These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

immigration woes

there's so much going on right now around the country concerning immigration. should migrants be given temporary worker visas to come and work for periods of time in the U.S., should they be considered illegal. should they be granted citizenship after so many years.

it's getting crazy out there. scary crazy. and to the point where people who are legal are having a hard time dealing with the situation by not wanting to leave their homes for fear of being stopped, asked for papers, and then put ina white van to be taken back to the motherland.

one of my mother-in-law's friends is scared to leave his house, despite having papers. the man is legal.

becky from work said that a certain care center in town is empty because many people who are either legal, but scared, or illegal, are afraid to go there for fear of beign questioned by authorities.

in addition becky said some people she knows have been stopped at places around town and asked if they are legal or if they have papers. many of them are scared. she said the men are in vans.

becky's friends are hispanic.

are these people targeting people who look indigenous or nonwhite? if that's the case, they need to, then, stop all people who look ethnic in some way or's only fair, right?

hispanics, asians, anyone speaking with a german, french or middle eastern accent. anyone could be here illegally. hell, stop anyone who ends a sentence with 'eh." they might be an illegal canadian who strayed across the border.

but i tell you what (as that great american hank hill says), the men in white vans will have to question a shitload of people all across the country to be sure they've checked out every "suspicious-looking" person's papers. good luck, fellas.

i think it's so unfair to target a person because of his or her skin color, facial makeup, surname or overall appearance.

things have really escalated. no one should have to fear for themselves, especially if they have papers saying they're legal.

this morning i read an article that said this construction company in the miami area had only smoe of its crews show up for work since many of the people hired are illegal or with visas and were afraid to go to work. the company had to stop work because it didn't have the manpower to complete its schedule.

rallies are being held around the country. one will be held here monday. people are pretty freaked over this issue. i think many are scared. but a lot of people are pissed off at the government for what's going on, too.

"viva el gallo de tres colores."

Thursday, April 27, 2006


it's funny the things we take for granted in our lives. i know that my vision was something i probably did...until it was gone.

it did return to some extent, but i'm still considered legally blind, since there are a few things i simply can't do.

the way things work for me is i have to adapt to an environment. it usually takes some time. it likes a need to acclammate my brain, rather than my eyes to where i am at all times.

i've noticed on my walks to herrick district library how i've adapted to my environment. when we first arrived in holland and then started going to the library, it was hard. things like climbing the steps up front -- which are difficult to see for me because they blend in -- to waiting to get checked out and even going upstairs to the A/v section. on several occasions, i'd almost trip coming down the outside steps, or i'd have to walk very slowly to make sure i didn't trip.

but more than that, i've mastered the route i take, knowing when to cross the two streets to get there -- pine ave. being a busy one at times. i have learned to listen for cars as well as watching for them and judging distance is easy now. i know the first entrance away from the library on 12th street is an out and the other one is an in. simple, i know. but to me it makes a difference.

i am able to walk pretty much around the neighborhoods and take extensive walks all the way downtown past the knickerbocker or up to kollen park.

one of the hardest things i had to get used to was the crossing signs. at first, i had trouble finding them on street corners. i'd be scanning for them with my eyes as i approached the corner, so that when i arrived there, i'd know whether to cross or not.

i now navigate them easily and know the traffic pattern well enough that i know when it's safe to cross even when it says not to (coming up fro mpine at ninth st. is one place where you can run across if no one is moving east on ninth.)

the office goes without saying. when i first started working, it was hard distinguishing who was who. i used to mistake our former business writer bob for someone else in the office. (if you read this bob, don't ask me who.)

i spent many of my first months at the paper disoriented because of it. sure there were some folks you couldn't miss. i won't mention any names, but those from the office know who i'm talking about.

but slowing i recognized people by their walk, their voice, their smell (perfume not stank) and just where they sit in the office.

also, it was so difficult when i attended meetings in places i'd never been before. i didn't know people or where they sat. finding name plates sometimes was tough. or finding out where reporters sat at their designated table.

when i attended my first holland city council meeting ro study session, i was in a panic. there were about eight or nine of them and i couldn't distinguish them, especially in a study session. but slowly i've learned the voices and faces and other things to distinguish one from another.

