“High School Dropouts — In Their Own Words”
Carlos continues and talks about his education, parenting, and jobs.
I dropped out of Rincon High School when I was a junior with sophomore credits. What I loved about school was hustling. Making my money was what I really liked about school. I would sell drugs or whatever I could get my hands on. There was a time when I would go to the 7-Eleven and steal NFL pencils and Garbage Pail Kids stickers. I would sell them at school.
I felt that everyone else had a good family, a nice home. They would always bring up, “Oh, I’m going to go with my father this weekend to play basketball or go watch a game.” I kind of rebelled because I didn’t want to feel the feelings of loneliness anymore. I was never the type of person who could accept authority figures. The teacher would say, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you doing your homework?” I’d feel like, “What’s wrong with you? Who do you think you’re talking to?” That’s what I didn’t like about school. My family issues were too hard to deal with. There were too may things going on, so I couldn’t focus in school. I was always thinking in the back of my mind, “What’s going on at home?”
I didn’t just wake up and say, “I ain’t gonna go to school no more.” I started messing up little by little to where I was missing too many classes. Finally I asked, “Why am I gonna go?”
What led to the final decision was being caught up in the street life. I was too caught up in my little hustling and trying to make things better for myself. From the age of about thirteen I didn’t stay at home anymore. I paid for my own apartment. I had the place under some girl’s name. I’ve always had a way with my mouth—a way of manipulating people to do things I wanted them to do. I had older girls, college girls, who felt attracted and did things for me.
My mother rarely saw me. When she did, she’s get on her knees and cry. She’d tell me to stop doing whatever I was doing. I was so full of rage, so full of anger. Much of that anger was toward my mom. I thought, “Why aren’t you making it better for us? There are people who come from different countries and have businesses. You just sit at home and don’t do anything.”
I was a welfare baby, and that made me angrier at my mother even though she went to a career college. After the molestation of my sister, it knocked her back down. Now that I’m older, I realize that my mom just wanted to be home and take care of us. She felt bad for leaving the house after what happened to my sister. At the time I dropped out, it was the only thing I could do. I have two young sisters and a little brother. Seeing the look on their faces when I would bring them new shoes, clothes, when I put money in their pockets. That’s all I could think about.
I didn’t have many friends in high school. There was a group of kids that lived behind the junior high. We all stuck together in our own gang, clique. We were called the Helen Street Posse Bloods. For some reason growing up I never wanted to go outside the little clique. Whatever we would do, we would do together. We started out with about ten kids hanging around together. Little by little, their cousins started coming around. My cousins came around. Other kids from the school learned about what we were doing and wanted to fit in. That was when selling drugs, messing with the girls, and crime activity came into play.
It was the late-eighties, early nineties when Colors, a movie from Los Angeles came to Tucson. Everyone jumped into the colors—it was like a fad. Either you were a Blood or a Crip. We never went outside the clique. We knew what would happen. We were going to get jumped or have to start shooting somebody, or somebody was going to shoot at us. I always carried a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson with two clips—fifteen rounds. I would also carry a little .38-revolver. The reason I would carry my thirty-eight is that if I had to shoot somebody close, the bullet casings would not fall out. If I had to run and shoot back, I’d use my automatic.
The parents of the kids where I hung out behind the junior high didn’t pay attention to us. They thought that we weren’t doing as much as we were doing. They didn’t under-stand. The parents of those kids were from Mexico. The gangs in Mexico were nothing compared to the gangs around here. It was easy for us to hide what we were doing.
Becoming a Father
I was nineteen years old when my first son was born. Lydia was my high school sweet-heart, and she had my first two kids. I was supposed to be such a bad guy, and I ended up with a preacher’s daughter. She moved to California, but I still see the kids. They were here all summer. I have them for Christmas vacation, too. I never want my kids to have the feelings I had growing up—the feeling of being lonely, the feeling of wondering if I was wanted, the feelings about poverty and living in a poor place. I bend over backwards for my kids. I don’t have any child-support issues. My kids are my life. Two of my boys are in football. The boys in California are in honor classes. My baby girl is my shadow. I’m giving them what I never had—discipline and structure.
You know why I have so many damn kids? I always wanted a daughter. The only kid I ever wanted was a baby girl. When my wife found out she was pregnant, we decided that no matter what the sex, it was going to be my last kid. Not only was the baby my daughter, but she was born on Valentine’s Day. I’m fixed, and I can’t have any more. I’m done. I’ve hung ’em up.
I met my present wife through a friend. From the very first day I met Amelia, we have spent almost every day together. I call her my wife. She’s my fiancée. I proposed to her on Mother’s Day and bought her a big, bad rock to make it official. We plan on getting married in September next year.
High School Diploma and Work
I studied for my GED through the probation department. I went to GED graduation in June 2005. I’m thirty years old. I’ve made a lot of money, but I don’t have anything to show for it. Now I’m at the community college, majoring in theater arts. You need that for a job that’s not out in the sun, breaking your back.
At the most, I’ve had about five jobs. I got my first job at sixteen, bagging groceries at Fry’s. The reason I had the job was not because I wanted to work or needed the money, it was because I was on probation. My officer said, “Either go to school or get a job.”
I’ve done construction. At one point, I made enough money to open up my own business. I used to have a clothing store in Tucson. I’ve been a rapper—performed in front of large audiences. I’ve cut an album with my group. Now I’m just a full-time student.
To be continued with “Felony Charges” and much more.