The comfort zone.

A common theme in this book is Addario’s conflict between pursuing photography against a simple more traditional lifestyle. She struggles through out the book and grapples with what will really make her happy. In chapters 1-3 it is clear that her choice is to pursue photography and to chase her passion; but this also brings with it some conflict. Whether it be having to beg so called aid-workers to help out a woman suffering from AIDS, or banging her head against a corporate wall that limits her art Addario faced conflicts in many different ways and to pick only one is tremendously difficult.

As I progress through the book I keep finding conflicts and ideas and situations that I would like to define as the biggest conflict, however I do not feel adequate saying so. The reason this happens is because Addario is constantly putting herself outside of her comfort zone. As she aspires to move onto greater things and new adventures she encounters problems that may seem outstanding and overwhelming to the reader, but she finds a way to make it relatable. For instance, her struggle to find balance between having a family and a ‘normal life’ seem like something that is foreign at a first glance. However, I can relate to this as she discusses it further. Like her I am passionate about my plans to establish a career (only through my studies so far), and for that I have made the sacrifice of leaving behind my family, my friends and my country. And while I find great pleasure in being away and studying here at the university it is inevitable to wonder what it would have been like if I had stayed closer to home.

But what me and Addario have most in common is a need to put ourselves outside of the comfort zone. To not settle for what is easy, and simple and good. Like her, I wish to push myself to see how far I can go. While you, the reader, may feel like this is a bit of a stretch I have written before that Addario is effective in appealing to the reader’s emotions; and recently I feel that I can relate to her.

On a completely different and more trivial note I would also like to say that conflict does not have to be so polarizing to be significant. I think that conflict can also be something as trivial as not knowing how to save your fantasy football team (which sadly I do not). But I also invite you to find a place that may have gotten monotonous for you; and to be like Addario, and just flip things upside down. Do things not because they are easy; but because they seem interesting and challenging.

Essay Outline.

Its almost been a year since Donald Trump’s campaign came to an end; but for many Mexicans and Latinos like me there is still something that resonates and makes us uneasy. Yes, I am talking about his threat to build the wall. What upsets me is not so much the political stance against immigration; but the fact that his arguments for it during the speech spoke so poorly of a country that already suffers from a copious amount of stereotypes. I am biased as I am a Mexican; but I think we can all agree that there are some points made by Mr. Trump that would have gone down better had they not been so prejudice. I aim to discuss the message Mr. Trump gave to his public and the way these create stereotypes about Mexicans, in addition the latino community as a whole.

The first point I would like to make is to discuss the way Trump talks about all Mexicans by referring to them as ‘rapists and criminals.’ This generalization is not only an unfair way to characterize the population; but it also propagates a negative image for Mexico and its people. I have personally experienced this first hand, as not once in my life have I met an American that didn’t ask me if Mexico City was safe. Okay this is a hyperbole. But what is definitely true is the fact that many Americans already consider Mexico to be a dangerous place to live, and talking about it’s citizens in such a negative way promotes this.

I would also like to discuss the fact that closing borders is in fact against many American ideals, including the most cliché one; The American Dream. Mexicans look up to the economic development of the USA and the opportunities that they have while here. Many latin countries either look up to the US or despise it based only on the industrial power that it is. Closing off your borders to these countries would not only damage social dynamics and the economy; but it can also be compared to lashing out at your younger brother or sister. While they can be annoying and disruptive, they are only trying to be like you.

To conclude, while the speech covers many interesting and controversial topics and sociological, economic and political stances, I will focus on the portrayal of Latinos and specifically Mexicans in this essay with the hope of proving that much of the language used was unnecessarily harsh and damaging to the Mexican community.

Speech Outline: The taco, and the false ideas it proposes

My civic artifact will be the taco. Yes, at a first glance it doesn’t seem like a terribly good choice; but think about it. It is a device used by capitalist fast food chains that creates a misrepresented common place. It is our civil duty to respect the cultures around us and to realize that they are beautiful without having to adapt them and assimilate them into our own “American” version of it. Don’t get me wrong, Tex-Mex food is beautiful in its own way; but I feel that in American culture there is a tendency to morph and adapt almost anything to find what sells the most. The following is an outline for my speech.


I would like to discuss a very common and widely known Mexican cuisine, the taco. A taco as we all know consists of only two elements, a tortilla and of course the filling, which is generally some kind of meat. And in case you haven’t noticed these things are everywhere; Taco Bell, Chipotle and even California Tortilla to name a few are making huge money selling there versions of the taco to customers looking for a change up from the regular fast food they usually get. Who is to blame them? Honestly these things are good.

