absolutelyaleta's blog

blogging for dummies

just another “high and mighty” Mexican

continuing my weekend excursions into sharing some of my earlier writing. here’s a piece i wrote and performed in ’98.

The earliest incident where I was forced to really think about my ethnicity was when I was 15 years old. You see I rode a city bus home every day from school. This particular day was like any other normal day at least it started out that way. I boarded the bus, put my money down the shoot, and said “transfer, please” to the driver like I had done many times before. The driver, a Hispanic man in his late 40’s, handed it to me without saying anything. Seconds after I had took my seat, I heard this voice say “I am so sick of you coming on this bus and acting so high and mighty, ripping that transfer out of my hand. Who do you think you are? You better start showing me some manners. Treat me with respect.” It sounded like such a cliche I almost laughed. I looked around at first not believing he was talking to me. But there was no denying who he was talking to. He was standing over my seat looking down at me with such intensity that my face felt like it was on fire. I heard a kid snicker from the back of the bus. No one interfered on the packed bus but most looked sympathetic. He turned and went back to his seat. I kept thinking “Had I ripped the transfers out of his hand? I didn’t think so. And I had always said “please and “thank you” to him. I tried as hard as I could to remember a time where I had done something out of the ordinary. Was there a time when I had acted rude or high and mighty? I was left wondering why I was feeling so completely embarrassed and humiliated when he was the one who acted so ridiculously. I also couldn’t help but think that if I had looked more Mexican he would not have given me a second thought. Of course I have no proof that his tirade was racially motivated but if it wasn’t that, than what was it. Was it because I dressed well? Was it because I was a young teenager? Was it because I didn’t say “have a nice day” when I exited the bus? Was it this? Was it that? I shouldn’t have to try to figure out what’s wrong with me.

But yet I find I’m still doing that. Competition has always been fierce in acting. So I learned in my “Auditions” class to find whatever makes you different and sell it to them. So being Mexican became a commodity. Before that I never took much notice to it except to brag to my friends about my Nana’s beans and tortillas. I remember a director saying to me on the first night of rehearsal for The House of Bernarda Alba “Aleta, how do you pronounce this word?” After I made what I thought was a pretty good attempt, she then said, “Wait a minute, you do speak Spanish don’t you?” I shook my head and it was clear she was disappointed, she kinda smiled and chuckled a little bit as if to say, “great, just great.”

I’ve had other audition experiences where I just wasn’t quite Mexican enough either. Yes, I have the last name Garcia but I don’t have the thickest accent or I just can’t roll my “r’s” very well. See what I mean. Or most definitely, I just don’t look Mexican enough. Of course there are many roles that I simply was not right for. But… there was one time in my life where I was definitely Mexican enough. I remember taking a Spanish class at a community college where I was immediately selected by the teacher to be in this special group of 4 who amazingly enough were all Mexican like myself. We were given different lessons than the rest of the class. Even though I quickly told the teacher I could speak only about 5 words in Spanish he explained to me that because I was Mexican I would catch on a lot quicker than the rest of the class. I silently begged to differ. After a few classes I was actually scared to be called on in class because the other students looked at us all like we were the teacher’s assistants or something. In fact we actually were required to walk around the class and help the other students with any trouble they were having with the lesson. ME helping another student? The other students ended up helping me. The only phrase I was confident with was “asi asi” and you can only say that so many times. But what the heck it made me feel good to know that the teacher had such confidence in me. And the homework was a lot less than the rest of the students and much easier. Needless to say I learned NOTHING from that class. He kept saying, “you grasp the accent so well.” What I didn’t grasp was anything about how to speak the language. I tried to tell him how lost I was but he would just listen to me and reassure me I was doing fine. I got an “A” in the course. Imagine that, an “A” just for being Mexican. I guess there are worst things in life. But I never felt good about it that grade and I never took Spanish again. You might be curious to know if the teacher was Mexican and I can’t tell you for sure because I don’t remember his name. I do remember he was blond and blue eyed. But I should know more than anyone that appearances don’t mean anything.

