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November 11, 2002...

A week and one day away from my 24th birthday, I compile this list of random thoughts:

In the more than two decades I've been alive, I've been done right, and I've done wrong. My memories of the incidents are vague, lacking details and accuracy, but nonetheless, here they are. Some are biggies, some are not, some make sense, and some do not. They are typed in the order they come to memory... and I know that some will be worthy of being mentioned but just won't be. Excuses abound.

It's time to apologize to...

My older brother, Tomy.
He must have been 18 or 19, when he found himself cornered by my father, near our home's front door. My father's hands held him from his shirt, as he pulled him up. I was feet away, screaming to my father, "dele sus puñetazos" -- beat him up.

My sister, La Prima.
I used to bug her about being overweight. I started doing it after Tomy had set the example. He used to put her down for it, and then I took his place -- he'd laugh at the things I'd say to her. I'm not sure what got me to stop. Did I stop because Tomy moved out? Was it because I matured? Or because I had become overweight myself and then understood her plight? I'm not sure, but I do know that having stopped teasing her was a positive change in me.

A kid neighbor, his mother, and my parents.
The kid stood in-front of our door. Tomy then shut the door unexpectedly, bursting out in laughter for having carried out something he had seen in cartoons -- slamming the door on someone's face. The kid returned with his mother later that day and said he had been hit on his forehead. I lied to my parents, denying the incident had occurred.

Esperanza, my first girlfriend.
I was on my way to William's house when I broke her heart, and once I declared our thing over, I went on my way. At William's house I enjoyed swimming in the pool as if nothing had taken place.

Catherine, a sign-language interpreter at Granada Hills High School.
For some reason, I made a gang-sign in class. Catherine saw it and told the teacher. I responded in a loud voice, "you can't prove it!" She did -- I wounded up in the dean's office.

Mrs. Luvitsi, my 5th grade teacher.
My classmates and I, a bunch of hispanics, would constantly get into fights with White 4th and 5th graders. We'd receive lecture after lecture, and I'm not so sure they ever worked. The problem was solved when we graduated. I never saw those guys again.

Mrs. Lozano, my 6th grade reading teacher.
In good times, she'd smile when I'd respond to her question -- what are you going to be when you grow up? -- by saying that I was going to be a governor, a lawyer, and a teacher. Heh, I was a nut. In bad times, I even brought her to the point of tears.

Barbara, a schoolmate.
It was a summer day of 1997, and I had landed in Barbara's room. We had the house to ourselves, or so we thought. A guy entered her room as we were making-out, and ordered me to get out. I got out without saying a word, neither to Barbara, nor to the man. I left her to her luck. The man was her father.

It's also time to thank...

My father.
For having given me a second chance at getting an education. I bombed my first semester in college - fall of 1997. I don't know what it was that I was doing wrong, but I wasn't getting decent grades. I took three classes, and I had to withdraw from all of them a month or two before the semester was over. I was so depressed about my grades that I cried so much and I found it hard to tell my father that I had failed. When I finally told him, he was quiet, relaxed and made me feel that things would be okay. I know my mother would have reacted in the same way. I thank her, too.

Mr. Rigoberto Rodriguez, my first boss.
I don't think I fared well in the interview. I wasn't even decently dressed for one, but he hired me as a teacher assistant for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. When I asked for more hours, he said to me "I like the way you work" and granted me them. At a time when teacher assistants were being laid off due to lack of funds, he said to me "don't worry, employees like you retain their jobs or can easily find new jobs". He was perhaps the first administrator at Noble to show appreciation for me.

Mrs. McClow, my DHH itinerant when I was in middle school.
I had had another itinerant prior to her, and Mrs. McClow was much different. Mrs. McClow did not chew gum and read her newspaper while I did my homework; she'd help me with it... she cared for me. Mrs. McClow is also the person who signed me up for the Magnet program at Granada Hills High School, a move that dramatically increased my chances of ending-up in college. If she had not done so, I'd have ended up like those students in regular schools where they spend class time talking, passing notes to each other, and rarely getting homework. Being part of the Granada Hills HS Magnet program exerted a great degree of pressure on me, but thanks to it I came out of high school with more than just a diploma -- I had math and english skills that I would not have attained elsewhere. I also learned to cope with being the only Mexican in class, surrounded by Whites and Asian-Americans; something to get myself used to, for college would turn out to be not much different.

Mrs. Creeger, my counselor in HS.
If I had ever encountered a problem, school-related or not, I'd have gone to her. She'd go out of her way to help the students.

A family in Tijuana.
They sheltered us in their home for weeks as my siblings and I prepared to cross the border illegally.

Mrs. Villamar, a teacher assistant at Madison Middle School.
I flew a paper airplane and it passed right in front of her eyes. She did not punish me for it, just looked at me to let me know that she had seen it. Having flown a paper airplane in class is no biggie, but I mention it because I learned something from this incident, and I've applied the knowledge in my own life, now that I'm a teacher assistant myself -- be lenient toward children who misbehave once a blue moon; let them know they had done wrong, give them time to think about it, and then let them proceed with their life.

A guy whose nickname was "Chemamon".
It was raining season in my hometown and the river roared. I found myself on the wrong side of the river and I did not how to swim -- my hometown was on the other side. Chemamon realized I was afraid to cross the river on my own, so he placed me on his shoulders and walked through the almost neck-deep waters. I was seven or eight.

My aunt Chelina.
I had fallen off my horse and I could not move. She carried me home in her arms, more than a mile away.

My Padrino Hector and my Tia Licha.
I lived 7 years without my father's presence. In that time, my Padrino Hector served as role-model, the male-figure in my life. He'd take me with him to work in the corn, chilli, bananas, and sugar fields. His wife, my Tia Licha, would prepare dinner for us. My favorite were "picoteadas" (more commonly known as "sopes") that she'd particularly make bigger than a regular-sized tortilla, covered with red sauce and cheese.

Profesora Rosalia, my first-grade and second-grade teacher.
By the time she was done instilling knowledge in me, I knew the multiplication facts that are usually learned in 4th or 5th grade. Of course, I also knew how to add and divide. A guy from out of town called me a "computadora", because when I helped my mother tend the store she had, I'd do all the math in my head, and fast. Profesora Rosalia also taught me how to read with a fluency beyond that expected of a 2nd grader.

Denel, my little brother.
For having brought so much happiness into my parents' life.

Don Genaro and Javier.
They'd take me to work with them when I was a teenager. Although I made money doing it, I hated the jobs, for they were menial labor. Covered with sweat, I'd be reminded that kind of job wouldn't be something I'd want to do as I got older; that getting an education was not an option, but a requirement. They also made me realize that although I was a slob at home, I was actually quite reliable at work.

Girls who've made me dream.
Some have been my girlfriends, others my friends with benefits, some were just my classmates and some didn't even notice me! Either way they made me dream, for I had developed a crush for them because of their looks and/or their sweetness and/or their sense of humor and/or their overall cuteness.

Barry and his mother, Mrs. Ong.
It was them who suggested I apply for a job at Noble. A job that I consider a hobby -- for the most part. :)

Final Thought:

Those were my thanks and apologies. This list is in no way exhaust. Many people have gone unmentioned, and I'm aware of that. Do keep in mind that the people I have the utmost appreciation for (my parents) were only mentioned a couple of times, so don't take your absence from this list to mean that I do not care for the great things you've done for me, or that I've not recognized the bad things I've done to you. I tell you this, there's still time in my life for you to do me right, and there's definitely time for me to do you wrong... :)

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