Work

“Maybe I Am A Clown”

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

I’m thinking of quitting my job. And that scares me.

It scares me, because I have nothing planned out for the aftermath. There isn’t a plan b. For the last decade, my world has revolved around the library. It has become my identity.

I was Guillermo, the library aide. Guillermo, the library assistant. Guillermo, the cataloger. Guillermo, the second in command of the children’s department. Guillermo, the interim children’s supervisor. Guillermo, the senior library assistant.

Guillermo, the library/cultural arts assistant II.

Who am I if I am none of these things?

Continue reading ““Maybe I Am A Clown””
Stream of Consciousness

“where we’ve been through time”

Spent the last few days looking over my shoulder, staring at the past. Moments lost in indecision rekindled over a small conversation. The excess baggage I chose for this trip scuffs as it rolls down the street, dragged behind me. A load too heavy to shoulder alone.

Four walls make a house, but the empty halls echo like a tomb. On the fridge, a magnet reading: “Depression is my copilot.” Scrawled beneath it with childhood magnetic letters: “My other plane is anxiety.”

Chain mail letters promising futures etched in ink. Looks better on paper. Folded airplanes dashing through the air, crashing and burning on impact. I smoked love letters over coffee. Never promised you a rose garden while promising you the world.

White picket fences in a sandstorm. Tattered denim jeans. Clothes hung out to dry. Garments for the world to see. I spray painted a broken promise, signed it with our initials wrapped in a heart.

Move too quick and leave it behind. I trudge forward. Oil-slicked road covered in tar. I walked a mile for you; wasn’t that enough? The caged animal remembers its freedom. It’d give it up if it could.

Stream of Consciousness

Inspired by a poem I watched performed on YouTube

  1. I’ve never ridden a bike in my life. And the amount of miles I’ve driven a car is equal to or less than the number of years I’ve lived on this planet. Motion on wheels doesn’t make sense to me. Even riding shotgun or in the backseat of a car is enough to make me nervous.
  2. The number of sexual partners I’ve had can be counted on one hand with a finger to spare. It would have been two, but I am human and, therefore, am prone to make mistakes.
  3. My idea of a perfect date is staying at home with a good book and some distance between us. It’s not that I’m not interested in you. It’s not that I don’t want to know you. It’s just being around a person I like just leaves me thinking about all the ways I’ll inevitably screw this up. Because, you might say that you’ll take me as I am, but in truth you’ll take me as the illusion I’ve conjured up for you in the first place. Beneath this veneer, I’m more of a landfill than a mess that needs reordering. And while you’re writing out wedding vows in you head, I’m already signing the divorce papers in mine.
  4. If you ever see me reading this in front of a live audience, know that I’ve probably thrown up whatever was in my stomach in the restroom a few moments before signing up for the open mic. 12 years of public speaking has done nothing for my nerves. In fact, I am more nervous each time I stand in front of a microphone than the first time I stood on stage at the Nueva Ona Poet’s Cafe.
  5. I talk to my dead grandmother as one would talk to god. Usually when I’m asleep. Usually when my emotions aren’t in check.
  6. I started taking antidepressants a year ago after facing depression alone. A month’s worth left in my final refill, I haven’t taken a single one. And I’m not sure if that makes me stronger than I was before, or just more foolish.
  7. I am not currently seeing anyone. The you in #3 was a hypothetical, a royal you.
  8. These days I’m prone to fall into a quick, fickle sort of love for people who can hold my attention for more than ten minutes at a time. And those six hundred and fifty-nine seconds, I run the course of our relationship. What our children would look like. How the moments we’re alone would play out. A phone call from the grocery store to ask what we need and what we want for dinner. And most importantly, how and when it will end.
  9. I’m unsure if my jaded out look on romance is the byproduct of my parents’ divorce or my own shortcomings as an adult. Or if it’s because these days I put more importance in wondering about the next time I’ll get tacos rather than wondering when I’ll let myself fall in love again.
  10. If I were really honest with myself, I’d acknowledge the fact that I have fallen in love with someone. But she’s miles from me. And the love I have for her, this somewhat fashionista, is by far the most pure form of love I’ve ever held for a woman. And that is why she stands upon highest pedestal of my friendship.
  11. I have trouble looking into people’s eyes when I speak with them. Read several articles on why this happens, but nothing seems quite me. The closest reason is my fear of intimacy.
  12. Being a father scares me. This because every father figure I had left me before I came of age. My grandfathers died three years apart, and my father is more a stranger who just happens to own half of my genetic make up. While the fear can be deafening, I do my best. And each time my son’s eyes brighten up at the sight of me, I know I must be doing something right.
  13. I never hid my sexuality, nor have I ever been openly vocal about it. And while those close to me know of my affections, I’ve kept people at arm’s length while I told them only half the story.
  14. At the age of sixteen, I fell in love with a boy from Chicago. The emotion was both new and familiar. I never told him this.
  15. Most of the things I pass off as poems these days are better read while listening to the music I wrote them to. In this case, Mac DeMarco’s “My Kind of Woman.”
  16. There are moments I speak just to hear a familiar voice. What troubles about these moments is that the voice I hear doesn’t always sound like mine. It’s an echo from another time. Maybe a time that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe a time waiting in the corners.
  17. There’s only one time someone’s ever tried to set me up with a friend. It was a girl named Jade. Someone a friend of my was fucking between girlfriends. And she thought her friend would be perfect for me, but, and call me shallow, I have a type. The person must have read a number of books greater than the number of years they’ve existed. And these books must contain more than just required reading for schools. They must have a library card. And if not that, a Barnes & Noble membership. Or, better, be employed by Barnes & Noble. And when your name is Jade, chances are that your friends don’t meet a single one of my requirements. Also asking me when I’ll get back on the horse is equally as annoying as trying to set me up with someone. It demeans my decision of being single. And, yes, I understand that my confessions of crushes and having string of flings may confuse you. These things occur in order to remind myself that I am still human. That I still feel things. That I still have the capabilities to put myself out there event though I really don’t want to deal with the bullshit that occurs during courtship. Please understand that I’m not stranger to being alone.
  18. I can’t eat pineapple.
Doldrums

Everyone Likes to Pretend

You’re out there. Somewhere. Staring at the cursor blinking on the blank page, struggling to string thoughts into words into sentences into paragraphs. Maybe it’s morning, afternoon, midnight. A beer, a whisky, a tumbler of water, or a piping hot tea set to one side of you laptop or desktop computer. Apple of Chromebook or something from HP. Maybe you lost sleep last night, or overslept in the morning. Or you found that perfect set of hours, waking up refreshed and ready to take on the day. You gather textbooks or briefcase or a journal and pen and head off to school, the office, or café. Today is a busy day, or a sabbatical. You beat out a rhythm with a pencil drumstick as you wait for an e-mail to arrive. Or it’s a day at the park. Or one better spent browsing the shelves of your local used bookstore. You scan the titles, zeroing in on the one the cute guy or gal from work or class or the public library spent hours reading during his or her free time. You pick up the novel, the tome, the short collection of stories or poems. It’s something you never read before, or it’s all too familiar. You put it back on the shelf, or reshelf it in the most ridiculous place—like the time you hid that collection of smutty tales in next to the For Her Bibles—or you make your way to the front and buy the copy. You slip away into the crowd, or you head off in the opposite direction in order to avoid running into someone you might have gone to high school with because you hate small talk and you know it’s going to happen when you run into one. Those annoying questions about asking where have you been, what have you been doing, or what do you do these days? Are you still with so-and-so, or the getting the updated news of how a high school sweetheart is married, pregnant, both or deceased. You pace yourself at home, or you avoid eye contact at work.

You’re out there. Somewhere. On a Friday or Saturday night sprawled out on the couch, or lying in bed. A bucket of popcorn rests besides you as you channel surf or scroll through the endless suggestions on Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, or Hulu Plus. You choose to watch a movie, or TV show, or something from you childhood. You turn off the set and the light and just lie in the dark staring at the ceiling as your eyes do their best to adjust. Small explosions erupt in through the black, sending swirls of colors dancing before you. It’s something you want to know if others experience so you reach for your phone to text a close friend or special someone, but stop short because it sets in. While you’re ready to end your day, everyone is just beginning their nights. And while a part of you longs to join the crowd, you know that you don’t belong. All those quirks that make you feel charming leaves an aloof flavor in other people’s mouths. So you think better of it and set the phone back down on the nightstand, on the armrest, or the windowsill. You spend in the night imaging situations, rehearsing lines for Monday when you go back to work, or school, or the bookstore, or park. You practice scripts of dialogue, memorizing all the right words to say when someone asks you about your weekend. You practice your smile, and know it wouldn’t convince anyone but they’ll play along with you because, let’s face it, everyone likes to pretend.

