Evening, Ocean Cliff

I want to drive my car over the cliff. It would be so easy; there’s no barrier holding me back. Timing would be all that matters, falling in with the waves high so they catch the car and pull me out to sea. That would be a nice way to go, rocked to sleep by the water while safe inside my metal case.

Tryan watches me; I can feel his eyes on mine. He’s the only one that gets me, but even he’s far from guessing my thoughts. What would he make of them?

He’s a lot like me, Tryan, minus ten years. If I was his age I bet we would be friends. That’s what I tell him anyway. I’m lying though, at his age I hadn’t yet hit puberty, I was still little and nerdy, carrying too many books in my hands because they weighed down my pack and hurt my back. My weak arms and chubby face march clumsily through my memory. Tryan is almost as strong as me now. We mess around and I punch him and he punches back and it actually hurts.

“Is my poem still there?” He asks. His voice low, a tone that has become too familiar in him. Already I know I’m going to have to make him cry before we go home.

“Yes, surrounded by university students’ poems. People always stop at yours.” They don’t, but Tryan smiles. We watch the sunset in the distance. The waves below the cliff roll in in-sync with our breathing. The stereo is on, a CD by Imagine Dragons. I let Tryan choose the music when I see something really bad bugging him. So the indie music of bearded men trying to sound soulful marks our soundtrack. It would be nice, this scene, a university student talking to and guiding his younger cousin, the symbolism of the old car and new music written on our faces: but the moment is far from scenic.

The tears come suddenly and without warning. It’s always like that; the silence builds and builds until he can’t take it anymore and he talks. Tears fall down his cheeks and he removes his glasses to wipe a sleeve across his face. Without his glasses we could be twins. His skin, like mine, is an earthy shade of brown that shines red like mud in the dying sunlight.

“I got in a fight with dad again,” he says simply. He doesn’t look at me when he talks. His glasses go back on and glare a bright red. I know what he’s going to say, it varies a bit each time, but the structure stays the same. It starts with his mother; it ends with his father. Tryan doesn’t cry around them; they don’t have a clue. I don’t think it’s fair that they get to break him and then he comes to me to get fixed. But how would I begin to explain? Hey aunty, hey uncle, I don’t know what goes on in your house, but every time I hang out with Tryan I have to make him cry before he starts acting like himself. I could show them pictures for contrast, it’s obvious juxtaposed. I have a picture of when Tryan turned 7 and I took him to the two story Lego store in the mall. His cheeks in the picture are still full of baby fat and his eyes shine in wonderful concentration. I should print the image out and glue it to their refrigerator; I should yell at them that I want him back.

“What happened?” I ask. I’ve done this enough times to know that if I want Tryan to snap out of his funk he has to do most of the talking. Silence resumes. The sun in the distance touches the horizon as if testing the water before descending.

“My mom wanted to go to the gym, the one on the corner with her friends. I said I didn’t want to go, that I wanted to stay home. She asked me why not and when I told her I just didn’t, she got mad and yelled at me.”

He stops talking but I know there’s more. There’s always more. It begins with the mother but ends with the father.

“I told her I didn’t want to sit in a smelly gym all day and then Lily came in to say she didn’t want to go either because she had homework. Mom said it’s my fault Lily is talking back to her like that and then Sephina came in to say she didn’t want to go either because Ellen was on. She got angry and when dad came home she told him I was talking back to her.”

