, and cheated
                                they feel the students are likely to cheat   me out of class participation. A few
                                there.                                       semesters ago, I enrolled in a civiliza-
                                                                             tion class. During the first week of the
                                                                             class, the instructor announced to all
                                                        20
students that he would offer extra             My solution is to raise disability aware-
credit if they participated in a class-        ness in order to educate instructors.
room skit the next day. Realistically, I       When instructors, through their own
knew the class was going to be difficult,
so I wanted to get extra credit to help
                                               education, learned about different
                                               cultures and diverse backgrounds, the
                                                                                             Your teaching procedure
boost my grade at the end of the
semester. Right after class, I approached
                                               departments of education neglected to
                                               teach these instructors about the
                                                                                                   is obsolete. . . .
him and asked if I could participate in        diverse backgrounds of people with
the classroom skit. He bluntly replied,        disabilities. I propose that all future and
“No, your wheelchair would be too              current instructors be mandated to
awkward.” I felt crushed and shocked.          enroll in a disability awareness course.
                                               The disability awareness course would
In the same week, I was parking my             be strictly to raise awareness about
wheelchair, making an effort not to            people with disabilities. The course is
block the aisle in the classroom. I did        not to be twisted around into some-
the best I could with the little room I        thing more. The course is not designed
had to work with. All of a sudden, he          to solve any problems with prejudice
came up to me and rudely said, “You            that instructors may have. If there is
need to move!” There were more                 prejudice, this course is not a remedy
incidents like this. My note taker at the      for it. I do not have the magical power
time witnessed how he was mistreating          to transform beliefs over night.
me. She told me that she confronted
him and told him that if any student           However, I do have the power to speak
with a disability wanted to participate        out on this continuing problem. The
in his classroom skit, he could not deny       following guidelines should be incorpo-
them. He then stated that he would feel        rated in the disability awareness course.
honored if any student with a disability       First, instructors need to give all
were willing to participate in his skit,       students with disabilities respect rather
and he would accommodate them.                 than view them as an incompetent
When she told me this, I was infuri-           people who need pity. Second, each
ated. I lost all respect for that instructor   student who is physically challenged
as a person because no instructor has          should be treated case by case. Instruc-
the right to lie like that and get away        tors should not generalize or stereotype.
with it. Lying is not part of the              An individual need is an individual            The course is not to be
instructor’s job description.                  need, and instructors should not apply
                                               one student’s need to that of another           twisted around into
Of the above-mentioned groups of
instructors, some of these individuals
                                               student with a disability. Third, in-
                                               structors need to experience how it is to
                                                                                                something more.
are very giving, understanding, and            be physically challenged. It will require
receptive to the needs of students             a hands-on experience for instructors to
WITHOUT a disability. But why                  never forget the significance of different
should I, a student with a disability, not     disabilities. Last, the instructors should
receive the same overall level of perfor-      learn how to be verbally sensitive and
mance from these instructors?                  use proper etiquette around students
According to the Americans with                with disabilities. Verbal etiquette is
Disabilities Act (ADA), everyone has           involved when referring to people of
the right to an education. Why are the         different cultures; people with disabili-
students who are physically challenged         ties are no different.
finding it more difficult to unlock their
future?
                                                              21
                                 However, some instructors perceive that students with a disability
                                    are deceitful, threatening, incompetent, or burdensome.
                               Obviously, bitter, ignorant critics will
                               fight to oppose this idea. Critics will    I feel strongly about this issue. Some-
                               demand, “Why should we waste our           thing needs to be done about it. The
                               valuable time in a frivolous and non-      more I analyze this challenge, the
                               sensical disability awareness course?      further I would like this plan to be
                               Why should we change our teaching          implemented in the workforce. Being
                               procedure?” In return, I will state,       disabled is not a choice; we have no
                               “Why not? What is it that you have to      control over it. We live with our dis-
                               lose? Knowledge? Your teaching proce-      ability every day, and if people were
                               dure is obsolete, and you have a moral     more aware, we would have a more
    Lying is not part of the   obligation to all students’ specific
                               needs today. I GUARANTEE you that
                                                                          understanding society. Having a more
                                                                          understanding society would help to
       instructor’s job        you would want a helpful instructor
                               willing to provide you accommodation
                                                                          alleviate some of the predicaments that
                                                                          people who are physically challenged
         description.          in a positive manner if you were a         encounter every day.
                               person with a disability.”

                               By taking the disability awareness
                               course, instructors will become more
                               rounded and levelheaded individuals.
                               This disability awareness course
                               will build their character and
                               self-confidence. Also, this
                               course will help to eliminate
                               some misconceptions for both
                               instructors and students.
                               Consequently, when students
                               who are physically challenged
g                              enroll in a college class, they
                               will have the quality instruc-
                               tor that they deserve.




                                                      22
Cell Phones at Public Events                                ~by Jacqui FitzGerald



The much anticipated second Harry           with people watching
Potter movie opened on a Friday night.      a car falling out of a
Thursday night my husband stood in          tree. The man’s son
line in the dark to get tickets so my son   was seeing his hero
could go to opening night. We spent         Harry Potter being
$21 on tickets, and another $20 on          bashed around and
snacks. We went into the theater and        the child said, “Sh” to
found seats close to the front in the       his dad. His dad said,
sold out theater, exactly where my son      “Yeah, okay, I’d better
wanted to sit to see the movie. The         go and watch the
movie-theater was packed with families      movie. I’ll talk to you
waiting to see the movie. The pre-teen      later.” By this time, I
children who were Harry Potter fans         was very angry. How
were not a quiet crowd, but when the        could this man think
opening credits started to run the sold     that I wanted to listen
out crowd became silent. The antics of      to his conversation?
Harry and Ron in the flying car on the      How could he be so disrespectful to the
screen kept all eyes looking straight       people around him? The conversation I       Jacqui FitzGerald moved to
ahead.                                      overheard definitely didn’t sound like it   California six years ago from
                                            was an emergency. If this man had no        Canada. She lives in Manteca
All of a sudden, a ringing noise came       social skills to understand it was rude     with her husband and eleven-
from the coat pocket of the man             to the people around him to talk on the     year-old son. She is pursuing
behind me. He must have missed the          phone when he was at a movie theater,
                                                                                        a business degree at Delta
signs on the way in asking everyone to      then what about how his son must feel
                                                                                        College.
shut their cell phones off, or he forgot.   when his father uses family time to chat
I thought there was no way a father         with other people?
who had his son at the movie would
answer the phone. He was there to           According to Public Agenda, a non-
spend time with his family. Was I ever      profit research house, I am not alone in
wrong? Not only did the man answer          being annoyed by a loud, public cell
the phone, he proceeded to have a           phone conversation. In a survey con-
lengthy, loud conversation with some-       ducted, 49% of respondents said they
one. While Ron and Harry were flying        have been annoyed by a loud mobile
over London and landing in the              phone conversation in theaters or at
Whomping Tree, the gentleman                concerts. In the same survey only 17%
behind me was having a conversation         of cell phone owners thought they were
with the person on the other end of the     guilty of such behavior (Gibbons 1).
phone. The phone call went like this:       This means many cell phone owners
“Hello” then a slight pause. “No, I’m       are annoyed by others talking on their
not busy but I really can’t talk; I have    phones at these events, but they feel
my son at the new Harry Potter              that their own conversations are not an
movie.” Slight pause. “Yeah, it seems       annoyance to someone else.
like it’s going to be a good movie.”
Slight pause. The theater was packed        The September 4, 2001

