Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thoughts...things you can't buy at a grocery store.

I recently had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. A lot of things had happened and I wanted to soak it all in. And honestly, nothing bad happened. In fact, most of the things that have happened to me have been good things.

So, the other night, at the grocery store, my father had told me of a customer who told him (my father) that he (the customer) was thankful for my help. He was a middle aged guy who needed help at the computer lab at the library this past week. I helped him log in and search web urls. Also, I helped him type his address and telephone number in a website that was sending him a security device for his house. Anyway, it wasn't a big deal and I thank God I was able to help him. But the funny thing was, when I was helping him, he actually reminded me of my computer illiterate father! lol! That's too funny, how this came full circle.

Also, I had helped another middle aged guy, who sat next to me at the computer lab on a different day. He kept leaning over to ask for advice on photoshop, spam mail, and about the Microsoft company. So I listened as he described his problems. Even when it was closing time, he kept talking and I kept listening. And finally, I advised him to get help at Brooklyn College, where they do have courses and people (ie., young students) who might help him better understand the computer know-how.

But the thing that made my week was having this great conversation at the store today (actually yesterday.) A lady who comes by regularly, and buys scratch off tickets, stood and talked with me for about 20 minutes today. So what did we talk about? The aging and caring of our parents.

The conversation began when I asked her, "How's your mom doing?" But first, here's some background - the lady/customer is 54 and takes care of her mom, who I believe is in her 80's. She's been doing that for about the last 15 years or so. She told me how difficult it was and how it eventually led her to become sick. Currently, she struggles with diabetes, and heart disease through this ordeal. And imagine, she told me, when you're parents will have to go through this. (I nodded. In fact, I wonder how I'm dealing with them right now, getting older right in front of my eyes.) She told me to look into Medicaid, Medicare and to get an attorney and an accountant to prepare for their future. Imagine, she said, if your father dies, what then would your mom do? And she told me about the options for "life insurance" mortgage, where one partner dies, then the mortgage is paid off or covered for the other. Not to mention, how she found out a lot of stuff through the disability office, where she currently is receiving some support. Also, she told me about a free air conditioner program for the elderly. Plus, on the issue of being (somewhat) financially supported by the government, she told me that they (my parents) had better be able to document or show sizable income in the previous years before retirement, to be eligible for a greater Social Security benefit, if and when they'd retire at the age of 65. And most importantly, she told me about the need to do this NOW!

Right now, my parents are 55, so in about 10 years, I would need to (or help them) figure all this out. "But God forbids, something happened tomorrow," she then asks me, "What, then would you do?" I had no answer, but she's RIGHT. I need to look into all this stuff. And honestly, all this came in like a tidal wave. Here I was looking after them and cleaning up after them. But then you forget about the nitty gritty stuff like a "power of an attorney" and live-in nursing. And what about a will?? Because some people will say that 55 is not old, but here I am telling you, it is. It really is. You never know when your health be lost, when you'll get sick or be in an accident. And don't think for a second, that you can snap your fingers and win the lottery and everything will be taken care of.

So, WOW! I need to think about all this. And not just this - my law school admission process, Dream Act, my own financial future, getting married, becoming a federal judge, maintaining a small business and a house, my relationship with the LORD, and anything else that comes my way. And to do all this in the next 10 years will be challenging. But hey, who said, "life was easy?"

So I'm off. I really need to pray. Wish me luck. And best of luck to those who take of their parents. Really, they/we desperately need it!@ And it's really nice to know that being older and wiser (like her) could lead one to imparting wisdom for those that are younger (like me.) It wasn't about all these barriers and being private with your problems. I think as we get older, we're able to discuss things more openly, honestly and with the idea that we should be helping one another. I like that. Maybe its why I've always like talking to older folks. Maybe its because they want to help you understand how life really is. And why wouldn't you want to learn from those who've experienced it the most? I think for all of those people above, we've become friends too. And that's something you can't always buy, manufacture, or sell in this day and age.

As the lady left the store, she told me, "Any questions, any problems, you let me know and we'll talk."

How about that!? That is one genuine caring person, talking to another human being. This you can't buy at a grocery store. :-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kissed by an Angel

Today, I was just sitting down and reading the newspaper, when I noticed a cute and cuddly 3 year old standing in front of me. His name is Leonardo, but I call him "boo-pa" and I think its stuck because I've noticed his parents calling him the same thing. lol! So, he had gotten out of his stroller to run up to me and talk. Of course, we have known each other for a year or so. His parents are very good customers at the grocery store. Also, I had known them for years before the little guy came along. And with almost every 3 year olds, he was speaking gibberish. He started talking, as soon as I put down the newspaper.

