The indecipherable ranting of a half-blind Russian immigrant

Month: August, 2013

Two Unfinished Works for the Price of One

Cause’ hey, who am I kidding?  I’m never actually going to finish these.  


Whore’s Were Fours

There was a paradise unknown to a little girl, and despite the evidence to the contrary, she was not currently living in it.  

Three cinderblock walls flanked by a hefty iron gate surrounded her home like a small fortress.  There grew gigantic palm trees, so tall the concept of climbing them was beyond the scope of child reason.  Yet daily her uncle made his way up there with his machete and daily coconuts came, with their distinct liquid thud, crashing to the ground.  Under a brick alter grill stood the proud statue of the Virgin Mary, and despite her father’s protest, she would lay a small plate of milk out for the stray cats who’d wander in from time to time.  In the mornings she would sit with her grandfather as he would show her how to make a harmonica using the glossy leaves from the rose bushes.  She’d often join him on his smoke breaks and listen in to his conversation with the neighborhood knife sharpener.  Her cousin Erwin was the closet thing she had to a brother.  He was always He-Man and she was always She-Ra and the rusty swing-set was always Castle Grey Skull.  Her grandmother would drink in the day and sit with her has she laid in her small plastic pool.  On her back she’d lay in its shallow depths and look to the sky.  Wonder why the half-moon’s shadow would still be visible even on the sunniest days or imagine what people were doing in the commercial liners so very far up into the atmosphere.  There was always a revolving door of family members and house girls.  Weekly a manicurist would make a house call for her mother or the gas-man would come bring a new tank.  Occasionally she’d ride her big wheel out on the streets with all the real Filipino children or go to the corner market for a sandwich bag filled with Coca-Cola.  But her most favorite ritual happened at dusk.  Under two mango trees a large, croqueted hammock lived its life waiting for the sunset.  Sometimes it would be just her and her father, he’d have her get perfectly center and then push her like a swing until all the giggles and delighted squeals drained from her lungs.  Sometimes, even better times, all three mother, father, and child would lay in it together and wait for the cool night air to fade in.  


My Perpetual Nemesis  


I’m closing my eyes and trying to find my happy place.  

For the record, my happy place is not at Waller and Cesar Chavez.  

My happy place does not include peeling paint.

Nor half strung posters of the Grand Tetons with curled edges.  

The lobby of happy place wouldn’t have the sadness of collective poverty.

The happy place does include large stacks of tabloids, so you know, two out of three ain’t bad.  (ed note: one out of four? Bad.)

There are no drills in happy place.

No credit card bills in happy place.  

No shrills at happy place?  Certainly no thrills…


I know the drill, pun intended.  I’m working on my sixth root canal.  A victim of bad enamel.  I could blame a lot of things: genetics, my hatred of flossing, this country’s fucked up health care mentality, an early soft drink fascination followed by an early smoking methamphetamine fascination, et al.  But honestly, it came before that.  Even pure baby Cheryl had shitty baby teeth.  I even wrote a short play about my constant dental trips for a creative writing class in junior high.  

I’ve been worked on like an automobile for a week straight by hack dentists in San Jose.  Cattle called among the antiquated, heavily bronzed Floridians.  I know when I haven’t been given enough Novocain.  I know when I must sheepishly raise my hand as particles of tooth shoot back into my throat just to mumble “hwremda murdnmamblibahh”.   Which is the cotton enabled translation of “I can feel everything”.  I know when the dental assistant is pure shit.  I know when I drown in my own saliva.  They know that I know too when I look them dead in the eye with my frown agape like a fucked up mask of Tengu.  If I’ve been sufficiently numbed (bonus points if they give me a mouth prop) I can even fall asleep with the horrible sounds of tooth grinders turning actual organic material from my face into dust.  


An Open Love Letter to Kimchee Fries

There are very few reasons why someone should brave downtown on a Saturday night without alcohol, especially at midnight.  Two in the morning is acceptable.  Everyone basically has the same need for evacuation after all the bars are closed.  Often times when I close the store on a Saturday I will inevitably have a couple of drinks before biking myself back home through the empty streets.  I do my best to avoid dealing with the shit show that is Friday and Saturday nights in Austin.  This town’ s feeble attempt to turn 6th Street into Bourbon Street has really only dug up the worst type of weekend warrior: the ones who don’t live here.  

