Sunday, April 29, 2007

31 Months

Yesterday we went to a Floricanto Conference in Palm Desert that honored Tomas Rivera, who was the first Latino to hold a chancellor position at one of the University of California schools (Riverside). He was a poet and teacher who campaigned for the rights of minorities in the 60's, 70's and 80's using the creative spirit of the arts, culture and education. Practically everyone we met at the conference was influenced in some way by the actions taken by this person decades ago.

It was an incredible experience those who are parents may one moment, quite embarrassing as well. As they began the conference, the organizer, who just happens to be a distant cousin in Xtina's family, began by speaking a little about Tomas Rivera and the foundation of the twenty-year-old event. Well it was at that moment that Lucas decided that he really was the focus of the event and seeing an opening, ran upon the stage and greeted everyone heartily. As I tried to wrangle him without making too much of an ass out myself he skittered and jumped barely out reach until I simply had to go up on stage myself and capture the little guy.

Now, I am the type of person who grew up doing everything in my power avoiding awkward moments such as these. I kept my my shut if I wasn't positively sure that what I was going to say wasn't stupid in some way. I waited in the wings so that others would step forward before me. I pretty much protected myself unless I absolutely had to act and for the most part, it was very successful strategy. I had situations that I'm not proud of as I'm sure we can all relate. Yet, when I look back on how I acted as a child I always regret that I began with hesitation.

So, even though my first reaction to Lucas' spontaneous burst of attention-seeking was a twinge of shame at being his father, when I later was free to think about it without my prejudices getting in the way I actually was pleased with him. For much of his early life Lucas has really shown a tendency to be little shy around people whom he's not acquainted with. This was probably one of the first times that he was eager to show the world who he was without pause, happy and buoyant. Whatever I do as a father, the one thing I do not want to do is squash his beaming creativity. I want him to jump at the chance to express himself before others with courageous confidence. I want his voice to carry loud in the world.

A Floricanto is an organization of people celebrating writing, food, music, art, culture and education in order to affect the world in a positive way. The fundamental element of the Floricanto is the recognition that each human being has an inherent creative spirit that longs to come forth with expression. This creativity within us is such a vital force. It has the ability to take aspects of our nature that threaten to cause destruction in our lives and change them into something positive, to turn poison into medicine.

Each of us has negative tendencies that, if acted upon in the wrong way, can destroy our relationships, our lives, our communities, even the world. This hateful, violent and unique characteristic inherent within all of us is the source of all the tragedy we witness and experience in our lives. But, when we deal with these negative tendencies using our creative spirit, we are able to transform that tragedy into a powerful force of hope. This is the only reason patrons of the arts continue to insist that we infuse our culture with the beauty of creativity. This is how the philosophical power of humanity has transcended the ages to guide us and push us to excel as a race of beings.

Xtina and I have always wished to discover a community like the one we participated in yesterday, but for some reason we've never found it here in San Diego. After my experience sharing and learning at the Floricanto, my resolve to develop similar communities where I live has only grown stronger. In order to create a new future for our children we have to respond to all of the negative forces around us and within us in new creative ways, since it's quite apparent that the way we currently respond in our culture isn't working.

And Lucas, I want you to always remember that your voice is powerful and just as relevant as anyone alive. Think creatively and you'll never find the need to shrink away from a challenge or hesitate to take action.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

You Drift Away

"Small spills of rain had started, cold on his arm. Downstream recurving shore currents chased in deckle light wave upon wave like silver spawn. To fall through darkness. Struggle in those opaque and fecal depths, which way is up. Till the lungs suck brown sewage and funny lights go down final corridors of the brain, small watchmen to see that all is quiet for the advent of eternal night."

--Cormac McCarthy from "Sutree"

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Why Spend Money on Something and You Won't Even Read the Manual

Religion takes spirituality, puts it in a crate, stamps it with a label, shoves it under the stairs and forgets about everything that made it powerful in the first place.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Partial Birth Supreme Court

This is what happens when the Supreme Court is less thoughtful than the embryo they purport to protect. Another sad day to be a woman in this country.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Once I Wanted to Be the Greatest

A troubling awareness has descended upon my adult life. I have become the annoying voice of reason that I despised in my teens.

Here's the situation. My eleven-year-old nephew has presented a picture of himself, via a social community on the internet, that he is associated with a racist white supremacy agenda. Now whether he consciously knows that he is aligning himself with hate groups or is simply unaware has yet to be determined. I immediately let him know that what he was doing was disturbing me for obvious reasons. He hasn't let me know one way or the other whether he appreciates my concern or if I should simply fuck off and mind my own business.

The fact that I have grown into a mature conscientious person isn't what is causing me distress, nor is it the realization that with this responsibility I must act. What's bothering me the most is how can I find a way to communicate a vital message to someone who may not want to hear it?

I recall many instances in my early tweens all the way to my current age when I refused to listen to good advice from responsible adults who had my best interests at heart. Freshman year in high school my mother drove me to and from school (which wasn't just around the corner mind you but actually nearly an hour round-trip) and I was in the ripe age of fourteen discovering one of my passions: music. One afternoon I insisted that we listen to a tape a friend of mine gave to me earlier that day. To my surprise my mom agreed and we proceeded to ponder the wonder of The Police. The first song was about a man in love with a prostitute and the second was about suicide, and that was as far as we got. Needless to say, my mother didn't really feel to good about her young son being indoctrinated with these insidious ideas and she let me know about it, very vociferously. While she went on her tirade I felt myself sinking within myself and climbing down into my comfort zone of deafness and I began to despise her.

