I’m an immigrant who took advantage of Obama’s regulations, and now I’m a millionaire

I must confess, as a minority living in the big bad city, I took advantage of Obama’s regulations, which restricted smalls businesses, destroyed jobs and increased taxes for white Americans. With his regulations, I was able to open several Delis, and now I’m a millionaire. But I wasn’t the only one. Soon enough every gas station, deli or laundrymat was owned and operated by an immigrant, and all the “regular joes” were out on the street begging for money, asking for welfare and getting sick from their coal jobs. When you think of the American dream this is what you envision.

When you hear that America is paved with gold, it isn’t a lie, you can open a business almost immediately upon arrival to the U.S., because Obama regulation, but only if you’re a immigrant, preferably from central, south America, or Africa, a refugee, or a person of color.

Thanks to Obama “regular joes” are not allowed to open a business, and there’s a harsh tax levied on them simply for existing. Obama regulations do not allow citizens to open businesses. You have to be an illegal immigrant, obviously (it says so under the regulatory guidelines). These “regular joes” don’t understand—that’s just how regulations work in America.

Yes, it’s true they hurt small businesses, but only for the ones that are owned by “regular joes,” and by this, I mean the rural white folks specifically not living in the big bad cities. They are not meant to regulate companies who pollute the environment, use tax loopholes or bride foreign goverments. Nope. It is strictly meant to undermine hardworking Americans who are white and sick from their coal jobs, or currently living in a town with more than half of the populating gone.

As an illegal immigrant, I live a lavish lifestyle, taking boat trips on the weekends, and sipping champagne. Thanks to Obama-era regulations, I also don’t work 10 or 12 hours a day, nor did I save a for years, or take out a loan before I bought my first Deli, nor did I have to work a below-minimum wage job for years at a chicken factory, where no one had health benefits, but everyone stayed quiet, because they were afraid ICE would come and arrest us. No, that’s not my story.

It was simply handed to me by way of Section 3: Free Businesses for Minorities, in the Obama Handbook Regulation that every immigrant receives upon arrival. It’s the how to, on easy access to opening up a small business, while closing up shop for the “regular joes” of America, and not paying taxes. That’s how the government cuts costs, so immigrants can open their own stores, and only hire other immigrants. It’s the cycle that keeps on giving. It was Obama’s master plan, really, and I’m glad I took advantage.




Retracing the French Quarter

I found myself in the CBD (Central Business District) the other day without my bike, so I walked around the French Quarter, knowing I rarely go there. I stopped by a store that sold 1950s dresses and other rockabilly accessories. I browsed around, knowing I probably would not purchase anything. I even looked at the sales section so I wouldn’t feel guilty, but there was nothing worth buying. Everything appeared in drab colors except for a pair of baby blue, glittery cat sunglasses, but the pointy ending at the end stuck out too far.


moonshine nettle

I bought a dress from here a while ago, which had not seen the light of day in several months. The sales girl approached me, and asked if I was looking for anything in particular. Her orange hair was pushed back by a headband. Every once in a while, she would ask if I needed help or had any questions. I tried to disappear by the section of sunglasses. I felt pressured to buy something, but that was how the game went. Other people walked in so she flocked to them. I didn’t feel pressured to take any of the clothing pieces seriously. Eventually, I grew tired of pretending, and I thanked the girl and said bye. As I was leaving, I noticed a song playing; it was coming from the stereo just outside the store. Just as it appeared on my phone, the sales girl came out and rolled the stereo back inside. She was no longer smiling or happy as when she first approached me. The was “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” by Paul Anka.

I kept walking down Decatur St., and turned on Bienville St. I thought, if I had one of those colorful dresses stamped with ice cream cones, life would be so much better. I walked by the giant parking space near the river, then Jax, then the common stores: H&M, Urban Outfitter, etc. I quickly walked by, as I hated going to into those stores with countless of racks and customers, making never-ending lines. I kept walking past Jackson Square, wondering what other people saw when they visited the French Quarter. What did my friends and family see? I overheard a Spanish lady telling someone “Mira esa calle pequeña,” (look at that small street) and she pointed to a quiet narrow, empty street, where the houses were painted in hues of dark reds and soft pinks with decorative, lacy black balconies and vines falling on the side. Many of the images in front of me passed along, without giving me much thought. I walked by Molly’s, down to the thrift stores.




