June 29, 2020
EP. 221 — Mexican American Iowan
A recent high school graduate grapples with her dream of becoming a journalist and taking care of her brothers. She and Geth also discuss growing up in Iowa and her experience being sued for calling out a white woman’s racism.
221 — Mexican American Iowan
[00:00:05] CHRIS: Hello to everybody who freaks out the principal, It’s Beautiful Anonymous. One hour, one phone call, no names, no holds barred.
THEME MUSIC: I’d rather go one on one, I think it’ll be more fun. And I’ll get to know you, and you’ll get to know me…
[00:00:29] CHRIS: Hi everybody, Chris Gethard here, welcome to Beautiful Anonymous. So sincerely hope everybody’s doing as well as possible in these uncertain times. This show, if you’re listening for the first time, is a show where we do phone calls, we use phone calls. Remember those? And what we do is we let people tell us about their lives and where they’re at right now, where they’re at historically, weird stories from their past or hopes from their future. We don’t edit it and let them say it in their own words. It’s what we do around here. And this week’s episode, I think is very much that, this caller gave me a lot of hope for a lot of different reasons. This caller’s very young, about to head off to college, and has lived a lot of life. I highly encourage you, listen to the ending. There is a surprise in there. I feel like it’s why the phone call happened in the first place. So if that is not a cliffhanger, I don’t know what is. Let’s get to the call.
[00:01:36] PHONE ROBOT: Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous, a beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host. [beep]
[00:01:43] CHRIS: Hello?
[00:01:44] CALLER: Oh, my God. Sorry, I. Oh, my God, I never thought I would, actually. Wow.
[00:01:54] CHRIS: Well, you’re here, you’re your moment to shine is upon us.
[00:02:02] CALLER: Wow, how are you?
[00:02:05] CHRIS: How am I? You know, I think the same way everyone is, where I can say that I and my family are healthy and safe. I remain very overwhelmed by the pandemic and very demoralized by race relations, yet very inspired by the movements to change. That’s how I am. How about you, how are you?
[00:02:36] CALLER: Yeah, I can say I feel pretty much the same. You know, a lot’s been going on. I’m 18 and I am a senior in high school or was, I guess, and my grandfather passed away not too long ago.
[00:02:55] CHRIS: I’m sorry.
[00:03:00] CALLER: Thank you. I mean, I don’t know, I mean, I guess… my life has just been pretty crazy these past couple of years, so with all of this, it just kind of feels chaotic, of course, but at the same time it’s just like my normal, I guess.
[00:03:27] CHRIS: Can I ask when you say you’ve had a crazy couple of years, what does that mean?
[00:03:33] CALLER: Well. So let’s see, I don’t even know where to start. So when I was like in like my sophomore year of high school, my mom’s brother was kidnapped and murdered by, like, this gang in Mexico. And it was just like wrong place, wrong time type of situation, or at least that’s what we thought at the time. So I didn’t really know what was going on. And I was just kind of like, listening into conversations and, you know, and that’s when I decided to actually talk to my mom about it and, that’s when basically the truth came out and it was this huge, like, reveal, I guess. I was so used to like this normal routine that we had. And then that’s when I started realizing that everything wasn’t exactly, how it seems, you know.
[00:04:36] CHRIS: I’m very, very sorry for your loss, but I also have to admit I’m quite intrigued here.
[00:04:49] CALLER: Yeah. It’s not a normal story, I guess. Hold on I’ll shut the door, my brother is watching like Paw Patrol or something, I’m sure.
[00:05:01] CHRIS: He’s watching a what now?
[00:05:03] CALLER: Paw Patrol. It’s something on Nickelodeon.
[00:05:09] CHRIS: Paw Patrol. I have to say, when I think I speak for anyone who might be listening, that when you tell us a story about a member of your family being kidnapped and murdered and then you indicate that the story cuts much deeper, no one expects you within minutes to mention Paw Patrol. Not one person expected to hear the words Paw Patrol right now.
[00:05:34] CALLER: Yeah, well, I mean, like I said, you know, it’s like this is all, like, it became my life. I, I got so used to it. I don’t really know what, like, peacefulness feels like anymore. I, I really don’t. Like I’m the oldest in my family and I’m actually like one of the oldest but within like all my cousins as well so, like, I don’t know, I feel like I have this responsibility to really try to look out for everyone all the time. Especially my brothers, because the oldest one, my oldest brother, he’s 14 right now and he’s like barely going to enter high school and, I don’t know, they’re my world. They’re part of the reason why I decided to stay in the state to go to college instead of like going to another school out of state. And I don’t know, I just, I don’t really like to stress on people. So I guess I just kind of try to make jokes. And when it starts to get really uncomfortable, I get, you know…
[00:06:54] CHRIS: I mean, I get that. I identify with that feeling and that habit. So we’re in that together. And it’s it sounds to me like if you make jokes when delving into things that are uncomfortable, that we’re about to have a lot of laughs because it’s…
[00:07:12] CALLER: Yeah, definitely.
[00:07:14] CHRIS: I got to ask. So I got to ask when you say, that initially you thought it was wrong place, wrong time, then you found out that your uncle’s death had more behind it than that, what are what are we talking about?
