maps

I found her with her back turned towards me.  The red lights of the stage made her skin glow like a lava lamp in a dark room.  When I came around a second time she was outside sitting on a black satin couch with her right leg crossed over her left.  She looked at me with her lips pursed like her drink was too sweet.  When she spoke, the words came out like a phonograph, soft yet firm and with character.  “I’m a cartographer” she said to me with a tone like I didn’t know what that was.  “I don’t like your latitude” I tried to joke but she didn’t laugh.  There are some nights in Hollywood where you can find a place with live music that resembles something with a soul.  We moved over the black and white keys of the piano and tapped our feet with the percussion.  She had long black curls that bounced when she moved.  Her glasses looked like they were relics from high school, but they still worked, so she kept them.  The black dress she wore told me she had work tomorrow.  She wasn’t beautiful in the traditional sense of the word.  She had situational beauty.  The minute hand raced around my watch and as she departed I reached my hand out only to grasp hot air and a few notes from the band.

 

Notes:

This is fiction but I did actually meet a girl one time who told me she was a cartographer.

the garden

A young man and his grandmother walked through the gardening section of a supply hardware store and had a conversation about vulnerability.  The grandmother was old but she wasn’t gone yet.  She knew she was close but she was very strong.  She had always been.  It wasn’t strange seeing them walk together.  The grandmother spent many hours in her garden.  She spent her life raising children and her children’s children.  When there were no more kids to raise she found purpose in the soil and flowers in her backyard.  The young man wasn’t necessarily interested in gardening.  He enjoyed taking his grandmother on little outings as he knew they were limited.  They always thought about the concept of death, but these thoughts were always hidden.

“These Lilies are beautiful.” said the grandmother as she picked one up to smell.

“Whenever I see the roses in your garden they inspire me and give me compassion, stick with those grandma.” said the young man.

“Roses are beautiful.” She said “But they can hurt you if you get too close.”

“Kind of like me, right grandma?” joked the young man.

“I certainly miss when you didn’t have such a tough exterior.”

“Well, I am your grandson.”

They continued to walk among the colorful flowers.

“Do you remember your grandfather’s old property up north?” She asked.

“Of course I do.” he replied.

“A long time ago, you must have been five or six.  You were visiting us and all of your cousins were there as well.  You guys were all playing like you usually did.  That winter a tree had fallen across the stream.  In the summertime when the stream dried up the creek bed filled with thornbushes.  You and your cousins took turns walking back and forth over the fallen tree.  You slipped off the log and fell in the thorn bushes.  Do you remember this?” asked the grandmother.

“No” The young man said.  But he did remember.  He had a vivid memory of this exact moment.  But he didn’t want to feel vulnerable.

“After you fell in, I carried you back to the house.  You were crying because there were cuts all over your arms and back.  My heart wrenched as I tended to your wounds, but I told you to be strong and stop crying even though I just wanted to hug you and kiss your tear filled cheeks.”

“Why are you telling me this?” asked the young man.

“Because I love you very much and you will always be that little boy crying in my arms.” She said

“Maybe one day I’ll get to take care of you like you took care of me and I can see you vulnerable.”

“Being strong is both a blessing and a curse my son, it carries a burden that prohibits you from showing vulnerability.”

The young man laughed and said

“Ok grandma”

The young man remembered the day that his grandmother was referring to.  He remembered it going exactly the way she described, but to him it wasn’t about being vulnerable.  To him the memory was a reminder of how much he loved her.  It wasn’t implicitly apparent to him but that experience among others added a layer to his subconscious.   It made him never want to show weakness or vulnerability.  He wanted to be strong, like his grandmother.  They walked to the car with a cart full of flowers and contentment.  

“Grandma have you heard that ‘the earth laughs in flowers?’”

“My garden is not a joke.” She replied with a smirk.

They loaded the car and drove away.  As he pulled out of the parking lot and accelerated down the boulevard he said,

“Could have fooled me grandma, I can’t help but smile when I’m in your garden.”

What he didn’t see was the pick up truck speeding through the yellow light behind him.  The truck tried to swerve and avoid the car which contained the young man and his grandmother but it was too late.  The truck slammed into the rear end of the vehicle which whipped their heads back and then forward into the steering wheel and dashboard.

———

The cardiac machine maintained a subtle tilde.  The young man sat next to his grandmother’s hospital bed.  He sat with his head down, listening to the beep of the cardiac monitor.  Her face was peaceful but she was enveloped in jumbles of wires and cords.  He looked up at her, grabbed her hand and began to speak.

“I lied grandma, I remember you carrying me to the house, I remember you telling me to be strong.  I’ve tried to be that ever since.  There is something else I remember grandma.  It was a few days after grandpa died.  You were sitting by yourself in the garden and you were sobbing.  It was strange to me because during that time you were so rational and composed even though the love of your life had passed.  I realized now that it was because you were being strong for us.  In your time of great pain, your unselfish strength served as a monument for the rest of the family.  I realize that life has patterns grandma.  I recognize that it’s my turn to be strong for you and for the rest of the family.”  He kissed her hand as the monitor continued, beep…beep…beep.

8-27-15

To preface this piece I have to say what a strange thing writing can do for you.  I wrote this 5 minutes ago on the precipice of falling into a deep sleep.  I’ll spare you the details but I’ve had a long day and many before it.  But I had the urge to write and with it came a creative exuberance.  I couldn’t fall asleep now if I tried.  I needed to write.  Maybe I am loopy, maybe I needed to get something off my chest.  I have been thinking about this for a little while.

8-27-15

I walked down Melrose as the sun beat down on me from above.  It was the kind of heat that makes you look down but simultaneously radiates off the sidewalk so you can’t avoid it.  The only escape is a small sliver of shade created by the traffic light that hangs in the intersection.  Green, I walk.  Beads of sweat drip down my overpriced iced coffee.  This particular intersection has buildings with low profiles, so I’m able to see the rolling Hollywood Hills with their gaudy mansions against a clear blue backdrop.  It’s Thursday and I’m walking into work.

I have a recurring fantasy on different occasions.  Sometimes it happens on the hot mornings as I walk into work.  It happens when I speed through a yellow light.  The moments are vague at times.  The fantasy I am referring to has to do with alternative realities.  This morning for instance I had a strange sensation as I walked into work.  I felt like I was dreaming.  Normally, (at least in my case) dreams have a specific tunnel vision aspect to them.  In that I am only able to focus on what is right in front of me.  Conversely this morning, the dream felt more comprehensive.  It felt like I was living in a dream for a brief moment.  For the smallest amount of time it felt like my whole life leading up to that moment was also a dream.  It felt real, it felt possible.  Like I was off imitating sleeping beauty somewhere dreaming up a grand old mediocre life.  Eventually the feeling subsided.  But the thought is still there.

There is another reality I think about.  This happens sometimes with a sudden jerk when you’re heart drops down into your stomach.  But I mostly think about this when I am speeding through a yellow light.  After the light turns red and I cruise down the street I wonder.  Did I really make it through that yellow light just now?  Did the oncoming truck just hit me head on causing instant death?  Is my life now a subsequent heaven that let’s me experience things that I might have missed.

“Look God I know I fucked up but let me just finish my twenties”  I can picture myself at the gates.

Once again I think about it for a few minutes and then it subsides.  The morbidity of this isn’t as appealing as living a dream but I still enjoy the possibility.

When I use the term alternative reality, I am not using it as a synonym for parallel universe.  I am trying to speak about perception of reality.  There are plenty of examples of alternatative realities that I might have fed off of to create the idea of mine.  The cliche “brain in a vat” reality in which I am a brain floating in a vat in some laboratory.  Electric impulses make the neurons in my brain react to create experience and emotion just like a normal brain would.  It’s like a more mundane version of The Matrix.  There’s the Shutter Island reality or the 6th Sense reality.  Maybe I’m the fucking crazy one on the island or maybe my best friend is Bruce Willis.