Some History and Differences between American and Mexican Tacos. 

As we all know tacos originated in Mexico, and have been documented as far as Pre-Colombian period. And have not evolved much from then until today. But what has changed is the public’s view of what a Mexican taco actually is. For a second here I am going to ask you all to forget everything you know about tacos. No cheese, or sour cream, or even chili because none of that is really authentically Mexican. Its Tex-Mex. Think about a small corn tortilla which could probably fit in the palm of your hand, warm, slightly moist, and a little crunchy but mostly floppy. Different right? But that is only the tip of the iceberg. The meat is not ground beef, we use flank steak, juicy fine cut pork chops and the incomparable pastor meat. Generally, to top it off we garnish with lime, some salt, cilantro, onion, pineapple and salsa (Which I could discuss on its own).

Why is the taco a Civic Artifact?

How did all of these differences come about? Surely it just had to do with the mixing of cultures, especially along the boarder… right? Well no, not quite. It turns out that Tex-Mex food as the name would indicate was created in Texans, by Texans, which to be fair, did not identify as completely American or completely Mexican. They incorporated the use of flour tortillas, beans and cheese, leading to a new branch of cuisine in itself. In fact many historians also say that this adaptation arose due to the ranch/cowboy culture that grew during this period, which was more American than it was Mexican. As you can see it is beginning to look more and more like the tacos you all know and love today. During the 20th we can begin to see changes in the economy. Increased automation, reducing costs of agricultural goods, and the rise of the fast food industry. Instead of offering the public American food from a particular place and time, it was just easier to say “hey its pretty close to Mexican isn’t it”. Throw in some aztec like geometric patterns and some salsa music and it is practically a fiesta!


This is not an appropriate representation of Mexican cuisine, or let alone Mexican culture. In order to market their food a common place was created; a land where the desert heat and lazy population can party, eat tacos and drink tequila. Sadly, this has happened to other cultures too. It has happened to Italian and Chinese cuisine and they have both, to some extent or another, seen their culture degraded by the thirst to purse the almighty dollar. Hence, it is our civil duty to avoid this type of generalization. To stop grouping and classifying things loosely in order to generate some profit.

What we can learn from Addario: Writing about your passion.

One does not need to go deep into reading part 2 of its what I do to find vivd writing. Almost immediately we are drawn into the scene of a freelance photographer running back and forth like a chicken with its head cut off (they actually do this) trying to catch her ‘big break’. Chapter 4 begins with the haunting image of Addario landing on ground zero, only to rush back to Pakistan, in order to document the brewing conflict. What makes Addario’s writing so effective is the ability to capture the readers attention by appealing to the reader’s emotions. 

We can see this on page 72, by the way she describes her research phase similar to what we would expect from a spy. “I learned to quickly tuck away my own political beliefs while I worked”. The danger conveyed in this phrase due to the connotations of the word ‘tuck’ causes the reader to be intrigued and concerned for Addario’s well-being. But most importantly, this phrase creates a hook which in turn leads the reader to be more curious and more involved in the reading. A similar hook can be seen on page 80 when Addario writes: “The New York times crew found several floor’s worth of rooms in a shady hotel above a bakery…” By setting the scene and classifying it as ‘shady’, Addario once again uses ethos, with the same purpose as before. From these two examples it is noticeable how the writer is using specific words and cues to spark interest in the reader.

A similar style can effectively be used when blogging. Using ethos can be tricky but it is a matter of finding a voice that can speak well to the audience that you are addressing. While a blog about Fantasy Football is not nearly as caustic as a book about war photography, it is still important to give the reader reasons to keep going. It can be anything as simple as the writer’s (that’s me) weekly progression, or something more complex like carefully selecting the words that will keep the reader hooked. It is definitely easier said than done, but when done effectively, ethos can be a powerful tool. I think the most effective way of achieving this is by simply being excited about what you are writing about and let the passion bleed threw your writing. I find that my writing is best when I am staring at the screen smiling because I find pleasure in what I am sharing with my audience. This, in the end is why Addario is able to captivate the reader so well; she is a master at sharing the things she finds exciting and explaining why the are exciting. 

