Archive for last decade

The Journey Continues

Posted in Drum Roll, The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08/04/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Follow the bouncing wine glass. I’ve got some celebrating to do ūüôā

Imagine this.

You take a journey with one man into a dark place.

He meets what he thinks is a woman, who then takes him to the darkest place there is.

He meets another woman who is worse for him than the first.

Time passes for the man, and he meets more and more strangers that help to elicit massive changes in his life.

By the end of trip, the man doesn’t recognize himself. He’s met so many strangers, immersed himself in so many experiences, good and bad, that he is not the same person that he was when it all began.

I’ve taken such a journey with such a man. The man is in my head. He’s a character in my first fictional¬† book. He has spoken to me of his travels. He has relayed to me his trials, his victories and his losses. He and everyone else he’s met along the way has had something to say about the world in which he is now immersed. His life has been forever changed, and I have had the pleasure of telling the story in a way that only I can.

I finished telling the tale of the first part of his trek last night. The last chapter was written. I saw it, and it was good .. or so I like to think.

The next step of my journey has yet to begin. I like to think I have a decent book in my possession, burning a hole in the memory banks of my computer, waiting to be read by millions. But there is reformatting to be done. And then comes the first round of edits by yours truly. Beta readers may need to peruse my work, and then I get to submit my piece to a professional editor and hope to goodness he or she likes my stuff enough to give it a chance.

Like my character, my journey is far from over. Also like my character, I had no idea that this experience would bring about such change.

Looking back at the rather vague summation of my book, it occurs to me that all people undergo such an adventure. Each day brings a new opportunity to travel roads yet unexplored. Each choice that we make brings about changes that even the sagest of us cannot always foresee. Not all of these changes are going to feel good, but they may all be for the better.

The only constant that I see in life itself is change.

And it is good.

As I read other books, I make my guesses as to how far along the authors are in their own personal travels. When I began to write again after a ten year absence, it almost felt clandestine. It was as though I was passing secret messages along to those who could decipher them. I was doing it in the hopes that someone out there would understand and support my efforts.

But as I began to find others along the same road, my voice became stronger. I rediscovered muscles that had long since fallen into disuse. Anyone who has begun physical training after a long absence can attest to the pain that this can cause, especially when they try to go too fast too soon.

Sometimes however, like a whirlwind romance, fast can be amazing.

It will be less than a year since I grasped my muse by the hand, pulled her to me and reclaimed her. Right now, she takes the form of a saucy succubus with luscious curves, including the horns on her head. She’s a bit like the Mystique character from X-Men, however. She assumes different shapes at various times. All of them inspire me.

And my voice is strong and loud. It is no longer a whisper. Just ask anyone who has heard my voice acting in recent months.

I’ve done many things since my return. I’ve reviewed and judged the writing of others. I’ve helped others to edit their own work by lending my voice to their characters, adopting them and making them my own for the briefest of times. And I’ve written until my eyes crossed and my fingers cracked under the strain of repeated typing.

I’ve also founded a blog that I love, undertaken social networking, and made some friends that I know will stay with me on this beautiful and harrowing journey.

As of last night, I finished my first book, and I am proud as can be. I’m aware that my quest is far from over and there are many forks in the road. I think I’ll take a different path and explore short story writing again. I miss writing vignettes that inject fear into your veins and trap it in there like a rat locked in a wooden box.

It’s time to revisit Nox Arcana, turn off the lights, bolt the door, and scare myself to death.

Wanna go for ride?

When September Ends ..

Posted in Drum Roll, The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 07/20/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Here is another post. ¬†This one is somber. It has no swears words, but I sill don’t recommend it for kids.

Remember September 11th, 2001?

I do ..

 

 

I’m headed away from my favorite refuge in New York City.

The lake is to my left as I walk underneath a blazing sun. It should be setting soon, but summer days are always longer than I expect. I forget about things like summer solstice and the tilting of the earth as it spins on its axis. Who thinks of those things unless they’re astronomers, meteorologists or the like?

As usual, it feels as though I’m walking against a tide. People are walking further into the park during the evening, and I am walking toward the Columbus Circle exit. I’ve already had my meditative, transcendental moment. I’ve seen the ripples of the water underneath the sun, and I’ve let my being float as the visage takes over me. I’ve seen the expansion of the Universe.

I’ve seen it and I remember the 3000 plus people who died that day.

September the 11th 2001.

The day lives on in  my head, and I cannot let it go even after all this time.

I was here when first plane hit. My aunt called my apartment that morning. She called and told me what she’d seen and heard.¬† I woke up my parents at seven AM, wondering if my aunt was being fooled by some Hollywood stunt.

An airplane hit the Twin Towers in Downtown Manhattan. It had been flown into the building as though the pilot were on some Kamikaze mission to kill and to die in Pearl Harbor. It happened in one of the busiest, most famous cities in the country, and nobody could fathom the reality of the situation. I’ve spoken to other New Yorkers who were around at that time. Most were convinced that it was some sort of Hollywood stunt, as though some remake of King Kong were being made, but footage was being filmed without the CGI of some giant ape.

Three thousand people died in the twin towers. It was hard to fathom as the buildings collapsed on themselves like two houses of cards.  People were being mangled, maimed and killed before my eyes. It was impossible to fathom even when names were being shown on a television screen days later. I had no idea people were capable of such things.

The effect of such a day was far reaching for people.

I haven’t been ready to talk about it, to write about it until now, and it’s been more than a decade. I can tell you all what happened to me during and after the fateful event.