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Earlier Pieces I've Written | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

mrs. beasley’s makeover

for those of you who don’t know, Mrs. Beasley was a doll featured on the old tv series, “Family Affair.” i’m not sure when i got one and i don’t even remember ever watching the show, but in any case she was my beloved childhood talking doll. if you pulled her string she said things like, “Do you want to hear a secret?” or “You are my best friend!”

she was my best friend. i took her everywhere. including a trip to the San Diego Zoo. okay, okay. i know what you’re thinking considering my last post, but i was a child. it’s not my fault my parents took me to an animal prison. anyway, i lost mrs. beasley in that enormous zoo and cried so hard that on our way home my parents stopped at “Toys R Us”. so mrs. beasley 2 was born, or rather, bought. she didn’t have that worn-in look from years of sleeping with her and she still had her glasses, which were promptly lost. i did my best to age that poor doll by loving it to death and in time her seams started to come undone and the stuffing started to fall out. her dress became tattered and sadly her speech was impaired. now when you pulled the string it was like hearing her speak through a mechanical larynx. “Yoooooouuuuuuu arrrrrrrre myyyyyyyy besssssssttttttttt frrrrrrriennnnnnndddddddd.”

So my nana, who was an accomplished seamstress, gave her a makeover. no. more than a make over. mrs. beasley went under the knife. nana restuffed her, sewed a orangey-yellow flower print material onto her body. made her shoes brown and instead of a skirt, she was given a cream-colored apron. (what can i say…my nana wasn’t exactly sending me a message that i could be a doctor or the 1st woman president. no womens liberation for mrs. beasley! get her back in the GD kitchen!)

i still have post op. Mrs. Beasley in a box in my closet. although she seems to have misplaced her apron. now, how did that happen?

pre surgery mrs. b.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Earlier Pieces I've Written | , , , , | 3 Comments

killer whales are not supposed to kiss you

one of dozens of letters i sent in my 2003 anti marine mammal park letter writing campaign. this madness needs to stop.

period.

—————————————

June 13, 2003

Mr. Brad Andrews
Vice President of Zoological Operations
Sea World
7007 Sea World Drive
Orlando, Florida 32821-8097

Dear Mr. Andrews:

I visited Sea World San Antonio on May 25th. It will be my last visit to any of the Sea World parks. After doing research on the whales and dolphins that I viewed in captivity, I am angry but mostly deeply saddened at the conditions of which they live. There is nothing in this world that you can say that can convince me that this is an “educational” setting. After spending money at your park, I donated that money back to the Keiko whale fund at the Humane Society of the U.S.

The conditions in which they live do not mirror their natural habitat in any way. The tricks that some animals are forced to do 365 days a year, sometimes 6 times a day, are not natural. The tanks of which they are forced to swim in monotonous circles, mostly at the surface of the water, is not natural. This is not educational. This is entertainment strictly for the purpose of making a profit. There is little regard for removing these animals from their families in the wild. Just give the public what it wants, right? Don’t tell them the truth about the high mortality rates, especially for calves bred in captivity, aggression among dolphins fighting for food from dangled from children, dorsal fin collapse, inadequate diets leading to illness, skin problems due to chlorinated water and intense exposure from the sun due to floating at the surface, and stress.

I am not a raging animal activist I am simply a web manager at a community college. In fact, this is the first issue that I have felt strongly enough to write letters about in my 32 years. I went to Sea World in San Diego as a child and never thought about this. I never knew anything was wrong with keeping these huge mammals of the sea in a swimming pool. I think about it now. I will not support Anheuser-Busch products and I will spread the word to everyone I know to not patronize Sea World. I will inform people about the two orca whales who died within the last two years at Sea World San Antonio. I will write letters to my senators, representatives, APHIS, and Sea World sponsors. It may not be much, but it is something.

Please, please, as a first step, close the remaining three Sea World petting pools. Secondly, stop capturing these animals from the wild and putting them in your swimming pool prisons. Until this happens, I will continue to remind everyone I come in contact with not to purchase Anheuser-Busch products nor to support any Sea World sponsors and most importantly not to bring their families to your parks.

Sincerely,

AAG

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Earlier Pieces I've Written | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

it’s a good thing i know how to tread water

so i returned (mailed) two books back to BookSwim which seems  like ages ago but is probably only 3 weeks or so and am anxiously awaiting the 2 to replace those.

