Personal Story

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My first memory was probably when I was in Texas at my dad’s house and I was about four or five years old. We just got back from getting my new Fila’s (tennis shoes).We were just hanging out at his house and he asked me what I wanted to eat and I said waffles and candy.  I thought he would say no right away, but I guess since I didn’t see him that often he said yeah to be nice.  I walked to the window and looked out.  Then I noticed the pretty view from up above.  I began to yell, “MOM! MOM!” Out of the window.  After I was done my dad asked me if I wanted to go home and I said no. I’m not really sure what happened after.

My most memorable birthday was in seventh grade on March 5th.  It was the last day of traveling basketball and our championship game against Jordan.  Our game was in Savage, Minnesota.  I woke up to my teammates in my house, waking me up.  They made me breakfast in bed.  My parents were at work and told me they couldn’t make my championship game.  I was kind of sad about it but at the same time I was still happy because it was my birthday.  Then it was time for the game and I was just in the zone like no other.  I scored 16 points that game and we won 33 to 29.  We celebrated after by taking silly string and spraying it at the coaches and me.  It turned out that my parents were at my game the whole time as a surprise.  We went to Red Lobster all together and had cake.  Then I got an iPod video which I’ve always wanted back then.  I got other things too.

My weekend was really good. On Friday I hung out with friends and we were talking about the party that was going to be on Saturday.  At the party everyone was just having fun and a good time.  There was alcohol, but no one was drinking.  That night my friend’s neighbor called the cops on us because I guess we were being too loud. The cops showed up and crashed everything.  The cops saw alcohol in the fridge and decided to give us breathalyzers because he thought we were drinking. Not too long before the cops showed up I just put some minty gum in my mouth, which makes you blow higher when you’re doing a breathalyzer even though you’re not drinking at all.  By the end of that night I got a minor and had to go to court.  The outcome of it all is that I got grounded and it shows up on my record.

I started playing basketball when I was a little kid but started playing on an actual team when I was in second grade.  I love it more then anything.  It was the greatest thing in the world to me when I was a kid and still is.  I enjoy being with friends and just learning new things about the game of basketball.  Currently I am a starting point guard on the varsity squad since freshman year.  I enjoy it a lot.  In the future I hope to pursue basketball in college. I am planning on attending the University of Tennessee.  They are the current state champs for women’s college basketball and have been for a while.  I plan on meeting their coach because I have read about her and she is one of the top coaches in women’s college basketball.

My friends and family mean the world to me!  I have two brothers and two sisters and I am the middle child.  My youngest brother is two, my youngest sister is nine, then its me, my older sister is nineteen and my oldest brother is twenty-six.  My mom is from Sacramento, CA and my dad was born in Congo, Kinshishia.  Out of 100% they are about 85% of my life.  Without them I don’t know what I’d do.  I enjoy sharing good times with them and making new memories.  Without my family and friends I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about certain things or share personal things with.  I cherish every moment I am with them.  I am also up for meeting tons of new people and having plenty of fun!

I love traveling all over! I enjoy it so much because you’re not in your normal boring state.   You get to see and visit things you don’t see everyday.  I’ve been to 32 states so far in my life.  I was born in Houston, Texas and I’ve visited all of the states down south.  I love being down south because it’s always hot and they have extremely good food.  Also I enjoy their southern accents and their southern hospitality.  My other favorite place to go is to California.  I enjoy going there because I get to see tons of family, shop and I get to go to Eddie Murphy’s mansion.

I wanted to work this summer because I wanted some extra money and learn new experiences.  Something that I like so far, is learning new things on the computer and meeting new people.  Also I like being on the computer editing and making slogans. Things that I don’t like are writing and reading.  Things that I learned are improving on my verbal skills and editing skills.

In my future I plan on meeting tons of new people, having my dream job, having fun in college playing basketball, and living with roommates.

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Past, Present, Future

Back in my grandmother’s day she lived in the mountains of Laos. Her family farmed on arable land and had a herd of cows. The mountains were awfully scary because no one really knew of the dangers it enclosed. She once told me about one of her close relatives buried in the mountains. When one dies, the family and the relatives gather around the deceased for a whole night to make sure no one disturbs the coffin and to watch over the dead. It was getting late so the family told a retarded guy around his twenties to watch over the coffin while the family returned home. As the sun fell and the moon rose, the dead in the coffin got out and stiffly walked into the woods close by. The guy watching saw the dead grow a long tail and sharp claws before walking off into the woods.

The first memory I have was when my mom returned from California. I must have been two or two and a half that year. We were in the living room of our suburban, double wide house. My mom was sitting on the couch eating food set on top of a chair. My three year old sister was there too. She was playing, standing or sitting on the couch or floor talking to my mom about her trip to California. She was standing beside the food holding the chair and talking to my mom. I don’t remember, but I know it was one of the two. I, on the other hand, was crawling on my knees and hands between and around the chair. Or was it that I was sitting diagonally from my mom on the living room floor? My mom was eating rice, with hot pepper and watermelon. My mom asked us if we missed her while she was gone. I can’t remember my sister’s response, but I do remember mine. I didn’t give her a verbal response but shook my head “no” and turned away when I felt my eyes fill up with tears. I don’t know why I had that choking moment of crying or why my eyes filled up with tears. I honestly didn’t care or miss her because I had no memories of her except this one. Maybe it was my mom’s gentle voice or her teasing smile.

When I was younger my father would sometimes drink Budweiser or wine just to have something to do instead of sit all day. Not because he was addicted or anything of that nature. My oldest brother and a few of my sisters would form a semicircle around my father and watch him chug down a cup or two before putting it away. He would sometimes offer us a sip or two, not to get us addicted but to see the silly expression we made in response to the bitterness. My older brother, being the daring one, would sometimes take down half a can. My older sisters however, took a sip and pulled away as quickly as the bitterness got to their taste buds. I was trying to be as brave as my brother. Therefore, I took in at least a whole mouth full before I gave up.

As a child I was a brave and naughty warrior. I was spoiled so I was able to explore my curiosity without punishment. Like the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. I didn’t actually die but a part of me did. I feared expressing my curiosity and chose to bottle it up, which led to my quiet and shyness. As I remember, we were in the garage hiding from the neighbors black dog in the front lawn. It was me, my oldest brother, and my three older sisters. The dog was in the middle of the lawn, holding us back from reaching the chicken-coop near the woods. My father had gone earlier in the morning and didn’t get to face the short ugly black dog. My older sister ran with her quick legs and reached the chicken-coop quickly and safely with only a few barks from the dog. I went half way and then pulled back for no reason. The dog sensed my fear and came after me. Afterwards I blacked out and couldn’t recall what happened that afternoon except the fear of the dog.

In my family we don’t throw big parties for someone’s birthday, instead my siblings or parents give us mini gifts such as a twenty dollar bill from my father, hand-me-downs or kind acts from my sisters, and the usual love, nurturing and care from my mother. My father was the only one in the house with a stable job so I was grateful and thankful for any money he was willing to give me. My sisters’ trash was my treasure so I didn’t really mind the hand me downs. Even though my father gave me money I never spent much because I felt that everything I needed I already had. That was how most of my birthdays went ever since I was five and could keep up with money. However, there was one birthday, MY GOLDEN BIRTHDAYthat I’ll never forget! My mom and dad had just cashed their checks and they were going to go to Aldis to buy us some groceries since they hadn’t gone to a grocery for two weeks. I ran up to the car and was about to get in when my oldest sister brushed passed me and stole my spot in the truck. I sat on the driveway and cried exhaustedly. The car drove up the road and my sister yelled out the rear window “Hey, I’ll get you some ice cream for your birthday.” Whoa, I was so-o-o ticked.

I have a photograph that was taken in my hometown. My father took this photo of all my sisters and my little brother along with his mother. We dressed up in our traditional Hmong clothing because my other grandmother from California had come to visit. We also took pictures with her because that was the last day she was with us before she returned home. The girls standing closer to my grandmother are my older sisters. Back then I was shorter. The one standing beside me is a year older than me. The girl on the other side is now a rising sophomore in college and is four years older than me. The girl on the other side of my oldest sister is two years older than me and the tallest in the family, but still acts like a kid. My younger brother is now in the sixth grade and is still a stubborn and spoiled brat. My little sister, on the other hand, didn’t get as spoiled, but is an idiot always seeking attention.