You’re out there. Somewhere. Laughing when you crying would better suit you. Or crying as you remember the laughter you experience in the past, wondering if you can ever reach those days again. You stuff your hands in your pockets and smirk when someone asks you if you’re ok. And you go on a tangent about the origin of the phrase ok and how it’s an abbreviation for a purposefully misspelled variant of all correct. You get on the bus, or behind the wheel, or the passenger or backseat in a carpool. You laugh at all the right jokes. You smile at the right moments. You react the way you’re supposed to. You find yourself in a quiet place at the office, park, bookstore, or café. Take in a deep breath. And pace yourself.

You’re out there. Somewhere.

Doldrums

“Ants are in the Sugar”

I watched Iron Man 3. Just finished about thirty minutes ago. My mood heightened, I took a shower. Refreshing as it was, something cracked. And instead of reflecting on all the Iron Man action, a voice – the voice – crept up and whispered doubt in my ear. The next moment, I’m out of the shower and texting (I didn’t send it) a person I don’t have the right to complain about. “Why don’t I function anymore?” But did I ever function?

Depression and anxiety aren’t strangers in my life. They’re old friends. They know my haunts. They know my tricks. And over the years, the ones I mastered to keep them in check are beginning to fail me.

Socially awkward by birth, over the years I’ve perfected the proper responses, vocally and physically. I never speak unless spoken to, or have something of importance to say. I keep my wording to a minimum when sending an e-mail. When I lose control of my emotions, however, the surface cracks and my truer self springs free, spreading the venom throughout my mind.

And I start losing myself in a fiction I created.

Doldrums

Stick to a subject

Spring is near; I can almost smell it.

The heart clinic is small, filled with the elderly. I’m the youngest person there. It makes no sense, but heart conditions aren’t discriminative. Like bullets, they can’t tell age or sex. I’m nervous, but half of me already expects a clean bill of health. I’m also hungry. The two do not mix well.

It’s been about twelve hours since I last ate. Expecting the EKG, I know they’re going to do blood work, too. Or ask to schedule it. I’m ready. And when the doctor asks me to come in for it, I tell him that I’m ready for it now if he would like to take it. But that’s later. This is now.

It’s still early in the day. The heat, however, suggests otherwise. It’s not unseasonably hot. It is March. I know that heat doesn’t help if you have a heart problem. I’m sympathetic to the elderly women. When I’m called, I get up and follow the smiling technician. She weighs me. 181 lbs. She checks my blood pressure. She then leads me to have the EKG done. It comes out clear.

The doctor sees me shortly. His voice is husky with a Mexican accent. He’s my mother’s doctor and my paternal grandfather’s doctor. He doesn’t ask if I’m related to either. He sees I have a book with me, Darkness on the Edge of Town, so when he leads me to get the blood work done, he talks about reading. How it was much simpler when he was younger. How he had more time. He writes, too. Drat, I should’ve told him about the poetry readings. My mind is too wrapped around the fact that I’m not sick from my heart, but the blood work should tell me something. “Can you come back on Friday?” the smiling technician asks. I nod. Slightly dizzy. Every year the side effects are little worse; the combination of anxiety and the lack of blood always leaves me flushed.

I pay the women up front the $235 I do not have. I make an appointment for Friday at 3:15. They gave me a number to call in case of an emergency. The doctor visits all the local hospitals. Even the good one. I know I won’t ever return to Edinburg Regional if it comes to that.

The heat outside the building has increased. It doesn’t help with the dizziness. My left arm feels sore. My chest is heavy on my body. Still, the EKG came out clean. The symptoms can be attributed to something else. Still, I have to go back Friday and pay another $100 that I don’t have. Times like this, I wish I had a steady writing job, or editing. Anything beats this freelance dream at the moment.

But the heat reminds me. In 10 days Spring will be here. In 10 days, I will no longer be a twenty-six-year-old guy without a clear path to his goals. I’ll be twenty-seven. Three years away from another decade. But the heat, it feels somewhat comforting. Spring is almost here.