Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yipi the Yard Clock

Old Walter seems less lonely now. Even though he doesn't much look at him. Even though they don't truck too much with each other. Even though Yipi is always outside and Old Walt stay inside til the sun gets low. Even then he just go out for few minutes. Stretches his long legs. Throws food in the bowl. Maybe some water from the hose. Yipi barks at him. Ra-rrrr! Rah-rrrrrg! Rrrt rrrrt rrrt! Fast, spring loaded barks that lift his tiny paws off the cement. No. Old Walter never touches him. Somehow though, they keep each other company. I can't explain it.

What do I know? Been here so many years... Walt says since the Depression, before his time.

I remember that younger woman he took up with, after Marguerite died. I didn't think they loved each other, much as they fought, much as Old Walter slept on the couch, or didn't sleep at all, grumbling low to himself at the kitchen table, gluing the old model airplanes together, up half the night. At first she would slam the bedroom door. Throw herself on the bed, cry to the point of shakin'. After a while, she was slamming the front door, loud too. All heels and lipstick, like she bad. Sucking her teeth and pretending to call someone to come meet her at the bar, even though I saw her, she'd just go down two blocks to her sister's. Tryin to make Old Walter mad. I felt sorry for her. Wish I had somekinda arms to wrap around her. Tell her he ain't her daddy. Walt was just an old lonely man who loved her pretty face, her plumpness and the way she smelled.

And old as he was-- still foolish. Oooooh! Old fashioned. Still expected, even pretty and young as she was, that she would cook. No, no. That's not how they make them now, Walter.  See how you eatin' by yaself, now. Right out of the can, old fool. You coulda stopped fussin. Get you that take out, like they do across the street. Heat you up a tv dinner. Throw a nice mix a greens on a plate with some ranch sauce, you stubborn ol' burr. You may be old, but you can't never stop learning. Never stop paying attention. Look at me, I'm old. Real old. 'lmost twice as old as you, if I knew my figures. But I watch. I listen. You know how I say. Paying attention is all I got.

Paying attention is all I got. Truly.

And I guess I got Old Walter.

But not Yipi. I ain't claim him. Can't.

Yipi's his own dog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

more comienzas

Several beginnings:

I have many things that just hit this vein for me, that stimulate this part of my brain that is a vortex of gimme gimme gimme MORE. And blank pages are one. I have like six million empty notebooks. I love beginnings. Buying new school supplies is a nearly erotic pleasure for me. I fall in love with possibilities, with the fractals of options that keep swirling in front of me before I take the first step and set a certain path. That first step still leads to gazillions of futures exponentially branching out ahead, but with that first step and every step after, possibilities close off like constricting tiny bronchial that only lived for seconds, for less than seconds. Logically and metaphysically I believe that old Julie Andrews’ line that whenever He closes a door God opens a window. And so I believe that the possibilities never really die, they just morph into different possibilities, but still. In the landscape of my mind, the closed off options leave withered ends like tracers that you can see so clearly long after the light source has gone.
300 words used to intimidate me. I see it as so free and pretty now. You begin at 1 and end somewhere after 300 and while I have never been a “math person” numbers and calculations and all of that feel so solid and comforting to me. I have a thing that I consider a kind of positive synesthia where the numerosity* of something, the imaginary numerical logic that I pretend exists in things that have nothing to so with the reason there are a certain number of something is important and communicates certain secret meanings to me. When I was in HS/College I started making necklaces and the number of beads colors and patterns of colors were really important and something I obsessed over. I had not been raised in Santeria and was exposed to it very lightly and second hand so when I was buying seed beads and arranging the different colors in different patterns I didn’t realize this was something that is done en la religion. For me, the whole numerosity of the necklaces followed a totally compelling internal logic that I couldn’t explain and had no way of tracing where it came from. Certain colors corresponded with certain numbers and had certain associations or powers or elements. Candies, witches, songs, protection, sweet juice that comes out of God’s pussy, hair that you weave with, monks, dirty words, birds, plastic dolls. They were my spells.
                                                                                                                                   Recently I taught a Catechism class to 3 16 year old girls. I believe two of them are going to be Confirmed tomorrow. (They had to take a separate Confirmation Prep class which I thought was unreasonable and confusing.) I am sitting here wishing that I had made them necklaces. They asked me to teach again next year and I think I have to say no. I hate saying no. I want to weave a cocoon for each of them to take into life with them, something that will let them know how precious they are and make them feel safe and sure of themselves and connected to the Divinity that exists inside of them. And will also make them laugh. Their laughter is always so tentative and rueful. I wish I could give them a deep boisterous devil may care free and true laugh. I love them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Times Infinity