[00:07:31] CALLER: Well. So initially, we thought that he was just like, he was at work because this happened in broad daylight, because there’s a lot of violence in Mexico right now and, well there always has been. And then, like, it was like, OK, he was he was just working and somebody just literally came by in like a truck or car and they just, like, mistaken him for somebody else and took him, and then like the rest happened. And but then later on, some of my family members went to Mexico to go to the funeral, because not all of us could because we have jobs, and and a couple of my family members are undocumented. So we basically the whole family wasn’t able to go over there. And so the ones who did were just kind of like asking around like, ‘hey, do you know what happened?’ and stuff like that. And then that’s kind of like when people were like, ‘well, he was kind of starting to get into the wrong crowd and he was starting to do some things that weren’t right.’ He was getting involved in, like, I guess, gang related activities. Because like my family in Mexico doesn’t really have a lot of money, so I guess he saw it as an opportunity to make more money. I really don’t know that part. And so then after that, that’s when things started to get weird, to say the least. So my other uncle, which was his brother, he was already involved in these things and nobody knew. He kept it really low key. And so he, I guess he kind of got his brother involved and we didn’t know anything about that. Like, he never mentioned it at all either. So when we found out, everybody was like, ‘what the heck? Why why would you do that?’ And then after that, we haven’t really spoken to him after that because he’s just kind of all over the place. And he he showed up at my grandfather’s funeral and I was, I was mad. I don’t know I don’t know how anybody else felt, but, personally, I was, I was really mad. And I just wanted to, like, show him out, you know? And keep in mind, I’m like five feet tall, and my uncle is like this pretty built man, but I just felt like, if I could, I probably would have done something and gotten him out of there. It just felt really disrespectful in a way, because… so my grandfather, he passed away due to covid and. So we had like these Zoom calls with him very frequently. And he was on one of them and he said, ‘I promise I’m going to change and I promise I’ll do better and I won’t yell at my kids anymore and I won’t treat them badly,’ because he just had this history of, like, not being a good person. I really don’t know what other way to put it besides that. Like his his wife actually put a restraining order on him.
[00:11:09] CHRIS: And this was your uncle? Just so I’m clear.
[00:11:12] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:11:15] CHRIS: OK, I wasn’t sure if you were talking of your grandfather, but it sounds like… I wanna keep everything straight in my head. No, no, no, please, it’s on me.
[00:11:24] CALLER: Yeah, well, just for like some background information, my grandfather and my grandmother had, like, here let me think, had like 11 kids. Yeah. They had 11 kids, and my mom is one of the five oldest in her family. So she’s also like… She had a lot of responsibility to take on at a young age, and I know she was, she was sad and depressed and really upset, but she doesn’t really want to show it. And I don’t know, it just, it hurts me to see that. Because I, I just, I don’t want to I don’t want to see her like that, like my mom is a really strong woman, like the strongest person I know in my entire life. Like with everything that she’s been through, I admire her and I mean, we do have conflict now and then, because any teenage daughter, mom, you know, there’s always going to be some sort of conflict every once in a while, but… I mean, she’s the reason I keep going sometimes. And the way I saw her break down and then just kind of like shut down and not talk to anybody and… I don’t know, that really that really messed with me.
[00:12:57] CHRIS: I bet. That’s a lot, that is a lot for anybody, let alone someone who’s 18. Graduating college during this weird pandemic where you don’t really get the closure of that, figuring out college and where you’re going to go. You’re already going through a period that’s kind of notorious for having to make all these life adjustments and then yours is also laced with a lot of tragedy and drama, and that’s not easy.
[00:13:29] CALLER: Oh, and something else happened recently, I’m not sure when I left a voicemail, but I was actually about to get sued by this 40 year old Caucasian woman who basically was going to try to sue me and a couple of other people for emotional distress because we called them racist, because that’s a whole other story itself. But I’ll try to kind of zoom in there. But it’s kind of I don’t know, I find it, I find it kind of funny because it seems kind of ridiculous. But it was an actual thing. Like she she had lawyers and everything. So basically she had these two daughters and they started posting on social media during the Black Lives Matter movement that t`he looting is wrong and that this country is great, and stuff like that. And so obviously some people were like, ‘hey, you’re wrong, and here’s why.’ And so then there was this one girl in particular who was like, ‘this country isn’t great. You know, like check your privilege. There’s a lot going on. That’s why we’re having these protests. That’s why there’s a lot of things happening in order to try to change what’s going on.’ And she was like, ‘well, if you don’t like it here, then leave.’ And this person who called her out was actually Hispanic. So it’s like that typical, you know, like that go back to where you came from type of scenario. And like she already has a history of being racist in school because she’s like a grade above me. So everybody hopped on, I mean, like I even did, I was like, ‘whoa, relax’, like. How privileged do you have to be to tell somebody to leave if they don’t like it here, like we’ve worked so hard, like she doesn’t, she doesn’t even understand, I guess, what those words mean. Like I said, I think that’s. Oh, is that coming from your end or my end?
[00:15:41] CHRIS: I didn’t hear it, so, whichever end it is, it’s a mystery to me.
[00:15:52] CALLER: All right. So, yeah, and then. Yeah, so then that all happened and a lot of people called her out, at least, at least 30 people called her out and 20 of those people were like, minorities or under age, basically, like 16, 15. And then we thought that was that. The next day, her mom posted a Facebook post about how a whole bunch of Hispanic girls were harassing her daughter. And then everybody was like, what are you doing? And then a couple of hours later, she posted a list of all of our names and the school we go to, and basically asked everybody on Facebook to start calling our school to let them know that we’re basically harassing them. And so it was like this huge thing. And this was like probably, I think, six days or five days after my grandfather’s funeral. So I was just kind of like, seriously? I always feel like I never really have enough time. To process things and, I don’t know, I just kind of like, I felt like I couldn’t really push this aside right away because, I mean, like, I’m going to get sued and I really don’t want to get sued and I have to, you know, work for college and do all these other things, and I just feel like I didn’t have enough time for this. So we basically kind of like started a group chat and we’re like, ‘OK, what are we going to do?’ And so we started a petition about basically trying to raise awareness, I guess, in our community, because our community is pretty diverse. And I’m not sure if I can say I can say the state from where I’m from.
[00:17:51] CHRIS: Yeah, if it’s up to you.
