Writing & Writers

“I feel like falling asleep while you scream”

"I'm gonna jump in. I'm gonna begin. I'm not gonna wait. I'm gonna be brave."

I cleaned the mess I call a room this week. While doing so, I found two short stories that never made it passed the first draft. Both were, oddly enough, titled after Bob Dylan songs. “Not Dark Yet” is about a man who flashes back to his childhood on his way to his father’s funeral. On the journey home, he attempts to rationalize the betrayal he felt. He attempts to understand his father’s actions, while never fully forgiving him. In “Things Have Changed,” I introduced a college aged man whose long-term relationship is falling apart, and all he can do is remember is his father’s infidelity. These stories were written a year apart, but there’s a clear message of both. Homie’s got daddy issues.

“David”

“David” is the first and last story I have ever published. It appeared, of all else, in a student literary magazine that’s put out once a year. It received an honorable mention by the issue’s staff. It’s about man whose relationship with his son is so broken, he doesn’t realize the person he’s talking to is his flesh and blood. And while the narrator – whose name is never revealed in any of the stories he’s featured in – never mentions the man is his father, I hoped that the subtle hints would present themselves. Very few people understood, which is understandable. Most people thought I was paying homage to Ernest Hemingway and William S. Burroughs, which was only half-true.

I wrote the story the year after my failed attempt to reconnect with Javier, whom David is loosely based on. In the end, I fantasized the father figure so broken, he returns home and shoots himself – Hemingway reference to the point that I even made him a writer, which my father, to my knowledge, never was.

With a little big of maturity under my belt, I’ve retired “David” from my reading list.

Memories

My brother, Jay, remembers one incident about my father. When I was just a baby, my parents got into a fight that led to my father grabbing me and a knife and threatened anyone who got near. Thing is, my brother repeated the act with his own child several years later. A desperate need to prove how important father is? To show the world how much one cares by threatening anyone that gets near? I’ll never know.

My father was two men: the sick man recovering from surgery who used to paint wooden animals to pass the time and the abusive alcoholic who gave up his family for his addiction. After my father left, I saw him sporadically. There were the typical broken promises, missed birthdays, etc. In the end, I learned that I didn’t need him in my life, despite the emptiness. I grew up just fine without him.

Recognition

On two occasions, I stood in front of my father without realizing who he was.

Rumors of a Broken Family

My ex-girlfriend, whose family is possibly the most stable – though far from sane (a joke, sorta) – once asked if I was going to be insistent about family portraits because most people who come from broken homes are. I never thought about it. Mostly because I’m not too photogenic. A lot of people say that, but seriously – I don’t do well in pictures. I have a nervous twitch that causes me to make a face.

Now with the new era of my life in the horizon, I’m asking myself the same question. Will I become the father who puts so much importance in family things? While I’ve never been very good at it as a son and brother, what happens with the third title is bestowed on me? Every year, I’ve been the host of the familial Thanksgiving dinner. And every year, I say it will be the last. And last year’s promise might just be kept.

My mother plans to go to San Antonio this Thanksgiving to see my cousin get married. Jyg has offered me her family – my brand spanking new family. And while I love them to death, I have this nervous twitch in which I’m forced to judge everything that is not conventional in my family. And it’s not silent judgement, it’s more of a passive-aggressive thing. And I’m not doing it because I disagree with it, or even hate it. I do it because it’s a nervous twitch. Like tearing paper into tiny bits. Or bouncing on one’s legs while sitting down during an important meeting where you’re forced to make some sort of public statement that will be the growth or death of your goals.

I’m reassured by several friends and family that I’m going to do great with this. But the nagging critic in the back of my head is reminding me of all my fuck-ups. And I begin to wonder how much different life would be had Javier stuck around and been a dad. But life’s too short to focus on this what-if. And if anything happens, I could always write a story to make sense of it, couldn’t I?

How to Save a Life

 

Writing & Writers

To the Woman Who Had Three Sons

 

The Three Brothers & Their Mother

Three brothers, different, yet, the same, were born from a woman of strength and courage. The older one, who dreams with eyes opened. The middle one, who lived in the moment. And the youngest, the frailest of the three, who shut himself out of a world he didn’t understand – a world he wanted no part in. Three brothers. Three Billy Goats Gruff. A troll beneath the bridge.