Boo-pa: Hi, Davey. (David is my father's name, but he confuses me with my father. Even though, he sees me more often and we play/chat/run around together.)

Me: Hey! (Arms open, signaling for a hug.)

Boo-pa: (moves closer, then suddenly kisses me on the neck! I think he missed my cheek, lol!)

Me: (stunned) Thank you?! (and I continue to hug him. Then he tells me about his day, walking around. Which is generally the extent of our conversation.)

And of course, we have our interactions in front of his parents. They often tell me what he really does and what he learns in daycare. So its all good. I think its just cute, that kids like Boo-pa can give hugs and kisses to people they like. Of course, I'm not saying they should do that with everyone. But there's something to be said, when you do get hugs and kisses from little children. Also, when they want to run up to you, talk and sing and dance right in front of you, it does say a lot about how they "see" you. :-)

And I end with this bible verse, it reminded me of Boo-pa and other children I've met and interacted with over the years...

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

And I hope to have a Boo-pa, one day too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Talking with Jim, coming "out"...

Recently, I had this "ordeal". And instead of the usual day of working, researching, studying, exercising, and then sleeping. I decided to talk to a friend. And yes, I talk to many people to discuss what happened and their thoughts, but today I wanted to go by Jim and listen to what he thought. So, today, I rode my bike to his house. And no, I didn't call him first to see if it was ok to come over. I just thought if he had time to talk, he would, if he could. Anyway, Jim's 71, who fixes bicycles as a hobby in his retirement. He's helped fix my bicycles many, many times. And through the course of our "business", we've talked a bit. And let me tell you, he thinks that what I've done the last couple of years has been amazing. And all he knew was that I helped my parents at the grocery store, as they got older. But today, I shared with him the "invisible" jail cell that I've been in.

Its interesting, we've known each other for about 2 years. And I would never think of sharing such information previously. But ever since I went to Brown University for an Education Forum last March, in which I spoke about my life and on the Dream Act, I've been open and honest with such things. I mean, how many times do you have to lie to people about why you don't have a better job, why you don't study abroad, and why you don't pursue higher degrees? Esp when you have a college degree! And when its from 6 years ago and all you've done is work at a grocery store!@

So what was his reaction? He understood my prison sentence and why I was doing the same thing - working at the grocery store - year after year. Also, he advised me that you should be careful of who you say this to, which I know. But at the same time, it's liberating to open up about your status and know (or think you know?) of people that you can say this to, without the fear of deportation. But he's a guy that would lose my business, if I was deported, so I don't worry about such a thing, lol!

And ever since Brown, I've done a lot of things these past 5 months - 3 Video projects, including one that came out today for NYSYLC, WNYC radio (The Leonard Lopate Show), picture in the Korean and Spanish newspaper on the Dream Act, Ykasec interview, and my name being mentioned in an Educational (Mary Ann Zehr's) blog and in the College Board's "Young Lives on Hold" Dream Act paper. And to think, at one time, I thought I had my one (and only) shot to advocate for the Dream Act, which was at Brown. (Which was amazing, just by itself. And I think if you go out and have one chance, then I hope they remember you for hitting a home run in your at-bat. ;) But I was blessed to do much more than that. And I've been sooo grateful, and appreciative for the extra opportunities. Plus, being a part of this so-called student movement has lead me to be fearless and tireless. I mean, I was always underground researching, but now I can speak out openly without hesitation. And being outspoken has lead me to be more aware of the "responsibility" of being a Dreamer. (For there are an estimated 1.8 to 2.5 Million Dreamers currently in the US. and that number is growing every year!) And when you're out there, speaking about it, you hope that they - Dream students and supporters - are watching you and rooting for you. And that they will join you in the fight for the Dream Act. But, on the other hand, obviously due to the hot-button and divisive issue of immigration, there are those (who oppose the Dream Act) and wish to see you go. But my thinking is, if they (ICE, the gov't) want to catch me, they know where I am. And if I ever go, I can be always be proud of my education and involvement for the Dream Act.

So until then or when the Dream Act passes, I'm going to be everywhere and anywhere that could/would/should help pass the Dream Act - at Immigration Rallies, Education Forums, Video Projects, and at Ykasec and at the NYSYLC. Not to mention, even blogging about :-) I'd like to think, I can and should live up to my favorite article/blog quote, "For this, I'd do anything," in reference to getting the DREAM Act passed.

And this has been my favorite chant while fighting for our "Dreams" -

Leader/MC: What do we want?

Chorus: Dream Act!

Leader/MC: When do we want it?

Chorus: NOW!@

See everybody at the signing, next year :-)