纽约时报丨2020 美国本科申请文书选登 第一篇








2020 美国本科申请文书选登



Maria Mendoza Blanco is attending Cornell University.

Credit...Mustafa Hussain for The New York Times




‘When we arrived, my parents caught the American dream like Tío Conejo used his rabbit tricksiness to outwit Tío Tigre in the fables: so artfully that they themselves hardly believed they’d pulled it off.’

—Maria Mendoza Blanco



If I had it my way, I’d never set foot in a Home Depot ever again.


Every Ace Hardware, every Lowe’s, every boutique tile place, every obscure little hardware store that only sells Phillips-head screwdrivers smells the same way: dusty. Sawdust, catdust, paint-flake-dust, laminate-dust, ancient-grumpy-cashier-dust. It’s post-apocalyptic, the shuffling shoppers dead-eyed from looking at a thousand identical refrigerators, fluorescent tube lights casting ultramarine pallor over their faces.


We kill tigers, you see.


“Where are we going?” I’ll ask, and my father will say, “Lowe’s. Hay que matar tigres.” Gotta kill tigers, gotta take side jobs to fill in the gaps where the money doesn’t quite reach. Where others might have taken up Uber, my family started building houses, with me and my brother in tow.


When we arrived, my parents caught the American dream like Tío Conejo used his rabbit tricksiness to outwit Tío Tigre in the fables: so artfully that they themselves hardly believed they’d pulled it off. We killed tigers in Georgetown and Langley, diplomat townhomes and tasteless McMansions alike. We moved seven times within the same ZIP code, as my parents bought ugly houses and sold them beautiful.


It isn’t much like HGTV. I spent countless hours searching for nonexistent cans of Spackle in the back shelves of Home Depot. My mother laid out carpet samples on the floor and paced around them, forever deliberating between ivory and cream. She’d be on the phone with some hung over subcontractor when she picked me up from art club. I’d sit in an abandoned corner and sketch as they haggled eternally over hardwood pallets at auction. I wouldn’t be surprised if I spent more time under the watchful eye of an orange-aproned paint mixer than a babysitter.


All this is to say that construction runs in the veins of the Blancos. My grandfather, after all, came out of nowhere to build a concrete empire on the baked dirt of Maracaibo. The mixers molder now in that hinterland, but the force of his success was what fueled our escape from Venezuela before things got bad.

What use would my grandfather have had for all the sketches I’ve sketched, all the paintings I’ve painted, I wonder? Could my parents paper their clients’ walls with pages from my sketchbook, could they tear up the canvas and use it for insulation? Probably not.


In art, there’s this fantasy of The Muse reaching down and the lucky artist’s paintbrush dancing with a press of her rosy fingertip. The truth is that I can have the most perfect concept handed to me by the ghost of Gentileschi herself, and I’ll still get in my own way. Perfectionism won’t let me pick a background color for weeks, envy will distract me with foolhardy attempts at others’ success, simple laziness will keep me in bed watching episodes of “Chopped” 15 times.


Whenever my still-white canvas stretched blankly into the infinite, I thought about that, about the long nights my parents must have spent thinking about their own parents. About the three hours daily my mother spends commuting to her day job. About my father’s lost stories, the jokes he doesn’t tell because English warps his humor. About the life they left behind in Maracaibo, all so that we could live here. All so that I could come here and be an artist, of all things.


So it’s not easy moving from concrete to canvas. But I must do it anyway, because the force of my ambition and, well, my talent demand it. Because my family’s risk deserves a risk of my own. A risk that I must fight my indolence and ennui for. A risk that will honor our sacrifice of all these years between two lands. I can’t let all those dusty hours at Home Depot go to waste. Hay que matar tigres.















“我们去哪?” 我会问,我父亲会说:“路易斯。我们必须杀死老虎。” 要杀死老虎,必须做一些副业,以填补钱不够用的缺口。别人可能会乘坐优步(Uber)的地方,我的家人却开始盖房子,我和哥哥也在后面。




它不像HGTV。我花了无数个小时在家得宝(美国家居连锁店)我花了无数个小时在家得宝(Home Depot)的后置货架上寻找根本不存在的罐头配料。我母亲在地板上铺上地毯样品,然后在它们周围走动,永远在象牙色和奶油色之间徘徊。她从艺术俱乐部接我的时候,肯定是在和某个悬而未决的转包商通电话。我会坐在一个废弃的角落里写生,看着他们在拍卖会上为硬木托盘无休止地讨价还价。如果我在橙色围裙的调色器监督下的时间比在保姆监督下的时间更多,我一点也不会感到惊讶。