A Cat Named Lola with a Violent Past

Classical literature & brainless fodder

Jyg, Izzy and I headed out to Georgia’s Thrift Shop in McAllen, Texas to check out if there was anything new in stock in Mike’s book corner. Jyg cut my hunt short to take care of some business. I purchased A Million Little Pieces and The Epic of Gilgamesh, each for its own reason.

Afterward, we headed to The Gallery because I’ve become secretly in love with that atmosphere, even though its patrons can annoy me at times. While there, I checked out some of their books, took down a few ideas to mull over later. I have a creative itch I need to take care of.

We headed to the lingerie store, also a part of the Gallery, to see what they had there. Jewelry and costumes, as usual. Nothing remotely caught my attention.

On the way to the photo shoot – Jyg was to model – at Jodi’s, we stopped at HEB so I could by a notebook and some pens to keep me busy – I’m such the child – while Izzy, Jyg and Jodi do the photo shoot. I wrote a letter to Erika, a friend of mine from Chicago whom I met online several years back. We were pen pals then, and it seemed like a good time to reestablish that relationship. Besides, I love getting stuff in the mail.

I’ve listened to Eels all weekend long – including E’s solo albums. I think it has to do with the fact I finished his memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, a few days ago. It’s an amazing book.

On Friday, I spent most of the day with Binx. Ever since I got this new computer, I’ve been without firewire. This puts a damper on the fact that I have to burn a DVD for my brother. I used Binx’s computer so I can input the video onto the computer, burn it on some DVDs and bring the back here so I can edit and burn them as final copies.

Before all this, he and I went to CompUSA to check out if they have a firewire for a low profile computer – a.k.a. my computer. We saw on online, but that mean ordering it and having it installed. However, like we already expected, we didn’t find one for my computer at the store. We did find nifty toys that might work just the same. I’m just afraid that it won’t work completely. We’ll see.

We set up at his house later on, where I met Billy Bob – his and Erika’s (not the same as the aforementioned) adopted son. He’s a cute orange tabby that I plotted to kidnap. I’m sure Bloo wouldn’t have appreciated that.

Writing & Writers

Workin’ Writin’

I started doing a little bit of research, digging for a YA magazine looking for fiction. So far I’ve come across nothing that remotely interests me.

I need to pick up a copy of the latest Writer’s Market – either the main one, or the one specifically for short stories and personal essays. I have a few poems I’d like to start shopping around, as well. However, I’ve become more and more insecure about my poetry. I haven’t written a poem in almost two years. That’s a scary thought.

Like most writers, I started off with poetry. I have a huge plastic bin filled with folded, crumpled sheets of paper from poetry a decade ago. They’re not good at all. I wrote most of them in high school. When I started taking the craft seriously, I’ve only written enough to fix in a small box. However short stories and sketches – stories that really don’t go anywhere –  that take up most of the box.

Anyway, I’ve decided this is the year I get over myself. I shall take Jan Seale’s advice and ignore my goal of perfection. If I get rejection letters, I shall continue revising. If they’re accepted, then I’ve achieved my goal. A lot of other writers say that the story isn’t finished until it feels right. I agree with you, but we have to draw a line. I’m constantly second guessing myself, tumbling down a never-ending revision mountain.

I shall suck it up and make an attempt. If I sell one short story, I will accomplish a goal. If I receive twenty rejection slips, then I will work harder on the craft.


Estas Muy Flaco

It’s a well-known fact in the Hispanic community that sons, no matter their age, are and will always be far too skinny in their mother’s eye. My mother, however, never got this memo.

Like all the members of my family, I’m an eater. I can cook and I can bake and I can eat. Last Thanksgiving, Jyg and Izzy celebrated with us at my older brother’s house. Sitting at the table last year was my brother, my sister-in-law, my niece, my mother, Jyg, Izzy and me. And like every year, Jyg got a taste of what she’s getting herself into. Every one of my blood relatives packed in their turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, corn, green beans and yams and still had room to stuff our faces with pumpkin cheesecake pie, regular pumpkin pie and pecan pie.

Perhaps after a five-or-ten-minute wait, we were ready for seconds. Our ability to find room in our stomachs has often amazed people in the past, as well as, disgusting several others.

When I was a teenager, packing in the food wasn’t a big deal. I burned it off quickly. Several pounds later, I’m realizing that instead of shooting back down after a heavy meal, I climb upward. That’s not good, especially with among the Hispanic community.

All that health juju aside, the fact that diabetes and heart conditions run in my family doesn’t add up for a healthy adult life. That’s now where my crux lays for me. No, it’s far from it.

“Estas muy flaco, mi’jo” turned to “Es muy gordo.” I’m just fat now. That, however, doesn’t change that the house is always filled with sweets, junk food and other various things that add to the weight gaining process. And amazingly, they all come flowing my way, despite the fact that I don’t buy them, or request them. They just happen to appear.

My own mother’s battle with diabetes has raged on for almost a decade now. Rather than laying off on the stuff that eventually did her in, she buys them and hands them over to me so that she can bide her temptation. Meanwhile, ruining my attempt to stay healthy – let’s face it, I’m a man of my addictions and am known to follow the path of temptation until it kills me.

