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.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

the migrant kids ride again

after a day off work yesterday -- seriously, i wasn't feeling too hot -- and spending time last night sitting on the front porch in the late evening glancig over hemingway books (which is relaxing, since i work during the eveings and rarely get a chance to relax out there), today i'm better. not a hundred percent, but better nonetheless.

i had to be better. this morning mrs. irizarry's third-graders were coming to the newspaper for a tour. i couldn't back out. i went in first and tolda few people what was happening, then slipped out the employee entrance. they were already waiting by the wheelchair access ramp.

i had no more than stepped out of the small glass enclosure leading outside, when i hear, "mr. garcia, mr. garcia."

after quickintroductions again, we went off, showed them the downstairs area, up to see rick, cheri, melanie and rich. i showed them my desk (the kids really dug the homer doll), then down to the scary basement and fianlly to the big machine in the tunnel.

the kids were attentive, asked rick and rich questions. i think they were attracted to the room; they kept looking around at various things.

afterwards, i was invited to eat lunch with the group at the gazebo of centennial park. i sat with a few of the girls who asked me to sit there, the boys wanted me to sit with them. i finally did. then they wanted a story, so i sat with denisse, rosaisela, marlynne, andy, misa and juan and set forth ona not-so-quick adventure concerning thekids.

then we played a game called, "i'm sending a letter to..." everyone is gathered in a wide circle (against the metal fencing of the gazebo) with one person in themiddle. the middle person says, "i'm sending a letter to all the boys." so all the boys must switch places (you can't simply switch with the boy next to you). and the person in the middle must run to grab a spot left open. several times i was specifically chosen, as one of the boys said, "i'm sending a letter to the guys with hairy arms." everyone laughed and i walked to the middle.

the kids got to experience the police dept., the newspaper and a bank. the educational tour continues. next week i go back to the classroom and the kids will share with me their career papers. i'm excited.

i needed the company of thekids. they like you for who you are and give love, hugs and laughter. you can't get better than that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


spoiler alert, so if anyone has yet to read or finish "deathly hallows," don't proceed.

i, again, listened to the book on caudio cassettes. after an extended deadline friday (to get in the first person buying the book at readers world), dawn and i rushed to the store to get a copy. by the time we got to b&n, though, the store was closed, so i couldnt' start reading until nearly noon the following day.

i completed the book after i got home from work tuesday night. i was done about 3 a.m. no matter how much i kept going, the book seemd to stretch on and on. it was an exhaustive read, i'll tell you. and that's because this time it was no marathon read like "half-blood prince" two years ago.

did i like the book? yes, i did. was the book excellent? i'm not so sure. i still enjoyed "prisoner of azcaban" and "goblet of fire" the best.

i had no problem with harry surviving the battle with voldemort. i sorta hoped he'd perish with voldemort, but, alas, too many kids would've been crying their eyes out. no, rowling came up with a neat little way to make it ok for HP to live on.

was i sad to see snape die? yes i was. though, i thought, through viewing hsi thoughts through the pensive, he was redeemed. still a tragic figure, and rowling's best by far. most complicated, always had you guessing whether he was good or bad. i felt sorry for snape, never able to get the girl, always the outcast. and i thought it was quite poignant that harry named one of his boys albous severus potter and said about snape, "he was probably the bravest person i ever knew."

the things most disappointing to me was the speed of the book. it slowed, sped up for a bit, then slowed again. the entire part where the trio is camped in the woods and traveling in disguise was excruciating to read (like reading the part of the ents in the lord of the rings trilogy). i thought rowling could have cut about 100 pages off the book to make the book flow. don't get me wrong, i enjoy long books, but the fllow was too erratic for me.

then several main characters died and it became a secondary thing. mad-eye moody was killed while we were with potter at the weasley house. the only thing recovered later was his eye. also, tonks and lupin were killed in the battle of hogwarts. we never see them in battle or how they died. all of a sudden, potter's looking at dead bodies and there is the couple lying dead. we never know who killed them or how they died.

those are three main characters who died and it seemed like an afterthought. that's the problem when a majority of the book is seen through harry's eyes. there's no chance to really see what's going on elsewhere. that's where rowling fails as a writer. she starts off this book, as she did the previous several books, without harry in the chapters. but then thepoint of view is only harry, so that anything that happens outside the realm of his scope, we don't get to see. it's a shame.