I am not without my trespasses.  I too am a transplant.  Any given night I would be just another drunk.  But not tonight.  There comes a time in every  young (cough) woman’s life where love takes priority over fun.  Even love that isn’t good for her.  Even love that isn’t fully formed and is just lust in disguise.  

Kimchee Fries.  

I’ve talked about them for weeks.  I’ve let them occupy my thoughts without reciprocation.  I’ve built them up to a somewhat mythic proportions in my mind.  I’ve talked about them incessantly to any poor soul who would listen.  However my ability to acquire the object of my desire is built into a small timeframe.  Five Chi’Lantro trucks occupy Austin.  They do not run every day.  They do not run every hour.  The only window of opportunity I have is for about 15 minutes on Friday before I work or on a rare Saturday when I’m not out being everything I hate (and love).  After the disappointment of never getting a chance to eat at the now defunct woodfire sandwich truck, I knew my time had to come.  Tonight was night.  

It was the only thought that got me through today, sadly.  Like fat kindergarten Cheryl getting her hands on that last chocolate milk, I would claim my prize.  Thus, I went out into the hot and sticky night air.  I biked through the hordes of morons who can’t understand the concept of one-way streets.  I dodged Pubcrawlers, the overweight bumpkins in tube-tops, and an entire line of Mystikal fans, a fleet of party buses and the desperate bridal parties that tumble out of them, all the Guidos and all the Stellas in the dance district just to have at a paper tray filled with fries, kimchee, mayonnaise, bulgogi, and Sriracha.  Just to pay $2 for a Diet Dr. Pepper and do my second to last least favorite thing behind walking and smoking: standing and eating.  There on Fifth and Colorado, the only breeze in the air coming from bypassing traffic, the sound of assholes haggling taco prices while their vacant girlfriends adjust their tits, I stood next to my bike delicately tasting every morsel of spicy awesome and drinking every aspartame drop of brown liquid.  And in that moment I knew what it was like to be a free goddamn American.  

Was it worth biking home at the height of human stupidity?  Was it worth risking life and limb on Congress and having to slam my hand against the hood of some faggot’s Toyota?  Or get stuck on the narrowest patch of bike lane between a man  in a wheelchair and an overzealous Track bicyclist?  Wishing to get out of downtown so hard because at least the patches of drunks on the Eastside are far more endearing?  Wondering which motorist would end my life tonight crossing the I-35 southbound onramp?  Finally making it to my house knowing full well that the drunk (but well-meaning) neighbors I effectively duck at three in the morning are still awake and at it?  Or the inaudible sigh I let out when they cease to not surprise me by creeping up on me in the dark when I’m trying to juggle my keys, mail, and bicycle to make a quick escape into the safety of my own home by asking me a bunch of weirdo questions about my roommates and the going ons in my house and why they don’t see me much when I’m powerless to be rude and perhaps say, “Dude, you guys need a better hobby than getting spun and watching over my house.  But I certainly appreciate that you do in a weird way.”?

Yes.  It was worth it.  


Once I found a trove of old writing…

Oh the memories:

Or…breaking up during break-up…

Staring out at the blue tinted sky, inhaling one last drag of a menthol cigarette, kicking the new six inches of snow, enjoying the later sunshine,  riding in cabs, buying new clothes, listening to French music, waking up early, using music as therapy, watching VHS tapes, making new friends, going to new bars, eating sushi, eating once a day, taking up smoking again, squatting in unfamiliar homes, being productive, making plans, being overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, losing weight, being lonely, trying to enjoy alone time, not being heartbroken, not being able to concentrate, sleeping, dancing, going out, rocking out, making out, walking, raven watching, drinking too much, having a crush, love sick, love lorn, watching films, figuring things out, watching out for volcanoes, trying to write, searching for internet, not wanting to cook, working hard, drowning in work, being confused, being torn, being happy, getting high, debauchery, fun, making mistakes, trying to correct mistakes, feeling the love, singing, taking cold showers, debating, deleting pictures of the ex, relenting, doing laundry at the old apartment, feeling different, wanting to escape, wanting to remain, wanting to be a better person, being too nice, being indecisive, missing old friends, missing family, trying to separate from the past, trying to find a new future, meeting the right people, maybe meeting the right person at the wrong time, not rushing in, trying to forget what being in love used to feel like, wondering if it will feel better next time around, quitting smoking, not trying to think, looking for distractions,  replacing sadness with happiness, waking up from the winter’s coma…all in the span of two weeks. -Circa 2009