I can tell you all how it changed my life permanently.

The first thing that I can write with certainty is that I  was here. I had just gotten my second surgery for traumatic cataract formation. I had my real eye lenses removed and replaced with plastic ones. I was able to see clearly when the second plane hit.

I never got to see the first plane.

The second thing I can tell you all is that my mom and I had had a massive argument just days before and were not speaking with one another. I can’t tell you what the argument was about because I can’t remember. We both forgot all hostilities when the planes hit. We called a cease fire as we smoked our cigarettes together and stood glued to the television, wondering and afraid.

My father had to go retrieve my little brother from his school program in downtown Manhattan that morning. From what he tells me, people abandoned their cars and their homes to flee from the carnage. Hours later, people walked as though in a daze. They were zombies in the terrifying new world that would soon yield a War on Terror and thousands upon thousands of deaths in the Middle East.

An ex girlfriend of mine was the first of my friends from out of state to make contact with me. I was unable to call my partner at the time as she was living in Minnesota. None of the rest of my friends knew my whereabouts or what had become of me until I posted an update on Facebook.

It’s one of the only reasons I respect the website to this day.

The night after the attacks, I went to Ground Zero and volunteered my services. It was all that I could do not to scream at the massive Military Serviceman who turned me away. Sporting fatigues, a beret, and a rifle that would have scared even the most battle hardened of New Yorkers, he smiled as he told me my “services were not required.”

I’ll never forget the man.

I’ll never forget him because I met his brothers and sisters in arms as they guarded Kennedy Airport during my flight back to Minnesota.

And I’ll never be able to fly again without some sense of trepidation.

My flight back to Minnesota was one of the scariest days of my life. I learned what fear could really do to a person’s judgment. I called home to tell my parents I was terrified because there were Middle Eastern business men on my flight. What I didn’t realize until years later was that they were being closely guarded by U.S. Air Marshalls.

I don’t know who they were, and to this day I don’t much care. I landed in Minnesota in one piece. I got to spend time in my ex’s arms again. I got to live.

I lived while so many others did not.

I can’t forget that.

A flag with the names of the deceased sits in a plastic bag among my artifacts from that day. I still have a New York newspaper that chronicles the incident, and another newspaper that commemorates the one year anniversary of the attacks. I still can’t watch footage of those attacks without a sense of sheer panic.

I don’t smoke anymore.

And I know now that I have no excuse not to live life to the fullest, to hold fast to my dreams and to those whom I love.

This is just a taste of what the events of that day have done to change my entire being. Someday, I may write a more detailed account of the day’s events and their aftermath. But for now, I choose to remember what happened, the victims, their families,¬† and what life itself means to me. Different people will have different memories of September 11th, 2001. They can do what they did in light of Kennedy’s assassination. They can ask that question that I have grown to understand more fully as an adult in this world.

“Where were you when it happened?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvation ..

Posted in Drum Roll, The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 07/09/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Hello, audience!

I’m trying something different for this post. These are my recorded thoughts on the concept of “salvation.” Follow the bouncing ball ..

Wait .. that would be easier if there WERE a bouncing ball, but here’s the next best thing. Listen and follow along with the words below the video if you’d like.

However, I must warn you, there’s foul language in this piece. ¬†It isn’t suitable for kids.¬†

Enjoy!

Nobody ever said it would be easy.

But if they had told me how hard it would get, I might have thought twice about this whole “life” deal.¬† It’s not like I can remember standing in front of God and hearing a booming voice say

“Let’s see which door this one chooses, huh folks?”

There wasn’t really a choice involved. I was born to the people who raised me. I was born into a family with a lot of issues.

But If anyone had told me that this meant screaming matches with someone I used to love at four o clock in the morning, I would have told them had me confused with someone far less well adjusted.

And I would have been wrong.

My views on alcoholism haven’t changed. I’ve known too many people with the disease. As both a hospital and retail employee, I’ve seen strangers with the addiction.¬† It’s different when the effects of the disease are something that I can’t walk away from. It assumes a permanence in my psyche. I wish it wouldn’t.

It isn’t like there aren’t a great deal of other things for me to think about.¬† I’ve got other dreams to pursue. I’ve got goals. I didn’t sign up for this. I feel like I’ve been drafted into an army of disposable heroes, and I keep asking myself one question that I think I heard in famous movie once.

“How do I get out of this chicken shit outfit?”

Perhaps a faceless drill sergeant will point his or her finger at me and tell me to “secure that shit.” But I didn’t sign up be a in a fucking army. I never agreed to this shit.

So thanks for the advice, serge, but you can suck my balls.

I don’t know that I would have made it in the army. I appreciate the soldiers who can walk the walk. I have enormous respect for the troops who are overseas representing the United States of America, and I can’t even begin to fathom what it would have been like to fight in each of the world wars of human history.

But as far as I know, war is a human concept. Strategic combat on that sort of scale may in fact be a uniquely human invention.

I, for one, would like to focus my energies in a more creative setting.

I’ve always created worlds into which I could escape when the realities of this world proved to be too unwieldy. Too many people in my life have told me to “grow the fuck up” and stop fucking with fantasy. They’ve told me to “think practically.” They’ve told me to “focus on the here and now.”

Personally, I think they talk too much. I’ve found that most of the same people who tell me that the daily grind of work and family are all there is to life haven’t tried hard enough to be happy.

Happiness is work.

I think about this in terms of writing and I know my conclusions are right.

