Tuesday, April 6, 2010


So I'm back in town.

[looks around at nonexistent audience]

I know you missed me.

A little bit about my return. I unfortunately left Madrid as heartbroken as I left Granada. In my short time I was there, I danced from dusk till down, learned Sevillanas, and was treated to great BBQ by one of my beautiful hosts.

The plane back, however...
I developed a fever mid-flight, a condition which was exacerbated by the fact that I had to put up with the screaming cries of two children for ten hours. Horrible experience compounded by the inedible food. I mean...what's the deal there? It's plastic. What made it worse was seeing the Israeli guy sitting next to me devouring his plate with gusto. Is food in Tel-Aviv that bad that you actually enjoy airline food? In any case, I get back to Dallas, spend a feverish night, come back, stumble across two rejection letters, find that shit is just as I left it, etc.

But I'm better now.

Enjoying myself more, enjoying the outside world more. But, I have to come back to blogging, particularly since there's a particularly delicious topic this week: Bougainvillea.

To the lot of you that aren't familiar with Bougainvillea, it's essentially a prom-type of event that the University of Texas at Brownsville has put on since the year of the nopal. It's a pretty neat event overall.
Last year, I had the opportunity to participating in the event as a candidate, alongside my best friend. These are the observations I drew from my time as a candidate:

1. People take that shit seriously-
Thousands of people vote for their Bougainvillea candidates. Only a few hundred vote for Student Government positions. Though, given the sorry state of affairs in the SGA...and given the sorry candidates that have been running the show for the past few semesters, I can't say I blame them.

2. Campaigns are dirty.
In three and a half years of being around Bougainvillea, it was amazing to see how dirty campaigning got. Two years before I ran there was a big stink going on because one of the candidates was telling people not to vote for X candidate because she was "gorda y fea". Then a year later there was the matter of mutual reporting about rule-breaking going on between candidates. Then during my own campaign, several of our signs were torn from their hinges or simply stolen. Of course during the campaigns there's always administrative involvement of sorts, in some cases covert, and in some cases blatant.

3. People really take that shit seriously
A lot of the candidates, I feel, and I might be wrong, but a lot of them see this as being a chance to be the "royalty" in proms they may not have had a chance of being in high school. I remember walking down in procession and chuckling with my partner at how short our "introductions" were. Then the other candidates went by and we realized that their own introductions were about 2-3 pages long, detailing lifetime and community "achievements" family and friends and of course the exhortation to prayer and a healthy diet and oh my god this is such a special moment in my life.
Which, of course, only made me laugh a little inside, given how our campaign was run on no such premises. We were there to show school spirit, but took the entire thing as seriously as one would take an extra credit assignment.
I mean, it's an honor and it's all in good fun, but come on, people!

4. People take not voting seriously
"I didn't do this shit in high school! I'm too cool to vote!"
Like the people on #3, some people have the same high school mentality, and same chips on the shoulder as they did about people campaigning.
When I ran, I tried my hardest to make these people understand that despite some candidates running for Prom II, there were some of us doing it for the school spirit and to have fun.
But NO.
Either these people see some of the candidates as the spitting image of that jock who jostled them around in high school (which is kind of funny in my perspective, since I was as far removed from a jock in HS as intelligence is to Tea Party members) OR the thought of people having fun was offensive to these people.

To those of you that do this, I have one request for you: Have fun being a Scorpion, even if you think it's strange or stupid.
Case in point:
In Valencia, Spain, there's a week-long event mid-March called Las Fallas, in which the city's neighborhoods all compete with each other to create huge and elaborate floats that are incredibly time-consuming to make. The winner is selected on Friday and then is promptly lit in a huge bonfire and then everyone else sets of fireworks.
Strange....but it's tradition.
And tradition, as a college student, is important.
The way I've always seen things about college in general is that you have to get involved with the campus. If you're a Longhorn you have to party in 6th Street. If you're an Aggie, you have to party in Northgate and BTHO things. If you're a Scorpion, you grin and bear with Bougainvillea (amongside a wide variety of other things that I'll talk about in a later post). Tradition brings people together and allows for a more positive and enriching college experience.
It costs you almost nothing to attend the school, other than the stupid textbooks that are unreasonably expensive, so what's wrong with having a little fun here and there?

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. That'd spoil the fun.
If I could vote, I'd support my friends Michael Peña and Cleiri Quezada, who are representing The Collegian, the only student voice on campus.
But, feel free to choose whoever :)


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