The Laws of Immigration

About a month ago, my dad and I got in the only yelling fight I ever remember. I knew there was no reason for us to argue – we fundamentally disagreed on a very important issue – that of immigration law. And I told him that we shouldn’t talk about it. He started to raise his voice and said, “It’s the law, Sharece! How do you decide which laws to follow and which not to follow?”

I got upset and started to cry, thus ending the debate. Mainly, I didn’t want to continue arguing because I knew that no matter how long the two of us would talk about it, we weren’t going to agree on the issue in the end.

My father and I disagree on immigration law much like I disagree with many Americans on immigration laws and policies. As a descendant of European immigrants, I appreciate how America has generally stood for a land of freedom and idealism for people to seek new lives in this gigantic land mass. In reality, America has been more of a haven for the white folk as we’ve continued to create a country and society that benefits from white supremacy and racist practices and laws.

Our immigration laws in the US are rooted in racism and white supremacy. If you look even to the most basic level of our northern and southern borders, white folks up north have less-restricted access to the U.S. than do the people of color living in the south. It’s shameful, in my opinion. My friend Caitlin and I have done a bit of research on the topic of social justice and immigration, and both of us have become stronger advocates for change through that process. I, for one, applaud steps forward which allow for more generous immigration policies. I am a fan of the Dream Act and I believe that we should create more policies that recognize the value immigrants bring to our nation. In the White House’s Brief on the Dream Act, there is a quote from Colin Powell, former Secretary of State,

“[The Republican Party] needs to take a hard look at some of the positions they’ve been taking. We can’t be anti-immigration, for example. Immigrants are fueling this country. Without immigrants America would be like Europe or Japan with an aging population and no young people to come in and take care of it. We have to educate our immigrants. The DREAM Act is one way we can do this.”

I’m not a huge Colin Powell fan or anything, but I definitely appreciate what he’s talking about. The rhetoric from the 2016 election regarding immigration was appalling. Our president elect has shown himself to be xenophobic and racist on more than one occasion and to be honest, we can’t have that.

If the president elect and the right-wing conservatives in Congress decide to create unjust policies that discriminate against people of color trying to immigrate to the United States, I think it will be time to challenge those laws by breaking them.

A great man once wrote in his work “Letter from Birmingham Jail,”

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.” (MLK)

In 2017, I, for one, plan to fight for a better world – a world with more kindness demonstrated through diversity and inclusion rather than a world with stricter borders between nations.

Tata for now.

Rece

The Good Daughter

Right before the New Year, my sister Shelli asked me what it was like being the good daughter. The good daughter? I thought to myself. I didn’t quite know how to answer. How does one really know what it is like to be anything other than what one is? And how does one describe one’s ultimate reality of being?

I tried to answer her, but as you can see from this post, I’m still working out what it has meant to be “the good daughter.”

The truth is, in childhood, I didn’t know how to be anything but good. I followed the rules. I did what I was told. The one time I recall refusing to follow the rules, I was about three years old and I was at our family friends’ church rehearsing for a Christmas program. The evil program director tried to get me to do something I didn’t want to do and I said no, crossed my arms in front of my chest, and refused to follow her directions. They called my mom and she came to pick me up. My parents were pretty strict so I’m guessing that after we got home, I got into some sort of trouble from my mom and dad. Perhaps that’s why at age three, I chose to always follow the rules. But honestly, until about age 18, I did whatever I was told.

As an adult (which in the US, we consider 18 years old and older), I started to challenge life a bit. I started having more adventures. I traveled. I spent my money rather than keeping it all in the bank. And I started to get snarky. In reality, I don’t know that I’m actually snarky or just candid to a fault, but I started to make things a bit uncomfortable for others by being the most brutally honest wench in the room.

Not everyone appreciates my candor. In fact, I’ve lost friends, offended my siblings, and even angered my parents. I figure this is good though. It’s as if I’m making up for lost time from when I was the perfect, blond-haired blue-eyed angel making everyone else look bad.