So, the world was ending in 2012.
Fuck it. She was going to turn 30 that year anyway and that was three years longer than she predicted.
There was a certain ominous feeling in the pit of her stomach the last couple of months.
Not to be confused with the sharp pains she was feeling right now while drinking a fresh can of MGD and gobbling 3 Tylenol-3’s to ease what she could only guess is her appendix.
Ominous is the closest word she could come to it. Between death and disaster, it was the only thing to describe a feeling that mirrored the events of the past couple of months so closely.
After close and fevered introspection and analyzing, she decided the best way to deal with it was apathy. Life was too good to worry about the shit-parts anyway.
Death was a reoccurring bastard thought that nagged at the back of her brain.
A couple of fizzled acquaintances, gone. While their real friends were left to pick up the pieces and hold the vigils and fight like children.
And all of a sudden everyone started thinking about their own alcoholism and damned guilty souls.
Was it so funny to watch him drink a fifth a night? Or what about when it wasn’t funny anymore? The years everyone skirted around the issue and eventually stopped taking his phone calls?
That was around the time his eyes started turning yellow and his ankles started to swell.
Soon followed by phone calls saying he washed up somewhere in Maui.
Maybe it’s trying to discuss mortality to a 25-year-old. What the fuck did they know about it anyway?  They were all kids who were five drinks behind him or family so out of touch with his alternate reality.  The only thing they ever had to say no to was dessert.
Every car crash has a back-story.  Surivors.  Trubadors to pass names along, to sing of your praises, make you a martyr, argue over who was mourning more.
Upon first hearing about her ex dealer she could only recall one real conversation they shared…
She looked up from her drink at a house party full of people she did not know, in a suburb she had never been, in a winter’s depression she didn’t know she’d be able to get out of.
He looked at her and smiled.
Eyes half-open, tongue swollen, heart beating. She stumbled, “Why is it…that life comes so easy to you?”
He never answered, just laughed softly and let her back inside.
Soon after she stopped letting herself remember this, her fish died.
Not to be confused with the two fish she killed when a friend’s filter broke causing her to drain the 60 gallon tank bucket by bucket.
That was a night she slept uneasy. 
Thinking the same theme.
Death by ignorance.
The next morning she drowsily checked her mail and saw that the Pakistani Democratic candidate was assassinated.
And all of a sudden the fish didn’t seem so important. And she didn’t feel so important. And car crashes didn’t feel so important.
But it didn’t stop her heart from sinking when she sat in her dentist waiting room the weekend after.
The moment she looked up from a courtesy copy of Newsweek, to find herself staring at Dr. Poroto’s goldfish tank.
And when the good doctor gave her the prescription for Vicodin, she snatched it out of his hand and thought this is going to be a good couple of days, and it was.
Not that the two months were filled with such morose undertones, the real questions raised were issues of mortality in all instances. 
Not to be confused with morality, which was exactly the philosophical debate she struggled with before all this death business began.-Circa 2008
So she took the hit of acid and waited,
In between there were conversations that were smudged out by whiskey,
Out of cigarettes instead of braving the cold.
She remembers saying “Dean Moriarty was born in Salt Lake City”.
The acid was stale and never really started,
And it would’ve been the first time since the great Spiderman wave of 2001.
Crippling even more so than the hangover she had promised,
So she wouldn’t have to be in to work in the morning.-Circa 2005?
Am, is, are, was, be, being, been
I have a firm grasp of the english language.
I’m lying.
Sometimes I make words up, and sometimes I use words I vaguely know the meaning of.
Okay.  I have a semi-firm grasp of the english language.  Enough to know that I should’ve capatilized english.  WTF, dude.
And I really have no one else to blame, not even my public schooling.  Sometimes I can’t play Mad Libs because I’ve forgotten basic fundamentals of English that were repeatedly taught from second to twelfth grade.
I sometimes forget what an adverb is.
My eleven year old cousin knows what an adverb is, without the refresher.
I can pin point the problem.  One example of many as to why I am not nearly as smart as I should be.  Drugs included.