                                                          23
                           USA Today reported a survey con-
                           ducted for Cingular Wireless in which
                           80% of the respondents had overheard        How could he be so disrespectful
                           cell phone conversations in restaurants
                           and stores, more than 50% had over-
                                                                         to the people around him?
                           heard conversations at sporting events,
Not only do they weave     and about 43% had been subjected to
                           loud conversations at theaters and
around the aisles like     concerts (Sharp 2). If I have paid          the leg when he wouldn’t lower his
 they have had a few       money to see a sporting event or
                           concert, do I care what the person
                                                                       voice (Sharp 1).

too many drinks, they      beside me, whom I don’t know, has
                           been doing for the last few days? Or
                                                                       There were 120 million cell phones in
                                                                       the US in 2001 (Sharp 3). If everyone
also seem to think it is   how about the people who are on a cell
                           phone in the grocery store? Not only
                                                                       made one call at an inappropriate time,
                                                                       there would be many interrupted
appropriate to use any     do they weave around the aisles like
                           they have had a few too many drinks,
                                                                       events. Some cities through legislation
                                                                       are starting to try to curb the annoy-
kind of language and       they also seem to think it is appropri-     ance of cell phones ringing during
                           ate to use any kind of language and         public performances. Has society
discuss any topic that     discuss any topic that comes to mind.       become so egocentric that we need
    comes to mind.         It seems like every time I go out more
                           people talk on their cell phones as if
                                                                       rules telling us how rude it is to inter-
                                                                       rupt someone else’s enjoyment of an
                           they are in their living rooms rather       event by forcing them to listen in on a
                           than in a public place.                     cell phone conversation? Obviously, if
                                                                       there are people like the man at the
                           For example, the woman in the grocery       Harry Potter movie, someone must do
                           store discussing her son’s failing grades   something to curb this annoying
                           and how his teacher is not doing her        behavior. There are already rules
                           job, or the young girl sitting in the       governing how loud a car can be or
                           mall food court discussing her date         how loud a person can play a stereo, so
                           from last night. Recently, a man at a       it is only natural that society governs
                           funeral in Israel answered his phone        the use of cell phones.
                           while carrying a coffin. The mayor of
                           San Diego’s phone was ringing while         Two San Francisco Supervisors, Chris
                           she gave a news conference asking the       Daley and Aaron Peskin, “have intro-
                           public to stop using cell phones at         duced legislation to prohibit the
                           inappropriate times in public (Sharp        audible use of cell phones in places of
                           3). Or the man who was talking to a         public performances” (Fouhy). Ringing
                           used car salesman on his phone while        cell phones and people talking on the
                           the crowd around him was trying to          cell phone would be banned during
                           view the Grand Canyon. He was               movies, theater, concerts and lectures.
                           repeatedly asked politely to take his       Sporting events would be exempt
                           phone call somewhere else. He ignored       (Fouhy). The New York City Council
                           the request. Finally one listener wrote     has approved a ban on cell phone use
                           him a note “Nature: Yes. Cell phones:       at concerts, plays, movies, lectures,
                           No.” and he moved away (Sharp 2). In        dance recitals and other performances
                           an extreme reaction to someone not          in the city. People are allowed to have
                           lowering his voice while talking on a       their cell phones with them at the
                           cell phone, two people shot a man in        events, but they must just have them


                                                  24
set to vibrate or shut off during the                    Works Cited
performance. There is a $50 dollar fine
for a violation of the no cell phone rule   “Cell Phone Etiquette. Maybe New
(Cell 1). Amtrak has implemented               York is on to Something.” Edito-
“Quiet Cars” on the trains between             rial. Sacramento Bee 18 Feb. 2003:
Washington and Boston. Opera goers             B6.
at the La Scala in Italy must check
their phones in the cloakroom to            Fouhy, Beth. “S.F. supervisors urge ban
ensure ringing doesn’t interrupt the           on cell phones.” Tri-Valley Herald
enjoyment of the opera (Sharp 2).              27 Feb. 2003: A2.
Some companies have hired Jacqueline
Whitmore, an etiquette expert, to tutor     Gibbons, Edward. “Jacqueline
executives on appropriate cell phone           Whitmore, Protocol School of
etiquette (Gubbins).                           Palm Beach.” Wireless Review (1
                                               July, 2002): 1 pg. Expanded
None of these rules and regulations            Academic ASAP. InfoTrac Search
would be necessary if society started to       Bank. San Joaquin Delta College
think about others around them. If you         Library, Stockton. 26 Feb. 2003.
are annoyed by a cell phone conversa-          http//web1.
tion that someone else is having, you          infotrac.galegroup.com
can be sure that your conversation
would be annoying to someone else. I        Sharp, Deborah. “Cell Phones Reveal
really don’t care where you have been          Screaming Lack of Courtesy” USA
or what you did while you were there.          Today (4 Sept. 2001): 4 pgs.
Write it down in a diary or speak to           Newsbank. InfoTrac Search Bank.
those who care when you are in a               San Joaquin Delta College Library,
private place. Turn off your phone and         Stockton. 26 Feb. 2003.
let the rest of us enjoy the show.




 The mayor of San Diego’s phone was ringing
 while she gave a news conference asking the
      public to stop using cell phones at
        inappropriate times in public.




                                                         25
                  The Misunderstood
                    Femme Fatale                                                                  ~by Brian Musich

                                                   Throughout history,      However, in a dream, the knight
                                                   beautiful women have     receives a warning that he has been put
                                                   been adored and          under a spell by the woman; eventually,
                                                   worshipped. Men          he ends up alone and dying. Through-
                                                   swoon over what          out this poem, the “Lady” is described
                                                   culture has defined as   as a magical creature, a “fairy’s child”
                                                   a beautiful woman; at    who speaks in a “language strange.” She
                                                   times, men even view     sings “a faery’s song” while riding the
                                                   these women as           knight’s horse. She is a supernatural
                                                   supernatural or          being who can put a spell on a man to
                                                   mystical creatures.      make him love her. As the kings and
                                                   They are the subjects    warriors warn the knight in his dream,
                                                   of many paintings,       she captures the knight, just like other
                                                   poems and stories.       men she has taken “in thrall.”
                                                   Not only are they
                                                   considered physical      In “The Loreley,” a woman stands on
                                                   beauties, but also       top of a hill and lures men to their
                                                   sometimes are seen as    death by singing a song that enchants
                                                   seductresses who lure    them, eventually causing them to crash
                                                   men to their doom.       their boats on the rocks below. Again,
Brian Musich was born in         The poems “La Belle Dame sans              the female is described in mystical
Fremont, California, along       Merci” by John Keats and “The              terms. She “sings the tune of an olden
with his twin sister. He is 20   Loreley” by Heinrich Heine share the       Song that has a magical power.” Her
years old and a sophomore at     male view of the female seductress.        singing distracts men so that they are
                                 Both women in these poems lead men         blind to everything else around them.
Delta College. In the fall, he
                                 to their destruction.                      They are captured, just like the knight,
will be transferring to the
                                                                            in a death grip. Their fate is to die a
California State University,     In “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” the          horrible death, due to this woman.
Stanislaus. He is an English     male character is a knight who meets a
major and would like to          “Lady in the meads” and instantly falls    In both poems, the women are seen as
become a teacher. One day, he    in love with her. They spend the day       the reason for the men’s deaths. How-
hopes to write an Academy        together and have a wonderful time.        ever, the women cannot be held fully
Award winning screenplay.
                                    The poems “La Belle Dame sans Merci” by John Keats and “The
                                     Loreley” by Heinrich Heine share the male view of the female
                                                             seductress.

