Video: Tamale Time 2010

Making tamales has been a family tradition every holiday season. Here's a clip of the Trujillo family tamale conveyer belt. Good times. I can smell the red chili and ojas from here.

My Life with a Disability

Here is a video interview I created for a contest I entered. I share my perspective on living my life as a person with a disability. Thank you to David Portillo for shooting all of the footage for this project.

The background song is "Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

If someone walked up to you and said they’re 26-years-old and still live with their parents, what would be your first impression of that person?

Yeah, me too.

Normally, when someone thinks about a person like this, the first thing that comes to mind is a Jack-Black type (minus the fame, fortune, and cool personality) with a basement full of toys, a part-time job at a video game store and a severe shyness. They often times find themselves at home because of financial or social reasons. And while I have my fair share of “action figures” and social awkwardness, I am still at home for different reasons.

Since I became a quadriplegic, the idea of someday having a place of my own seemed more like a fantasy than reality. Because of my condition, I require full assistance for literally all everyday activities. So, the thought of being somewhere on my own didn’t seem to be possible.

Currently, my parents help me with pretty much everything, and without their help, I wouldn’t be here today. They have given me so much and I don’t know how I can ever repay them. But sometimes, I feel that my condition is a burden on my family and I don’t ever want them to feel like they are responsible for my well-being.

Our family dynamic would also make moving into a place of my own a very hard decision. We are a very close family and spend a lot of time together. From dinner at our grandparent’s house, to movie nights with my cousins, spending time with my family is very important to me. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins al live within 10 minutes of my house.

I also just want to say that me wanting to get a place of my own is not an indictment of my current living situation. I live in a great home and couldn’t ask for anything better. I just feel that while I’m at home, I can’t move on to the next chapter of my adult life.

Sometimes, I get embarrassed when I have to tell people that I still live with my parents. Granted, I’m sure they understand the reason, but it is still a little embarrassing none the less. I’m a college graduate with a great, full-time job and a good head on my shoulders. Any one else like me would have a place of there own by now; even if it is just a small, one-bedroom apartment.

I don’t want a mansion (yet), just a small place that I can call my own. A place where I can hang out with friends, have parties (maybe all nighters) and even maybe bring a date to (if I ever get one). I know that my condition will not allow me some of the same luxuries experienced by my able-bodied brethren, but I think I can make it work.

For now, I’ll continue thinking about how I can make it work and imagine what my future bachelor pad will look like.

My Dating Game

As I was clicking through my facebook page the other day, one thing in particular caught my eye. I noticed that a few of my friends changed their status from “single” to “in a relationship.” Once I saw this surprising trend, it got me thinking of my own personal life, or severe lack thereof.

From first through eighth grade, I was not unaccustomed to grabbing the attention of the ladies in my class. Whether it was Michelle dropping off a get well card at my house in fourth grade, or Stephanie giving me my first kiss in seventh grade, girls weren’t far from my side. And with all my “success” during my early years, I eagerly anticipated the boundless possibilities that awaited me in high school.

But after I became a quad during my freshman year of high school, everything changed.

While I still had girls at my side, they were my nurse instead of interested coeds. And if a girl did manage to speak to me, it seemed like they were talking to me out of pity and curiosity. Even though I didn’t agree with their reasons to speak to me, I was in no position to turn away a conversation, no matter what the reason.

As I made my way through high school and college, I felt like a spectator in my own life. I so badly wanted to speak to girls, but my courage was in short supply. But with my relative inexperience with girls, I did manage to forge a few friendships with girls.

But friendships were all I could muster (Ryan Reynolds I feel your pain).

I guess the mere sight of a wheelchair would throw me into the “Friend Zone” for any girl. I can’t believe that they didn’t know that nothing says sexy more than Scoliosis and Muscle Atrophy. While I often used my chair and illness as an excuse, I’m not completely without blame either.

The main reason is because whenever I would see a girl that I was interested in, my head flooded with questions.

  • What do I say?
  • How do I take her on a date?
  • Who can take me on the date?
  • Will my parents have to drop me off?
  • Will she mind feeding me?

I often couldn’t find the answer to these questions and decided that it isn’t worth the embarrassment, so I never did anything but watch her pass by and wonder. I worried too much about my “accommodations” and disabilities and sabotaged my chances before even trying. It was my own self-doubt that seems to be the biggest hurdle.

Every time I watched a romantic comedy (and yes, it is more often than you think), I sat in envy. I so badly wanted to experience what it was like to have a girlfriend. Not just for those romantic, sensual moments, but for those moments that seem to be overlooked at times.

You know, those moments where you cuddle with each other on the couch to watch TV, talk all night in bed about nothing and everything or just walk silently down the sidewalk, enjoying each other’s company. These are the moments I wished to experience, but felt I would never get the chance.

As I look back and think about everything that has happened, I realized that I have to stop being a spectator and get in the game. I may never be able to do the chivalrous things like pull out her chair, stand up when she leaves the table or hold open a door, but I can still be that perfect boyfriend. All it takes is one chance.

Sometimes, it seems like my dating game is unwinnable. But like they say, you can’t win if you don’t play.