Music and More

July Joy

I'm writing after a small layoff.  Over a year has past since I lost a close a friend, my loyal buddy Duke, and most hurtfully my grandmother.  I write in a political climate that is roaring with white privilege, saturated with bigotry, and the gradual wear and tear of prejudice.  This all seems like dilemmas I would have passionately bit into.  I no longer feel this social angst.  Not to say I am pain free, and to surely declare that I am filling with joy.  I'm writing with a full heart.

I am writing rejuvenated.  As life appears to be entering its second half for me, I recognize that pain is not an absolute enemy.  I am painful in this moment and still joyful, as if mastering some form of emotional active recovery, still emoting intensely yet at a pace, a tempo that allows for deep inhales of joy.  I look forward to the new ways life will invite me to grown through pain.  I also know paradoxically I need to learn to celebrate with the momentum of joy.

Where life seemed to be like an uphill climb, I'm now learning to keep my self from spilling over too, as the joyful bursts of painlessness bring an exciting pace that pulls me downhill, times feeling out of control.  Since pain is constant, yet its intensity variable, I describe myself as pain-ing, and suffer-ing.  This is a choice that seemed like the only option for an impressionable man navigating a divorce, single parenting, broken hearts, and emotional immaturity.  With that choice is another choice and those are not the only options because I feel capable of joy-ing, celebrate-ing, and navigating foreign plans.  I miss you "my grandma".  Duke, you'd likely snap at our new little guy Mikko.  He listens like you.

Did wanting to leave mean you wanted to be forgotten

Tomorrow marks a year that a close friend left his human experience and is now onto his next one.  He left too soon...for me.  He was dark and twisted, wrapped up in an understanding that was joyful.  He was the most loving angry friend I've ever experienced.  He drank too much, and on purpose.  He drank to forget, he might have drank to be able to remember, and he surely drank to die.  I tried to be there for him at every turn.  I failed him as his cries for help, in the form of cynicism and helplessness, repulsed me in a way that kept me from sharing in his pain. 

I worked so hard to learn to heal, especially with empathy, compassion and interest.  In this loving friendship I failed.  I couldn't heal him.  I couldn't endure the pain that tortured him.  I hear his voice in my thoughts.  I hope to never understand the pain that kept him from fulfilling his role as a dad, a husband, and a friend.  I am writing selfish and raw because I miss him.

It would have been interesting to see him grow old.  And maybe he did, spiritually.  Learning to say goodbye is the horizon, but using hello is still happening too.  This is why we have to live with the idea that "Life is Hard"  Viviendo es duro! Loving is too.

La Margie

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world

Mary Oliver
When Death Comes

Oh Margie!  Oh my grandma.  You said hello so lovingly, it makes saying goodbye impossible.  I don't know how to capture you perfectly, especially in words. It's also impossible.  I speak as if you're still listening.  I hope you are.  I trust you are.  I have faith you are.  I want to say how much you meant to us, but words can't capture that.  There is nothing I can say that can bring to life the way you'd inspire me to do the right thing. 

I can talk about how you put so much effort into each meal, each corrido, or each story you told. I can't speak enough about how you never let much go to waste, the last spoonful of beans, a corner piece of tortilla, a left handed glove who lost its right hand partner, "gett-a-hots" commodity rice, and the list could extend for hours.  It seems surface to share how principled you'd be like returning every missed call,, creasing your sheets just right, ironing handkerchiefs,  and every household chore perfected.  I can say you spoiled me!  Especially with care and convenience, but it doesn't do your ability to care justice because if we look deep enough you were a Nobel prize winning abuelita, if they had a category for Mothering, you be running away with it.  If they had a Pulitzer for Care, it would be yours.  I feel like you spoiled me, and when I look at how you loved the recipe is that you spoiled all of us. 

You taught me about life without a single lecture, and never asked for anything but for me to be safe...and you did always ask me to clean my room.

I want to describe how you made such a difference in my life, but there isn't a way to paint how your presence could be so comforting. I can only share how you created a home where we all could fall asleep anywhere.  You shared your life in way that was profound with goodwill.  You gave us all a chance to feel loved, cherished, and teased us all into believing we were each your favorite.  You were our biggest fan. 