The tears come faster now. Tryan doesn’t sob, his tears are silent, and because of his glasses, even those go unnoticed. Only the red shadows beneath his eyes and a wet chin give him away. The truth he cannot see, I think. The last line of the poem he wrote the day I brought him on campus. He liked my university, liked the history. Almost everything he knows comes from YouTube, and YouTube claims my mental institution turned state university is the second most haunted place in America. He liked that, kept asking me to take him to the abandoned parts of school. I had already made him cry that day so he was being himself, running around and gawking at things. When I opened the gate to the abandoned sections of campus, the hallways still laden with old mental institution equipment and aged with asbestos fibers and cobwebs, we were both shaking in terror and shining our smartphone flashlights at every noise. I took him to the English Corner before we left, a sliver of a hallway that acts as the bulletin board for English majors. There’s a poetry wall where anyone can post a poem, an impressively large lending library, and worn in leather couches where English majors crash after all night writing sessions. Tryan pulled out the moleskin journal I had given him and ripped out a poem. He found a tack and nailed it to the poetry board, next to one I’d written freshman year. I glanced at it but pretended not to so he wouldn’t feel embarrassed and take it down. I went back the next day and read it. It was about his parents.

“Dad came home from work. He didn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t arguing or telling the girls to argue. He said I’m the eldest and I have to be an example to my sisters and I can’t fight with mom. I told him why does mom have to go to the gym, why can’t she workout here so that we don’t all have to leave. That’s when they started fighting. Dad told mom she shouldn’t be arguing with me and that I had a point because she doesn’t work and the house is a mess and she didn’t make dinner so why is she paying to go to the gym when the apartment looks like shit. She ignored everything and yelled back that she’s not going to be taking orders from a kid, but the way she said it I knew she wasn’t talking about me anymore. They started yelling and I took the girls to my room to watch Netflix. Dad left. He slept in the car again. I saw the blankets in the morning when he took me to school. He told me I have to be responsible and not fight with mom, and when I repeated I wasn’t arguing he yelled at me to stop lying.”

He stops talking. His chin still wet and his glasses foggy. I remember the time he got a C in math and his father told him he expects so much more and was disappointed in him. It took a week of crying to snap him out of it. I’d walk into his room in the evenings when I was home from university and sit on his bed and let him cry under his pillow. He wouldn’t cry until I came over and he stopped when I left. On the third day I came over he stopped what he was doing and climbed into bed. On his desk was the moleskine journal, black and bent and half full. It was open to a poem that started I’ve gotten used to being worthless/ two steps behind the starting line/ Father man moves the finish line/ I can never make it in time. The poem scared me enough that before his dad got home from work I took him to Krispy Kreme donuts and filled him with enough sugar to jump start the dopamine in his head.

“Your dad was just tired,” I begin. The walk is fragile; I tread lightly, making sure not to blame anyone or make him hate his parents. That’s not what I want, that wouldn’t fix anything. “Your dad spent the day at work, you know how stressed he is now that he’s manager. He wasn’t really mad at you. Your mom doesn’t make things easy for him. She doesn’t need to stay home and clean, I’m not saying that, but she has to do something. Your dad works all day and when he gets home he has to resolve fights and make sure you guys take showers and brush your teeth. He’s just stressed. He didn’t mean to yell at you.” My words do little. What can I possibly say to a child that thinks himself a failure to his father and a burden to his mother?

“They love you, you know, that’s what matters.”

“I know,” he whispers, “I just wish they wouldn’t blame me for it.”

I frown and ask what he means.

“Dad still hasn’t come home. When I call him before bed he says he’s working late. In the mornings he’s waiting outside in the car.”

Now it’s my turn to think. The sun is gone; and without it the moment grows dark. They love him, that much is true, but they hate each other more. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to Tryan if I had left like I planned to, dropped everything after high school and gone north, lost myself in a new city. I’d always felt regret for staying, a personal kind of failure. But slowly, Tryan reached out, started calling me in the evenings to see if he could stay with me while his mom went to work – back when she still had a job. He’d sit at the kitchen table with me for hours, him with his math, me with my books until someone picked him up. Sometimes they forgot.

I stop thinking, there’s nothing more I can say at this point. It’s been obvious, aunty and uncle have been falling apart for years, they married too young. In his mid-thirties, my uncle looks weathered, skin so dry his hands look ashy and burnt. I can’t even remember the original shade of brown he was. And my aunt is even younger; only now does she have the time and friends to act it, though she’s exploiting it. Sometimes I think she forgets she has children. The father has too many responsibilities and the mother acts clueless. This would be fine, it’s the natural stage of a relationship coming to its end, frayed out by time, except there’s Tryan and his sisters in the middle of it.

