18 years in the heart of East Los Angeles, City Terrace to be exact. As I was born in Glendale, which is a completely different city and environment, but I was just born there. I’m proud to be part of an exotic neighborhood. My parents brought me to my grandparents’ house who live in City Terrace and from that very point on, as I was brought into this world. I’ve been living in this City Terrace for 18 years, but hopefully not my last. I want to be at least in my mid 20’s living in East L.A. because I want to see changes in my environment and see new neighbors, build new relationships. As myself and my grandparents built relationships upon our local neighbors down our streets. At 15 I recall living in a different community which do not meet the East Los Angeles borders, such as Rosemead. I can tell you this, it’s a much more different vibe there as I only experienced it for like 6 months. Then back to City Terrace with my Grandparents, as they adopted us for personal reasons. The ethnicity was quite specific, Asian’s and small group of Latino’s, but majority Asian. The atmosphere was positive where kids were all about focusing on their education and seeking a brighter future for themselves. I did find it a little bit intimidating as I was an outsider and with a school of higher demands in education. That just motivated me to succeed in life and make a difference in my life. Everybody friendly, not in gangs, well there was some big Asian gangs, but they more high class about their business. As for East L.A. the atmosphere is neutral. It’s not always negative nor positive, but it’s just right. When it comes to school not everybody wants to attend school and go to college. They rather go to parks and smoke weed every day with a clear mind like they on cloud 9. I then graduated from Garvey Intermediate middle school and later that summer I returned back to City Terrace and enrolled at Esteban. E. Torres high school, Renaissance Academy. Back to barrio, a city where you build your character and personality. A city were you can’t be a softy out here because that just makes you vulnerable to the local gangster’s. I just wish we didn’t have “hardcore gangsters” because it gets annoying when I get hit up or worst scenario get run up on and die on the spot. And I’m not speaking from a gangster’s perspective because I’m not gang affiliated, but I can be found intimidating because East L.A. made me like that. Strong character is a major key role in aspects to living in East L.A. as I said “made me like that” because in life you need to be dominate and never let your respect fall. I’m not trying to scare you or anything. I mean we are not that ghetto. Just be “aware” where you want to wonder at night, what streets and corners you are standing at because there’s always that “suspect” waiting to cause mayhem. As for my family the culture in East Los Angeles is amazing. The vibe is positive, my family and I could walk in the streets with no peer pressure knowing nothing will happen to us. As for me East Los Angeles helped me keep a strong composer and character, I will not let no one disrespect me. For example, it’s sort of like jail you can’t be no punk or weakling because you know the story, you’ll be beaten, harassed, and become enslaved by the deadliest inmates. East Los Angeles worst scenarios; walked up too, getting into a fight, drive-by’s you name it. Bullets flying at night thinking it’s a teenager lighting a firework and turning a blind eye, but tomorrow morning you wake up finding out your neighbor was shot dead and you thought the loud popping noises were fireworks. My family lived through everything too that’s why I know. Also by experience, it wasn’t always sunny in City Terrace. For my grandparents employment was a real struggle, they were just hustling anywhere to find work to feed my dad and my aunts. Eventually my grandpa was working in the fields to make ends meet, as for my grandmother she was in downtown packaging clothes, later ended up in a jewelry shop making diamond bracelets, earrings, and necklaces for the shop. She nearly spent 12 years working in sweat and blood bringing food to the table. Then I came into the picture in 1997.