My first trip to Minnesota was because my parents had another one of those arguments about money and relatives. My dad had left North Carolina for Minnesota alone without notifying my mom. This wasn’t the only reason why my mom decided to go; there are more details that I’d rather not mention. After my dad returned for a couple of weeks, my mom bought plane tickets and flew us to St. Paul, Minnesota where my uncles lived. We were picked up by my Uncle Chue who once lived with us along with his wife and kids. This was the uncle we were closer to since he was the only one we had met from my mom’s side. He took us to his home, an apartment on the second floor, small but livable. Since his apartment was small and he had many children of his own, some of us were divided and went to my mom’s oldest brother’s home, which was bigger and made it seem like he had less children, even though they each have the same number of children. I stayed with the oldest uncle who took us to parks and other places to have fun.

My second visit to Minnesota was at the start of school. This time it wasn’t a visit like the first. I was going to start my first year in middle school as a seventh grader and be reunited with my friends from the second grade, first grade and kindergarten. We moved after two weeks of school because of the issues between my parents. My mom took the whole family except for my dad to Minnesota after he left for work. We were moving away from him because he was a bad influence.  When we reached Minnesota we stayed with my Uncle for a while and then started searching for a home. It took a long time before we were able to find a home with a low rent.  We stayed there for a year and then left for another new home. When we first settled up here I complained about anything and everything that I came into contact with. Life in Minnesota is getting better and I’m starting to adapt to it. The schools, streets and even teachers are very different from where I used to live. However, it’s been three years and I see now that I won’t regret moving up here because of everything I’ve been through and experienced. This is the place for me to start my dreams.

Naturally, we (my family) would have moved to Minnesota and lived in St. Paul, but because my mom had a closer bond to my Uncle Chue we decided to stay with them for a few months and then decide where we would settle down next. Our first home in Minnesota was Mary’s place where we stayed for a month and then had to move back with my Uncle Chue because our promised time was out. We stayed with them for a couple more months and then found another home in Minneapolis over at Oliver. A year passed and my mom’s car was dying and my Uncle and Aunt from California were going to move in. Since my mom’s car was our only transportation and we knew more people in Minneapolis we decided to stay in Minneapolis.

My weekend was packed. I couldn’t wait to get time to myself. On Friday night I came home and went directly to bed. I went to bed early because that week I had woken up between six and seven in the morning and not gotten the sleep my head and body yearned for. The next morning I woke up at six without actually intending to get up so early. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and take a quick shower/bath. Excited about the weekend I ran all over the house trying to get my chores done so I’d get time to myself. Unluckily, I was too quick or perhaps to slow to have finished my chores just as my auntie called from downstairs requesting a babysitter. I eventually had to go down and babysit for about four or five hours before returning upstairs. I fell asleep on a comfortable couch during the first few hours and then woke up after remembering I was downstairs babysitting. The children weren’t crying or causing a riot so I decided to read “The Latehomecomer” by Kao Kalia until I noticed a stench coming from the baby. I cleaned her up and rocked the baby to sleep. Afterwards I continued reading my book until my Uncle and Aunt came home. I had a little time on my hands so I messed with the computers and then ran out to the backyard to chase and play with my little brother. Finally, Sunday came. It wasn’t as I expected, because I didn’t get to spend my time doing everything I wanted. This was to exercise and straighten out my room and belongings. Other than that I enjoyed reading through most of “The Latehomecomer” and talking with my grandmother and I wouldn’t take it back. As a matter of fact“The Late Homecomer” was what encouraged me to finally have the conversation I wanted with her. To talk about her past like Kao Kalia did with her family.

My first intentions of finding a job were to gain work experience and earn money. Before beginning this job I didn’t know how to begin the conversation for selling an ad or soliciting donations. After I practiced and was given a few pointers, I learned how to communicate on the phone about ads and donations to business owners. I was still nervous in the first few weeks of starting, but later found the job easy despite a few rude replies. The rude replies knocked down my hope of making a sale or receiving donations which made me dislike the job, but I became more confident in voicing my opinions, which is a useful tool since I’ll be presenting numerous speeches and interviewing for more jobs in the future. This experience also helped me eliminate the choice of wanting to become a secretary, because I dislike answering phone calls and dealing with customers. In addition to sales over the phone, my job required many topic researches and creativity. The research I did pertained to drugs, HIV/AIDS and issues teens my age face. Since my job required many topic researches I got the chance to exercise my researching skills and learn some facts about the subjects. In addition, I can apply the experience and skills I’ve mastered to my schoolwork and in my search for jobs. Once I’ve gathered up all the information necessary, I use the data I gathered to come up with slogans. After a few days of editing the slogans, I combine the slogan with the images I created to make a postcard. Putting a postcard together was a bit difficult for me since I lacked creativity and computer skills. However, my colleagues and supervisors made my work easier because they showed me how to use the Apple software and gave me suggestions on how to make my postcard so it would send the message I intended it too. What I like most about working in Asian Media Access was the kind colleagues and supervisors. Thanks to the help of my co-workers my job became easier and I was able to slowly develop my computer skills and creativity skills.

What I like most about my life is being taught and learning morals, learning about myself, learning about my background, learning about life, how to be and what to do. What I dislike most about my life is being clueless all the time, being helpless, having no creativity and not being able to help my mother, my father, my sisters, my brothers and myself.

My purpose in life is to help my family be logical and successful instead of turn into evil criminals. My purpose is to be hope for my mom. To be my mother’s motivation, only reason to live everyday instead of disappointing her like my older brother did, leaving her with a bad reputation. My purpose in life is to benefit from the opportunities that my parents weren’t offered. My purpose is to lead a successful life. My purpose is to keep the tradition alive.

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I remember when I was in first or second grade and my friend gave me a dog. It was a Rottweiler and I named her Roxanne. One day my friend and I were outside playing fetch with the dogs. A woman came by in a big truck and took my dog away. I can’t remember why she took it, but I know I was really sad and confused about what had happened and I really didn’t want a pet after that. I still have a pet now just not a dog though.

Now I have four cats, one named Frac the mother cat of the other two cats I have named NV, LC, and Sox a kitten from a different litter. They each have different personalities. Frac, the mother cat, with pretty big green eyes is a sly cat and will do mean things if something is not clean and she talks back to my mom, when my mom yells at her. NV and LC have the same personality except that NV, with the golden eyes, is way more needy and wants a lot of attention no matter how much you give her, like hitting her but of course not to hard.  She is a little clumsy too. LC, the light green eyed cat, is needy too but she doesn’t want as much attention as NV.  She is a little moody though. Sox, the brown eyed cat, is the most active cat out of the four and has lots of energy especially at night when everyone is trying to go to sleep. One time Sox and NV were running around chasing each other.  Sox jumped into the bathtub a quarter full of water to escape from NV and scared herself half to death.

I have two brothers and two sisters and I’m the youngest out of all of them. My mom had only two children, my oldest brother and I.  We live in Minnesota and my dad, his wife, and my other siblings live in Illinois. My mom’s side of the family also lives in Illinois. My mom has two sisters and three brothers and she is the youngest of her family too. The same with my oldest brother on his dad’s side, among his other siblings he is also the youngest. My brother has four kids, one step son from his wife’s previous relationship, two boys and one girl. My brother and I hangout with each other once in a while and we play videogames or do other things.

My mom told me lots of stories about herself and about others in our family. I can’t really remember much of what she told me over the years but mainly the fact that I have it easy compared to when she was younger. When my mom graduated from high school, my grandfather gave my mom a choice to make. The next day she could either keep going to school and live at home for free or get a job and help pay for things around the house. She chose school. I did the same thing and chose school, yet I still have to help around the house. So in a way I think she had it better then me.

Somewhere between the seventh and ninth grade, my mom and I were living with my brother and his wife and their one child in Blaine, Minnesota. My cat Pikachu had her first batch of kittens one day. She had one male and four females. Everyone was very excited about the kittens and what we had got for Christmas and presents. For some reason, my brother and I started to play fight over something. I ran into my mom’s room for help and she didn’t do much, but my brother and I almost knocked the television out the window. My mom started to chase us out of her room and told us not to come back in there, but of course we did minutes later.

