Category Archives: Arizona’s Immigration Law


Vivid blue crayon sky.

Camelback, Praying Monk, and Squaw Peak, familiar shapes rise from the desert floor.

Lunar landscape pink Papago with worn holes through and through, the place to ride bikes watch the sun set and the stars rise.

Giant saguaros marching, stopped forever in their uphill climb, arms  ever reaching.

How could you forget such things.

In town for a reunion, driving east, new roads fast and paved in basic black,  extra wide lanes with solid bright white lines, stay on your side please

Rear view mirror,  look behind, see the sun set, it never fails to impress, only see it in pieces, and curse the luck of my direction, always going the wrong way.

Invite for pizza at a childhood friends house, meet her kids, see her mom, her brother always a huge crush.
Standing around the kitchen granite gleaming, spic and span, glass shines, so unlike my own, where I consider myself lucky to have floors the color of dirt.
It is not unusual to have some foreign unidentifiable substance stuck to your bare feet…. last time it was a gummy bear.
The patio something out of Pottery Barn, a little living room, sofa- chair-tables lamp, all complete with drapes, hold the warmth in.
Here he was, the golden-haired boy of summer, how many times did I sit in the bleachers hoping he would see me?
Stories began…
His stories were crude, his language base and biased.
Jew whore, bitch, slit..I took a breath, sat and just listened.
…. we  had lit a fire outside,
I had forgotten how cold it gets when the sun goes down in the desert.
Then they both really started talking…
their  mom used to leave them for days at a time. 10 and 8 no food, mom gone… imagine.
Mommy was off for the weekend with different boyfriends.
He remembers sitting in the back of a car with his sister while their parents were in the bar  gett’n their drink on….strangers knock on the window and
After working with children in foster care for a decade, I knew how damaging neglect could be they don’t even care enough to beat.
I watch him, but his voice is drowned out in my mind,
Coldplay Fix you….I will try to fix you…plays instead.
No way social worker girl….this is not your problem..
His story was drugs,  38 years worth, everything you could imagine. The longer he spoke the more broken he became, splintered and scattered.
I was given tours of scars and injuries, DUI’s…
I sat and listened, as rants of political views vastly different from mine began,
I hear some Fox news one liners spouted with ease.
Only when they started on immigrants did I speak.
“I am an immigrant”
She seemed shocked.
The rant became one of foreigners serving in the military,
“I wasn’t a citizen when I was in the Navy, ” I said.
She was agape.
“But you were born here, your parents had a mortgage, how could they do that not being citizens?”
The basic civics lesson ensued….one can be a legal immigrant, tax paying with all the rights and duties except holding office and voting.
It almost stopped the ranting, having a familiar face be the unmentionable, immigrant non-citizen scapegoat for all of the country’s ills.
They ranted on, he gesturing violently punching the air, Michele Obama the intended target.
Calling Barrack, Barry, a child chiming in, age ten looking up for approval.
I watched in two worlds, seeing the boy, hearing the man.
I realized their view comes from a place of fear, distrust, and ignorance.
Not my view, I chose another way.
Yes,  I voted for Obama, I said when asked.
Yes,  I am in Law school.
“You’re not going to work for those ACLU assholes are you, those lying un-American Civil Liberty Union pricks”
It almost turned uncivil when I showed them my ACLU membership card.
My childhood friends, different paths different world views, here they were with a Democrat in the house. Don’t think there is enough bleach in the world to clean that up…suddenly I have the image of them hosing down my chair when I left.
I let them rant, the rants only outpaced by the number of bottles of beer, I lose count.
No thanks I am driving….
He asked  me for a ride to his mother’s house.
I blink and remember we are both 48 years old.
I swallowed my judgment, smiled and nodded.
He wanted to stop and get beer, wanted me to drink  a tall boy in the parking lot, I just laughed, and said I didn’t roll like that.
What else could you do?
I pulled up to the house, he opened the door, and then paused.
He turned and looked me straight in the eye and said,
“I love you, I have always loved you, and always will.”
Then he left.
I cried all the way back to the hotel,  deep sobs, and had to calm down with hot bath and an overpriced mini bar shot of  Grey Goose.
Fix you,  still playing, this time on my ipod….they seemed so splintered, and the pieces are scattered…even social worker girl knows…
There is no way to fix that.


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Filed under Arizona's Immigration Law, Immigrant, Law School, Stories, True Life, Uncategorized, Writing

The Weight

The pennies were burning a hole in my pocket, I had snagged them from the penny jar in my parents room, hopped on my bike and hit the road. I peddled the two blocks down 42 street to Thomas road, standing up all the way, the candy store my destination. There is nothing like jumping out of a swimming pool on a Phoenix summer afternoon and being completely dry before you were even around the first corner. It s dry heat alright. As a kid on a bike it was heaven.

