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.

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Doldrums

Gardens

There’s a philosophy that I accredit to my grandmother, though I’ve never heard her utter the idea. Just another piece of wisdom passed down through the ages, but it’s something I’ve now centered my train of thought around.

If you don’t have time for your garden, you’re working too much.

Now I can’t grow a houseplant to save my life let alone an entire garden. However, the idea can be extrapolated into just about any passion. Each day, I plan on focusing on my craft. And every day, after work, I’m sprawled out on my bed, exhausted and spending the rest of my waking hours watching less-than-a-minute videos.

My garden is beyond neglected. It’s empty. Paved over. A parking lot.

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Years ago, I traded in my typewriter for a computer. And maybe that was the mistake. There were ideas of disconnecting the computer form the internet, but that just left other devices. I keep thinking about Amy Poehler’s words: “My phone is trying to kill me. It is a battery-charged rectangle of disappointment and possibility. It is a technological pacifier.”

It seems like every day it gets a little worse. It’s come to the point that I don’t know if my depression is feeding my displeasure at work or if my displeasure at work is feeding my depression. Mix in this whole pandemic business, and I’m ready to make a career change.

Doldrums · Personal

“I hope that we write novels in our heads”

I speak to ghosts like one would a higher power. The difference is, I acknowledge the people I speak to aren’t there. Not really, anyway. They’re just coping mechanisms when things get too tough. When the world is much too big for me to grasp. When I know the answers to the questions and the solutions to my problems, but I just need to hear it from the loved one I’d turn to in that situation. 

In my youth, my grandmother came to me in dreams. She acted as the guidance I needed to navigate my post-adolescent life. As I reached my thirties, she began to fade. There were no lessons she needed to teach me that I couldn’t grasp on my own.

Whenever the stress wound me up, my cousin paid me visits to remind me to live a little. Within my realm of comfort, of course. Though sometimes, I took a chances that broke barriers. Like kissing a girl in a Whataburger parking lot late one December night.

And when life gets too heavy that nothing else seems to work out, Teddy brought me comfort. Reminds me of all the privileges he wasn’t afforded.

A year before her death, Marci and I had a conversation about my situation. See, there’s this woman that I like. And I mean genuinely like. This isn’t just me trying to fill some void, or getting tangled up with a married girl. Not since falling in love with Jeanna have I felt this strongly about someone, and it fucking scares me. 

I don’t know what I’m doing here. A year after the conversation ended, I’m still without an answer. A solution. Because her touch doesn’t bring me discomfort. And her company can lift any mood. 

So what do I, Marci? What happens if I manage to screw up the next good thing in my life like I did with your sister? Do I bite the bullet? Do I throw caution to the wind? Do I stop asking questions when I already have the answers?

Do I let the voices fade? Do I stop talking to ghosts and start living?

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.