Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One big coin.

Dude. Thinking about you today and imagining your severance pay as this one big coin with a picture of a tree being bulldozed on one side and gravity all sideways, and a picture of open doors and windows and open fertile fields and adventures on the other side. I don't know which side you are looking at, or if you've been able to see both, but either way my heart goes out to you and your times ahead. Big hugs and love to you. Let me know if there's anything I can do.


On a brick in the wall in a bathroom in a building that used to be a gold mine but is now a cafe in Placerville, I find the words, "Light is coming back as of today," which is a lyric in a song that my dear friend Sarah wrote. I find this while I pee during a tea break during a wandering walk down Main Street. Meanwhile my mom's first cousin's daughter gets married in a town nearby and half my family is there in heels and ties and I'm here because I came last minute to see my mom but wasn't really on the invitation so I am alone in a small town until I find this green marker graffitied evidence that one of my best friends has  been here, maybe peed in this same toilet and was looked upon and listened to with adoration for her music so much so that someone took it upon themselves to scrawl in the bathroom a note that today, to me, says I'm not as alone as I feel.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Currant Event

I sit in the sun in the courtyard outside my office. I stare at the plants, like I always do, and notice the currant bush has berries.
"The currant bush has berries!" I say to M, who has just come out of her office. I hold one up for emphasis. She looks at it. "It's an event," I say, and watch her face. No reaction. "It's an event," I say again, more expectantly, waiting.
"Aargh! I got it as soon as you said it," M.exclaims as she kicks me gently in the leg, then turns and runs back in to the office.
I laugh at my own cleverness and eat the berry. Mildly sweet with bitter seeds. I still think it was a good joke.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


A quarter, a dime, a dime, a dime, a quarter, another dime, another quarter. Forty three minutes and counting. I walk down 24th street away from my car. Folsom. Lucky. Treat. This is not my home town, but something feels like home. Taquería. Desayuno. Bakery.  It took a cello lesson to get me to leave my apartment where I've spent too much time missing L. and holding hands with Sorrow. Abarrotes. Wash and Dry. Cross the street. Dodge a scooter. Taquería Guadalajara. Mexicatessen (what kind of a word is that?). My eyes still feel like I've been crying, but not from the cello lesson. Cello is the highlight of my life right now. Platanos machos. Mango. Tomate roma. Onions. There is a laundromat somewhere here in San Francisco named "Washatería", which makes me laugh out loud every time. I can never remember where it is, so I always watch for it. Cross another street. Fine jewelry. Lucha libre masks. A woman explains something to her son on a scooter, holding him by the arm, speaking sternly and sweetly. Corner market. Yucca. Mandarina. Chiles secos. Apples. Ajo. I'm starting to wonder if I missed the place when finally, there it is, across the street, the tortillería. Tengo que cruzar la mitad de la ciudad para encontrar tortillas buenas. I haven't been here before. I just got tired of Trader Joe's tortillas. Inside I'm overwhelmed by things I've never found in the US: queso cotija, queso fresco, masa, seven kinds of salsa, those pulpa de tamarindo candies I used to eat in Secundaria. I've never bought masa before, I don't really know what to do with it.  I buy a pound anyway. I buy still-warm tortillas, some cheese, some salsa.

I walk back. Florida. Alabama. Harrison. I stop again for plátanos machos.  Compro 5 mangos enormes, tunas verdes, ajo, cebolla, limones, cilantro. I forget the plátanos machos. A woman holds out an empty cup. I imagine trading her a mango for a story, but don't stop. I start to notice there are lot of murals here. Back at the car. Eight minutes left on the meter. I drive towards home. I get lost. I find myself on Diamond Heights Road, where I've driven so many times with L. My insides ache a little, but I know my way home from here. My cello is in the back seat. My warm tortillas are in the front seat. I accidentally left Sorrow in the Mission district. She must have taken a wrong turn. That's okay. She'll call me when she wants to hang out again.

Courage, salivary glands and ulterior motives.

Normally, words pour out of me like strings of saliva from a big hairy dog's mouth- kind of plentiful, kind of a bodily function, kind of inappropriate depending on where it all lands. This blog has been giving me a hard time though. I'm very aware that this is a public place. Once I put it on here it's on the internet for all to see, and that's kind of scary. I've been trying to come up with blog posts that are a little censored, not write anything that I wouldn't want to share with anybody in my life or out of my life. And the result of that has been no blog posts. Apparently my writing comes from a place of openness and honesty. Straight from my salivary glands. I can swallow it or I can be real. I can be open and have a blog or I can be private and safe and not have a blog. So I'm mustering my courage and I'm just going to be my whole self on here, bring my feelings and loves and thoughts and bad puns.