                                                        26
                                            men and cause them to lose control of
   Their fate is to die a horrible          their boat. However, the woman is not
                                            aware of her amazing power over men.
    death, due to this woman.               She stands on the hill and sings,
                                            completely unaware of what is happen-
                                            ing below her. The poem does not
                                            mention that her songs are directed
                                            towards the boatmen, only that the
responsible. In “La Belle,” the knight      men are unfortunate enough to pass by
falls in love (or is it lust?) with the     her.
“Lady in the meads” the instant he                                                           This song and her
meets her. He spends all day with her
and ignores everything around him.
                                            Both of these poems were written by
                                            men. These writers do not want to               beauty blind the men
They make love and fall asleep. The
men blame this woman for their
                                            blame their own gender for their
                                            misfortunes, so they blame the oppo-
                                                                                           and cause them to lose
misfortunes, but perhaps they are to
blame as well. She cannot help being
                                            site gender. These men, like so many
                                            others, most likely have had relation-
                                                                                            control of their boat.
beautiful. She was born with her            ships that have gone wrong. To them,
features. Also, she does not literally      it is the fault of the women for seduc-
drag men to her home and then murder        ing them into love; they did it on
them. The men go of their own free          purpose. On the other hand, the
will. They choose to spend the day with     women may see the men at fault. They
her and give her “gifts.” At the end of     are silly for falling in love with a pair of
the poem, the knight is left alone on       pretty eyes. Either way, both parties in
the hill. It does not mention what          these poems are to blame for the
happens to the woman. The poem              outcome, not just the women.
implies that she has left, and he is
waiting for her, dying because of the
wait. He has the option to leave. This
poem may be a warning to anyone,
male or female, that men and women
should not fall in love so quickly. “Love
at first sight” does not necessarily make
for a healthy relationship.

In “The Loreley,” the female seductress
is also not entirely at fault. She is a
striking figure, a “siren,” who sits on
the top of a hill and, while “[combing]
her golden hair,” sings a beautiful song.
This song and her beauty blind the




 The men blame this woman for
 their misfortunes, but perhaps
    they are to blame as well.
                                                           27
                                                  ~Goddess~
                                                            World Healer                             ~by Nola Pierce


                                                Click. I switch on the         positive if we all went back to our
                                                news to update myself          spiritual roots and worshipped Goddess
                                                about the crazy world          again — as we did for at least some
                                                around me. Rarely do I         25,000 years prior to the more recent
                                                hear an uplifting story. I     male-dominated view that has had
                                                hear about war, crime,         supremacy for only the last 5,000 years
                                                rape, environmental            of history (47).
                                                destruction, sexism,
                                                racism, and poverty. . . .     One Goddess our world could use in
                                                The list goes painfully on.    this day and age is White Buffalo
                                                As I read Goddess: Myths       Woman, worshipped by the Sioux. She
                                                of the Female Divine, by       asked for respect and prayer from her
                                                David Leeming and Jake         people and gave them a pipe that “knit
                                                Page, I realize we are truly   together the Earth, sky and all living
                                                missing something. We          things into one family.” She taught
                                                lack balance, nurturing        balance and fairness to her people by
                                                and wholeness. Living in a     explaining to the women “that the
Nola Pierce is twenty years old   culture in which Goddess is wor-             work of their hands and the fruit of
and a sophomore in college.       shipped might not solve all of the           their bodies kept the people alive. The
She plans on transferring in      problems of the human race. But I            women were Mother Earth and were
the fall to Cal Poly at San       think there would be more under-             therefore as important as the warriors.”
Louis Obispo or Humboldt          standing and respect toward each             When she left her people, she left with
                                  other, toward our environment and            them great herds of buffalo to provide
State University to study
                                  toward ourselves spiritually than there      all that they needed: food, skins, and
English and music.                seems to be in the patriarchal society       tools. Nothing was wasted (37). The
                                  we have been living in. It makes sense       Sioux Goddess White Buffalo Woman
                                  that these ingredients would create an       is still sacred to her people. She has
                                  overall peace on earth. Because all sorts    wisdom that is needed in our world
                                  of people exist on this earth, we need       today: honor of the Earth and its
                                  to learn to have compassion, respect         creatures as well as unity and honor of
                                  and understanding toward one an-             one another.
                                  other. The world would be more




                                   Because all sorts of people exist on this earth, we need to learn to
                                   have compassion, respect and understanding toward one another.

                                                          28
                                            period, many examples exist of God-
  The Sioux Goddess White                   desses who were disguised, like Eve and
                                            Lillith in the Bible. Their story gave      One shining Goddess
Buffalo Woman is still sacred to            females a new, sinful and evil persona.
                                            One shining Goddess who is part of           who is part of the
         her people.                        the revival of Goddess is the Virgin of
                                            Guadalupe. Mary, mother of Jesus, has       revival of Goddess is
                                            risen in status from a humble birth-
                                            giving peasant to the immaculately              the Virgin of
                                            conceived Queen of Heaven (161). As
                                            the destruction of our earth continues,          Guadalupe.
The female role of Earth Goddess,           more and more people will realize how
Fertility Goddess, and Great Mother         much we need to honor the stereotypi-
does not support the assumption that        cal female characteristics of nurturing,
female-based religion requires a matri-     renewal, growth, healing, balance, and
archal society. Evidence from               wholeness instead of those favored by
archeological sites in Asia Minor,          the patriarchal society we live in.
Africa, and elsewhere show that these
societies were not necessarily matriar-     I hope that someday the news will
chal, yet not patriarchal either. They      change. A positive shift in the attitudes
were clearly not dominated by military      of humankind could be achieved
                                            through a return of Goddess. Our

There is a gap in the collective human experience, which is reflected
 in our inability to move from a war-like to a nurturing mentality, in
                our systematic destruction of the earth
power or male physical strength, as is      destructive, impulsive, patriarchal
the case today (22). “[M]any would say      culture will be the death of us if
that we are emerging today from the         something doesn’t change. I
artificial polarities of the male god       recommend this book to anyone
religions in search within ourselves and    who, frustrated and alarmed with
our world of the ecological wholeness       the distorted and corrupt direction
of goddess who contains and celebrates      of our world, wants a logical and
light and dark, life and death, male and    ancient solution.
female, and whose source is the inner
depths rather than the airy heights” (3).
We need Goddess.

As the authors point out, Goddess is re-
emerging. She is returning because she
is needed. There is a gap in the collec-
tive human experience, which is
reflected in our inability to move from
a war-like to a nurturing mentality, in
our systematic destruction of the earth
(161). Throughout the patriarchal

                                                          29
                                                                              ove You,
                                         ays                                 L
Jessica Pittman, eighteen
                                “I’ll Alw                                                         ~by Jessica Pittman

                                        y”
years old, is a graduate of


                                   omm
Calaveras High School. She
decided to attend Delta                                                      feeling of safety and gentle warmth ever
College to complete her
general education courses.
                                 M                                           dissipate? As an innocent child of eight,
                                                                             I had yet to discover the meaning of my
                                                                             mother’s statement. I finally under-
She has hopes of transferring   In the small cozy Southern town of           stood, many years later . . . ten years, to
to U.C. Berkeley or U.C.        Meridian, Mississippi, the fresh scent       be exact.
Davis. She is concentrating     of pinecones and summer blooms
on either a Business or a       wafted through the air. There is this        It was not a particularly eventful day on
Science Major. She studies      one memory in particular that reoccurs       the night that it happened. I had just
most of the time, but also      in my consciousness quite frequently. I      started my first semester at community
enjoys spending time with her   was cuddled in my mother’s arms on a         college, so I was still adjusting to many
                                lazy summer day. Sheltered from the          life changes. The humidity seemed
boyfriend.
                                responsibility and insecurities of the       slightly stifling that day, but nothing
                                adult world, I felt a great sense of peace   out of the ordinary. I was eating dinner
                                enveloped the two of us. We lounged          across from my younger sister. My
                                together on that summer evening              parents had finished dinner quite a
                                amidst the summer’s sweltering heat.         while ago and were casually watching
                                Nestled against the sweet skin of my         the television in the adjacent room. I’m
                                mother, I looked up adoringly at her         not quite sure what struck a note of
                                and said, “I’ll always love you,             discord within my thoughts, but
                                 Mommy.”                                     whatever it was, I couldn’t shake off the
                                                                             fact that my youngest sister appeared to
                                     Then the peaceful silence started       be slipping back into her own ordeal of
                                      to become disruptive and               anorexia. I could not help but make an
                                      slightly jarring. After a few          observation of her frail body. Her
                                      seconds I looked up to my              pitiful bones jutted out from beneath
                                      mom. Instead of a smile, I saw         her shirt.
                                               her mouth taut over an
                                                 expressionless face.        As I was eating my own dinner, I
                                                   She stated, “I wish I     noticed that with each painstaking
                                                   could record you          spoonful she took, she was trying to
                                                  saying that now,           restrict herself from eating. Each
                                                 because you won’t feel      minute of her dinner appeared to me as
                                               that way forever.”            a battle that she was fighting against
                                              Suddenly, the gentle           her own hunger. There was a ravishing
                                              summer warmth became           hunger within her body that wanted to
                                              oppressive as I thought        eat, yet there was a stronger part of her
                                              it over. What exactly          being that was trying to restrain the
                                              could she mean? How            amount of food intake. She took about
                                              could this incredible          an hour to slurp up her meager bowl of
                                                        30
soup, but before she could finish it I
interrupted. After watching her eat for
an hour, I could not hold back my
thoughts any longer. I knew that I had
                                              As an innocent child of eight, I
to be cautious and quiet when I spoke,       had yet to discover the meaning
though, or else my parents in the other
room would hear us.                             of my mother’s statement.
They held me accountable for my
sister’s anorexia because they felt I had
influenced her. In no way did I ever
intend for a debilitating disease, such as   “What are you talking about?” she
anorexia, to take hold of my sister. We      hissed back, “I’ve been eating a lot.”
had both been on diets before, but
nothing ever this extreme. How was I         “No, you haven’t,” I quickly retorted.
to know when I started dieting, eight        “You just spent an hour eating a bowl
months before, that anything this            of soup for dinner.”
horrible would happen? I originally
started dieting in an effort to be a         With a slight desire for revenge, she
fashion model, but when they said I          cut back, “Well, what about you?”
was not thin enough I lost control over
my dieting.                                  As I looked down at a meager salad I
                                             had picked at for an hour, I realized
Dieting soon became an obsession for         that . . . wait, this wasn’t about me. She
me and my sister. It gave me a distorted     was the one who had the weight
sense of control that I had been craving     problem; I was getting better.
for so long. She too had a dire need for
control and direction in her life, so she    “This isn’t about me,” I quickly re-
wound up being a victim of anorexia          plied. At that moment my heart sank
too. It had taken over my soul and           as I realized my mother might have
smuggled out any other enjoyment I           heard us arguing. I had tried my
had in life. It destroyed my personal life   hardest to keep down the volume, but
as well as my family life. My parents, in    after my sister’s biting remark I was
their efforts help us, had driven them-      unable to resist the urge to raise my
selves almost to the point of madness,       voice. For a split second, the room was
trying to restore both of us to normal.      silent, and I thought we had gotten
Or at least back to the way we were          away with it. For that moment in time
before anorexia had taken over our           I could almost hear the sound of my
lives. But how could they help us if         heartbeat. “Da dum, da. . . .”
they did not even understand the actual
mental complexities involved in anor-        My rhythmic heartbeat was quickly
exia? Neither my sister nor I had any        shattered by my mother’s voice. It was
comprehension of it.                         too late. I realized my mother had
                                             indeed heard us, and there was nothing
“Suzanne, are you eating enough?” I          that I could do to prevent what hap-
whispered to her. From across the table      pened next. Just as I had realized my
she threw me a menacing glance to let        mother’s sudden attentiveness to our
me know I had invaded her private            conversation, so had my sister.
territory.


                                                           31
                           “Suzanne, how much have you been             hardly ever home, you don’t participate
                           eating lately? What do you weigh?” she       in family chores, you’re messy, demand-
                           demanded of my sister. My sister sat         ing of others, and you’re evil . . . evil!”
She took about an hour     like a dog with her tail between her
                           legs. She didn’t feel bad because she        A number of emotions surged through
to slurp up her meager     had lapsed back into anorexia, but           my body. There was no way to commu-

bowl of soup, but before   rather that she had been caught. A
                           deafening silence covered the room like
                                                                        nicate my feelings of anger, sadness,
                                                                        hopelessness, and guilt, so I remained
  she could finish it I    a blanket, smothering us all, as my
                           mom and I waited for an answer.
                                                                        silent. I stood paralyzed with fear,
                                                                        waiting in anticipation for what my
      interrupted.         Finally, Suzanne muttered a weak reply
                                                                        mother would do next. She had threat-
                                                                        ened me before, but I had no idea what
                           that seemed to crackle through her           she was capable of. I knew I had
                           thin pale lips. “I don’t know.”              pushed her past the limit this time, just
                                                                        one step before the edge of sanity.
                           “Get on that scale now!” my mother
                           screamed. Her voice broke the silence.       In no way was I prepared for her next
                           I sat staring at my sister’s bowl of soup,   few statements. “I am tired of this
                           thinking to myself, “Darn it, what have      childish behavior. You are no longer my
                           I done.” I felt bad for her, but worse       child, you are now an adult. Further-
                           for myself. I knew that my parents held      more, if you screw up one more time
                           me responsible for my sister’s anorexia.     you are out of this house!”
                           If any punishment were bestowed
                           upon her, then the penalty for my            The words seemed to pierce right
                           influence on her poor decision would         through my heart. Like a beast beaten
                           be twice the price. My mother dragged        into submission, I had given up rather
                           my sister into the bathroom. I sat in        than defend myself. I did not feel that
                           anticipation of the results. Seconds         it was fair that she held me accountable
                           seem to last for hours. My mother            for my sister’s anorexia. At that point,
                           emerged from the bathroom yanking            though, my fear of being thrown out of
                           Suzanne out by the arm.                      the house was more prominent than
                                                                        my desire for justice. I felt trapped
                           I saw her lifeless little head look up as    because I had nowhere else to go. I had
                           tears swelled in her eyes and she            lost touch with all of my friends when I
                           mumbled, “I’m sorry.”                        became lost in my own problems of
                                                                        anorexia and depression. Since I didn’t
                           I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen such a        know what else to do, I went to my
                           mixture of fear and anger on my              room. My mother’s menacing eyes
                           mother’s face. “Suzanne, go eat some-        followed me the whole way there.
                           thing now! Go to your room, Jessica,
                           and don’t talk to your sister anymore.       Once I shut my door, all of my emo-
                           You have destroyed this family, you’re       tions flowed out in a gushing stream of



                             “This isn’t about me,” I quickly replied. At that moment my heart
                               sank as I realized my mother might have heard us arguing.

