Posted by: Amy | June 25, 2012

Legitimate questions on illegal immigration

We’re going to hear a lot of frenzied talk over the United States Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate key provisions in Arizona’s immigration law. There will be arguments about federal supremacy, state sovereignty, who can do what. That was the question the Court had to answer: Do states have the right to enact laws regarding immigration? Or does federal law preempt such efforts? The majority said the federal government reigns. Case closed.

The decision makes it clear that the federal government is responsible for the nation’s borders. Arizona has argued that the federal government isn’t doing enough about illegal immigration, hence S.B. 1070, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.

Great title, huh? Who wouldn’t want to back that law? But it is rooted in fear. It says, “Those people over there? They are bad people because they aren’t supposed to be here. We have to protect ourselves from them.”

Yes, illegal immigration is a problem. But it’s not entirely about the United States having the right and the power to control who gets to live and work here. Illegal immigration creates an invisible class of people. If you were in a foreign land without any legal status, how will you be able to live? Would you be able to work at a fraction of what others are paid? What if something bad happens to you? Would you go to the police, even if it means losing everything?

“But they choose to come here illegally.”

Why do people make that decision? Why do they risk so much to come here illegally?

Ask anyone why they moved to the United States – legally or not. The answers? Jobs. Opportunity. Education. Stability. A chance for a better life. To provide for my family.

Then ask, “If you had a chance for all that in your native country, would you have stayed?”

I bet you the answer would be “Yes.”

The United States is trying to keep illegal immigrants out. But are the other countries trying to keep their people in? What are they doing? Don’t they want to keep their citizens? If not, why?

The U.S. federal government can build more fences, enact and enforce stricter immigration laws, penalize employers, etc. But the United States also can use its diplomatic muscles to pressure these other countries to stem the exodus. How much aid do we send these countries? Why not tie that money to efforts to combat illegal immigration? How about making sure that money is used for jobs and education there?

It’s easy to get people in the United States riled up over “protecting our borders.” That’s fear-based thinking, which never leads to good policy. We’re trying to solve a problem when it reaches our front door. We need to address the problem before it leaves its own threshold.

Coming up: More on illegal immigration and why I’d make a bad I.C.E. agent.

A few of my friends decided to write a short story based on a prompt in Stephen King’s memoir/how-to book “On Writing.” I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King, but this is a good book for anyone who is interested in writing.

I am a fan of Ray Bradbury, who died recently. This is my poor attempt at honoring him.



As fast as I could, I rolled up the pants of my jailhouse orange jumpsuit and threw on Dr. Margie’s raincoat. She remained on the floor, unconscious. It’s been a while since I’ve had to do something like that. I hoped she was going to be OK. She was a nice lady. Not that this all mattered. But I need to get out of here. I need to find my Sophie.

I grabbed one of the psychiatrist’s small decorative pillows from the couch and stuffed it down the jumpsuit and buttoned up the raincoat. Luckily Dr. Paula is on the chunky side. I checked the mirror again, this time more satisfied. No one is going to mess with a pregnant woman.

I opened the right-side drawer of her desk where I knew she kept her purse. I quickly went through it, pocketing cash and putting on her sunglasses. I glanced at the digital clock atop the filing cabinet. I have a few more minutes. I kept opening drawers and cabinets, hoping to find more money. At the bottom of the filing cabinet, I found a backpack. Clothes, small first aid kit, energy bars. It must be the doctor’s emergency kit. Every year, I made a similar one for Sophie to keep at school.

As I zipped up the backpack, I fought back the thoughts of Sophie, of Jay, his betrayal, my lockup. I needed to stay focused. I needed to get out of here. I needed to find Sophie and keep her safe before it was too late. Jay? I haven’t decided his fate. Not that it really mattered what I did now.

I looked at the clock again. I closed my eyes, focused on my breathing. The fire alarm shrieked, piercing eardrums. I went to the door and peeked outside.

“Please remain calm and exit this way,” a male voice commanded. Bailey, psych ward’s warden. I can see people rushing toward me toward the back exit. I slipped into the crowd. I kept my head down, backpack in my right hand, left hand placed on the side of my belly. This was the way I used to walk when I was pregnant with Sophie.

Chaos broke out despite Bailey’s call for calm. In the yard, staff members were chasing down patients as the fire began to rage in the cafeteria. I got caught in the mad rush for the doors and found myself outside in the parking lot. I willed myself not to break out in a dead run. I kept my stride somewhat brisk; I was “pregnant” after all. I crossed the parking lot and started walking down the street. I heard sirens in the distance.

First things first. I needed to get into regular clothes. See, Dr.  Margie? Would an insane person be able to think so clearly? Nope. And yet Jay was able to convince everyone that I was a lunatic because I was trying to protect Sophie. The Invasion was starting, but these stupid Earth inhabitants are too busy with their petty arguments and watching the Kardashians on TV to see that this … this reality, all that they know … will be wiped away.

They are coming. I know.

Because I am one of them.


Posted by: Amy | June 3, 2012

Unearthing beets and friends

By special request, I made my Mom’s famous Pink Potato Salad for my sister’s 65th birthday.

The “secret” ingredient is red beets, hence the pink coloring. This time around, I picked up organic veggies at the local farmer’s market. I asked other shoppers what they did with the gigantic beet leaves. One woman said she juices them, another recommended salad.

I didn’t have to put as much sweet relish into the recipe because the beets were oh-so perfect. I got all excited, thinking the leaves will be on the sweet side. I popped a piece of the stem in my mouth and chewed. A salty-celery flavor burst forth.  I tried a piece of the leaf. The texture was on the tough side. But instead of the anticipated sweetness, I was greeted by bitterness. Mom gave it a try, and we looked at each other in amazement.

“You would think it would be sweet,” she said, a bit disappointed. I told her I liked the bitterness of the leaves, but not enough to eat a whole bowl of it. She agreed.

I would not have survived as a gatherer back in prehistoric times.  If I had come across these green leaves and tasted them, I would have kept on moving. Someone else had to dig deeper to find the prized beets.

Some people are like beets. You meet someone, you see the tough exterior and get a taste of salty bitterness. You move on, not wanting to deal with them.

But what if you don’t judge on first impressions? What if you give that first meeting a chance to take root and bloom into a friendship? You may not have to dig too deep to find that person’s sweet side.

I try not to rely solely on first impressions or gut instincts. I hear the warning bells go off, but I try to keep an open but cautious mind. Sometimes those bells are just plain wrong. If I had listened to them all the time, I would have missed out on being friends with some amazing people.

Of course I tread carefully, just in case the gut was correct in the first place. Usually if this is the case, the person’s nature would reveal itself quite quickly. Then I move on.

But luckily, I’ve been able to find sweet, loving people underneath it all. They have made my life … pink.

Posted by: Amy | June 1, 2012

2012 Goals, Revised

Like countless other well-intentioned people on New Year’s Day, I wrote out a list of goals for 2012.

And I promptly forgot about them.

It took me a while to find it in my files. I realized that I wrote down things that I wanted to accomplish, but didn’t have a game plan. No wonder it didn’t work.

I still want the same things. Lose weight. Save money. Be organized. Write. Create.

There’s no way I can set the clock back to Jan. 1. But I can reset my goals today.

June 1 is special to my family. It’s the day my Mom and three older sisters landed in California on a flight from the Philippines to join my Dad, who had arrived a few months earlier on a work visa. I arrived a year later.

Like many other immigrants, my parents came to the United States to provide a better future for us. I can’t imagine leaving my home, all that is familiar, all that I love. I don’t think I can move to a distant land and start all over. And yet, that’s what they did.

If they were able to overcome their fears and hold onto their hopes and dreams, then I should be doing the very same thing. What better way to honor their sacrifices and hard work?

So, I have reset my 2012 goals, with specific steps toward each one. I’ll talk more about that in upcoming posts. I have set September 1 as a check-in date to check on my progress.