I praise the life you lived, and I know the only way to genuinely do that is to practice being your best parts, every day. 

You said good bye so slowly.  It still hurts today.  As strong as I feel I can be, remembering you, causes me to fold into tears, like I did when I couldn't sleep over.  Tonight I'm yearning to be in my makeshift bed, at foot of your's, watching grandpa take a knee to pray.  He misses you!  And I do too!

Que Lastima


Not bland, not seasoned, but tasty

I've taken the invitation to be bland.  Written precariously here, I am really describing how I fight back the need to be noticed. I find myself feeling boring, invisible, and yet energized by being aware of how I can never escape the cosmic and collective participation in society.  I think it might be what faith desires of me, and in contradiction for what my hormones demand of me.  The invitation I am describing is written poetically here, maybe less poetic and more ambiguous, but it pragmatically means my greeting the hurtful angst and restlessness that visits me when I feel inadequate.  For me, I find being bland is my spiteful way of embracing simplicity.  I find it hurtful, although disciplined, to be bland, maybe a more gentle description is modest.  

I find myself struggling to keep from wanting to decorate my life with style.  I want to dress up my appearance to be dazzling.  I find it punishing to withdraw from the ego driven desires of feeling respected.  I am talking about the desire to be seen.  Often happening when there isn't anyone to take notice of me, the moment when I feel indiscernible, the moment I am no longer abstractly poetic but ambiguous.  I am describing the moment I worry and begin to wonder if I'm significant. As I had a child client learn to say, rather scream,  "I want attention".

The invitation I am describing has the feeling of when:
  • a child recognizes other children playing together and cannot muster up the idea of being included; 
  • a child notices another child with a dazzling toy that looks eternally exciting, observing, perplexed, accepting only being able to watch; 
  • a lonely adolescent catches a couple romantically sharing a stare, sneaking a stare, admiring their existence, not knowing how it feels, but bitterly frustrated, for a fear that it will never happen to them;  
  • a recently grieving divorced dad observes the peace on a man's face who is walking through a park with his family, smiling, striding, and in unison, being forced to feel his failure.
  • I say goodbye to a desperate family because time is up, clinging to the final moments of safety in a therapy room, knowing there is a realtor out there buying an 8th pair of overpriced shoes, celebrating some unjustifiable percentage of a sold luxurious home, somehow separating themselves from this struggling family's suffering. 
This is the moment and emotional invitation I am writing about.  This is the experience I am working to understand, so that when it happens it doesn't derail my internal harmony.  I am writing about the absorption of pain.  The active recovery from the emotional hurt from pangs of perceived deficiency.  The pangs come from the moments where the darker and more violent existential invitations grab my focus and throw my hopes to the ground.  And this is where my psychology has taught me to use right and wrong.  This is where I put down my tools and go to work.

This is where I have to change my neuroplasticity, and begin to see that right and wrong are constructs that can be dismantled and rebuilt with care, tenderness, and dignity.  What is rebuilt will need to be looked upon with reciprocity, not to reuse the dismantled morality of right and wrong.  What is put together with the new mind will not be seen as bland, will not be seasoned, but will hopefully be tasty.

Chicanismo Filled Balloons

The start of October in Albuquerque means hot air balloons will sprinkle the sky.  Today, is like many of the traditional mornings, except for a few things.  This year happened to be a cooperative year for balloon lift offs.  The conditions for a balloon to leave the ground are finicky.  In recent years it has been a sarcastic taunting by Mother Nature, timing her winds and rain, to leave the masses guessing.  And this year the rains came, cooperatively, leaving the ideal windows for plumes of released balloons.  Likewise this year was different for my heart. 