and now i walk into most township or city meetings and i know pretty much who's who and what they are in the group.

depending on the environment, i'd say it takes me a good couple to five months to completely adapt to a location. it's a tough process to go through. but once it's done, getting around is pretty easy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

happy birthday to me

it was my birthday monday. 35. not too shabby, eh?

the day passed without much going on. it was quiet through the day. i got up and started cooking breakfast. my mother in law was the first one to call. she later came by with a nice card. my parents called shortly after. after lunch i got a call from my sister and my aunt who was with her. another aunt left me a voice mail. later in the evening my brother and then still later his wife maricella called me. oh , and i ralso received a nice card from my parents.

but it was without much fanfare. that's fine. i'm pretty low-key about stuff like that.

krista v. felt horrible for forgetting my birthday. it was funny because she remembered it a week and a half ago. becky saw a note olivia left for me, saying happy birthday, and asked if it was today, she shought it might be on the 25th. that's when krista over heard.

and the evening was on its way to being uneventful. then i hear the call on the scanner that ruined it. a call for a scar/pedestrian in holland. i listened and it was priority one, so i headed out. what an interesting way to wind up my birthday at work.

dawn drove me around and i walked to the scene on 16th street. some guy darted out into traffic behind a car and was struck by another car in the next lane. he was crticial. dunno if he'll die or not, he might. but at least he didn't die at the scene.

not to end on that morbid note, i got some money from my parents and from my mother in law. i could go out next weekend and get me some snazzy new briefs or undershirts. or i could get me some dvd or cd. maybe a beatles book or some trivia book. yeah, that's the ticket.

appropriate song: "today is my birthday...actually it's yesterday was my birthday."

Monday, April 24, 2006


i need a test blog, so i'm doing a short blog entry because something screwed up somewhere.

we saw "the squid and the whale" sunday night and it was fantasitc. howe it got turned away for an oscar movie, i don't know. it was a funny yet intese movie. just a slice of life about a couple divorcing and their two kids stuck in the middle. there'a really funny bit involving pink floyd's "hey you." highly recommend it.

bully, bully

a classmate and friend of mine from back home has been having problems with kids bullying one of her children adn the school administration not paying attention to the situation.

i feel for her. i am not a parent and don't know what it's like to have a child bullied. it must be hard, wanting to go and bash their heads in yourself or the heads of school officials. but i was bullied as a teenager and being on that end of the bullying is no fun.

as a freshman, in particular, i had to endure some pretty tough shit from the juniors and seniors at my school. they were rough and didn't really give a shit. at the time (before the old high school went through its renovations), there was this hallway that ran north to south. it was narrow and windowless with lockers on the east side and a wooden wall (on the other side was the auditorium).

this was the senior hall. unless you wanted to go around the bilding, through the outside, you pretty much had to go through this freaking length of hall. the seniors and juniors would line up on either side and we freshmen (at least the dorky ones) would travel through there and get pushed back and forth from one side to the side, back and forth. it was rough shit. humiliating? not really. but after awhile, i really wanted to kick their asses.

i really couldn't go anywhere, though, because if i'd see a senior, especially the really fucked up ones, they'd call me names or walk up to me and push me.

these idiots also had a nickname for me. they'd call me robert ross. then they'd say, "oh no. sorry." they'd laugh and walk off. ross was a fellow senior...except he was considered a nerd. i was considered a nerd. therefore, why not?

many of them were football players, usually guys with little brain capacity. i remember one of them in particular. he was really giving me shit. i wished he'd break a leg or something. i'd had enough of it. what do you know, the next week, he was waling around with a cast around a leg. i know i had nothing to do with it, but it gave me some satisfaction.

i was never physically attacked or beat up with punches thrown, but i did endure a lot of crap. i thought a lot of those upperclassmen were the biggest bunch of sonsofbitches there were. one of the worst teasers even went on to work in the public school system. can you believe that? funny how things work out.

the way i figure, they were losers, having to pick on younger, weaker students. but in reality, they were weak, having to assert their hispanic, macho bullshit all around the school.

there's a great rap/rock lyric that's sorta appropriate: "fight the power."