Kids. Life.


Going through the many writing nuggets I have, I came across this one I from a few years ago.  For some reason, I thought I had already published it.  My muse has left me lately.  I haven’t been attentive to her much, to be fair.  Need to start courting her again.  For now, there’s this…

Many people – not all, it must be said, but certainly many – receive the news of a coming baby with joy and welcome. From my non-psychologist psychological perspective, I figure it’s about as close to a life-reset as an individual is going to get – everyone has scars, luggage, and hang-ups, but a brand new life is, at least for a brief period, free of these. It’s one of the few events in a person’s life that can truly be called life-changing, meant here not only in its positive connotation: put your life in a shoebox, shake it violently, throw the contents out, and there it is. Your life!

When it was known that our own children were on their way, my wife and I shared in the same sentiment of joy and welcome. However, on my end at least, there was another feeling. It was a feeling born from a notion of parenthood that, it seems, is not often pondered on and much less mentioned since it might come off as too taboo to say. I’ll say it here, though:

Having children is an act of selfishness.

No one asks to be born. We are forced into this world without our permission, without being asked what kind of parents we’d like, what neighborhood we’d prefer to live in, what country, religion, or schools we’d like to be raised in or avoid. We come here strictly through the private act of two individuals we didn’t get a chance to interview and without any guarantee that they’ll be around in the way we’d like for them to be around. Chances are, these two individuals will probably depart this world before their children will, leaving them with questions still unanswered, worries still unpacified, fears and uncertainties that will go on until the day they too will die.

When our first child was still developing in the womb, I had private conversations with many expected emotions, ranging from joy to “what shit storm did I just get myself into?!?”. I never anticipated, however, that one of the emotions I had to grapple with would be a sense of guilt and even apology.

No doubt we’d make as pleasant a home as possible: prepared a room with a crib and pink frosty walls, cheery and trouble-free plush toys, more blankets and onesies than they will ultimately need. But the thoughts remained. I was about to bring a person into the world. This world. A world that holds immeasurable beauty and wonder and an abundance of general awesomeness: terrific stories and off-colored jokes; hot Summer Saturdays with 7-Eleven Slurpees; cold and lazy Winter Break Sundays, blanket-wrapped in the living room for an all-day movie marathon; grass under bare feet; shared cotton candy; long rides on bicycles; art and music.

But it’s also a world where there would be no escape from pain, lies, and deceit. I would be bringing a person to a place where people do the most atrocious things to one another, where violence to the mind and body is never far away, where no one escapes without disillusionment and a broken heart.

…and I made the willing choice to bring someone here to experience that. All of that.

As a soon-to-be parent, this thought weighed on me. Tried as I might to reason it away – to tell myself that all of the awfulness must be taken with the above-mentioned good, that the dark ultimately helps to define the light, that life will always be a mixture of pleasure and pain – the fact didn’t change that they would indeed experience the dark side of life along with the pleasurable. And for that, I felt sorry.

They’re still young enough now where childhood, for the most part, shields them from the ills and pains of the world. The day will come soon enough, however, when that veil will be removed. With the years, I’ve made as good a peace with that fact as I possibly could and I offer as much of the pleasant and the wonder that life has while I still can. Creating an illusion, perhaps – a protective bubble made from love and responsibility, perpetually reinforced daily. So be it. There will plenty of time for disillusion later.

That High School Gender-Neutral Restroom


Every Monday, I give an Article of the Week to my students. It’s my attempt to get their noses out of their phones to try and give them some glimpse of what’s going on in this world, a world they’ll be expected to independently interact with very soon. This past week’s article sparked quite a good conversation in class (as good a conversation that CAN be had anyway, being so close to the end of the year).

Santee High School in LAUSD is opening up a 15-stall, gender-neutral bathroom. Anyone can use the restroom here regardless of gender or gender-association (the gender you associate with regardless of the one biology assigned you). The idea was proposed by the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club in an effort to provide a place for transgendered students to safely empty their bladders (because no one craps at school…don’t you remember?).

After bouncing around ideas and opinions on the matter, we arrived at a place where the topic generally broke down to two issues for them.

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Things Learned From My Mother’s Passing

Version 2

Let Go

Death began as a distant hypothetical since the word “cancer” was first uttered two years before. Acknowledging the word early was perhaps my brain’s way of beginning to protect itself from the weight of an ending that could, and in my mother’s case, ultimately did occur. Still, it’s difficult to pinpoint the moment she crossed a point of no return, when all other avenues darkened and left only one final and inevitable lit road my mother had left to take.

Her cancer, as with most other situations in life, arrived accompanied by a host of possible outcomes. The idea of my mother dying, unpleasant as it was to acknowledge, stood on equal footing along with all other probabilities, prognoses, treatments, and outcomes. It all became like a party our family was suddenly and inescapably tasked to organize, Death being one attending guest among many. Like all the rest, I welcomed it. What other choice was there?

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Commencement Speech – Class of 2015


Good evening friends and family, teachers and staff. Good evening Elizabeth Learning Center Class of 2015.

Writing a speech for this event has always been a bit of a challenge for me. The challenge comes from trying to encapsulate what an entire section of the student body is within the limitations of a few hundred words.

I’ve found, however, that the best places to gather the inspiration to write some words about you guys, has always been, well, you guys – being around you, observing how you interact, seeing what the spirit of the ELC Class of 2015 is all about.

I caught my first glimpse of that spirit during your Senior Holiday gathering back in December. That was the first time that I saw all of you together simply being you. I came away from that evening with a better idea of who you are and what this year means for you.

Specifically, though, I came away with three point, one serious and two not-so serious. I’ll begin with the two not-so serious points.

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Letter to Downey


Sent to and published in The Downey Patriot.

As a new resident of only one year, I have to say that I am very happy to call this city home. As a child of immigrant parents and growing up in the barrio, purchasing a home here through some hard work, a bit of sacrifice, and a little luck has become the fulfillment of an American Dream. I look forward to being a part of this established yet still growing city.

However, as a new Downey resident, I can’t help but to set an all-too observant eye upon my new city. For better or for worse, being new has made it easier to arrive at a piece of constructive criticism. It has to be said that this criticism is not exclusive to Downey – it’s one, in fact, that can be applied to many places in this country, especially here in the Southwest. Still, because Downey is now home, because I have no intention of going anywhere else, and because a little fault-finding can be a seed of change, I’ll just lay it out here.

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