                                                   32
tears. To whom I cried, I was not sure.
When I was a child, I cried for my         As days turned into weeks and weeks
mother. Things were different now          turned into months, this event was
because I was not a child anymore; I       slowly forgotten. Or at least it was
was an adult of eighteen. Maybe God        never mentioned again. A certain part
was listening, or maybe not. At that       of me seemed to die that night. My
moment, however, I was in such             sister finally came out of her anorexia,
despair I needed anyone or anything, so    but something changed between all of
I assumed He was. All of a sudden, I       us. I can not quite put my finger on it,
had lost my will to live, but I did not    but there’s a certain glaze over her eyes
want to die either. My tears stopped       whenever I talk to her. It is as though
when I realized the horror of living       she can hear me, but she’s not really
another day. I was existing in that        listening. As for my relationship with
moment of time solely as a physical        my mother, I am not quite sure how it
being, devoid of emotion or feeling. I     changed, but it seems a brick wall
stared into space, trying to separate      came between us.
myself from my physical being but to
no avail. I remained in my room—           Sometimes, when I think back to that
trapped. At no other moment in my          memory of us lounging on that lazy
life have I felt more alone or more
scared than I was that night. I went to
                                           summer day in Mississippi, I wonder
                                           how she could foresee this happening         I stood paralyzed with
lie on my bed and stared at the ceiling
until my eyes burned with the fire of
                                           to us in the future. As a child, I did not
                                           understand what she meant when she
                                                                                             fear, waiting in
despair. At least despair was an emo-
tion, and it enabled me to feel human
                                           said that there would come a point in
                                           my life when I ceased to love her. I
                                                                                         anticipation for what
once more. I began to cry again, but
this time my tears were silent because I
                                           understand now what she meant,
                                           because on that night I actually
                                                                                         my mother would do
realized no one was listening.             stopped loving her. What I will prob-                   next.
                                           ably never understand, though, is how
I awoke the next day, hoping that          she knew that someday our special
maybe my memories were an awful            bond would be broken. I highly doubt
nightmare. But with the taste of stale     our relationship will return to its
salt in my mouth, I knew that I had        previous state. I once again love my
been crying all night. That day was        mother, but it is a different form of
probably one of the worst days of my       love than it was before. My love for her
life. Like a wounded soldier trudging      is a sense of understanding and respect.
through enemy territory, I searched for    I also know now that there may also
some sense of hope. The next day after     come times in my life when I will stop
school, just when I thought I was going    loving her because my hate will be
to break down into a mass of tears and     more prominent. Unfortunately, the
hysteria, my boyfriend appeared. He        love I have for her will never again be
was there to comfort me. Perhaps it was    the same mix of adoration and trust
his love that prevented me from suicide    that I once had, because I am no
that day. I am not quite sure, but         longer a child. I will also never be able
whatever he did, it enabled me to make     to say these words again: “I’ll always
it home that night and face my family      love you, Mommy.”
again. Things were very tense at first,
but eventually the hysteria and yelling
that had come to be commonplace in
my home tapered off.
                                                         33
                           A
Jasmine Poscablo is a student
of life at Delta College. Her
hobbies include, but are not
limited to, reading, drawing
                                Dishonest ociety
                                       S                                                         ~by Jasmine Poscablo
and writing. She is currently
on a quest for enlightenment
and other like-minded
individuals.                    It does not seem as if anyone is to be       win and winners never cheat.” Even so,
                                trusted these days. Students, politicians,   somewhere along the way some stu-
                                and Americans in general seem to be          dents learn that it is easy to cheat and
                                more and more dishonest. There is a          lie. Perhaps cheating is easier than
                                growing awareness of corrupt business        studying; it’s certainly less time con-
                                dealings throughout the country.             suming. We also learn of the divine
                                Supervisors are spying on their employ-      honesty of our forefathers, the men on
                                ees by reading their private email.          whom this country was built upon.
                                Neighborhood watch committees are            Stories are taught of George Washing-
                                being set up in already seemingly safe       ton, how he “could not tell a lie” to his
                                neighborhoods.                               father when he allegedly cut down the
                                                                             cherry tree. There is also Abraham
                                In grade school we are taught “Honesty       Lincoln who earned the name “Honest
                                is the best policy” and “Cheaters never      Abe” due to the consistent honesty
                                                                             shown to his fellow man. We are to use
                                                                             them as prime examples of ideal society
                                                                                    members. We are taught to be as
                                                                                        honest as possible, not only
                                                                                        because it shows we are
                                                                                     moral human beings, but also
                                                                                  because it shows respect and

somewhere along the                                                                responsibility towards our fellow
                                                                                     human beings.
 way some students                                                                      It is not until later that we
learn that it is easy to                                                                       learn about the
                                                                                                 shadiness of politics
    cheat and lie.                                                                                 and that cheaters
                                                                                                     really do win. It
                                                                                                       is not until
                                                                                                         later that we
                                                                                                           learn



                                                        34
                                             want is for their children to succeed in
 It is not until later that we learn         life; hence the pressure to get good

  about the shadiness of politics
                                             grades as a foundation for that success-
                                             ful life. So some children, driven by
                                                                                           After all, shouldn’t the
 and that cheaters really do win.
                                             good intentions, cheat their way
                                             through a major test, perhaps, because
                                                                                          best policy get you what
                                             they just don’t feel like putting all that
                                             effort into actually studying. Perhaps
                                                                                                 you want?
Washington’s story was just a fabrica-       the pressure to do well is so great that
tion. So maybe if cheating and               the student does not even want to take
dishonesty worked so well for others it      the chance at failure, which may even
could work for us as well. Perhaps           mean a “C+”. When it comes down to
honesty isn’t always the best policy.        it the payoff seems worth the risk.
After all, shouldn’t the best policy get     Soon enough it becomes a habit and it
you what you want? We all know what          gets so easy that students even share
happened to good ol’ Honest Abe.             their cheat sheets with friends. Their
                                             parents and teachers are happy with
Parents are the most influential teachers    the good grades so it seems everyone
in a child’s life; children shadow each      has gotten what they wanted.
function down to the last mannerism.
As children we do things we probably         John Gotti once said, “You only lie if
should not, like draw on the walls, hide     you’re scared and I ain’t scared of no
our sibling’s favorite toy, or pick the      man.” America is a country that gave
neighbor’s flowers. Somewhere, perhaps       birth to companies like Enron and
by hearing our parents tell a white lie to   Worldcom, where lawyers are paid to
a bill collector on the phone or a           find a way to cheat the law — and to
parent’s broken promise filled with          Bill Clinton, who is famous for cheat-
good intentions, children learn to lie.      ing, and George W. Bush, who
Maybe this works once or twice, long         mysteriously made it through Yale; let’s
enough for a young mind to continue          face it he’s not the brightest crayon in
down this road. Children learn to lie to     the box. I can only imagine what kind
avoid something they don’t want or to        of pressure a wealthy politician’s son
get something they do want.                  may have to do well in school and
                                             follow in his father’s footsteps. I am
What most children want is to make           beginning to wonder if this is a society
their parents proud. What most parents       breeding anything but “scared” people.




So some children, driven by good intentions, cheat their way through
a major test, perhaps, because they just don’t feel like putting all that
                    effort into actually studying.


                                                            35
                              America’s Not Heaven,
                              But it’s the Closest Thing on Earth!!                               ~by Anonymous
The author of this essay
wishes to remain anonymous.   Somalia is on the easternmost tip of       The climate was crippling to us. The
                              the African continent, a few degrees       very air we were breathing was thick
                              above the equatorial line. By February     and acrid. The humidity made us feel
                              of 1992 the United States and the          as though we had just stepped out of
                              world had seen enough bloodshed in         the sauna, or that someone was stand-
                              this country and had, some say reluc-      ing over us with a hose continuously
                              tantly, decided to act. I was part of a    dowsing us with water. A few weeks
                              U. S. Marine Corps detachment              earlier we had been enjoying ourselves
                              assigned to the United Nations. We         without a care in the world, a bunch of
                              were being sent to bring peace to this     young Marines enjoying the tropic-like
                              little sliver of inhumanity and to stop    breeze on the beaches of San Diego.
                              the death of the “innocents,” if there     Now we were in this indescribable place.
                              ever was such a group. We were there
                              to stymie the flow of blood created by     If you’ve ever seen the movie
                              the feuding factions. When we first        Saving Private Ryan with Tom Hanks
                              arrived we were cheered and welcomed       or Mad Max with Mel Gibson, you’ll
                              with open arms and applause by             have a basis to form a mental picture of
                              citizens of the country. That would all    what I’m about to describe. If you have
                              quickly change. I have no way of           never seen a realistic war movie, then
                              knowing what the powers that be were       try to imagine a city in total anarchy.
                              thinking when they sent us, America’s      There are no laws or rules whatsoever.
                              sons and daughters, over there to that     People kill one another for a spoonful
                              God-forsaken place. Perhaps the people     of food. Parents sell their kids for a few
                              in the United Nations thought that         dollars. As with any war or conflict, the
                              they could finally get one right. They     very young and the very old or ill
                              had screwed up everywhere else thus        always pay a disproportionate price.
                              far: Beirut, the Congo, and Iraq in the    This place was no different. The
                              post-Gulf War times. We were told this     emaciated, starved bodies of the elderly
                              time would be different, so they sent us   and young littered the streets. A pickup
                              in. I remember my friends and I sitting    truck from the United Nations went
                              in the worst place we had ever been,       around town picking up bodies twice a
                              wondering how long before the cheer-       day: nine in the morning and four in
                              ing and applause would be replaced by      the afternoon. The driver did his job
                              bullets and bloodshed. We would not        rather unceremoniously. With as much
                              have to wait too long to find out.         emotion and thought as you or I would

