Transcript

501:

The View From In Here
Transcript

Originally aired 07.26.2013

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Full audio: http://tal.fm/501

Prologue.

Ira Glass

A friend in South Africa sent me the link to this article that is making the rounds there. It's an open letter, supposedly from the foreign media, to every man, woman, and child in their country.

It begins, "Dear South Africa, please get the F of the way. Wait, that probably came out wrong. As you may have noted, we're back!" Meaning of course, that the foreign press has returned to South Africa to cover what is happening now with Nelson Mandela. I'll go back to the letter.

"In the real world, far away from your sleepy backwater, news works on a 24-hour cycle, and you need to get out of the way. It's nothing personal. In fact, we couldn't do this successfully without you.

In many cases, our footage is made more compelling by your presence. Specifically, we are fond of small black children praying and slash or singing in unison. Equally telegenic are the Aryan ubermensch blond kids, also praying slash singing, who help underscore the theme that Mandela united people of all races under a rainbow umbrella.

Also very important, thematically speaking, are Mandela's successors. We very much like the idea that your ex-president was quote, 'one of a kind', and that despite his best efforts, the current batch of idiots proved that he was an exceptional presence. Sui generis. And we don't have to worry about someone else like him coming along in Africa ever again.

We enjoy your leaders' bumbling ways, their daft nonsequiturs. This story would lack a tragic arc without Jacob Zuma." That of course, is the current president of the country. "May he keep on keeping on."

The letter continues. "Then there's the Mandela family. Really, where would we derive our soap operatic undertones if it weren't for the infighting and blinged-up brashness of that clan? We love subtly implying that a saint sired a generation of professional shoppers, no-goodniks.

In our biz we call that irony. Makes for great copy. In fact, we love everything about the country that doesn't live up to Mandela's legacy.

We will take every opportunity to mention how everything you do flies in the face of everything Mandela would have wanted for his people, how you're basically a nation of underachieving screw ups. All of this is fantastic. We thank you profusely for your individual and collective contributions to this essential storyline, and urge you to keep squandering your potential."

Can I say what I love about this? It was written by a journalist named Richard Poplak for the South African news service Daily Maverick, which you can find online.

What I love about this is how it doesn't just take us foreigners inside how a South African might see our news coverage and the tone of that coverage, it also reveals a world of utterly justified resentments that I guess maybe we could have suspected, but we didn't really know about. It is an insider's view totally.

Well, today on our radio show, we have stories from three radically different locations. We dive into three very different worlds for the insider's view that only insiders have.

From WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life, distributed by Public Radio International. I'm Ira Glass. Stay with us.

Act One. Weeds of Discontent.

Ira Glass

Act One, The Weeds of Discontent. What we have now is a recording of a very unusual conversation that came about in an unusual way.

There's this filmmaker named Eugene Jarecki who made a documentary about prisons and the criminal justice system called The House I Live In. And he's been taking it around the country and showing it in prisons, kind of Johnny Cash style, for inmates and corrections staff.

One of our producers, Brian Reed, went to one of those screenings, which is where this conversation happened. Here's Brian.

Brian Reed

The screening I saw was at Joseph Harp Correctional Center, a medium security prison in Lexington, Oklahoma. About 35 inmates, most of them in for drug related crimes or with a history of drug use, sat waiting in the visiting room in chairs facing a projector screen.

Prison Guard

Once we get to where we're getting ready to start the movie, if you're here, you're staying.

Brian Reed

More than a dozen staff members came to watch the movie too, including the warden and some state officials from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. And before the screening started, what did these drug offenders think the movie was going to be about?

Prisoner 1

Rehab.

Prisoner 2

Probably about some drugs and how to prevent yourself from doing some drugs.

Prisoner 3

How drugs is bad for you. How it mess up your skin and your body. Make you age quicker too.

Brian Reed

But these guys were way off base. The House I Live In is about how drugs are bad for them, but not in the way they were expecting.

Because it argues that the war on drugs has completely failed. That it's made law enforcement less effective and overwhelmed prisons. That's it's a self-perpetuating system which preys on poor, uneducated people. A system where politicians win elections by being tough on crime, a multi-billion dollar industry and entire towns thrive off the business of incarceration, and laws trap people with few opportunities in a cycle of committing crimes.

Charles Ogletree

People don't realize, for example, that when you arrest a young black man and he goes to jail, when he gets out of the prison, he can't get a job in most places because of his record.

Brian Reed

This is Charles Ogletree, a professor at Harvard Law School.

Charles Ogletree

If he wants to go back to school to go to college, he's ineligible by law for certain grants. He can't get certain health care benefits. His family that was the centerpiece of his life, if they're living in public housing, they can't take him in. He can't vote!

Brian Reed

The film has interviews with people throughout the criminal justice system. Inmates and their families, but also judges, police officers, and prison staff. Almost all of them say, in some way or another, that the system needs to be fixed.

And what made it even more interesting for this audience in Oklahoma is that several people from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections are in the movie. And a couple of them were at the screening, watching it with the prisoners. Like Mike Carpenter, who oversees security for Oklahoma's medium security prisons.

Mike Carpenter

I am very much a law and order kind of guy. I would rather have 10 police cars than 1 soup kitchen if you give me the choice. But sometimes I think that we need to be smarter about what those police officers are actually out there doing.

I think sometimes we have people doing a whole lot of time for not very much crime. It's almost like they're paying for our fear, instead of paying for their crime.

Brian Reed

So when the screening was over, some of the inmates were surprised that prison staff had even shown them this at all. One guy said it was exhilarating to hear corrections officers say things like, "We're jailing too many people. We're locking them up for too long."

So we had this idea. We thought the film might prompt a conversation that prisoners and guards don't normally get to have about the prison system. And Oklahoma corrections authorities agreed to give us a room where I could sit down prisoners and guards and they could talk to each other one on one.

Brian Reed

Who do you want to talk to? Who do you want to talk with?

Antwaun Wells

I want to talk to Dooley and [? Shelock. ?]

Brian Reed

OK. Why do you want to talk to them?

Antwaun Wells

My own personal opinions.