I could probably write a whole novel about the, what? Five? Six? Maybe 9? minutes I spent outside sitting on my porch just now smoking a cigarette. I can’t sleep. I’m sitting on my bed now, eating a granola bar. I was thinking. I was sitting on my porch, smoking a cigarette, listening to the frogs. They’re so damn loud right now, millions of them it sounds like. You’d think we were way out, deep in the country and not snuggled into the crook of interstate ten, just where it bends between City Park Ave/Old Metairie Road and Carrollton Ave.  A forgotten neighborhood. A dip in the bowl of this city, still scarred by the events that happened in 2005. And maybe 1967. Even 1811? 1708? Numbers.  Questions.   Each scar could be one line, a wire. There are so many goddamned wires outside this house. I was looking at them, sitting on the porch. Looking at the lines that they cut across the sky…  across the beautiful, deep picture that is in front of my house. Just houses, cars, poles, trees. But pretty somehow. Talking to me. Telling me things as my eyes slowly drink them in. The smoke curls around me. On this one porch across the way, someone draped something, I don’t know, a jacket maybe over the iron rail of the porch. It looks like a person, huddling against something. Not cold, it isn’t cold outside. It’s July. But not hot either. Not even warm really. It’s been cool this July, compared to what we usually get, though you couldn’t tell from all the bugs. I come home every night and there is at least one roach to try to kill. Good nights I find just the body, upside down on its back, almost crunchy with death.

I hate smoking. It is a filthy habit. I wondered tonight, as I smelled the dank smoke on the still air, if it is the most reprehensible thing I do. That would be good. I don’t want to do anything worse than that. It makes me kind of high still, because I don’t do it often. Since I was fifteen. I go every once in a while and smoke. Just one cigarette can give me that dizzy, floaty feeling like time is slowing down, like the universe around me is pacing itself with the smoke I am lingering in my mouth and slowly pushing forth with my smoke-filled breath.  Looking at wires. Trying to count them. Wondering if the wires are as countless as my thoughts. I am thinking about Rey. Will he smell the smoke on me when he climbs into my bed in the morning, his growing ten year old body no longer small enough to fold into the c shape I curve on the bed with my torso? It used to fit. He was so small. A little bigger than a hearty loaf of bread. I think about my brain. His brain growing inside his body when it was in my body. Between the two of us, how many infinities of thoughts? He spiraled out of me so long ago and keeps growing growing growing. Thinking so many thoughts. And my thoughts don’t stop.

It’s kind of beautiful really. As I try to count the crisscrossed wires that feed up to the light pole in front of my half of this double shotgun house, I think about HOW MUCH I think. How can my brain be so busy.  Just see what I am looking at. Wires leading every which way from this pole, from house to house to house, tethered and coursing with invisible electricity. Stupid televisions are fed, humming refrigerators, lights, that trailer that the guy three doors down still has in front of his own tiny little house, the one that is pushed further back from the street so I can’t see it from where I am sitting. About a month ago I saw him kind of taking a shower out on the sidewalk. He had a towel around his waist. A garden hose was in his hand and the water streaming down, almost as invisible as that electricity in the wires. Water trailed down from the hose he raised over his head, onto his white-grey, kinda longish hair, his naked torso flabby and gleaming wet. He lives next to the guy with AK47s tattooed on his cheeks, the guy who has two kids, little boys both still in diapers. They hardly look like they’re more than a year apart in age. They hang out on the porch sometimes.  I don’t hardly ever see the mom.