You can tell anyone you want to that you’re a writer, but as a friend and fellow blogger wrote recently, a lot of people have a tendency to belittle that statement. ¬†I have to say I agree with her assessment.

You’re always going to find those who look at you and wonder that you can say that with a straight face. Some will challenge you outright, asking you what books you’ve written. Others will simply laugh and say “no, seriously.”

I don’t want to tell anyone in my family that I write. Even the people who know will probably wonder why I ventured into it in the first place.¬† They’ll forget that I entered a story telling contest as a 9 year old kid, memorized an entire book and RETOLD that story in a way that made most of the adults in the room cry, including my own father. They’ll fail to recall the hours that I spent, pen in hand, writing my own versions of fairytales, movie scripts, and stories of the events of my day. These people will not understand that I went to college in disguise. I donned the garb of a healer/scholar, and I wore it well enough to fool the masses for more than a decade.

But college proved to me what a lie that really was. Stories were the food for my soul. The lives and motivations of others were what sustained me. I ventured into psychology as a major, thinking that it would be an easy way to “still be a doctor,” since that was what I told everyone in my family that I wanted to be.

Again, I was wrong, but it would take me more than a decade after my graduation to finally accept that my muse had been waiting to greet me again with open arms. A relationship of ten years crumbled around my ears before I finally accepted that I didn’t know who I was anymore, and that I’d stopped caring.

A friend of mine was doing some sort of film project in college.¬† I couldn’t tell you if it was for a class, but he was interviewing students and asking them some very poignant questions. He asked one question that has stuck with me over the years.

“What does salvation mean to you?”

I remember the answer I gave him back then as the camera lens took in every blemish of my face and every expression of my dark eyes.

“I believe that salvation comes from within.”

I still believe it.

I was raised catholic, and I was raised in a family that believed in things like divine intervention, fate, and all sorts of other concepts that I never really took to as a kid.¬† I was a little control freak.¬† I was a picky eater. I didn’t want my choices taken from me just because some big, mean man couldn’t handle that I didn’t want to sit still and listen to boring stories.

But what I didn’t realize until I was in the first grade was that I wanted to tell my OWN!

Show and tell was an interesting concept for me in school in elementary school.¬† It wasn’t easy for me so sit still and listen to other kids and their stories sometimes, but I used to anyway because there was something for me to learn in each story. “This kid likes chocolate, that girl likes trees.”

But then my turn would come, and I would talk about the things that happened in my life.¬† I would leave my classmates “spellbound.”

At least, that’s what the teacher told my father on “parent teacher” night before she went on to tell him that I had trouble listening and not daydreaming in class.

Those are hard moments to forget, but somehow, I allowed the memories to fade.

That was a mistake, and one that I don’t intend to make ever again.

When I gave my friend that answer in college, I didn’t have a clear sense of what my personal salvation would be.¬† I can type and speak these words now with a fuller understanding of that that word means to me.

There is no magic bullet for happiness. There are no words that a shaman or a priest can utter that bring automatic joy to anyone’s lives. That sort of magical thinking ,to me, represents a¬† misunderstanding of egregious proportions.

The universe owes me nothing. It’s just there, just as I am here.

In terms of life, writing is the same as many other things. You can only learn it by doing it. You can only perfect it through practice. You can only improve it by sharing it with others and getting their insight.

You suit up, show up, and get down to it and see what happens. That’s what writing is to me.

That’s what life is.

Perhaps the ultimate lesson here is that when one seeks salvation, they might just discover that it lies in the living of life. Getting out there, meeting people and having experiences are the things that life has to offer you if you are willing to reach for them. Sometimes it may feel like you have to stretch until your muscles ache, until the skin is peeled from your bones.  Your day might end with you having nicked your hands on many thorns. But, to me, even the thorns are worth it. The pain means just as much to me as the pleasure. It can be just a powerful tool for learning as a hug.

I still like hugs better, though, just sayin.’

Unknown Samurai

Posted in Drum Roll, The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 07/06/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

I wake up. Thoughts begin to tumble in my mind.

They come into focus when the rest of me does.

Cold water hits my face in the shower. I don’t flinch. I make it warm and go about washing myself. I remember to check myself for unusual lumps. There’s still pain in my arms from the last few days. I ignore it and move on.

I get out of the shower. I still look more or less clean shaven even though I’m not. My face looks chiseled because I’ve lost weight again. I eat more when I get to eat, but I don’t get to eat as often. My chest is broad, but not solid. ¬†I will get that back very soon.

The family coffee gets made while I drink the rest of the old stuff. I’m grinding the beans that my best friend sent me. The smell of fresh beans almost makes up for the noise of the grinder. Fortunately, I am on autopilot. I can switch my mind off to the noise anytime I please.

Coffee is brewing in the kitchen while I run back to my room to set up the laundry. This sets up the second half of my day. It promises to be long.

I drink fresh coffee as I finish the task. Time moves faster than I expect. ¬†I guess it really does fly whether or not you’re having fun.

I do a hundred push ups. The first two sets are clips of 25.  I do 50 more before I text my best friend on skype.  She worries.  I scoff, but in secret I worry too ..

I finish getting dressed and I make the mistake of sitting down. ¬†I’m not sure I want to get up again, but I haven’t even put on my shoes yet. It’s minutes before work, and I don’t want to go. ¬†I do what I must, and push on.

I don’t let on that there’s a pain in my right foot from the blister that popped. I don’t bother to mention that I barely got to eat breakfast. ¬†I let it get cold.