Brian Reed

This is Antwaun Wells. He's 25, serving the third year of a nine year sentence for shooting a guy during an argument and also for stealing TVs from a Target and then stabbing a security guard in the arm on the way out of the store.

It's not his first time in prison. He'd been in before. One of the staff members he picked-- [? Shelock-- ?] wasn't around. But Dooley was.

Dooley is Lt. Cecil Dooley. He's been a corrections officer for 14 years. He's a big burly guy. He wasn't there to see the movie. He was the guard on duty supervising the inmates as they watched the film.

I recorded other conversations throughout the day. But this was the one that stood out.

Brian Reed

We're going to go in here. Pardon me, guys. We got our first pair. We'll see how this goes.

Lt. Dooley and Antwaun sat down facing each other. I sat off to the side to try and stay out of their way.

Now let me say here that this whole thing was a total experiment. I don't think any of us knew what to expect. And just to get in front of this, Antwaun did not bring Dooley in here to talk about the movie.

Brian Reed

All right, so you wanted to bring him in here and ask him a question.

Antwaun Wells

Yep.

Brian Reed

Do you have your question?

Antwaun Wells

I want to know why y'all feel that it's so important for y'all to demand respect, but don't want to give it.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

When you say "y'all," you putting everybody in the same boat.

Antwaun Wells

Well, I can't put everyone in the same boat, because there is some guards that are respectful. But it's some-- being you in particular with me-- I feel that you're just disrespectful.

Like the other day in the office, I asked you to come here. If you was to ask me to come here and I told you to hold on, you'd have wrote me up because I didn't follow a direct order.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I acknowledged you. I told you to hold on.

Antwaun Wells

I [INAUDIBLE].

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Unless you're bleeding, dying, or giving birth, the stuff that I had going on was much more important than what you needed at that time.

Antwaun Wells

I just feel--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I've never once called you outside of your name.

Antwaun Wells

No, that's--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I've never slandered you in any way.

Antwaun Wells

Yeah. No. And I'm not gonna say that and I never will say that incident happened. But what I'm saying is that's not the only--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

But you come in here and you say I was disrespectful because you don't get what you want when you want it.

Antwaun Wells

In my eyes, I feel like you and other guards view us as if we're nothing. Y'all walk round with y'all head held up. You know what I'm saying?

It's always, y'all win. No matter what the situation is, y'all win. You have a arrogant attitude. Your attitude is I'm Dooley. I'm big bad Dooley.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

If I tell you to do something that's not illegal, that's not going to jeopardize your life, that's not offensive, you should have no problem doing it. Whether you like it or not is a totally different story.

Antwaun Wells

That's where the disrespect come in. Because you had--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

That's not disrespectful.

Antwaun Wells

OK, you had me pick up dandelions.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Yes.

Antwaun Wells

Just to prove a point to me. To prove a point that y'all have power.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

OK. So you're still upset over the dandelion deal?

Antwaun Wells

Yes, I really am. That really actually frustrated me.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

If you wouldn't have bucked up against that officer that day--

Antwaun Wells

But see, that's what I'm saying. You never came and asked me exactly what happened.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Don't need to.

Antwaun Wells

Exactly. You took your officer's word and you left it at that. It's always three sides to each story. My side, his side, and the truth.

You left two sides out and you went off of what your officer said. You never came to me as a man and asked me. You know what I'm saying?

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I did.

Antwaun Wells

And then you forced me to do something just because you could. And if I didn't, you threatened to ship me.

Brian Reed

Antwaun is saying Lt. Dooley threatened to ship him to another prison.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I don't remember threatening to ship you. But I could.

Antwaun Wells

Yes, you threatened to ship me.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I could. Disobedience to order.

Antwaun Wells

Exactly. And you told me trying to override your staff, you could ship me.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Mm hmm. I could.

Antwaun Wells

And if I didn't pick up dandelions, you'll put me in a holding cell.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

And if I remember correctly, that was over you trying to get other people to stand up against that officer and not do what he was telling you to do.

Antwaun Wells

No. That's exactly what I'm saying.

Brian Reed

So OK, sure. They weren't talking about the history of the drug war or the prison industrial complex or any of the other big ideas from the movie.

But it was interesting to listen to them argue like this. It was intimate. It was personal. They were bickering like family members. Like a dad and his kid going at it.

And I felt like I was seeing something people on the outside don't usually have the opportunity to see. You realize, oh, right, these two are embedded in each other's lives in a way that only happens when one person has the power to punish the other and the other person has a whole lot of time to stew over it.

And the thing that was bugging Antwaun, the dandelions, seems small, but kind of gets to the heart of what he hates about being incarcerated. And he wanted to hash that out with Dooley.

Obviously, there's disagreement about what happened that day, which was months ago, by the way. Antwaun says another officer had given some other inmates a few tasks to do, like pick up trash. Antwaun went up to the other inmates and told them they were allowed to do the tasks in a different order than the guard did.

Dooley says that's not how it happened. That Antwaun Wells was telling other inmates to disobey a guard. So Dooley gave him what they call extra duty. In this case, to pick dandelions.

Antwaun Wells

I don't--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Was it hard?

Antwaun Wells

No. I mean, it wasn't hard. It was just--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Did it take a lot of time?

Antwaun Wells

No. It didn't take a lot of time. It's still the principle. You made me--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Did you break any bones?

Antwaun Wells

No. You could have said, go pick up some trash. You specifically made me pick up a flower that grows out the ground.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Mm hmm.

Antwaun Wells

Just because you could.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Right.

Antwaun Wells

Exactly. It's always going to be officers that feel like just because I have the power and authority, I can do and say what I want to to these people.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

There wasn't just to put power and authority. I am where I am because I have morals, ethics, and beliefs that I stand by.

Antwaun Wells

Still yet even once again--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I think your problem, Mr. Wells, is you like to dwell on the fact that you don't get your way each and every time. And that's part of the reason that you're in prison--

Antwaun Wells

No, it's not.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

--is because you like to buck the system.

Antwaun Wells

I'm in prison 'cause I shot somebody. I'll never deny that fact.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

OK.

Antwaun Wells

I'm in prison because I put myself here.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

OK.

Antwaun Wells

I made the choices in my life because I chose to.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

And those are poor decisions.