My alternative realities stray closer to ambiguity.  The empirical evidence and my personal experience leads me to believe that I’m just sitting here typing on my laptop and I have work tomorrow.  But I will say how much fun it is to wonder about these things.

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”

-Nikos Kazantzakis

fiesta

He stared out of the slanted window on a Sunday morning.  Down his driveway and onto the street he noticed the dew from the morning fog had sprinkled the pavement.  The city was so quiet that he almost mistook his conscious perception as a morning dream.  The kind of dream where you wake up and do the things you would normally do, but then you wake up again.  He wasn’t dreaming, the city was in a coma after a busy four days.  The grey fog was the aftermath of a week filled with an energy like vibrant tinges of red and yellow.

The ceremony always begins with the sunset on the first Wednesday in August.  As the clouds turn pink, the Spirit of Fiesta twirls her dress back and forth with the admiration and love of an entire city focused upon her.  The entire community becomes awakened with the spirit.  The scene is hardly describable.  Confetti eggs are sold on the streets like hot dogs on Hollywood Blvd.  Walking on eggshells takes on a whole new meaning.  Parks and Plazas are no longer fields of dead grass, they are transformed into a festival of sights, sounds and smells, with strategically placed stages, food stands and beer gardens.  VIVA LA FIESTA is chanted through the dry summer air as eggs crack and tequila is shot back.  The concoction of stimuli creates a confidence and credulity in the spirit that the community shares.  Night time brings no end to the fever of fiesta.  The debauchery is mutual among old and young.  

He reminisced over the past four days that Sunday morning.  He thought about why he always made his way back to his hometown for that first week in August.  Its an inexplicable, enigmatic attraction that he has with Fiesta.  It wasn’t just him, throngs of Locals who have since moved on to bigger cities and opportunities always seem to find their way back to Santa Barbara.  He took a walk down from his Riviera home.  As he walked along the sidewalk, back to the plaza which was now a ghostly version of what it was the previous day, he realized it was the nostalgia of Fiesta which keeps bringing him back.  He thought about driving with his family in a crammed minivan to watch his little sister dance Flamenco.  Walking with them and yelling and smashing eggs and eating tacos.  The week always brings him back to a simpler time in his life when the only worry he had was getting to his sister’s performances on time.  He strolled down the red bricks of the street under the red tile roofs.  His nostalgia would deteriorate slowly over the year, like the confetti stuck in the cracks and crevices of the city.  Only to be reignited again come the first week in August.  

morning flowers

His alarm had been yelling at him since 5:30am and still he refused to awaken.  Even when he sleeps with the purpose of waking up early, he ends up rushing to work with a half a cup of coffee spilling as he rushes down the steps of his apartment building.  The fresh Peonies that sit out on the dining room table are pink, white and purple.  They shine in the morning light that comes through the vertical blinds.  He stood there winding up his designer tie.  The stress of his morning is exacerbated by the time crunch.  But the succulence of the flowers doesn’t go unnoticed.  He paused to admire their color and smell them.  The scent of them still occupying his nostrils as he bolts out of the door.

There was a moment in the day, amidst the whirlwind of printer paper and suits.  A moment where he sat staring straight ahead, as if he was looking off into the distance even though there was no expanse in front of him.  He referred back to the morning when he was admiring the flowers.  His heart settled and his mind slowed its pace to a saunter.

The flowers were the first thing he looked for as he arrived home from work.

The Chucks

“When your shoes have character”

He was doing Spring cleaning when he came across his old pair of white hi-top chucks.  When he picked them up he was immersed into a flood of memories about his life the past few years.

It made him think about the things that passed through his life without meaning.  These dirty white Chucks with the big hole in the left foot and the dirt caked around the out sole were far from meaningless.  You could barely see the red and blue stripe.  He must have wore them for a year straight at one point.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have any other options.  It was that he saw the value in The Chucks more than any of the other pairs in his arsenal.  Each hole or spot of dirt told a story.

