1,000 miles: step 75

Line for Hillary Clinton's Rally an Hour Before She Speaks

Line for Hillary Clinton’s Rally an Hour Before She Speaks

I find primaries and elections emotionally difficult. I find a lot of things emotional, okay?

But here’s why: I’ve been 18 and up for three years now but I can’t vote. Voting is another of those reminders of what privileges I don’t have because I’m still an immigrant.

I hate conversations in election years because when people ask me, “so, who are you voting for?” I feel naked: I don’t vote, and I hate saying those words. It’s like saying, I’m irrelevant. I don’t have a say in this country. I don’t have a say in a country that I’ve lived for 14 years now. 14 years.

This infuriates me because there are some people who can vote, but don’t register. Every vote matters because an un-cast vote is a silenced voice.

Today, when Hillary Clinton came to speak at my school, I was proud. Women in America have held the right to vote for almost a century, and they started running for presidency since 1872. I like that Ms. Clinton hasn’t given up in her campaign for presidency. That’s the mark of a strong leader. Don’t get me wrong, Senator Sanders’ got a fighting spirit too. The race is often tied between the two in the Democratic party, and that’s why every vote matters. People make a difference.

My next goal in life is to become documented. Rather than be a temporary protected citizen, I want to be a permanent resident. I’m not going big. I take what life gives me, but I will always want more.

I don’t hold financial aid in college, and I’m not going to downplay my need. There have been days when my mother could barely meet the rent, when a grocery trip was hell, and when I just plain wanted to quit. Coming into George Mason was tough. I knew I wasn’t going to be a full-time student. I knew I was going to have divide my time between work and school. I knew there would be days, and maybe weeks, where I didn’t want a college degree.

I just didn’t know how hard those days would be.

I’ve worked hard for the few scholarships I managed to find, and I’m so close to graduating with a Bachelor’s. I’ll go mad if I go into graduate school without the privilege of economic help that I deserve in every way.

Voting season gets me infuriated, and sometimes, that what a person who’s accepted her situation needs. Anger makes you crave a solution. I will find one.

1,000 miles: step 74

Friday morning found me wondering if kids should’ve gone to school. By evening, I started to believe.

The East Coast is covered in snow and Jonas just keeps going. Yesterday, I cancelled my in-home students and made the best call. Driving is not an option with the wind and feet of snow. My Honda Civic is actually turning into a Honda Hidden:

imageMy professors have long been anticipating that we’ll miss class time. This snow may well wait until spring to melt. I’ll need to pull out my boots from when I was in Great Barrington, MA–those boots’ time have come and they were made for walking.

So, 2016 is sure a bundle of surprises!

I have had my own personal surprises. The first week of January, I received a scholarship from Mason that covered nearly all my tuition expenses for the semester. This was beautiful. This will be the first time since I started college that I won’t have money dead-lines teasing me.

Another small surprise is that I’ll be writing for Mason’s student-run online newspaper, The Rival. My first post hit the Internet on January 20th. It was also my first movie review, and though I’m no critic, I really got into the review. I didn’t even go to the theater with the intention of writing about the film. Writing teaches you how to process visual stimuli! Writing is rewarding, but even as an English major, I don’t do enough.

At 21 years, I have no excuse not to write. I have a store full of memories and life in progress.

1,000 miles: step 73

I am thrilled to say that the 2015 semester is over and next year… I will reach senior status at school! The finish line is ever so close.

I thought about quitting several times, usually at the beginning of the semester. The expenses too great. Now, things haven’t gotten easier and tuition no less expensive… I’m getting stronger.

With this self-content, I’ll welcome the new year.

1,000 miles: step 72


Today I was  reminded that I have… a blog! One of the students I work with remembers me mentioning this blog way back-long-ago. It comes as a surprise to me that my young students DO listen and retain the oddest things. I know I’m still very young myself, but it often feels like they’re getting younger when they throw in a “Ms. Claudia, don’t you remember from last week?”

No. I do not. My head is full of work. I keep it moving, forward, forward.

I’ve been meaning to write earlier. I would’ve said something like: this has been the hardest year of my life.

But I haven’t lived long enough to make the judgement. It is, though, December 1st. This means I’ve made it another year and it has been incredible.

Over the summer, my mother visited my sister in El Salvador. My mother went out of the country for the first time since 2001. It wasn’t a long trip and I wasn’t able to go with her, but her joy is my joy.

Out of the blue–no joke–in September, my family grew! I now share my days with an uncle and little cousin. He is learning English and I’m overseeing his language acquisition–and I’m doing a pretty decent job might I add.

I’ve also had the pleasure of writing weekly poems this semester… and I have one due tomorrow! And so, I keep myself moving.



daring to try

Cinquain n. 2

resist the mold
shock and resuscitate
the steel she society shunned:
flee script.

Cinquain n. 1


outside the glass,

hands outstretched, hands reaching:

to our daughters rising stronger


1,000 miles: step 71

FullSizeRender (5)

This month, I broke two of mom’s Easter glass cups.

I watched turtles swim in a puddle of water while fellow students passed us by.

I took an expedited summer class with dozens of reading, much writing, and copious thinking.

I drove through thunderstorms.

And it’s now about one month since I returned to my childhood neighborhood. I miss the quiet of Alexandria. My first night at our new/familiar place, I couldn’t sleep. At 2am, the neighbors outside were playing music in a big truck. My brother is around every day since his/our dad lives right around the corner. I haven’t given myself time to write, though I must be thinking a lot to find myself in this old neighborhood.

These days, the rainstorms and the hush of a storm’s aftermath surpass all noise.

1,000 miles: step 70


We dipped into penguin-friendly weather this week. On Monday, my advanced composition class sat attentive to class, and I glanced over to the soft snow outside the window. A classmate later makes an announcement, “classes at and after 4:30 are cancelled.” At which point, I get a high five from my classwork partner, and one more high five from my desk buddy as we all leave class, not wasting precious time.

Snow and days off complement.

As a result, I was able to gain much needed “extra” time. I caught up on work and sleep. Earlier this afternoon, I even ventured to cook fish. Since mid-January, I’ve restricted myself to seafood (though I’ve broken the rules twice).

Though cooking fish is supposed to be ever so easy, I failed miserably with my first try: too much condiment: pepper, pepper, pepper, and cooking without oil wasn’t working for me. Mom makes it work somehow. My second try involved oil, and was better, and the fish… tasted, until I dropped it on the floor. I felt intensely hopeless. My third try was just OK, and I decided that was the end of that.

I’m much more successful at noticing pretty skies and reading stories. I have much to learn about the practical world.

1,000 miles: step 69

So I’m here again.

Staring at a blank screen.

I’ve been meaning to get here for over weeks.

month of October           photo 4photo 3

For three months, I’ve been preoccupied with school and work (but mostly work). I spent the summer building up anxiety about this semester. And it wasn’t bad. I got out fairly decent. Reunited with old friends. “Swam” at the school pool. Attended several talks and a drama production. Listened to a professor play and sing. Read a plethora of literature genres.

George Mason University is definitely a vivacious experience, though I have missed out on plenty as an off-campus and restrictive talker, which is not to say I have an excuse. Let’s not talk about how I didn’t make any new friends at school. Let’s talk about how my team at work is friendly.

I have two teams, both friendly. At the middle school, where I spend more time, everyone was new to the site. I was the only “senior” tutor this year, and I had only been a tutor 3 months before that. With winter break around the corner, it’s almost as if they are the seniors now. There is teamwork. There is comfort in the room.

I told my coworkers today that over the weekend I almost lost my voice. And the tease of the team, of course, responds with “how is that possible?” I barely talk.