BookSwim just sent me an email a few days ago to let me know they received them! and i can see why they were so excited. what a marvel that USPS is. what’s that BookSwim? if you mail a book at book rates, it only takes about 3 weeks, you say? hell, the pony express would’ve been faster.

but that’s my dumb ol’ fault because, ding, ding, ding, i’m starting to think i may not have thought this whole BookSwim through. i’ve got “The English Patient” sitting on my nightstand but i have to admit, it’s a little…gasp…boring. i may finish it though because i guess i should thank my lucky stars i’m not in a cave dying.

besides those next two books are…gasp…on the way!!!

February 23, 2010 Posted by | Bookswim | , , , , , | 2 Comments

trojans talking

hate to disappoint but this is not a post about condoms but rather continues my exploration into my writing maturation. my high school newspaper, “The Trumpeteer” had a weekly column called “Trojans (our school mascot) Talking”. When I was a senior in high school they posed this question:

What do you think of the semi-formal being held in the cafeteria instead of a banquet room or ballroom?

my 17-year-old, snarky answer:

‘I’m sure that everyone would rather have it held in an elegant ballroom at a remote resort, but if it has to be held in the cafeteria, let’s hope the decorations aren’t too tacky so as to disguise the regular decor of the Catalina cafeteria.’

i wish i could say i was less cynical 22 years later, but clearly my post “even the wings couldn’t save Hooters” shows i’m still swimming in the cynical pool. that’s okay though because i believe Mr. Shaw said it best:

“The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don’t have it.”
– George Bernard Shaw

February 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

past work revisited

so in an attempt to clean out my closet and also to satisfy my curiosity about whether i have improved or regressed from some of my earlier writings, i pulled a few pieces from my earlier literary works and will transcribe them here at absolutelyaleta. bear with this short experiment or come back in a few days when i should be back to my present ramblings.

my first interview in 4th grade (i was 9 or 10 years old):

Parent Personality of the Month

“My Supermom” by A.A.G.

I picked my mom because she gives good answers and she is very serious. Her name is Andrea B. Garcia. Her nickname is “Andi.” Her ancestors were from Ireland but her grandparents came to the U.S. in the 1800’s. Her favorite sport is baseball. She was on a softball team. My mom’s favorite team is the New York Yankees because her father took her to see them. She was also on a hockey team. She says she was good in Spanish and Algebra. My mom would like to start college in September.

My mom was born in Connecticut but before she came to Tucson, she lived in NYC and Fairfield, Conn. She likes to go to Monterrey, California, where we will be going this summer. She likes Tucson now, but she still misses the changing seasons.

She likes steak, chicken kiev and lasagna. Her favorite show on TV is “Eight is Enough.” My mom’s favorite animal is dogs and deer. Her hobbies are reading, swimming, and making clay pottery.

She met my dad at the Santa Rita Hotel at a political meeting. She has one brother who works in the art gallery in Washington, D.C. He hires people to work there. My mom has a message for me: “Stay as sweet as you are!”

i’m trying to, Mom. i’m trying.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | Earlier Pieces I've Written | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

’60s horror movie trailer? think again.

prior to American marketers obtaining this film in 1965, this film was a serious look at Parisian racial prejudices when released in France in 1961 under the title “Les lâches vivent d’espoir”.  unfortunately, the American Film Distribution Corporation, which also distributed other ’60s gems like, “The Stud Farm”, “The Case of the Stripping Wives” and “Madame Olga’s Massage Parlor” apparently wanted to give this interracial love story a tabloid twist in order to get teen boys to drive their Impalas into the drive-in so they can cop a feel when their date shrieks in terror. i have a hard time believing it worked since the movie is more Lifetime Television than horror flick.

in any case, the trailer couldn’t be more timely after all the brouhaha surrounding John Mayer’s comments in a magazine interview. apparently, only certain skin colors can qualify as a wonderland for ol’ John. and its likely that that sentiment is held by many. i found an interesting article at Salon examining why so many people still aren’t color blind when it comes to falling in love with someone out of their own race.

as a multiracial woman (caucasian/hispanic), i have not dated anyone outside of my own race and according to the Salon article i’m clearly not alone. in any case, i believe i would have no problem raising a child from another race.  double standard? possibly, but romantic love and maternal love are familial but distinctive. honestly, i have no problem with interracial relationships when it comes to other people but for myself, at this moment, i’d still prefer to watch Halle Berry in reruns of “The Wedding” on Lifetime.

and i’ve always hated John Mayer’s music so that counts for something, right?

