Four Things Only Mexican-Americans Will Understand

Aside from the fact that Tea-Baggers and conservatives want to deport half of your relatives, being a Mexican-American is pretty damn great. You have at least one Jesus in the family, so you know you’re protected from the wrath of God come judgment day. Also, your family knows how to make the greatest food ever created—Mexican food. You have a huge, supportive family firmly held together by Catholic fear and guilt. Like any culture, we have our little quirks that only those who grew up in a Mexican-American household will understand.

1. Come 7PM On A Weekday, It’s Time For Novelas

Es tiempo para mis novelas,” your mom will say as she changes the channel to Univision.

The Mexican household is full of workers, and when a person works all day, they need some sort of method to wind down. The men have their nights of drinking themselves to oblivion, while the women have their novelas. Novelas are Mexican soap operas that air each weekday from 7PM to 10PM.

While it isn’t too bad these days with the Internet and cheap televisions, it was pure hell for a young Mexican kid growing up in the 90s when the house only had one television set. Grandmother, mom, and aunts would be glued to the TV as they watched the dashing middle-aged Erik Estrada juggle the complications of having a young girlfriend while dealing with his kids and ex-wife. Or watching the drama unfold as a lowly india marries a big-city lawyer and struggles to be accepted into upscale Mexican society.

Mexicans are a passionate, fiery people, but the reality of the hustle and bustle of everyday life working long hours for low pay leaves them bored. The Mexican psyche needs its daily dose of drama, scandals, and gossip to function properly.

2. You Have At Least Two Family Members Who Are Here Illegally

Here’s a dose of reality for you gringos: Even the most patriotic of us Mexican-Americans has a couple of members in our family who are here illegally. We also think there is nothing wrong with them being here illegally because we know they’re just trying to build a better life for themselves. We’re not going to single them out or tell anyone who doesn’t need to know. It’s tough enough making it in this country without having any documentation, let alone when la migra is coming after your ass.

For Mexican-Americans, immigration is always a touchy issue. Candidates who go on Mexican television get drilled and called out for what they said to appeal to the FOX News-consuming demographic. We’re not as far removed from our roots as those of European descent who aren’t even sure what country their family is from originally.

For us, an illegal immigrant isn’t some random statistic that conservative pundits always seem to bitch about stealing lucrative ’merican jobs like picking strawberries and working as dishwasher at Denny’s. No, he’s our cousin Pepe who works two full-time jobs for minimum wage as he struggles to raise a family of four. Or they’re our uncle Poncho who snuck into the US 25 years ago, worked his ass off, saved his money, got his citizenship, and now owns his own business. Or it’s me, who came here illegally at age five, grew up as an American, got his citizenship, served in the military, and proved he was as much of a fucking American as any of you.

3. Every Little Thing You Do Will Be Gossiped About To The Point That Even Your Relatives In Mexico Will Know

This probably isn’t unique to Mexican-Americans, but it sure is true. The Mexican-American family thrives on gossip. Whatever happens to you or any other family member, no matter how insignificant, will be talked about repeatedly via telephone with each other member of the family. When they’re not discussing what happened in their novelas, you can best bet they’ll be discussing you.

As a kid, I would see this occur: My mom would be talking to her sister Lupe for 30 minutes. At the same time, her two other sisters—Pulga and Debra—would be talking to each other. My mom would finish her call with Lupe. Then she would call Pulga, who’s just finished her phone call with Debra. Lupe would then call Debra. My mom would have the same exact conversation, except Pulga would add details. They’d finish their conversation 30 minutes later. Then my mom would call Debra and begin to gossip with her while Lupe and Pulga called one another. This happened nightly.

That’s only the beginning. If the gossip is extra juicy, they’re going to each be calling their cousins. The gossip network is vicious and has many branches and offshoots. Word will get around, and one day you’ll be hanging out with a second cousin of yours you hadn’t seen in seven years and he’ll say, “Hey wey, I heard you got arrested a while back…”

4. Your Old Clothes Go To Mexico

If there is one thing you’re aren’t allowed to do in a Mexican household, it is throw away your old clothes or shoes. No fucking way. If your old clothes are somewhat serviceable and you don’t want them, they’re going into a box. That box isn’t just a cardboard square used for storage; it’s a lifeline of new goods for your more downtrodden relatives to wear.

Even the most industrious and Americanized of Mexican families has those members who stayed behind in Mexico. Since Mexico doesn’t always offer the best opportunities for advancement, it’s sometimes hard for a man to secure a decent-paying job. Or just like any other family, we have members who suffer from their own demons and vices that prevent them from keeping a job. La Dona of the family always feels it’s her duty that even the lowliest and most undeserving member of the family have the bare essentials: clothing and food.

It’s common practice for the Mexican-American family to go to Costco and stock up on food and other assorted goods to fill the truck up with before visiting Mexico. As much as there is a cliché that everything is cheaper is Mexico, it isn’t true. There are a lot of products that are significantly less costly in the US than they are down there. Food bought in bulk and old clothes are given to our family members who are not living quite as large as we do here. While we know it’s not much in the grand scheme of things, we help out in whatever little way we can. Porque la familia es lo más importante.

