Not home for the holiday(s)

I remember back in the old days we used to head to our Aunt Aida’s house for Thanksgiving, where gluttony was on the menu along with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the Dallas Cowboys, cranberry sauce, gravy, and the like. The greatest aspects about Thanksgiving over at my aunt’s house were the left-overs.

I would constantly spend weekends (if not longer) at my aunts’ houses. Holidays were usually at my Aunt Aida’s. Weekends or summers alternated between my aunt’s Isabel and Irene. But there was some awesome cooking going on in those houses, too. My aunt Isabel had organic eggs (she had a chicken coop) before being organic was chic. My Aunt Irene and grandparents lived in the same roof, which meant fresh tortillas every morning and a variety of breakfasts (but most meals included beans, some sort of potato, and gravy often sneaked its way onto the menu).

That being said, those days have long been gone. Slowly, family members started to no longer exist on this earth (yes, die), moved away or something in that respect. I think some folks started to lose interest, and the gatherings were smaller and smaller.

Now, I’m part of the statistic that has moved away.

I’m going to miss leftovers. I’m going to miss hearing my aunts say things that would make Jerry Seinfeld fall the ground and roll over with laughter. Not because they were funny, but because of how they said things. Now, I know at least one of them will be able to read this, so I’ll spare the specifics, but hearing them speak was hilarious.

Tomorrow, my Aunt Irene will be in Alaska with my smelly cousin Jaime (no his last name ain’t Sanchez), my aunt Isabel is in Austin, and my cousin is spending the holiday with a mutual friend.

It’s probably time to start a new tradition, my own perhaps, but it’s sad to consider.

Where I once worked, the out-of-town employees would have an “Orphan Thanksgiving,” where they would spend the day with each other. I had been invited to it before, but felt bad for not being an “orphan.”

But, as I think of it, as long as I can get turkey, gravy, stuffing/dressing, some mashed potatoes and a slice of pumpking pie — as welll as the Dallas Cowboys — I’ll be OK.

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My reverse Forrest Gump life…

So I have a knack of somehow just being stupid. Nine times out of 10, I’m able to stop a disaster, or recover from it. This time, I fear it’s fatal.

Well, not in the mortal sense of the word, but you know? Right? Anyway …

Last week I lost my car keys. I walked from my apartment to the local weekly paper where I freelance write and design. It’s over a mile there, but that’s not to bad the walk there is downhill. Of course, the walk back isn’t downhill, so there’s a lot of heavy breathing, but I digress…

(I like ellipses… is it ellipses or ellipsis?)

I’ve lost my car keys. You know, the $120 dollar kind that you can’t just replace at the local hardware store? And I don’t have a spare key, so don’t even think of asking if I have one. The lady at the local T-Mobile store, where I stopped to ask if anyone had turned in any car keys, told me as I was leaving, “You should have had a spare!”

Gee, lady, thanks for the advice.

I’m a little bummed. I was contacted by the sports editor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel to ask if I could help her out in a bind. She had a few freelancers bail on her, and asked if I could help. Well, I didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t have a car because my boneheadedness lost my keys somewhere between David Ave., Forest Ave., and Grand Ave. So I fibbed. I may have blown my shot, but I’m hoping those freelancers bail on her again.

I had to decline. It hurt really bad. It’s sometimes one of those shots that turns into a career. That’s how I became involved in my last job. I started freelancing sports stories, then I was offered a part-time position, which evolved into full-time. I then because the Assistant Sports Editor (they like to call it Deputy Sports editor there, but it’s the same thing.)

I worked my way up to Sports Editor, then Presentation Editor (basically I was in charge of making sure everyone followed the design format), then Director of Visual Content and Operations — which means I did a whole lot.

Anywho, you get the point. I lost my car keys. I lost my shot at getting the foot in the door — hopefully temporarily — because my dumbass couldn’t just stuff them in my pocket like a normal human being. I let them dangle like a janitor does.

Anyone have some cheese to go with my whining?

The California Diary: The Dallas Cowboys and me

Cowboys_Blog

Before I begin, I must come clean: I put this team on the shelf a few years ago because I was tired of watching them play like a soiled-diaper baby rolling his boogers between his thumb and index finger.

I have still kept watch, but losses wouldn’t hurt me as much. Trades, injuries, bad drafts, none of it chapped my hide like it used to. I grew accustomed to it.

Troy_Blog

But the move here, and their recent winning ways, have brought my Troy Aikman jersey from out of the dungeon of forgotten sports apparel. I’ve worn it just about every week since Week 2 of the 2014 NFL season. For the exception of Tony Romo getting hurt, it’s worked well.

Today I ventured out in public to root for America’s Team (no matter how much you might hate the christening, they are the most popular American sports team, so pipe down), and I can’t believe that I found even more Cowboys fans in the middle of California.