I can flash-back to Mrs. Ortega’s classroom my Senior year and visualize her telling me, for the last time, what an adverb is.
But I’m not paying attention to her words.  I’m paying attention to Mrs. Ortega.
She was in her early thirties and had braces.  She was also frail and white.  Her hair was short, and what I considered, mousy.
She was not a natural Ortega.
She was a former Mormon missionary who fell in love with Mr. Ortega in Mexico.
While her personality goes against this, I’d like to think she couldn’t resist the raw Latin fire of senor Ortega, and finally let her hair out of her tight ponytail and succumb to the Fuego.  It is the stuff that romance novels are made of.
Yes, braces on an adult is always depressing.  You can tell there is a haunting kind of humiliation in it.
Aside from Mrs. Ortega, I once had a ball-busting female boss who had braces.
This woman had married into the family business and had a sense of false superiority about her.  Unfortunately it’s difficult for me to take a fifty year old woman with braces seriously.  Yes, her right wing shook hands with the current President’s right wing on his visit to this middle-of-nowhere town in a middle-of-nowhere red state, but when I see the pictures I can only imagine him thinking, “Damn, this bitch has got some braces on.”
Sure, she promised me lucrative networking opportunities to “high profile” travel writers, if you consider the Black Hills tourism division high profile, to prove her power.
But like all things said in passing and by someone who didn’t really mean it, it never happened.
Last conversation we had, she’d seen my newest and most visible tattoo and snarled, “Now, how in the world are you planning on getting a decent job with that thing?”
Perhaps I should’ve asked, how did you become the first lady of tourist traps with your crazy old lady Afro and crooked teeth?  But I didn’t.
But Mrs. Ortega, although uptight, wasn’t as deserving of her student’s mocking.  What else can you do but be a bitch sometimes?  She had classrooms of students that looked older than her.  She had friggin’ braces.  And unlike my old boss, she probably worked really hard for everything she has.  Including forgoing the humiliation of being an adolescent with braces, to get herself through school so she could finally afford to get her fangs fixed and live with the humiliation of being an adult with braces.  Who was I to player hate?  Even if I did, especially those times she kicked me out into the hallway for being too loud or giving me shitty grades on my reports, I shouldn’t have.
Besides, when I wasn’t paying attention to Mrs. Ortega’s shortcomings, I was sleeping.
She was only trying to keep me from being a feral child, grunting my requests and crying because no one could understand my garbled jungle speak. -Circa 2007
Cowboys vs Astronauts
I’ve been thinking a lot about Peter Gabriel.  It’s an odd thing to keep occupying my mind.  I also keep having thoughts of episodes of Garfield and Friends, only it expands into real time, then the guy with the long, red facial hair will be describing Lorenzo Music as his personal childhood hero.  I hold books about hunting, about orchids, about personal finance.  Conjure maps in my mind, shelves that segregate genera fiction and warrior cats.  Who knew that Christian Fiction needed it’s own section, and why was I unaware that this subcategory existed?  In the meantime I write novels in my mind.  They sound about like this.  Fragmented.  I don’t put much faith in metaphysics.  I wonder what strange form of adult ADD I’ve developed over time at fault of younger television viewing and years of abusing mind altering substances.  Is it possible to get a diagnosis now?  They should really legalize medical marijuana in Alaska.  New fangled technology keeps me up a night, that and the strange Japanese music Will insists on playing while we sleep.  Scrabble.  I’m 50 points away from genius status, and only 28 points behind Will.  On the television there are advertisements for prepackaged, frozen salmon burritos.  Also, a pedophile of mattress salesmen on channel 13.  I want to hug a polar bear, but I can’t imagine it being as cuddly as I imagined.  Why are these extreme environments only igniting my passion for brutal metal?  I think I have a pizza addiction.  I have a million books I need to read and not enough of a lifetime to do it.  I enjoy having Hysteria by Def Leppard stuck in my head.  My nostrils flare more than anyone’s I’ve ever known.
So, I’ve had the seed planted, who wants to move with me to New Zeland in two years?-Circa 2008
Jaguars have existential crisis -Circa 2007