~Raul Felix

Follow me on Thought Catalog.

28 Things I’ve Learned By Age 28

It’s my 28th birthday today and as a writer, I’m obligated to pass on the insightful and not-so-insightful lessons I’ve learned during my short stint on this Earth. While I’m not the epitome of enlightenment whatsoever, I’ve made a lot of stupid mistakes, so a few life lessons have made their way through my thick skull. So take heed, young reader, as this late-20-something who knows nothing about life tells you something about life.

1.

Women are not special from men in any way. Some are sweet; some are sour. Some are warm and some are cold. Some are intelligent and some are complete idiots. They can be as kind as saints or as cruel as devils. The right one can bring out the best in you, and the wrong one can destroy you. Figuring out the ones who are genuine and the ones who are completely full of shit is the tricky part.

2.

It’s way better to look broke and have good amount of money in your bank account than to look like a baller and have a negative net worth.

3.

Being all muscle with no mind makes you a slightly smarter and much weaker gorilla. Being all brain and no muscle makes you a weak sack of shit who can’t protect himself from the physical world.

4.

Waking up next to a woman you love deeply is way more fulfilling than fucking a different chick every night of the week.

5.

Sometimes you will give something every last bit of effort and will power you have but will still face a crushing defeat. It’ll hurt you deeply, but you can take pride in the fact you tried when others would have been too afraid.

6.

You don’t have to be your father if he’s a piece of shit. The best thing about him being a piece of shit is that you don’t have to respect him. You don’t have to live up to his expectations or seek his approval. You can be a force of change and end the cycle of shitty fatherhood.

7.

Don’t read books because they’ll make you look like some sort of intellectual. Read them because it’s on a subject matter that interests you and will add to your life in whatever small way.

8.

If you don’t trust your girlfriend to have a girls’ night out and not suck another dude’s cock, then why the fuck are you with her? If she doesn’t respect you, fuck that bitch and move on.

9.

If you live in a First World country, you can truly make something out of yourself if you put in the honest effort. If you look for external forces to blame such as “the man,” your parents, or your surroundings, it’s a sign of your weakness. You can always find a way out. It may not be quick, easy, or pleasant, but there is always a way to put yourself in a better position.

10.

Your coworkers aren’t always your friends. In the Army, you could hang out, talk shit, and be yourself around your coworkers. It’s not like that in the real world.

11.

If you have to get drunk, just drinking beer will keep you out of more trouble than taking shot after shot of hard alcohol.

12.

Your emotions don’t matter. What matters is whether you do your job regardless.

13.

If a chick doesn’t text you back after two attempts, delete her number and move on.

14.

If you’re traveling across the US, pizza with all the toppings on it is the most bang-for-your-buck food you can eat. It’ll keep you full and energized all day long.

15.

Want motivation to be a writer? Look at the first blog post of your current favorite writer. Chances are, they were fucking terrible when they started. The only difference is that they started, put in the effort, and gave themselves time to evolve.

16.

It’s easy to get caught up in the extremes of liberalism and conservatism. It’s easy to think the world is black and white, that things are strictly right or wrong. That’s why it’s simple for the media to manipulate the masses with hysterical headlines and emotionally triggered stories. It takes a lot more to learn the grey side, the enemy’s side, and to realize not everything is so straightforward.

17.

I’ve never smoked cigarettes, but I know two things about them: Everyone who smokes them wants to quit, and a lot of hot chicks smoke them. So hanging out at the smoking section even though you’re not smoking isn’t too bad of an idea.

18.

If you have a fragile ego and can’t take criticism, you’re going to get crushed by real world when you’re starting out as an artist. The world is full of self-important critics and cowards who never had the balls to go after what they want. These types love to dig their teeth and nails into you and tear you apart. They see your failure as their success. Fuck them. Keep your head up, your scrappy attitude on point, and keep moving.

19.

There is more pride working a job that pays you minimum wage than staying at home and being a burden on your family.

20.

It’s better to keep your mouth shut than tell a lie.

21.

Take pictures. You don’t have to post them all up on Instagram or Facebook, but take a picture or two of special events in your life. Chances are they’ll remind you of things you’ve long forgotten about five or ten years down the line.

22.

If you do have to lie, keep your lie as close to the truth as possible. It’s easier to remember that way.

23.

You don’t have to like everyone and everyone doesn’t have to like you. You have to respect their right to exist, but that’s pretty much it.

24.

No woman is worth sacrificing a male best friend over. Chicks come and go; your best friends will be there for you as long as you remain loyal to them.

25.

Not everyone is so quick-witted that they learn on their first fuck-up. I’ve made the same mistakes two, three, twelve times before I actually learned the lesson I needed to learn.

26.

When you say most people do X, most people will think you’re not talking about them.

27.

There is a lot of power in positive male role models. I was lucky that I had this throughout my life, from my stepfather to my football coaches to the noncommissioned officers and officers who mentored me in the Army. They each had their flaws, but I took from each something that I could apply to myself.

28.

Sometimes the person with the biggest balls in the room is a woman.

~Raul Felix
Read more of my writings a Thought Catalog.

6 Ways Women Have Rejected Me

Like all you readers who click through articles that speak to the current trend in millennial dating—or sorta-dating—I, too, am on a constant and maybe hopeless quest for love and/or pussy to feed my insatiable lust. In addition to jacking off every night while crying, I go out and attempt to catch the attention of a pretty lady or two.

Most guys go to the bar and content themselves with boozing, and maybe if things go right and she gives him enough signals, they’ll go out and talk to a chick. I go in, scan the scene, designate possible targets, and decide how I am going to go about hitting on them. Contrary to my excellent writing skills, I’m not a smooth talker whatsoever. To compensate for this and my many other shortcomings as a human being, I’ve developed a dead-reckoning philosophy for hitting on chicks.

It’s a simple two-step process:

1.

See cute chick and check for possible indicators that’s she single.

2.

Go talk to her and hope I say the right thing that leads to me ripping off her panties with my teeth in the near future.

What happens next is what separates the men from the boys. You get rejected a whole fucking lot—so much that you start to notice patterns in the ways you get rejected.

1. The One-Word Answer

This is a staple among girls who are too shy or nice to tell you they’re not interested directly. You’re trying to strike up a conversation about something—anything—in order to get the natural flow of human interaction going, but you keep hitting dead ends.

“So, what do you do for a living?”

“Secretary.”

“Uh…that’s cool. That’s a very dashing red dress you have on.”

“Thanks.”

“Have any idea of what you want to do in the future?”

“School.”

“What’s your opinion on the ISIS taking over Iraq?”

“Sad.”

“I’ve traveled quite a bit; what’s your favorite place to travel to?”

“Paris.”

You then stand there, hoping she will elaborate or maybe ask you a question, but she just sits there, looking in any direction but yours.

“OK, I can see I have failed here…I’m out.”

“Bye.”

2. The Overly Aggressive Bitch Block

The shock and awe of this tactic surprises even the most experienced of men. The usual condition: A highly attractive woman, rating an 8-plus on a scale of 10, is standing around with one or two of her chick friends. Her friends may even be attractive in their own right. You go to the group with hopeful vigor and enthusiasm at maybe hitting it off with such a beauty. You attempt to make your presence known:

“Hey ladies…how are….”

“She’s not interested!” One of the wenches interrupts you mid-sentence as she puts her arms in front of you.

You pause, not sure whether you should be a dick because fuck that rude bitch or attempt to reason with the callous creature. Whatever path you choose, it’s going to lead you through Strike-Out Junction en route to Rejectionville.

3. The New Age Hippie Rejection

You’ve been talking to this girl for a while. She’s pretty, cool, laid back, and seems to have a decent sense of humor. It’s not the deepest immediate connection you’ve had, but there may be something there. When it’s time to part ways, you ask for her number.

“Not this time. If fate has us crossing paths again, I’ll give it you.”

“How about we don’t count on fate and you give me your number now?”

“If it’s meant to be, we’ll cross paths again. You should trust in that.”

“I don’t believe in that hippie shit.”

The New Age Hippie Rejection is passive-aggressive rejection disguised as mystical false hope in order to make the girl who just shot you down seem like a compassionate human being who believes in karma, destiny, and goodwill. The truth is that if she was truly interested in your cock, she’d give you her number instead of making you seem like a gullible idiot who hopefully awaits the day when true love and fate will align and bring you two back into each other’s lives.

4. The Bait and Switch

You’re talking to a table of girls and are being quite charming for once in your life. The booze is flowing through your veins at the perfect ratio that enables you to be witty, sarcastic, and a bit debonair. They’re really receptive to you, and the one you have your eyes on is giggling to her friends. You take a seat next to her and attempt to begin a one-on-one conversation, which she humors for a little bit.

“Have you met Becky?” She then proceeds to point out her homely friend that you barely noticed before. You attempt to be as cordial as possible and ask Becky canned questions.

“You two should talk. She’s single!” The two switch places, and the glorious example of womanhood is replaced by the dud. You grudgingly talk to Becky a bit more and realize you’re not going to get anywhere with the woman you actually want. You pleasantly bid them adieu and go on your way. Your days of jumping on grenades are over, dammit!

5. The Best Friend Forever Barrier

I’ve written about the Best Friend Forever (BFF) Barrier before. It’s a simple yet highly effective method of rejecting would-be ass-grinders while dancing. Chicks have employed this technique since their first middle-school dance, so by the time they’re old enough to hit the bars, they have internalized it to the point that they might not even realize they’re doing it.

Should you be so bold as to attempt to infiltrate a group of chicks during their body-spasm ritual and go for the prettiest of them all, you may meet with the treacherous BFF Barrier. The BFF will take a disliking to you because either you’re not a dreamy heartthrob or because you dare impose on their “girls’ night out.” For committing such heinous sins, it’s of the utmost importance that they exile you swiftly.

Like clockwork, one of the BFFs will strut up to the woman of your dreams and provocatively dance with her. This is but a ruse to enable her to shrewdly snatch her friend away. While this occurs, the rest of the BFFs form a perimeter of jealousy; it’s creeper-protection to box you out. You have two choices: either stand there looking like a fool or abort.

6. The Disappearing Act

You’re in a good mood today. The previous night, you met an awesome chick and really clicked with her. Your conversation flowed effortlessly. She was educated, quick-witted, and uniquely beautiful. She gave you every signal in the book to indicate that she was as into you as you were into her. While you only got a simple kiss out of her, it was enough. Hell, she even had you call her cell number so she could have your number. And she told you to text her the next day. You know better than to get excited about getting just a number, but fuck it; you’re going to let yourself get excited.

It’s late afternoon and you decided it’s an appropriate time to text.

“Hey, it’s Raul.”

You don’t hear back from her within the hour…or day…or the next couple of days. You know that girls always have their phones glued to their hands, but you also know better than to pester them with texts. Hoping that she was just absentminded, you text her again a few days later. You hear nothing. You look at your two unacknowledged texts and shake your head. “Oh well,” you think to yourself as you delete her number, “that’s what you get for letting yourself get excited.”

~Raul Felix

You can read more of my writing at Thought Catalog.

Four Years Of Hell: College V. The Army

Co-created with Lance Pauker & Ella Ceron

Which path should you choose: going to college or joining the military? Young people who’ve asked themselves this question have received a plethora of different answers. Both options are viable in helping you set yourself up for success in adulthood. Just like anything else in life, it’s what you make of it, and no two experiences are exactly the same. To help you understand the lifestyle differences between the two paths, two college graduates and one veteran will share with you a year-by-year breakdown of their experiences through those very special four years.

Freshman Year:

Lance Pauker: 

There was a lot of pressure to meet people, but at first you didn’t really know how. So you just stuck to the same three questions, consisting of things like, “Where are you from?,” “What’s your major?,” and, “Are you secretly the son of an oil tycoon?”

Overall, I think I was a little too overwhelmed to really process what was going on—there’s so much coming at you at once. You’ve got the sudden freedom, you’ve got these new people in your life that you’re suddenly good friends with, and you’ve got professors constantly asking you if you did the reading. If there’s anything you figure out quickly, it’s that nobody really does the reading.

Ella Ceron:
I went to college 3,000 miles away from my hometown and was only really able to do so on a full-ride academic scholarship. It was terrifying being in a new city—though I’m from a large city, moving to New York was still a huge change. It was weird living with so many other people my age in one building all of a sudden, and I had five roommates in a very small three-bedroom/one-communal-area dorm. There was a lot of pressure on keeping my grades up, especially when what I thought I wanted my major to be proved much more difficult to maintain, and I had to take a good, hard look at whether I wanted to pursue that dream without my scholarship or change my course. I went home for the summer after that year and very desperately didn’t want to go back. I was homesick, miserable, hadn’t found a group of friends I felt very intrinsically close to, and felt all-around awkward.

Raul Felix:
Your first year in the Army is basically where you get your teeth kicked in. Everything you were, did, and knew no longer seems relevant. You’re going to do shit the way the Army wants you to do it. From your drill sergeants in Basic Training all the way to your team leaders and squad leaders in your first unit, you’re expected to be a sponge for knowledge and to shut your fucking mouth.

Life was simple in a way: You trained hard and worked long hours during the week and got drunk as fuck in the barracks with your buddies on the weekends watching movies, playing video games, and bitching about your miserable existence and how you should have gone to college. Even if you started off as a cavalier, gleaming-eyed young man full of glee and hope, the aura of massive amounts of testosterone, cynicism, and sexual frustration was prevalent. Back then MySpace was the main social network and you’d see your friends posting pictures of themselves at college parties surrounded by hot chicks, while all you had was Internet porn and a bottle of Jack to keep you company. Since most of us were under 21 and none of us were locals, meeting chicks was very rare indeed. Luckily, a few months in, I met a great girl through MySpace that went to a local university and we developed a long-term fuck-buddy relationship that gave me something to look forward to other than drinking myself into oblivion. My cousin and I were in the same battalion but different companies. He had already been the in Army for a little over two years at that point. We spent Christmas and New Year’s together drinking heavily in the barracks watching movies as we waited to deploy.

Sophomore Year:

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Spc Tiffany Fudge, US ARMY

Lance Pauker:
An article I once read on this pretty great website called Thought Catalog (def check it out if you get the chance) referred to sophomore year as “The Year Of The Wise Fools.” I think this summation is spot-on. You’re slowly gaining a sense of who you are and how you fit within the general landscape, but you’re still, relatively, an idiot. On a personal level, the majority of cool college stories I have occurred during sophomore year.

I feel like sophomore year represents the time in which you begin to move toward that thing you really want to pursue—you’ve finally figured out which people to acknowledge and which people to slowly start ignoring, so you’re finally ready to learn on your terms. Think of it as making your way through a crowded and cramped bar and then finally reaching the cool outside area. You light up a cig, talk about how you really shouldn’t be lighting up a cig, and finally get a chance to think.

Ella Ceron:
I had a summer job in Los Angeles during the summer break and was lucky enough to transfer to a New York outpost of the same company, so I was juggling four and five courses a semester with 30-to-40-hour work weeks. Though my classes were being paid for by the school, I had to take out loans for my housing and had to fund my own food, clothes, and anything else I wanted. It was a lot, but I was able to interact with people who were already living and working in the “real world” and I realized that there was so much beyond the papers and assignments that I had been so stressed about during the previous year. I still didn’t have as many friends as college is always portrayed in the movies, but I let myself completely fill up my schedule so that I was either working or studying seven days a week. In retrospect, that was the stupidest idea ever, but it helped me cope with the loneliness.

Raul Felix:
To my bitter disappointment, that deployment I spent doing a support role for the line guys. We pushed out supplies from the main base to all of the platoons scattered throughout the country. When we did leave the base, it was doing detainee escorts where we would take captured Hajis from one prison to another throughout the country on Chinooks and Blackhawk helicopters. I saw the vastness of Iraq by the air—from our remote outpost in Al Qa’im to the major cities of Baghdad, Mosul, and Tikrit. I also fucked up a lot that deployment and made nearly every single stupid mistake a cherry private could make to the frustration and wrath of my leadership. That deployment I was hit by how real this war was—my cousin’s team leader and squad leader both got killed in action.

We deployed in three-months-there and six-months-back cycles. We came back stateside and I began to take all the lessons learned from that deployment into the next training cycle, determined to be less of a fuck-up. The lifestyle of training hard, drinking hard, and fucking hard took firm hold again. Before one knew it, it was time to go to Afghanistan. Arriving at the beginning of the blistering Afghan winter, me and a dozen other Batt Boys were tasked to man a secret prison that contained high-value targets that were freshly captured off of objectives by the line guys. It pissed me off because I didn’t join the Army to stay on the base; I joined to go on fucking missions. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas there, and I spent New Year’s Eve 2007 on an airplane ride back to the US. Luckily we didn’t lose anyone on that deployment.

Junior Year

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 10.15.55 AM

KT King

Lance Pauker:
I went abroad the first semester of my junior year. Like everyone else who went abroad, I had such an incredible time that I spent the following semester acting superior to everyone who didn’t share the same new life experience as me.

Returning to college after spending a semester traveling all over Europe felt like going from an Elton John concert to an Austin Mahone concert. No disrespect to my man Austin; he just fits the reference.

Ella Ceron:
When everyone else went abroad, I moved out of the dorms and into my first apartment—a really crappy walkup that was about a 20-minute walk away from the campus. I still filled my schedule with work and school and tried to romanticize how utterly threadbare my life was. My roommate bought our couch with a bottle of Belvedere, I slept on a yoga mat before I managed to get a bed, and I wrote my papers on a busted laptop with an old radiator whistling nearby. This all sounds like something out of the New York warehouse episodes of Glee, and I deeply wish I wasn’t as proud of the bohemian bullshit I let myself dive into. I still worked 40 hours a week, and I really liked my job, but that began to happen at the expense of shirking off a lot of my papers and assignments, only to make up excuses to get extensions and not fail out of my classes. It was a wakeup call that being an adult is a lot more about work than it is about the aesthetic, and sometimes you have to decide which is more important to you in the moment and which is more important to you in the long run.

Raul Felix:
By that time, I was comfortable in the Army. I wasn’t a big fuck-up anymore, so my leaders usually stayed off my ass. I knew exactly what I needed to do, what my job was, and what I could and couldn’t get away with. I turned 21 that year, went to my first bar in Seattle, and subsequently got kicked out of my first bar.

We were set to deploy again that summer, and a few days before deployment I found my grandmother had died. My cousin and I went to her funeral and missed out on the deployment. We stayed on Rear Detachment, which meant we pretty much had half-days all the time and spent much of that time drinking heavily and attempting to find some tail, mostly unsuccessfully. One morning, news came that one of the men in our company had been killed in action. A few weeks later, another one had been killed.

Senior Year

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Spc Justin Young, US ARMY

Lance Pauker:
Senior year was the crossroads between living in an apartment that should probably be condemned and being “adult” enough to drink something other than watered-down Keystone Light. I found that I probably made the most friends in college senior year—just like senior year of high school, nobody really cares about the social distinctions they spent the past three years maintaining. People are finishing up sports, slightly embarrassed to have been a part of their Greek organization, and overall too consumed with the postgrad unknown to care about how sick Freddy’s party was. You also realize how much of an unrealistic bubble the American college experience is. While I definitely got a ton out of my four years, you certainly realize how alarming the disconnect is. If college prepares you for the working world, then playing baseball prepares you for running a marathon. They’re both sports, but that’s pretty much it.

