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One step through the glass doors, and I knew Mado Café was the perfect place to sit back and sip a real cappuccino. The pretty little franchised bistro, sandwiched between Ataturk St. and the Orontes River, represented the Turkey that so badly wanted to be Western European. This was a place where waiters, dressed smartly in collared shirts with skinny ties, hovered around the main dining room delivering flaky pastries and delicate ice
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My dad worked the way most immigrants who come to the U.S. do: as if his heart would cease pumping blood once sweat stopped flowing from his brow. His was a robotic pursuit of money that had nothing to do recognition or legacy. It was mostly about survival for him, his family and the restaurant he put so much of his effort into. Rex Café was his life, and by the time I was 5-years old it was known as a go-to breakfast and

Note: This article was previously published in the Standard-Examiner SATURDAY , FEBRUARY 16, 2013 - 11:14 PM

ALEPPO, Syria — The children sat huddled together at their desks. Small puffs of breath formed around their mouths as they repeated every word the teacher said.

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The lines on my mother’s face are deeper than I remember. I know I’m getting older – I can feel it every morning when I wake up – but I haven’t seen my mother in so long and her aging troubles me. There is more hard work and sacrifice etched on her face than any woman should ever endure, and I’m sure I contributed to many of the deeper rows on her skin, but there is love in her eyes as she walks into my Alexandria apartment.
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It was dark inside the armored seven-ton vehicle, but I knew exactly where we were. The smell of dust and decay filled my nostrils and at once I realized I was back. I was in the Iraqi city of my nightmares for the second time in my life. The realization made my heart sink to my feet. “Fuck me,” I whispered under my breath. “What was that Corporal?” I could feel PFC Simmons’ warm breath as he turned to me. It was fast,
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I was ten years old when my father’s other life caught up to him. He walked out of a dive bar in Edinburg, Texas, and into a wall of 9mm rounds. He was dead before we arrived at the hospital, and I was the new man of the house before we got back to our tiny, two-bedroom trailer later that night. I imagine losing a father this way is tough on any kid, but living in poverty made the pain worse. The first summer without my father was
Note: This article was first published in the 2012 issue of Panorama Magazine during my last semester at the University of Texas Pan American. Before practice starts for the Bronc baseball team, players can be seen running to the third-base dugout at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium to wait for their daily instructions. They don’t walk or trot, they run the 100 yards from the right field entrance to the team’s meeting area
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