Antwaun Wells

I don't blame nobody for nothing that happens. But when I feel that's just like there's some guards here that's just rude for no reason. I don't understand that.

You didn't care enough about me to even ask me my opinion. You didn't care enough about nothing that I had going on, once again, because I'm an inmate. Y'all feel just because I came to the penitentiary, that I have no rights.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

You being an offender has nothing to do with it. 'Cause you have no say over anything.

Antwaun Wells

Policy and procedure.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

You have no say to tell my officer what he can and cannot do, to ask people to do.

Antwaun Wells

Exactly. That's the point where you're missing. I told the inmates that. I didn't tell the officer nothing.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Right. Which makes you the person that was instigating.

Brian Reed

They went on like this for more than 20 minutes.

Antwaun Wells

I know you don't like me, just like I don't like you.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I've never disrespected you and my job has nothing to do with like or dislike.

Antwaun Wells

You disrespected me that day that you didn't ask me my side of the story and you made me pick up dandelions--

Lt. Cecil Dooley

That's not disrespect.

Antwaun Wells

Because you could.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

That's not disrespect.

Antwaun Wells

You power abused because you could. You just admitted it.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

It's not even abuse of power.

Antwaun Wells

OK.

Brian Reed

Finally I interrupted and asked them what they thought about the movie we just watched. Dooley had actually seen it before. He had it recorded on his DVR. And he liked it.

He told me that for several years now, he's felt that the country needs to rethink the way it does corrections. He said he often tells inmates that when they get down to the last three years or so of their sentence, he thinks they should be released early.

Brian Reed

When you see that movie and when you think about your day to day, are you dissatisfied? Are you frustrated with the system, where it's gotten?

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Brian Reed

What frustrates you most?

Lt. Cecil Dooley

The fact that we have now taken people and made them a monetary commodity. Right now the big thing is the push to privatization. To make money off of prisons, to make money off of people's lives, to make money to incarcerate people. That to me, seems backwards.

Brian Reed

He turned to Antwaun for a second.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

And this is not to push your button or anything like that. I did more in 10 seconds of his life by making him pick up dandelions. He will remember the fact that I came up there and I told him to pick dandelions for arguing with an officer. He will remember that forever.

And if that one issue makes him hate me to the point where he doesn't ever want to put himself in that position again, then I have done my job. I've done my job to correct an action forever.

Brian Reed

What do you think of that, Antwaun? You get that?

Antwaun Wells

I mean, I understand it. But I still don't feel that it's fair.

Penitentiary to me is just slavery in another form. In my eyes, these is my owners and I have to do what they say, otherwise I have consequences. Just like the slave master. You either do what he say or you get punished.

Brian Reed

Then the conversation got more personal. Lt. Dooley told Antwaun that the last time he got out of prison he had a chance to stay out, to make a different life for himself. But instead he re-offended.

Antwaun said he didn't have many options. And it was around this point that Antwaun and Dooley actually started to hear each other out a bit.

Antwaun Wells

What was I supposed to do? I come from the hood. I come from nothing. You tell me, what was I supposed to do?

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Now you're talking outside my purview, because I don't know where you're from.

Antwaun Wells

Exactly. Exactly. You don't know where I'm from. And I don't feel that you would care.

Me as a person, if I didn't have all the tattoos or whatever, if I had the money to get them removed, you could put me in a white collar neighborhood and I could make it because I have a education. You know what I'm saying? I have two years of college.

I have no other option but to accept my choices I made. You know what I'm saying? I do admit my failures. You know what I'm saying?

But I will say that there were obstacles that at that time, I didn't think right of overcoming, so I chose the wrong way to overcome them.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

You know what? I grew up very poor. I didn't know I was poor. My mom always had two different jobs growing up. I was taking care of my little brother at the age of eight by myself.

I'm on this side, you're on that side. That's all decisions. And you know the difference between right and wrong.

Antwaun Wells

Yeah.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

But you make the conscious decision to continue doing the same things and expect different results.

Antwaun Wells

Sometimes you get pinned in a corner and you're forced to do what you know. Like when I got out of the penitentiary this time, for three days I wore the same clothes until I went out and had to steal me some clothes. My sister and my brother and my mama didn't give me no handout. You know what I'm saying?

Jobs, they won't-- you're a felon. You know what I'm saying? I applied for 35 jobs with my little brother. And just because both of us is felons, we got nowhere.

So what am I gonna do? I'm going to go commit a crime, make me some money, and then go get me a dope sack.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

See, if I were to go, the first thing I would do would try to go pick up a lawn mower or something and go mow some lawns. That's the difference in thought.

Antwaun Wells

Yeah. That was an option. But still, yeah, once again, where am I gonna get the lawn mower from?

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I got friends.

Antwaun Wells

I feel like society made a lot of rules to keep people safe. But at the same time, the people that they was trying to keep safe from, they gave us no other option but to go back out and re-offend because they put so many limitations on what we could do that where you have no other option but to go back to what you used to do.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

I've heard that same story for 14 years. I don't know how to fix it. If I did, I'd be a millionaire. If I did, there wouldn't be people in prison because I could tell them how to fix it.

Brian Reed

That conversation took place about a month and a half ago. And since then, I've wondered if it changed anything for Antwaun and Lt. Dooley, if it improved their relationship at all. So I called them up the other day to ask them.

I talked to Dooley first and he said he'd only run into Antwaun a couple times since they'd talked. So he hadn't really noticed a difference.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

But he did come down here. And when I called him down for this interview, he didn't have that same negative attitude he normally did.

Brian Reed

Dooley said he hadn't thought much about the conversation since it happened. And when I asked him if it changed him at all, if he felt more sympathetic towards Antwaun or if he thought differently now about the way he disciplines inmates, he said no. Not at all. Then he went to get Antwaun.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Now hold on just a second.

[PHONE RINGING]

Lt. Cecil Dooley

Are you still there?

Brian Reed

I am.

Lt. Cecil Dooley

If you'll have a seat right there, Mr. Wells. This is the gentleman that did our interview while we were in the room when they came and showed the video. Here he is.

Antwaun Wells

Hello?

Brian Reed

Hi, Antwaun?

Antwaun Wells

Yes.

Brian Reed

Hi, it's Brian Reed. How are you?

Antwaun Wells

I'm doing all right.

Brian Reed

I asked Antwaun the same question. Had the conversation changed anything between him and Dooley? And he said yeah, it had.

Antwaun Wells

Well, to me before it was like if I asked for something, he was dismissive or he'd keep going as if he didn't see me or something like that. But now if I ask him a question or whatever, he takes the time to talk to me about the issue right then and there. He doesn't blow me off. You know what I mean? I feel now that he looks at me as a human being more than he did then.

Brian Reed

Wow. It's interesting, 'cause I just got off the phone with Lt. Dooley, and he says the conversation hasn't changed him at all.

Antwaun Wells

To me it has. You know what I'm saying? I don't know if it was the conversation or it was just that I didn't know him at the time. You know what I'm saying?

Or I didn't want to know him. I don't necessarily know. But I mean, I feel like the conversation that we had, I feel like it helped me even if it didn't help him. You know what I'm saying?

It maybe have helped me see him in, I don't know, I guess the way that he should be seen in. I'm not for sure. I just got to know that it's not him being disrespectful, it's just him doing his job. My perception was maybe the one that was off.

Brian Reed

Wait, Antwaun. Is Lt. Dooley sitting right there?

Antwaun Wells

Nuh uh.

Brian Reed

Really?

Antwaun Wells

Yeah.

Brian Reed

'Cause it's almost like you're totally proving him right. And I was wondering if he was watching over you right now to make sure you said these things.

Antwaun Wells

Nuh uh. No.

Brian Reed

It's surprising that this is where things ended up. When Antwaun went into the conversation, his goal was to bring Dooley around to seeing his side of things. Instead, the opposite happened.

Ira Glass

Brian Reed. You can see Eugene Jarecki's prison movie The House I Live In. And believe me, it will get to you. It's available on every possible internet platform-- iTunes, Netflix, Amazon Instant, YouTube and a half a dozen others.

Or you can see it by getting yourself arrested and thrown in prison, where screenings are still happening around the country. It's in New Mexico prisons next month. The film's website is thehouseilivein.org.

Coming up, an insider's view of what it's like to follow love into a different and much more dangerous country than the one you live in. That's in a minute from Chicago Public Radio and Public Radio International when our program continues.

Act Two. The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez.

Ira Glass

It's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass.

Each week on our program, of course, we choose a theme, bring you different kinds of stories on that theme. Today's show, "The View From In Here-- Insiders' Stories from Three Very Different Places."

We have arrived at Act Two of our show. Act Two, The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez.

Emily Bonderer Cruz is an American. Her husband Raymundo-- she calls him Gordo-- is Mexican. When they met, he was here in the United States illegally. In fact, he had already been deported once and snuck back in.

And the way that the law works, that means that the only way that he could live with her now right here in the United States with them married, is that he first needs to live outside the United States for 10 years. So after trying to live here in the States illegally for a little while, they decided they should move to Mexico. So they moved to Mexico.

They chose Ciudad Juarez because it's a border town. Emily could earn a US wage just by commuting into El Paso every day right across the border. And that's what she does. While Ray works at a maquila, one of the factories-- there are tons of them-- on the Mexican side of the border.

They moved to Juarez in 2010 at the height of the narco drug wars, when Juarez had the highest murder rate in the world, in the entire world. Emily started writing a blog about their life called The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez. And after reading it, radio producer Ann Heppermann gave her a recording kit and asked her just to keep a radio diary, documenting her everyday life to give the rest of us a sense of what it is like to be an American housewife right there.

Emily Bonderer Cruz

OK, so we're here at the house. I'm in the living room. We're sitting on the couch. And basically I'm about to interview my husband.

So I'm just going to explain to him in Spanish. Basically, I'm going to ask him a question in Spanish, I'm going to let him go ahead and answer, and then I'm going do my best to translate. Are you ready?

Raymundo Cruz

Mm mm.

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[LAUGHS]. OK. [SPEAKING SPANISH] So I asked him what his version of meeting me was.

Raymundo Cruz

[LAUGHING]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

That laughter is because it's super hard to tell our version of meeting me without either of us looking like complete whores. So we generally have a filtered version of how we met each other.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

I met you in Mesa, Arizona.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

He's explaining that he didn't pay any attention to me because his friend was wanting to get at me, or whatever you say. So he was just kind of ignoring me and keeping his distance.

And it's funny, because that was what I liked about-- well, I didn't like it. But I was like, doesn't he see all this?

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

He says he doesn't remember if it was that same day or another day that he whistled at me from down below. And that I gave him the finger wag, like come here.

Raymundo Cruz

[LAUGHING]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[WHISPERING] It was the same day. Shh. [LAUGHS]

OK, next question. [SPEAKING SPANISH] So I asked him, how did you feel when you came back to Mexico?

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

I felt really weird.

You know, we drove from Arizona with our car completely packed to the brim, bikes on bike rack, crap on the top of the car.

And I drove. It's a six-hour trip from Phoenix to El Paso. And the whole time I was driving, I mean my hands were just clenched to the steering wheel so hard. I was sweating.

It was August. August 7 of 2010. And for me, it was really emotional when I saw Juarez for the first time.

It's a pretty bad area right there. A lot of the roads aren't paved. Quiet tears rolling down my face. And I'm just praying to God that my husband doesn't notice that I'm crying, because I didn't want him to feel bad.

I mean, the whole time it was my idea to move to Mexico. I couldn't back down now. And I went into this like, I could live in a shack. I love this man. I don't care where we live.

I don't need air conditioning, cable. I don't need internet. I can just do this.

Raymundo Cruz

[LAUGHING]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[LAUGHING] OK, we gotta power through these last questions because his novela is starting in eight minutes.

Raymundo Cruz

[BELCHES]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Raymundo Cruz

Oh, I'm sorry. Excuse me. Excuse me.

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[LAUGHING] OK. [SPEAKING SPANISH] I'm going to ask him how he feels about working in the maquilas now. [SPEAKING SPANISH]

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Well, I feel good.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

But the bad part is the pay. That's really the only bad part. [SPEAKING SPANISH]

And then I ask him, how do you feel since your wife earns more than you do and pays the majority of the bills? How does that make you feel?

