alejandro sandoval

The clerk asked him for his first and last name and papi answered, “Alejandro Sandoval.”  Confused, yet convinced, I blurted out, “No, papi, your name is Jose!” He immediately pinched me and commanded me to hush.  I sat on papi’s hip and silently wondered who Alejandro Sandoval was and why my dad was claiming to be him.

Mami once told me that my little outbursts could land our family in trouble with la migra. I was four years old and unaware of papi’s American alias. I did not know it was illegal for papi to be Jose in this country until we arrived back to the house and he complained to mami about how ajenta I was. Mami told me I have to stay quiet when adults are speaking. “Si ellos se enteran lo deportan,” she warned me.

Overcome with guilt, I apologized and promised to never speak out of turn again.

won’t somebody pray for me?

Junior year of high school my AP English teacher assigned the class Milton’s Paradise Lost. As a fun activity, we were split into two groups in order to argue whether in the epic poem Satan was a hero or villain. My best friend at the time was assigned to the “Satan is a villain” group and I, of course, was assigned to “Satan is a hero.”

In the context of the poem, Satan proved himself heroic in the way he stood up to God and demanded equal status. Despite the negative stigma to the name — everyone hates Satan, especially Christians — I went hard in class that day for Satan’s cause.

When it comes to debates, especially when I’m being the devil’s advocate (no pun intended), I must win them. Not everyone on my team was willing to put forth the same energy as I, despite the fact that the “Satan is a villain” group was coming for my jugular. More particularly, my best friend was coming for me — and not in the “academic argument” kind of way. No, she was furious. This was personal. Continue reading