Besides my candor, I don’t know how devilish I have ever become. When Shelli was talking about our vast differences, she mentioned how she was the kid who would touch the hot burner right after being told not to. But, as I was always at least 6 inches shorter while also blonder and smarter, I didn’t follow her lead. In fact, I feel as if for most of my life, I researched life by observing my siblings grow, change, fail, and develop into people. And I didn’t really take any steps to be myself until I was finally all by myself without my research subjects. As the youngest child left at home alone with my parents, I had the chance to do whatever I wanted. There was one time I recall talking to my brother Shane on the phone. I told him that I hated the FFA and I didn’t really want to be in it anymore because I wasn’t really a farm girl. And he told me that I never had to do the things my siblings did just because they had done it before me. At that exact moment, my world changed. I started taking art classes. I got into theater and wrote hall passes to get my friends out of class to hang out with me. I rode in my friend’s car downtown in direct violation of school policy only to run into the principal. I pretty much did what I wanted. And it was beautiful. I also got away with everything because I still had 17 ½ years of being perfect on my permanent record. Slight, harmless rebellion didn’t hurt anybody.

But, when your rebellion is harmless, are you really changing your M.O.?

I suppose my fate as “the good daughter” continues to this day. Yes, I get sassy, political, and snooty about mud in my parent’s driveway. But I’m the kid that shows up. I help my parents with their dishes. I listen to their entirely misguided political views (mostly without shouting or tears). And I drive the speed limit. I don’t know why, I just would never want to be rebellious like Shelli. Shelli’s a blue girl living in a red state. My heart shutters when I try to imagine living that life. And Shelli drives too fast. She was actually with me the one time I ever got a speeding ticket and she tried to hold in her laughter before I blew up at her over the irony and injustice of it all.

You know – I’m okay with being the good daughter. It means that usually I can convince my parents to partake in spending time with me – watching intellectual shows, movies, and visiting interesting places where we can embrace art, literature, and fine food! And, let’s be honest, I would have cried my eyes out if I had burned my palm on a burner as a kid. It would have ruined my perfectly sweet skin.

Tata for now.

Rece

 

I am the old lady who threw my basketball to shut you up.

I live in an apartment complex. In case you’ve never been blessed enough to have this experience, let me tell you – it is AWE-SOME! The beauty of apartment complexes is that even if you never intentionally get to know your neighbors, you know a lot about them.

The first way you get to know your neighbors has to do with their mail. You know when they get UPS and FedEx packages. If you’re nosy enough, you might even read the label to see who sent them the packages. Occasionally, depending on the mailbox situation, you’ll even know who sends them letters and cards. Reading someone else’s mail is apparently a huge crime, but if it’s done on accident, what’s the harm? 😉

The second way you get to know your neighbors is when you hear their alarms go off five times every morning. You know the type – the “morning person” who really hates mornings. I’m that person. I set five alarms in order to get up one hour after that first alarm went off. A few years ago, my downstairs neighbors used to make a deal of it, but by now, I think they just deal.

The third way you get to know your neighbors is when you hear every bed squeak, every step, and every wall bang throughout the morning, eve, and night. On weekends, you get to know the most about folks. You hear their music, dancing, shouts and “heys” during a party, and pretty much anything that goes on in their apartment.

Today, as I was walking to my second floor apartment, one of my upstairs neighbors stopped me for a second to see if they had been bothering me when playing their music. “Yeah, I can hear everything,” I told them. “That’s what apartment living is all about. That’s why most bands play in a garage or something.”

Then the guy (who I’m pretty sure is about 19 years old) started to ask me specifically which sounds I heard the most. I squinted my eyes at him. “I hear everything,” I responded. “You guys are loud. I haven’t said anything at all this year because you guys are pretty good, but the other night, I was fed up so I threw my basketball at the ceiling.”

The guy didn’t really know how to respond. And honestly, if I were in his situation, I don’t know if I would either.