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

a letter to james cameron

dear mr. cameron,

i made it to your movie today. see i was off work because of President’s Day and i thought that it was time i made it to “the movie” of the century…well at least of the decade. my opinion? funny you should ask. in a nutshell, its a neat little flick to look at. shucks, monet’s paintings would look completely grey compared to the kaleidoscope of color that explodes on screen in “Avatar”. and when i say ‘little flick’ don’t get me wrong. it’s little in no way, shape or form. it’s long clocking in at 2:45, it’s in 3D for God’s sake, and it’s a digital extravaganza for the visual and auditory senses. let me clairify. auditory because of the soundtrack, not the dialogue. more on that below.

it seems we’ve learned nothing when we stole the indians land and by golly, we’re going to do it again on Pandora (it’s the name of the planet in “Avatar” for my incarcerated readers). so “Avatar” is at it’s core a war movie. and God knows if there is one movie genre i can’t stand, it’s war movies. but i’m willing to overlook those 40 minutes of battle scenes because the rest is stunning. BUT Mr. Cameron, you and George Lucas have a few things in common. you’re both genuises, you’re both billionaires and you both need to cut the cord and turn over the writing of your dialogue to someone who knows language.  someone who can pump originality into what your characters say. (unfortunately, you’re too late for Salinger)

i like your characters! i do! i just want them to say something besides, “science is an observation”, OR “one life dies, another life begins” OR “i see you.” really? they see each other? one life dies, one begins? my 6 year old nephew is more profound.

i’m not sorry i paid my $22 (ticket + parking) for your film. i don’t want my money back. i don’t want you to stop making movies. i just want you to give some young writer a chance to really observe you and see your vision and have a character say something that would make me cry. and believe me that’s not hard to do. i cried in “Star Trek” for crying out loud. that’s a redundant sentence. see? don’t hire me.

instead, picture this: young screenwriter meeting with the great james cameron. he/she sees you. you see he/she. you think for he/she. he/she writes for you.

they/me…happy.

sincerely,

AA

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”

i don’t know what made me search on Napster for this song (song title is title of post) today but i’ve enjoyed re-listening to it immensely. i know music is subjective (like all art) but i think you would be hard-pressed to argue about it being such a unique song. what makes it a musical oddity is not just the deep bass vocals by Brad Roberts but most of the song doesn’t rhyme–which is not only extremely rare but difficult to successfully pull off. the lyrics, while not deep, tell a story that also has comical elements in it. i can’t help but smile when he sings, “But both girl and boy were glad, ‘Cause one kid had it worse than that”. It’s amusing that what turns out to be worse than white hair or birthmarks is that this kid has to go to a holy roller church because “They’d always just gone there.” This a well crafted and original song on a multitude of levels. what do you think?

Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Uploaded by Dan_of_the_Land. – Watch more music videos, in HD!

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

if only i could write like this…

in observance of Valentine’s Day, which is just around the corner, i hope you enjoy this exquisite poem by Troy Jollimore. i’m in awe of his writing style and have wept at this poem more than once. i hope you will find it as lovely as i do.

Regret

by Troy Jollimore

I’d like to take back my not saying to you
those things that, out of politeness, or caution,
I kept to myself. And, if I may —
though this might perhaps stretch the rules —I’d like
to take back your not saying some of the things
that you never said, like “I love you” and “Won’t you
come home with me,” or telling me, which
you in fact never did, perhaps in the newly
refurbished café at the Vancouver Art
Gallery as fresh drops of the downpour from which
we’d sought shelter glinted in your hair like jewels,
or windshields of cars as seen from a plane
that has just taken off or is just coming in
for a landing, when the sun is at just the right angle,
that try as you might, you could not imagine
a life without me. The passionate spark
that would have flared up in your eye as you said this —
if you had said this —I dream of it often.
I won’t take those back, those dreams, though I would,
if I could, take back your not kissing me, openly,
extravagantly, not caring who saw,
or those looks of anonymous animal longing
you’d throw everyone else in the room. I’d like
to retract my retracting, just before I grabbed you,
my grabbing you on the steps of the New York
Public Library (our failure to visit
which I would also like to recall)
and shouting for all to hear, “You, you
and only you!” Yes, I’d like to take back
my not frightening the pigeons that day with my wild
protestations of uncontrolled love, my not scaring
them off into orbit, frantic and mad,
even as I now sit alone, frantic and mad,
racing to unread the book of our love
before you can finish unwriting it.

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments