Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Two and a Half Days

It is amazing that I only have two and a half more days left at the South Texas Civil Rights Project. Overall it has been a good experience. There have been a few times when I had to restrain myself from having a temper tantrum. But since I am now an adult I prevailed over my urge to jump up and down and scream. Everyone should give me a pat on the back.

I uploaded some photos to Facebook for those of you who are cool enough for such things. They can be seen here for those who are not.

I am definitely excited to be going home but I am glad I chose to come to the Valley for the summer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Time Flies

I can't believe I only have one week left in the Valley. That means I have already been here two months!

I will make sure to take some more photos around the office. There is a nifty mural over here that will be good to remember. Tomorrow we are having a farewell barbecue so I will try to take photos then as well.

Today was extremely busy because I had to file a response with the court. I wrote the response and gathered up the evidence to support it. That is the second piece of my work that has been submitted. Next week I will attend a hearing on a response I submitted about a month ago. I am pretty excited!

Next Saturday I will be heading north toward home. I can't wait to pass the Austin City Limit sign!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dolly Update

Well things have quieted down. It has stopped raining, but it is still cloudy. I have not been back to the mobile home, but I was told the office where I work doesn't have power. The mobile home is only a mile and a half away so I assume it doesn't have power either.

Once I return to the mobile home I will update on how it weathered the storm. In any case, I survived Hurricane Dolly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hurricane Dolly Update

I am safe and sound so far.

I woke up this morning and turned on the television to find that Dolly was a category two hurricane. This made me extremely nervous since I was in a mobile home trailer. Yikes!

I called up my supervisor and she said to come on over to her house. It didn't get too crazy where I am until about 6 in the evening. The rain is still coming down and the wind is pretty bad. We had a tree branch hit one of the windows but nothing broke. It was just a teeny bit scary.

I will keep y'all posted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tropical Storm Dolly

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am taking precautions due to Dolly. It looks like it will become a category one hurricane before it hits land.

The storm is expected to make landfall tomorrow at Brownsville, Texas which is about 50 miles away from me. More than likely I will just experience a great deal of rain.

I will keep my parents posted, but there is no reason to worry!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Quick Trip to Austin

Thursday after work, I drove up to Austin so I could attend the final class for my internship. On the way north I stopped at a Burger King. While I was filling up my cup with pop, a woman asked me if I was married and gestured behind her saying that man wants to know. I told her that I was too young to be married. So then she asked me how old I was. I explained that I was 25. She said oh that's perfect he's 30! For cripes' sake. I can't even go to Burger King without getting hit on.

Friday I attended the class and then the professors took us out to lunch. It was nice to speak with the other people about their internship experiences. It seems like mine has been much better than most.

After eating I rode around with a realtor to look at a few places to live. The realtor was very helpful and I found a new home in Austin. It is in a small complex at 47th and Red River. It is close to school, the grocery store, a city bus stop and one of my favorite coffee shops. I can't believe I have my very own apartment and I'm excited to live on my own for the first time ever.

Saturday I drove down to Gruene to watch my friend Jeff play with his band. He plays the upright bass for The Belleville Outfit. They opened for Lyle Lovett a few weeks ago. How cool is that? Uncle Pat you can check them out here. They will be playing at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in September.

Then I headed to San Antonio to visit my friend, Val, from high school. She is working at an internship for her doctorate of audiology. It was great to catch up with her.

Sunday I started south for the Valley but got myself a bit lost. Don't fret though I busted out my trusty Texas map and followed 173, 16 and 140 back to the main highway route. It was truly beautiful out there in the middle of nowhere and I even drove on a dirt road for a bit. I haven't seen one of those in almost seven months.

In any event I am back in the Valley for two more weeks.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Second Client Interview and Other Happenings

The Texas Civil Rights Project filed a petition with the court to force the Border Patrol to reveal its hurricane evacuation policy for the Rio Grande Valley. In May, officials in McAllen, Texas, undertook a simulated evacuation drill and practiced verifying the immigration status of mock evacuees. This is a very dangerous practice for all Valley residents whether or not they are documented. It is a human right to evacuate from a hurricane's path. It is completely unacceptable that the Border Patrol would unnecessarily delay the evacuation process. You can read a bit more about it here.

In other news, I participated in my second client interview on Friday. This interview went much better than the first one. I was expected to come up with the questions to ask the client and at the interview I was able to ask all the questions myself. After the interview my supervisor and I typed up an affidavit. An affidavit is basically the written statement of a witness in a case. I wasn't nervous during the process and I feel like I did a good job. So yea me!