                               I remember my friends and I sitting in the worst place we had ever
                              been, wondering how long before the cheering and applause would
                                            be replaced by bullets and bloodshed.
                                                     36
put into taking out the trash or flush-     was the worst destruction I had ever
ing the toilet, the driver would grab the   seen in my life, even more devastating
bodies and throw them into the bed of
the truck. The driver could grab most
                                            and destructive than the aftermath of
                                            the attacks on the Twin Towers on
                                                                                              People killing one
of the bodies with one hand. They were
so light. He would grab the kids, infants
                                            September 11, 2001. This is how I
                                            remember Somalia. It was a living
                                                                                           another for a spoonful
or babies by an arm or a leg; sometimes     nightmare. For some I’m sure it still is.      of food. Parents selling
the driver would just grab a handful of
hair and with a flick of his wrist the      It was about noontime, and we were               their kids for a few
bodies would go sailing in the air. I
remember the bodies landing in a heap in
                                            trudging through the streets of
                                            Mogadishu on yet another fruitless and                  dollars.
the bed of the truck. When they started     time-consuming “sweep” of the city’s
to cone at the top, the driver would grab   ghettos. We all had to wear our flak
a rake or shovel and level off the mound.   jackets, vest-type contraptions that are
Human beings had no value here, dead        worn in the same fashion as a normal
or alive. Any semblance of order,           shirt. The flak jacket fastens in the
civility, or humanity was long gone.        front with a long Velcro strap that runs
                                            down the middle of the chest. The vest
Try to imagine your worst nightmares        weighs about 35 pounds and is painted
of how uncaring and uncompassionate         military camouflage green. There we
mankind can sometimes be to one             were in the middle of the dessert, sand
another. When you have this mental          and dust and mud huts all around us,
picture painted vividly in your mind,       and we were totally dressed in green. It
realize you haven’t even come close to      was par for the course. On this patrol
this reality. The strong and the power-     Sergeant Washington was on point.
ful, without remorse, devour the weak,      Usually, I would have been, but since
sometimes for their own gain and            this was new territory for us and we didn’t
sometimes out of sheer boredom — for        quite have our routine down, patrol
nothing more than their own amuse-          Sergeant Washington took point, guiding
ment. There is nothing else for them to     us through the maze of the ghetto.
do, these thugs with guns, many of
whom are no older than fourteen or          Sergeant Washington and I had both
fifteen, so they torment the weak.          served in the Gulf War and took part
                                            in the battle of Khafji. I was older than
Every building and street, every corner     he was, but he was my superior. He
and alley was torn apart by this civil      earned his position as well as my respect;
war. Not one building remained wholly       we worked very well together. We knew
intact or untouched. The pavement in        each other’s body language and moods.
the streets had been dug up, and the        It was like we could almost read each
                                            other’s minds. There were seven other
water pipes ripped out from the ground.
                                            Marines in our unit, nine in all. It might
It was impossible to make a phone call
                                            seem like a small element given our
because the telephone wires had been
                                            location and mission, but we were well
ripped down off of the phone poles;         trained, motivated, battle-tested, and
eventually the telephone poles themselves   ready. Most of the weight on our backs
even disappeared. The fixtures, windows,    was comprised of Claymore mines,
doors, furnishings and even the carpeting   grenades, ammunition for our rifles and a
and baseboards had been removed from        host of other goodies. It was late February,
virtually every building we walked into.    1992. My perception of why we were
Anything that was, or possibly could be,    here and what I thought of these people
of any value had been taken away. This      and this place was about to change.
                                                           37
                        The ghetto we were patrolling was          know him well. He was also a Gulf war
                        about three hundred meters behind a        veteran and had seen some action in
                        former five star hotel, the Al-Sahafi.     Kuwait. He was a big strapping jock-
                        We were about a quarter mile from the      type from Nebraska, the kind of guy
                        nearest American unit, which was           you just knew played football. He had
 Any semblance of       patrolling on a parallel course to our
                        northeast. The ghetto was the most
                                                                   no neck, and his arms were the size of
                                                                   an average man’s thighs. An intimidat-
  order, civility, or   unimaginable and unbelievable living
                        environment I had ever seen. No
                                                                   ing looking fellow in jeans and a
                                                                   T-shirt, let alone in full combat gear
humanity was long       running water or toilets. People re-
                        lieved themselves in cans or buckets;
                                                                   with grenades tied to his body.

