Archive for Duran Duran

Living in the Surreal ..

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/14/2013 by Angel D. Vargas

Life is surreal.

“Surreal” isn’t a term I really like. When I use it, I feel like I’m dumbing down a process through which some major epiphany has granted me the power to move on with my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life with a fresh, “up with people” perspective.

But if you had been in the neighborhood of 125th and Lenox in upper Manhattan at about a quarter to six this morning, life would have seemed pretty surreal to you too.

I was sleeping next to my girlfriend. She awoke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Everything seemed normal. She crawled back into bed next to me and we remembered that it was Sunday and that we really like snuggling together and talking under the covers during a lazy weekend. It helps us remember what matters, even if it’s just a moment in time.

Not five minutes after she came back to bed, a horrible sound of crunching metal and plastic erupted just outside the apartment. It seemed to rattle the bedroom window.  I didn’t know what the sound was. I wasn’t awake enough to make sense of it until a horrible screeching noise followed. Rubber scraped against asphalt, and the squeal seemed to echo into eternity.

“Jesus Christ!”

I think I might have said that twice. I said it once before we both sprang from the bed and ran to the bedroom window to see what had happened. Even now, the fucked up visual doesn’t make any sense without context. I said it again after I told my girlfriend that I had to go take a major piss.

Why I decided to go relieve myself at that moment is still a bit beyond me. All I remember is that I was nauseated, and I still didn’t understand what had happened.

I also recall my knees shaking like the leaves of a quaking aspen in the wind. I sat down on that toilet seat and put my head between my sweating hands. I might have stayed like that for minutes or hours. I didn’t really know or care.

Eventually, I stood up and washed my hands. Like some character out of the show Supernatural, I thought I smelled a Reaper in the air.

I was sure that death lingered close by, waiting to claim the lost soul of the victim of a freak accident.

“Jesus H. Christ!”

I got back to the bedroom and stood next to my girlfriend. She seemed more than willing to give me a blow by blow of what was going on out there.

“Nobody’s gotten out of either car yet.”


In all honesty, I don’t recall saying that last word. I don’t remember much of what was said after that. But as the haze and the shock of the accident seemed to lift from around us both, things started to fall into place. Out the window, on our side of the street, we only saw two cars. The first one was a silver Charger with its back turned to us like a wounded dog hiding its face.  The second car was sort of sitting to the right of the first. It was a green SUV that didn’t appear to have been even been scratched, at least not from our vantage point. The only thing that seemed to have happened, in fact, was that the SUV was nudged a few feet out of its parking spot.

It made no sense. Such a horrible crash followed by a rubber screech that lasted for at least three seconds just didn’t do … what we saw.

But time ticked by. Some of the neighbors from across the street turned on their bedroom lights and peeked outside like we were doing. Thanks to them, I felt a little better about being some sort of voyeur. The cops were on the scene immediately. The fire department came minutes later. EMT’s never showed. That struck us as odd until we came to the most important conclusion.

Nobody died.

I thought for sure someone was going to buy it. For about a nanosecond I was disappointed. I can’t lie. I’m a horror writer.

Then the stomach ache began.

About an hour later, all sorts of things had happened. The driver of the silver Charger, wearing a black shirt with green writing on it, angrily shouted into his cell phone that the car for which he was responsible was a “fucking wreck.”

“What de’ hell I’m ‘a do wid ‘dis shit?”

His friend, a shorter man with a grey tee shirt on, seemed to be the voice of reason.

“Look, dude, least you’re alive.”

And that was what mattered. When other details fell into place, we learned that nobody, in fact, was dead. A third car was apparently involved in the accident. That unknown driver may or may not have been at fault for the entire catastrophe. We never really got to figure that much out.  A tow truck driver couldn’t even tow the silver wreck out of the way in one try. His truck’s hook lost its grip on the wreckage twice.

I grinned. And call me sadistic, but I was thankful I wasn’t going to have to figure out how to pay for THAT repair bill. The driver and his friend drank two cups of coffee purchased at the deli just below our window.

My girlfriend and I  went back to bed. We didn’t fall asleep right away, of course. We talked about the accident. We talked about how our weekend was going before the crash, and how it might go afterwards. Things like money and job woes don’t matter as much when you’re thankful just to be in one piece. That lesson sinks in deeper when you’re with loved ones.  The problems might not go away, but their importance in the grand scheme of the universe dwindles.

I just got through sending out something like 6 job aps. I took a break to watch a show. I thought about my latest submission of a short story to a magazine for consideration. My girlfriend’s out teaching a dance class. We still have lives to live and things to do to survive in this city. She still has to talk to her dad about her insurance costs, and I still want to start writing the latest chapter for my online serial. At least I know she’ll come home in one piece, and we’ll have an easier time figuring out how to scrounge up enough money for dinner together tonight.

There’s a cat purring in my lap too.

Surreal or serene? Take your pick.