I was standing outside the door of The Little Giant, where I went when I was jonesing for a double bubble, which had to have the cartoon, always felt like little blocks of cement in the Arizona climate, but worth it as it had the best bubbles,  or maybe an orange Tootsie roll pop,  it was two candies in one, a sucker and a chewy chocolate Tootsie roll center, or would be the  new-found candy love,  a  jolly rancher watermelon hard sucker, not the single little kindly wrapped candy, no, the long tightly wrapped can’t open it its too tight jolly rancher sucker stick. These suckers I had to tear open with my teeth, the cellophane strong, my patience lacking. I have to admit sometimes I just bit it and sucked the darn thing through the plastic packaging.  

I put my bike against the wall and start to open the door, I feel the cool ac rush out as I push against the cold glass door, but I let it go and stop. There is a sign. Its pasted on the glass just at my eye level.

 The sign read, NO shirts, NO shoes,  NO service.

I read the sign like the new reader I was, reading everything.

It was  maybe the summer of third grade I would have been 8, Mrs. Wortman’s class, who sent me a get well card when I came down with the chicken pox, or maybe it was fourth grade, Mrs. Shanklin’s class, where she brushed my short uneven hair and chopped bangs with such tenderness I told her my mother had plenty other children at home and I was sure I could go home with her….really! It wasn’t fifth grade, I was practically an adult in fifth grade, that was Mr. Robertson and his heel savers which tapped out morse code…here I come,  as he came through the breeze way giving us all at least thirty seconds heads up that he was arriving…

I am standing there, reading the sign, reading each requirement as if it is the ten commandments.

I knew about the ten commandments. I learned them and our lords prayer before I stopped going to Sunday school. I didn’t understand why we went and my father didn’t. One Sunday I just said “If it’s so good for us how come you don’t go?” He remained silent.  That’s the last time I went up to the First Presby Sunday school.

The sign reads commandment number one, shirt.

Whoops. No shirt, just wet shorts, and a bathing suit top. Maybe bathing suit tops count, maybe he won’t notice.

Shoes, commandment number two.

I look down, yes, sandles are on, check.

This is Phoenix, one might have no shirt on, but the sidewalks and streets are hot grills just waiting for some unprotected flesh.

Thats not all the sign said, it had something else on it too.

Scratched underneath the NO shirt NO shoes NO service were the words… no spics.

No spics.

I think I know what it means.

I have an idea this is bad.  I don’t know how I know this,  but I know my father would have slapped me for saying the words. He never slapped, but I just knew these words were bad, they were really bad, and they were mean. The words were scary mean  hateful words that made my heart beat out loud, more than the Pit and the Pendulum movie I just saw on TV.

They were not the normal bad words that made adults slowly smile and tell you to stop when you said them, those were adult words. I can’t wait to be an adult and be able to say those words. But these are not those words. These are scary words that are sitting on my chest and I am worried. These words are a weight that grabs and holds the scary close.  It’s like glue and they are stuck on me forever. Worst of all  I think it means somebody doesn’t like my friend Stephanie, that they don’t want her to go inside to buy candy.

I push open the door and head for the candy at a crawl. I look around, see the man behind the counter smile at me. I turn and look at the candy, I don’t know what I want anymore.

The ride back is not at top speed, I am sitting in the seat, and the weight sits on me and won’t go away.  It is a Pandora moment, the box is open and I have seen hate and felt its weight. It was the end of my innocence, and I wondered if those people hated me too, we were not citizens, we have come from somewhere else, far away, and my parents spoke with a different voice than all the other parents. I feared for our different-ness, and rode home face wet without a pool.   

I still have the weight, 40 years later. I don’t live in Arizona anymore, business took our family away.

I watch the news,  see the Arizona law makers making news, wonder how many  American citizens, children of less than whitest color are watching too. Bad enough I think that I read such hate scratched upon a door. I did not hear it on the news. I did not read it in the paper. I did not read it on the internet. And it was not the law of the land, it was merely ignorance and its violent twin hate. I wonder what the consequences of their Pandora’s box will be. 

I am lucky I am an immigrant with green eyes, and light brown hair,  they would consider me safe, I fall into the politically correct color category.

What will be the consequence be of the police lights as they are pulled over, the weight of their burden when their parents are asked for identification, lights shone on their faces in the back seat. Will it be carried forever, will it color their future the way mine did me?

How will they carry this weight I wonder, these children of a less than politically correct color.

It’s a weight no child should ever have to carry, even if it is the law.

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Filed under Arizona's Immigration Law, Children, Immigrant, Story Telling, True Life, Writing