The thought of Tryan going home depresses even me. And soon Lily and Sephina will be old enough to notice the fights too and I fear for Tryan even more. I can imagine the talks, Tryan playing my role, trying to reassure his sisters everything will be okay despite it all.

Maybe that’s why he reached out to me? Here I am feeling so stagnant, fantasizing my car falling into the ocean, that I don’t realize Tryan wants to leave too. My tears come with the realization that Tryan must know my desperate thoughts because he probably feels the same overwhelming need to get away.

The Imagine Dragons album finishes and the car stereo shuffles onto another disk. I’m about to turn on the car to leave when I hear Tryan start giggling, a sound so foreign that I can’t help but stare. “Donkey!” He yells, laughing even harder, a deep gurgle erupting from his stomach. “Get out meh swamp,” I add, making us both laugh.

All Star by Smash Mouth plays on the stereo, the first song on the Shrek movie soundtrack. Shrek was the first movie we saw together at the cinema when Tryan was four and he became conscious of memory. Also, Shrek memes are his favorite. He pulls out the moleskine journal almost full now and opens it to a blank page. ”Somebody once told me” He stops and thinks, pen resting on lips. I take the journal from him and tell him I want to add a line. I want to drive my car over the cliff. We go back and forth until he’s in a good mood again and talking about the new Marvel movie coming out and will I take him to see it. Then Tryan stops and frowns.

“Will you be here in the summer?” It takes a moment to understand what he means. I’m graduating, and once I do I’ll finally be able to leave, or rather, I’ll have no reason to stay.

I don’t tell him that.

“Sure, I’ll be here.”

 – Published in The Island Fox Literary Journal

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Campus Tour

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On a gravel path snaking between tall, Spanish buildings, stands a girl, bored, swinging her weight from one leg to the other every few minutes. Her name is Tracy and she likes the sound of abrasion beneath her sneakers, likes to hear a sound indicating her presence. Besides Tracy is a man, tall and stoic. He wears jeans and work boots, a white t-shirt with an In-N-Out print. His name is Jim. Jim is Tracy’s father. They don’t look alike because Jim is a handyman. He spends so much time on rooftops that the sun has left a permanent tan on his face, chin, and arms. Only the woman standing on his other side knows that beneath his leathery skin, hidden behind the In-N-Out print, is milky skin a healthy pink. This other woman, her name Joy, is Tracy’s mom, obviously. Both are short, both wear jeans. From a distance only their hair tells them apart. Tracy is still in her natural brown while Joy went blonde. They could be sisters except Joy carries a purse and Tracy a messenger bag pressed into an empty chest. Joy’s chest is not empty, quite the opposite.

The family of three stand in a group. More families are around them, but only they matter. They follow the crowd. It crosses the university at odd angles. “Probably for effect” whispers her father when they cross the main campus a third time. Tracy doesn’t mind. She likes the view of the library from a distance, flanked by rows of trees, it seems to glow white. When she says so Jim replies that it’s just the sun reflecting off the glass.

Joy does mind, all the walking is wearing her out. There is a university student at the head of the group talking, describing this or that, but none in the family listen. Jim listens to the sound of a bell chiming noon and wonders if it’s real. Joy pulls out a bag of almonds and leans on Jim. Tracy stares at the university buildings. This is the fourth university they’ve visited this week, and the third state college, and none of the other schools had wrought iron grates over the first-floor windows, much less the second floor. They’re painted maroon and made pastel by the sun. They remind Tracy of containers, colanders, a safety net set in place to catch what falls out. She likes them, the iron grates, they have a sort of symbolism. To her, university is a kind of colander, a mesh that helps sift through what matters and what doesn’t. She raises a hand and asks the student guide about the grating.