[00:17:55] CALLER: OK, so I’m from Iowa, and Iowa is known to be very, not diverse, but in the town where I live it’s pretty diverse. So we started a petition and we got like over four thousand signatures in like a day of people, you know, supporting us, and then we got the support of like, ‘Helping your Neighbors’, I think. There were a whole bunch of organizations that help Latino and Hispanic students. And they were like, ‘hey, you know, if you ever need somebody to represent you guys, like if this goes further just like call us’ and stuff like that. And I don’t know, it just seemed crazy to me because I was like, is this really the extent everybody is going to right now for this? And I mean, with everything going on like the protest going on, there is like, my grandfather’s passing, there’s Covid. There’s the fact that, like, you know, I didn’t get to finish high school. And then there’s this, like I’m going to get sued. I mean, I don’t know. It’s just, I don’t even know what to say about it anymore.
[00:19:08] CHRIS: Yeah, I mean, you just listed so many bullet points that you forgot to list two of your uncles being involved in Mexican gangs. That’s how many things you got, those slipped through the cracks. That’s… Let me say let me address this about the situation you laid out with this. Like, I’m just going to go ahead and say that I don’t know all the specifics. And I only know your side of the story. But here’s one thing I am sure of: when you are an adult publishing the names of 15 year olds and saying, ‘hey, call their schools to get them in trouble’, you’re the bad guy, you’re the bad guy. If there was any argument that you had before you did that, it’s over. It’s over. When you say, ‘hey, here’s the name. I’m gonna dox a 14 year old child. Everybody get them.’ You’re the bad guy. You’re the bad guy. This probably explains why your child is doing inflammatory things on the Internet because…
[00:20:23] [CHRIS AD TRANSITION] If anyone disagrees with what I just said, I would be shocked. If you’re a grown up and you’re out there doxing kids, you got no point. OK, let’s all just nod our heads in agreement. Listen to some some interruptions, commercial interruption, and then we’ll be right back.
[00:20:44] [CHRIS AD TRANSITION] All right, everybody, break time is over, let’s focus, let’s get back to the phone call.
[00:20:51] CHRIS: You’re the bad guy. You’re the bad guy. This probably explains why your child is doing inflammatory things on the Internet because…
[00:21:01] CALLER: Yes, that’s what that’s what everybody was saying. And I was like, I just I don’t understand the logic behind that. Like, how are you going to post…? Like, I’m pretty sure she knew that the majority of us were like fresh out of high school or some of us are like freshman in college. And then there was like five kids who were like still sophomores and juniors. And I was like, ‘how are you going to post their names and ask other adults to call their schools and harass them basically?’ Like they’re kids, I’m basically a kid, I’m barely 18. I don’t understand how that logic works at all. She’s literally like 40. I’m like there’s like, what? Twenty eight age- no not twenty eight, what am I saying, I can’t math right. I’m sorry. I’m not a math major, if that’s not obvious. But I don’t know. I just. All my life, I’ve always tried to, like, understand where people come from and try to understand the situation. And I’ve always been a problem solver, I guess, and I put myself in other’s shoes. But this situation, I can’t. I mean, I know there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on and maybe that’s why she reacted the way she did. But at the same time, I mean, she’s an adult. And from what I know, they’re pretty wealthy. So they’re not working right now. And I just, is she bored? Is she just really bored to the point where, like, ‘I see an opportunity to do something,’ because, I mean, nobody saw them post anything or say anything about the Black Lives Matter movement or even Covid. Their daughters are still going out and hanging out with a whole bunch of people. And I don’t know, I just, it doesn’t make any sense to me, but. I mean, that’s life, right?
[00:23:01] CHRIS: Not for, not for a lot of, I mean, getting all this stuff happening at once. I mean, I guess it is life. And it’s a lot, it’s a lot to throw on your shoulders right now, especially in this transition. Here’s a weird question: out of all the things you laid out, getting threatened to be sued by a rampaging white lady, losing your grandpa, losing your uncle, finding out about this, like, side of your family’s history, that’s really intense, that you didn’t know about… which is the one you think that’s kind of messed with you the most?
[00:23:41] CALLER: I would probably say, my grandfather’s death, because, he was like the heart and soul of our family. Like there’s a way to describe him, I guess. There is like stereotype in Mexican families, like if a Mexican man or any Mexican person would yell at you, you’re going to get like PTSD because it reminds you of like, ‘hey, don’t do that’ and all that stuff. But my grandfather was the most charismatic person I have ever met in my entire life. He was a hard worker. He was 70 years old, but he would still wake up every day at 5:00 a.m. and he’d go feed the birds outside, and he feeds the two dogs that we also had there, because, another part of my family’s history… I feel like I’m going off track, it’s just a lot… one of my uncles is in jail because basically he was with a friend who was selling meth and he needed a car and my uncle didn’t ask for what, and he was basically in the passenger seat and the whole thing just kind of went off the rails.
[00:25:02] CHRIS: Is this a third uncle? Wow.
[00:25:09] CALLER: Yeah. So. You know, that’s my family, man, I’m going off track here, I’m sorry.
[00:25:18] CHRIS: You got nothing to apologize for. You’re going to go off track when you’re a kid who’s been taking this many hits, you don’t have to apologize for going off track, go down any track you want. I’m not mad at you.
[00:25:39] CALLER: My cat’s in here. [unintelligible from nearby child] Did you hear that? That was my little brother.
[00:25:50] CHRIS: I couldn’t hear what he said, but in my head, I’m going ‘that’s the kid who’s been watching Paw Patrol!’
[00:25:56] CALLER: Yeah. He was asking where my cat was at, my cat’s in here.
[00:26:01] CHRIS: That’s good, he’s keeping an eye on the cat for you. At least he’s helping out.
[00:26:05] CALLER: Yeah, yeah, definitely. He’s like a little mini-me. What? [unintelligible from nearby person] OK. OK. That was my other brother.