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Well, I feel-- how could I say?

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

I feel a little bit bad.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH] [LAUGHS]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

I can really only pay the water. No. [SPEAKING SPANISH]

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

But--

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

I put a little part in there.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

My part's really small but--

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

I'm proud of my part. I'm going to ask him how this move or self-deportation has affected our marriage. And does he think it's been hard on our marriage? [SPEAKING SPANISH]

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

To begin, it felt a little bit bad. But now it feels better and it's not as big of a deal. And you know, we're here.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

We're living the best life in the world. We're happy. He's fist pumping. [LAUGHS]

Raymundo Cruz

Pumping?

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Fist pumping. [SPEAKING SPANISH] The Jersey Shore?

[SPEAKING SPANISH]? [HUMMING] No? [SPEAKING SPANISH]?

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[LAUGHS] He said that was the easiest question I asked him.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

You rock.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH] [LAUGHS]. [SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Oh, I really love my husband. He's just like the man I always wanted.

You know like you hear those songs? Like Third Eye Blind is my favorite band. So you always listen to those songs and you hear about these guys that just love a woman so much. I want to fall asleep inside of you. I mean, you've heard that lyric, right?

And it's like, you go after that person that's like that and that's romantic right off the bat like that and it never ends up being a Third Eye Blind song. But I've came to find years down the road that's not really what I wanted.

I wanted someone to say, oh, you have someone coming over? Do you want me to take something out of the freezer for dinner? Or somebody that mops the floor because I have to work late or whatever. That's really what made me go to Mexico is taking out the trash.

OK, testies, testies. Un, dos, tres. OK, so I'm in line and it's only 6:44, so you can see how fast I got in line from downtown El Paso.

I feel like I have a song for this. 'Cause not only is it Friday, but I got paid today. OK, this is my perfect song for payday Friday.

[MUSIC - "GET DRUNK AND BE SOMEBODY" BY TOBY KEITH]

Friday, baby! Literally one speed bump out of this joint, I'm in Mexico.

This is my hood. I love this neighborhood. It's like the perfect mixture of America and Mexico to me. Because I'm not so hardcore pioneer that I could really do real Mexico.

I mean, I guess maybe I could. I just don't have the balls or I don't know, the ovaries, to live on a ranch or not have running water or whatever.

And there's other things that I just like to have. Like an oven, for instance. Those are privileges here. And I definitely have those things at my house and I really enjoy that. And that's something I love about my neighborhood.

I'm in line right now at Beep Beep to buy cigarettes. I'm not quite sure how they're going to react to the microphone thing, but I'm just not going to mention it and see what happens.

[BELL RINGS]

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Store Clerk

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Si, por favor. Well, he said absolutely nothing about the giant microphone in front of my face. Which sometimes, see? We're just paranoid in Juarez for no reason whatsoever.

13 days after we had gotten to Juarez, we went to turn into the street to get to my house and we couldn't. There were federal police everywhere.

And then I saw him. His body, it was lying there on the ground. I remember his knees were bent very awkwardly. It was really not natural. There was blood everywhere.

And I started to cry. That was 13 days after we moved to Juarez. That was the first and last time I cried over a dead body. But I remember that day thinking, what else am I going to see in 10 years here? [SIGH].

There's a new man selling newspapers right there. He puts his stool right over that blood stain and goes on with his life, sells the paper. Juarez has to keep chugging along, regardless of what happens.

So I'm home now. Get my chicken that I smuggled.

[CAR DOOR SLAMS]

[CAR ALARM CHIRPS]

And then it's time to open like 700 gates. That's a lie. There's just one gate.

I have to have a key card to get in the neighborhood and then I have to have three keys to get into the house. And you gotta lock everything behind you, of course. And then probably we already locked the car, but--

[CAR ALARM CHIRPS]

Lock it again.

[DOGS BARKING]

My puppies are barking. They miss me. Hi! Oh, my babies.

[DOG GROANING]

Baby! Ray! Mi amor!

OK, so tonight-- and this is a typical Saturday night-- Gordo and his friend [? Milon ?] are outside right now, listening to music and getting their drink on. I'm in here making some chicken, because I needed to make it before it went bad.

In Juarez, this is what we do. So they're going to sit outside and drink and listen to music. It's like in the country, but with bullets! [LAUGHS]

People always joke about it, but I rarely hear bullets. Gunshots I guess is what they're called. You don't just hear bullets.

[MEN LAUGHING]

For me, it makes me happy that he can go and live a normal life that he couldn't live in the US. Or that I guess he could have, but it would've been so risky. You know, driving and paying for things that he couldn't do in the US. And even though he makes way less money here, he can be more of a man without having that income in other ways.

[BLOWING INTO MICROPHONE]

Hello? Well, I was going to go sleep. But crying a little bit.

You know, just when I think that I have--

[LIGHTS CIGARETTE]

At times I feel so caught up in immigration. And the idea that we've been slighted in some way.

And lately, I don't really feel that way. My husband did break the law and this is the result of laws that were put in place with good intentions. And now what I want to concentrate on is my life here.

This is my life. I can't change the law. I mean, I marched in protest rallies and I was involved in immigration reform and I was a member of different groups and talked to congressmen. And I did all those things for all these years while we were in the US.

And when we got here, it was just like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder. Because I didn't have to [INAUDIBLE] deal with any of that anymore. I didn't have to think about my husband getting picked up by ICE on our way to church or whatever.

I mean, the most simple, mundane activities in the US always had to involve some thought about immigration. And it might be a cop out just because I don't want to talk about immigration. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to argue with anybody that it's not fair. I just don't feel like doing it.

I'm tired. I'm really, really tired. You know. And I don't know. Goodnight.

This feels extremely too loud for what time it is. It's 5:45. I take Gordo to work first.

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[LAUGHS] He says he doesn't talk in the mornings. He's making fun of me because I don't talk in the mornings. I hate talking in the morning.

So we're on Hermanos Escobar now. And we're behind a line of buses. They're all going to a maquila somewhere.