“A remnant of the old facilities, to keep the patients in. Don’t worry though; the school is getting rid of those.”

The group moves again, a collective shuffling across the main campus a fourth time. “North Quad,” calls the student guide gesturing to a large square of grass flecked by trees and adobe colored buildings. “Well isn’t that something,” Jim nods. With his chin he points at the cluster of buildings that look dark and filled with cobwebs even though they’re baking in the sun. Joy grimaces. Collectively all three tune into the student guide, hear him explain that thirty five percent of the university still needs to be refurbished for modern use. He doesn’t tell them that the walls are infested with asbestos fibers and that most of the patients from before, when the university was a mental institution, were made even more deranged from contact. The student guide doesn’t say any of this, but Tracy did her reading. She spent the drive down from Santa Barbara researching and now says all this to Jim.

“Oh that’s awful,” says Joy. She pulls up the sleeve of her sweater and covers her nose, scared of any stray asbestos fibers from the buildings almost two football fields away.

“Is that safe?” asks another woman. To Tracy, the woman looks like a mom, grey slacks buttoned over a bulging stomach. A boy is standing next to her, muscular and blond and cute, and Tracy wonders how he could have come out of her.

“Even temporary exposure can lead to cancer,” Tracy says more to the boy than the woman.

“Is this true?”

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Oh that’s awful!”

The other families turn to the student guide but it’s Jim that answers, Jim that’s a handyman, Jim that grew up in a house with lead paint that left a permanent rash on his back. He stands with his hands on his hip and an In-N-Out shirt damp with sweat.

“The thing with asbestos,” he begins, pointing a finger almost threateningly at the student guide, “is that you can’t breathe them in.” He holds his hands around his neck to show the other families a choking scene, then he lets them know a buddy of his died of lung cancer because of asbestos fibers. The families all nod knowingly and Tracy stands closer to her father. All eyes turn to the student guide as if expecting an explanation.

To be fair, the student guide doesn’t get paid enough to put up with questions. In fact, he doesn’t get paid at all, only a percentage taken off his tuition. The student guide pulls out a notepad and pretends to write something down before saying they should move on and check out the library, “won’t that be exciting! It’s big and made of glass by some famous architect.”

“Oh which one?” asks Joy even though she knows nothing about architecture and even less about architects. The student guide answers, happy to have a question he knows.

“Norman Foster, he did the Gherkin in England and the new Hearst Tower in New York City.”

“Very impressive,” says another parent and Joy nods in agreement.

The student guide walks backwards, herding the group through a low adobe hallway. Tracy slackens her pace and falls behind Jim. When the group starts its fifth hike across campus, this time to the glass library in the distance, designed by Norman Foster, Tracy sidles next to the blonde boy.

“Hello,” she says while glancing nervously at Jim a few paces ahead.

“Oh, hi.”

The blonde boy is Zach, but he doesn’t say so. Zach doesn’t talk much; he only looks down at the paper map in his hands wondering about lunch.

“Great school huh,” Tracy tries again.

“It’s small.”

“Yeah, probably why they made us cross the campus five times.”

“Five times? I hadn’t noticed,” the blonde boy replies. He turns the map sideways to read something and ignores Tracy for a minute. When he folds the thick paper away into his back pocket, he notices Tracy still there watching him.

“You from around here?” Zach asks. He looks the girl up and down and thinks her plain but pretty. He wishes she would move the messenger bag out of the way. It hangs low on the girl’s shoulder, hiding her butt. Zach wants to see if there is indeed a butt being hidden before continuing the conversation.

“I’m from the Valley,” the girl points a finger somewhere behind her to indicate where. Zach only nods; his interest in the exchange faltering the moment he notices the flat chest. Tracy doesn’t catch on; she takes the nod as an invitation and continues talking. “My dad is a handyman with his own business. He can fix almost anything. Mom works in HR for a car dealership. Did you know exactly twelve people died here when this school was a mental institution?”