[00:26:21] CHRIS: You and him not so close, huh? I could see hear in the tone between both of you…
[00:26:27] CALLER: We’re pretty close, we’ve actually gotten closer, past these recent events. Like we weren’t as close, I guess, like when we were younger, because we’re only like four years apart, we were really close, like, we played all the time, you know. Not really talk I guess, kids don’t really talk about things, we just play. I guess I just had my life and he had his. We stopped talking a bit, but, then recently-
[00:26:59] CHRIS: You can hear it. Paw Patrol walks in the room and you’re like, ‘[chipper voice] oh, no, yeah, the cat’s right here! He’s like a mini me.’ And then your other brother rolls up and you go, ‘Yeah, what?’ And then I hear him go, [blah blah blah] And you’re like, ‘yeah, fine’. And then it moves on. You could see, you can see the difference in the relationships. I’m not saying you’re not close, but I’m saying you and Paw Patrol, real sense of warmth there. You and four years younger, you’ve had your good times and bad times.
[00:27:29] CALLER: Man why you got to expose me like that?
[00:27:34] CHRIS: I’m not trying to blow up your spot, but I’m just telling you, all I can do is react to what the phone feeds me. And now you got all this stuff going on, getting sued, an uncle in jail, another uncle in a gang, another uncle who’s passed away due to gang activity, grandfather dying. Now, you also mention that you’re going to stay in state to help keep an eye on your siblings… Sounds to me like are you… Like, what are you what’s making you nervous there, are you, is it just the amount of upheaval? Are you starting to maybe lose a little faith in the safety net that your family’s provided as some of these secrets are coming out? What is it that’s driving you to say ‘I got to be close because these kids might need me?’
[00:28:25] CALLER: Well, I guess, like, you know, with everything that’s happened, it’s always happened like, overnight type of thing. Like everything is fine. And then out of nowhere, like, I wake up the next morning and there’s news, you know. Like everything, like I remember even like with the whole Covid situation, like at school, they were like, oh yeah, we’re going to return back like Monday. And then the next day when I woke up, it was like Friday. And it was like ‘oh, yeah, on second thought, like the whole school year is canceled.’ And it was just like out of nowhere, really.
And really, I’ve always tried to, like, with my brothers, I’ve always tried to talk to them and try to like, ‘hey, this is going to happen, you know, and if you need help I’m here, or don’t feel weird like this is this is really weird. Don’t be afraid to express yourself’, you know, and because I was never really given that, because my parents… I know they love me and I know that they care about me, but they just weren’t raised that way, I guess, in a way of like, ‘hey, are you feeling OK?’ Or like, ‘hey, do you need a hug’ and stuff like that. I was never really given not at a young age. And so I kind of like… I was really independent at a young age. Like when I was in first grade, I would give myself homework so I can get better at math or stuff like that, and I would walk home from school. And then once I got older, I walked my brother home from school and I try to make dinner. But really, it was just like cereal or scrambled eggs or something really simple. And, you know, I help him with his homework and… Sometimes my cousins would come over because they also didn’t really have, like, you know, older siblings. So then we’d have like a little study group, at like third grade…and I don’t know, I always felt like I have that responsibility to do this and to take care of this and always up and down, doing stuff. And so whenever I’m not doing anything, I just feel, like, so, powerless, like, I can’t do anything, I feel useless. Especially with the quarantine, like the first half anyways, like it was just, like, I was kind of going crazy, like what am I supposed to do, like I was planning for school, because I’m the president of the Thespian Society at school. And so I had these plans for like fundraisers and to set up the play. And, you know, and I was also going to study to become a journalist. I am also head of a podcast actually at school. So I was going to set up interviews like through Zoom and stuff like that with other students to check in on how they’re doing. And I was going to do all these things, but then everything got canceled, and all my plans were just like off and, and then I just didn’t really know what to do. And I didn’t have a job like a couple of months ago because my old job was kind of like… I mean, it wasn’t bad, it got new management and then it there was like really poor communication. So I was like, ‘yeah, I’m not really down with this. I’m just going to find a new job’. And then they also kind of basically laid us all kind of… so, yeah. I feel like I talk really fast, I’m sorry.
[00:32:07] CHRIS: No, it’s a lot. I mean, I like hearing that you’re the president of the Thespian Society and the podcasting group because it lets me know… And that you gave yourself extra homework. No offense, because I am one as well, but like, you’re a nerd, huh?. You’re kind of a nerd. You’re the nerd of the family.
[00:32:26] CALLER: [laughs] I’ve been told that a lot.
[00:32:31] CHRIS: That means you’re a good example. And I’m sure it must be weird for you because, you know, you’re just graduating high school. But you must know in your guts, ‘OK, when it comes to the younger people in my family. They’re probably looking at me as one of the good examples when it’s turning out, there’s some bad examples.’ Tough question: you got a 14 year old brother and you’re still a teenager. You’ve been around teenage boys. They get all like, I remember from being a teenage boy. You think violence is cool, you know… And I would never be someone that’s like, ‘oh, if you play the wrong video games and this and that’, like, I think that’s overblown. But kids do go through that phase where they kind of glorify that stuff. I think that’s part of being like a teenage boy. When your hormones go haywire. You’ve got these older members of your family who are in this life, are you worried your younger brothers are going to think that’s cool in any way? That they’re going to look to that as an example instead of you? When you want them to be president of the podcast club, they’re look at your uncle’s like, ‘oh, that’s the shit, bro.’
[00:33:48] CALLER: Yeah. I mean, I’m not too worried about my brothers because, well, my 14 year old brother, he understands a lot of things because, I mean, I would talk to him because my parents would be kind of vague on what’s going on in our family. So I would be like, ‘hey, so this is what’s really going on’, you know? ‘And just so you know, because I don’t want you to find this out anywhere else, you know, and I think it’d be best if you heard it from, like, one of us’. Because, like my uncle’s death in Mexico, when he was murdered, like that news, that news actually reached a whole bunch of people from like this town because, like some people from this town were actually living in the town in Mexico that my family lived in. So they heard about the murder and everything. And they’re like, ‘oh, I’m so sorry. Are you guys OK?’ And stuff like that? And I was like, how do you know about this? And then that’s when I told my brother. I was like, ‘So this happened’. And he understood, I guess, that the gang life isn’t really something you should try to put yourself into, I guess, because, I mean, from what we’ve seen anyway, the experiences that we’ve had, it’s it’s not really done us any good. So I’m not really concerned about my brothers, but my younger cousins? I mean, they seem more like the type to think that, ‘oh, that’s pretty dope’ and, you know, stuff like that. And for them, I am a bit more concerned about it. And I have tried to talk to them, like, ‘that’s really not the way’. And like I’ve even told them, like a couple of times, ‘if you guys want to come over and stuff and, like, talk like I’m here for you guys’, you know, but I mean, who really wants to talk to, like, their older female cousin who’s like, I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m a goody-two-shoes, because I’m really not, but that’s just kind of like the impression everyone has of me.