I went to a game in early September in Nashville, and was surprised to see a sea of blue there. Granted, it wasn’t a sea of blue here, but there was enough to potentially lobby for the main television to be switched to the Cowboys game (we didn’t see any 49ers apparel at the time).

We chatted, fist bumped, and clapped whenever the fortunes turned against the 49ers against New Orleans. It was kind of nice to be a little loud in public about the Dallas Cowboys. It might be even nicer the next time, and the next, and the next.

The California Diary: Esta kinda cold!

Ok, so I’m having trouble getting acclimated to the Central Coast weather.

I come from South Texas, where the weather dips to below 70, and every man’s berries jump into his spleen. In South Texas it’s hotter than a June bride sitting bareback on a depot stove. So while we freeze in this kind off weather, you will melt in the hot Texas sun.

But, I came across this today by a television journalist (I had to point out she was a television journalist, I don’t know why I automatically did that) posted on her Facebook post. It’s a joke South Texans hate, but it’s true. It’s 59 degrees here in the Central Coast and I’m wearing athletic shorts and tennies.

But in South Texas, where the temperature is in the 60s right now (albeit raining), folks broke out the parkas. I’m not judging, I did the same thing. Sometimes we just get tired of wearing huaraches, shorts and wife beaters.

Check it out here.

Opinion: Former school changing mascot, and I’m disgusted

(Note: I sent this to Guy Bailey in an email, but not so much of an acknowlegement since yesterday, I decided to share it here.)

To Guy Bailey, President of the future University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley
(formerly Texas-Pan American and Texas-Brownsville)

At first, those of us who attended UTPA didn’t like removing “Broncs” as the mascot for the new school, although I know why that had to be done. UTB had already gone through a name change (from Texas Southmost College-Texas-Brownsville to just UTB), and a mascot change (from Scorpions to Ocelots), and it would just be in everyone’s best interestt to just share one mascot unafiliated with either school.

But really? Your choice of recommending “Vaqueros” as a mascot is both ignorant of the ethnic makeup of the people of the Rio Grande Valley and just hideous, period.

Yes, the majority of the student body has roots in Mexico, if they’re not commuting from Mexico as it is. But there are white students, black students, students of Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Japanese, Philipino and various other ethnicities that have lived in the Valley all their lives or are enrolled at the campus. Not only is this mascot misrepresentitive of their culture, it’s just not what the school needs.

Have you not noticed how beautifully and wonderfully different the Valley people look? From every earthly background, culture, religion and customs? It’s truly a melting pot, and you have just set those efforts back to 1968.

The fact you chose a mascot in Spanish goes to show just how out of touch you are of the student body you are supposed to represent. In an area of the state where the natives are trying to assimilate to an American culture after generations of embracing just one (the Mexican culture), you told them you haven’t noticed their willingness to streamline with the rest of this beautiful country.

“Vaqueros,” Spanish for “Cowboys,” was part of our heritage, no doubt. But the fact that folks keep trying to force-feed our own culture back down our throats has got to stop. You’re in Texas. The land of Longhorns, Red Raiders, Bobcats, Roadrunners, Cougars, Aggies, Bears and Horned Frogs. But you went with “Vaqueros.”

I guess you think our sentences start or end in, “Si señor.” Go try some Indian food, Chinese, Japanese, hell even Mongolian. Try and hit up the mall, a few flea markets and catch a football game. Go to mass and then go to temple. Educate youself in what Valley culture is, and it’s not one-dimensional.

If you decide to put on some huaraches, zarape and sombrero and sip tequila, that’s fine, too. Maybe go lean up on a cactus and have a siesta while you’re at it.

Hey, that would have been a great alternative. The UTRGV Nopales! (cactus)

P.S. Don’t get me started on the color pallet you recommended … woof! And yes, I did fill out the questionnaire.


(This is where I speak in the third-person)

Oscar Gonzalez Jr. is a freelance journalist, meaning he is poor and will mow your lawn for a price, and a Mexican Coke. You can catch him on LinkedIn, on WixFacebook, and Twitter.

A good message without having a stick up the butt about it.

When I saw this, I couldn’t help but laugh. But at the same time I liked it because it took a comical approach to an issue that exists among those of us with Mexican/indigenous ancestry.

I don’t think this applies to white folks in general, as the title in the link below suggests, but there are folks in Texas who think this way. Sometimes you do have to take a step back and say, “Yeah, it may sound racist, but it’s true.” I didn’t have a very large family growing up, but my dad’s family, well, I lose count how many aunts I have.

Sometimes I think poking a little fun at each other is good for relations. I know in my culture folks light candles for just about any reason (need a job, winning the lottery, praying for wellness, etc.) Other things like using Vick’s Vaporub as a cure-all for just about everything under the sun (if you’re of Greek ancestry, think Windex).