Ella Ceron:
By senior year, I was totally immersed in my job, and a big chunk of me didn’t think I really NEEDED my degree anymore—but then I realized that the job trajectory I was on wasn’t the right fit after all. I was working 60 hours a week, could afford a lot of really nice things, made friends with my coworkers, and was acting the part of the adult—but I just wasn’t happy. I had to force myself to put any effort into my classes, because I’d saved a lot of the easy, fun classes for senior year, knowing full well I’d have senioritis. The caveat in that, however, was that I was constantly reminding myself that if I could do okay by coasting along, imagine how much better I could do by working hard. Ultimately, I realized that the degree I eventually chose meant more to me than the job I’d had all through college and that I not only wanted to actually pursue using my degree, but that I’d be disappointed if I didn’t.

Working through college was a very important part of my experience, because it gave me a crash course in the wild world of money and having an apartment and adulthood and adult friends, but I was worn really thin throughout those four years and wouldn’t necessarily suggest you try to do everything all at once if you don’t absolutely need to. If I could do it all over again, and if I had the means, I would definitely have not worked as much as I did, even though I don’t regret how hard I worked. College is a time for discovery, and sometimes I wonder if I was too burdened with bills and being a grown-up to do that then—but now I’m making up for it by discovering myself along the way now.

Raul Felix:
Another training cycle started. The same dance all over again. I had calmed down my bar-hopping since I had gotten a girlfriend, but it didn’t mean I still didn’t drink to my heart’s content. Working, drinking, and hanging out with my girl was all I contented myself with during that training cycle. It had all become second nature at that point. We took off for the sandbox again. This time I drove Strykers through the streets of Mosul on hundreds of direct action raids. I was happy because at last I was doing the cool guy shit I’ve been training for. In typical poetic fashion, my girlfriend broke up with me. This was costliest and most heart-wrenching deployment during my time in battalion. We lost three great men all within a month of each other.

It’s a strange feeling being in a bar when only 48 hours earlier you were in the middle of the streets of Mosul pulling security. I was more than eager to get out of the Army. I had acquired an annoyed and hate-filled attitude toward my job, but I knew I had one deployment left before I was free at last. I bought a motorcycle and developed a passion for motorcycle travel when my buddies and I took a trip around Washington State.

In my final deployment to Iraq, I was driving Strykers like I did before. Though we did go on quite a few missions, it was way slower than the previous high-operations tempo deployment. The war was winding down. There was a stretch where we went two weeks without a single mission. Books, video games, and TV shows were how you kept your sanity from the boredom. I came back with only a month left on my enlistment. One month later, I hopped on my motorcycle to travel the US, leaving behind the red-fenced compound that took me in during my most formative years and forged me into a man.

~Raul Felix

You can read more of my writing at Thought Catalog.

2 Stupid Pieces of Dating Advice That Women Always Give Me

I’m no dating expert, despite the fact that I’ve been on tons of dates and have hooked up with a lot of women who won’t return my texts. I have a competitive edge over most guys in the dating scene because I have cojones grandes. I’m not scared to talk to any girl in any situation, and I probably hit on and get rejected by more chicks in a week than the average American male will in his lifetime.

My balls-to-the-wall attitude regarding women and sex, coupled with the extensive human sexual evolution and psychology literature I’ve read over the years, have led me to the conclusion a lot of the advice you chicks give us men regarding women is bullshit. A lot of their advice operates on the premise on “how it ought to be” rather than “how it is.”

Well, I don’t live the utopian future where all of society’s ills regarding gender inequality and communication issues between the sexes don’t exist anymore. I live in the present, where chicks are flaky and have contradictory notions of what they want. Most girls these days are doing the whole “Eat, Pray, Love” shit while they bitch about not having Dreamy McDreamerson galloping in on a white horse to save them from themselves. They also demand that he respect the fact that she is an independent woman with a past, a heart that loved too much, and herpes she contracted from that one guy she fucked in the bathroom of Baja Sharkeez.

As if my bitter words weren’t enough of an indicator, I often get frustrated dealing with the opposite sex—sometimes enough to want to throw in the towel and swear off the she-devils for a while. During those turbulent times, I reach out to the few female friends I have and ask for their advice, only to be given this sort of useless claptrap:

1. “Just wait: Someone special will come along.”

This sets up the advisor to be right, no matter what. You can “just be waiting” for a week or ten years, but regardless, they’ll be right. When a lovely lady finally comes into your life, your advisor will smugly say, “Told you I was right” as if it was her advice that brought this person into your life in the first place.

It makes sense from the female perspective, because dating for a chick comes down to chance encounter with a charming, dashing gentleman. If he doesn’t meet the aesthetic requirements on her checklist, not to worry—another dashing gentleman will come around in a few minutes.

If you’re an assertive male who grabs life by the balls, this type of advice makes zero sense. Why, if you truly want something, would you sit around with your thumb up your ass waiting for some mystical force in the universe to deliver it to you? Wouldn’t you want to figure out how to meet pretty girls and where they congregate? Wouldn’t you want to figure out how to best increase your chances of meeting one who fits you and your personality? Wouldn’t you want to learn what you can and can’t accept in a partner? Merely waiting won’t accomplish any of that.