I arrive at work. A co worker looks up and says “there he is.” Another co worker smiles. I smile back, but I can tell it’s a tired smile.

I move to the back room and punch in for the day after waiting for five minutes.  My brain is already going. My job is a minimum wage job.  It will do for now.

I make the mistake of believing that my body can move fast and that my brain will eventually catch up. ¬†What else would three massive cups of coffee be good for? ¬†I spend the first two hours screwing up book returns. ¬†I accidentally process two books from the same publishing company in separate returns. I then proceed to lose the paperwork for one of those returns while I switch the forms for two others. By the time I realize my mistakes, my right eye begins to hurt. I slow down and take a breath.¬†I remember that I saw Sherylin Kenyon’s book. ¬†I also remember that I follow her on twitter now in the hopes that she’ll follow me back. ¬†I’ve never even read what she’s written, but it’s still wild to have seen her book in my hands .. It’s even wilder to know that Jerry Seinfeld might have been here too, but I missed him.

I don’t follow him on twitter though. ¬†I guess I don’t want to be a stand up comedian with a hit television show under my belt.

A full on headache ensues when the next obstacle appears in the form of a six legged menace. A cockroach appears and I stop dead. I’m something like 20 times its size, but I freeze. Childhood memories come flooding back and I want to scream. It’s not the roaches that frighten me, but what their associated with ..

And this makes me angrier than I expect.

My chest heaves when the creature appears again. ¬†A young lady points it out to me, and I walk toward it. I try to step on the thing and it scampers, creepy antennae and all. I sigh. ¬†I’ve missed my chance to reclaim my manhood.

Stupid emasculating bug.

The third time it manifests, it scuttles toward me. Goosebumps form on my legs as I drop the book I’m scanning. As soon as the book hits the ground, I clench my teeth and stomp after the thing. ¬†It scampers away, making a mad dash for the bottom of a metal bookshelf. ¬†I go to kick the thing. ¬†I want to hear the chiten of its shell crunch underneath my black Lebron James shoes. I want the thing to quiver underneath my foot ..

The fourth time it appears, I am prepared. ¬†I have grabbed a book from the “strip” list. The thing was going to get its cover torn off anyway. ¬†What a waste. I use it for something much more worthy. ¬†With a discuss throw, I hurl the book at the object of my childhood fear and rage. It connects. The book bounces off another bookshelf and sails across the room.

Now I have to clean the thing up. ¬†I gather an empty box and a broom, but I still have the fight the shakes for 15 minutes before I get the corpse into the box. It’s severed clean in half.

I hope to God I put the other half in the box too.

Funny thing. As soon as I toss the thing into a trash bag and wrap it up tight, I feel a rush. I’ve done more than kill a stupid cockroach. My childhood fear has become less tangible, somehow. I don’t know if it’s gone, but we’ll call this a step in the right direction.

Work goes a bit more smoothly after that. It seems my brain has caught up with my body.  I tear through returns, and get them ready for shipping.  I rip through some more, and I get those ready too.

My day is over at 4pm after a last minute cock up. I punch out and head home only to remember I set up laundry. Damnit.

But I have to do it. Nobody else can.

God, why do I feel like Micheal Keaton in a batsuit?

I make the mistake of sitting in my captain’s chair and turning on my computer. ¬†I tool around briefly on social media sites. It bores me, but I am addicted to them like I used to be to cigarettes. ¬†I need my fix.

I like klout.  I miss my facebook friends sometimes.

But I heave the giant rolling bag full of laundry into the living room with little effort. It’s been done before. I’ve been doing this for a year now. The family laundry is the only rent I can pay while I live with my parents. ¬†Even now, I don’t make much. ¬†Just enough to feel like I have a job.

I heft the large bag downstairs and I begin to feel my body really hurt for the first time. ¬†My chest is sore. ¬†My back is in pain. My arms quiver. ¬†But I can’t let this go.

I won’t spend my only day off between shifts washing clothes.

The laundromat is crowed. Perhaps I was foolish to try to come out here in the evening, but I don’t feel like I have a choice. If I want to rest tomorrow, I’ve got to get this out of the way.

Loading the machine should be easy, but it feels a lot like pulling circus clowns out of one of those old VW Bugs. It’s beginning to piss me off. My right eye hurts worse than before. I drank water at work, but the heat has robbed me of all hydration. The humidity is low, but I don’t quite feel the difference.

I make eye contact with a young, Asian woman and she immediately smiles. I offer a grin, but it feels odd. I don’t know what to do with my face when a woman smiles at me anymore.

It shouldn’t make me angry though.

I turn my head to pretend to busy myself operating the machine I just loaded. I even stop the cycle and start it again just to be sure I “got it right.” She’s not staring anymore, and I feel a sense of relief. It isn’t like me to shrink from a woman’s attention. It bothers me. I must look the way I feel.

I walk to Time’s Square from the laundromat. I feel like a soldier marching to a steady cadence. My bearing feels like that of a warrior. My feet are already throbbing, but I ignore the pain. I just want to move.

As I get closer to Broadway, I realize my mistake. I need to thread my way through a massive crowd. I do what I’ve been doing lately. I push on, refusing to give in. I don’t want them to cut into my work out time. These people don’t have the same need I have to move fast and stay active. I’m thirty two years old. I am not as young as I once was. I feel it catching up with me in attitude more than anything else. I don’t want to waste time. I don’t wish to indulge others their whims. I don’t wish to become overweight and burned out like so many I once knew.