       gone.            sometimes they did their business right
                        where they stood. We were walking in
                                                                   I was on the radio trying to relay our
                                                                   current position and situation to our
                        human waste, nothing less than an          sister unit a few hundred meters away. I
                        open sewer, and the smell was inde-        looked back at Corporal Kruger and
                        scribable. There was no electricity,       the rest of my unit and realized we were
                        which meant no refrigeration of any        in trouble. The reason I had that
                        kind. That didn’t matter much because      uneasy, gnawing feeling about the fight
                        no one had any food. Everybody was         in front of us became frighteningly
                        starving to death. The average shelter     clear. The two men seemed to be
                        was nothing more than cardboard and        fighting but were really not. There was
                        tin siding slapped together haphazardly    no bloodshed, no telltale signs of a
                        with bailing wire or rolls and rolls of    struggle, no angry crowd gathered
                        tape. I recall thinking that the poorest   around the two, taking sides and
                        in America would be millionaires here.     cheering on a favorite. The two Somali
                                                                   men were putting on a show. They
                        As we were walking, a fight broke out      were trying to draw us in and set us up;
                        between two Somali men. They were          they had succeeded. We had walked
                        about sixty feet in front of us. One       straight into an ambush.
                        man looked fifty years old. He was
                        wearing a torn and frayed white dress      Try to imagine a huge “V” shape that is
                        shirt that had huge butterfly collars,     about 75 yards long from end to end.
                        lime green corduroy pants, and tennis      We had walked in from the open end
                        shoes. His shirt was buttoned all the      and were about three-quarters of the
                        way to the top. The second man             way through. This is what’s described
                        seemed to be about twenty years old.       in the military as the “fatal funnel.”
                        He had on a white Nike T-shirt with a      Anyone caught in the position we were
                        silhouette of Michael Jordan in mid-       currently in would usually suffer fatal
                        air, just about to dunk a basketball. He   results. The “V” shape creates a situa-
                        was wearing a pair of red slacks and       tion similar to that of a bottleneck, and
                        brown sandals. Something about the         it’s probably one of the best ambush
                        situation put me on edge: it just didn’t   techniques known. It is simple to do
                        seem right. I couldn’t quite figure out    and hard to detect. If we were to get
                        what it was.                               pinned down, it would be extremely
                                                                   difficult for us to fight our way out.
                        Sergeant Washington was in the front;
                        I was directly behind him, and the rest    As I turned back towards Sergeant
                        of the patrol was behind me. Corporal      Washington, I could tell that he also
                        Kruger was in the back. Corporal           had just realized we were walking into
                        Kruger was new to the unit, so I didn’t    an ambush. He had turned his head to
                                               38
look back at me, and I could see it in      Sergeant Washington grabbed my arm
his eyes and body language. At that         and yelled in my ear, “We gotta move
instant, the wall of the hut in front of    now or we are dead!” I looked back at
us was ripped to shreds by machine gun
fire. Someone on the inside had let loose
                                            Corporal Kruger’s position and saw
                                            four other Marines helping him. I also    As we were walking, a
with a large burst and the bullets had
torn apart the wall. Simultaneously, we
                                            saw something that made me freeze for
                                            a few seconds. The Somalis shooting at
                                                                                         fight broke out
yelled “Ambush” and dropped down
flat on our bellies. The other seven
                                            us were not men but boys — eight,
                                            nine or ten years old maximum. Sure,
                                                                                       between two Somali
Marines did the same, and we all were
rolling around in human waste. Corpo-
                                            there were men in the crowd, but most
                                            of the shooters looked no older than
                                                                                              men.
ral Kruger was facing the direction we      twelve. There were even a few women.
had just come from. He was trying to        All told I estimated a crowd of about
prevent some Somali gunmen from             one hundred people to our rear and
taking up positions against us.             about thirty to our front. We were
                                            badly outnumbered.
In a situation like this everything slows
down and speeds up at the same time.        Over the radio I heard that our sister
Everyone reacts without thinking or         unit was on the way, helicopters were
being told. It’s reflex. Whole sentences    in the air heading towards us, and
or even paragraphs of communication         fighter jets had been scrambled to come
are reduced to one or two words and a       help us. I yelled at Sergeant Washing-
gesture or body posture. “Ammo,”            ton, “Give me your two Claymores!”
“Como,” “Rear Flank,” phrases that
probably mean nothing to the uniniti-       Sergeant Washington and the two
ated mean everything to those who           remaining Marines were firing off
know and have been tested.                  rounds as fast as they could pull the
                                            trigger on their rifles. The smell of
So there we were, nine Marines, all of      cordite and gunpowder was in the air.
us covered in human feces, urine, and       Sometimes when I take a deep breath I
mud. Bullets were flying at us from         still have a sense of the intoxicating
every direction, and we were returning      feeling I got from the combination of
fire in every direction. I remember         cordite, human feces, and fear. It is a
thinking, “Why are we here trying to        memory burned in my mind.
help these people?” This wasn’t Viet-
nam. We had the support and backing         I remember trying to make an impro-
of the American people, the United          vised high explosive charge with
Nations and the world. We were the          Sergeant Washington’s two
good guys patrolling this ghetto to keep    Claymores as well as two of
its inhabitants safe from the armed         my own. I remember
thugs who had been terrorizing this         the tape kept
country. The same hoodlums who had          slipping out
pillaged, raped and destroyed this city     of
and the whole country were now being
helped by their former “victims.” The
people we were trying to protect had
turned on us and were trying to kill us.
I was getting mad.



                                                          39
                         my hands as I was straining to wrap all     The sound was deafening. It was as if
                         four Claymores into one big bundle. I       someone had tied my head to the engine
                         kept fumbling with the roll for what        of a 747 Jumbo Jet as it struggled to
                         seemed like an eternity. The same way the   break the bonds of gravity on take-off.
                         drunken prom king fumbles with the          The shock wave knocked me on my
                         zipper on the dress of the prom queen:      back, and I almost dropped my rifle. I
                         nervous and anxious and excited all at      remember the crowd simply disappear-
                         the same time. If I could only make my      ing, as if they had been vaporized. At
                         device work. When I finally got it          least half of them lay there dead.
                         situated the way I wanted, I ended up
                         with what looked like four VCR tapes        It was like watching a movie where a
   As I turned back      stacked together.                           real suspenseful part is played in slow
  towards Sergeant       Each Claymore has the equivalent of
                                                                     motion. Every detail, no matter how
                                                                     small, is forever caught in my mind. I
 Washington, I could     about two sticks of dynamite and over
                         900 bullets. Each bullet is just a bit
                                                                     can still see the plastic covering of the
                                                                     Claymores flying through the air. I can
 tell that he also had   smaller than a marble. I had just
                         created an explosive device with a total
                                                                     see the projectiles, the bullets, as they
                                                                     fly in the air. I see the bodies being
just realized we were    combined power of over eight sticks of
                         dynamite and more than 3600 bullets
                                                                     lifted up off the ground from the force
                                                                     of half a dozen bullets tearing into their
   walking into an       in a single punch. All I had to do was      flesh all at once: they look like rag dolls
                         get it close enough to the crowd.           being tossed around. Some bodies drop
        ambush.                                                      to the ground like sacks of potatoes.
                         I sloshed through the mud and the muck
                         to where Sergeant Washington was            The rest of the people shooting at us
                         positioned. He and the other two            stopped. They dropped their weapons
                         Marines with him were putting out an        and took off running in different
                         enormous amount of firepower. I yelled      directions with their hands in the air.
                         at him, “Watch the bouncing ball!”          This would be the strongest show of
                         while holding up my little creation,        force the Marines would ever have to
                         and then handed him the detonator.          display while in Somalia. The Army did
                                                                     not learn this lesson, and you can
                         The crowd at Corporal Kruger’s end          watch their failure in the movie Black
                         was being held off, but just barely. They   Hawk Down.
                         were my greatest concern. As I stood
                         up and started running towards them,        The whole thing from start to finish
                         I heard Sergeant Washington’s boom-         lasted less than ninety seconds. I have
                         ing voice yell, “Covering fire!” He was     no regrets or remorse for my actions or
                         trying to give me some protection.          of those of my fellow Marines that
                                                                     afternoon. We did what we had to. We
                         I ran about ten or fifteen yards and        suffered two wounded Marines and
                         threw my “baby” into the air with all       killed fifty-eight enemy. We were able
                         my might. It landed with a thud and         to come home and keep on living.
                         flipped end over end a few times and
                         stopped about thirty yards from the         The lesson I learned during my time in
                         crowd. Close enough considering each        Somalia was to be appreciative for what
                         Claymore had a front kill radius of about   I have. I do not take it for granted.
                         sixty-five yards. As soon as the Claymore   America’s not heaven, but I think it’s
                         stopped rolling, Sergeant Washington        the closest thing on Earth.
                         pressed the button on the detonator.
                                                 40
The Big Root Beer
Float in the Sky                                                     ~by Becky Weeden     Becky Weeden was born and
Walking down the all-white hall,             “It’s okay.” Mom gently pushed me            raised in Lodi, California, and
holding my mother’s hand, I smelled          towards him. Slowly at first, but then at    was always taught how
medicine, plastic containers, and            a run, I crossed the room and grabbed        important family is, especially
bleach. I hated the smell of hospitals. A    his left hand. His large hand was so         one’s elders.
few people, mostly nurses and doctors,       light, even my small fingers seemed too
passed us. Was that my grandpa’s             much pressure to put on it. He had
doctor? Was that his nurse? Near the         turned his head to face me.
end of the long hall, my mom guided
me into a room on the right side. As I       “Are you going to be okay? I’ll make
looked up, I stopped in my tracks. I         you a root beer float, to feel better,” I
couldn’t believe what I saw. Grandpa         whispered.
was lying there, on the hospital bed,
with tubes coming out from every-            “Everything’s going to be okay. And I’ll
where. Each tube was attached to a
different bag of fluid, on a different
                                             take a rain check on that float.”                                              h
pole. The poles surrounded him.              Even standing a foot away, I could                                             t
                                             barely hear him.
Grandpa’s face was sunken, pale, and a
little bruised. He had lost weight.          “Grandma, can I get you some-
Already a thin man, he looked ghostly,       thing…?” Mom started to talk so that
like he was just barely there. My eyes       she wouldn’t start to cry. She blinked
started to sting. I didn’t know it was       quickly, blew her nose on a tissue from
this serious, but just then, when I saw      her purse.
him for myself, I knew it wasn’t good.
Grandma was sitting on his right side,       I said nothing for a while. I sat there by
holding his hand. She had been crying.       my grandpa’s side, gently stroking his
Her eyes were puffy, and a pile of used      hand (carefully avoiding the needles
Kleenex was on the nightstand.               that were taped under his skin), and
                                             silently praying. Please, God, make him
He stirred, and then opened his eyes a       better. I’ll be a good girl. I’ll give you
tiny bit. He opened his eyes wider.          my favorite purple blanket, and my
                                             favorite stuffed puppy dog, Daniel.
“My glasses, Beulah.”                        Please just make him be okay. In Jesus’
                                             name, Amen.
He knew we were there. Grandma
adjusted the wide-framed glasses onto        Grandpa’s breathing had slowed even
his head. Still, I stood in the same spot.   more. Mom had stepped outside, into
He turned his head to the right, and         the hall. She was talking to a tall, older
looked in my eyes. I gripped my mom’s        man with a white coat. This must be
hand tighter. I heard her whimper,           the doctor; he’ll make Grandpa feel
fighting to hold back tears. Grandpa         better. But he looked so sad. He put his
smiled meekly, and motioned for me to        hand on my mom’s shoulder.
come to him.
                                                            41
“The cancer has spread to his brain;        fine. Why was she crying so hard? I
there’s nothing else we can do.”            peeked in the room. Mom had moved
                                            to where I had just been, sitting on his
Cancer? What was cancer? I didn’t           left side. She was holding his hand in
understand. Mom came back in the            between her own, next to her face. The
room, crying ever so slightly, and          tears that had covered her face made it
dabbing her nose with another tissue.       shine in the light. She was shaking
She looked up at me, and the look in        from head to toe. Grandma was stand-
her eyes told me that cancer was a          ing, still on Grandpa’s right, stroking
death sentence. I squeezed my eyes          his matted hair. A red light had begun
shut, and suddenly reopened them.           to flash on the machine next to his bed.
That’s all right, I prayed. I had already   Mom had seen it too. She started
made a deal with God. Nothing could         crying so hard that I couldn’t even hear
happen now. The doctor was wrong.           her anymore.
Why couldn’t Mom see that?
                                            “No, no, please no,” she blubbered.
“I need you to go wait outside, Becca.”     Grandpa wasn’t moving. His chest was
                                            still. He was gone. I started to shake.
“Okay. I love you, Grandpa, and don’t       Tears of disbelief poured out of my
worry.” I jumped up on the bed and          eyes, down my cheeks and onto my
hugged him tightly. A good hug would        sweater. This can’t happen. I made a
help him. I hopped down, and walked         deal! Weren’t my blanket and my
out of the room. Everything was going       puppy dog good enough? They were
to be all right; I knew that now. Just      not.
wait, he’ll want that root beer float in
no time.                                    Grandpa was not going to have even
                                            one last root beer float; he was not
“Oh, Grandpa,” Mom whined, and              going to wake up; he was not coming
then she began to sob — a heartbreak-       back.
ing, body-jerking type of sob, and it
echoed in the near-empty hall. I was        God’s answer to prayers is not always
confused. Grandpa was going to be           yes.