It may come as a shocker to you girls, but most of you are cowards. Chicks rarely, if ever, hit on us directly. The closest that most of us guys get to being directly hit on is when a chick looks at us while we’re looking away and then looks away when we look at her. We’re left having to read the fact that she is twirling her hair or playing with the straw in her cup as a subtle clue that she into us. Then, hoping we read the hints correctly, we go up to her and try to avoid saying anything too stupid. We’re the man; we make the first move. It’s part of the game. But that can’t happen if we are “just waiting.”

2. “You’re not going to meet a good girl at a bar.”

This advice is spewed out with zero irony by chicks that just posted Instagram pictures of themselves hosting drinks at the bar. Yeah, every girl at the bar is a fucking wretched whore—except you and your friends, right? While I agree that the women who frequent bars are trashier per capita, there are also a lot of girls who go to bars that aren’t.

Let’s say I was to follow this advice and not try to meet chicks at bars. Where should I meet them, then? What other places have a consistently fresh supply of females that a man can approach?

Coffee shops? It sounds good in theory. Sophisticated chicks love coffee, especially if it’s expensive. You order something at random because you don’t know shit about coffee and sit down at a chair that gives you a good vantage point of the room. After waiting for an hour for a chick to appear who is clearly alone, you sit next to her and strike up a conversation. It all goes well until you ask her what university she goes to, and then she tells you she is 17 and wants to go to UCLA. You realize that it’s best to leave the conversation there, wish her well, and be on your way. I’ve found that females at coffee shops are typically 70% high-schoolers, 20% old bags, 15% chicks who already have boyfriends, and 5% chicks who are talking on their phone the whole fucking time so you can’t even make a move.

Meeting girls at church? I’m a godless, heathen bastard.

Gym? Of course! That has the built-in benefit that the chick is far less likely to be a useless fat sack of shit. You go to the gym and are getting your swole on, trying to scout for potential targets. You notice that those chicks who wear those revealing, skimpy outfits for you to ogle all seem have a big rock on their finger that is worth more than your annual salary, or she’s with her man working out because that’s what healthy couples do. The one chick that is truly alone is wearing a baseball cap, has her headphones in, and is wearing a loose T-shirt. She’s basically stating, “I’m here to work out. Leave me the fuck alone.” If you foolishly attempt to hit on her, you’ll get shut down quickly—not only that, you’ll have to avoid her piercing, judgmental stares every time you go to the gym afterward.

Fuck. I wish there was a place where men and women could casually gather to meet other men and women in an atmosphere that encourages you to meet new people. If only such a place existed.

You ought to be able to be yourself and have a wonderful woman come into your life, but that shit doesn’t happen. You have to be proactive and take the hits of rejection and failure until you meet one that makes all the bullshit you dealt with worth it. You ought to be able to meet girls casually in a non-alcohol-induced daze, but the reality is that if you’re no longer in college or don’t have a work environment that allows fraternization, an alcohol-induced daze is probably how you’re going to meet your next lover. It’s the dirty, filthy reality.

~Raul Felix

You can read more of my work at Thought Catalog.

3 Things People Who Served In The Military Do That Make Them Look Like Tools

Regardless of how much the media likes to depict everyone who serves in the military as the essence of integrity, professionalism, and selfless service, there are lot of people who are total fucking tools. Just like any large organization, the military has its share of window-licking, mouth-breathers whose only talent in life is not choking on their own tongue when they sleep. What happens when people like this get to wear the service uniform for the holy cock of freedom that is the United States? They use it to compensate for their many other shortcomings, of course.

1. Wearing Dog Tags As A Fashion Accessory

Just like many of the other ills in America, Hollywood is to blame for this trend. In the movies, you’ll see a battle-hardened Special Ops guy in an olive-drab tank top sitting alone at the bar drinking straight whiskey. He clutches his dog tags that hang around his neck and begins to reminisce about combat. Cue CCR’s “Fortunate Son” and flash back to Vietnam 1969.

The reality is that the scrawny guy wearing his dog tags over his Abercrombie & Fitch shirt is more than likely a cherry fucking private who just finished Basic Combat Training and thinks he’s a real soldier now. He has to show the whole world how much of a Billy Badass he is because having a high and tight and weighing a buck thirty-five isn’t enough of an indication that he’s a soldier. Wearing dog tags will surely be a conversation starter with the fairer sex and moisten her panties.

He doesn’t know that there are other soldiers and veterans at the bar with multiple deployments who aren’t as blatantly obvious about it and think he looks like a total tool. They’ll chuckle among themselves and shake their heads in disgust. Looks like they’ll let any kind of retard in the military these days.

2. Posting Moronic Memes On Facebook

If you’ve had anyone in the military as a friend on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a meme saying something similar to this: “Share if you think a person in camouflage should make more money than one in a jersey.” This will be accompanied with a picture of a soldier covered in mud hating his miserable existence in contrast to one of a famous football player in a packed stadium. This ensures the poster gets guilt-driven Likes and Shares because if you don’t think that, you obviously hate the troops.