In any case, a good, light-hearted attempt to explain an issue those of us with Spanish surnames sometimes encounter.  I don’t remember my mother getting a house, car or computer when she crossed over the Rio Grande as a child.

Check this out.

So, with Halloween come and gone, there were a lot of clever photos on various social media platforms displaying the costume choices of many across the country. I’m sure they’re still circulating as we, err, read.

But the one that caught my eye, and if you have ever been to deep South Texas (No, I’m not talking San Antonio), lived there or just experience the tacos at the Stripes conenience stores, you’re in love. The tacos are large, and there are a variety of them. Egg and bacon, egg and ham, barbacoa, beans and egg, bacon and egg and the all-time favorite — of which I’ve actually never tried — the Q Taco.

Q Taco

(Please do not call this a burrito or whatever other word you may think this is.)

The Q Taco is named after the local rock and roll station, KFRQ-FM. I don’t know exactly the story, but the tale goes that the morning disk jockey, Allan Sells, would order a taco with potato and egg, beans, cheese, and bacon in it. It later became known as the Q Taco. I can’t confirm or deny this, as I also came to hear that it could have been a contest to see who could come up with the ultimate taco.

It could be a load of horse escrement, too, I don’t know.

So, anyhoot, I was going through Facebook last night and noticed someone posted this picture and I just couldn’t stop laughing. And I had to share.

It also made me miss that part of Texas that I don’t have here.

Stripes

You see, the gentleman on the right is dressed as said Q Taco, nicely rounded, full and in tin foil while his partner (wife, perhaps) is dressed as a colossal Stripes soft drink. In the middle there, the child, is dresssed in the uniform of the ladies that work behind the sneeze guards and roll the tortillas, make the different combinations of breakfast tacos and serve you as promptly as they can wear. They work for the Laredo Taco Company, which does business inside the Stripes store.

There used to be a very popular local restaurant, El Pato, that had some amazing breakfast tacos. Mrs. G, as she was known, served up some amazing tacos any time of day. But, as is the case with many different mom and pop business, she sold her local chain to a family that ran local car dealerships.

Don’t get me wrong, I would totally buy a Jeep from them. They’re not bad folks (I actually have no clue if they are or not, I’ve never me them, but what else am I supposed to say?) but the flavor that was Mrs. G’s isn’t quite there.

Now, Stripes has since overtaken them. Incidentally, Stripes is a gas station, so you can pick up breakfast, lottery tickets, beer for the college football games (no beer is sold before noon on Sundays when the Dallas Cowboys usually play, Central time), fill the gas tank, rent a movie or fill up your 5-gallon water jug.

I’m sure other shady deals can be made in a Stripes parking lot, but let’s keep this clean.

So when the collective on Facebook saw the above photo pop, it was shared countless times. I gues you need to be from South Texas to get it. If you’re ever in the Rio Grande Valley, and have never had one of these bad boys, it’s worth your time to stop and try one.

No food, and I mean no TexMex food anywhere else in Texas, beats those tacos. Folks in San Antonio will complain, and I can alread envision one commenting on this post on Facebook before two shakes of a dogs tail, but I haven’t had any food other than bar-b-que and hamburgers that rival the breakfast tacos in S.A.

Don’t even get me started on Mi Tierra in the Alamo City.

(Another note: This opinion are of my own, and I’m not a paid advertiser of Stripes convenience stores.)


(This is where I speak in the third-person)

Oscar Gonzalez Jr. is a freelance journalist, meaning he is poor and will mow your lawn for a price, and a Mexican Coke. You can catch him on LinkedIn, on WixFacebook, and Twitter.

The California Diary: I miss my Stripes breakfast tacos (no, they’re not burritos)…

The California Diary: This weather is like Sybil, and who the hell pays over $1 for canned tuna?

Well, I should say that I’m like the weather, one moment I love this place, the next I’m griping about it. So, let’s get that cleared up.

I’ve lived in Michigan, I’ve lived in Texas, and both places boast of the same thing: If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. I don’t think that was always true for either state, but Central Coast weather, I feel like I’m married all over again. I have no idea how it’s going to act from one moment to the next.

I wake up and my testicles are up in my spleen they’re so cold. By mid-morning, it’s colder in the apartment than it is outside. By the afternoon I’ve got windows open and a fan blazing (there’s no A/C here). At night, I can barely even enjoy a cigarette my hands shake like a crackhead without crack.

I do prefer being cold than being too hot, I will admit. I just wish I could find one set of clothes that would accomodate the change of climate from hour-to-hour. I have the heater on now set at 65 degrees. It’s cold outside and rainly, and I think it’s below 60. I’m not exactly freezing, but my feet definitely feel like that of a corpse — cold and without feeling. I’m glad I didn’t buy candies for Halloweeners because they’s ain’t a-coming ’round these parts.