On my eighteenth birthday, I went to a play at the Children’s Theater with my mom. Later that day, I went over to my brother’s house to celebrate the rest of the day with him and his family. I got some video games, clothes, money, and other knick knacks as presents. Two days later, I went to Chicago to celebrate with other family members. My mom and I went to my auntie’s house and my cousin’s house too. I got more money from them and some birthday cards. For some reason instead of just having cake and ice-cream, we also had KFC chicken, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and pop to drink.

I went over my brother’s house to watch his children. At first he was trying to have them spend a night at my mom’s house, but of course my mom said no. So, I went to my brother’s house. He and his wife were trying to go out without their kids. The next day I was suppose to go home to help pack boxes, because my mom and I may be moving in August. We are planning to move closer to Northeast Minneapolis instead of being in Columbia Heights. We are moving because we don’t like the small space we’re in now and it is far from people we know and programs we would like to be in. My brother didn’t feel like driving me back home after babysitting so I stayed over. Later that day my niece and nephew and I played with our silly string in a can, spraying each other. My brother didn’t know that I had a can of silly string. He started picking on me and then I told him don’t touch or else I’m going to do something he’ll regret and of course he hit me with the string. Then I turned around and sprayed him with the silly string and he ran away and closed the door. He tried to come back to hit me but I was still standing there with the can waiting for him. Well, he got me while I was sleeping and sprayed me with a water gun. The next day my mom called really early in the morning to have someone drop me back at home.  My mom needed to get into the bathroom because my cats somehow locked the door from the inside, so my mom couldn’t get in for over a half hour until my brother and I got there. She and the cats were both happy that my brother could open up the door.

I will be my mom’s first child to go to college since my brother didn’t. She would like at least one of her two kids to go to college. On August 25 thru December 25 I will be going to college at Minneapolis Community Technical College. Originally I was going to start school next year so I could get a job and save up money for school, but my mom made a good point. She said that I should continue on to college after graduating because, knowing me, I will forget all the important stuff for school and start my first year badly. So I’m starting right away even though I already don’t remember much now. I’m going to MCTC to get my generals out of the way and then transfer to a different college with courses that are more involved with my interests like Japanese translation, veterinary, zoology, the study different animals and their habitats and study abroad. I can’t wait to go and be in a different environment and/or setting than high school and be more responsible for myself which is not all that great. I already know two people who are going there from high school. They might not be in my class; at least it is a start for me. In the future hope to have my dream job, a veterinarian, with my own place with four different pets, a dog, a cat, a ferret, and a water dragon (lizard).

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The first thing I remember was when I was just laying on my bed sleeping like a lazy person like I was, just sleeping there snoozing as would my dad would say.

A child hood memory I have was of hanging out with my cousins, so many times, just to play video games with them because they’re cool and have all the cool stuff that I always wanted when ever I come over to their house.

One of the funniest stories though my life time with my family was when I was just walking normally in the middle of winter and my siblings followed me (cause they always did when they were really young) then all of the sudden I was walking on slippery ice on my drive way, then my dad called me as I turned, I slipped and hit the ground on my back as the rest of my sibling laughed with me dad.

The most memorable days at my school would be, well I really never liked school because all of my friends would ignore me and as well they would always be arrogant when I try attempt to do something cool.  The only thing I do like was just do nothing but sleep during the day.

On my birthdays I never get much birthdays party’s because I’m getting to old for birthday party’s these days because of my parents don’t have time to set up my birthday party, but I do get some presents I want these days.

The best holidays would be on Thanksgiving because on that day I can co to many peoples house and eat as much as I want.  The best memories I had on thanksgiving would be I went to three people’s house as I got to play a lot of video games at different people’s houses.

On my secret vacation days I would always go to California just to visit my cousins and to walk down the beach from the sun setting down to early in mornings.  Today I am not able to visit them today over the summer because of ever since I now have a job for the A.M.A. crew (Asian Media Access).   The reason why I want to work her is because of I needed to make some money but because of my dad won’t let me spend my money for my own free will.  What I have learn was the experience with how to use cameras and different tricks of using the camera.  I really don’t enjoy the job and there’s nothing I really like about it but I just do it for the money.

As for my future, I really don’t know what it might be, but I really don’t care for it, I just hope I will have a normal life out there hoping nothing will happen but a simple life.

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When I was small my dad would take me everywhere with him, to go fishing, play volleyball, just going cruising with him, oh yeah cooking with him too. Wow, just writing about him makes me miss him so much. I remember exactly how he looked like, he was not to tall, not too short, had a lot of hair, and he was always dark skin not light skin. I always thought he went tanning a lot but nope, I was wrong. He was such an athletic guy who loved to play sports, just volleyball. He would always tell me to join my volleyball team at my high school, but always refused because the sport isn’t really my thing so he would get mad at me every time I would say no. I miss him so much, I want him to come back, but I know he will never be able to back. I’m pretty sure you’re wondering what happen to him, I will tell you. On September 18, 2004, he passed away from lung cancer. I never really believe that he had an illness because he was so active, but it kills me to know that I knew did have lung cancer and left my mother, little brothers, and I alone in this world. I wish I could fly into the cloud and take him back into my life so he could tell me he loves me and hold me forever and ever. Sometimes I sit and wonder why he had to live us all behind. I wish I could turn back in time and have the life where everyone is happy, but I know that it’s impossible.

I have six brothers and three sisters in my family. I have a lot of siblings; I love them all with my heart. I would love to tell you about them one by one, but that will take me all day. In that case I will just tell you about my little sister Mintshis. She is beautiful, tall, have a baby face, smart, and gorgeous inside out. She is always there for me. I don’t know what I will do without her. She is like my big panda bear; she wipes all my sadness always. She always keeps that smile on my face and never let it disappear.

My grandma always tells me that my siblings and I are lucky that we are born in this country, United States of America. Back in Thailand when my grandma was a kid, boys are girls were treating differently. Boys are only allowed to go to school and learn and get education. Girls can’t because their jobs are only to cook, go gardening, clean the house, and feed the animals.  I think it’s so unfair how everything has to be like that. My grandma told my siblings and me to appreciate what we have.

I inherit my sporty way. I get it from my dad because he was an athletic man, but there is one thing that I cherish the most; a letter. He had written me a letter before he passed away.  On the letter he said, “Do not ever give up and always keep your head high, choose a path that will lead you to succeed and always do the right thing.”

My mom and my dad don’t want me to play soccer anymore due to the fact that my ankle and knee injuries, but I still do. My team always have soccer practice; Monday through Thursday 6 PM till 9 at night. It was a Tuesday afternoon I got back from work and asked sister if she wanted to go to soccer practice with me. She didn’t wants to go because he has too much homework. I went without her, but she was like, “don’t go or else you’re going to get in trouble”. I didn’t pay attention to her and left anyways. Even though I left, I knew I shouldn’t because my parent didn’t allow that. When I was coming back home from practice I was wishing that my parent won’t be home, but sadly their car was in the garage. I was so scared to go enter the house. As I enter, my parents was sitting and waiting for me on kitchen table. They start yelling at me and they also took my cell phone away from me. Oh, and yeah my soccer shoes too. They gave all my belongings to my little brothers.

Today I’m going to write and tell you guys about my little sister how much she means to me. She’s the reason why there is always a smile on my face. Without her I wouldn’t know what I would do. She’s the reason why my head is held up high. When everyone gave up on me, she’s the one that believes in me. I really love her, I hope that she realize that I do. My sister is such a gorgeous girl with a kind heart. Everyone that is around her, she makes sure to keep a smile on their face and also make them feel love. She’s a smarty pants, every time when I have homework I will make her do it. Especially my math homework, I’m not that good when it comes to the subject math. `

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Here and Then

When my mom was in Thailand she was always was mistreated. She would always get left behind in the house because my grandmother didn’t like my mom. She was always neglected for the way she did things. When she was small she would get beatings for no reason. When she was little, she was neglected, treated this way because my grandmother was always getting a new “boyfriend” almost every single day. My grandmother didn’t care much about what happened to her daughter as long as they she didn’t get in the way of her relationships.

All my mom had was the farm that she grew up on. She had nothing. She was all alone in Thailand. She didn’t have much money to survive. She didn’t have a shoe or a sandal. All she had was the farm of chickens and pigs she would feed daily, until my dad came to rescue her from that miserable place. My mom and my dad were in love. They both ran away from Thailand and they both wanted to get married.