that's anything, then. snape is a huge main character, but we only see him in three chapters of the book, the first, then many, many chapters later in "the sacking of severus snape," and in the chapter when voldemort kills him (unless you count the pensive stuff). the book needed more snape in it. he is by far the best and most complex character and yethe's only in three chapters. doesn't make sense to me.

i know it sounds like i didn't like the book, based on the above comments, but i did. many questions were answered and it was more heavy than previous books.

plus, it has been nice and quite an experience living through this time while this phenomenon has occurred. things like this don't happen very often and it's good to be part of it. whether you like them or not, you must admit that the books have made an impact on readers, kids are reading them, and hopefully reading other books, too.

to those who say, humbug, i say too bad, you're missing out, if for only a quick, light read before moving on to non-fiction, hemingway, philosophy books, history or romances.

i am now going back and have started the first book, "harry potter and the sorcerer's stone." the book is so different than "deathly hallows." the writing is simpler, not verbose. the guy reading the book has gotten his groove on since that first book, too. he's wonderful. i've noticed that he pronounced voldemort's name without the "t" in this first book. sounds funny.

is pottermania over? hardly. there are still two more movies to go and much discussion on this book and the series as a whole.

somebody out there doing a dissertation? already? shoulda known.

Monday, July 23, 2007

the trip to the big city

i'm a little behind here but thought the trip is well worth a blog.

thursday i woke up early and went with dawn to the summer migrant program, where the third-graders prepared for an educational trip to grand rapids, where they'd visit grand valley's downtown campus, a real estate business owned by a former migrant, the city's main library and the nbc tv affiliate, where they would be given a tour also by a woman who was a former migrant.

the kids were separated into two vans. i was up front and passenger with dawn driving one van. in our van were juan, andy, eric, lucero, rosaisela and deila.

since i'd met the kids before, they weren't really shy around me. we turned up the radio and we jammed, making headbanging motions, me talking with foreign accents and making up stuff for the kids.

at grand valley, they got a tour of the education department by a dr. hakim, who'd been a speaker in their classroom. the kids got to see the campus and get a glimpse of what i'd be like when they make it to college.

david pena, the owner of homes 28 real estate, was very kind to the kids, showed them around the place, then grilled burgers for us outside. the kids loved it. they even made a cheer for david.

after a quick ice cream at the texas stop sign, it was off to a playground to get some tension released. this is where i bonded with lucero and rosaisela. they're really nice, quiet girls, who are intelligent. both have a quick smile that makes them so endearing. i think because they are quiet, they are more of a force, than others who are forward and demand attention. i hope these girls continue on beyond high school and complete some type of college degree. it would be disheartening if they didn't. to me anyway.

i attempted to play tag with rosaisela, lucero and juan while on some really nice playground equpment that was set up off the ground. of course, they were too quick for me and i failed miserably -- to their delight (and mine). i got to play on the teeter-totter with them and gave them pushes while they were on the swings. i was exhausted after the playground.

and was after the playground, that the silly stories began on the bus. the kids couldn't get enough. i kept getting, "mr. garcia, mr. garcia, tell us an other one." what i did was pretend someone was missing from the van and made up a story as where they'd gone and make it really silly. the kids kept asking me to tell them where so-and-so went to because they were gone. by the time we ended up in holland and i told them the final story, my voice was hurting because i had to talk loud and to the back of the van with the a/c on. (i found out that the folowing day they were still talking about the stories especially what happened to juan in one of them).

after going to the library, the kids got a tour of wood-tv 8 from eva aguirre cooper. we got to go through the entire place and they even sat in while the 5 p.m. news were going on (during the break, they got a picture with the anchors). susan shaw commented as the kids were walking out that it was one of the most attentive bunch of kids they'd seen in the building. that made me proud to hear.

after a dinner, we headed back to holland. i was dropped off, where i quickly wrote a story about the day.

it was a joyful day. i will admit to being exhausted and commend teachers for the great job they do. i think mrs. irizarry is a wonderful teacher (with a great assistant) and really uses her imagination to teach the kids the importance of education and exposing them to different career options available to them. they have choices, all they need to know is that they're out there. they can break the ,migratn lifestyle cycle.

the kids really endeared themselves to me. i never thought i'd feel this way about them. they're just a great bunch of kids with a lot of potential. they can go far. they should let no one stop them.

and to anyone who wants to, piss off. these kids are hard-w9rking and deserve the same advantages any other students benefits from.

viva los estudiantes imigrantes!!!