So here I am, with a pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups, thinking to myself that, rather than eating them, I should take that short walk to the dollar store and buy a bag of cat food that I promised my cat earlier today when he finished the last one. He’ll be hungry soon. I wonder if he likes peanut butter cups.


I’m Not Getting Any Younger

My older brother (ten years older) and I cruised down the streets of Edinburg at night, after dropping off pizza for his family. In tow, we have our own large Spinach Alfredo pizza plus two orders of spicy chicken strips from Papa John’s. After making one more stop to buy two large bags of ice for our mother, our destination, we drive  down University. We turn on 18th and sail down toward home.

Friday night’s are normally spent with friends. This past weekend, I spent it alone with my family as we made final preparations for my niece’s Quinceañera the following day.

He then speaks, “So what’s going on with you and Jeanna anyway?”

“What do you mean?” I ask, already knowing where this is leading.

“Are you two going to get married?”

There are plans, but plans are all we can afford at the moment. Graduating college doesn’t promise a career. With an English degree I have about two choices in the Valley – write for the blood sucking, conservative, unreliable and bias newspaper called The Monitor, or teaching English. None of these sound the least bit appealing and the latter means more school for me, leading me to probably owe money in the process, which doesn’t sound attractive at all.

Jyg is also having a dilly with a career. At the moment, she’s working a dead-end job that’s sucking the very life from her bones. Meanwhile, she’s putting into motion of completing her teacher certification – if only that part of a teaching career wasn’t necessary, I might have given in ages ago.

But I’m the baby of the family, the last to get married and the last to spawn children. And I want both. And I’m working toward both. While I do want to teach some day, I don’t want to teach kids. Higher education, maybe, but not kids. Not in Texas, anyway. There’s nothing educational about Texas education.

So I’m on edge with this one. My family’s eyes are on me, expectantly awaiting that great leap that I am ready for emotionally, just not financially. And I’m not getting any younger, so I’m doing my best to get the ball rolling. I just wish things can fall into place, and I can leave behind a few parts of me that I am not proud of, or in love with.


Learning Maturity from my Niece

Sacred Heart in Elsa, Texas

¡Nombre no! I don’t want to get old. It’s not fun. I’m not even that old, am I? Last night, I got to see my niece turn fifteen – well, she turned fifteen on Tuesday, but last night was her Quinceañera. I was eleven, pushing twelve when she came into this world. Now a month before my birthday, her party was scheduled.

There I sat, holding the camcorder, as she gave her adult soul to God and promised to follow Jesus. The priest blessed the parents, the godparents, the grandparents and the best friends. I joked to Jyg later that the high school janitors were blessed before the aunts and uncles.

We always knew this day would come; however, I feel cheated that it came too soon. Both my brother and my sister-in-law escorted my little niece, my other brother’s daughter, down the path before my fifteen-year-old neice was presented. My little niece, who is only five, acted as the child Quinceañera. The two danced to Ring-o-round-the-rosies then the little one danced with the Quinceañera’s father before he began to dance with his daughter. It was bitter-sweet. Nine years from this November, that little girl will be celebrating her fifteenth birthday. Lucky us, hu?

I nearly cried. I would’ve cried if we all had to speak. And not because my niece was no longer the little baby who was the first to make me an uncle, but because my age was beginning to show.

They say, the only true way to realize you’re getting old is to add children into the equation. Watching them grow up, you realize that you’re aging rapidly. Soon, there will be weddings and babies of their own. That really starts it, too, I believe.

There are two stories, before I end this, that I would like to summarize. One was when my niece was only about three. I was around high school age. We both were in the kitchen while my mother was outside, tending to the yard. I opened a jar of cookies – Oreo’s, no less – and handed a couple to my niece. And I told her, with a stern voice, “If you get caught, you’re on your own.” She laughed.

I went outside to see what was what and, soon after, she came a-trottin’ after me – cookie smeared all around her mouth. Crucial evidence against Uncle Willie. We were caught, needless to say.

The second was about two years ago. I was sitting with her in the kitchen as she did her homework. I made trying to help her, but it was math. I’ve always been bad at math. We talk idly, her asking me questions about my lack of faith – I come from a strong Catholic family. Then she looks at me and asks, “Why don’t you speak to your dad?”

Like a sack of bricks to my stomach, the question leaves me speechless. “He asks about you, you know.” I hadn’t – and still haven’t – spoken to my father in years. There was no way around it. While her grandfather and my father are two different entities, they are the same person.

“He wasn’t always the man you know,” I replied. “And some things are a lot harder to let go than you can imagine.”

And she looked up at me, replying only, “Yeah. But you should still talk to him.”


Amazon teases with Kindle for BlackBerry

Amazon Kindle for BlackBerry brings my hopes crashing down

I’m not going to lie to you – I brimmed with excitement when I saw the banner on Amazon yesterday. I was more than excited. Amazon had just won me over; I was seconds from selling my soul to the digital devil. Then I found out the horrible news. Listed under their supported devices were the BlackBerry Curve 8520 and 8900. Nowhere in site, the BlackBerry 8530. Well, there goes my soul selling.

Maybe Barnes & Noble Nook will hear my cries

Patiently, I will wait. Hoping that something good will come my way. Maybe it’ll never happen, or maybe Barnes & Noble will hear my cries and create a Nook application for a BlackBerry Curve 8530. We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?