When I look at people going in and out of the maquilas, I just see a little dollar sign on everyone's forehead. Because they most certainly make a ton of money off these poor people who are working for-- god, I don't even know what they make. It's like $0.80 an hour or something that he makes. I don't even think it's that, actually. What?

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Woman

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH ANGRILY]

Raymundo Cruz

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

And thankfully, we're dropping him off. Have a good day!

Raymundo Cruz

Bye!

[CAR DOOR SLAMS]

Emily Bonderer Cruz

[LAUGHS] We're so not morning people. We'll have the most horrible fights in the morning.

So I just dropped him off at the maquila. And he'll work there all day long. He makes the harnesses for American cars.

And now we're going to the bridge. There is literally no line. Oh, I'm so excited. The line can go back a couple miles on a normal day, but I'm pulling right up onto the bridge. And I'm here. [YAWNS]

The basic routine is first texting my husband. At the end of the day, this is Juarez and we have to make sure I didn't die. I mean, seriously.

[BEEP]

Gordo just texted me back to have a good day. [LAUGHS] We really just should not be talking to each other in the morning. It's detrimental to everything.

So basic routine is texting. And then makeup, social networking, maybe social networking, makeup, social networking. It's pretty basic. Mascara.

[TAPPING]

Eyeshadow. OK, I'm still doing my makeup. I'm almost about to cross already, though. It's always kind of fun to see the new agents confused about the white lady.

Morning!

Border Agent

Morning, ma'am. Where you going today?

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Work.

Border Agent

What are you bringing from Mexico?

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Nothing.

Border Agent

Have a good day.

Emily Bonderer Cruz

Thank you. You too.

Border Agent

Thank you.

Emily Bonderer Cruz

And that was that. So it's 6:21 and I don't go to work until 8 o'clock. So now I have like an hour and a half before I really [YAWNS] need to be at work. So I'm going to go to sleep. [LAUGHS]

This is what I do. You have only a handful of options. You can go to Walmart, which is a very popular option. You can go to McDonald's, another very popular option. Or you can go to sleep in your car.

And that, my friends, is what I'm going to do. And I have a little handful of parking lots that I frequent. But my favorite is this golf course by my work. It's really quiet and there's a public pool there.

And I think there's a swimming class at 6:30. But it lasts a couple of hours. So I wonder if they think I'm homeless. I think about things like that way too much.

It's hard to say what Juarez really means to me. It's everything for us. To me, Juarez is the perfect combination of heaven and hell on Earth.

Despite this raging drug war going on, despite all of the bad things in the city, it's the first place that's ever opened its arms to my husband and I, the first place we can both legally call home. And it's our own little paradise. [YAWNS] [LAUGHS] So tired.

OK, so I'm going to go to my little golf course and fall asleep. I have my pillow and my blanket that I keep in the car. And that's that.

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful sunrise. Gosh.

Ira Glass

Emily Bonderer Cruz. Her radio diary was produced by Ann Heppermann with help from Debbie Nathan.

To read Emily's blog, go to therealhousewifeofcuidadjuarez.blogspot.com. Emily has chosen some favorite posts from her site that we linked to from our website, thisamericanlife.org.

Act Three. Movin On Up.

Ira Glass

Act Three, Moving On Up. In Israel there's this writer named Sayed Kashua who's a prolific cultural force in that country. He's a novelist. He writes a popular, very funny TV show, where the main character is based on him. And he has a weekly newspaper column.

And his newspaper columns are basically this very frank, very entertaining conversation he's been having with the entire country for years now. They're about his day-to-day life. Picking up his kids, buying furniture, stuff like that.

And while the columns are not explicitly political, he's a minority in Israel. He's an Arab who is also an Israeli citizen. Which, as you might expect, is complicated.

A few years ago, Kashua and his wife and kids moved from East Jerusalem-- where most of the Arabs in the city live-- to West Jerusalem, where it's almost all Jews, no Arabs. And that kind of blew people's minds, including his.

He and his wife made the move to get a better apartment in a neighborhood that had better services. But the move was radical in a country where even middle class and rich Arab Israelis do not usually live among Jews, especially in Jerusalem.

His columns are reports from the kind of citizen that every country has, the insider outsider. Here are excerpts from those columns translated from Hebrew and read by actor Ramsey Faragallah.

Sayed Kashua

October 18, 2012. It was the coffee machine that ultimately shed new light on my social situation. As usual, it all started because of my wife.

Don't get me wrong. I can be a real jerk, but I do love my wife. Today more than ever.

I've mentioned before that our apartment suddenly started to get on her nerves. At first there were trivial comments like, "These shower hooks are really annoying," or "There's not even a proper place for the shoe closet," even though we never had a shoe closet.

The complaints gathered momentum after our third child was born. "I think we need another room for the baby." "We have to paint. Have you seen the walls? They're already black from the kids' hands."

Very quickly, the home that I loved so much, in the building I love, in the neighborhood I love became a nightmare. So I asked my wife, "What do you say to renovating?"

I don't know how or why, but of the three renovating teams who were bidding to just basically build a plaster wall and paint the place, I found myself choosing the team that gave me a price three times higher than that of any of the others, an Ashkenazi architect with a Mizrahi interior designer. Maybe it was the iPad that the interior designer used when he presented the work plan. Or maybe it was just because every time he said "plaster wall, " he added the adjective "designer."

I closed the deal with the Ashkenazi, who promised to go with my wife to all the stores to choose the color of the designer plaster wall, pick out the shoe closet, and find the hooks that best suited her needs. Because the most important thing in interior design is for the house to meet your needs, said the interior designer, pointing at my wife.

"14,000 shekels for a paint job!" my father shouted at me. "For what? On every electricity pole there is a sign, paint your home for 1,800 shekels."

"What 1,800 shekels?" I said. "And anyway, we're talking about designer paint, Dad!"

My father still lives in the village where I grew up, Tira. He tried to explain to me that I'm an imbecile. That in Tira, you could get a new shower and a paint job with a plaster wall, even a designer one, for a tenth of the price.

I tried to explain to him that I don't live in Tira, that the interior designer promised that the finished work would last a lifetime. And that anyway, there was nothing that could be done about it. Life in West Jerusalem in my neighborhood costs a little more, with all due respect to Tira.