My mom became a bad mother because of an old witch (my grandmother). My grandmother was the only reason why she treated me and my brother this way, the same way as her mother. I don’t blame my mom for being this way, because she wanted control. She wanted to control the way everything was done. When she had her first child they named him Henry. After Henry was born he stayed in the hospital for two weeks because he had a major heart problem.  He died as a young baby. I still feel sad about telling this story, because I never got the chance to meet Henry. If I met Henry I think I would have been a better brother. If I met Henry my whole family would get along. My mom was always trying to be a good mom. My mom wanted to be the best she could be. When we moved to Minnesota my mom wanted a house of her own. My mom wanted to buy a good house. A house that the family could have a good time in, and she found one that she liked and we liked it too. The only thing we didn’t like was that we had to remodel the place. My dad would always say it is already okay the way it is, but my mom would always say, “No, it’s not perfect inside yet”. So then we would remodel the place every weekend. I would say that my mom got a better life when she came here. She had a life without my grandmother. I would say that was the way to go. That way she could be happy everyday. Don’t get me wrong my mom and dad still fight, but every couple does so I say that it is normal.

Every day in California I would always spend time with my friends and throughout everyday I would always have one exciting thing to say the next day. After a couple of years there in California, sunburns didn’t even affected me anymore. One of the best times I ever had was going to the zoo in California and spending about five hours there looking at the tigers, because they were my favorite animal at the time. When I was about to turn three years old I had a birthday party and all of my relatives came by.  I was so excited, not because of the relatives but because of the cake. I love cake, especially ice cream cake. After my birthday party I was put to sleep, because of course I was three.  That was the best time I ever had.

I remember was when I was back in California, and I was about four years old. It snowed there, it snowed the whole day and every body was outside. Everybody was making snowballs, snowmen, and they also had hot cocoa. When it snowed everybody was outside, they didn’t need to wear coats because it was hot that day, and it was also cold that day too. When I was outside I felt warm and cold at the same time. The funniest thing I ever did was making a snowball and hit my older brother in the face. I started to laugh. After a few hours it got really cold and I had to go inside, and when I went inside I felt like I just got melted out of a glacier.

Then the next day I went out side again but I saw something horrible, the snow was almost gone. So I grabbed all of the snow and put it in one place and made like twenty snowballs out of it. Then as people walked out I would hit each one of them with a snowball and I would laugh every time I would hit someone. Then after all of the snowballs were gone I just went inside my home and went to sleep

I think I had a normal childhood because I had lots of friends and family. Most of them lived near me so I could meet with them often and spend a lot of time together. When I was six I started to feel sad and angry, because I didn’t have a toy I wanted. I wanted to the new Power Ranger toy that was always shown on the TV commercials.  I had lots of toys cars and I also had a lot of Power Ranger toys. One day I asked my dad if he could buy the new Power Ranger toy for me and he said “No”. I whined about why I couldn’t get the toy and why he was being so mean. After a few days my dad asked if wanted to go to the store with him and I said “Okay”. I thought that he was going to buy me a new toy. I followed along and he said, “We are just here to buy clothes”. I got mad until I saw this one toy; it was a limited edition Power Ranger toy. I got happy and took it to my dad and asked him if he could buy me the toy and he said, “No”. I was mad and I put it back where it was. As we were about to go to the cashier and ring up our items, I quickly ran back and took the toy. I took it out of the case and put it under my shirt. When we were walking out I started to shake. Then I started to feel numb. The closer I got to the door, the more of those feelings I got. When I was almost out, something inside me told me to just keep going. Keep going and don’t stop until you get out. When I got out of the store the feelings of numbness and shakiness went away and I felt happy. Happy that I got the toy I wanted and happy that I stole it. The next day I went to show it to my friends and they said, “Wow, how did you get that? I thought it was out.”  Then they all got mad because they couldn’t get it. (A month later I stopped stealing and had a normal life again.)

When I was about to turn nine, I started to steal again. I stole money, toys, clothes, and candy. I didn’t know why I stole it because I didn’t even need those things. I think I stole because of the adrenaline rush that goes through a person’s body, but what ever it was I couldn’t stop stealing because I loved the way it felt stealing something. During the years I stole at least ninety dollars from my dad and he asked everybody if they had seen his money. I said “No, I haven’t seen it”. I went to my cousins’ house and one of my cousins asked me if I wanted to buy some Yu-Gi-Oh cards and I said sure. So he showed me his cards and I saw a really cool card. It was called Buster Blader. This card was a rare card (it was shiny and one of a kind) that I wanted to have. I bought it and showed it to my brother and he said, “O-o-o-oh, how did you get that?” I told him how I got it and he said, “I’m going to tell dad” then I said, “No I’ll do anything you want”. Later he told me that if I want him to be quiet, I would have to buy him a new pack of Yu-Gi-Oh cards and I bought them for him. Later he got mad at me and I got mad at him and he then told my dad about the cards; I got busted and got a beating. Then my dad told me if I wanted money why didn’t I just ask him and I took that into consideration and I never stole anything ever again.

On my weekends I always sleep in for at least an extra five hours. After I am done sleeping, I go outside and I walk to my friend’s house, then we go to the park and hang out, and after awhile we all go back home. One day, I and my friends went to Olson Park and we saw our other friends there, and we talked for awhile. Then for some reason this dude named Jack got mad at Dosh my former friend then.  They started to argue and then they both fought, Jack beat Dosh up and Jack said, “You better not F!@$ with me any more mother f@#!er.”  Dosh started to cry and he went home. After that day I just couldn’t stop talking about how Dosh got beat up by Jack. A few weeks later I forgot about it and then I remembered it because I saw Dosh’s face and it was red on his forehead and purple on his eye.

The reason why I chose to work at AMA was because I had some friends working there too. Another reason why I chose it was because I wanted money. During my time at AMA, there were a lot of people I hated, who I liked and who I wanted to get to know better. Everyday when I came home from work I would always be exhausted and I would go to sleep.  I’d say that the job gave me a lot of skills like cooperating with others, taking  your time with what you’re doing no matter how hard it is, and listening to people’s opinion. When I first got to AMA I had to take a reading class too and this woman named Loretta gave me a biography to read.  In my head I was thinking this woman is crazy, I can’t finish this in nine weeks, but as the time went by I started to like the book more and more, and I started to read more.  I just want to say thanks to Loretta for doing this. She is a great person and also I am starting to love writing again. I also had another class; it was Mr. Kang Vang’s Photography/ Movie class. He taught me a lot about how to make a good movie, how to take good pictures and how lighting and composition is always the key to making a good movie. He also taught us how to do camera angles and camera shots. We also made PSAs (public service announcements) which I think were really good. For example, an Obama campaign ad that was about three minutes long and an obesity ad too. I just also want to say thanks Kang for making this possible and for helping me make better movies.

Overall, I think the experience has taught me a lot about what’s going to be out there and where I could end up one day if I do stupid stuff. I think that I should just go the good way and have a wife, two kids, and a pet dog. To me this all can be possible if I make the right choice.

First Memory and Last

It was my little brother’s birthday. I was at the age of two at that time. The birthday took place in our home. My home, my home looks big and white. I have a garage under our home and a big space for our car to park in front of our home. A big bush right next to our space, so that I could climb it and sleep on it.  When snow comes it looks like a marshmallow. A large hill for a shortcut to our home and when winter comes, I could slide down that large hill. A rail for me to grab so I could get to the door of my home. My home has the widest backyard ever, a place to run around at the back. As I walk to the back of my home I could call it, my home. All these things around me are called my home.

It was my little brother’s birthday and everyone’s attention would catch him and say happy birthday to him. He was born on April 5th, 1995, the spring month. The month when the sky sheds its tears like my baby brother does every day, the month when flowers bloom and umbrellas blossom. It was the month when all the little kids dance in the blue ashes.  Back when it was his birthday, he’d be asleep when people looked at him. Nature would calm him down and the environment would open his mind.

Family means everything to me. I have a family. My friends are my family. My teachers are my family. My rivals are my family. Nature is my family. Heck the environment is my family. Anyone and anything I meet is part of my family. I’d do anything to be a part of a family. Everywhere I go I see my family there. Well some of them, but that’s enough to make me feel that I’m alive everyday, here now. I really love my family and I think they love me too. In my family I have the greatest mom and dad ever. I have five brothers, but my oldest brother, who I didn’t know, died when my parents were coming to the United States of America. I also have three sisters.