 There was the feeling of decay.
Like something expired.
And all the things that were once known as facts where now downgraded to useless knowledge.
Somewhere between kicking rocks into the unforgiving sea and the storm clouds that gathered the wind.
And wondering how you could look at someone.
And they would never look the same.
There was never time to think.
Nothing ever processed and so nothing was ever really resolved.
Just pushed back.
Everything just got pushed back and ignored.
And happiness could be bought at a corner store.
For moments you could forget.
And forgetting was the only thing palatable.
The only thing conceivable.
The only thing safe.
Reality was the burden.
Thoughts were negative.
Introspection only leads to madness.
Silencing screams.  Silencing future.  Silencing responsibility.
This was the only thing that made sense.
Choosing the path of least resistance.
On the way stumbling upon greater things.
All this beauty.
Everything good.
Contrasting with the unfair.
Polarizing the world.
Grasping for equilibrium.
Slaves to ourselves.
To comfort.
The joy.  The dread.
It all just manifests itself with impossibility.
And it just leaves me annoyed.-Circa 2006 emo

Flop City

I suppose it might be a tad unfair to label myself as a hack.  In all honesty I rarely fulfill any preconceived notion of artistic greatness, but suffice to say I was once a writer.  A writer in as much the sense that I’d spend countless of hours of free time dedicating myself to written self expression.

I was also once a functioning adult.  I sat in offices that sucked the life out of me.  I ate at the same time every afternoon and loathed my daily routines.  I sat in breakrooms that hadn’t changed since the early 1980’s.  Smelled the same overcooked noodles that were birthed from the same splatter-stained microwave.  I forced myself to have conversations with the same uninteresting coworkers who would play the same daytime soap operas and I would try to read anything remotely stimulating to wake my mind up.  I would look at the piles of paperwork sitting at my desk in the afternoon and timeframe how quickly I could run through it.  I would do an honest hour’s worth of work before spending the rest of my shift storyboarding my next blog.  Knowing that if I sat at a desk and typed with a stern look on my face that no one would question what I was doing.   I’d commute home on the same crowded bus I’d always take out of downtown, take off my clothes, and smoke a bowl.  Then I would write.  Three to five hours, daily.  That is, when I wasn’t busy going out with friends or laying in bed for days with my then-boyfriend.

Times have changed, I hate things less.  Surprising, I know,  but true.  I hated so much more then but it also made me strive for better things.  I was 24.  I’ve streamlined my life to be less demanding in the last 6 years.  Back then it was all about hitting the pavement, barely making the bills, killing the weekend, justifying everything I did by who I was sleeping with at the time, and dreaming about the day I’d have everything I’ve always wanted.

While some things haven’t changed entirely, I discovered what I was and wasn’t willing to deal with in life.  I also harnessed a lifetime of non-commitment into a full time job.  I traveled.  A lot.  So much so that the sheen of new experience began to dull and so did the passion and romanticism of my writing.  It seemed like the more I was doing, the less I wanted to write about it.  The more my life was going smoothly the less I needed to smoke marijuana and write about it.

I turned 30 last year.  The buildup to it was a culmination of my accomplishments thus far in life and where I saw myself in a new decade.  When that dial turned I stood back and realized that despite my new location I was a slave to myself.  That turning another year older wouldn’t magically transform me into another person.  While that is a story for another blog, it does bring me to my actual point:

Austin, holy shit, you make me feel inadequate.

Everyone here appears to be extremely talented In several ways.  Had I moved to Austin when I was 18 I think my artistic soul would’ve been nurtured and highly developed by now.  I had visions of myself living in crowded Victorian homes living as a bohemian in my post high school daydreams.  Living for art and only the for the sake of it.  It’s hard to get that back, other than to just do it.  This is what this is, my attempt to just do it.  Write for the sake of writing to an audience of zero (? well, for now anyway).  The only problem with being an essayist is brazenly putting yourself out there.  No filter.  Someday I’ll master fiction and revel in my autonomy.  Someday.