Panorama of San Bernardino

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mysterious Ways

On Saturday night, we went to the U2 concert.  I had never seen U2 live.  It is surprising considering that I had a long time love affair with Bono in the 1980's.  He slept in my bedroom on the wall albeit on a poster board that was a present from my best friend Tracy. 

I have written blogs about music before.  I would hope dear readers that you know how much Morrisey and the Smiths mean to me.  Similarly, the Pixies, my second favorite band of all time, make me want to run in circles and jump up and down.  Listening to X makes me want to drive fast.  Siouxsie inspires me to dance and wave my hands in their air in the way only a goth girl can do.

U2 always made me sway.  There is something about their music that is transcendent. 

When the guitar went low Saturday night and Bono's voice rose into the air, it felt like the sky had opened up for a moment.  I am a teller of tales, some say I am prone to exaggeration, but when Bono sang "One" I cried.    That is the power of music for me.  It takes me somewhere else.  It floats me away and I am captivated. 

The night ended on a low note.  It took us an hour to get out of the parking lot.  Tracy was more than tipsy and argued with J in the car.  Adrian and I got into a little spat.

The next morning Adrian and I took the moms out to Hesperia again.  Adrian planted some more trees and I laid out on the concrete and sunned myself like a lizard.  We barbequed some hamburgers on the grill and swam in the cold pool.  The last time I dove in, I held my breath for as long as I could and danced underwater.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

High and Low

For those of you who don't know the distinction, there is a high and low desert in California.  The high desert is Hesperia and beyond off of the Interstate 15 North and the low desert is Palm Springs and beyond off the 10 (East) freeway.  Calling the Interstate 10 freeway by its numerical designation with a "the" in front of it is the California way of saying it. 

My father-in-law Alberto bought a ranch house in the high desert in Hesperia about six months before he died.  Alberto became obesessed with remodeling the house.  It was like he was in a race.  With the help of a contractor, Alberto gutted the entire interior and put in red and white tile in the living room and family room.  He bought dark wood floors for all of the bedrooms and painted the white walls with bright colors.

Alberto stained the fence and outdoor bar a warm brown and planted palm trees by the stone rock pool.  In a mere six months, the house was coming together.  Alberto and Orieta started moving their clothes over from the West Covina house.  They planned on moving in the next weekend.

Then Alberto died.  Orieta walked into his bedroom at their house in West Covina and found him dead in his bed.   His arms were crossed over his heart.  I was in court all morning with my phone turned off and it took two hours for the police to reach me.  Orieta's neighbor held her hand while the police questioned her.  I drove over to their house in a panic.  I called my brother-in-law Vinnie who tried to calm me down.  My hands were shaking as I pulled over to have Adran paged at his office  When his assistant put him on the phone, I didn't have to say a word because Adrian knew. 

The last nine months, the house has fallen into disrepair.  Adrian stops by after work sometimes, but the weeds have taken over and the pool is a slight greenish color.  The wood floors have a coat of dust. 

Last night, I drove the moms out to the Hesperia house and Adrian met us there after work.  We went out to dinner at Steer and Stine, a local IE steakhouse.  We played Apples to Apples and I took a Tylenol PM to fall asleep.  Adrian and I took the master bedroom and in the morning, I got up early and walked outside.  Adrian was already up and testing the water of the pool with a PH kit.  

"We slept in the same bed my dad died in," Adrian said looking at me. 

"I wish you hadn't told me that," I said.

"It doesn't bother me," Adrian said and shook his head as he looked out at the mountains.  "It's father's day weekend."

My husband has always been a bit morbid.  It is probably what attracted me to him.  I am a former Goth girl.  I think what he was getting at is that he feels closer to his father out there in the high desert.  Alberto may be dead, but his project lives on.

Monday, June 13, 2011

There ain't no fairy tale endings

I wish someone told me this when I was little.  There are no fairy tale endings.  People don't live happily ever after.  No prince ever comes on a white horse and spirits you away.  Or if they do, years later, the horse breaks down and the prince turns out to be a frog.

The best you can hope for is to get through the drudgery and savor those little moments of happiness that make life worthwhile.  Let's face it, being an adult sucks.  It sucks ass. 