The thrift store where I had once bought a blanket was closed. A sign on the door said, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I never knew when any of these places closed. The messy thrift store across the street was open, so I crossed the street, and a guy who was sitting by the gates of the Old Mint building, started saying something in my direction. “You look young—way out of my league, but maybe my friend could talk to you.” I don’t know who he was referring to, as I saw no one else on that street. He was severely toasted, sweaty and drunk, almost as if he had been sitting out in the sun for too long.

I walked into the messiness, seeing as how it was the only one thrift store open. I browsed quickly. There wasn’t anything worthwhile, and everything seemed devoid of color or the whimsicality that I had come expect from this store. Perhaps it was me, but some sections were empty. Had they forgotten to replenish? I reminded myself that I came here for a top hat. Still, I tried on a shirt and a large skirt, clearly intended for a bigger person. I browsed through the costume section, knowing I would not be getting anything. I was senselessly killing time. I found a hair clip, a small bow adorned with a pattered fabric that resembled textiles I had seen from Mexico or Guatemala. I picked up different colored bows, eventually finding a small green one. I used the same mirror I had used when I tried on the articles of clothes. I picked up a bit of my hair, clipped it to the right side, and tilted my head slightly. I decided to take it with me.


girl on Royal St


Over at the store counter, I flicked through a stack of old photos, possibly from the 80s or 90s of yellow Mardi Gras Indians, little kids, parents, and some guys walking out of a theater. It felt odd browsing through the photos of strangers; they were private and distant memories. Black, white families from the old New Orleans: weddings, babies being carried, friends gathered in a living room. I found a set of small photos that had a rare cut of paper. They were small, maybe 4×3 and the edges were jagged. They depicted a castle and its surroundings. Each one had a different part of the entire scenery: a lake, a bridge, a view from afar towards the castle, and finally the castle up close, or perhaps I saw them in reverse. They were numbered on the bottom, but it was almost hard to see. I realized, I didn’t care much for castles, and put it down. I wondered if it was possible to re-create the look of the black & white hue, along with the soft, thick paper and its jagged edges.

Hate on display in Charlottesville


There’s no moral equivalence between the anti-fascists and the alt-right. There are people who saw this event for what it was, and there are people who want to lie to themselves.

What happen in Charlottesville, Virginia last week is not so farfetched in today’s political reality, seeing as how 45 has opened the door for white nationalists, the alt-right and other racists who support him. These groups are inside a warm pot, and at some point it was going to boil over. Days after, it was comforting to see the backlash they received, not only from activists who were present in their opposition, but also with the tearing down of confederate statues that followed, and the business community not playing along with 45’s moral equivalence between anti-fascists and the alt-right.

It was shocking to watch these hate groups in full display, not afraid of any repercussions for their actions. On Friday night, they went out with tiki torches chanting awful slogans. I checked twitter in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I was met with an onslaught of images: white men marching with torches, like it was the 1800s, except some were wearing white polo shirts and khaki pants. This was a poor attempt at conveying a clean, new look for the alt-right, neo-nazis of America, but they were clearly not fooling anyone with “their toned down” approach of “we’re fighting for our heritage.” The day brought out other hate groups that carried with them confederate and nazi flags, some sporting military outfits and guns. They went so far as to run over a group of protesters on the anti-fascist side, injuring many and killing a lady, who was white herself.

For anyone who was waiting for 45 to do the honorable thing and fully condemn these hate groups, has obviously not been awake for the last couples of months, or for the duration of the media’s obsession with 45. Stop waiting for a pivot. Sure, he can read teleprompters and pretend to be civil and cognizant of the facts, but those are not his words, as we saw the day he went off-script, and said there were some good people in the alt-right, neo-nazi side, and that they were there to oppose the removal of confederate statues. 45 has always been a racist; his actions and words reveal that. He’s too old and senile to change, so stop waiting.