Across the street is Judy and Charles’ house, I see the truck but not the minivan that is always parked in front. As my eyes search, I see what could be the van in the yard, behind the fence that is always locked. I don’t ever see it open. They have a nice house. I remember years ago, maybe I was still pregnant, going for my walks in the neighborhood. I still lived in the house that we bought together, we’d just moved in there.  John and I would see that big old raised basement cottage, kind like ours but bigger. Nice big porch, huge huge yard. The house was kinda peach colored then, shabby looking, the paint was peeling. The house and yard were pretty bare. I guess Judy and Charles, whom I’ve only recently met, they fixed it up.  It’s really pretty now. Light pinky purple colored paint, they fixed it up nice, there are two big crepe myrtle trees and they’re really in full bloom. I’ve thought six million thoughts just running my eyes over their house these past few minutes. About the frogs, about rey, about my neighbors, about electricity, insomnia, nicotine, drugs, how people make money to survive in my neighborhood, the rain, math, a road trip, seeing Curtis Muhammed today, bottom up organizing, my dreams,  the slow leak in my back passenger’s side tire on my truck, the human brain, dorie, how dorie loves the brain, neurons, tattoos, the infinite number of leaves on the trees in front of me, the mushrooms in the tiny patch of grass near my feet, #grasshopper, fucking, shaving, the way they say at Mishfest that smoking closes your heart chakra, running out of medicine, cancer, getting pregnant, Molly’s baby, how Flick keeps emailing, now texting, she’s in Connecticut, my interrupted call with Lisa tonight, the grant report due Wednesday, Sue Bong Chae, my math professor in college who died,  science, if my brain could choose a different path, learn physics, the long ass drive to Miami I am about to take in two weeks or so, my mom, my conversation with her earlier tonight, how she talked about my youngest niece, hatefulness in her voice when I told her, she’s just a little girl, ma… she’s 11. “She’s got the mind of a grown woman,” she spits back at me, her voice raising, and edged with exhaustion. “She drives me. I yelled and yelled for her. I couldn’t find her. I was so upset. She says she was out in the yard… thinking. What does that child need to think like that for.  She says she didn’t hear me calling her name. I couldn’t find her.” I think to myself, “ I wonder if she was thinking of running away.” That’s what I was thinking when I was 11. Well. When I wasn’t thinking of worse. The adults in my family know how to make a young body with an old mind feel unwanted. I talked to her, I think my mom wanted me to fuss at her. I asked her about her summer. She wants to go home. She’s bored. “What do you do all day?” I ask her. “I watch tv then granma makes me take a bath.” My mom gets back on the phone. “You’re a grown woman, mom,” I hiss before she can say anything. “You have to control yourself. She’s a little girl.” I can’t think about what my mom must have said when she found her. That woman can cut you up with words.

I bought these cigarettes on Jhilya’s birthday, at that absurd but rustic and oh so pretty wine bar near the Naval station. Nat Shermans. Fancy. I am pretty sure they forgot to charge me for them. The world’s finest cigarette, for free.  A boon? I don’t know. At one point Hopey tells Maggie, “If you were on fire, you’d buy yourself a gallon of kerosene.” I can’t remember when though. I’ve lost myself in the pages of that book so many times, looking for that quote.

I’m tired now. I put the cherry out on the cigarette butt just before I get to the little brown crest they print at the edge of the filter. Throw it over the porch rail. Get up, go inside. I remind myself to tighten the screws on the doorknob. They’ve been loose since the week after I moved in.

