Friday, July 20, 2007

I have finished my novel. Yayyyayyyayyy!

Final tally: 101,000 words

Sunday, July 08, 2007


(start at the beginning)

When I wake we're in the desert. The sun is low in the sky behind casting a pale cool glow before us. This is my favorite time of day out here, a time of birth but locked in a meditative moment where everything gives pause. The silence of the world is revealed in this place, alive but not quite awake. You can feel it, hear it, see it all in the calm light of morning, before the bleating cries of humanity gasp for breath, before they come to cut the umbilical.

Lila tells me that she couldn't drive the whole night through. She tried but the halos of sleep interrupted her vision until the road grew dangerous. We slept at a rest-stop somewhere back in Arizona, can't remember the name of the place. That's how she is. It's unforgivable, she says, an attempt at order in a natural world grown from chaos. She hates all of it; names, categories, definitions, lines, corners, rules, any type of structure that tries to contain the burgeoning dream of existence.

It's destructive limitation, blasphemy. No wonder our first impulse is for war, to cause endless destruction upon the environment. We're simply rebelling against the chains that bind us, the social order that refuses to allow us to ever be truly free. We're lashing out, attacking the very structure that we implemented in the first place. We build it then we destroy it. A vicious cycle of hate taken out on ourselves. A bit misguided obviously.

She's ranting again but I can hardly hear her. I'm lost in wonder so her voice blends into the world at slumber, a soft drone at the back of my brain. To my right a distant mountain transforms into a prone figure of a woman on her side with her arm raised so that the crook of her elbow is resting on her head. I'm mesmerized by her. She is the soul of the desert, a guardian from the edge of eternity, a witness to the days of wane. One day she will awake and rise up on sturdy legs and find her way home. I wait for it, almost expecting it to happen right now at this moment but like me, she's not quite ready to depart from this world.

Lila takes the offramp and turns away from my vision. I decide not to show her. It's something I need for myself. We head south, toward my past, a place I haven't seen for years. Everything feels different. Massive shopping malls that weren't there before stand next to the road like beckoning giants, fervently wishing for the company of strangers, growing fat off our greedy consumptive souls. Fe, fi, fo fum. I smell the blood of desperation.

Lila's right. Sometimes the world seems so sick.

This place used to be empty. Nothing but vast flat sand interrupted occasionally by growing crops, a shocking green against the dry landscape, with the permanent smoke of sprinkled water hovering overhead to keep their delicate leaves from shriveling in the bright heat. Nothing more. The hulk of two towns, one on the border, the other stuck out along the highway out in the middle of this huge valley. It was never a place for growth. It was just a place trying to survive between one destination to the next. It's a wonder civilization attempted to establish here at all but the febrile mind tends to reach beyond reason, hasty and wanting it conceives a consciousness that is clearly insane.

As we drive through town I begin to feel the hunger for nostalgia. Once we pass the new development I notice that nothing much has changed. The familiar landscape caresses hidden sections of my brain. Rickety convenience stores and tortillarias lean with precarious treason at the clean world of commerce we left behind. I spot the infamous flea market, already pulsing with life and I want to it to Lila, get lost amongst the stalls, taste the greasy tamales and drink sweet sugar water. I want to make her laugh of my memories. She would love it, the type of realm that she longs to inhabit but we turn away and drive to my grandmother's house instead.

When we stop, I climb out of my seat with a stiff body but for some reason I don't feel as terrible as I expected. Through the dust raised by the wheels of Lila's car, the second home from my youth is revealed and my mind wanders away from future regrets. I'm no longer burdened by the weight of age beyond years. I am swimming down into the boundless prepubescent optimism that strangles my heart. I jump upon the porch and shake the dusty screen door shouting my grandmother's name, and somewhere in all of it I catch the aroma of fruit baking in the oven.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Define God

"God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought."

--Joseph Campbell


Thursday, July 05, 2007

International Espionage

Fay Grim: Why did we have to overthrow the government?
Agent Fulbright: It was inappropriate for the needs of the American Economy?

(Our foreign policy basically amounts to this idea: Making sure that the activities of other countries are appropriate for the needs of the American economy)


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

33 Months

It's July, in the year 2007 and we find ourselves in the class bracket that we commonly refer to as the dwindling middle class. What this means is that in this country we are witnessing the death of the middle class (for the most part it's already happened). It's quite noticeable in San Diego where, in the current economical atmosphere, it is impossible for 95% of the population to buy a house and live above water.

I remember when...

Our parents lived in semi-suburban enclaves with houses large enough to accommodate three kids and kidney shaped pools in the backyard with a dog running around it and a cat lounging on the stoop. We had summers free to explore the wasteland of canyons and abandoned golf courses and sweet hot nights watching fat bugs buzz around streetlamps. It was a time when both of our parents weren't required to work and it was still possible to pay the bills and fed the children. We took vacations to Europe or Australia, spent weeks at a time at the desert or the river or the lake. It was a time when our capitalistic culture remained true to the promise of a working class.

Somewhere, early in my youth, that promise began to slip away from all of us. Our lives began to grow beyond our capacity. We began working overtime, or two to three jobs at a time, just so that we could pay for our lifestyle, until it finally became mandatory for both parents to work. A mountain of cheap debt slowly sifted over us until we could no longer breathe. The dream of hope for the American worker began to fade into obscurity.

Both Xtina and I have made great efforts so that we may live a life that we find valuable. Fortunately the two of us remain on the same page regarding what that means. We've struggled against the culture of consumption that has devoured so many around us. We have a our moments, but for an album or an outfit or two here and there, it seems to be working for us. We've had plenty of help from our family, not one dollar going toward childcare and were basically given the house that we currently live in. So we have our fortune and we're constantly reminding ourselves to appreciate it, but it isn't the life we imagined and it definitely isn't the life where our parents raised us. But the the worst part about it is that if we wanted to move up into what we consider the next level, which would basically be closer to the middle class lifestyle we grew up with, then we would have to change everything that we currently hold for granted. No more free time, no more free childcare, no more simple pleasures, no more vacations, no more part time work, and much more financial difficulty.

For some reason this type of existence doesn't appeal to us.

Here's one of the simple pleasures that I'm talking about. Yesterday, which was a Monday, one of the days that Xtina doesn't have to go to work, I returned home for the day and we jumped into our car so that we could take care of a couple of things we'd neglected for far too long. Afterward we had an hour to waste until we were going to dinner at Xtina's parents' house, so we decided to go to the dog park in Balboa. Once our dogs grew tired of sniffing butts we meandered back to the car. One of the great joys about children that seems to mysteriously vanish as we grow old is the ability to catch the small beauty that exists everywhere in our environment. So as we walked back to the car Lucas rambled along stopping to hug a tree or smell a flower or investigate the decay of something in the grass. Soon we discovered a large grassy hill that probably looked like Ireland to him. He immediately began to run and jump and roll down the hill, cackling toward the planes landing overhead. It brought a big smile to our faces but, after a short while, I began to grow a bit antsy and went to bring him back so that we could leave. Xtina quickly reminded me that I might want to let our little bundle of energy embrace the delight of the earth, nothing was as important or as precious.

So I sat back down and watched Lucas wrestle with the grass. She was right, just seeing the smile on his face as he kicked his bare feet in the air was enough for me to realize that even though we may no longer have a middle class here in America, once we change our priorities then maybe we'll have time to cherish the precious moments that still come our way.

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