They had a synonymous relationship.  It was flawless really.  He was always asking too much of them.  They were always there for him through any weather or outfit.  He and his Chucks were worth more together than they were on their own.  They helped him make his tracks in a new city.  They were his brother when his family was gone.  They were there for him when she wasn’t.  They were with him through life and death.  Through sickness and health.  They had a distinct matrimony.  When people told him to “buy a new pair” it was blasphemy.  To him each hole was holy.  Whether he was walking on stars or through back alleys.  Rough days at the beach or wild nights at the club.  Through fall rain or ball games.  Through complacency and promiscuity. Through  stagnation and inspiration.  Through baked fish or fried chicken.  Through days full of tea or nights full of Hennessy, The Chucks were there.

So he sat in his home, with The Chucks in his lap.  With the memories of his life and the miles that he walked in them.  The things that he had lost didn’t compare to the knowledge that he had gained.  They reminded him of the little things.  They showed him that no matter how bad things get, as long as you keep going you will find a better day.  The old dirty shoes motivated him more than brand new ones.  That’s how you know your shoes have character.

fifteen

I haven’t felt it yet this year.  The inspiration boiling in my blood.  So I came to this spot.  It seems to mean something.  I started my blog here.  I get my coffee here.

It is here that I sit.  I was here with my father and my mother and my young sister.  Here is where my father ordered coffee.  As we waited in the stuffed commercialized coffee shop with it’s pumpkin spice latte’s and its chestnut fucking macadamia bullshit.  We heard the barista call out “Alvin”.  We didn’t react as Alvin is a common name.  When we realized that the barista had written “Alvin” on my fathers coffee instead of Albert we were stunned.  Alvin is the name of my fathers deceased brother.  It has been about two years since his passing.  We still can’t stomach it.  So when we saw Alvin on my fathers cup we didn’t see it as a mistake on the part of the employee (even though mistakes at this particular location were frequent).  We saw it as a sign from our late Uncle Alvin.  A sign that he saw us and he was watching over us.  How fitting a moment for us as a family.  To have him there with us at the coffee shop on the corner.  If I had to guess on it, I think it made him happy to see us as a family down in LA.  Just us together we didn’t need anything else.  I think his appreciation of the moment gave him the motivation to make his presence known.  This moment also shows me how my family has never lost faith.  Through the struggles and the losses, the ups and downs of life.  We are still able to see his signs and to feel things that aren’t necessarily tangible.  So here I sit, in the same chair my father was, when he sat next to his brother in the afterlife.  His faith was restored a little bit that day.  I could tell he was questioning it.  This is the chair I sit in to try and find my inspiration.  

Resolutions

12-29-14

The year is coming to a close.  At the start of this very journal I set a goal for myself.  The goal was to read and write more.  I can say that I am satisfied with what I have accomplished this year.  22 pages total this year on this particular journal.  I have been keeping another journal which is hand written.  This journal has a comparable number of pages.  I have read about ten or more books this year.  I have matured greatly as a writer in terms of my prose and my fear of showing people my writing.  My self consciousness has been somewhat alleviated since the start of this year.  I can’t say with all certainty that I am ready for the world to see what I write.  But i self indulge myself with hints to my social network of my blog affair.  As if it was some mistress that I cling to during the lonely nights of inspiration.  Only a few get the privilege to view it.  A privilege I’m sure it must be, because if a colleague asked me to read a similar scribe that they themself wrote.  I would find it a privilege to read and comment on such writing.

I enjoy this feeling.  I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year.  Now here we arrive at the end of 2014 and I have dove into a pool of retrospection.  I wrote,  I wrote with passion and with my heart poured into pages so that one might feel it in theirs.  I started my blog and I reached my goals in writing and reading.  It wasn’t a sprint like I hoped, it wasn’t a marathon like I was afraid it might be.  It was more like a steady increase in pace culminating into today.  What I mean is that I didn’t write and read madly all year.  I also didn’t take glorious gaps in my work.  Towards the beginning it was slow.  I would read a few pages, write a few wayward paragraphs.  Over the course of the year it started to materialize into something noticeable.  I read more books this year than I have in any year prior.  My writing has become more precise and clear.  At least from my perspective.  It is a joy to me that I still have much to improve upon.  More goals for me to reach, more for me to learn, it puts a smile on my face knowing that I have solely motivated myself into becoming better.