After the interview my supervisor, two other interns, and I went out to lunch. We drove to an area called Las Milpas and ate at Melissa's Tacqueria. I inhaled some very yummy enchildas. I even ordered my coke in Spanish! Yo queiro coka cola por favor. =)

Next weekend I drive back to Austin for a final class meeting. This is the last meeting for the academic portion of my internship. After that I will have just two weeks left. I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed. While I am in Austin next weekend I hope to sign a lease for an apartment. Hopefully, I will be able to get that taken care of and I won't need to think about it anymore.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My First Client Interview

So today I sat in on a client interview. It made me realize just how slowly the wheels of justice turn. I want to change our client's situation right now and not a year or more from now.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Mom Says "Write a Post Already"

I talked to my Mom a couple of days ago and she informed me I needed to update my blog. So here you go Mom, an update. Finally!

First I want to congratulate my Mom on her new job. I'm really proud of her and very excited for her! Yay Mom! She gets to go to California for a two week training and I am kind of jealous because I've never been to California.

Since it has been forever I will just jot down some highlights of the last few weeks.

I finally went to the beach! South Padre Island is very commercialized but the ocean was a gorgeous sea green and the water was deliciously warm. I swam a bunch and was almost knocked over by a big wave. I'm short people! The wave was taller than me! Plus miracle of miracles I didn't get a sunburn. Thank you Bobbi for the birthday present sunscreen.

I also went over to Mexico after work one day with a group of the women from the office. We paid a quarter to walk across the bridge that spans the Rio Grande (or the Rio Bravo as it's called in Mexico). The view was beautiful but I of course forgot my camera. Once on the other side I noticed the unending rows of pharmacies and dentists. It was crazy. It is much much cheaper to purchase medicine in Mexico and it is also cheaper to get dental work. So lots of the Winter Texans cross over to buy their drugs. I also saw a tank and half a dozen soldiers with guns. Apparently the Mexican government is trying to crack down on the illegal drug trade. We had a nice dinner and then we paid 35 cents to cross back over the bridge.

I also discovered a coffee shop in McAllen. It is called Moonbeans. I thought that was a clever name. Right now they are playing oldies on the radio. They have yummy coffee and a tasty blueberry scone. I am quite happy I found it. Hanging out in coffee shops is one of my favorite things to do and I've missed it since I've left Austin. Plus they have the internet. The internet is like a drug to me and I don't have it at the house I'm living in.

In other news I am enjoying lawyering. I remember sitting in the dirt digging up dead people's trash and thinking I didn't really want to do this for the rest of my life. So the fact that I enjoy what I am doing right now is a huge relief. I picked the right path this time! Woohoo!

I will try and update more often after this but no promises Mom.

P.S. Happy Birthday America!

Monday, June 16, 2008


Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to sit in on the proceedings of a county court at law. A county court at law in Texas is a state trial court. One of our attorneys would be representing an individual in a criminal case.

The office’s second attorney, myself and the other two interns attended the hearing. The four of us sat in the rear of the courtroom watching all of the activity. At one point the trial judge asked who we were. Our supervising attorney stood up and explained we were law students and we were here to observe. The judge simply nodded and carried on with his business. There was much discussion in Spanish, but no praying as far as I could tell. Of course we might have just missed it since we arrived a few minutes late. It was interesting to note that side conversations were mainly in Spanish and anything that needed to be “on the record” was in English.

After a while the Judge returned his attention to us. He asked me where I went to school and I answered while seated “The University of Texas.” My supervising attorney hissed “Stand up!” I popped out of my seat, feeling quite chastised, and said “Sorry, your honor.” He then asked what year in law school I was and after I answered asked how I had felt about my first year. I told him that it had been scary. He grinned at me and moved on to questioning the next intern.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Out of the Habit

I am living with a nun. At first I was worried. Really worried. As I wrote before, I don’t really have faith in god and I don’t adhere to the tenants of the Catholic Church. Mainly, I was concerned that I would have to justify my lack of faith or I would have to listen while she attempted to bring me back into the fold. So it certainly surprised me just how much I like the woman whose home I am sharing. In fact, I admire her quite a bit.

She is amazing. She entered the convent at age 18. In her early thirties she moved to Bolivia and lived there for sixteen years. As part of her work in South America, she helped set up a vocational school that taught typing as well as sewing and other practical skills. She feels that priests should be allowed to marry if they desire and she also thinks that divorce is sometimes necessary. She is a self-proclaimed rebel. She calls me dear and for some reason I find that very comforting.