[00:36:00] CHRIS: You are the president of the Thespian Society. You can all connect the dots on whether or not you’re a goody two shoes.
[00:36:10] CALLER: Well, I mean, I do try to follow rules, but some rules are just kind of dumb. And I just, I don’t agree with them. But I mean, you know, I’ve had my my fair share of, like, you know, how do I say this, like disobedient days, I guess, when I was a freshman. Well, not really a freshman, kind of like a sophomore, because that’s kind of when I realized, like, what’s the point of being so good about all of this when life isn’t going to go the way you want it to go? So I just kind of like, you know, didn’t go to school for a couple of days and skipped a couple of classes and stuff like that. And my teachers were like, ‘hey, why aren’t you in school’ and ‘are you OK?’ And stuff like that, but… And then that’s kind of when I talked it out with them and… I told one of my teachers, kind of like, my life story, and he just kind of sat and he looked at me and he goes, ‘I never would have imagined that. You know, you always seem so collected’ and stuff like that, and I’m like, ‘no, I’m actually a really chaotic mess, like constantly’.
[00:37:25] CHRIS: Well, I look back and I remember that. I remember that. I mean, I remember because, when I was in high school, I feel very conflicted because in some ways… in some ways I look back and my high school was pretty messed up, but in other ways there were all types of people there from all types of backgrounds.
And there were times where I look back, I realize, man, the adults should have been helping the kids more. But I feel like, it’s, I feel like that’s in a way, I look back and think that might be common, where the kids who seem like they actually really have their act together, well, when you’re a teenager, you’re not really supposed to have your act together. So sometimes I look back and you realize, oh, those kids, actually, some of them were the ones who had it the toughest because they had to have their act together, because if they didn’t have their act together, their life was going to just be, like you said, chaos. So I think sometimes that seems like a commendable thing. ‘Oh, that kid’s really, that kid’s really got it together, that’s one of the good kids’, and then you find out, ‘oh, actually, that’s a kid who’s had to learn how to survive on their own’. It’s an eye-opening thing.
[00:38:38] CALLER: Yeah, for sure. Like in my school, well, the principal we have isn’t necessarily hands on per se, and she’s also a Republican. And I mean, that just kind of speaks for itself. I mean, I’m not saying like all Republicans are bad, but. From what she’s shown us, I can I can kind of assume, I can only assume that she doesn’t really have the best interest of her students or at least the majority of her students at heart.
[00:39:13] CHRIS: Well, here’s something that speaks for itself. You know, the political party of your high school principal. That’s weird. You shouldn’t know that. That’s not part of an education. I’ll call that out right now. That white lady shouldn’t be doxing teenagers. And you shouldn’t– I can’t imagine a situation where you need to know your high school principal’s voting record. Can’t imagine how that ties in. In fact, it seems like the thing you probably shouldn’t know as a rule. [raises voice] These people, these grown-ups, failing kids!
[00:39:50] [CHRIS AD TRANSITION] A sentiment I have expressed many times throughout the show, grown-ups bail on kids, I can’t stand it, I feel like that was one of the themes of my childhood. You guys have heard me. This is why I’ve gone on bizarre rants about school in general. I feel like this was a healthier version of that rant. I’m going to calm down. Maybe you need a breath as well. We’ll be right back.
[00:40:15] [CHRIS AD TRANSITION] Welcome back to Beautiful Anonymous, let’s finish off this conversation.
[00:40:21] CHRIS: These people, these grown ups, failing kids! [yells] I can’t handle that, this principal trying to infect your politics, and especially, you mentioned you come from a town that’s diverse in a state that overall is maybe not known for being diverse. You mentioned earlier you have some family members who are undocumented. So the fact that you even know that your principal’s Republican means that she’s gone out of her way to make that clear. And you’re someone from a family who has to wonder if the Republican Party always has your best interests in mind, let alone that there’s a parent out there suing kids because of stuff that that’s clearly dabbling in racism. So it’s got to make you feel a little unsafe, I would imagine, a little unmoored. And I want to say I’m sorry that you have to deal with that. That sucks. I don’t know why that’s getting me so mad. I look back at my high school principal, I don’t know how the guy voted. You shouldn’t know how your high school principal votes. How does that even come up?
[00:41:26] CALLER: I, I don’t know either. It’s just. Well, first off, I’ve been into her office a lot of times, and most of them good, some of them not so good, but mainly because, like I said, something kind of, how do I say this, relevant in the podcast because I always try to keep it like, you know, updated in like, community news and like school news and something that students should know. And she was like, ‘yeah, this is kind of like, you know, not being accepting to like other students’. I’m like, ‘what do you mean?’ Like, I was talking about something about how there was, this is like back when there was like a gun protest, like the rallies that we were having. And we had one at school and I was talking about how like to stay safe, I guess, and to, you know, document anything that you see kind of like suspicious, I guess, and, you know, talk to people and stuff like that. Then I talked about how also there was like a discrimination between Hispanic students and also students of color, like black students and Asian students. How we’ve been feeling kind of like, I don’t even know how to say it, just like we don’t matter in that school. It hurts to say because, well OK, just to give you an example of how an average day looks, how it looks like in high school, like in this high school anyways: So there was a student who basically asked a teacher for some help on a math assignment. And the teacher just kind of gave her like this brief explanation of like, ‘oh, yeah, I already showed you, do this this and that.’ And then there was a white student who asked her, ‘hey, can you help me on this problem?’ And then she literally brought up the chair, sat down next to her and helped her step by step. Through the entire page and I was there to witness that I was like probably three rows behind going like, ‘what the fuck? What is going on?’ And the other girl, she just kind of looked back at me and then we just kind of looked at each other like we gave each other that look, you know, and there was like mutual understanding of like we both saw what just happened. And so then I basically, I didn’t call up the teacher specifically. I didn’t say her name, but I did say, you know, like, ‘teachers need to do better’ and stuff like that. And then that’s when the principal called me in and she was like, ‘yeah, this isn’t right. You know, you can’t be calling people out.’