Then there’s the tuna.

Bought a few cans because they were on sale for like $1.25 a can. Seriously? They’re like 75 cents in Texas. So I’m making some Tuna Helper (or some knock-off brand, anyway) and all I can think of is how much the two cans of tuna, the butter, and the milk ($4-$5 per half gallon organic) I’m using.

I think I’ve become my grandfather.

This man would buy a six-pack of beer. He’d open up a can, put some salt in there, take a sip, plug the opening up with a napkin, put it back in the refrigerator and go outside to mow the lawn. After about an hour, he’d sit at the kitchen table — wearing his usual khakis, work boots, white undershirt and a hardhat — take a sip of beer, maybe add some more salt, and replace it back into the refrigerator.

This is how pinche — er, frugal — he was.

Later on my cousin admitted to finding his stash of wads and wads of money. They’d take a few bucks here and there and that really pissed me off, honestly. I mean, why they hell didn’t they tell me about that? I would’ve gone in with them!

Anywho, It’s cold here. It’s expensive here, and I’m a stingy bastard. But I like it here.

Being Mexican-American: “It’s exhausting”

I dislike the term Mexican-American, by the way. I’m an American.

Anyhadoodle, I mentioned in an earlier post that I was approached by a man on the street, thinking I was El Salvadoran. I told him I was from Texas, and I was of Mexican descent, to which he replied in Spanish, “It’s the same thing!”

It’s not the same thing, but that is anothe blog post for another day. (Note: I type this line frequently, not because it’s my favorite line, but more of a reminder to myself of a post idea.)

I have the distinctive burden of looking like I mow lawns for a living to OTMs (other than Mexicans, if I had to explain, and that includes every background), and not looking Mexican enough for the natives. There was only one exception.

Once I was riding a bus to Nashville (I refused to fly at the time) and on board to and from were passengers who were of Mexican descent, whether citizens or non-citizens. All you could hear on the bus was Spanish being spoken.

On the way back, we picked up the one and only white person on the trip in Austin. I never spoke to her, but felt compelled to because she looked uncofortable riding on the bus. But I didn’t go near her.

After arriving at my destination in Edinburg, Texas, the rest of the passengers were able to take a break before the bus moved on to McAllen. As I was exiting the bus, this woman was talking to the driver, whose English was probably just as good as his Russian, and another passenger who clearly wanted to flirt with her. He didn’t speak English, either.

So, I’m getting out of the bus, and she gets my attention and wanted me to translate. So I did, she thanked me and we went on our way. How did this girl, whom I hadn’t shared one word with pick me out of the lineup? I thought it was a miracle.

(This is an example of the culture, by the way. When we don’t get certain attention we complain, and when we are recognized we question it.)

If I speak to someone in Spanish, say a Mexican, they’re always correcting my vocabulary. I grew up speaking Spanish first, but like Louis C.K., I have since lost a lot of that vocabulary because I didn’t use it once I entered elementary school.

It’s coming back, though, which is great for when the local Mexican restaurant doesn’t have chicken soup. I called in an order recently and asked for the soup in English and the guy on the other end said in an accented English that they didn’ have anyt. But when I ask a second time, in Spanish, “Ahora no tienen caldo de pollo? (You don’t have any chicken soup today?” the response changed. “Gimme about 15 minutes,” he said in Spanish. They had it ready in 10.

How did they make chicken soup so fast you ask? Well, I didn’t ask and he didn’t stay.

While I do know how to mow lawns, paint houses, work as a field laboror, I’ve eaten Chicklets, and had a lukewarm Coca-Cola with sweet bread for breakfast, I’m an American. I prefer tacos to hamburgers, and enchiladas to hot dogs, but I’m still an American.

At least that’s what my birth certificate says.


(This is where I speak in the third-person)

Oscar Gonzalez Jr. is a freelance journalist, meaning he is poor and will mow your lawn for a price, and a Mexican Coke. You can catch him on LinkedIn, on WixFacebook, and Twitter.

The California Diary: What’s happening, y’all?

I have no real new update. I just felt like posting something today. Nothing remotely amusing happened today, well, not that I want to share, anyway.

I do hope to see my first football game here this Friday. I don’t know if Pacific Grove plays at home or not, but I hope they do. They didn’t do so hot last week, but I’d like to adopt a team. I know it’s not Texas, but I can bring some Friday Night Lights to California.

Tomorrow I interview for a job here. Not a professional job, just a part-time job doing customer service work. That’s all I am really looking for right now. I have some pretty good freelance jobs ahead of me, so between the two I should be able to make things work.

Anyhadoodle, hope y’all have a great rest of the day, and no, I won’t stop saying y’all. You will not take the Texan out of me.