“Hey do you have a pen?” The blond boy interjects. He doesn’t really need a pen or care about the girls babbling, just an excuse. Tracy pulls the messenger bag in front and retrieves a six color changer, and hands it to the blond boy now sporting a big grin.

Zach leans in closer and tells her his name.

“Zach,” he says.

“Tracy,” she replies.

Tracy does indeed have a butt, a nice one. Her jeans fill into two perfect curves that make Zach smile.

The student guide takes the group of families into the library. Inside is the palette of concrete, shining grey metal desks, and golden light from the sun refracted off silver bookshelves. The library reminds Tracy of a cave. The library reminds Jim of an empty warehouse. The library reminds Joy of the hip new spa back home. Students sit around computer terminals typing. Not one looking up at the gathered families spilling in through the door.

Jim turns to explain to his daughter how vertical concrete structures like the library are made, but what he sees is Tracy and a boy leaning in close whispering. Jim nudges Joy and Joy almost squeals. A sigh of relief erupts from both their faces – prideful parents.

“Oh he’s cute,” smiles Joy.

“Baseball fit,” nods Jim in confirmation. He takes some almonds from Joy and nibbles them as the student guide begins to explain the history of the five year-old library.

ni de aquí, ni de allá

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ni de aquí, ni de allá

I’m not from here

Or there, I say

when my political sociology professor points out,

almost accusingly, a trend

among my generation

against identifying as American.

I raise my hand and politely say it’s not my fault.

I am ni de aquí,

ni de allá

and I’ve never felt American anyway

even though I’ve lived here

almost

my entire life.

I say, to my professor, who is already moving on to another subject, that I still panic when I do the pledge of allegiance.

“Where are you from, then?” he asks, still not looking at me.

“Here” I say pointing at my chest

And at the sky

And at my feet.

But my gestures are lost even on me.

 

Published in El Canto de los Delfines

What a Discriminating Reader Needs to Know

 

One of the reasons modern news media, in all its forms, has such a strong presence of bias is due to the forced attempts at balance. While Balance it meant to give both sides on any given issue a voice, it also has the unwanted effect of cluttering issues with opinions. Objectivity, then, should be the first characteristics a discriminating consumer of news media should look for in any given reporting. Reliable and credible news reporting should, in theory, give more weight to identifying facts, rather than appeasing opinion. One method of searching for facts in any form of media, and by default hinting to objectivity, is a reliance on the source material. Instead of reporting on what a political pundit thinks of a law, a credible news source should present excerpts and analysis of the new law itself.

However, achieving objectivity isn’t easy. Even the best and most trusted news sources struggle with the views and ratings that commentary brings. PBS Newshour, by most standards, is a great example of sincere reporting attempt at keep issues first and opinions second. However, more and more commentary by professionals is used, with a degrading downside. Some big and real issues that threaten the integrity of society don’t have two sides to them. Issues like the metoo movement where women stand as victims on one end and attackers or attacker supporters on the other, lead to bizarre commentary panels. “Balanced” sides lead to opposing desks stocked with inevitably aggressive opinions.

Because of the nature of language, it is impossible to remove all bias from any type of news report. However, an active, discriminating consumer of media should seek reports that are as objective as possible by seeking news that prioritizes source material over opinion.

2018

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How is today different from yesterday? How can I remember this year from any other of the past two decades? The changes aren’t apparent on our streets. Looking out my window, my neighborhood could be confused with 2002, 2008, 2014, 2018. The first two decades of our second millennium flow indistinguishable from one another.

From my yard, a small fenced off patch of grass in front of my apartment, little of the street around me hints at the year. To the untrained eye, the old people’s home next door looks as it has since its creation in the early seventies. The house across the street is a single story with a dish on top. A church with a high steeple hovers in the distance, the cross on top reaches me, as do the grey shingles of the megachurch roof.