 

The older one figured out the activity. The youngest figured out the mechanics. The middle brother acted it.

Each with their own talents. Each with their own despair. Each with their addictions and fears. Each with their own worries. Each with their own strategies. Three brothers, each with their own personalities and their own cheers. Their own dreams and dreadful schemes.

Two were social brothers, the life and hosts of parties through and through. Rosy cheeked. Glasses raised high and the mouths appraising invisible gods. The third, locked shut, windows closed to block out the every burning light.

Three brothers standing, shrining their mother. Three brothers standing apart from each other. Three brothers whose words don’t echo through the chambers, upon the stage. Three brothers worried and selfish. Three brothers feeling, feeling and feeling no end.

Two pray for happiness at the end; the third feels hollow, hallow and hatred. The divine the profane and the sacred. Three entities within each of them.

To the woman who had these sons, who bore these children into the world. May you live eternally. May you shine and reign upon them.

Doldrums

Weren’t We Something Though?

 

a
A Walk to the Park

 

In a patriarchal society, my grandmother was the matriarch of the family. The glue that held us together, if you will. Last Saturday, Jyg, Esmer and I had our annual Thanksgiving dinner sans Jerry – who was in San Antonio. It’s not so much a tradition that’s been going on for a while – well, at least not with them – but it’s something I’m hoping to conintue for years to come. Anyway, we got to discussing family rituals of Thanksgiving. Jyg commented on how her family doesn’t have dinners every year and Esmer went on to say that since everyone was grown up, it was hard to get everyone together. I laughed, remembering my grandmother’s hold on her family. Because that’s what we were – her family.

Granted, we might not have subscribed to the same dogma, philosophy or whatever – half the time we probably didn’t even like each other with sibling rivalries or whatever. There wasn’t anything more important than Thanksgiving, nothing that kept you away. And if you questioned it, she’d give you the worse tongue lashing you can imagine. You didn’t go against abuela, didn’t question her. You did what you were expected to do and showed up on time. Otherwise there’d be hell to pay. Things weren’t the same when she passed away. We all drifted in our directions, allowed our rivalries or whatever to get in the way. We became too busy to do things. We were strangers at the table, not a family.

My mother isn’t as headstrong as home was – despite the stubbornness that she inherited – which I inherited, as well. Whether my apathy about the world or my misanthropic view point on the world – my family – rubbed off on her, she doesn’t like to meddle in the affairs of others. Chismes, my grandmother would call it; the family had no place for gossip.

When I decided to revive the Thanksgiving tradition, I didn’t know what to expect. For a while, we had all three brothers gathering at Mom’s house but we dwindled. Jay started working on Thanksgiving, Melissa would shuttle the kids to her mothers. Martin and his family would still come around, until it was decided that we would split the holidays – Martin had Thanksgiving, I had X-mas and Jay had New Year’s. Eventually, Jay got the latter two holidays and I would only be responsible for the main course for X-mas. Due to some misinformation this year, I was back behind the stove preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Once again, chismes befell the family.

It’s not my place to butt in my thoughts on the affairs of others. My grandmother most certainly would, however. She’s give her grandmotherly advice, remind you of the vows you took before (G)od, etc. If it didn’t work out, then it didn’t work out. It was just the way it was, the way it was written. I never had the impression that she liked Javier much so whether she talked to my mother about divorce back in the day is beyond me. If anything, she was the gravity of my mother’s decision. Again, there is no evidence to conclude this.

So despite the turn of events this year, I can only think of one thing. Yesterday was a good day. Jyg, Izzy and I took my nephew Jaycob to the park. In his hand, Jaycob dragged a cat toy tied to a shoelace behind him. It belonged to Dexter, whom Jaycob loved – though, the feeling wasn’t mutual.

“In memory of Dexter,” Jyg said. Izzy made a comment to which Jyg replied, “I think it’s sweet to do something in memory of someone.”

Yeah, so do I.

Doldrums

The Importance of Family

via: WeHeartIt

I’m sure we’ve all been there at least once in our lives. Your sitting with your family and the sudden realization that you’re actually related to these people seeps in. You hope that you are adopted because it’s the only logical explanation why you’re so odd compared to the rest of them – or rather, you’re not odd enough. I’ll admit, there are times that I hoped I was adopted. But the evidence of my biological attachment to these people was damning. I looked like my older brother when he was a kid; I resembled my mother; I have my father’s chubby cheeks, inability to grow actual facial hair and his temper. The creator or mother nature has one hell of a sense of humor when it comes to choosing who shares our DNA.