Nana’s story, and my unrequited love for football

Nana’s missed chance in love should serve as a lesson to all of us. I believe that the reason this story is included is to communicate  an important life lesson that we often overlook; follow you passion and you shall be happy. For me it is clear that while Nana was completely satisfied with her marriage and the ‘benefits’ that came with it, she would still long for the passion, love and excitement that she felt when she was with Sal. Nana’s story is similar in many ways to that passion we hold so close and dear, but may not have the time, resources or skills to do so effectively.

I would like to draw on this point by drawing out an experience of my own. As a young kid, aged about 3 or 4, I found a love for football. I would spend hours every weekend playing Madden or watching games and even waking up at 6 am to catch the highlight shows. When I started playing, I was the happiest kid in the world. I loved everything about it. Every drill was a race or a competition, every practice was an opportunity to do the best you could and be proud of what you accomplished. But as a Mexican quarterback that only ever played south of the American border, I knew that this would only ever be a passion for me; and that it would end sooner for me that it would for most others.

While I knew for sure that I was in love with the sport I was limited in what I could accomplish in it. My coaches were unsupportive and would punish any mistake I made and threaten to put me on the bench. In addition, my main goal was to be able to go study in an American university; and that took most of my attention from the field to the classroom. In my sophomore year of high school I was benched and didn’t play much at all despite trying my best; and at the end of the season, I decided it was over for me; everyone was more invested than I was.

I believe that Nana’s story is necessary in Addario’s book because it shows how she makes sacrifices that may not seem logical, but they become justifiable because she is pursuing her passion. She learns from Nana’s experience and ‘what if?’ mentality, and concludes that she must find ways to do what makes her happy. While a career as a football player never looked possible for me, I have continued to follow my passion as a youth football coach and now, with my fantasy football blog. While I might not be traveling and risking it all like Addario is, I am still in touch with what makes me happy.

I wish to conclude simply with some advice my grandpa gave to me about finding my vocation and my passion, which I believe relates to Addario’s message: “If you do what makes you happy, you will be good at it and you will enjoy the work, which will lead you to success.”

My Version of Happiness

Thinking about what makes you happy is not that difficult of a thing to do. Your mind jumps back and forth between memories, ideas or even experiences as normal as letting a peanut butter cup dissolve in your mouth. The hard part about writing a passion blog is finding the courage to put yourself out there; to say “this is me, and I want to share this with you.” So in this first post I invite you to read about the things that make me laugh and smile.

I’m going to start out by being completely honest here, but most of my day circles around my breakfast, lunch and dinner plans. Eating is more than just getting fuel for me. It is a moral booster, and a space to calm down and converse with the people I care about. Its the kind of sentiment that a grandmother intends family dinners to be like. Lets be real here, who doesn’t love the way stringy warm mozzarella sticks hug zesty tomato sauce. Or if that isn’t your cup of tea maybe a crunchy fried chicken wing cover in a vinegary and spicy buffalo sauce. But as I am far from home at this moment, what I crave most are 4 juicy “tacos al pastor” (the authentic Mexican taco . . . NOT Chipotle). The meat is the juiciest way of cooking pork; marinated in spices and cooked on a giant skewer with flames on one side as the “taquero” spins the meat like a top to cook it and serve the tacos. Once we pair this meat with fresh and crisp cilantro, onion and pineapple and drizzle some lime juice over the top, all that is left to do is enjoy.

Yes, its even better that it looks.

When I am not to busy thinking about food, its probably because I’m lying on the couch inmoble watching football. While you may not know many Mexican football fans (NOT soccer). I am a proud Steeler fan who probably has way to much of an opinion about every play call and decision the coaches make. I love the strategy, and trying to predict who will get the ball on 3rd and 7 or whether they are going to take a shot on 2nd and 1 or just get the first down. I am also defending champion of my fantasy football league so I am definitely more than a couch quarterback (yes, that’s a joke, it is okay to laugh).

Finally, as I have already exceed my word count it is time to wrap up with the thing that fills up the spaces in between. Music. Whether it be indie hip-hop or blue grass or even progressive tango, I find great pleasure in taking a moment to unplug, sit back, and listen. But I don’t like to limit myself only to the sound of music, I also like to comment on the choices lyricists and songwriter use, as I feel it enhances the musical experience. Yeah, it’s nerdy, but this is what you get when you have an English teacher for a mother.

As far as deciding what my passion blog will discuss, I think I am inclined mostly to write about music mostly because it fascinates me to hear what people have to say about why they like certain artists or what they think about certain lyrics. But a close second is to write about REAL Mexican food; because I have lived here in the USA for all of 2 weeks and have come to the conclusion that nobody knows the truth about Mexican food; and that in itself is a tragedy.