I certainly don’t feel like the asshole that just stepped on my new shoes is going to get a second reprieve.

But the stupid fuckers with their damned smart phones come out. They text when they should be crossing the street. They call people when they should be watching where they walk. Instead, I must watch where they go. That’s been happening too often of late. I shuck and dodge all sorts of arms and legs without batting an eyelash. Little kids whiz by my feet and I don’t miss a step. A cabbie runs a red light and I flip him off as he sails past my back. ¬†I do all this without changing the expression on my face much. I’ve learned to duck elbows, canes, umbrellas from stupid pale women in the sun, and the naked cowboy.

Today, the naked cowboy has a naked cowgirl counterpart that looks old enough to be his grandmother. There’s also a naked Indian

Great, so all we need is a naked construction worker and a naked cop and we have the Naked Village People.

Swell.

Today, I’m fucking impatient.

I call one guy a dickhead before I run past him to cross the street before the light changes. He just stands there texting his life away, unaware of the amazing redhead in the blue dress that just passed him.

Fuckufaizu!!!!!

I begin to treat the crowd like schools of fish. I am a shark that must dart through them all unseen, eyes scanning the area. I thread through them as though I’m trying to create a wormhole with New Yorker Ninjitsu. I used to think of myself as a linebacker when I was larger. But I’m thinner now. People don’t get out of my way as readily when they see my scowl. I don’t care as long as I can get past them. They all seem like pestilential weeds. I want to cut them down with a samurai weapon and toss them behind me. I’ll move on to the next series of targets and deal with them accordingly.

I go through the next twenty blocks feeling this way. I walk back along fifth avenue with the same alacrity. I am getting stared at again. I don’t know what to do. People look at me as though they should recognize me. It’s creeping me the fuck out.

I go back to the laundromat and throw my clothes in the drier. Then it’s off to Central Park to visit my duck pond.

Only ¬†when I get there, it’s kind of crowded and I can’t sit at my favorite Gazebo overlooking the pond. People and their stupid babies want to take pictures by the water. I almost want the kids to drown as they chase the turtle heads that poke out and form golden ripples under the sun.

I sit on a rock by the edge of the pond and try to phase everyone out as I look at the water.

It doesn’t work, but I start to doze off anyway. So much for mind over matter.

I spend fifteen minutes sitting and getting distracted by wandering people and their dogs. When I finally get up, my feet are sending signals to my brain to sit the fuck back down, but I hit the override button in my head and press on. the chafing of my upper thighs begins to burn. My thighs always were a bit too thick, but in this heat, I feel like my skin will be rubbed raw. I bite my lower lip and walk through the pain. I push my limits. I’ve a massive headache and a sudden urge to scream. I’m so tired that everything I see pulsates with the violent waves of a stormy ocean.

I march back to the laundromat feeling like a lonely, unknown soldier. I pass the pain threshold for my feet 10 blocks from the place, but I don’t stop. I am thirsty, but I won’t stop and drink. I must get this done.

It takes too long to fold the clothes that are dry. ¬†I am there for an hour folding my father’s button down shirts. I know he’ll ask the same question he always does when I get home.

“Was it crowded?”

I wonder what I’ll tell him.

I trudge back home, watching the light fade from the sky. I’ve got one more mile to go before I sleep. The pain has stretched from my feet to my knees. Each step makes me want to wince, but I don’t bother. What’s the point of acknowledging pain at this point in the mission? I’m almost home free.

A cold beer and a bowl of food sounds just about perfect. So does a foot rub followed by sex. I’ll only get two of the four tonight. I’m sure you can all guess which two.

I have a full blown headache now. I’ve been on my feet for almost fourteen hours. I want desperately to flirt with the women with the short shorts, but I can’t even muster the strength for a sardonic smile. I settle for a grimace. I get gas pains from hunger. I’m almost home though. I’ll make it all better.

I’ll make it alright again.

I’ll rub my own feet and drink a beer.

I’ll celebrate my productive day. I’ll have another one in a couple of days.

I hope my body doesn’t scream at me then the way it is now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Many Goodbyes …

Posted in Please...., The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/22/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

We have to wonder about where life takes us.

Those of us who have had dreams shut down or otherwise denied in our lives will know the pain of losing a part of our souls.

But the question I have to pose to all of you in internet land is this: Is this loss permanent?

Does the loss of our dreams need to leave permanent scars on our hearts?  All these scars can do is scab over.  Some fester if they are repeatedly opened.  Most of us understand how emotional scars can be revisited in the presence of certain people.

I just want to know at what point I will hold myself sacred.  I desire to treat myself the way I would want to be treated.

I know what I’ve been posting lately has had a very personal nature. But that’s the path that my writing always takes. ¬†If anyone were to ask me what inspires my blog posts, I don’t know that I could give a simple answer. ¬†Life sort of does. The pains and pleasures of living can lend themselves to some of my most powerful and heartfelt words. But whether or not I wish to accept it, blogging is writing.

I am writing right now. That does lend me some measure of happiness.

While it’s true that my dream is to write, the bigger picture for me is that I want to live my life well. ¬†I want to be able to recognize opportunities when they strike.

My goal in life is to view the world from within a state of grace.

Life has presented me with yet another challenge today. I will need to meet this goal faster than I ever intended.  I will need the force shield of my grace to help me fathom what I just heard and saw.