But it wasn't her I despised. What I didn't understand was that I had already fallen under the evil social vision of patriarchy. The main goal of patriarchy is to see women as inferior. This was my greatest failing. I had been programmed by the men in my life, by the establishment, by our culture to disrespect women in many subtle ways that I wasn't even aware of; including but not limited to the structure of the family, the occupational caste system, all forms of media (especially pornography and I don't just mean the obvious like Playboy, I mean all of it, from supposedly innocuous magazines like Details to the more soft-porn Maxim to Debbie Buttf**ks Her Way Across America and other such extremes, whose entire purpose is to degrade women), our educational system, etc. The main problem with all of it was that I had reached a point in my life where I thought I was superior to my mother not for any reason but the fact that I was male and she wasn't. So I refused to listen to the most compassionate voice in my life. I shut her out and arrogance swelled in my heart. I began to despise women because that's what I thought men were suppose to do, but the worst part of it all was that I really began to suffer. I became extremely unhappy.

Fortunately for me I found another way to live. I discovered a true philosophy that respects all people, women included. Now when I think back on the message my mother was trying to convey to me (a simple message: don't instill hate your life), I truly wish I had the fortune to actually hear. My life needed it.

So my concern regarding my nephew is basically the same concern my mom had for me so long ago. I don't want him to follow a path of hate. It is not one of happiness. At his age it may seem like one that is easy. Hatred beckons you with open arms and gives you a sense of belonging. It's much more difficult to be the sole voice of justice. But right now he is at a crucial moment in his life. He's extremely impressionable and soon he'll be discovering his voice and that voice is powerful. The voice of the youth is the voice of tomorrow.

There's a reason that I am faced with this heavy dilemma. There's a reason that he's shown me the world that he's living in. I must find a way to communicate to him so that he hears me, so that he doesn't sink down and shut me out. This is my challenge.


Friday, April 06, 2007


The moon cuts silvery pale lines along her porcelain skin. In the shadow she's pale as a ghost, but there's darkness all around her, engulfing her from her head down to her feet on the floorboards. I watch her hands move, her mouth move, her hair bounce around her shoulders. I think that she might be the most beautiful creature that I have ever seen, and I don't mean that because I'm in love with her, which I am but not in the way that everyone thinks. I mean it because she is the only person in the world that I can trust right now. She's the only person who believes in my mission.

Outside my window the night swirls around the landscape. The city lights vanished long ago, fading within our wake. Lila's cream comet cuts through the dark wedge like a meteor from decades before we were born propelling us forward toward that deep seated secret that worms around inside our warmth forcing goosebumps to sprout upon our skin. I shudder a bit and roll up my window, tired of feeling the cool air on my face. The orange-red glow of the car lighter shimmers on Lila's cheek as she sucks at the American Spirit, a faint smile rising on her lips as the nicotine takes effect.

I hear those are bad for your health.

It's a little joke we have between us. She laughs the way that she always does. That's why I love her. She's the only person who understands me right now.

She used to hate me, or so she says, a couple of years ago when we were still in high school. She said that I always acted like I was too good for them. I pretended that I didn't know what them she was talking about but I did know. I did act like that. Although it doesn't really bother me now, thinking about how I was before my body began to feel shallow and empty, before the nightmare descended upon me. I was thoughtless and careless, buried in my nescient life. Many of us would recognize the teenage pattern that gave way to my adolescent years. I just don't care about those feelings and thoughts anymore. They weren't real. They weren't above the shallow depths we drown ourselves in. The one echo that falls upon my heart with ease is the shun of shameless regret.

Over the past year I've learned that regret is the force of fading into insignificance. It is the debilitating focus of limits that we put on our lives. It is the heart of anxiety. It leads us into locked rooms with burnt out bulbs so that we can no longer see our shriveled selves. It is everything that I've left back in the dark of the rear view mirror. It is the self before we know that we are going to die.

Lila squeezes my leg with her warm hand. She knows when I ingest these bitter pills and descend into depressive thoughts. She is the essence of fire and she burns brighter than any star that might shine my way. I trust her beyond control right now. I give my life to her and take all that she's promised me because I know that she will deliver. She will take me into the darkness where she resides and allow me to climb inside my magenta core. She will allow me to consume every ounce of my precious life , which is all that I ask. It's all that I have left.

Please let me have that one simple truth, I screamed out loud.

She was the only one who truly heard me. Now she's whisked me away and together we are going to travel to the far distance, beyond the breathing beating shaking pulse of humanity. We shall unmask the twisted reality of the cosmos. Maybe then my life will find its meaning. Maybe then I can impart some value into the world, or at least feel good about where I am heading.

Who am I kidding? All I ever wanted was to be left alone so that I might understand my tiny place in this life. But that's impossible when you're pristine perfection to be idolized and fraternized and eternalized into someone else's vision. How can you understand beauty when it's shaped for someone else's consumption, for other's to fawn over. They don't know who I truly want to become, where my heart lies. They only know their own sick hunger that rises up through their endless deceitful entrails. They only know how to capture the creature, a hunted animal that should be tamed for their amusement. They never realize that the structure they impose is slowly devouring us, making us fleshless, naked bones on this corrugated island of conformity. They don't care that their seed is poisoning us turning our insides to death.

Lila's fire is suddenly inside me, climbing up through my heart. I can hardly breath. I jerk my leg away and her hurt eyes catch mine for a split moment, but I can't think about it. She'll understand. I clutch at the window crank with my claws and manage to get it open enough to feel the cold air on my face once again. I gulp at the night. My breath gasping, my heart racing, I struggle to live. I tremble beneath the oncoming shadow that rears before me. With wide eyes I search desperately in the dark fog, look for the tender touch I was always promised. But I don't see anything.

That's when I black out.

(go to 3rd departure)

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