Aikido and Life

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/22/2012 by Angel D. Vargas
A young man about 5’8” and a hundred and seventy five pounds enters a Dojo around the corner from his apartment in the city.  He goes in, bows to the Sensei who gives a nod and a smile.  He enters the Dojo, steps into the middle of the practice space and bows to the shrine at the front of the room.  He then enters the men’s changing area and dons a Gi with a top that fits his broad chest very well, but with pants that are one size too big for him at this time.  He finally ties the pants off with a quick flourish, smiles nervously and gets his Obi (belt) from his backpack. He looks at the belt as though he’s forgotten what this fucking this is and why he brought it with him.  With a snap of the fingers of his free hand, he suddenly remembers what to do, and he quickly dons the Obi, tying it off in the way he remembered seeing on the u-tube video just the night before.  He knows his Sensei is nice enough to forgive the new student a few mistakes, but he also knows that appearances matter, and there are rules that all students must obey. He checks himself in the mirror and then turns his head to the left and to the right, checking for other males in the room before striking his best (and most idiotic) street fighter pose.  The top of his newly shaven, bald head glimmers in the light like a cartoon sword just released from a scabbard, the shimmering light moving from left to right.  He nods and then laughs at himself for a full ten seconds.  What the hell is he doing here, anyway?  Who the fuck does this guy think he is?


enters the practice space once again, abandoning his flip flops by the rear edge of the tatami mat.  He bows again to the shrine at the front of the room, checks the tightness of his belt (and his pants) and slowly steps onto the mat, preparing to stretch his muscles.  He hasn’t even begun class yet, and his muscles are already aching from work at the factory the night before.  How many boxes did he have to assemble last night, a hundred, maybe two hundred?  Paper cuts on his hands begin to sting, but he ignores all this as class quickly begins. 


Before the young warrior fully comprehends what has happened, Sensei has instructed him and the rest of the class on their first practice move of the day.  It turns out to be an offensive move designed to be countered by another person, and the nature of the counter move is such that the attacker is tossed forward at an angle that forces hapless attacker (at least in theory) to roll forward on their right shoulder and come to a standing position smoothly and without hurting themselves.  It looks deceptively simple whenever Sensei plays the role of the attacker and the attacked, and the young warrior does have a history of practicing martial arts.  But it’s been years, and he’s tired today.  Cautiously optimistic, he finally joins a group of his fellow classmates, and everyone is ready to practice the move. 


The young man is chosen to play the attacker first.  He nods and smiles, hoping he can still use his body the way he used to.  A young woman stands in front of him, ready to receive his attack.  The young man has seen this woman before, and he knows that she has great command over this martial art.  He also thinks her quite the beauty, though he dares not say so.  She nods, and the young man lunges at her with a short, overhead chop to her head with his right hand.  She grabs his arm and his Gi, and before he knows it, his momentum has sent him tumbling face first toward the mat!  He quickly remembers what Sensei has taught him about tucking his head, finding the mat with his arm and using momentum to guide himself into a forward roll. The world seems to spin like one of the slots of a slot machine where the lever has just been pulled.  So far, so good! 


Unfortunately, the young warrior has suddenly forgotten how to stand up from a forward roll without crashing into the wall in front of him, and as he realizes this, his feet are now pointed straight into the air toward the ceiling.  In a panic, he suddenly draws a breath, closes his eyes, and just follows raw instinct, attempting to stop his momentum and stand upright, stance and technique be damned!  His left palm smacks the mat with an echo that seems to reverberate throughout the universe, and he attempts to will his leg muscles to contract and expand at the right moment, hoping against hope that he doesn’t find himself smacking the wall with his forehead.


As though the universe has heard his silent prayer, the world stops spinning, and he opens his eyes, and he then feels the cold draft of reality hitting his exposed buttocks.  There won’t be any Matrix-like poses from THIS Neo Anderthal.  There won’t be any magical moments with dazzling smiles, sparkling teeth, and buxom babes in tight fitting Gi’s either.  The bubble of a warrior wannabe’s glory has been burst, and in the immortal words of Bill Hicks, the unfortunate novice has been “sent hurtling back to the truth.”


“Hike up my pants, move fast..Oh God, hike up my pants, move fast!” 


The young martial artist finally gets himself covered up again after what feels like a millennium and trots to the back of the group, red faced.  Unfortunately, he spends the rest of the lesson essentially getting flipped over, standing up, hiking up his pants, and trying again.  What had this young man had quoted at him recently about the definition of insanity? Oh wait.  He’s crazy!


This is what I was like a year ago when I was taking Aikido and rediscovering  that I really do enjoy physical activity, even if I have a learning curve that demands that I embarrass myself in order to learn proper technique.  Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned in all this.  Life is all about risks, some more major than others.  One can risk their hearts as well as the body or the mind.  Some might argue that life does not exist without the risk.  I would argue that it does, but it would be of a much poorer quality than I would like.


This is an ordinary world.  I’ve already learned to survive in it.



But it’s time to really thrive, amigos and amigas.  I want to ask my followers (or anyone else who would like to respond) a question.  


What risks have you taken lately in order to broaden the experience that is your life?


It’s a pretty open ended question, really.  But life seems replete with opportunities to enjoy happiness if  one is willing to risk their financial situations, their hearts, their very pride in order to reap the potential benefits.  Where do YOU fit in when it comes to taking such risks?  I’d LOVE comments on this.  Feel free to get this discussion rolling with me.

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