The conversation needs to move to why young white men are adopting this radical ideology, some who are college-educated and seemingly well-off. People can try to use the economic argument, but there is a new crop of racists pretending they are fighting for white america and their “heritage,” since they believe they’re being replaced by minorities, but this stems from a belief that the white race is a superior one. I imagine these young men (I noticed from the photos many of them appeared to be in their 20s to 30s) gather in clandestine forums, posting hate speech and fake news, instilling a twisted reality on their consciousness. One that politicians are glad to use to their advantage, and ironically for the ruin of white-america. They are trying to take back America. I’m not sure from who? Since they have ancestors who immigrated to this country. They don’t own America. If anyone should claim ownership, it’s the Native Americans.

The online world has become the place for ego-driven fake news. hate speech, bots and trolls. For anyone willing to suspend their rationality to adopt a supremacist ideology, it’s not difficult to find people who will agree with you. Before fake news, there was, and still is, Fox news, which 45 watches religiously and often repeats verbatim. It’s like a cycle that keeps repeating itself. When your “president” is relaying back conspiracy filled statements, it’s no surprise people don’t believe trusted news sources.  He doesn’t hide his favoritism for these alt-right groups, since they’re part of his base. They want nothing more than to see him deport immigrants and undermine our civil rights.

Another point of confusion for me, is why anyone would want to claim the confederacy as part of their heritage, and defend it as if it was righteous and moral? Anyone espousing these beliefs clearly doesn’t have qualms about the fact that the confederates were fighting to keep slavery; they were willing to split up the country because they wanted an entire race to be enslaved.  Some of the descendants of confederate generals themselves have called for the statues to be taken down. The great-great grandson of Stonewall Jackson ( a man who believed god wanted slavery to continue) expressed their moral dilemma when it came to their heritage, as something that has evolved.  They acknowledge their ancestor and the history, knowing that his statues no longer have a place in today’s society.The great-great grandson called the statues “overt symbols of racism and white supremacy.” Many of the confederate statues were installed during reconstruction, as if to remind African-Americans, who were living in the south, of those who were against abolishing slavery. These symbols call out to an ideology that is offensive specially for black communities.

Though these statues are symbols of oppression, people should use the proper channels to bring them down. The communities involved should decide what happens to those statues and build consensus. As it occurred in New Orleans when the council members voted to take them down. The pressure should come from grassroots movements that influence elected officials to remove them from the community. It’s important for people to have a conversation as to why it should be removed.  Following those channels of actions will make people more likely to agree with the removal instead of doing it by force.

The hate groups made their presence known in Charlottesville, not just to express their anger over the removal of confederate statues, as 45 will have you know, but also because they wanted to show that all these groups are united. They’re not just some random group of people on reddit or 4chan, ranting about “white heritage” So for anyone saying that anti-fascists or others who are part of the resistance should not show up, in order to prevent a violent interaction, know that they were there to voice their opposition. It sends a message to fascist, racists that we have the numbers to back up the resistance, and that the majority of the country agrees with us when we say we want to protect minorities like Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and Jewish communities.

This is the time to speak out and protest against these hateful groups. But we can’t stoop to their level by committing violent acts ourselves, because then we are no better than they are, if we do not let out words and action come from a place of peace and conviction, and not force.



The modern wedding and its origin

Wedding season is upon us and Facebook is inundated with wedding and engagement photos. Everyone and their mama is getting married or engaged. It’s great to see “love is in the air,” and humans finding other humans to coexist with, for what they perceive as forever. Though some weddings are beautiful, it does often feel a little absurd and laborious. I prefer the smallness of weddings that take place in a grassy field or in city hall with a few guests sans social media. But that’s perhaps impossible as social media and weddings are closely linked now. I would argue, it doesn’t make the occasion monumental when you have ten other people doing the same thing with a different set of photos. It is an exhausting endeavor.

