Doldrums

A Retrospect Pt. 1

I thought about you again. In those perfect empty moments past midnight as I lay in bed waiting for sleep’s arms to cradle me, a figment of memory fluttering behind my closed lids. The auditory hallucination of your voice calling me from the other side of my bedroom wall. I checked my phone for the time, the orange glow cutting through the darkness. When will sleep take me? Why do these thoughts run laps through my mind? Why are you always at the center of each of them?

January

I watched the Insurrection unfold as my fever finally settled at a comfortable 100 degrees. COVID made a mess of my lungs while the current president wrecked democracy with his words, motivating his blindly-allegiant followers into storming the Capitol. Chants for the deaths of the leaders of this so-called free nation echoed through the hallways. Police officers were beaten and bruised by the very people who were “backing the blue” throughout 2020, as demonstrations of “defund the police” and “Black Lives Matter” took place. These patriots, as they referred to themselves, erected a makeshift gallow to hang the Democratic leaders and the Republican vice president. They’re motivated by misinformation, fed lie after lie even before election results were tallied. “[T]he only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” For months after the November election, calls for recounts, shouts of voter fraud, phone calls to stop the count echoed through the media. A coup d’état was the final attempt to secure an unlawful win, to overthrow our election system. In the end, no matter their attempt, democracy continued. 14 days after the Insurrection, Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. 

February

The lights went out as Texas froze. Ted Cruz hopped on a plane to Cancun. He left his poor dog to freeze. What sort of man does that? 

My depression increases. The city has implemented a new employee evaluation system. And the aftermath of COVID still wrecks my body. My kidneys feel like boulders perched in my gut. I can’t piss, but is that a blessing? When I do, my sides tense up and the pain crawls up. 

I meet M for the first time. And I am nervous around her. I’ve seen too many versions of her come in and out of this library. Talented, smart, funny and full of ambition only to be turned away. I don’t know it yet, but a change is coming. One volume has wrapping up, and a new story is on the horizon. 

March

I’ve been down this path before, why should it feel different? Still, I filled out the application and submitted it. 

The two of them sit across from me, though I no longer feel flanked. They slide the evaluation in front of me. Give me the goals that I am to achieve each month and what I’m to achieve by the mid-year. I have no plans on signing the form there. Unlike my compatriots, I will play the hand I’m dealt. Secure what little power over my own autonomy that I still cling to. It’s not if I’m willing to agree to these measures, it’s when. I eventually do. 

Afterward, I apply for other jobs. I have no intention of being around by the mid-year. 

April

I entered the meeting early, interrupting their conversation. I am still trying to navigate this new world of social norms. Before Zoom, the interviewee is expected to arrive early at the office. Is expected to wait in the lobby with no distractions. No cell phones in hand, scrolling through social media. Magazines are ok, but books might raise an eyebrow. In those days, I always carried a book or a notebook to keep my mind from reeling. Before the scheduled interview – which took place on Teams – I scribbled a list of possible questions to ask. I sign on to my work-provided Teams and click the link in my email. And there appeared four faces I’ll later come to recognize. 

My only thought is how am I supposed to make eye contact. To look at my camera means to not address the person I’m responding to; to look at my screen means to appear distracted. I fiddle with my loose earbud and do my best to respond. And I’ve come to learn that online interviews are more nerve-wracking than in person ones. 

May

I grit my teeth as she talks down at me. Maybe I’m just angry, maybe it’s my depression. Maybe I’m just sick and tired for having to deal with yes-people instead of freethinkers who stand up for the department. I had campaigned for her to take the role of supervisor of the department, but I finally delivered something the administration wanted. “Why didn’t you meet last month’s goal?” Because there is no communication between departments. Because things change on a dime. Because what is there to deliver? Because I don’t know who they expect me to network with. Because you have given me little to no guidance over this, being too busy trying to address the problem child. It takes every ounce of me not to just straight up and quit on the spot. Takes more effort to nod than it would to break the news that I won’t be here in September. 

I confess to M that there are times when reading the message doesn’t hit me. Tell her that I can read every word of a passage or text aloud and still not understand the sentence. I remember that earlier conversation when a new email reaches my inbox. I turn in my letter of resignation. My time at the public library has ended. 

June

There are days that I’m at home and days I’m in the office. I caught the first year of college bug. There is so much I want to do, so many things I want to learn. After an Ally training, I throw out the idea of building a LGBTQIA+ collection as a long term, ongoing goal. My ideas here aren’t cast aside. They’re not pocketed and kept for another day. While not all of them will pan out, they’re also not quickly reasoned away into oblivion. 

My mood is elevated. I finally feel like myself again.

Intermission

It’s been some time, hasn’t it? I’m always lurking in your history, though my time may have been limited. But I never went away. Never truly. There I dwelled until you remembered me. Until you picked up a picture from your high school days and smirked at the boy you once were. The boy who wore lipstick. Who borrowed his girl friend’s clothing. The skinny, life-like doll looking for some sort of validation. A chronic 15 minutes of adoration. How easily you forget an old friend. How easily my persona toss aside when it never fit your narrative. But I notice. I recognize that need in your eye. That longing for that feminine feel. I know the thoughts you push back, deep inside your mind. The ones that are aching to push through. And that’s how I slipped out after you killed your god. That’s how I remember. 