To the untrained eye, a time traveler perhaps, would find it possible to judge the era based on its surroundings. The changes are here, but as everything about the new millennium, they are subtle and hidden. Software has overtaken hardware. The asphalt mixture of the roads is new, a combination that resists sun bleaching and the heavy load of a million cars passing a million times. Only one house has a satellite dish. Early in the millennium, it was all houses and apartments. Yet today, at the beginning of 2018, only one house on my entire street has one. The software inside has been upgraded. WiFi doesn’t require a ludicrous bubble on a roof.

The only indicator that has consistently carried my generation is the automobile.

The buildings, the city, it mostly stay the static. So few buildings have been erected, and the few that have imitate the past. But the mixture in the asphalt is new, and so are the cars. We move faster and sleeker, weaving in and out of what already exists. Not changing it. No, we change little. It scares us. Instead, we add on, a drive through on this building, another one there. That is who we are in the first two decades of the millennium, creatures choosing to update oneself instead of the surroundings.

And because of this, America is best described by its cars. In Los Angeles, the rich and conscientious drive Teslas. Statements are made and maintained instinctively. Conscientious and okay drive Priuses. Rich and don’t care rove in land rovers and sports cars. Okay and don’t care speed in Audis and Volkswagens. The poor immigrant drives Toyota. It doesn’t matter where the immigrant is from, if they are poor they drive a Toyota: Mexican, Armenian, everyone from everywhere. Rich immigrants drive BMW.

And with each passing year, the cars get collectively sleeker. Chrome is added mid-decade and removed by its end. Smaller. Faster. New cars drive hard and reckless between old buildings that watch them pass and change with outstanding speed. By the end of the second-decade cars are big and ludacris again.

I’ve often said the if all cars were removed from the streets, living in the city would be indistinguishable from 2002 to now, 2018. Same people same styles. Same city same issues. Nothing has changed in American society in the last twenty years, nothing but our cars to separate us.

I don’t know if this is a positive post or not. We’re so caught up in the software, in our phones, that we don’t notice the lack of progress, physically, around us because of the quick pace of “new” information.

Maybe as new money changed the old money of the past, America will again have a decade in the twenties that will change everything… Or nothing. To be fair, unless a historian is asked, there’s no palpable distinction from the 1900’s and the 1910’s ( it’s all the age of the great war).

Here’s hoping the memes are right and there will be a new golden age.

Spanish

The air still smells of ash. I’m sitting next to an IN-N-OUT, so the scent changes with the breeze. When the wind is strong, smoke takes center stage and I have to fight the urge to huff tiny breaths. But when the wind settles, all I take in is the smell of Burgers and fries. I don’t know what I’m doing outside. The smart thing would be to stay indoors, except I’ve done that for the past week and now I feel crazy; like I need to go outside even if it’s just to walk around the block. I finally know how my cat feels in the evenings when I come home from studying and she’s clawing at the door begging for me to open it. I thought it was funny that she literally argued at the door as if willing it to open with the threat of sharp claws, only to fall asleep beneath a bush when the door finally gave. After a week of sealed doors and windows, I felt like my cat. I walked around the valley and took a bunch of buses nowhere just because I could. I eventually ended up here, on the patio of a Starbucks adjacent to in-n-out. It’s a busy place called the plant, a site that used to have a giant car manufacturer that left in the eighties. Retail has taken over, the same as most of Los Angeles, transformed into a strip mall. I’m not complaining though. There is a lot of traffic here, both foot and vehicle. My clustered soul feels like it can finally breathe-in freedom even though I still have my nostrils full of ash.

I had a job interview Monday, on the eve of the fires. I thought it went well, but now I doubt I’ll get an answer soon. Why? Because the place I interviewed in is currently being evacuated because of the creek fire. I’ve long stopped trying to change the things I have no control over, so I’m not bummed, just tickled. Is that okay to say? Things tickle me, make me chuckle not at myself or at the world with cynicism, but in general. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I freak and slap hands away when I’m being tickled, life can tickle me too. It sounds weird and kind of gross, but that’s the only way I can explain my relationship with the world. Good or bad, things just tickle me, pull my attention enough for me to say, well that was something.