When a person posts that, what they’re really telling you is that not only aren’t they the sharpest tool in the shed—they aren’t even in the shed. They’re so dull that they fail to grasp how the free market and the premise of supply and demand work—you know, the very things our men and women in uniform are fighting to preserve.

People in the military are all about telling the harsh truth. Well, here is one: It takes considerably more talent, skill, and hard work to be a professional athlete than it does to be a common Joe in the military. Have you been training since the age of five to be a soldier? Did you stand out as an All-Star in high school, get a scholarship to a Division One school, and then, despite the 1-in-100 odds, get drafted to a professional team? There is a reason why guys who sacrifice million-dollar contracts who decide to join the military make the news, while Joe Snuffy—who dropped out of community college while working at Subway and didn’t know what else to do with his life so he joined the Army National Guard—doesn’t.

3. Mentioning Something About Their Military Service In Every Conversation

You’re in your college US History class discussing the Great War and how gruesome it was. Then a longhaired, unshaven, and overweight former Marine wearing a “Mess With The Best, Die Like The Rest” Devil Dog T-shirt raises his hand.

“Oh yeah, my former unit that I served in Iraq with, the 5th Marine Regiment, was in the Great War.” Then he smugly lowers his hand and coyly looks around to see who is highly impressed with the fact the he is a veteran. You sit there thinking, “What the fuck does that have to do with anything?”

Very few things indicate that a service member has no depth to their personality than their inability not to talk about the military regardless of how irrelevant to the conversation it may be. You could be talking about how much you love puppies; they’ll talk about the scraggly dogs in Mosul. It’s a bit a chilly out today. “This is fucking nothing. When I was in the mountains of Afghanistan, we froze our balls off.” You’re trying to decide where to get lunch. “Oh, it doesn’t matter. Anything is better than eating MREs like we had to do in the FOB.”

While the military is a vicious, soul-sucking beast that leaves a lasting impact on those who serve, it’s not so consuming that it leaves an individual with no personality and unable to have other hobbies and interests. While it’s great to be proud of one’s service, it’s also the mark of a huge tool bag if he is unable to talk about anything but his time in the belly of the beast.

~Raul Felix

Check out more of my work at Thought Catalog.

Why Should I Write About Her?

“Will you write about me?” The question is always on the tip of her tongue. She may not ask it immediately because she doesn’t want to seem like another one of your admirers. She’ll take her time, earn your trust, and maybe win your heart—but she’ll eventually ask it.

You don’t know what to say. You’re barely able to focus on the articles you’re writing, let alone whether this tryst will be something you’ll remember and feel is worth writing about a week, month, or year from now.

Girls all seem special in their own way when they’re in front of you. But the moment of lust eventually passes and only memories remain. That’s the tricky part. What will you remember about her? How her piercing blue eyes and her charming accent made you melt. Or maybe the way her body conformed to yours effortlessly, as if every one of her limbs was custom-made to fit your body. Or how she would visit you at work and wanted you to stick your fingers in her pussy when no one was looking. Maybe it will be how she snorted coke and took shots of whiskey before you fucked. Or the way she made you feel emotionally secure, even on the first night you ever spent with her. Or the way her youthfulness and naivety made you feel grizzled and ancient.

These are the random little things you remember about several of the recent women that passed through your life. Some used you for their own purposes and moved on, others rejected you when you wanted something more, and others seemed to fizzle away with no drama.

“Maybe,” you respond.

You’ve noticed that the women you’ve encountered all wish to be your muse. It feeds their vanity to know that they may be immortalized in one of your essays.

“What will you write?”

“I don’t know.”

That answer always seems to disappoint them, as if you’re supposed to be able to instantly pick sugary prose out from mid-air and assemble a lean, insightful account of this affair. You never know if she will be a footnote in your heart or have her own book.

You barely know her and her true character. She’s a woman and thus skilled in the art of deception. Not all women are liars, but enough of them are that you’ve learned to not fully trust one until she earns it.

She snuggles with you and tells you sweet nothings. She tells you of her life, philosophy, and aspirations. She tells you of her family and friends. She tells you about her job, coworkers, and career goals. She tells you about her ex-boyfriends and how she wants to focus on herself and isn’t ready for a serious relationship right now.

Maybe you’ll write about her. About how you met her. About how you charmed her. About the way she made your heart skip a beat with her beauty. About the conversations you had. About the times you fucked.

More than likely, she’ll be out of your life as quickly as she became part of it, whether it was after a one-night stand or having a several-month fling. Only when she’s out can you truly know if you want to write about her.

You don’t want to write about her. Writing about her will bring back the emotions you started to develop. Writing about her will put you in the state of vulnerability that you recklessly allowed her to see. Writing about her will be a confession of your need for a romantic connection. Writing about her would mean she meant more to you than you did to her. Writing about her will mean she won, and you’re too proud to let that cunt win.

~Raul Felix

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog.