Journalists are dead: Well, not literally

I have been a journalist since, well, I was a freshman in high school. Many, many, many moons ago. 

I wrote for the high school paper, and I wrote for the community paper before I graduated. A few years passed, then I worked for my college paper before being taken on as a freelancer at the local major daily newspaper. Six months later, I was brought on as a part-timer. Six months later I became a full-timer. 

It was a fun job. I loved going to work. In fact, I couldn’t wait to go to sleep at night so I could get to work as fast as I could the next day. That lasted from 1997 until 2007. 

Then things started falling apart. 

Bonuses were starting to dwindle. Pay raises were fewer and farther between. We had less and less peripherals to work with (laptops, wifi, .., anything.)

And then, just yesterday, I realized there was a “support group” for us journalists who were committed to our craft, but weren’t rewarded for our efforts. I found so many felllow “journos” accross the country were in the same position. We were asked to do more. We were paid less, and the work envirionment was more tense. 

Another thing I realized was that these same fellow journalists left the business, and went off on their own. Some became professors. Some became freelancers. Hell, one even became a truck driver. 

But the end result was the same: They were all happier for it.

I left the daily journalism stint last month after 17 1/2 years at the same local paper I missed my children’s birthday parties for. The same job that I didn’t celebrate anniversaries. The same job I didn’t finish my college degree for. I gave a lot to my former job, but it didn’t give enough back. 

I left. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m happy. I’m happy because I’ll work for myself and mine. Not for someone who will be looking to make a buck from my work.

If I misspelled words, I apologize. I stopped worrying about that. 


Grocery shopping in the 956

I’m going to have some posts regarding the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas for a bit while I’m still a resident here. I’m expecting to leave my longtime home within a month’s time if all falls into place. So I’ll post whatever musing inspire me from time to time. I don’t expect it all to be thought-provoking, or life changing, but hopefully it’ll be amusing to some extend. 

So, one of the adventures that residents of the “Magic Valley,” the southernmost four counties in Texas, experience is a trip to the grocery store. The trip to the store alone will greet you with motorists cutting you off, taking a right turn onto a lane right in front of you only to go about 10 miles per hour below the speed limit. If they’re not moving at a snail’s pace, they’re going at a break-neck pace by whizzing by you on a 30 MPH school zone by going 50. 

Signs on the roads that indicate the shoulder is “Bike Lane Only,” only invites drivers here to drive on the shoulder as a turning lane. 

See, Valleyites do things to the extreme, or they just don’t do them at all. It’s a blanket accusation, sure, but it’s true. 

So let’s pretend you make it to the grocery store without shaking our fist at another driver or, God forbid, flip them the alternative “You’re No. 1” finger, you’re parking in a spot that faces away from the son (it was 102 degrees at 5 p.m. today, so you want to save your dashboard from cracking.) What you want to do next is one off two things: either pull the shopping card out of the empty spot because another shopper was too lazy to walk the 15 feet to return it to the card chute; or make sure you don’t step on any dirty diapers. 

Yes, dirty diapers. See, Valley folk like to change their kids disposable drawers in the back seat off their vehicles, proceed to wrap up the soiled diaper (no matter what brand everyone calls them “pampers” here), drop it on the asphalt next to their car, then drive away. If that doesn’t gross you out, the scene gets worse when there a summer downpour and then the sun pokes out again. It gets steamy. Even more steamy than a fresh Gerber stool. 

Ok, you dodge the landmines and make it through the cool grocery doors. You grab a cart and proceed to shop. 

Well, after you manage to get the last six pack, deodorant, frozen meals, and whatnot, you go ahead to the checkout clerk. Think is, if there’s a line, chances are the person behind you will be looking at the items in your cart. This happened to me at the nearest Wal-Mart recently. The lady was scanning my items, I looked at what she was staring at and I said, “Socks. They’re socks. Did you want me to show you everything I’m buying?”

I don’t think she spoke English — and I speak Spanish, so I could have translated if she wanted me to — she just looked away.

Of course, some of us are guilty of doing that. I may have done it a time or two or a hundred, but I don’t stare. I glance and look away. Kinda like the cleavage episode on Seinfeld.

Naturally, the adventure doesn’t end there. When you walk back to your car you find that some other lazy dipshit (this is why the McAllen-Mission-Pharr-Edinburg area is the fattest in the nation) left their cart, not in the chute, but right behind your car. … OK, it’s not the only reason why this region is generally obese, but it doesn’t help 

So remember when shopping in deep South Texas, drive defensively, watch out for kiddy poop, dodge golf carts, protect your shopping privacy, and do what I once did: I caught a guy placing the grocery cart behind my cart just in time to place it directly behind his just before he backed up. What an asshat. 

Immigration, children and whatever else I can think of

I used to live in McAllen, Texas once upon a time. It was a long time ago, but It’s not like I moved light years away. I have lived in Edinburg for more than a decade — the city just north of McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley. 

(If you are at all interested in what I’m talking about, look up McAllen, Texas and see how it’s been in the news often. From Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez sightings, to former Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter being busted for marijuana possession, to drug cartels… well, you get the picture. Things happen here.)

Merely living in the 956 doesn’t qualify me as an immigration expert, but as the son of an immigrant who has since become a citizen of this great nation, I feel like I have to chime in. 

First, the children crossing over unaccompanied needs to be addressed. The number of immigrant bodies found in south Texas is through the roof. There are so many unmarked graves in local cemeteries that we should remember this is the land of opportunity, not the land of certain death. We don’t need children to be part of those graves. This isn’t an immigration issue (well, it is), but more of a humanitarian issue. Plus, these kids can’t be deported back to Mexico because, well, they’re not Mexicans. So our neighbor to the south won’t take them. 

Then, why all of a sudden did this become an issue for national media? This has been going on for ages. I’ve seen them cross. Hell, students at Brownsville Porter High School and Valley View High School often see them crossing their campuses during the school day. This isn’t new news, but certainly someone decided it needed the attention on a slow news month. 

Glen Beck and Ted Cruz in McAllen bar-b-queing and helping recent immigrants with food, water, toys and who knows what else? What’s going on here? 

This has become a platform to clearly take away from other national issues. Which issues? I don’t know, but this seems way to convenient for someone. I don’t think folks will care about this issue three months from now. 


We’re from near the border, but we root for USA

On the drive home, after taking it in the solar plexus after today’s 2-1 loss to Belgium, I was listening to sports talk radio. 

Some yahoo who lives in El Paso said, in not so many words, that he hates soccer, and it’s hard to get into it because most people there root for Mexico. Well, I’ve never been to El Paso, and I don’t have a reason to go there, but I hope he wasn’t talking for all border communities. Because this World Cup has been an example of the evolution of the American of Mexican descent. 

I was at a bar and grill where everyone in there was rooting for the home team. Tables were being reserved (I had to create a stir because I didn’t know this was customary at a sports bar), so we got a table. 

We were quiet a lot beginning midway through the first half. The US had been controlling the ball well, but the Belgians increased their attack, taking most of the shots in the latter part of the first half and most of the entire second half. But we stuck with them. The sea of brown people, light-skinned people, the white people, all of us were rooting for the same end. 

In the end we were all saddened that we wouldn’t have one more game. One more shot. It hurt. 

But then there’s this guy, on a national radio show, trying to suggest that border towns are Mexican fans. I was more than offended. If there is a word that explains “more than offended,” that was me. This guy did not represent me or everyone in this sports bar, no matter what color, creed, religious belief, or place of birth. 

Hell, we started seeing people file in to claim a table in another chain restaurant/bar two hours before the game. 

We’re Americans. I don’t root for Mexico. I don’t root for anyone else. 

One Nation. One Team. 

I’m an American. Stop trying to call me anything else but that.