It is said that alcoholism is a disease.  It is said that people are the victims of alcoholism.  The DSM IV offers this array of symptoms as a way means of diagnosis:

maladaptive alcohol use with clinically significant impairment as manifested by at least three of the following within any one-year period: tolerance; withdrawal; taken in greater amounts or over longer time course than intended; desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use; great deal of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from use; social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced; continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological sequelae.

But as a mental health worker, I’ve worked with alcoholics. ¬†As an adult, I have had to watch several people I know succumb to “the disease.”¬†I cannot sit here and pretend that I don’t know what alcoholism does to families, to friends, to loved ones.

Someone very close to me is an alcoholic.

The painful part of this discovery is that it’s taken me nearly two decades to fathom what this has meant for my own family; to understand what the effects of this disease have been. ¬†It has rippled into the hearts and souls of everyone around this person. ¬†She has alienated me and everyone that has ever been close to her as a result.

She is slowly destroying her marriage.  She has abused people in more ways than I care to admit. She continues to wreck her own life and blame it on the rest of the world.

I will not lie.  I feel a great swell of pity for the woman, but I cannot love a ghost. She has chosen to remove herself from this world and to live in a reality induced by the head-spinning, caleidoscopic effects of her drinking.

Did you read what I just wrote? ¬†It’s my ultimate understanding of this so called disease. Somewhere in the pathology of this disease, there is always a fucking choice involved.

I’ve learned that there are moments of clarity that shine through for most alcoholics. It is in these moments that some claim that the light of god may shine through the clouds, or the spark of pain may shoot through their hearts. I really do understand the nature of addiction. I quit smoking years back, only to take it up again two years ago when I broke up with my ex. That kind of thing happens. People fall off the wagon.

But I don’t recall beating a child into near unconsciousness because of cigarettes.

And I don’t recollect any time when I decided to alienate my lovers because they would not wake in the dead of night to purchase a pack of smokes for me. If it was really a concern for me, I would have simply smoked less per day to stretch the cigs.

College living taught me that much.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this post anymore, so I’ll leave you all with this.

I hate having to say goodbye to this person over and over again, so I don’t think I’m going to waste my breath. ¬†I’m going to try to live the rest of my life. ¬†That’s all that’s left for me to do in this case. ¬†I don’t have it in me to be a rescuer, especially for someone who does not seek to be rescued.

I have learned a harsh lesson tonight.  Life is replete with those.  Fortunately, I have started work within the last three days.  It distracts me from all this, and like my writing, it is a step in the right direction.

Things can only look up from here.

Goodnight everyone.

Do What You Want. Life is Too Short…

Posted in Drum Roll, The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/03/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

It’s funny how things happen.

 

I’ve spent years dreading the age old question that I always seem to get during job interviews.

 

“What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?”

 

If you had asked me this question six months ago, I might have had to come up with some bullshit answer involving “furthering whatever career I chose to pursue.” ¬†It feels like the kind of thing you say when you’re in your twenties and you haven’t made up your mind on how to take on the world. ¬†It sounds like the type of thing that is uttered when your parents give you the third degree, claiming that it’s “for your own good.” ¬†And maybe it is, but that doesn’t stop someone like me from wondering what’s wrong with me when I can’t come up with a legitimate answer in thirty seconds or less.

 

“Furthering whatever career I choose to pursue” is my fancy way of saying “I don’t know and I think this question is ridiculous.”

 

But maybe it isn’t.

 

From an employment perspective, if you’re the manager of a fucking 7-11 and you’re asking the average job applicant such a question, anticipate some hemming and hawing and maybe even a pair of rolled eyes. ¬†You shouldn’t expect rocket scientists to work for you, and you’re not offering enough money for me to have to scratch my head before you set my ass behind a cash register or make me your fucking gas attendant. ¬†Get the fuck over yourselves, seriously.

 

Fortunately, MOST  interviewers for these kinds of entry level jobs are not seeking deep answers from their minimum wage potentials.  They just fucking know better, and maybe they always did.

 

But unfortunately, others haven’t quite caught up with the notion that someone like me who hasn’t found a job worthy of the blood, sweat, money and tears that they poured into their higher level education may think the question is a farce coming from an employer nowadays.

 

My generation more or less grew up in the eighties. ¬†It was a time when the nation was celebrating its opulence. ¬†The young were expected to go to school, graduate, and be ready to take on the world with their fancy degrees and their ability to charm the hell out of even the harshest of critics. ¬†Parents often scoffed at characters like Ferris Bueller, but they couldn’t help but admire his charm, his good looks, and his resourcefulness. ¬†Even if he was cutting school, we loved him for it, and we knew in the end that he would do alright. ¬†That’s an eighties movie for you, shoulder pads, flock of sea gulls, bad dates and all.

 

But we can’t forget what has happened with our nation’s economy, and we cannot forget that a large part of the problem isn’t that there aren’t enough jobs, but that the jobs that are available ¬†just aren’t good enough for someone who is just starting out or, like me, has to start all over again. ¬†Tough choices have to be made, and people have to start thinking about themselves again. ¬†We like to think that the answer lays in communal involvement and in people “helping each other out.” ¬†Maybe that’s a part of the solution, but it’s not the whole picture. ¬† We live in a country that practically demands that people throw each other under the bus for the scraps off of some rich guy’s plate. ¬†At a certain point, one has to become a selfish bastard or bitch. ¬†One has to rise above what others THINK they should be doing with their lives and decide for themselves what makes them happy. ¬†Let’s talk turkey, here. ¬†Life is too bloody short to spend it in misery just trying to survive. ¬†I know. ¬†I’ve done that very thing for the last decade.