I have a wide range of interests and curiosities.  What is left when you take the monetary value off of anything especially when everything in our world has a price.  The answer is art.  Even though art is creative and brand new it can be refined through learning.  I want to know everything.  But I know that I cannot know everything.  I want to learn.  I want to learn as much as possible.  I want to learn how to play the piano.  I want my house parties to hosted by white and black keys.  Lull loquacious ladies like Liberace would.  I want to learn french.  Je veux connaître la langue de l’amour.  These hobbies must be treated as my writing this year.  With increasing pace I should come to find a checkpoint of progress.  I need not fear disappointment as the disappointment would lie with zero progression.  If I only learn one more word of french this year it will be a step forward.  If I am able to play one note I will be satisfied.

There is a variety of other mundane tasks I have appointed myself in this coming New Year.  The usual suspects, stop smoking, diet, gym, cut back on drugs and alcohol.  Charming little goals for me and everybody else.  I mustn’t scoff at them in that they do provide benefits.  Among the other clear ones like health and wealth, it will add clarity to my art.  My work is steady and constant, my family is loved and beloved, my social life always insists upon itself.  I will find my happiest time, my joy in life in my art and others who would be interested in partaking.  In this here rat race of life you must distinguish yourself from other rats.  Find meaning in the pictures hung on the halls on the way to the cheese.

I want to be him

He had pain just like everyone else on earth.  Even though it wasn’t tangible and mostly self sustained it was still there.  Something that’s not noticeable but is still there.  Like stars in Los Angeles.  His life wasn’t full of negativity and he wasn’t struggling to put food on his plate.  Well not struggling too much.  His job was secure and his family loved him and he reciprocated that love even more so.  He kept a close circle of friends, only the ones which were loyal as there were few.  Even though he held a deep sorrow for the loved ones he had lost he knew that it  was a part of life and that he would see them again in the heavens.  Faith was never out of question.  He was humorous and often laughed with those around him.  His smile was bright and visible through a crowd.  He had a wild enthusiasm which always shone through.  He always tried to lighten the mood in the soberest of moments with a joke or a bubbling personality.  The fear was reserved.  It was all put on himself by himself.  He was annoyed by others lack of ambition or creativity.  He knew that each person was as unique as a snowflake with a mind full of endless possibilities.  But many were wasted on bullshit.  The rarity of the mind seems to have lost out to TV and social media and becoming drowned in a society that doesn’t love you.  But he loved you.  He knew what you could do even if you didn’t.  He wanted you to challenge him, he wanted you to start talking about something ethereal and mysterious.  He wanted you to school him on an idea or something he didn’t know about.  In this is where his pain lied.  He wanted to be that person who knew about the world.  He wanted to know about culture and wine and politics.  He wanted to know about books and fashion and food.  When people asked him about finance and travel and sports he wanted to tell you.  The pain that he felt was that he wasn’t living up to his potential.  He felt that his fears of failure outweighed his ambitions.  He knew that the human mind was beautiful and he didn’t want to waste his on shallow things.  He searched for people to challenge him

The Wine Glass

You wouldn’t think much of it sitting there in the cabinet.  It was always the first glass she reached for after 6 PM.  It always seemed ritualistic in fashion.  It stood tall on the marble counter top.  It reflected the waning afternoon light.  The emptiness of it almost beckoning her.  The crystal goblet seemed to hold more than just the crimson red Cabernet Sauvignon or the sweet cake like Moscato.  She filled the glass with her stresses and her problems.  These issues disappeared with the wine simultaneously.

-Nico

 

“One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.”

Charles Baudelairee