It is much easier to be a child or a teenager or even a young adult.  I think that is why so many of my stories deal with the past because whatever my childhood was, that is, chaotic, scary, happy, adventurous, traumatic, and sometimes surprising, it was better than the day to day drudgery of an ordinary adult existence.  I remember the freedom of it.  That sense that one's whole life was an unknown. 

Now, at about forty, and maybe this post is just a symptom of the almost forty blues, I see life as hard and disappointing.  Most days, I get up and go to work and work hard to get through my court calendar.  My life is somewhat like my calendar.  I have felony settlement conferences, i.e. negotiations, there are sentencing hearings, i.e. punishments and even oral arguments, i.e. fights.  And, like my calendar, I just gotta get through it because tomorrow is another day.

This blog is not meant to be depressing.  It is meant to express how the world can get you down.   One can only hope, I mean I can only hope, to pick myself up again and start over every day.  The goal is to try and be a better person, to treat people with kindness and be positive.

In the end, that's the best we can do.  Just try.  And try again.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bye Bye Fat Girl

I have my fat girl surgery in less than a month.  Soon, I will be a shadow of my former self.  My only fear is looking like a bobblehead.  That's not really true of course.  My fears contain multitudes. 

One fear is that I will die on the operating table looking up at a florescent light.  They say death is hardest on those you leave behind, but I would be horrified to die from an operation designed to to make one stop eating.  It would a very American way to die. 

Don't take this wrong.  My goal in talking about this is not to trivialize it.  Instead, I want to bring my fears out in the open with the hope that they will dissolve in the sun of recognition. 

This fear of death includes leaving my husband all alone with the dogs and the two moms.  I don't know what he would do without me by his side.  My outgoing optimism balances out his pessimistic and hermit like tendancies.  Plus, I know him pretty well after almost nineteen years and he loves me.   He really loves me despite my round tummy.  What can I say?  I know he is hot as only an Argentine can be, but I am just plain loveable. 

Another fear is that I will get a staph infection and end up very sick.  I read an article by one of my favorite doctor writers Atul Gawande about staph infections and it freaked me out.  I told my husband that I asked my doctor about the risks, but I lied.  When my doctor asked me if I had any questions, I shook my head.  Maybe I don't want to know.

Finally, there is always the fear of failure.  Despite my purported confidence to everyone that everything will go well, I am afraid I won't be able to stop eating.  That I have eaten whatever I wanted for far too long.   That I will will have surgery and give it a go for a couple of months and slowly start sliding back to eating too much too quickly and drinking beer and Diet Coke.

Then I look in the mirror and tell myself, this has to change, you have to change.   There is no more time.  My hand lifts and almost without thinking, I give a sad little wave to the person in the mirror.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kegger

*I first published this story on the Open Mic Blog of Satsumabug's art blog

KEGGER

The idea for a kegger party came to my twin sister Jackie and I during the last month of our junior year of high school. It started out as only an idea and the idea became reality and then, as it often did in my childhood, reality turned ugly.

We lived off of Fourth Street and Grove in a small three bedroom house that my parents rented. My parents had lost their house three years before. After they lost the house, we moved from rental to rental like a band of nomads. Our first rental was a condo in south Upland. North Upland was on the right side of the tracks and south Upland was its ugly neglected stepsister.

My twin sister Jackie and I recruited our formerly angelic little sister Annie to follow us on our ride to juvenile delinquency. We were the holy terrors of the neighborhood. We made out with boys in the community jacuzzi beer bottles in hand. We stole my dad’s car at night and came home to red and blue lights flashing in our driveway. We toilet papered the entire downtown of Upland which turned into a criminal investigation after our friend wrote on a car with permanent marker. I got caught drinking in the front yard with my skater boyfriend and his stoner friends by the cops and was almost arrested. Instead, they cited me for an appearance in juvenile court and as my penance, I attended alcohol classes where they told me to “just say no”.

Add in my parents’ constant screaming and fighting and in essence, they evicted us for being the modern day Inland Empire Hillbillies.  Our next stop on the sad rental train was an old, creepy white house in Upland that looked like the house from Amityville horror. The landlord sold the house after a year and my parents returned to Ontario in their search for a cheap rental.

When we moved to the new, not so new rental, I claimed my own room by biblical birthright. Even though I was a twin, I was the oldest by nine minutes and refused to share with Jackie any longer. Annie and Jackie were forced to share a room.

I loved the privacy.  I had a poster of Sid Vicious on one wall and a poster of Bono from U2 on the other. My cat Whitey was a permanent fixture on my bed and she always left white hair on my all black wardrobe. I had my nose pierced the month before and proudly wore my diamond stud to school. It got me a lot of attention.

“No parties,” my dad said with a wag of his finger when my mom told us they were leaving for Laughlin that weekend. Annie was going to stay with her friend Bernadette.  “Party, no way!” I guffawed with a flourish of my hand. Jackie and I caught eyes and the idea was born.

Keg parties were all the rage in the Inland Empire of the 1980′s. The recipe was a simple mix of beer and high school students. Add in a band or at the very least a boom box and the recipe was complete.

We started our party planning at work. Jackie and I worked at the Round Table Pizza on Foothill and Campus in Upland with my best friend Tracy. My “other” best friend Melinda, who I had known since third grade, stopped by after her shift at the mall and we worked out all the details. We decided to “borrow” a couple of kegs from the cooler at Round Table and have them filled by a co-worker’s older brother.

“We need fliers to pass out at school,” I said. I was the unofficial president of the planning committee.

“Johnny can draw, let’s have him hand sketch one and we can make copies,” Jackie said.

“Have him put in some skulls and beer bottles,” Tracy said. Melinda joined in, “Yeah, and let’s charge three bucks a head.”

We made a hundred fliers and passed them out all week at lunch. The day of the party, Tracy and I talked about it in our part of the quad where we hung out with all the other punks. Melinda walked toward us with a grimace, “Guess who else is having a party tonight? Reggie.” “Shit, we’re screwed,” I said. “When the football king has a party everyone goes.”

That night, Jackie and I waited at the house drinking out of the keg with Tracy, Melinda and the two guys we hired to work the door.   By nine we had given up. No one was coming.

All of a sudden, we heard shouting and screaming coming from the front of the house. I walked into the front yard and saw at least twenty cars parked on the street. A guy in a football jersey walked up and said, “Reggie’s party got broken up, everyone is coming here.”

Within minutes, the back yard was full of high school students. Jackie and I worked the keg and tried not to put too much foam in the glasses. The bouncers had already collected two hundred dollars and after the cost of the kegs we were at least a hundred dollars ahead. I took shots of tequila from a bottle someone passed around.

By eleven, the backyard was overflowing. The bouncers were drunk and had stopped taking money. The party had moved inside. I felt as if I was walking through a kaleidoscope of people. What are all these people doing in the house?

Tracy ran up to me and grabbed my arm. “Jua Jua, it’s the police,” she slurred. “They want to talk to someone in charge.” I looked through the front window and saw four cop cars in the driveway.

Jackie was nowhere to be found. I shook myself to clear my head and walked outside with Tracy. An officer walked up to me and said, “Do you live here?”

“Yes,” I said in my oldest child voice. He shined a flashlight into my eyes and I felt myself wobble in my monkey boots. “Are you intoxicated, young lady?”  Tracy whimpered beside me.

“No, I’m fine.” I said and shrugged my shoulders.

“We’ve had several complaints from your neighbors and everyone needs to leave. We could arrest you for underage drinking.” I turned my head and watched as the police ushered a line of people out of the back yard into the street.

“Get a move on,” the police yelled through bullhorns. Someone screamed, “Go Juanita! Tell those pigs off!”
“Why are you shutting down the party?” I asked. “This is fucking ridiculous, it’s only eleven thirty,” I said as I got in the officer’s face. “Fuck off!” I shouted, the tequila making me brave.

Tracy tried to calm me down, but I pushed her arm away. Tracy turned and walked into the house. After the cops left, I found her hiding in the closet, black eyeliner smeared all over her face.

The cops didn’t arrest me. They should have. When my parents came home a couple of days later, the neighbors had signed a petition to have us evicted.

When I think back to that night, a night that happened more than twenty years ago, I can’t help but smile. I have to admit that I admire my outspoken (and drunk) sixteen year old self standing there in monkey boots, pierced nostril and all, standing up to a bunch of cops. Yes, it was stupid. Yes, it was wrong. Yes, my parents suffered for it.

But somehow, it seems fitting.