[00:44:00] CHRIS: [groans, rants] When, when the powers that be tell you that the things you’re saying are making them uncomfortable. I’m sitting here going ‘gooooooood because it shouldn’t be comfortable.’ We’ve had too much comfort. Why are we clinging to comfort in an uncomfortable world? I’m done with that. I’m done with that. You want me to worry about your comfort? How about you worry about my comfort? You’re the principal. It’s not about your comfort. If I’m expressing that the other people like me in this school are feeling uncomfortable, why is that not as important as your comfort, principal? No thank you. I love that. I love that. Back when I was a kid, we didn’t have podcasts. They literally didn’t exist until my late 20s. I’m old, but we had underground newspapers. That was a big thing in high school. My brother and my friend Mike used to help run our underground newspaper. The school sat them down and said, ‘we can’t have this.’ It’s like, ‘oh, you can’t have kids doing things that you don’t get to sign off on.’ Why is that? Why is that? Because you fear youthful energy? Because it’s what shakes things up. And I say kudos to you stick it to those teachers. Stick it right to them.
[00:45:21] CALLER: Yeah. I mean, I was just and I was enraged. I try to really stay involved in my school, like our Thespian Society, it wasn’t even a thing until like last year, like this is probably going to be like the first year we were actually going to have, like, a solid drama institution in our school because, like, I love drama. I love acting so much, for as long as I can remember, like, before I knew what improv was I was doing improv. Like, that’s just how obsessed I was with acting. And, you know, when I got to high school, it was slightly disappointing because we didn’t really have, like, the whole club and, like, a whole thing going on. So we had, like, we have this beautiful auditorium that was basically only used for sport ceremonies and stuff like that. And I was like ‘why don’t we put it to use? Like come on, let’s do something cool.’ And so I was talking to some teachers and I was like, ‘hey, so how can we get this going?’ Like, I’ll dedicate myself to this. Like, I really want this to happen. I want this to be a space where students can express themselves, like there’s like a lot of ways to express yourself. I get that. But I want drama to be one of them. And so then I started working with this one teacher, and we really sat down and we like, set this entire thing up and we got as many music nerds and a whole bunch of different kind of nerds, and we even got some sports people who were like slightly interested in like acting and stuff,
[00:47:04] CHRIS: Ahh, that old trope, that old archetype, the jocks with secret artistic dreams. Love those guys. Love those guys. The jocks with the deep down sensitive side that you only learn about at the tail end of senior year. Love those guys.
[00:47:17] CALLER: [laughs] I know. And you know, then also with Speech. Oh, my God, I love Speech. And I have this amazing [groans]. So my thing was like, original oratory, that’s always been my thing, like all four years, I’ve always been an original oratory. And my first year, I literally, like I did Speech, like I didn’t even know what it was until like two weeks before the actual competition. And we had this foreign exchange student in my class and she was like, ‘hey, I think you would really like this.’ And I was like, ‘what is that Speech?’ And then she was like, ‘it’s basically like, it’s like performing basically, you know,’ and she’s like, ‘just do it’. And so then I did my research on it and I spent all night watching these videos of like, original oratory in the NSDA and all that stuff. And I was like, wow, I love this. This is exactly what I want to do. So then I went to the teacher the next day and I was like, hey, can I do this? And she was like, ‘ummm, it’s kind of like in two weeks, but we don’t really have a lot of people, so go ahead and just do whatever you want to do.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I got this’. So I wrote a speech about, it was called ‘Attention’. And it was basically just me ranting because I didn’t even really have enough time to write everything, so when I got up there, I just kind of like ranted. It was like, OK, this is why there’s a lot wrong with this country, you know? And there’s like, you know, we need more gun laws and we need more support with minorities and we need more like, we need free college tuition and we need more education funding and this and that. And, you know, and I explained why and I said I gave part of my story and everything. And then I actually made it to state and I was like, wow, I was really shook. And then that’s when I don’t know, I guess that was probably like the first time I ever truly felt proud of myself. Like this was something that was like for me, because like throughout my entire life, like before that moment, I was, everything I was doing, it was like for my family, I was… I was trying to set a good example for my brothers, I was trying to make my parents proud and I was trying to really just, you know, I don’t know, pave a new road for our family because, like, my parents were from Mexico and they came here as kids. They came here for a better life, and both my parents, like they have really tragic stories. Like my dad, his father passed away when he was 15. So he really had to grow up really fast. And my mom, she was basically left to live with her aunt and her cousins in California when she was like 16 and while her whole family was here in Iowa. She didn’t really have that support right away with her family. Like, she was pretty distant from them. And she didn’t get to finish high school. None of my parents did. So that was always my goal. Like graduate high school, then go to like Stanford or Columbia, and like make my parents proud, but then everything happened and I just don’t know, I guess I felt responsible for my siblings, because my mom, she tested positive for Covid a couple of weeks ago and, you know, that was a really, really scary time because, you know, they work in a factory basically. So they’re exposed to a lot of different people and a lot of different things. And this was before my grandfather was put in the hospital, too. And so I was just kind of like… thinking about what would happen if I lost my mom. And. I don’t know life without her. I really don’t. You know, and then my dad also. Like I remember this day, so I was coming home from work. It was like my first day of work and he was driving me back because I don’t have my license right now. I’m going to take my test, the 26th actually. And, but anyways, we were driving home from work and, he usually has the radio on, but he didn’t this time. And he just kind of like, we stopped at a red light and he just looks over at me and he goes, ‘I was 15 when my father died.’ And then he just turns back and continues driving and then he says, ‘you’re 18.’