The thing is, when you live in an apartment, you really shouldn’t be rocking out with your band every night of the week, especially with amps. That’s kind of common sense, I believe. That’s why millennials move back home with their parents – they can move into the basement and then take over the garage with their friends. The guys upstairs need to try that. I’m sure they’d go platinum in no time with no old lady and her basketball downstairs.

Let’s face it, if I were a true old lady, I’d probably be nicer. I’d likely bake them cookies and deliver them for the holidays. But I’m not an old lady. I’m just a working woman who happens to live in an apartment. And I am so ready for the music upstairs to stop!

#TheOldLadyDownstairs

Tata for now.

Rece

Living the Dream in 2017

I’m 33 years old. I’m not ashamed or afraid of my age anymore, but I do know that certain aspects of my life make me feel like a twenty-something rather than the highly educated and sophisticated 33 year-old woman that I am.

One of these instances came up last week. It was a long week: I was recovering from my New Years Eve adventures, daily workouts, and going back to work (yeah, I had mandatory time off for school closures). Walking long distances in the snow and working out every morning caused me to have more dirty clothes than usual. Needless to say, by Wednesday evening, my laundry basket was heaping.

So, on Thursday, I decided that I needed to do something about the dirty clothes mess so I went to Fred Meyer to buy a roll of quarters. Upon entering Fred Meyer, I went to the customer service desk. “Hello,” I started. “Can I buy a roll of quarters?”

The twenty-two year old behind the counter didn’t even bat an eyelash as she answered. “Nope.” She continued to organize the junk behind the counter.

“Um… can I buy any quarters?” I tried again.

“You can buy $2 in quarters,” she told me, looking up briefly.

I held out two dollars and asked for the change.

As she handed me the two dollars in quarters, she told me, “It’s a till thing. You can only get two dollars per register, but that does work at every register.”

I tilted my head slightly, “So I can just go to every register and ask for quarters?”

She shrugged her shoulders, “I’m not going to tell you what you can or can’t do.”

And so, I walked around to the other side of the registers and scoped out which cashier looked sympathetic. I did the math and realized that I only needed four more dollars worth of quarters to do both loads so I only had to find two sympathizers. I went to the first check out guy.

When he gave me the quarters, he smirked slightly, “Laundry day?”

“Yep,” I said. But rather than play it cool, I felt the need to jump in to tell him that I work too late to go to the bank. It probably wasn’t until I shared all the extra info that he realized I was older than the average college student.

The same thing happened at the next check stand. The young, attractive sales clerk gave me a smirk as he joked about the laundry. I was embarrassed.

When I left Fred Meyer, I started to think about the meaning behind this embarrassment. I’ve lived across the world where I was forced to do my laundry by hand (not well, in case you were wondering), but for some reason this year, I am bothered by the fact that I don’t have a real washer and dryer. Somehow, it’s like – after years of pretending that I wasn’t getting older – I have now embraced my age only I don’t have the things I want in life! And the things I want are not more education, higher pay, or even a family. The missing piece of my happiness is so simple: regular use of a washer and dryer that don’t require me to use quarters to function.

Since it’s still near the beginning of the year, I think I know what a resolution will be for my life this year: I’ve got to move into a place where I can feel like my age and do laundry in my own place, sans quarters.

Tata for now.

Rece

P.S. I feel like I should mention that every time my dad comes to visit me, he brings me a tube of quarters to help me with the laundry… love that dude.

Introducing Theo

Those of you that read this blog might be on my Holiday Card List. If this is the case, you already know the major addition to my life in 2016 was Theo. Theo is handsome. He has great stamina. And he is a Toyota Corolla. I bought Theo in April, a day before I turned 33. The purchase wasn’t necessarily impulsive. After driving the 11 miles to work with a foggy windshield and the windows rolled down in the Blue Bullet, I decided it was time to grow up and buy a reliable car. Plus, as I approach my mid-thirties, I figured that it was time to start working towards some of my Oregon goals.

Back in 2009, I was living in Eugene, carless. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with my life, but I was going to school for a graduate degree sure that the rhetoric and ethics of journalism would come in handy (which they have).screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-8-23-31-am

While living in Eugene, I felt at home. It was as if, for the first time, I felt like my home state was actually a place I could live forever. That’s definitely not how I felt about my hometown a bit further up north.