Like a hot air balloon being un-packaged, my hope for cultivating or reviving the Chicanismo that nurtures the creativity in Albuquerque, in New Mexico, appears to be unfolding in my life.  My sky, my winds, my rains, and my ideas are also ready to be primed for ascension.  My soul, mi Alma, might be ready, like the sky, to have all these ideas ascend and drift across its jet streams.  This morning I could feel the lower temperature as the sun rose.
I felt the brisk air as I pulled back the covers.  I could hear the click of the heater’s blower turn on and the rustling of the air forcing its way through the duct work, pushing out the aroma of burning.  With my mind focusing on anxiety, like the rolled and folded ideas being pulled of a cargo bag.  I find it in me to methodically unravel and stretch the angst.  The colder air in my home adds to the experience occurring in my mind.
A colder air helps a good mass ascension.  My passion’s spark, heats up my inner furnace and blows encouragement into my ideas.  The contrast between the trapped heated air and the frigid sky, creates the phenomenon of flotation.  A delicate dance between the cold void of injustice and the hot passion filled canvas dreams.  That hot air is like the Chicanismo spirit being driven against the canvas skin of my ideas and the synchronicity is what I call my dreams. 

What Shade of Race are We - Intro

What shade of Race are you?  I think we all need to answer this dazzling yet scary question.  It is useful to approach this topic.  The seeds for my interest in this topic are the origins of Race as a category.  I use the theoretical basis that Race grew from an English Christian need to justify slavery.  What does race mean to you?  I want the world to begin to recognize our outward features as distinctive but not differentiative.  I want us to stop using race as a measurement.  I have this strong urge to reverse engineer this complex concept.  I want to address how it has deteriorated the opportunity for human harmony across regions, nations, and now, more than ever, the globe.  My motivation comes from the heated and explosive phenomenon currently ravaging American popularism.  My motivation has grown from my passion for feeling empowered after many encounters with feeling incapable, especially due to identifying with a race.  I want to unwrap the grip Race has on humanistic productivity.  I want to loosen the grip Race has on humanistic symbiosis.  The reversal begins with me.  I started this idea with answering these questions myself.  What shade of Race am I?

I am an Albuquerque citizen, located in the Central Rio Grande Valley, a city in New Mexico, a state in the United States of America, on the North American continent, and I could continue up and down a cosmic hierarchy of fractal proportions, none significant enough to die or kill for.  This is what sets the stage, prepares a workbench for my unraveling and dissecting the entangled pieces that have created my shade of Race.  I am excited by how persistent I was to address my racism.  I feel I was able to encounter my advantages, disadvantages, and the experiences between.  I feel I needed to recognize my own racism before I could detach from the entanglement I had with Race.  I have reached an understanding that Race only exists because I, along with the civilized world, give it validity through human characteristic and traits like discrimination, competition, and distinction.  I have transcended my original dependence on culture, identity, and belonging to step away from these to see how power and privilege in toxicity has shaped the invisible social thresholds that reinforce and amplifies Race.  I did not remove them though. E-race-ing racism does not eliminate how we naturally find discrepancies in peoples’ lifestyle.

Not hasta, Siempre

Love is not dying, nor dead, but flowing in its most potent way, spirit.  More than a life, more than my grandma, more than a mother, more than a wife, Margaret was cultural art.

 My grandma was torn apart, slowly, by dementia. She drifted off into a final sleep. She drifted off in way that was beyond any of our control. She was fatigued down to a few gestures and the most beautiful eye contact. The strong willed woman that orchestrated our family, was asked to simply lie trusting her faith, trusting us, and letting her body prepare itself to let her soul launch into the heavens.  My last moments with her were spent sharing our essence, dripping water from a straw into her dry mouth, and watching as she methodically swallowed.  That is how I picture the divine feeding love to the world.

 At her end, short bursts of interaction were enough to drain her into a restful sleep. Then she would want to visit more, letting us know by opening her eyes and gazing. My counselor training helped me understand the process, my education reminds me of the systems and how they teach us to deal with death, and still my heart hurts. My grandma had a graceful death. She laid resting in her home, her room, and on her beloved's side of the bed.  A traditional photo of the sacred heart of Jesus looking over her. 

As much as I wanted to be there for her last breathe I could only be with her while her warmth turned. I was confused for a moment, believing possibly that the cool rigidity of her cheek was misleading, hoping childishly that the warmth still in her hands was an indication she was still with us. She did not have an anxious expression and she looked like she did during any other nap. My grandma left peacefully.

She was a huge reason I am who I am today. She is also a reason I am who I want to be today.

July Joy

I'm writing after a small layoff.  Over a year has past since I lost a close a friend, my loyal buddy Duke, and most hurtfully my grandm...