"You're a dunce," my father concluded. "Do what you like."

I felt like making coffee. At least I wanted to, but the milk frother in the machine-- which you have to belong to an exclusive customer club in order to use-- had stopped working. I called customer service.

"That's right," I was told after a lengthy hold. "The machine is still under warranty." It would be picked up for repair within three working days.

In the meantime, while I was waiting for the coffee machine, I realized that the plaster wall and paint job had morphed into a replacement of old doors, installation of an entirely new air conditioning system called something like Inventor, and the sudden urgent need for a new bedroom set whose size would be compatible with the modern design. "Adjustable, " my wife called it.

The interior designer also suggested moving the piano to a different location, and building an acoustic wall that would contain the sound. And he proposed that I please put some life into my anemic study. And I agreed, even though I didn't understand exactly what that meant.

His iPad has a calculator, and a few quick clicks produced the sum of more than 100,000 shekels, not counting the shoe closet. It took me a moment to recall that I had intended to spend no more than 20,000 shekels. I lapsed into depression, because I had already made the down payment and because I didn't want to tell my wife that we might not be able to meet the future payments. So I said nothing, and she gave me a designer smile such as I hadn't seen for a few years.

A few days later, on the day when we were supposed to get our prestigious coffee machine back from repairs between 5:00 and 7:00 PM, she said, "Do you know what's most unsuited to my needs in this apartment?" "Yes," I said. "All the inconvenient things. But everything is going to be fine."

"No," she said. "I think I'm deceiving myself with all this new design and renovation."

"I don't understand," I said, genuinely not understanding.

"What bothers me the most," she said, "is that since we've moved here, you haven't wanted to barbecue. I so much want you to barbecue like we used to back in the village every Friday."

"Barbecue?" I felt my blood pressure rising. "I'm going to spend $100,000 shekels for an interior designer and all you really want is a barbecue?"

"Well," she said, "I miss the village. And the days when you weren't embarrassed to barbecue next to the neighbors." At that point, the phone rang.

"Hello," the voice on the phone said as I started to foam at the mouth. "I'm from the delivery company. I have a coffee machine for you. What's the address?" he asked in Arabic.

I gave him the address. He was silent for a while. And then he said, "But I only deliver in East Jerusalem. I'm sorry. I was told you were an Arab."

"You know what?" I replied in Arabic, "Forget it. I don't want the espresso machine. I don't even like that kind of coffee."

November 22, 2012. The renovations have begun. The apartment is in chaos and I've decided that I'm going to buy the most comfortable bed I can find, and this time I won't even look at the price.

I picked up my wife from work and we went to buy the bed of our dreams. "We want the most comfortable bed you have in the store," I declared to the saleswoman who approached us with a smile.

"Of course," she said, leading us to the area of the double beds. "Are you interested in an adjustable bed?"

"Only adjustable," I declared festively. And the polite saleswoman smiled once again and accompanied us to the area of the adjustables.

"Ah," I sighed as I sprawled on the mattress and closed my eyes.

"We also have it in 6 and 1/2 feet wide."

"6 and 1/2 feet, hmm." I said to the saleswoman. "Exactly how much does the same bed cost in that size?" When she told me, I shouted. "How much?"

"I'll ask the store manager. Maybe he can give you a better price," she said.

"That's insane," I said to my wife when the saleswoman went to call the manager. "All that money for what? For foam, a few springs, and the remote control of a toy racing car?"

"You said you didn't care about the price," she said. "Why do you even bother making declarations like that?"

"Why? Did I think those were going to be the prices? I was willing to waste up to 5,000 shekels. And I thought that for 4,000 shekels, I would be able to get the best mattress on the market."

"Well, apparently this is the real price of mattresses," she said.

"Shalom," said the store manager, who came up to us with an amazingly wide smile. He introduced himself and offered his hand, and I introduced myself when I shook his hand.

"Pleased to meet you, 'Sa-eed,'" he continued in Hebrew, mispronouncing my name. I didn't correct him. Neither did my wife.

He was quite nice, the manager, despite the prices he was asking. And he had a slight speech problem. He spoke very slowly, emphasizing each letter and nodding his head after every word.

(SPEAKING SLOWLY) "You know about this mattress?" he asked, naming the brand that every child in Israel is familiar with.

"Yes," I replied in the same vein out of politeness, so he wouldn't think, god forbid, that my fast speech was meant to mock him. (SPEAKING SLOWLY) "We've heard about that mattress."

"So you know which store you've come to?" He smiled and nodded.

"Yes," I answered, and nodded too, smiling slowly.

I liked him, that manager. I also liked the chain for not hesitating to hire a manager with a speech impediment. I was already thinking of buying the mattress, although I had planned to spend a quarter of that amount. But it would be worth it to support a business whose owners are, first of all, human beings.

Suddenly he stopped talking to answer the cellphone that was ringing in his pants pockets. "Hello!" he answered with a speed that left me and my wife amazed. "Moshe, I'll get back to you in 15 minutes. [INAUDIBLE]. Bye." And he hung up.

(SPEAKING SLOWLY) "So where were we?" he continued slowly while nodding. I looked at my wife, who looked back at me. "Ah yes," he said. "The mattress."

"Listen," I said to him at top speed. "Listen, we know what this damn mattress is. Do you understand?"

"Yes," he answered in a panic. "But why are you angry?"

"Because we may be Arabs," I answered irritably, "but we aren't idiots!"

"God forbid!" apologized the manager, putting his hand on his chest. "I definitely didn't mean that! I really didn't. I'm sorry if that's how it seemed to you!"

My wife took her bag and decided that we weren't buying anything from someone like him. "Not on your life!" I said as we started making our way out of the store. "Racist idiot!"

"Wait!", he chased after us. "I apologize!"

"Forget it," I answered firmly. "We're not doing business with someone like you!"

"I'll give you a big discount," he pleaded.

"Forget about it," said my wife. "It's not a matter of discount. It's a matter of principle."

"Look, I'll take off 25%. What do you say?"

"I said no," said my wife, with the determination of a social worker who believes that a principle is a principle.

"I'll give it to you for half price!" insisted the manager, who really was sorry that he had spoken slowly.