My family had many walls that were blocking them, but they always pushed to get through them. I wish I could do the same, but I’m just too weak and helpless that I mess up a lot. That’s why my friends are always there for me so that they can help me. One time I was in my friend’s car and he asked me if I wanted to chill at his house.  I said, “Sure why not?”  Man they are always there when I need them and when I don’t. Just like the time when I was playing a game, they had gotten far, but I didn’t and they tried to help me and I said, “No I can do it myself.”

My family has made me who I am today. Well, I choose my path and everything, but they’re the ones who are always there for me and who always help me.

My best birthday ever is was whenever it was my birthday. Every time it’s my birthday I feel alive. I feel as if the spotlight’s heat has touched my skin. I always want it to be like that. When people look at me it feels like I have power; when they don’t, I feel alone.  I try and I try to get their so called attentions, but when I finally get it, I just let it go.

Nobody knows me. Nobody knows who I am, the real me. I try to tell my friends about my birthday, but they just ignore me. I want somebody to know me. Someone I’m comfortable with and could keep a secret, someone who is nice to me, someone to be curious to know about me. You see, this feeling is happening all over again.

I have had a pleasurable time talking to elders. Elders could be interesting when you ask them what they know. For some reason, I don’t listen to elders most of the time. I think, no, I know that elders are wise in what they speak of and what they do. It is hard for me to talk to an elder; it’s like talking to a child. Elders could be interesting when you ask them what they know. Elders are like gods; they tell you stories and give you advice. Elders have a long life; they talk mostly about their lives. They talk about wars, family, they even talk about when they were little kids when they got in trouble and have a lesson why we shouldn’t do this and that.

There was a time; no it was the last couple of months that I was having a good conversation with an elder. It was at my summer school and I was in a class, called the “Hmong Orientation”. In that class I learned the types of spirits and omens too.  If you talk to someone you cannot see in the dark, then you’re talking to a spirit.

My teacher told us a story about when she was twelve years old. Her grandmother died and her parents had a funeral for her grandmother. The funeral was at nighttime and my teacher was told to watch over her sister.  She heard what they said, but ignored what she heard.   A Couple hours later she went to check on her little sister in the kitchen. Her little sister wasn’t there. The last time that my teacher saw her was in the kitchen and so she got worried. She checked all over the place from left to right, upstairs to downstairs. She thought that her little sister was outside so she went out into the night. It was dark everywhere and there was only one light in the parking lot. She had checked the parking lot, but didn’t see her sister. Then she thought that her little sister had already gone inside, so she started walking back inside the house.

When she almost got there, she heard her little sister’s voice behind her. She turned around, but saw nothing. She shouted,” If you don’t come out, then I’m going to leave you behind.”  She started walking away. This time she heard a bird chirping in a tree. She kept on walking and then she felt the bird touching her head on the back of her hood. She said, “Stop it.”  It stopped touching her hair. She turned around and expected to see her little sister, but she wasn’t there, no one was. Now she was really scared and ran back into the funeral house. She found her little sister in the kitchen. She asked her, “Where have you been?”  Her little sister said that she was there all along.  My friend decided to not tell her parents anything about this because she could get in trouble.

A couple weeks later, her mom was driving the car and she was in it too with her brothers in the back. The car almost crashed into two cars, but instead she turned and crashed into a store. My friend was knocked out and when she woke up she saw her mom in the car covered in blood and her brothers were still alive. They all got out of the car and an ambulance came. After the accident, she then decided to tell her parents about what had happened. A Couple days later they had a shaman do a ritual to summon my friend’s soul back into her body. The shaman said that her soul was taken by her grandmother when she passed away.

This story that she told me was about her. I got interested and asked her some questions. A few hours later when I got home, my grandma had just died. I saw my mother crying on the phone when she heard this news. I didn’t even know my grandma. I didn’t have the time or the money to help her. She had cancer. My grandmother lived in Laos and died there. I will never forget my mother’s face when she cried. When I was little, I’ would always remember everyone’s expression.  I still do now.

My dad was taking me to the library and I asked him questions about how my grandma died. He said that she died of cancer. I asked him if it had to do with spirits, he said he didn’t believe in spirits. I asked him, “What do you believe?”  He said that he believed in black magic because one time when my brother’s feet were burned while on vacation, my dad’s cousin did a black magic spell to heal my brother’s feet to feel better. I asked him if he knew some of the black magic and he said yes. He taught me a black magic spell that helps your life everyday so that your life could be good. I heard what he said, but remembered nothing of what he taught me. The spell was weird and pronouncing it was hard. I was surprised that my dad knows black magic.

I saw my mom in the living room and her face still had that crying face, so I cheered her up.   I told her that we had a potluck day the next day and I needed help. My dad came into the room and said that when he was little he’d cook eggs and use sticky rice as plates to hold the eggs. He would eat both eggs and the sticky rice together. My mom said that she remembered it too when she was little. I said something dumb about it and I could hear my mom and dad laugh. I was glad that I cheered her up.

My future plan is to get a girlfriend and live happily, but I know that’s a fairytale. I want to be a leader in the future, but it doesn’t look like I am a good leader now. I hope to succeed many things.

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A Crazy Life of Mine

These past few years, I have been reminiscing back, to the day when I was still young. These have been some good times, but some bad times. When I was a year old, my right middle finger got a scar from a door slamming into it. No body was there when I opened the door; it was just a wind blowing, cold as fallen snow. When I was four or five years old, I lit up my first fire cracker, and I couldn’t hear anything for at least two or three days.  When I was five years old, I went to school. I got into a fight on the first day. I didn’t know what I was doing, so the teacher didn’t call my parents. When I was in school I didn’t know what my name was, when the teacher called for me, I thought that it was the person next to me every time. When I was six, we moved here to Minnesota from California. I didn’t know anyone here so I didn’t talk with anyone, not even my family. When I went to North Star Elementary I didn’t talk or make any friends. I remember at that time a girl name Isabella liked me, but I didn’t know anything about love then. I thought love was hate, I was confused and I asked myself, “How come she hates me, I didn’t do anything to her?” I made some friends. I only remember one of them, his name was Meng Xiong. He was a good friend, but time went so fast, he became a gangster and I stayed the same.

When I went to Nelly Stone Johnson School, I didn’t see a lot of my friends over there. All I saw were people that I didn’t know. I was stupid then being crazy, doing everything without thinking. I figured out that one of my classmates was my cousin; her name was Therisa Moua. She’s cool and looks scary. She was big like a beast too, she scared me. I used to like my cousin’s friend, but I got bored. All I did anyway was sleep, too lazy to talk with anyone on the phone.

When I went to Olson Middle School, I made some good friends; their names were Pheng, Kou, Chue, and Xeng. We always made fun of each other, copying each other’s work so we could go play on the computer. I remember we had a field trip to Mississippi Park. We had an all out water fight, boys versus the girls, the staff versus the teachers, and the students versus the teachers, man that was fun, we guys conquered everyone, everybody quit except the boys. That’s all we did in sixth grade. When I was in seventh grade, I just screwed around and had fun. When I was in eighth grade, I had so much fun. I made some new friends.  I’m still kicking it with old friends too. My friend Chris went around getting girl’s phone numbers for me and Pheng. I got into my first fight in life. This one guy named Houa Wa Lee, thought that I was dating his girlfriend.  He got pissed, and he just came up to me and said that he wanted to fight with me. Damn I had so much fun stomping him. Pheng and my friend Chris, they were watching. I was stupid then, but had fun while it lasted.

When I was in freshman year I was so stupid and pissed, because my parents put me in a school that I hate, Hmong Academy. That’s when I started smoking because I had too much stress just going to that dumb school. They don’t let you do anything fun. All you do is just sit, do nothing, get yelled at for nothing, talking smack about each other, and get into trouble. They think that they’re the best school in the whole nation, yeah right.  If that’s so, then why did more than half of the students transfer out the next year? This school sucks like crap; I hate Hmong school and Hmong people that think that they had the power to control everything in the world. If they had that much power, why don’t we have a country like others? Answer that question. When I went to my sophomore year, I had so much fun, I went to Roosevelt, but my stupid parents had to do the same thing over again. Bring me back to a Hmong school. This time, I pissed off every single teacher in that school. I called the history teacher a redneck, called the principle a fat pig, and the rest I called a B…, you know what I mean.

I had so much fun in my life until this one girl. We liked each other, but she got forced into marriage, and she didn’t have any choice. Damn I cry for her too, but oh well, at least she has a new life starting for her. Now, I got something to do in my life, I can’t find anyone now.

All That Happened

My father wasn’t a great man or less of a man; he wasn’t even the perfect father. As a boy he was ignorant and stupid, but who isn’t? I know my father was forced into marriage; in Hmong tradition most marriages are, they arrange getting married because of love, but I could be wrong. You would never know for sure unless you ask them yourself. This is one choice they will never regret. When they got married they were probably in their teens.

War broke loose; it was the fight of their lives. In Hmong history, Hmong people went through hell and back. We lost the history of our ancestors and the history of who we really are in society. All the big events that happed in our history were fighting in war, running from war, and dying in war. I can’t relate to what war is like but I can relate to the fact that I lost millions of loved ones; because of war. Time goes by and memories fade like nothing happened at all; as if we never existed. Everyone went through it; billions of others went through the same type of pain. No one in life really wants to die; everyone has their reason to live and yet people are still killing each other everyday, but why?

During the war my, dad got shot in the back. He almost died, but he wasn’t weak, only the weak accept death and let themselves die. He held strong to life. A few weeks later, my mom and dad came to the United States. That is where my older brother would be born. Something went wrong with him; something about his head, it might have been cancer or a brain tumor, I don’t really know for sure. His name was Henry Vaj, just three days after he was born, he died. Everyone cried, “Why the first born?” My family was sad but they never gave up. My parents would put a picture of Henry on the wall. I never knew who he was so I’d ask and, they would say it’s your older brother, and I thought that meant the second oldest brother Cheng, the one born a year later, after Henry.

It goes to show that not everyone will be born prefect, because if we were we’d all be angels. I would hate my father from time to time; he would cheat on my mom. I keep asking my self “Why don’t you love her?”  But the same for my mom too; she would cheat on my dad as well just to get revenge. I have to say they are not perfect, but they are my parents their mistakes are in the past; I have accepted that. If you learn from your mistakes you will become a more respected person. I still love them both till this every day. If it wasn’t for them and how they were, I’d never be who I am. There is one thing that bugs me the most; my dad told me that I have half twin brothers. I said to myself, when I’m 18 I’ll start looking for them or at least try, their blood is the same as mine, can’t let that fade.

I lived a lie my parents created just to protect me my brothers and sister, but as time passed the truth came poring out. The thing that matters the most is they never stop loving their kids no matter how bad they turn out to be. Now life at home is great, they help me out when I need help. Now it’s just a matter of time before I help them and I can’t wait to help them when I get older. To my family and friends I care about, you will always be remembered. Thanks Mom, thanks Dad, for giving me such a good life.

My mom’s side of the family was rougher than my dad’s. I would say he got off light.  My mother was abandoned by my grandmother. You see, my grandmother was getting married to a new husband at that time. I only wish I knew the whole story of what happened during that period. I’ll never forgive my grandmother for what she did. I hope she learns to respect my mother more, later on, for saving my grandmother’s life. I will never forgive my mother as well. During the secret war, she left my aunt behind in Thailand; well it seemed that way at least. My mom and aunt became orphans when the new man in my grandmother’s life didn’t want them. My mom was left to take care of an old blind guy. As for my aunt, I think she got married. That one thing that my grandmother did, affected the life of her kids who had no mother, not even a father to care.

Eventually my mom got married to my dad. The family who was lucky enough to come to the United States was my dad’s. My mother was nice enough to let them come since they were family, but I never understood the reason why she let my grandmother come along. If it was me, I’d left her for dead, leaving me like that. I asked her why and she said “Son, no matter how bad they treated you…you can’t treat them the same way even if it’s your family”. What she said will stay in my head forever.

My grandmother on my dad’s side was the kindest soul you could ever meet. So far there is nothing wrong with her, but as my brother said, if they’re too nice, there’s something wrong with them. Maybe there was, she did lose her husband in the war. It’s sad I never got to know my grandfathers but at least I got to know my grandmothers.

I don’t like to play favorites with anybody. Living with them is all about getting along and watching out for them. I would say I hate one of my older brothers, dude’s a prick.

January 2, 2007, it wasn’t long ago when I was planning my party, sure it was stupid but I also gave in some deep thoughts about it too. It was my birthday but the party was on the weekend. I invited as many friends as I could; I’d even invited my ex-girlfriend or so she said, “I dated you on a dare”.

Friday came and I called all my friends that I could and I told them, “Hey! Coming to my birthday party? Oh one thing though, there’s going to be some drinking so think about it before you come okay?” Why did I tell them that? The reason was I didn’t want them to drink and do something stupid.

Party time arrived, it was dark out, and there were about 10 or less people there. The drinking began; I was the first to try. Everyone had a shot of vodka. Liquor drove me to a side I didn’t want anyone to see, because I didn’t want them to worry. My true emotion came out, no, it was not rage; it was the sadness I’d kept inside me for so long. I felt stupid, but proud as well that my real emotion could show.

I still regret it. I passed out after saying my ex-girlfriend’s name. When I woke up, my dad yelled at me and the party guests went home. My family worried I might die from drinking too muck vodka. I cried, but at the same time I fought to stay up. Every now and then, I say “I’m never drinking again.”

My weekend was fun. I stayed home and played a game then I got bored as hell and went outside with a few of my boys shooting a movie. It was interesting, but I got bored again, so I slept twice in one day.

Now life is great…almost. There’s the punk kid who keeps following me and my boys around throwing his two cents in acting like we don’t know anything, that fat F**K. Other than that, life is good. I have a job that I enjoy. Without this job I would have gotten fat, lazy, and stupid.

If I think about all the things I did I would say, I’m still myself but with more experience about life.

In the future I would like to live alone and just hangout with friends and having the same old fun.

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From The Island To Minnesota

Helemina Latu

The big move from Tonga to California than Minnesota was fun really. Being born in California then moving around A LOT than like when I was three we moved to Tonga, and I lived with my biological moms family. It was kinda hard, my parents were going through a divorce and my moms way of getting back at my dad was by moving us to Tonga. Where unlike the US, has more Tongans there, in Tonga; my moms side of the family was the Schaff’s. And my dad is the Latu’s. Lesalie-my real mom, her side of the family, might I say is like the Tongan Mafia. And my dad’s sides of the family are nobles-per-say.  His side are the kings guards, and anyways, my dad couldn’t do anything to get us back because Lesalie’s side of the family did the dirty dealings in Tonga, so she was well protected by her cousins and family, and so my dad decided to bring my older brother and sister Mary Jane and Sifa to join me and Fredrina in Tonga. So there we were living in Tonga because of a divorce. We lived there for two years. We were all born in the U.S though. So when in Tonga every one kept calling us ‘Palangi’ which means Americans, or white people. And so our two years there was spent with adventure after adventure. A lot of things happened in Tonga. From one day living with our dad’s side, to moving to Lesalies side, to moving around Tonga, cause Lesalie couldn’t stop arguing with her family about what she should do with us. Us four have gone through a lot. We grew up too fast, too mature, but now were relaxing and learning that were now safe, even though we’ve lived in Minnesota for 13years, now were feeling safe, and I m very happy to say we haven’t moved around like back when. Its safe. Anyways, back to Tonga. Tonga is my home, my country, my people, and even though back when the kids called us four ‘Palangis’ we still were Tongans at heart, blood and soul.

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McCain Introduces New Immigration Bill

Written by Doug Burrell

Due to his rapidly deteriorating poll numbers among conservatives, John McCain introduced a new bill on the Senate floor today.

Political observers have blamed McCain’s recent slide on his involvement with the immigration bill that failed to pass through the Senate last week. Critics called the bill an “amnesty bill”. With his new proposal, McCain hopes to regain the support of the conservatives he lost.

McCain’s ten point plan, which Democrats are calling “incredibly, mind-bogglingly racist” calls for the following:

All Hispanic workers to be paid in pesos.

Change the name of Taco Bell to Liberty Bell

Upgrade border patrol vehicles so that they will be fast enough to catch Speedy Gonzalez

Build a wall that not even David Copperfield can walk through.

Make sign that reads, “All incoming immigrants must be 5 foot tall to enter America, thereby disqualifying 75% of all Hispanic people”.

Provide complimentary stay for all immigrants at the Hanoi Hilton.

Require all immigrants to not only speak English, but think in English, too.

Put signs near the border that say, “America that way”, but point the arrow in the wrong direction.

Bomb, bomb, bomb…bomb, bomb Iran… (McCain sang this proposal.)

Deport all persons with “foreign last names, like Obama or Giuliani.”

McCain commented, “Well, shucks. Being controversial got Ron Paul to where he is. I just thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and get a piece of the action myself.”

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Congress Reforms Illegal Immigration!

Written by Andrew Lawrence

(Washington) – Following on the heels of the monumental failure of Congress to pass any illegal immigration reform, The U.S. Congress and executive branch yesterday decided instead to rename the problem and make believe it doesn’t exist.

Under the new guideline, the federal government and its agencies will stop using the term “illegal immigration” and start calling it “population migration”.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, issued the statement, “That was easy. Now, illegal immigration no longer exists and, therefore, is no longer a problem for the United States. And, as a liberal Democrat, I am in favor of population migration”.

In rebuttal, A spokesperson for the think tank, “Get Real, Washington”, stated, “Call it whatever you want, it’s still illegal immigration. And illegal immigration is still i-l-l-e-g-a-l. As for Nancy Pelosi and liberal Democrats, poverty and crime does not “migrate” to their high-rent neighborhoods!”

An un-named high ranking source in the Mexican government was quick to comment on the proposed change stating, “We want to thank Congress for once again doing nothing about illegal immigration into the United States. We like the new idea of calling it something else and pretending it no longer exists. That way, we can easily dump another 10 million of our poor, uneducated, undocumented “migrators” into the U.S.”

copyright 2007 Andrew Lawrence

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Immigration Officials Beef Up U.S.-Mexican Border With Pure Beef

November 12, 1996 | Issue 30•14

EL PASO, TX—In an effort to beef up security measures along the U.S.-Mexican border, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service announced Monday that the border will soon be fortified with 1,200 miles of pure beef.

Enlarge Image

A Mexican attempts to jump over the 15-foot-high wall of beef guarding the U.S. border. Minutes after this photo was taken, the man was captured and returned to Mexico, unsuccessful but fully satiated.

“America has drawn a line in the sand,” INS official Frank Wilhelm said. “And that line is made of meat.”

According to Wilhelm, the immense, 15-foot-high wall of pure beef, which will extend from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico along the Rio Grande, will make border crossing all but impossible.

“This beef will be cooked sizzling hot, so hot that it will be extremely painful to climb over,” said INS chief Kent Roker. “And even if a Mexican does get across, they will be so full that they won’t run far.”

Just this morning, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, resident Jorge Gutierrez, 43, a poor, unskilled laborer who had managed to successfully climb over the beef barrier, was found by Texas state troopers sitting by the side of the road, holding his belly, picking his teeth, and moaning, “Aye, caramba, am I stuffed!”

Border Patrol authorities described Gutierrez’s condition as “full,” adding that the would-be immigrant did not run or hide when spotted, due to sleepiness and lethargy induced by consumption of enormous quantities of beef.

Gutierrez was treated at nearby Santa Maria Hospital for indigestion and extensive second-degree grease burns; given new clothes; and then turned over to INS authorities for deportation.

Those who, unlike Gutierrez, do manage to escape are “easily tracked” by INS dog teams, specially trained to follow the scent of the spicy, mouth-watering seasonings the federal government stirs into the sizzling hot beef wall twice daily.

“This is real beef, for real Americans,” INS official Ted Stake said. “Most of your foreigner types just don’t have the stomach for that much hearty, lip-smacking meat, living as they do on subsistence diets of tortillas and beans.”

Though the beef wall already has had an enormous effect, reducing the number of illegal entries to the U.S. by 35 percent over the last week alone, the project has not been without its costs.

“The harsh climate of the Southwestern U.S. is largely inhospitable to perishables such as the grease-slathered mounds of meat used in the beef shield,” said Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Joseph Timmins. “Temperatures along the Rio Grande can reach 110 degrees in the shade on a typical afternoon, and for an operation like this, that means one thing: spoilage.”

At present, the U.S. is spending over $22 billion per week to deliver massive rail shipments of fresh beef to the border three times a day. Budget constraints have necessitated the elimination of a planned $75 trillion grease trap to catch the runoff from the beef barrier’s massive hot plate base. Currently, every 60 seconds, 300 tons of congealed grease are dumped directly into the Rio Grande, with environmental damage in the last week alone estimated at $759 billion.

“That much beef is a tall order,” Timmins said. “But that’s how we do things here in the good old U.S. of A.— big, meaty and ready to take on even the hungriest of hombres. So bring it on, illegal aliens: Let’s just see if you’ve got the stomach to take on this much hot American beef.”

Timmins concluded his remarks by holding up a forkful of ground beef, placing it next to his mouth, and smiling directly at the asssembled press, saying: “Mmm… beef!”

Thursday, November 10, 2005

U.S. Immigration Fence?

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) proposed legislation that would call for the creation of an $8 billion, 2,000-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. What do you think?

Joan Novak,

Postal Clerk

“Can it be a 2,000-mile-long picket fence? That would at least look nice and seem neighborly.”

Luke Hurley,

Tree Surgeon

“Building a fence along the border is a great way to keep fat, out-of-shape Mexicans out of our country.”

Curtis Boyd,

Fire Marshall

“$8 billion?! I know some day laborers that could put up that fence for under 60 bucks as long as you don’t tell them what it’s for.”

Canadian Immigration Under Fire

December 29, 2004 | Issue 40•52

Canada’s relatively lax immigration policy has drawn criticism from U.S. leaders, who say the country provides an easy home base for terrorists. What do you think?

Iris Murphy,


“I am suddenly very suspicious of my next-door neighbor, Khalid al-McKenzie.”

Louis Chamblis,

Systems Analyst

“Why would terrorists need to go through Canada to get to the U.S.? It’s not like the FBI would catch them if they came straight here.”

Bill Hrabosky,


“As a radical Islamic fundamentalist, I am seriously considering moving to Vancouver. It’s sooo gorgeous there.”

Michael Horner,

Civic Planner

“Canada needs to start doing a better job of racial-profiling non-Inuits.”

Don Nahorodny,

Forklift Operator

“My God, we could go to war with Canada over this. I only pray there’s an army platoon with the afternoon free.”

Penny Niekro,


“See, I told you socialized medicine doesn’t work.”

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Immigration Rallies Smaller

Labor Day immigration rallies drew fewer numbers than the marches held from earlier this year. What do you think?

Dave McTeague,

Laboratory Technician

“If it’s true that these illegal immigrants are too lazy to fight for their rights, then that just proves how American they truly are.”

Warren Haggerty,


“Just goes to show you, the rights of immigrants will always come in a distant second when going head-to-head with a nice plate of potato salad.”

Angela Ronis,


“Well, there you have it. Sometimes these issues just find ways of working themselves out.”

More American Voices

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Fatiya Abdullahi, SOMALIA

Back in Somalia, I lived in a small house on the outskirts of Mogadishu with my mother, father, and brother.  In 1992, when I was three years old, fighting began in town between the Somali National Movement (SNM) and the government.  My dad was at work and wasn’t home when the fighting started.  He didn’t come home that day, and we didn’t know where he was.

The fighting lasted for days.  We could hear the noise, but couldn’t go outside at all.  Our house even shook.  From inside our house, I could see dead soldiers lying on the street.  I had never seen a dead body in my life.  I started to wonder about my dad—if he had been killed, too.

A few days after the fighting began, my mom and brother and I were home and some soldiers with guns broke open our door and told us that we had five minutes to leave or we would be shot.  We threw some dried milk, water, and rice in a bag.  My mom grabbed a family picture we had taken last year.  She looked so scared.  Dad still hadn’t returned, but we couldn’t wait for him.  We had to go.  We said a silent prayer, and ran out the door.

By the time we had joined our neighbors on the road leading away from town, we could see smoke rising from the lane behind our home.  We could not tell for sure if it was our house that was burning, but we also knew that it didn’t matter.  Home was gone.  It made me sad to leave my house and all of my friends there.  And I was so worried about my dad.  I wondered if I would ever see him again.

