February 2, 2017 § Leave a comment
woke up with crumbs. from Felicitas, the holidays, yesterday’s bbq, Rosie. scattered everywhere between Star Wars sheets, the pieces hard rock, tiny granulated feelings. how long between cotton, silk, heavy and feathery warmth and sweat. how long?
handcuffed by a dream to let go. afraid of everything and nothing. posturing for help. left ambiguous, alone in the sand. granulated rock again. crumbs scattered by time, wind, pain and guilt hidden by small talk and the same stories told over and over, blanketing nostalgia
suffocating any true feelings. so long ago.
&, still, all that’s left are crumbs. translation lost in the murmurings. the tiny murusas speaking in tongues back to Tayoltita, Tijuana, black and white memories walking in stripes, her hand ’round my back, her secret signal whistling as we look straight ahead, a seer and apprentice through tiny modulated pieces.
September 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
93 degrees. Beenie and plugs server. Nice guy. After a few words made me feel grateful to have been given the privilege of living in the 21st Century where pretentiousness and disingenuousness are more and more scorned by more and more people. His boss should give him a raise. Not just for better than average customer service, but for treating people as people should.
The gap between age and status feels like it is shrinking at this particular moment. The Internet’s pulling globalization, forcing reality to speak to those not ready to listen in 1999. There are no coincidences.
More and more the signs of a changed world appear in my everyday.
May 30, 2016 § Leave a comment
The accelerator quietly revs. Blurring passed the trees that pull their leaves and branches a yellow car pushes into the center lane. Again, the accelerator. For 30 miles, maybe, more. This happened a long time ago. The 5, or 10, most likely. California.
From the back seat the hiss of the wind sucking from the top of the glass louder than anything else: the music, the cigarette smoke, the silent conversation. From under my uncle’s foot comes the engine. Petal to the metal. Calculated. Press and release, press and release. A rhythmic repetition up from my feet through to my head. 20 miles, maybe 50. Why’s he doing this?
Now, the thought comes up as choral children sing from the Catholic church on N. Broadway just above the Zanja Madre–Why do we do what we do? Do we even realize what? How long has this rhythmic questing been with me? 50 years, 20?
March 12, 2016 § Leave a comment
The building’s exterior’s the same. Plain, easily dismissed as any other family restaurant. Sitting in the booth furthest from the entrance, the counter and tables, the arrangement of pepper and creamer, the way the server pours coffee into the white porcelain cup also forgettable. I don’t remember details.
Used to come here with my mother as a little boy. Re-imagining how things might have been if she hadn’t died just as my 1st little boy was about ready to sneak away with abuela and eat breakfast. Just as I did. No one knowing of the intimate adventure. A little secret between us that made our relationship exciting, like when waiting in line in Hollywood to watch a movie Opening Night or when the raindrops bounced off the roof of the car like today. I listened from inside fogged windshield waiting for the rhythmic rain to stop so we wouldn’t get wet while I opened the umbrella.
It might have happened with my son. Could have happened for him like for me. It didn’t, though. Two more little boys after and decades later, details forgotten don’t matter, nor does nostalgia or possibly getting wet. Re-imagined secret breakfasts do.
June 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
The smell of the fire came up on the forth day, or was it the fifth? We had walked down Mojave Road, passed the almost electronic rhythm of some bird gawking, sometime before noon. It was hot. Really hot. Even under the shade of the trees and cool rising breeze. The burning wood reminded me mostly of the ’92 Los Angeles uprising, the deep scent of old wood, thick and black, straight into my nose. The smoke also reminded me a little of camping in Yosemite as a kid.
I had heard on the radio before driving up that the fire had been burning for a couple weeks. I even called the fire Hotline to make sure it was okay to drive up. The woman who answered seemed bored. She droned about how the fire was 19 percent contained and no structures had burned. She finally said, right before I hung up and thanked her, “You should be fine in the general Big Bear area.”
I had met Jane at work a few years back. We seemed to be on the same frequency. We had similar likes. I had even been nice to one of her former boyfriends when he happened to come and work on my campus. I’m a guidance counselor at a high school in San Bernardino.
Jane’s friend Raymond turned out to be okay, a little old fashioned and redundant in his jokes, an okay guy, though. I still have lunch with him in the faculty cafeteria once in a while. Jane had offered her place since she was going home for a few weeks. She needed someone to house sit and feed her dog, Lola. We agreed and she gave me the key. I used to go camping not too far from her place in the mountains when my kids where little, so I knew the little town and thought it would be relaxing. “It’ll be fun, Jane. I can stay a week, maybe 10 days?”
On one of my hikes I found three feathers. The blue one was right in the middle of the trail, easy to see against the yellowy dust. As I walked and rubbed against the nape I thought about the Native Americans and how they saw feathers from the sky as gifts from the creator. A surge of power, luck in life’s voyage. The second and third feathers I found as I was heading back to the trailhead. They were a lot bigger: white with brown stripes coming down symmetrically. A hawk, maybe, or an owl. I felt a connection with my Mestizo heritage. Some fraction of Native American most likely tickled.