Photo by charan sai from Pexels
Doldrums

Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell

On the brink of death, you have a lot of time to think. You’re no longer working on the abstract sense of time that waking, living humans are accustomed to; you begin working on dream-time. The time where a single minute can span hours, even decades, of your life.

The writing bug has bitten me; you can tell by the amount of Iggy Pop music I’ve been consuming. And while this blog is on my mind, it hasn’t been in the forefront. Not for a while, anyway. Not since I left my job at the public library. Not since COVID forced us all inside. While I am writing a post for it, I don’t foresee it being published any time soon. My mind is running with ideas for the future, for my creative outlet. And I think the post I’m working out might be the first in a new outlet.

An old voice also visited me, which would explain the Iggy Pop. The above quote is from the story I’m writing. And I’m taking it from a different angle. A more Tim O’Brien angle. Mixing the story-truth and the happening-truth in order weave the tales I created post high school and during my college years. And rather telling it from the point of view of the character as it happened, but I will now tell it in my present voice.

So in the meanwhile, this blog will be filled with song lyrics, poetry breaks, and book reviews.

Doldrums · Writing & Writers

Grandfather’s Tale

Like many of you, the first storyteller who entered my life happened to also be related to me. My grandfather – from whom I get my name – told a story that resonates with me to this day. However, originally told in Spanish, its haunting feel gets lost in translation. This isn’t the first time I spoke of this story, and it probably won’t be the last. I’ve retold it countless of times – at times only hitting the bullet points of the story when it comes to sharing familial urban lore and campfire stories. 

Every Latino/e/x family has its lore, and most of them comprise familiar characters. Stories of the wailing woman – la llorona – have been passed down from generation to generation with a little something added or subtracted from the tale. (See Gloria Anzaldua’s Prietita and the Ghost Woman/Prietita y la llorona, Xavier Garza’s  Vincent Ventura and the Curse of the Weeping Woman, and Stories that Must Not Die’s The Sobbing Woman – to name a few.)

To this day, I have not heard a single tale that comes close to my grandfather’s. Whether it was an original story, or something he carried over to this side of the border. In any case, I present to you my grandfather’s story as I remember it.

Continue reading “Grandfather’s Tale”
Personal

“if i could see your face once more”

You learn something when your estranged father passes. It’s like losing sight of something from your peripheral – you understand that something is missing in your field of vision, but you can’t place just what it is. And the more you look around, the more you realize its absence. The more you begin to comprehend that this random item in your life meant more to you than you were willing to admit.

I think about my father more these days than in the years before his death. He remained in the edges of my life – estranged, always there, but never present. In those days, there was an option to reach out and grow a relationship. Though, there is little regret in the way I handled our relationship – it was a two-way street after all.

There isn’t a doubt in mind that my life might have taken a different path had my father just tried a little harder. Or if I had in my adult years. However, it’s a life I cannot envision. Javier may have not been the best father figure in my childhood, but I will no longer dwell on that. Why mourn what I never had instead of being grateful for the days I did?

Personal

“boxed in and labeled”

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

New Introduction

I made a conscious decision scheduling this post for the tail-end of Pride Month. For starters, today is Pride Day. It just seemed appropriate for the post. I chose today because it feels that everyone makes the bigger deal at the beginning of June. That’s when we see the most corporate marketing for Pride. That’s when we see influencers beating their chests about how much an ally they are. As the month winds down, people who aren’t a part of the community just stop caring. There’s no financial gain to it.

With that said, this is not the original intro to this post. The original intro consisted of a story of a friend coming out to me. While I kept that friend’s name secret, I nonetheless began to have second thoughts. I only have so many friends and it wouldn’t take too much a detective to figure out who I was talking about. While I know this friend’s family is fully aware, I don’t know where our mutual friends stand.

In short, while this story does contain me as a character, it is not my story to tell. Most of the post remains the same. The ending has been altered to because it tied back to the introduction.

Continue reading ““boxed in and labeled””
Personal

Of Love and Nerds

Photo by KoolShooters from Pexels

For the sake of my mental health, I decided to go for walks. This isn’t a new thing for me; in the past, it was what I did almost every day after work. It started off as something more serious – I’d walk and began pushing myself further until it was a sprint, a job, a run.

These days though, I walk in hopes to build some strength back in my lungs.

And, of course, to people watch.

For those wondering, people-watching is essential to creative writing – be it fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Jose Skinner taught me of its importance, though it had been a pastime of mine for some time.

When you observe your surroundings with a creative eye, you register things that would otherwise be overlooked. The way a young wife moves away from her husband when he sits next to her. Or how a child darts across the street while his mother scrolls across the screen of phone. Or the mannerisms of a young couple.

They paid no mind to the scent of rain that lingered in the air; they were more focused on studying each others smile. The groove between their hands, their teeth. With the first drops, she pulled him into the open space. They wrapped their arms around each other.

It took me back to a moment in life. One taken for granted. When a girl pulled me outside to kiss in the rain.

Continue reading “Of Love and Nerds”