"Principles are principles," continued my wife on her way out of the store, while I stopped in my tracks.

"Half price? Are you serious?"

"I swear," he said. "And I've never done that for anyone, but I really didn't intend to insult you."

"Sayed!" my wife shouted at me. "Where are your values?"

"Forget values," I told her as I shook the hand of the nice salesman. "The man told you (SPEAKING SLOWLY) half price. Do you understand?" And with tears in his eyes, the salesman said that he would also give us pillows at a big discount.

December 6, 2012. It's been three weeks of renovation and we've started moving back into our apartment, even though it's still not completely finished. When we got there, two Arab workers from a company that specializes in cleaning renovated houses were toiling in the rooms.

I felt uncomfortable at having Arabs cleaning my place, but I just nodded and told the contractor who was supervising the renovation that everything was packed and in the car. And that as soon as he gives the go ahead, I will start taking in the suitcases and bags.

Besides the cleaners, the installer of the banister was also supposed to come. "Two hours of work," the contractor said. "He won't interfere with the cleaners and the cleaners won't interfere with him."

The banister guy arrived exactly on time. "This is Sayed," the contractor said as he introduced me. The man nodded and smiled.

"Great, Sayed. There might be sparks, so I want you to follow me with a brush and fix up after me."

"No," the contractor said, embarrassed. "He's the owner."

"Ah," the installer said, and got to work.

"You know," my wife said to me on that sleepless night before the move back, "the house is really charming now. It looks prestigious and comfortable. But still--" she stopped.

"Still what?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said, as she always does when she knows. "I'm just thinking about the children again. About what this is doing to them. How they feel. How it will affect their behavior and the way they get along."

"Again the thing with the Jewish neighborhood?" I said.

"I'm not saying anything," she said. "It's a lovely apartment. Very nice neighbors. But you know."

"No. I absolutely, absolutely do not know," I replied with the jangled nerves of someone who had planned to spend only 20,000 shekels to add a room with a plaster wall, but found himself paying, as of that moment, more than 180,000 shekels.

"I'm just asking myself," she said, striking a dramatic pose so the words would sink in. "I'm just asking myself if this is our natural place. And even more so for the children."

"It is natural," I said. "It's 100% natural."

The banister guy came up to me smiling. "I hope you'll excuse me," he said. "I just, I never imagined that you live here. You know what I mean, Sayed."

"Sure," I said. "Sure, forget it." And I really meant that, because it didn't hurt me in the least that he thought I was an Arab laborer. At least it didn't hurt me as much as the fact that I had two Arab workers doing their thing in my apartment and I had tried to avoid contact with them until one of them came over and spoke to me in Hebrew.

"These shoes were thrown out," said the worker, who I estimated was my father's age. "They were in the garbage. Can I have them for the kids?"

I choked up for an instant, not sure whether to smile, reply in Hebrew, and play the generous Jewish homeowner who takes pity on the wretches, or to answer in Arabic and come across as a maniac Arab who lives among Jews and throws out almost-new Nikes that were brought from the US in the wrong size for the kids. I found myself saying, [ARABIC] "Please, go ahead," in Arabic. And continuing in Arabic, "Of course you can take them. And there are plenty more we had planned to donate if you want to have a look."

"Your Arabic is excellent," the worker said, still speaking in Hebrew.

"I am an Arab," I declared.

The worker did a double take and asked, "And this is your place?"

"Yes," I told him. "We bought it a few years ago. Yes, this is my home."

"Wella," he said, still amazed. "I never imagined. [FOREIGN LANGUAGE], thank you."

"For what?" I said. I didn't understand what he was thanking me for and I thought for a moment he was teasing me.

"The shoes," he said, holding them up with one hand to show me.

"You're welcome," I said. My face burned with shame.

I talked to my wife late that night after the children were asleep. "What can I do?" I said leaning back a little in my bed. "And what exactly is our natural place? What?"

"I don't say it's easy," she said, invoking her social work phrases again. "It can be very hard."

"So are you telling me that I have to live in an Arab village to feel I'm in a natural place?" I asked. "I'm not allowed city life?"

"That's not what I'm saying," she said with a patience that I was quickly losing.

"Then what are you saying?" I insisted. "I really want to understand. What are my options for being natural? Hmm? To buy a crappy apartment in an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem? To buy a place in the area that was conquered in 1967?

What, what is natural? To go back to the village? Back to Tira to the family? To fights between siblings over every meter of land? What is natural?

And what can I do in order to safeguard the children? You tell me that, please! What is right and what is wrong? And I will do it!"

"I say you should go to sleep now," she said, rubbing cream into her hands and yawning. "You look tired."

"Yes," I said. "Goodnight." And I knew I would not sleep soundly. Or wake up naturally.

Ira Glass

Actor Ramsey Faragallah, reading excerpts from newspaper columns first published in Haaretz, written by Sayed Kashua. Kashua's latest novel-- it's been translated into English-- is called Second Person Singular.

[MUSIC - "HOME" BY G. LOVE]

Credits.

Ira Glass

Our program was produced today by Miki Meek and myself, with Alex Blumberg, Ben Calhoun, Sarah Koenig, Jonathan Menjivar, Lisa Pollak, Brian Reed, Robyn Semien, Alissa Shipp, and Nancy Updike. Our senior producer is Julie Snyder with production help from Phia Bennin.

Seth Lind's our operations director. Emily Condon's our production manager. Elise Ferguson's our administrative assistant. Music help from Damien Graef and Rob Geddes. Research by Michelle Harris.

[ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS]

Our website, thisamericanlife.org. This American Life is distributed by Public Radio International.

WBEZ management oversight for our show by our boss, Mr. Torey Malatia, who has-- this is no joke at all-- after all these years resigned from WBEZ this week. That is the truth. I will miss him very badly. Our program would not exist without him.

And should we even do this? Yeah, we have to do this. We can't stop doing this. OK.

Torey, of course, is moving on to other things. Though what does he got planned for this weekend?

Antwaun Wells

I'm gonna go commit a crime, make me some money, and then go get me a dope sack.

Ira Glass

I'm Ira Glass. Back next week with more stories of This American Life.

Announcer

PRI. Public Radio International.