January 31

White Trash Rhetoric

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Around five in the afternoon, every Friday, my children excitedly stare out the window. As the red van pulls up, they shout goodbyes at me and give quick kisses before running out the door. “Abuelo!”, they scream as they clamber into the minivan. I spend five minutes picking up before turning everything off and letting the gentle quiet settle on the house. 

The weekends are spent with Abuelo and G-ma. An easy solution to finding a babysitter when their mother and I have conflicting work schedules. They spend their next three days playing with toy trains, attending church, and seeing various family members. Tía Kathy will inevitably stop by with her dog, Chuletta, for some quality time with the boys. Shortly after attending a Spanish Mass on Sunday, they’ll return home to tell me all about their weekend. 

When with Abuelo, the children speak Spanish. Beautiful, bilingual boys, they come home and return to English, mixing words like ‘agua’ and ‘jugo’ into their sentences. Although I don’t speak Spanish, i’ve learned to understand it through the various Spanish programming I put on during the week for them. Their Guatemalan heritage is not only acknowledged, but celebrated. Their culture is embraced.


 

Being their father has taught me the importance of being open-minded. Our ideologies are formed by the collection of experiences and memories we have accumulated throughout our life.

The growing divide facing not only The United States of America but the world is impossible to ignore. You could try to cull your Facebook of opposing views, only to find them seeping in through comment sections. Complete strangers, hurling vitriol at one another. Their disdain tearing the seams of decency.

Like oil and water, our melting pot is becoming immiscible.

A video shows people in different positions of political power demanding people in America speak English. My son asks me for leche. A caller on C-SPAN asks why we don’t vet Puerto Ricans more as they move through the states. My child wants frijoles with his breakfast.

Scrolling the comments, I see the vitriol. the ‘If you don’t like this country, you can leave!’ and the  ‘This is America, you need to conform or get out!’. The ‘Get out of my country!’.

This White Trash Rhetoric, infringing on the very beliefs this country was founded upon. Instead of celebrating our differences, there is a growing movement to uniform our beliefs.

I look at my children. Will someone shout, ‘Speak English!’ in their faces? My blood boils at the thought.

As a father to multi-cultured children, it’s my duty to protect them and raise them to be proud of themselves.

I’ve grown tired of hate-filled rhetoric rooted in fear and anger. I read a comment about liberalism being a cancer that needed to be wiped out. The only disease this country has is hatred and it’s spreading.

We should be embracing and trying to understand one another. Yet, here we are.

I try to bite my tongue when it comes to these sort of things. I know there isn’t much I can say to change anyone’s mind. The lines are drawn in the sand.

I am sure some will say I am overreacting. It isn’t MY children who will be singled out for their differences. They are born and raised. If they don’t speak Spanish in public, people will never even know about their heritage.

We lock ourselves in like cowards and turn people away out of a fear. Because they are different.

Locking people out isn’t protecting us. it isn’t protecting my children. It’s turning my back on someone else’s.

This country was founded by people fleeing oppression.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
The New Collosus by Emma Lazarus

As we lock the golden door, I wonder if we will pry this plaque from Lady Liberty and use it as a barricade.

I do not fear people who are different from me.

I fear White Trash Rhetoric and hate mongering.

I fear this country’s rapid movement towards socially acceptable discrimination.

Scroll any vitriol-infested comment section and you can see it’s already begun. You can find people advocating for the death of those with differing views. Vocalizing their desire to destroy. To inflict violence and fear. Dehumanizing one another.

I stare at my children and wonder not if, but when they will become the focal point of someone’s hatred. When cowards will use fear-laced-hatred to target them.

I am not some liberal ‘snowflake’. I am a father to multicultural children.

I will always celebrate their diversity.

I will always defend it. 

 

 

 

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January 26

Gemini

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The Gemini dances through the mind. An array of fire and pain. The whimsical way he moved, fleeting through life leaving lovely destruction in his wake. A wildfire in his step, turning fields to ash. The grass seemed greener on the other side, if only for the simple reason his foot had lit the green ablaze here.

Whimsical and wild, pirouetting in and out of the conscious, smoke rising from his self-immolation. He burned bright and bold.

The Gemini. An array of everything right and wrong in a person. He moved with a fear of stopping. As if to stop was a sign of submission. Being tamed an act of defeat he simply couldn’t bear. In the depths of his soot and ash, he would press coal to diamonds, wondering why any would choose standing outside the fire.

The Gemini. Cursed in such a beautiful way. A passion-hungry, love-junkie, injecting himself with affection under the dark blanket of the night. His needs lay in desire. To burn out was to die.

He hungered to feel something so deeply it calmed his senses and he could close his eyes. To stop him in his fiery tracks. A match, lit to match his light. 

Moving through his motions. To stop was to die. In his choreography he felt alive, as he skirted prescient precipices overlooking where destiny and reality crash violently against the sides.

There’s a simple reason people play with fire; to feel the warmth of life. 

Cracks from where fists left rose marked prints on the mirror above the sanguine pool in porcelain basin. The Gemini, a boy really, pulling his eyelids down to search for faint the shimmer of a soul. Seeking out a semblance of something intangible, yet so spectacular, it had to be there. Fading and tired, he danced along.

A broken child, unwilling to be chained. Searching flaws as if dumpster diving for redeeming qualities. 

The Boy, with his sick ideations of love and living wild. Of Romeo and Juliet. Infatuated with the idea of marrying love, lust and feeling alive. The sadness in his step evident, as he moved through brush, catching tufts of tender to fuel the flame. The melancholy in his movement, marking the world in such a way it would never be the same.

If it was worth anything, there was a heart of gold nestled in that ribcage. A well-meaning before the immolation. 

His song plays distantly still, the words on the tip of tongue. The chorus, hook and bridge always reminding of how strange of a place we exist. This life; where people don’t truly live.

The Gemini, a stranger in a foreign land. Unable to grasp the simplest of survival tactics like complacency. From a different plane, where people didn’t pride themselves in their ability to keep from going ablaze. People here don’t truly live, they move through the motions, comforted by stability.

The Gemini could never fall in line. Not with his hunger to consume being a driving desire. No, wild fires are never sated. He twirled through this masquerade, leaving bright oranges and reds in his wake.

Burning bridges and people all the same. His attempts to share his flame leaving burnt faces cooled by salty tears. Broken lips cursing his name.

His touch sincere, and full of love. The third degree burns leaving scars as his naive hands grasped hearts like baubles. A boy really, never taught the dangers of unchecked passion. Years of unrequited love left him with addled emotions, as he sought out the comforts of affection yet feared the uncertainty of stability and ever after. 

The Gemini sears through the mind, searching like a dope fiend for his favorite form of self-abuse.

Tears fall like rain in his wake. Tears, threatening to dampen his coveted flame. Broken, blazing and goddamn beautiful.

The Gemini dances along the forefront of the mind. Skirting through the consciousness before swirling into the subconscious, leaving only smoke behind.

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January 3

Recurring Dreams

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I have this recurring dream I run into an ex-girlfriend. We are at some sort of fancy event, although the background always changes. It’s been a cocktail party, a special premiere, always somewhere we are dressed nicely. Words left unsaid still cling to the air as we make awkward niceties. She introduces me to her significant other and I introduce her to mine. As the evening wears on, try as I might I cannot stop myself from glancing her way. We wind up sitting alone together on some stairs, drinking and reminiscing of days long past. Words hang like the chandelier overheard, threatening to crash down. 

I clear my throat and begin to shift the conversation to what I feel I need to say. But, we are interrupted.

I awake from the dream, wondering why it won’t just go away.

Of all the things I have been bad at over the years, maybe relationships are the worst. I have always been too much for many to handle. As I both withered and raged, moving through my combustable emotions, many fled the scene of the crime where I lay in a pile of my own wreckage.

Back before it was cool to label everything with DSM diagnosis’s, they called partners like me a simple term. Assholes. Maybe ‘gas lighting’ and ‘narcissism’ were around, but not so popularly thrown around. My label was simple. I was toxic. I was an asshole.

Degenerative Briton Disease would probably be the best term for it nowadays.

I spent a lot of time deteriorating and eroding the foundations of good relationships. I clung to others as if I needed them like oxygen, before fighting tooth and nail to push them away. These aren’t traits I am particularly proud of, I’ve just grown to be more retrospective over the years.

The fact of the matter is I sometimes feel so completely unlovable, so unworthy of the affection of others, that I burn bridges and create an island to wallow on. Even to this day, it is something I struggle with. This random paranoia I will wake up one day to a bedside note reading, ‘I never loved you’ and I will sit there thinking to myself, ‘Well, why would you?’. 

I am sure some of this has been conditioned into me. I have textbook mommy issues. Daddy issues, too. From a young age, I fostered a general distrust of women, as I felt abandoned by mother figures. What I know of my father is he owes me twenty dollars he borrowed once before refusing to return my calls. Maybe it is a genetic trait, as my family has always put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’.

It’s neither here nor there where I acquired these struggles to maintain healthy relationships without being a toxic asshole. I don’t believe by finding the root memory where my problem began I will find healing and redemption. I also don’t feel much like asking for apologies for how fucked up I am. Nor forgiveness for that matter.