[00:52:25] CHRIS: That’s a life moment you’ll never forget, huh?
[00:52:29] CALLER: Yeah, I don’t think I’ll forget that. So I really got scared because, I mean, If I really think about it, I’ve never really been like alone, or independent completely, because, I mean, I still have my parents here know, and that’s such a blessing, especially during these times. And I’m grateful for that and everything. But I was like, what if I lose that? Am I really going to be alone? And what about my brothers? And what if something else happens and… And I haven’t said this to anybody, but I actually got into Columbia. But, I decided to go to my state school instead, because I mean… I don’t know, I can’t, I can’t leave my family right now. And maybe part of it is for me, for my peace of mind, I guess, but… I will acknowledge that part of it is for me, but also I just, I feel like I need to stick around a lot longer. Just in case I guess.
[00:53:46] CHRIS: Now, [thinking noise] I’m going to say something. It might be really irresponsible for me to say this.
[00:53:58] CALLER: Go ahead.
[00:54:02] CHRIS: You’re right. And I’m not there, and I’m someone who’s been talking to you for 52 minutes, so what do know? I know nothing. Yeah, we got eight minutes left. But hearing all of this story, I feel like the whole reason you called me today was to lead up to that. That’s what I’m feeling in my gut. And I don’t know if you knew that. I didn’t know that. But I feel like you telling me that your dream was always to go to a school like Columbia and you got in… I get it, and you do have to be there for your family right now. Your grandfather passed. There’s a lot of chaos with your uncles. Your mom is sick. That’s scaring the hell out of you. You also… You can sometimes take the best care of other people by taking care of yourself. And if you want to go to Columbia and you say you’ve studied to be a journalist, that’s one of the best journalism schools in the world, is my understanding. You do deserve to go there if you want to. And my guess, is that while you are taking on a massive amount of responsibility and sacrificing for your family, my guess would be, that if your parents knew you were holding yourself back to look out for everyone else, my guess is you haven’t totally told them that, and my guess is that is that they would be, they would be bummed. And if you got into Columbia and you want to go there, that’s a life changer. I went to a state school, and state schools can be great. I went to Rutgers, has a good reputation as a state school, but they’re definitely what you make of them. And you’re a hard worker. That’s not going to be an issue. But the Ivy League, that opens doors forever. And if you want to go to Colombia, go. And no offense to any of our listeners in Iowa, I bet most of them are going ‘get the fuck out of Iowa.’ I bet a lot of them are saying it. So if you want to go there, go there. That’s a game changer, that’s the Ivy League. Your parents, and correct me if I’m wrong, I’m making a massive assumption here, but if your whole family wound up in Iowa working in a factory and there’s other people from your region of Mexico or your parents’ region of Mexico who are still connected to the point where they know gossip about your family happening in Mexico, this sounds to me like, is it one of these situations where there a whole bunch of people left because they found out this factory could afford them work at the same time?
[00:56:47] CALLER: Well, yeah, because, well, my grandfather, he came here with the Bracero program in like nineteen eighty something, I think. And that also gave him the opportunity to like, get papers for the rest of his family. So he got papers for like my, my mom and her brothers. And then they came to Iowa, honestly, I don’t even really know why. I guess to work, you know. Yeah.
[00:57:20] CHRIS: Now, I don’t know if you’ve already committed or if you can go back, and I’m not saying go change everything. I will say this. Let me ask you honestly, when your grandfather left behind that life he knew, and when he fought to get papers for the rest of your family to come here and, when your family has been putting in factory work… Do you think they did that so you could pass on a chance at going to the Ivy League? I bet they did that specifically so someone in their family might go to the Ivy League. And I’m not trying to guilt ya or put pressure on you, but I am saying you’re 18. You’re giving everything to everyone else. You’re fighting the good fights in school for everybody else. You’re looking out for your family. It’s commendable. It’s noble. It’s beautiful. But you’re also allowed to do things for yourself. And if you think you’re making the best choice for yourself right now, then I’ll shut up. But just for thought’s sake, if you feel like ‘I am making the second best choice for the sake of other people’, I will say I bet some of those other people would be the first to tell you, don’t do that. That’s not… I don’t know… but I’m putting a lot of words in a lot of people’s mouths and I’m making a lot of assumptions, but I also know that that’s the dream, right? That’s the dream. I mean, I know that the phrase ‘dreamer’, there’s all sorts of places it comes from as far as the actual bureaucracy of the phrase. But as far as the concept of people coming here, leaving behind dire circumstances to take a big leap into an American culture that does not always welcome them, and in fact, sometimes is outright hostile or threatening or dangerous, that dream, is the dream that within a generation or two, that flips around. And I know that. My grandfather came from Ireland, he stocked shelves in a supermarket his whole life, and my mom’s generation did a little better. And now I get to be a professional podcaster.
That’s… that’s… you know, I mean, what a weird thing to say, I’m a professional protester… but see what I mean? It’s a weird thing. My grandfather would be like, ‘what are you talking about? You talk to strangers on the phone and that’s your job?’ But I bet he’d also be really proud of me to see, you know… and I’m proud of him! Columbia is on the table. Have you told your parents ‘the reason I’m going to the state school is because I want to stay and keep an eye on you guys?’ Have you told them that?
[01:00:01] CALLER: Well, I just said it was because of economic reasons like, I mean, it is expensive. And I mean, I do have some scholarships, but at the same time, I mean, kind of seems worth it. Kind of doesn’t.
