Stories From California

Sometimes I want to write more than just journalistically about my experiences as a reporter. That is why I started to write down my thoughts, observations and emotions beyond scripts for radio, print and TV. This experiment is a lot of fun and scary at the same time. But, as they say, you have to get out of your comfort zone.

Ramón, San Diego, CA

"It is like having chocolate right in front of you and not being allowed to eat it."

Ramon and wife

Ramón came to the United States from Michoácan, Mexico 20 years ago. He left his family behind to work, to give his wife and kids back home a roof over their heads, a good education, shoes and clothes to wear. The first three years it was easy for him to cross the border back and forth to visit. Stricter controls made it too dangerous and too expensive. He stopped the crossings and did not see his family for 17 years.

Until he came to friendship park at the US-Mexican border. I saw him there standing at the fence, looking through the tight mesh, speaking softly with his wife, then his daughters who brought husbands he never met and children he never saw. "The tears speak for themselves," daughter Priscilla said.

The Flower Lady, del Rey, L.A.

She stands there like a human statue for grace, strength, beauty and perseverance every weekend. Morning until dusk. Rain or sun. Heat or cold. Living and breathing, but not moving. Not when I wait for the light to change or drive by. Faded red visor, light jacket over a colorful skirt, pink crocs sandals, a bouquet of flowers in her hand and more bouquets in a basket next to her. White lilies mixed with bright red flowers. Always white lilies.  

Her spot is at the end of a freeway ramp. Exhaust fumes, speeding cars and customers in a hurry. I wonder when she eats and drinks. ...

Whose Streets? Downtown Los Angeles, CA

DemoWall

Standing among thousands of protesters at the Women's March in Downtown LA, I was most happy about seeing so many young faces around me. Young women were climbing fences, bus shelters and flower pots to make their signs seen and voices heard. Their shouts are loud. Their signs are funny and on point. OK, some were gross - like the close up of

It's Complicated - An Oral History Project

"Our students often don't have an elder to talk to. They left them behind in another country."

ManualArtssmall At a South Los Angeles High School

I was heading to the first volunteer session for one of my favorite writing programs expecting a few fun hours spent with students. Our task was to prepare them for interviews with elders from their families and later support them in writing stories about what they heard.

I figured that this assignment would be easy for me. I prepared a thousand interviews in my reporter life. At least! So I could not wait to meet the students and hear the stories they were about to collect.

The task turned out to be very different from what I had expected. Not only had I completely forgotten that most teenagers find it anything but exciting to sit down with their parents or grandparents for an intimate interview. I also had not thought about the possibility that some of these children do not really have an elder in their family to interview ...