 

What if I was to look you straight in the eye and tell you that I don’t want the Goddamn scraps anymore?

 

Five years from now, I want to be able to look a child of mine in the eye and tell them that I am happy. ¬†If I can do anything as a father, it is to pass along the value of true happiness. ¬†I don’t give a shit about money because it doesn’t bring you happiness. ¬†I want enough to live comfortably, and I want enough to be able to raise a kid or two without having to have them do without for LONG periods of time like I used to. ¬†But above all, I want my kids to be able to hold their heads up high when they finally venture into the world on their own to do whatever it is they chose to do. ¬†They’re going to need that inner strength and endurance. ¬† Even if they LOVE whatever paths they choose, the journey will still be replete with the vicissitudes of living. ¬†That cannot be avoided. ¬†Why add to it, then, with the notion of regret?

 

I want to be able to write fictional books for a living.  Plain and simple.

 

Or is it?

 

Perhaps the question of what I want to be doing five years from now isn’t one that should be coming from an employer in this day and age. ¬†If you’re an employer, you should KNOW how scarce jobs are. ¬†If you can’t surmise that I need to work in order to put food on my table and to add to my sense of adult independence, then you’re either too naive or too ignorant to be my boss and I don’t really want to work for you. ¬† I have no time for leaders who can’t accept the realities of this economy.

 

Then again, if the question has any real merit, it manifests when you ask it to yourself.  Ignore your family for that one moment.  Never mind what some schmuck in a suit and tie might want to hear.  Forget about the woman in the blue dress that scoffed when you told her you graduated with a degree in Psych, and then asked you what you were doing trying to work in retail.  Are you kidding?  Look around you, bitch!

 

Perhaps when you ask yourself the question, it doesn’t have to be about the future. ¬†When enough people pay attention to where they are in the present, they will probably get the answers they need for what to do next.

 

“What’s the most enjoyable ¬†thing you do with yourself when you’ve got all the time in the world and nobody else is really paying attention?”

 

My answer is I write.  Again, plain and simple.

 

Or is it?

 

In the context of where you are, the things that you enjoy the most may or may not be available to you at the times when you need them. ¬†Maybe your attempts to lead a normal life have gone astray because you’ve allowed it. ¬†You’ve’ given too much of yourself to the people with whom you are surrounded. ¬†Maybe the question becomes “what do you yearn for most when you are stripped of your sanity and your means to acquire it?”

 

You can only lead a normal life when you surround yourself with normal people. ¬†I myself am not living what most would call a normal life. ¬†I’ve chosen to write either despite or because of that situation. ¬†Either way, I pull no punches and I have a blast doing it.

 

 

What’s the most enjoyable ¬†thing you do with yourself when you’ve got all the time in the world and nobody else is really paying attention?

 

 

 

 

Drama, Confusion and Love…

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/09/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

I was writing this here story for a writing contest that my friend, E. came up with. ¬†I don’t think I can finish this story at this time. ¬†It’s just not ready to come out. ¬†I’m not ready to tell it all. ¬†Maybe someday I will.

But I was reading what I’d written after I told someone off this morning for having behaved like a “drama queen” as of late. ¬†I felt bad for yelling at her, especially since she is a very good friend of mine. ¬†But I am not one for drama anymore. ¬†Not after what I put myself through for so long. ¬†Our friendship will survive, of course. ¬†I don’t just dump my friends.

But I am weary, lately. ¬† I’ve played psychologist, dear friend, protector and good son for a long, long time. ¬†A return to balance is in order.

We all go through drama at some point in our lives. ¬†Sometimes it’s easy to separate myself from it when it erupts around me like a nuclear blast. ¬†Other times, the bomb shelter isn’t enough, and I want to launch a deadly counter strike. ¬†That never goes over well when I get super angry. ¬†When I get that angry, I unleash hell. ¬†It can hurt people. ¬†And for that I am always sorry.

But my feelings about the emotional reactions of others may explain how distant I have been from others of late. ¬†My good friends and my special someone have noted my moods and have been there to comfort or otherwise entertain or distract. ¬†But I don’t seek to dump all my emotions on them either. ¬†We all write together, talk together, and we have a lot of fun. ¬†I wouldn’t give that up for anything, drama or not.

Food for thought, though.  Everyone should have someone to feel this way about someday. .

On that note, I’m going to present this story that will be going on the back-burner, at least for now. ¬†I need scary, not heart breaking. ¬†Least not right now.

I woke up at 2 am on a spring Tuesday.¬† A alarm to my right had been about to go off, but my eyes sprang open and my hand shot out.¬† I choked off the cackling, pre alarm buzz before it could evolve into a news broadcast that I didn’t want to hear.¬† I turned back toward to the door and stared at the empty space next to me on the bed.¬† It had not been slept in.

 

I had to face some hard truths as I threw my sheets aside, grabbed my work clothes and headed blearily to the bathroom in my west coast apartment.¬† I lived with a woman that had been my partner for almost a decade, but we now slept in different rooms. A friend of mine once called that kind of relationship “loveless.”¬† As she had been referring to the marriage of someone I’d never met, I’d pretended I didn’t know of the kind of relationship she spoke. ¬†

 

But my partner and I hardly spent time together, and our limited time with one another was either boring or tense.¬† We’d been together for so long, but our lives had become separate.¬† We no longer shared common interests, and it became more and more difficult to talk about the ones we had as individuals.¬† We did not really know each other’s friends.¬† The few friends of hers that I did know all seem to have the drinking problem she had struggled so hard to avoid seeing happen me.¬† She had not wanted me to be like her alcoholic father. ¬†As a gift of love to her, I’d given up all alcohol once we began to live together years before.¬†

 

So why did all her friends drink?  