                        42
A Circus
Farruggia family gatherings are like
                                                                 ~by Cary Farruggia


                                            unlimited, allowing the rest of the        Cary Farruggia is a married
attending the Circus. A Circus comes        family to continue with their roles.       mother of three children. She
through town only once a year. Every                                                   is recently returning to school
holiday, birthday, and reunion is an        Next in line we find the family lion       after serving in the Navy.
opportunity for a view of the Farruggia     tamer, juggler, and head clown, other-
                                                                                       This is her second semester
family circus. There is a Ring Leader,      wise known as Grandpa Chuck. Chuck
                                                                                       attending Delta College.
Magician, Lion Tamer, a pair of Acro-       has many talents and plays a dominant
bats, Clowns, Animals, and a Snack          role. One minute he tames the grand-
Vendor at our Circus. At first glance, it   children, the next he juggles a story.
appears we are all calm and tame beasts.    Grandpa always has a few gifts hidden
After a few minutes in the house, the       up his sleeve to spoil the wildest of
family falls into their natural roles and   beasts. Grandpa has special identities
the fun and excitement begin.               like the chicken man, fish lips, and the
                                            wild bronco. Without Grandpa, there
The Ring Leader of our family Circus        would be no show.
is Matt, my husband. Happy or
Grumpy, Matt’s moods determine how          Children fall into the acrobat, animal
the family behaves. When Matt is in a       and clown categories. Running, jump-
happy mood the family knows their           ing, climbing, and soaring, our
role before the event begins. If by         children entertain all who watch.
chance Matt is a little grumpy, the         Fearlessly, the kids try new acts on our
family takes a different role tiptoeing     family each time they play. Sometimes
around on a high wire until he relaxes.     they are cranky beasts resembling lions
Our Ring Leader is known for getting        and tigers. Then they can be entertain-
the party started and sparking the          ing, dancing and singing like poodles.
giggles from the kids. Matt directs the     Beware as naptime or bedtime inch
family in an orchestrated manner and        closer, miniature monkeys begin
makes the gathering flow smoothly.          jumping from the furniture. Mimick-
                                            ing Grandpa Chuck, the head clown,
My sister in law, Lisa, is the family       our kids can be heard giggling and
magician. Somehow, she always has a         screaming as they try to repeat his
bag of tricks up her sleeves to keep the    funny tricks.
children entertained. Lisa has an
animated voice that carries through the     Then there is the captive audience.
house. Reactions are thrills and shrills,   Friends and family that come to
as tricks appear from her sleeves, which    experience a Farruggia family gathering
keep the noisiest audiences entertained.    are always entertained. Sometimes they
When our magician whips out a trick         hold special roles and other visits they
oohh’s and Aww’s can be heard from          sit back and watch. Waiting for what
the crowd. Shockingly, Lisa’s talents are   will happen next can be quiet enter-
                                                          43
taining and with this group of people      Linguica. Untraditional snacks are
no one will be let down. Unexpected        Blue’s Clues treats, Graham crackers,
surprises pop out at every gathering       goldfish crackers, Tang (nicknamed
                                           “monkey juice” in our house). Occa-
Supporting roles, are acts I perform the   sionally, you will find circus treats for
best. My best supporting role is as the    special occasions like birthday parties.
snack vendor. When needed I am a           Snow cones are the favorite summer-
contortionist. If somebody is not          time treat, and hot buttery popcorn
satisfied I can bend any direction to      will be eaten all year long.
please. Janitorial duties are always my
responsibility. Running around the         A circus is not a traditional term used
house, I pick up toys, food, and messes    to describe family functions. Somehow
the family finds themselves in.            I find the term applies to the Farruggia
                                           family gatherings. Holidays, birthdays,
Unlike a “real” circus, popcorn, pea-      and reunions are sure to be entertain-
nuts, and cotton candy are not usually     ing. If people sit still long enough they
found here. Depending on the event, I      too will find a part in the Farruggia
supply traditional meals and               family circus. Come one, come all, to
untraditional snacks. Traditional meals    our home where you will feel like you
include Italian dishes: Linguine and       are under the “big top” every time.
Baby Clams, Ox Tails, Ravioli, and




                       44

				
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