The idea of marriages comes from ancient societies that wanted to secure offsprings, property and the protection of bloodlines.

I wonder what makes June such a popular month to get married. I get that it’s warmer now and people are on vacation, but wouldn’t it make more sense to have a wedding in the fall or spring when it’s not unbearably hot?

I remember when my cousin came to visit in the spring, it was relatively hot because it’s the south. We bumped into a few weddings while walking in the French Quarter. The first one was in Jackson Square near the fountain. My cousin chose to bypass the guests sitting on the sides and take a photo of the bride and groom. While walking by Pirate Ally we saw another couple with their daughter listening to a minister say their vows. My cousin took a photo with the couple and their daughter, a small girl who was wearing a frilly white dress. Walking along the busy Royal Street, we saw a couple dancing, post-wedding in their own second-line. I found these encounters amusing and random. My cousin saw the weddings as a sign. I considered it a probable sequence of events, since many people celebrate their wedding in the French Quarter.

“During the Indian ceremony, we were on another floor where half the room was open to a balcony, letting in the cool fresh air.”

Earlier in the month, I went to a wedding in Florida. The groom’s family was Catholic and the bride’s was Indian-Jamaican. The ceremonies happened one after the other in an unexpected combination of perspectives on wedding ceremonies. On the one hand you had a wooden alter with hanging purple and pink flowers, the words of an ordained minister who was the groom’s grandfather and a traditional wedding melody at the end, followed by a Beyoncé song unexpectedly and somewhat awkward. During the Indian ceremony the bride wore a long red dress embroidered with gold designs and a red saree. There was a mandap (alter) with two low chairs, a red carpet, yellow curtains and bead necklaces hanging on the sides.

At the beginning of the ceremony a troupe of dancers and drummers went around dancing and playing music behind the groom, as if walking him to the altar. Then at some point he met the bride in front of the altar and they sat down, and had a Mangala Sutra link them together to symbolize bonding.

Early on Europeans, considered marriage a civil institution. After Christian theologist began writing about couples getting hitched, the Christian church became involved in the ceremonies.

Towards the end rice and popcorn was thrown at the bride and groom. Although, I could not hear much of what the priest was saying, (a fault of the microphone being to close to his face and his accent), I enjoyed watching the ceremony. The bride kept her red Indian dress the entire night, foregoing the white wedding dress. It was clear the Indian ceremony had more of a festive energy, and even the few mishaps were not awkward, but the former ceremony was framed in an ominous and devout tone: “As god is our witness,” someone said, so that it made you feel constrained. During the Indian ceremony, we were on another floor where half the room was open to a balcony, letting in the cool fresh air.

During the Florida wedding it was admirable to witness traditional elements or religious practices mixed with a modern take on marriage. Seeing these two young people from different cultures come together based on love and friendship found in a college campus is emblematic of a 21st century wedding. Not that everyone has to espouse a similar interpretation, but it’s worth taking note of how far we have come as a society. In a traditional Indian marriage  the bride would have been given away to someone who the parents picked, someone from the same religion and nationality.

The concept of marriage has always varied by culture, and it’s significance and meaning have  changed over the years.  It’s unrealistic to be attached to the idea of a “traditional marriage,” since it continues to be redefined. Marriage wasn’t always synonymous with love and friendship as it is now. Initially ancient societies used marriage for the purpose of securing land, wealth, bloodline and offsprings. And it wasn’t until 1563, when the Catholic church began calling marriage a sacred ritual to be performed in church. Flash-forward to today and we are discussing marriage equality for gay couples. I see marriage as a civil institution that is meant to protect and offer benefits to couples under the law. I don’t see it as a religious ritual, nor do I think it’s unreasonable to remain unmarried, since it’s not longer a pre-requisite to having offsprings.

Two people getting together, believing that they are perfect for each other, while not fully knowing each other enough to predict how it will turn out, is a risky bet. You’re essentially putting all your hopes on one person. I’ve been listening to Alain de Botton as of late, on love and marriage, just to give a final bow on the wedding season. In his essay, “Why you will marry the wrong person?” He writes, “Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.”

“But those moments when you don’t understand each other, is perhaps the best part, because you can learn something about your partner that may have remained hidden.”

“Healthier, happier lives,” in the background.

Marriage is a risky proposal whether you are in it for love or reason. Nowadays there’s usually a combination of both. Getting married solely for reason seems devoid of feeling and it takes us back to a time when people married each other for economic interest and status. Nowadays most people follow their instinct when searching for a partner, which takes us away from the archaic days when we had to marry for titles and wealth. Still, if you are getting married on pure whim and feeling, it can increase the probability that your mistake will be greater, because love can be fleeting and you have to wonder what it’s based on and if it has longevity. How you feel about your partner may not be the same 10 years down the road.

I think people inherently know that relationships require work and that it’s not always going to be filled with happiness and compromise. But those moments when you don’t understand each other, is perhaps the best part, because you can learn something about your partner that may have remained hidden. You know, you truly love someone when even your arguments are interesting and memorable. Though your partner might rile you up into a ball of cat fur, the reconciliation makes it all the worthwhile.

Finding a partner doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be compatible with you, but the success of your relationship depends on how you manage those differences, and learn to sensibly resolve conflicts. There’s a way to ameliorate those variables when searching for a partner, since people tend to go with those who are closest to their ideal version of a partner. I don’t think that version is stagnant, since it’s constantly being altered and questioned, because what you think you may have wanted in someone isn’t exactly what you need.

A reality show has infringed upon my life I


The other day while browsing through a thrift store, a nauseating voice came from the radio.

This time he’s giving a speech in front of NATO; I cringe at the notion that he has a microphone that reaches through continents. But life continues. My excuse for entering the thrift store today: I really should find a gift for my partner. I browse the men’s section. If only they had a Deadpool shirt. And in my imagination the local thrift shop has the possibility of having everything. I end up moving to the women’s section where I find a bluish, gray top with a modern neckline that is only four dollars. I hold it like a treasure then head to the kitchen section. Maybe, he would like a mug, but I think no, he has plenty. What about spoons? I eventually find myself face to face with rows of pale blue and white teacups sitting on their inseparable tiny plates. I don’t think he’ll have any use for this. But, I could still buy it for myself? No! I have enough teacups. I quickly walk out to the fitting room then to the cash register before I give myself the chance to make another excuse to stay here today. I go back to biking in the hellish hours of three in the afternoon when the sun is so heavy you forget why you’re out here in the first place. The next day it drizzles. It’s the sky tempting you with fresh rain. The next day there are termites outside of Walgreen. It must be termite season. Go back to checking your compost, which still doesn’t look right. I’m being insensitive to these worms by feeding them onions. I try a new bread recipe to arrive at the most anticipated part: kneading the dough. This dough is still too sticky. Damn it! Oh right, I forget to be patient. Checking twitter again, frustrated, you start contemplating other “most embarrassing moments in U.S. history” only to arrive at the words “legitimized by the government.” Sometimes funny writings or videos make you laugh at stupid watergate, while at the same time getting realizing there’s a new budget proposal. Really? Not the Special Olympics! Not Planned Parenthood! In awe that some senators and congress representatives are raising their voices, with the words RIDICULOUS in bold, and I will not stand for it! You leave voice messages and Facebook comments to deaf ears. “It’s best to write a letter. It’s always best to write about your experience, your worries.” I’m in a red state after all, but a blue city. We’re not like Montana where if you’re a journalist asking about the CBO report you get pummeled, and the final line is, “You broke my glasses.” Sometimes you miss home, but you find strangers that practice Spanish with you. The other night I met a dog, named Tesla, and I wore a green toga to a Greek festival.

bottom of the glass

Glühwein to calm the nerves.