 

It was one of many double standards in our relationship that immediately made me grind my teeth when I thought of it.  I ground my teeth more these days than I ever had as a kid.

 

After sitting my tired ass down on a cold, plastic toilet lid, I brushed my teeth with a shiver.¬† I shaved wearily, wincing once as the blade nicked my throat, but I didn’t much care.¬† It wasn’t like there was anyone to impress at work even though I was sure that the regional manager was coming in today.¬† I rolled my eyes when I had that thought.¬†

 

I worked at a local one-stop shopping center as a Home Department Clerk.¬† The good part of that job was that my commute was literally a 15 minute walk.¬† The bad part was I had worked for one incompetent manager after another after another.¬† I’d survived the changing of the guard at that place three times.¬† I was beginning to feel like Willem Dafoe’s grizzled character in the movie, Platoon, surviving attack after attack on my body and my psyche by the enemy.¬† I’ll grant you the notion that the enemy in my case wasn’t the Viet Cong.¬† But sometimes I wished I had a rifle instead a garden hose as my means of getting the Home Department Management to fuck off.

 

I dearly hoped, as I stepped into the shower, that today would not be one of those  days.

 

As I let warm water cascade over my body, my eyes wandered.¬† I looked down at my body.¬† I didn’t drink, but I felt I had a beer gut anyway, which didn’t make me feel so hot.¬† I made myself feel worse by reminding myself that I’d developed a rather extensive porn habit over the last seven years.¬† I had always tried to hide it from my ex after she made it abundantly clear that she felt it was “the ultimate objectification of women.”¬† I always argued that women were just as free to objectify men, and plenty women did so with male athletes as well as porn stars and male strippers.¬†

 

But it seemed that my partner was bound and determined to have her day in court with me even though I’d declared the argument a dead issue.¬† She brought home a documentary one day from the local library on the origins of pornography.¬† She surprised me with it, popped it into our DVD player, and proceeded to tell me that it was “for her education.”

 

I’d foolishly believed this to be true as I joined her on the couch.¬† Even more foolishly, I believed that I would learn something of interest.¬† Every few minutes, the video would be paused, and a calm discussion would ensue about the points that were made about the history of depicted sex and masturbation.¬† By the time we’d reached the part of the documentary where the internet had been invented, I was thoroughly bored.

 

“Hon,” I said, gently.¬† “Are you really learning something from any of this?”

 

“I’m learning that we have a powerful means through which to sell sex to each other.”

 

“Look,” I said with a sigh.¬† “I know your views on pornography.¬† You’re quick to assert, and perhaps rightfully so, that it does lead to the objectification of women,” I said with a gentle smile.

 

“Just like I know that most men rather like it.¬† You included,” She answered back with a smile of her own.

 

“You know, some couples can watch porn together and lead perfectly happy sex lives.¬† Some are even better off because of it,”¬† I said with a shy giggle.

 

“I don’t think I ever could,” she replied flatly.

 

I sighed then, readying myself to make a rather harsh remark.¬† To this day, I believe that her real objection to pornography stems from the fact that she’d stumbled upon her father’s porn collection on the family computer.¬† Unfortunately for her, there had been high school aged girls depicted performing oral sex.¬† My ex had been in high school at the time she’d found those pictures.¬† Her father had been passed out on the couch just a few feet away.¬†

 

I could not blame her, therefore, for her reticence to associate pornography with anything positive, as it were.  But why then, would she attempt to watch this documentary? 

 

More pauses and discussions ensued each one feeling more and more uncomfortable for me.  It was never going to be a winning situation for me to discuss anything related to porn with this person.  It was just one of those issues where she drew a line.  I respected her feelings on the subject most of the time.

 

But something about this entire discussion was rubbing me the wrong way and I was starting to become rather angry.  But in my typical fashion with my ex, I began to feel a gnawing guilt because of my reaction. 

 

“You see, you men are visual when it comes to porn,” She said, pausing the documentary one more time.¬†

 

“And images don’t appeal to you as a woman?” I asked pointedly.

 

“I’d rather read my porn,” She said with a smile on her face.¬† A bridge collapsed in my stomach and I felt as though my heart would fall down to my feet.¬†

 

“Oh really?” I simply responded before standing and walking to the kitchen slowly.¬† As soon as I reached the refrigerator and pretended to rummage for a snack, a lump formed in my throat.

 

Years before, I had written my partner love letters of a sort that would have made most other women blush.¬† They were detailed scenarios where I said things to her, and did things with her that were supposed to read like slow, seductive sex scenes.¬† I was working nights at the time I wrote those letters.¬† Some of those nights had been so boring and so lonely that I’d ached for her, burned for her.¬† I’d written three letters over the course of three weeks, and I’d left them in very obvious places.¬†

 

I got no responses to any of them…ever.¬† Not even an embarrassed smile.

 

To hear her say this to me now hurt more than anything she could ever have said about pornography or my habit. 

 

Sadness had given way to anger, resentment and self loathing at this point.¬† I just couldn’t figure her out anymore, and I had spent almost a decade trying.¬†

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