Well, as I adjusted to my feelings of home, I started to dream about my native Oregon. Where could I travel? What could I see? How could I engage more with the outdoors? Where could I take my camera and take amazing pictures? And so, bought a book, the Moon Handbook on Oregon. I know that today, apps like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and even Google could give me plenty of information about traveling around Oregon, but at the time, this book was perfect.

As Theo and I got to know each other this year, we started taking some trips. Our first big adventure was to Ashland for a night at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Our next jaunt was to Crater Lake to see the gorgeous national park for the first time together.

Recently, I’ve taken Theo to Portland, Eugene, or to the Oregon Coast. My dad sometimes comments on how much gas I use, but hey, I chose Theo because he knows how to work it and gets great gas mileage. If I’m honest, I know that if I lived in an area with a better public transportation system, I would end my relationship with Theo because, quite frankly, we wouldn’t need each other. But at this time in my life, living in Oregon and taking mini daycations and adventures around my home state, he and I are perfect for one another.

Tata for now.

Rece

Election Aftermath

Last week, I heard that anything could happen. This, of course, was in reference to the Cubs winning the World Series, but I was hoping that it would also lead to me waking up to news of the first female president in the US after Election Day. That’s not what happened. Rather, I woke up to more reports of Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election.

 

Why is this wrong?

 

Our nation has just voted to elect a racist, sexist, xenophobic, incompetent individual to serve in the most important position in the world. Not only does he have very little knowledge of foreign affairs and how our government works, but he also has proven to be racist throughout his entire campaign. Also, as a woman, I can’t support this man who was caught on tape discussing the times he sexually assaulted women. Plus, Trump’s ideas on immigration are exceedingly limited. He doesn’t understand how difficult it currently is to get to the United States. As an immigration advisor at a college here in the US, I’ve realized that I have a stronger understanding of our immigration system than our newly elected president. That’s just disturbing.

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Trump’s views on immigration are just terrible. Why has this country elected an isolationist president?

I, like many others, have looked at the possibility of moving to Canada to avoid this ridiculousness. So many folks thought the same as me that the Canadian immigration site crashed last night. If a mass exodus of non-Trump supporters were to occur following this election, you know what would remain in America? An openly White supremacist society with KKK ideals and isolationist policies. I truly believe that waking up to the news of Donald Trump as the president-elect this morning is the worst “current event” of my lifetime.

 

This is not okay. America, we deserved better. We deserved to elect a leader. Trump can’t lead because he doesn’t understand the office of the president. I am fearful for these next four years and you should be too.

Diary of a Housesitter

“Tia Rece, is staying here like being at boarding school for a long time?”

Huh. “I guess,” I answered.

As my niece left this house yesterday, I chuckled to myself. I’ve been housesitting for my former boss for several years. Back in the day, it made sense. I was living with my parents for a while and getting out of the house to have some “me time” was important for my sanity. These days, it doesn’t make much sense. I have my own place about an hour from here and I don’t really have friends up near where this house is. Granted, my folks live up here and when I plan to spend extra time with them, staying here is convenient. Plus, I always appreciate the extra cash. This makes me wonder though, I will there ever be a day when I’m so “together” with my finances that I would turn my nose to the idea of making some extra cash by staying here with the regal kitty cat.

Housesitting is more than a job. It’s a way of life. When you’re housesitting, you cast off all the comfort of your routine and surroundings to play house in another place where you have chores. The duties involved in housesitting could include taking out the trash, waiting around for package deliveries, playing with the cat, paying the gardener, and eating food out of the refrigerator to make sure it doesn’t spoil. You think your job is tough? This is much, much more intense.

Nah. Not really. But in my experience, there comes a point when playing house loses some of its charm and all you realize you really want is to be at your own house sleeping in your comfortable bed dancing around as you please. Because that’s the real point you become a grown-up, right?

Tata for now.

Rece