I’m going to watch Coco soon. I’m lucky in that there’s a Spanish dubbed screening near me, at the Plant – you know you’re from the valley when people say I’ll meet you at the plant and you understand. I’m meeting up with my parents. There aren’t many movies they can see in theatres because it’s usually better to wait for the DVD or Netflix version with Spanish options. But times, they are changing. I feel like theatres are only just realizing there are so many Spanish speaking people in the valley, enough to carry their own market. The Plant has had Spanish only movies for a few years and is thriving again. Other theatres choose to upgrade, like the Cinemark on Coldwater. They installed wicked new seats the recline. Don’t get me wrong, I love those seats, but upgrading hardware isn’t the only option to improve a product – the software is just as important.

There are parts of Louisiana that speak Creole, so much so that street and freeway signs are both in English and a French patois. Some parts of Maine are the same with plain old french. There are sections of Orange County with Vietnamese lettering everywhere. I’d like to live in the part of California where everything is in Spanish and English, an area all its own known not just for its people and language, but for its success. I don’t know if adding Spanish options will improve the economy, but from my own experience, it seems an untapped medium. I mean, in my home we have ditched all forms of cable because Sling TV has this Spanish only option. Instead of paying $100 plus a year from any of the local providers, we pay $10 for the twenty or so channels my parents like.

I guess I’m just trying to make my community thrive like I see other communities around me do so already. I like pointing to the Armenian community in Glendale. I just read an article in the Atlantic that detailed a beautiful segment of the Armenian culture and community, one where the subjects of the article boast about never needing to learn English because he can survive there just fine speaking only Armenian.

I know I think differently from most Americans. I’m positive a few readers will take this as an affront to English. I speak English, it’s my first language and I have a degree in English too. Yet, it’s because of my intimate understanding of the language that I realize languages are insufficient at conveying meaning, truly. That’s why some things are lost in translation and others murdered. I personally think cities grow, not die, by having more languages spoken. It would be nice to have a section of the city my parents can go to and be understood, more so than the chopped up “Hablamos Espanol.”

Maybe next time I’ll talk about assimilation.

What’s funny is that I meant this post to be about music, but things change once you actually start writing. This is the first post I write on my computer. For some reason, I only feel intimate enough to write personal stuff on my phone. Maybe it’s because my phone lets me lay in bed and type with one hand while the other pets my cat. Maybe it’s the purring of my British shorthaired, a skinny thing that demands attention with claw pokes to the face, that allows me to say what I mean. This post feels a bit more analytical than my other entries. I blame my cat.

Fire

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No fancy talk today, I have nothing clever to say. The world is on fire. There’s so much ash in the air that I’ve felt like sneezing all morning; and when I do sneeze, my snot stains brown. I’m lucky, no evacuation, not even close. But I can see the red in the distance. I CAN SEE THE RED IN THE DISTANCE.

What scares me most isn’t breathing through a face mask in my own home, it’s comprehending the possibility that the ash I’m breathing in was someone else’s home, bike, bedroom. A friend who’s house actually burned down hasn’t found their cat. Ash.

Living in Los Angeles, there are a lot of things I fear innately. I fear the police because I’m tall and brown. I fear driving down main streets at night on weekends because of drunk drivers. I fear I’ll be on the toilet when the big earthquake finally hits. But this was the first time I woke up thinking the world was ending. This was the first time I woke up coughing and thinking I’d hack myself to death. To be fair, I sleep with the windows open. Stale air depresses me. Bad idea; my sheets and blankets were covered in grey dust that scattered when I moved.

There is still a thick layer of ash beneath each lattice.

My community college is taking in horses whos stables burned down. My university closed early. Me, I stayed in bed all day beneath the covers. No shame, I can’t breathe.