And for those who know me, I’m not big on family. But once upon a time, I was. Not that I’m saying all I ever wanted to do was spend time with my family – no, nothing like that. It was just at one point I looked forward to the holidays, Thanksgiving especially.

Thanksgiving meant cooking at grandmothers, starting at the crack of dawn. My uncle Danny and his family coming down from Midland to spend it with us. And me actually tolerating my family – for a day’s worth of feeling related to these strangers. That was tradition, anyway, up until 1997 when my grandmother passed away in October. That shattered my idea of what the holiday should be.

Uncle Danny stopped by a two more times after her death before announcing he wasn’t going to spend Thanksgiving with us anymore. What followed was what I called the dark years. I spent Thanksgiving with an ex-girlfriend (who wasn’t an ex at the time, obviously) but I was the stranger again. There was no attachment. My mother, who worked for an elderly lady at the time, spent Thanksgiving working on other people’s dinner. And I would spend it listening to radio and drinking cough and cold medicine for a cheap buzz.

Frustrated with the fact that I felt even more distant from the people I should have some biochemical bond with, I announced one day, a few years ago, that we were a goddamn family and should start acting like one. We had our first Thanksgiving with a motley crew of individuals including my immediate family, Joey, Jyg, Izzy and (possibly) Ruben. This idea bled into having X-mas together as a family, with yet another meal.

Now there are three brothers and each needed to do something. It was agreed upon that Martin, the oldest, would have Thanksgiving, I, the youngest, would have X-mas and Jay, the middle child, would have New Year‘s. That way we all had to deal with each other three times a year and enjoy it. Then the rat incident happen and our oven died. So Jay consumed X-mas as well, though I would provide the main course.

This year, Martin’s wife announced she wouldn’t be doing Thanksgiving this year. The reason was a long term struggle that I had known about and kept to myself, for the most part. The marriage was crumbling and she saw no reason for it anymore. Fine, I can take the helm of Thanksgiving and Jay can have the other two holidays, main course included.

So where we are again. At the beginning of it all. Thanksgiving crumbled and I fear X-mas will follow suit (New Year’s is safe as my family tends to be filled with raging alcoholics – with the exception of me and my mother). What was my foundation of normalcy is now the tombstone upon its grave.

I might not be a family guy, but I know the value that should be placed in one. Sadly, I might be the only one who sees this now. In this family, anyway.

Music

This Post Is Lost In Confusion

I’m just gonna ahead and blurt this out – I miss Amy Winehouse. I miss her crack-addled, drunk swaggering celebrity. I dedicate this blog to her memory. As I type this, I’m listening to her album Back to Black.

I called Texas Car Title and Payday Loan earlier. Still no news. L told me that the regional manager was coming in tomorrow and they’d discuss the interviews then. She also stated that she’d call me tomorrow with the news, if any. I hate calling to see if I got a job because I feel like I’m coming off as desperate, but I know it’s expected. It shows that you’re really interested in the job. That’s why I played it safe and called today and not yesterday.

Thanksgiving is looming closer and now that we have a new stove, we’re doing it here this year. That’s not the only reason, but I’m not going to get into familial issues at this moment. That’s for a later post, if I ever can stomach the subject. Mother wanted to make a turkey roast, which, I’ve learned, is just a nice way of saying a boned turkey breast. While at HEB, I saw a duck and thought that’s what we’re having for Thanksgiving dinner (or lunch, as we always make it for lunch). Now it’s just a matter of finding a good duck recipe.

Thanksgiving this year will be made up of the usual suspects: Mom, Jyg, Izzy, (possibly) the kid and me. My brother and sister-in-law aren’t attending, as will my niece Selena. My other brother, Jay, and his family (except the kid, of course) will also be absent, but that’s something I’ve grown used to.

I’m not going to discuss why Thanksgiving is important to me at the moment. I’ll save that for another post. Oh well, I’m almost finished with Death Troopers, so I’m gonna go ahead and finish that up.