We walked to Kenya to a refugee camp.  The walk was hard; we could still hear bombs and fighting going on.  We had to walk mostly by night because it was safer.  It took days to get there—I don’t know how many miles we walked!  One of my friends told me that her uncle died in their house during the fighting, but they couldn’t bury him because of all of the fighting.

The conditions in the Kenyan camp were terrible.  Some people got sick; they didn’t have very good medicine there.  The woman who lived next to us in the camp died.  We had to stay in the camp there for 7 years.  The atmosphere in the camp was so depressing.  Even when school was in session—which wasn’t very often—I had a hard time studying and concentrating.  I kept worrying about my dad and wondering if we would ever get out of this camp.

My family and I moved to Marshall, Minnesota in 1999.  My brother and I attended a middle school there.  When I got to school, the only words I knew in English were Hello and Thank You.  I had no idea what people were saying.  Also, the people who live in Minnesota don’t wear the shador, and sometimes they give me funny looks when they walk by me.  But I am happy there are some other people from Somalia here.  I feel at home when I smell Somali stew cooking!

Oh, You Mean Those Immigrants

By Kim Antieau

I am married to an immigrant who also happens to have the same last name as one of the most despised men in modern history. After 9/11, some immigrants were rounded up and thrown into jail without being charged or given access to lawyers. I worried that my husband was going to become a victim of this anti-immigrant fervor.

My husband, Mario Milosevic, was born in a Yugoslavian refugee camp in Italy. His father was Serbian, his mother Croatian. Before Mario was two years old, he and his young mother left Italy on a ship headed for Canada. Twenty years later, Mario traveled to the U.S. for the first time to attend a writing workshop in Michigan where he met me.

We fell in love and decided Mario would come and live with me in the United States. I was appalled at the questions he was obligated to answer on the many forms he had to fill out in order to become a legal U.S. resident.

“Are you a homosexual?” was one question.

“So what if you were?” I said. “That’s not against the law.”

“Are you a communist?” was another question.

“So what if you were!” I said. “This is the United State of America. It’s not against the law to be a communist!”

“Are you planning on overthrowing the government of the United States?”

What kind of fool would answer “yes” to that question? Of course my husband was not planning on overthrowing anything. He was Canadian, for goodness sake, and he was not political. I was incensed over the questions; Mario answered them without comment. He did not want to call attention to himself.

As a young man, Mario’s father had been a loyal communist in Yugoslavia where he worked as a police office. Someone who wanted his job accused him of being disloyal to Tito, and he was put into jail without being charged or given legal representation. After many months, no evidence was discovered against him, so the government released him. Enough time had passed, however, for Mr. Milosevic to become disillusioned with communism. Soon after he got out of jail, he found a boat and rowed himself across the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

Mario grew up hearing this story often, so he understood terrible things could happen if the authorities decided you were trouble. While applying for entry to this country, Mario did everything he was asked to do, and soon, he got his green card, and we were married.

Twenty years later, 9/11 happened. Suddenly even normally liberal people were talking about how the United State had to clamp down on the influx of certain kinds of immigrants. (I suppose they had forgotten 55 million immigrants have settled these shores since the United State began.) On an NPR call-in show where they were discussing the “detainees”, most callers said the detainees should be proud to be in jail if it was for the good of

the country. I wondered how long the callers would be “proud” if they were thrown into jail without committing any crime.

I recalled the story of Eugenia Ginzberg, a loyal communist in Stalin’s Soviet Union. In her memoirs Ginzberg said she was vaguely aware people were being shipped off to the Gulag while she taught at university, but she assumed they had done something wrong to warrant such treatment. Then one day she was sitting on a train on her way to the Gulag. She knew the government had made a mistake in her case, but she was certain everyone else

on the train was guilty of some transgression. Then she looked around and

realized everyone on that train was thinking the same thing.

When my husband and I visited Canada recently, I worried we might have trouble getting back into the United States because of Mario’s last name: Milosevic, the Butcher of the Balkans. Even though we had been told the name Milosevic in Serbia was as common as Smith was here, I was afraid the name might be on a list somewhere: beware the butcher of the Balkans. My mother even said to my husband, “Shave your beard. You look like a terrorist.”

Fortunately, nothing happened. The border guards let us come and go after only a question or two. I was relieved.

Several times since 9/11, I have been present when someone  starts a harangue about the “problem with immigrants”. Once I was in the Southwest, and someone said, “They aren’t like us, and they take our jobs”. I pointed out that Mexicans had been in the Southwest for hundreds of years before Anglos, if that was the “they” this person was talking about, and the jobs they “took” were often jobs no one else would do. Plus, “I’m married to an immigrant.”

“Oh, well, I didn’t mean immigrants like him,” she said.

“Why? Because he’s European?”

A great deal of stammering ensued.

Another time someone said we “really need to be wary of immigrants. They come from different cultures, and they don’t understand our culture.” Again I said, “My husband is an immigrant.”

“Oh, I didn∂t mean him.”

“Why? Because he’s white?”

“Well, he’s…Actually, I didn’t know he was an immigrant.”

I always end these conversations with, “All of us are immigrants on this continent or descendants, with the possible exception of Native Americans.”

That particular argument never wins me any points. We are here now, people say; so they need to adapt to our ways. Whoever “they” are.

I am glad that so far my husband has not experienced any ill effects of the current anti-immigrant backlash. I often think of the nearly 800 people who were “detained” after 9/11, sometimes for months without access to lawyers or contact with their families. Nearly 500 of them have apparently been deported. How many are still detained? How do they feel about the United States now?

© Kim Antieau, 2004. All Rights Reserved

Kim’s essays have appeared on, Journal of Mythic Arts, Pulphouse, SageWoman, Of A Like Mind, and other publications. Her short stories have been published in dozens of magazines and anthologies. Her latest published novel, Coyote Cowgirl, came out last summer. Her weblog is at, and her website is at:

Our View: Feds play games with immigrants

They said they had an abundance of green cards and then rescinded the offer in a matter of weeks.

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Last Updated: July 7, 2007, 03:16:02 AM PDT

If you want to know what’s really wrong with our immigration system, consider the July debacle at the Citizen and Immigration Service.

Individuals and businesses typically have to wait years to apply for “green cards” for permanent residency based on job skills. The backlogs have been so severe that an engineer from India or China has had to wait six years to apply for a green card. In other employment categories, the wait can be nine to 11 years. For people from the Philippines, the wait in some work categories is 22 years.

But then in the monthly Visa Bulletin issued June 13, the State Department said that employment-based visas would be available.

This set off a rush among sponsoring businesses and individuals who have waited in line for years to apply for green cards. Thousands prepared applications and mailed them in time for the immigration service to receive them by July 2, the first day of the application window.

Then on that very day, the State Department issued a “never mind” update, announcing that the 60,000 green cards it had expected to offer would no longer be available. The thousands who submitted applications will have their applications sent back to them. As Los Angeles immigration attorney Carl Shusterman said Tuesday, “We’re right back to square one, with scientists, engineers, teachers and health care workers having to wait in endless lines for employment-based visas.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law sent irate letters to the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security. She said that changing course midmonth is contrary to years of practice, would result in the loss of thousands of dollars already expended by sponsoring businesses and individuals to prepare applications and, more important, would “threaten the integrity and predictability of our immigration system.” This is no way to treat people who try to play by the rules.

The Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman notes in his 2007 annual report to Congress that the nation has a “perpetual backlog” of employment-based green card applications. This backlog means that even green cards that should be available aren’t used. This contributes to the backlog; if green cards are not issued in the year they are authorized, they are lost. In 2006, more than 10,000 employment-based green cards were lost, even though the immigration service had 100,000 to 150,000 applications waiting to be processed. Since 1994, nearly 219,000 employment-based green cards have been lost because the immigration service isn’t processing enough applications in a timely manner.

It gets worse. The funds appropriated by Congress to jumpstart a backlog elimination project expired Sept. 30. The backlog will continue.

In the long term, this country needs to increase the number of employment-based green cards to meet demand. But if the immigration service cannot even process applications in a timely fashion for the current numbers of employment-based green cards that are supposed to be available, what’s the point? In the short term, if Congress and the president do nothing else regarding immigration reform, they should at least make sure that the immigration service processes green card applications in timely fashion. The backlog is inexcusable and contributes to the nation’s illegal immigration problem. If we want people to play by the rules, we have to make it possible for them to do so.

Family Models, Model Families


Charles N. Darrah

Department of Anthropology

San Jose State University

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