The burning scent went away by the next day, but by early morning the next the sound of helicopters woke me up. By two in the afternoon one of Jane’s neighbors, Stephanie, knocked on the door and told me we had to evacuate. The fire was moving our way. All I could think about was the stories of how during the Los Angeles fires after the Rodney King verdicts people in the affluent parts of the city moved out to their elevated decks and roof top lofts and had riot parties as the city burned miles away from their neighborhoods.
As I wait to hear news about the highway closure a bird lands on the power pole. It chirps and turns its head robotically like tiny birds do, back and forth a few times. Its feathers aren’t blue or striped. The bird stops as it stares straight at me. I can tell it is looking at me, trying to tell me something. I stare back, but don’t understand. As I try hard to communicate, to reach back to my possible Native American animism, the bird flies away.
Jane texted a week later. All was okay. The fire turned east into Joshua Tree the day after the highway opened and I parked in my drive way. I put the feathers on the window sill of my study, right next to the Mayan idol my cousin gave me a few years ago from his trip to Chiapas. I burn white sage in it once in a while. On the radio another unarmed Black kid has been killed by a cop. The mayor of the city is afraid of rioting and violence from the community, so a curfew has been set. Everyone is afraid of possible fires. Somehow I know things will be okay. At least for a day or two.
March 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
Getting to the other side. Trying. The fear, as racing rubber spins. The swish of separating air that stalls and stops their step. Holding hands, little girl and man, the mother and two little boys–the Dad in lavender long sleeves. It makes no difference. The fear of death stops anyone from crossing.
The other side: a sidewalk clean, the cactus and the drooping trees. Come on now. You are almost here. Fear is in the siren, the blood on asphalt street across the double solid yellow lines. Its lanes, soon quiet and alone, no cars or motion. Free your mindful fears, keep coming. Almost home. Cross running. You can make it. Hurry up. Almost here. You got it!
February 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
Imagine seeing a cop car or what looked like one because of its light racks in late night darkness. A rectangular bar above the windshield, hints of red and blue as passing cars on a nearby street flicker light onto it, making your imaging of police enforcement clearer.
From there a fictionalized story seeps in as you walk towards your car somewhere in the dark lot ahead.
What next? Fear. A few thoughts and re-thoughts later, this post.
Experiencing my day to day as a “based on true events” narrative readies the mind for my particularly intriguing mindset. Drifts and spurts help focus precise attention to more of the fabulousness of living.
What I mean is, this process of creating fear’s complications where cops in dark and corrupt parking lots wait for their quarry, while I walk to my car and continue creating cinematic scenarios for dramatic effect and either turn something into nothing or the other way around, into a “Pynchonesque” unexplainably complex plot, is fun, and, also, worth experiencing. Here’s a try of “the other way around”: imagined, again, a possible violent life-altering altercation (all fiction eventually because once I came around from another angle to the same cop car with light racks, I saw that it was an imagining completely perceived by fear, with hints of heightened fiction, by the way. Making the scene more “real”. It was really just a juiced-up SUV in shadowy nebulous darkness). Fun, right?
Knowing that so much in our mind is a created story revealed so much. The creative process is a magical thing, almost as powerful as physically living it.
What stopped the fictionalized fear was my self talk. “Keep walking, you haven’t done anything,” I told myself. “If the cops come up to you you know what to say.” Jump cut to now.
Is this a paranoid overreaction, a guilty conscience, or a Black-Lives-Matter equivalent moment, where the culture, history, and/or experience of my role as an American (capital A in this story) differentiates itself from other Americans (lower case A or upper, not sure)?
In my fictionalized story I clearly saw planting evidence and gun pointed at my head within minutes. Would others see the same thing? Pistol held firm, plastic baggy slid under the seat. I don’t know. If yes, then why?
Building a story to explain, justify (and in turn, bring self-esteem and confidence to a certain level where pathos is pushed aside by logos) is a powerful tool. I realize now.
The next question is, is this machination a tolerable threshold?
Perhaps, maybe. Again, I really don’t know.
What I do know, though, is that it definitely ends fictionalized fear. As I break-down the experience I see that what helped was a walk around the lot. Out back and alongside shadowy back entrances of businesses, studios, and storefronts, thoughts slowed down, giving the intimate details a chance to place themselves where they needed to move to before really standing up close to the cop car/SUV, with non existent blue and red light racks a few inches over it’s windshield.
I also noticed that the mindset had already settled before seeing or experiencing. Maybe that truth had overpowered fiction.
“It’s the same vibe after decades,” I also remember telling myself, seeing a 20-something man behind the counter of the studio that I had come to ask about. The same man that I instantly labelled as a “redneck” because of his polyester baseball cap with huge white band and his silk-screened Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt.
“I’ll be taking a break, bro,” he says, “be bck in a bit.”
Slowly all the pieces came together. Reality over fictionalized fear, again?
Another aside: in my 20-something world the phrase would be “in a minute” not “be back in a bit, bro.” A little understatement to maximize time is what we used. Extending a literal minute to 15, or 10 years, centuries perhaps (if one needed it to be), or just a little later that night. The slang seemed to work best for us decades ago.
Okay: back to the present and this post. We will definitely get back to this weighty subject of personal narratives and their place in who we might be as Americans, people, 21st century human beings. For some mysterious reason everything eventually connects to everything else. Everything.