I don’t seek out where my issues were imprinted on me. It seems to me that would be less a journey of healing and more a search for something to blame. There comes a certain point in your life where you have to accept that the things that have happened to you in your life don’t define you anymore.

I am defined by my actions, not my past.

I try to play the little reminder in my head as reoccurring dreams wake me too early from my sleep. Years ago, I would have assumed the words I had left unsaid were ‘Fuck you.’. Now, the sentiments are less angry, jilted ex-lover, and more thoughtful. Still not apologetic, but gentler with an ‘I’m happy that you are happy’ theme to them. A wishing of the best for someone who deserves the best type of parting.

The words will always be left unsaid. I am sure the lasting memory of me will always be of a lost, damaged boy who lashed out with the same passion he loved. I burned that imprint on the bridges as I walled myself away in that past life.

A part of me keeps people firmly in the past because it likes to keep the person I was in the past, too. That isn’t to say the person I was doesn’t still live on somewhere deep inside me; afraid and waiting for the world to crash in. It just seems better to me to keep these sort of things locked in a dream. I fear the crash of staring too long in the rearview mirror.

There’s an alternate version to the dream. As I look across the room and catch my exe’s eye, I raise my drink, before making my way to the nearest exit. 

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January 1

In Hindsight

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I remember being happy to rid myself of 2015. I figured my mother had died that year, so any year after would be better because it wasn’t like my mom could re-die. The fact she was cremated meant in case of zombie apocalypse, I wouldn’t have to worry about running into her.

After almost two years, a ton of breakdowns, and too many empty bottles, I’ve finally reached a point where I feel somewhat healed. I will always miss my mother. The bad days will always come and go, but I can finally find laughter in all the morbidness. It reminds me of when I first moved from California to Connecticut. I would fight anyone at a moment’s notice if they said a ‘your momma’ joke to me. Over time I learned no matter how many people I knocked down, I was still losing the fight.

In hindsight, 2016 was a good year for me. I can rattle off the many fortuitous events of 2016 affecting me more than any celebrity death or presidential election. I mean, I got published in print this year. Moved to a bigger home with my family. When worrying about bills, a timely promotion came at work. I swallowed my anxiety (chasing it with sangria) and met a ton of strangers I had been writing with online.

I finally went and got myself a diagnosis for depression. Even with the year winding down, I would count taking antidepressants as one of the good things to come from 2016. I am somewhat proud, in fact, of myself for taking that step to get the help I needed after many years of ‘toughing it out’. As the drug attempts to balance my brain, I don’t feel guilty for doing what in reality was best for my family. It’s really hard to take care of others when you don’t take care of yourself.

I also got to spend an amazing amount of one on one time with my youngest son. As his brothers started preschool, it opened up this opportunity for me to get time with him I cherish because of how much it has strengthened our bond.

For what it’s worth, a lot of idols were taken in 2016. But, even in their passing, I found new fans popping up everywhere. It was nice to see people going out of their way to listen to Bowie or Prince. To blast ‘Last Christmas’, a song I personally love any time of year. From their deaths, new fans were born. There’s a certain beauty I think they might all enjoy from wherever they are rocking.

2016 wasn’t easy. There were plenty of stumbles through the year. Moments when I felt instead of crashing through a glass ceiling I was lying face down in a heap of self-despair. I survived those moments. Not because I thought I had it in me, but because I had to. I had to survive those moments. I had to pick myself up and keep moving forward. In those moments, I learned more about myself than ever before. We truly learn what we are made of when we push forward through adversity.

I am sure 2017 will have it’s ups and downs. There will be more moments to cherish, people to mourn, and events to shake our heads at. Every year does. But, for this guy, 2017 can’t kill my mom.

I enjoy New Years. It is refreshing to have these moments of reflection. If it takes the turning of a calendar year to get people to sit and think about their lives, then great. Sure, I strive every day to be a better person, yet I still need a concrete moment in time where I can sit and analyze my life to construct my future.

I probably won’t eat healthy in 2017. There will be no ‘New Year, New Me’ two-weeks of working out. Okay, there might be. But, beyond the silly, simple resolutions I make every year to quit my vices and get healthy, I try to take this moment to figure out how I, as a person, can be better.

In hindsight, I did a lot of growing in 2016. I want to continue to grow in 2017. As a parent. As a partner. As a friend. As a person.

I wish you all the best. I will cheer you through your resolutions. Force feed myself Kale in support of those looking for a healthier year if that is what you need. My resolution is to continue to seek growth emotionally. I will also spend two weeks or so trying to shrink growth horizontally.

To wellness. To prosperity. To relationships. To a new year.

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