We have six more months of 2012. Are you on track toward your goals this year?

Posted by: Amy | May 29, 2012

The archer in me

If the name of my blog is Take Aim, then it’s only appropriate that I go to an archery range and learn how to shoot an arrow.

The session at Pacific Archery in Daly City was a 18th birthday/high school graduation present to my grand-nephew, Darren.

But for me, it was a gift to myself that said, “Be adventurous. Get out of your comfort zone. ”

I allow my weight to literally weigh me down. I’m too self-conscious and too uncomfortable in my own body. It’s easier to stay home and eat potato chips and drink Pepsi. It’s becoming a habit to turn down opportunities to have fun, unless it involves eating out. In so many ways, I’m holding back.

In some weight-loss programs, they ask participants to write down things they will do once they lose weight. I have my list. But the thing is … why wait?

I don’t have to be skinny to learn how to shoot an arrow. OK. My legs hurt after a while. And my boobs got in the way until the instructor showed me the correct way to hold the bow.

I had to let go of my fear – my fear of the bow and arrows, my fear of doing something new. Twice my arrows missed the target completely. But twice I hit the red ring that encircles the yellow bulls-eye.

I channeled my inner Katniss and Princess Merida. I imagined beating Hawkeye and Green Arrow in a shootout. I kept hearing the songs “Cupid” and “Poison Arrow” in my head.

Stand straight. Straddle the line on the ground. Snap arrow in place. Hold bow outward with your left hand. With the right hand’s three middle fingers, grab the string, just below the arrow’s nock. Pull back on the string until your hand is touching your cheek, near your lips. Aim lower than the target. Gently release. Feel the arrow fly.

I may have looked silly, but who cares? I had a blast. I got to share an experience with Darren that I will always treasure. I’ll definitely go back again.

Meanwhile, I want to plan my next adventure. Any suggestions? When was the last time you busted out of your comfort zone? Is there something you’ve been meaning to try?

Aiming for accuracy, for adventure.

Posted by: Amy | May 28, 2012

Poem a Day, Challenge 16

Write a mixed-up poem.


Things that Can Be Mixed Up


Drinks. Make mine a mojito, please.

Company. Mind your manners.

Peanuts. There’s always that one kind that you don’t like.

Colors. In a painting — great. In the wash, not so good.

Music. 1970s funk jams. Play it loud.

Messages: Be aware of contradictions.

Signals: You say one thing, you do another.

Emotions: Do I love you? Yes. And. No.



Posted by: Amy | May 28, 2012

Use the following five words in your poem: slash, button, mask, strap, and balloon. Use them in any order.


Your Ride


Forget the safety straps

this is an easy

balloon ride

masked as your life.

Feeling brave?

Go ahead,

push the button

marked “Freedom”

Feel the air

of your balloon

escape in a hiss,

propelling you

here and there,

twisting, falling.

All your fears

slashed away.

Now you are








Posted by: Amy | May 28, 2012

Poem a Day, Challenge 14

Write a doomsday poem.


Doomsday Predictions


No one can predict

the end of time

if time itself

does not



Posted by: Amy | May 28, 2012

Poem a Day, Challenge 13

Write an unlucky poem.





Checked my horoscopes

Planets aligned for Virgo

Elements in place for Dragon

Read my palm

and tea leaves

searching for clues

Lit the candles

and the incense

to light and clear the way

Pocketed a rabbit’s foot,

four-leaf clover and amulet

for good fortune

Skipped three steps,

turned around, knocked on wood

for extra measure

Sat down with my blessed pen

and a blank page

But my Muse laughed,

and sang out as she left,

“Good luck with that.”





Posted by: Amy | May 28, 2012

Poem a Day, Challenge 12

Take the phrase “Something (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem.


Something Unheard


It should be easy

to read between the lines

of my silence.

But even if I screamed

you wouldn’t understand.

It’s hard to hear anything

when your head

is up your ass.




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