What is there left to say about this election? With every piece of news we all become a little more worried, a little more stressed. I’m at the point where I want to ignore social media and not read one more piece of news, not one more video telling us who’s the next apprentice or the number of hate crimes appearing, or how Native Americans are being kicked off their land once again, or the continued ignorance on global warming, the list goes on. But we must stay vigilant. There’s a way to approach these dire times by settling into our thoughts and remaining intellectually active in this post-truth world, where few value history or science.

Sometimes we’ll be lucky to get some facts on social media, other times we have to search through the speculations about tweets of the day brought to you by the orange man. Despite everything, somehow we have to land on what’s important, finding out what’s actually happening in government, and not controversial tweets meant to arise anger and confusion. Rise above the anger, the meanness, the hate, and live. Try to talk to people who are not part of your circle, people who might not share the same political ideology. Right now it’s two sides screaming at each other, unwilling to listen to one another.

Still, it’s becoming frustrating  that even with facts some people continue to believe fake stories, despite being presented with a mountain of evidence. How did a man who lies so much become president? A sexist one at that. It’s the greatest downfall for America. I think Trevor Noah said it best: it’s because people try to throw facts at him, but it doesn’t stick.

Eddie Huang, writer and food personality, has a show on vice where he travels around the world, trying food and exploring different cultures. He interviewed a girl during the election, who didn’t know her facts from her conspiracy tales. Watch his reasonable approach to an onslaught of conspiracy theories. He isn’t condescending or overly dismissive. As the great Gwen Ifill once said, there’s a difference between skepticism and cynicism.

People voted for a salesman who will say anything depending on the crowd, but what matters is the kind of legislative action he’s planning to take, and from his rhetoric we clearly recognize a pattern. He’s the president of twitter trolls. Someone who probably never read the qualification section of a job, and is making up stuff on a whim.

Like many of my friends, that first night, I was speechless, sitting in a bar, in some western town, as the votes came in. “It’s turning red—don’t even look,” I told my friend, who had accompanied me that night. I turned around and I could see the gloom painted on everyone’s face. Some chose to leave abruptly not wanting to see the final moments on the screen. I still had fries left, and my Glühwein, a German drink, was still half full and warm. I wanted to lose myself at the bottom of the glass when it appeared that no one was saving the day, especially after Pennsylvania was gone. “Ugh man, did that just happen?” A girl near us had her hands over her face, in disbelief, covering her nose and mouth; I imagine wanting to scream. I finished my drink, and we stepped outside. My friend was finishing his cigarette, when I saw two guys stepping out of the bar. “Why does this feel like a match? And my team just lost,” one of them said. When did our democratic election turn into a match? This was a farce, evident months ago when Bernie Sanders lost. The only one, who stuck to the issues and had a responsible plan to fix them.

Some people are hoping the Electoral College will save us, or by some miracle Hill will have more votes after the recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Perhaps it’s a waste of time, but at least people are speaking out, protesting, calling their representatives, remaining active. I wrote a poem to the Electoral College to express my views on why they should vote against their state, and vote for Hill instead. You can write electors a letter through asktheelectors.org. The count is almost at 100,000 letters last time I checked. Maybe it’s naive or silly to send a poem, but one founding father, if not all, would agree going against the votes in those states is probably the best way to avoid legislative casualties that will weaken our environment and the economy.



a moral choice

the trees
the trees
sitting on the grass and not seeing an oil rig
or birds swimming in oily mud

what is most valuable in our society?

our dignity, our sense of well-being, the future of our kids.

the 45th president is….do you imagine saying that name?

“take back our country”
from what? from who?
from our founders?

you know those jobs are not coming back
why contaminate our lands
when you can have
clean energy, furtive lands, tech innovations
that will be around for generations
and will allow people to move back to small towns
where our families don’t get sick from dirty water

he’s a con artist, a celebrity,
who has never read a book
once asked what he thought about his life
he said: I don’t like to reflect.

drain the swamp
he’s bringing the swamp with him
people who are not qualified
it’s for this reason the founders
thought it was important to have a group of
to make a moral choice