The frogs are croaking away, so damn loud, it is really surprising, when I close the door to that sound, that it stays back there. I can’t hear it. That must be how we don’t go crazy. Seems like we’d go crazy from how loud it is.  Like a slow dragging rattle across a rusty fence, but denser, deeper.  Infinite.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


i was concieved, like so many others, in a generic bottle of whiskey. I've always known, from that very moment that I was alone. Later I knew I would be marked for life. I was born in the white tiled bathroom of my parents tiny apartment on a cold night in august. my father was drunk and banging on the door. my mother was pissed, cleaning, scouring the floor as I bled out of her, cursing my father and what he had done to her and me, cursing me. that night, in a move completeLy counter to her temprament, perhaps spurred by her undying devotion to her plants, she buried the after birth in the garden she kept on the roof. the next morning my twin sister blossomed out of the sprouted sapling that had grown overnight from what was left of me. we could never be more different, my sister and I. I hate her and I love her and I don't know how I feel about her. at least she lives far away. happily married of course, cute little kid and a white picket fence and smart and talented. bitch. we keep in touch, because we can kind of read each others minds in this weird and sometimes upsetting way. when someone has unregulated access to your brain you have to keep on their good side. luckily this is a reciprocal relationship. she knows I hate, envy and am jealous of her and I know she pities me and is repulsed by me and at the same time is relieved that these things happen to me and not her.

but this journal is supposed to be about me, the hell cat, the loca: my life stories, como naci y como me estoy muriendo. muriendo. muriendo.

me estoy muriendo de amor por ti.

I am equally disgusted and satisfied with myself. I plan to unravel the threads of my life here, to purge and expunge my past deeds. I need a space in which to recall the old days with the lyricism that they deserve, thereby making them prettier and grittier than they really were.

Once upon a time I was a little girl. I am a man now though I kept the many trappings of a female body. I don't want editorial change. Someone once accused me of growing a dick and a beard because it would be easier for me to get laid. No matter how pissed off I can admit when someone has touched the truth a bit. But its not that.
It isn't that she left me, it isn't the tragic way children look right into my eyes as they pass me on the street or the strange awkward hang of my large hands when I wear a dress. Its all of the old unsaid words that stuck and rotted in my mouth, coating my tongue with an acrid film that seeped out onto my skin, sucking up the moisture and leaving laugh lines like cracked earth.
I listen to the sawing of these fiddles, the sad moaning of the women's voices blending together into a caul that hangs in the air, waiting to trap me and squeeze me until stale tears glom out of my dusty eyes. I have sat in this small concrete box of a bar for more nights than I care to remember this past year. I don't talk to anyone, I just listen. What I've heard never stays, the words fall over me like they are just the edge, the outline of the music. The sound licks out in waves from the tiny stage, low, loud and reminding me of the relationship between thunder and lightning and how stupid it is that people say lightning doesn't make a sound.

Ibeginagain. I begin again.
the story of my life has many beginnings. that means I don't know where to start. I like to begin with the hands. for me hands are the beginning. something about them says "start here" or "origin"

I have large hands with a roundish scar, a bit smaller than a dime, at the bease of the back of my left hand, not quite down to the wrist. My veins are visible but not bulging unless I've spent a long time typing or playing the piano. I don't play anymore but that was one thing I liked about it. It surprises me when I look in the mirror and my face is not the color of my hands.

Although my sister was not born this way I sometimes imagine her hands sticking up out of the ground like plump stemmed flowers. Instead she was a hunk of writhing flesh balled up in some leaves. a cabbage patch kid before her time. my mother cooed at her, removed me from my crib and stuck me in the underwear drawer to give my sister a place to sleep. for years after that no matter how my mother tried to separate us she always woke to find us sleeping together, huddling into each other as if conspiring. eventually she gave up. she had to dress us alike since we were so close in age, though when we went for trips (Ive seen picutres) she dressed me like a boy. eventually we moved. I don't think she had the heart to go through with it.

I have many beginings and no ends. I just trail off when things start threading into that high pitched noise inside my chest. I can begin again. anywhere.

    this is my writing blog

    I want to have a place to put my stories and essays, so I am starting this blog as a kind of storage place. I will be cutting and pasting from other sources, so things may not be in final draft form. That's ok.