Some friends have suggested I could have a private blog that is open only to my friends or people I invite. I considered that. But really, my reasons for wanting a blog are to promote myself. More specifically, promote my music, art and writing. I have my little website for music and art where things rarely change and I know that people will check back more often when there are interesting new things to see. Those are my ulterior motives: amass a following of blog followers who will help art opportunities come my way and who will hear about my music if I ever finish the other album I've been working on for three or four years. So a private blog wouldn't help me in that respect.

This promotion thing is funny to me because the album I have on my bandcamp page right now makes me cringe. I can't listen to it if other people are around, or I can't be there if other people are listening to it. I heat up and start to sweat. But that's another topic.

My non-ulterior motive for this blog is that I like to write. And I write better if I know someone will read it. It's fun.

Blogging has also been difficult lately because I want it to be good! I want my writing to dance with funny metaphors and glitter with genius. And that gets in the way of writing anything. So for this sort-of first entry, sort of third entry, I'm writing intentionally boring. Except for the salivary glands part. That was fun. But for the rest of this, I'm not trying to be funny or genius. I want your expectations to be low so it can just get better from here. Or maybe worse. No promises. Just drool.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blog Vows

I vow to write sporadically.
I vow to shamelessly plagiarize from my own journal, from letters and emails to friends, from my own songs, and from private poems written on scraps of paper for lovers.
I further vow to give partial credit or none at all to the source from which I took my own writing.
I vow to give full credit to writings that are not my own.
I vow to try to keep things interesting. At least to me.
Me comprometo a escribir en español de vez en cuando.
Me comprometo a no traducir nada de español a inglés o vice versa hasta que todo el sitio pueda ser bilingüe.
I vow to keep google translator in the sidebar just in case.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Story

My Grandma on my mom's side had three kids and won first place in a water ski circus in California by the time she was my age. At 86 she still wins at Scrabble and can drink me under the table. My Grampa flew helicopters for JPL and was a talented painter and craftsman. At his memorial, his watercolors, carved gourds, wooden toys, and acrylic paintings were displayed while a sleazy man with a long thin mustache played the saw. My mom said this would have pleased him.

My aunt went to Spain when she was 16, ran away from the home she was staying in, fell in love with a Spanish boy and almost married him. Then she decided she didn't want to be that poor and left him to become a successful business woman in California. "Don't ever depend on a man," she'd tell me, "always be financially independent." She still travels the world. My grandparents didn't know what to do with my impossible uncle, so they put him in the army. He died in Vietnam before I was born. My Grandma still feels guilty. I have his 12-string guitar.

My mom broke with rebellious family tradition to chase after her dream of having a family, and lived in Mexico for 25 years to raise us in a house on the beach where all her jewelry was stolen and water was brought in by truck every month. "I don't know how such a sweet woman came out of this old body of mine," my grandma sometimes says about Ma. She is my role model for honesty and unconditional love and support.

As for my Abuelita (on my dad's side), the only way out of, or in to, her village in Veracruz was by four or five hour boat ride along the river. She told me alligators climbed the trees along the river, so she was afraid to walk under them when she was a little girl. After she met my Abuelo and moved to Rosarito, she taught herself to sew without using any patterns, to support her three children. I got her sewing machine when she died.

My Abuelo, a communist atheist Jew, arrived from halfway around the world already a bitter man. At nine, he was an orphan in Poland. At 30, he was on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War and was put in a concentration camp in Morocco. He escaped to New York by walking across the desert carrying water in a flat canteen he'd made out of tin hidden against his body, then catching a boat in Portugal. He hated the U.S. and so moved to Mexico, which he hated less.

My Pa is a complicated, likable, intelligent, and disturbed man. A womanizer like his father, whose name he inherited. He taught math and chess at my high school and bought me my first guitar for eight dollars off a hitchhiker. It's still my favorite.

My older brother has the same name as my dad and has inherited all the pathology that comes with it. He once told me we are two sides of the same coin: I am the light and he is the dark. He is a talented storyteller and a lucid dreamer. His chest hair grows in the shape of a raven.

My little sister has three first names: one in Spanish, one in English, one in Nahuatl. Intensely social, she had few friends for years. She is the best bareback horse-woman in town, unless I'm around, that is. Dirty jokes are her favorite.

My niece wears princess dresses and hair clips while she tries to catch lizards or plays with her Hot Wheels cars. She greets me every day and after long absences by asking, "We go rock climbing?"

All this filters through my fingers, forms the lens of my eyes, is the air of my voice. This is where my music and art come from. This is how I write.