So far, my favorite story she has shared with me is about the first time she left for Bolivia. At the time, nuns were still expected to wear the habit. As soon as she entered the airport, she stuffed her habit in the nearest trashcan! How cool is that?!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Historical Event

I just want to take a moment and reflect on the fact that a black man has been chosen as the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States of America.

At times I have been envious of my parents who were fortunate enough to have lived through the social movements of the sixties and seventies. Now I have also had the opportunity to witness a truly historic event.

Si se puede! Yes we can!

Jesus es todos lados!

Jesus is everywhere! I haven’t been exposed to as much religion since I was in high school. I am staying in a house with many crucifixes and many images of christ. On the roadsides there are billboards reminding you about god. A great many people wear a cross around their neck.

This is not meant to be critical. It is simply meant to be an observation. In Austin, I interact with people from a wide range of belief systems. Here in the Valley, it is interesting that I interact with so many Catholics.

I remember the day I was confirmed as an adult member of the Catholic Church. I was standing in a pew with Kim Huber behind me. I wore a purple dress with tiny flowers scattered over it. I even remember it tied in the back. I know my parents bought that dress especially for the occasion.

What I remember most vividly, however, was thinking I needed to bolt. I remember listening to the priest and wanting to respond “No!,” when he asked if we believed in god, the father, creator of heaven and earth. All I could think was my own father would be extremely displeased if I actually did bolt. So, I stayed in my place and answered yes like a good girl.

The image of that younger version of myself in the purple dress jumped to my mind yesterday morning. I was sitting in the Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court for a hearing. Individuals from the community were there to discuss work to be performed on the local levees. A group of us from the office attended the meeting to observe.

Much to my surprise, at the very beginning of the meeting almost everyone rose to say the pledge of allegiance. I felt as if I had entered a time warp to elementary school. Afterwards, I plopped myself back down in the chair only to almost fall out of said chair in the next moment.

We were going to pray!

At a state proceeding!?

A woman in the front of the courtroom asked god to guide the proceeding and to grant the Commissioners wisdom in their decision-making.

Well that sounded nice, but what ever happened to separation of church and state? I know I read that in one of my textbooks. No really! It was in Constitutional Law, I promise!

Monday, June 2, 2008

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?

My first real adventure in the Valley was going to the grocery store on Sunday. Even walking through the parking lot, people were staring at me. Obviously, a very pale-skinned redhead looks out of place in this region of the country. On the bright side I don’t seem short here!

Once I entered the store, I was quite surprised at how unfamiliar the store seemed. I grocery shop at the HEB in Austin and generally the layout of the store was similar at the HEB in San Juan. However, despite the familiar appearance of the store, the types of items available for purchase were quite different. I immediately realized how spoiled I’ve become in Austin. First, there wasn’t any Stonyfield Farm Organic vanilla yogurt. I was sad that they didn’t carry my favorite brand. Second, no vegetarian frozen food. At least I couldn’t find any. And I certainly wasn’t going to be that gringo chick asking about the hippie food. And the deli!? Where was the Boar’s Head Brand meats and cheeses?

I think it is interesting that people criticize low-income individuals for being over weight and often for having poor overall health. My trip to the grocery store yesterday alerted me to a significant obstacle. Not only would it be difficult for many people to afford organic food products, the local store doesn’t even offer them as an option. What do you think?

After cruising around the store and contemplating the implications of the HEB offerings, I headed to the check out line. The clerk said, “Hola, how are you?” And I responded “Hi, fine and you?” He then immediately said, “you’re not from around here are you?” I responded, “No I’m from Austin.” He asked me if I was going to the beach and I explained that I was here for an internship. After he finished ringing up my purchases, including the can of organic corn I discovered, he had two more questions. “Do you need help taking your groceries to the car?” and “What about an escort to the beach?”

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Beginning

It has been almost two weeks since I completed my first year of law school. A week from today I will be driving five and a half hours south of Austin to San Juan, Texas. People tell me it is an entirely different world in a border town. I've also been on the receiving end of some highly questioning looks. As in "Why would you want to go down there?"

Why not!? Even though I am no longer studying anthropology, I am still an anthropologist at heart. I find people and cultures fascinating. I am looking forward to seeing a whole new part of Texas, a whole new part of America.

I will be working as a Law Clerk for the South Texas Civil Rights Project. The internship lasts nine weeks. With gas prices at nearly four dollars a gallon, I won't see Austin for more than two months.

I am a little nervous, but excited about my job and the opportunity to spend time in a new place. I will have access to a pool and I'm sure there is at least one good place to drink a Lone Star.

I intend to post regularly about what I am doing. I won't discuss the cases I am working on, but I think there will be many stories to tell anyway. I would love for people to comment, so please do!