[01:00:14] CHRIS: That’s the thing I can’t comment on. Student loans are evil. That being said…the Ivy League is the Ivy League. You mentioned your parents both had hard times. They’re coming here and they’re breaking their backs so that the momentum can roll downhill for generations. I would have to imagine… you get that diploma from an Ivy League school someday, that’s the gossip that’s going to spread. That’s a lot better gossip than the bullshit your uncles are putting you guys through.
[01:01:01] CALLER: I mean, I’ve also considered transferring over after I get my associates or finish my associates because—
[01:01:12] CHRIS: That’s good. You’ve got the plan. I knew you had the plan!
[01:01:16] CALLER: I’m always prepared, I always try to be anyways.
[01:01:21] CHRIS: So you’re already looking into, does Columbia have a set up where I can defer once you get in, is transferring easy, you’re already looking all those things up?
[01:01:30] CALLER: Yeah, I’ve looked at the transfer rates and they’re pretty low. But I mean, if I do a lot my first year in college, I think that maybe, maybe I can make it in again. But time will tell.
[01:01:45] CHRIS: Good, because you know what? You’re exactly what we need. You’re a young person who’s trying to be vocal about a perspective that, that has been stifled for years. You’re an orator. You like the drama, and you’re a good kid, you’re a goody two shoes who still gets the principal to sit down and tell you, ‘hey, you got to be quiet.’ That’s because you’re dangerous to the status quo. And that is what we need right now. So I’m just telling you, whatever place you got to go to get the loudest platform, I have a feeling you’re the exact type of kid that’s going to grow up someday to be an adult who uses that platform in all the right ways. So I hope whatever that is—
[01:02:35] CALLER: Catch me on the news. A short, Hispanic girl trying to make a difference in this world.
[01:02:43] CHRIS: That’s what we need. That’s what we need. We don’t need more like me. All right. We’re out of time, but we don’t need, we don’t need anymore 40 year old white guys with receding hairlines deciding how things go. All right? It’s not who we need. We need short, Hispanic, 18 year old girls. That’s who should be running the future, not me. [yells] It’s true. World doesn’t need more of me right now. This is why I’m fading away from comedy. You know, we don’t need more balding white guys. We need short, Hispanic 18 year olds who fought through some hard shit. Our time is up.
[01:03:26] CALLER: All right, thank you for listening. Letting me tell my story.
[01:03:31] CHRIS: Thank you for telling me your story. There were so many angles on your story that we couldn’t even get to them all, obviously. But I’ll tell you this last 10 minutes or so, I’m really telling you, do… for as much as you do for everybody else, also do for you, you deserve it and it will serve everybody in the long run for you to take all those opportunities and use them. Short game, you feel like you need to keep an eye on everybody right now, I get it. Long term, it helps them just as much for you to go out there and achieve your potential. So don’t forget that, ok?
[01:04:05] CALLER: OK, thank you. You’re awesome by the way! I love your podcast, soooo freaking much.
[01:04:14] CHRIS: You’re awesome. Thank you for listening. Fuck that white lady trying to sue everybody. She makes me embarrassed. She makes me embarrassed as a 40 year old white person… trying to sue kids… I’m glad you made the principal uncomfortable. You’re awesome. I’m not awesome. I’m just a guy who listens. Got lucky in life because I have all the advantages. Go out there and get ’em.
[01:04:37] CALLER: Noo, you inspire my podcast. You’re a part of the movement.
[01:04:42] CHRIS: Good. That’s what I’m here for. I’m not here to… I’m here for you guys. OK, so go out there and get ’em. You got to promise me you’re not going to shut up. You’re going to go out there and get ’em.
[01:04:53] CALLER: Alright, that’s a promise I can keep. I promise.
[01:04:57] CHRIS: Good. Alright. It was great talking to you.
[01:05:00] CALLER: It was great talking to you, too, Chris. Have a nice day!
[01:05:03] CHRIS: You, too. [Ring]
[01:05:09] CHRIS: Caller… go to Columbia, go to Columbia. Some day. Even if you can’t go right now, I’m glad you’re strategizing. You give me such hope. You give me such hope. I’m sorry you’ve dealt with so much tough stuff at such a young age. You give me hope and I hope you go out and take everything just like give. Thank you so much for calling. Thank you to Jared O’Connell and Anita Flores. Thank you to Shellshag for the music. If you like the show, go to Apple Podcast, rate, review, subscribe. And if you want the entire Beautiful Anonymous back catalog, StitcherPremium.com/stories for more details. See you next time.
[NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW]
[01:06:09] CHRIS: Next time on Beautiful Anonymous, our caller is in the middle of a situation where she’s being stalked. And she’s sitting around wondering how it’s going to end…
[01:06:22] CALLER: Like I have a harassment order out against him, and he keeps breaking it, and one of the times he broke it up, he was actually like standing on my neighbor’s balcony and, like, shouting at my apartment. And the police came out and like, they took him to jail for, like, burglary. And I was frustrated, just like ‘I’ve been calling a million times. But you’re going to take him for, like, being on somebody else’s property and not actually’… I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m like spiraling right now. But yeah.
[01:06:54] CHRIS: I’m so sorry. I mean, the spiral sounds justified.
[01:06:59] CHRIS: That’s next time on Beautiful Anonymous.
Recent EpisodesSee All
May 29, 2023
EP. 373 — Outside the Box Psychologist
During Mental Health Awareness Month, Geth speaks with a 67-year-old psychologist about combating loneliness post 2020.
May 22, 2023
EP. 372 — American Teenager in 2023
A high school senior speaks with Geth about going through the pandemic as a teenager. She discusses her fear of being in a school shooting and how disconnected she feels her generation is because of screens.
May 15, 2023
EP. 371 — 48-Year-Old Grandpa
A truck driver describes his wild past as a bass guitar player in a band. He discusses crazy near-death experiences including a moped accident that led to many broken bones and meeting his future wife.