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I See…I See…

About six or seven years ago I took my kids to see the fireworks on July 4th. Rancho San Rafael Park was absolutely packed. I had one child riding on my shoulders and the other, who has difficulty walking due to a stroke—especially back then, stumbling along beside me. The deepening nightfall made it increasingly difficult for my son to walk without falling on his face, so I finally found a few cubic feet of space and decided to stop before my son broke his ankle.

The whole crowd was standing, and I had my youngest child still on my shoulders so he could see the fireworks. That’s when I heard the mewling, annoyed voice.

“Thanks for ruining the fireworks for my family. Now my kids can’t see anything.” I was already irritated by the situation, and these complaints did little to alleviate that.

“You could just ask me politely to move,” I responded, making no attempt to mask my own rancor.

“My family got here early to pick out a nice place to sit so my kids could watch the fireworks, but you show up at the last minute and block our view. Thanks for ruining the holiday for my kids.” I turned around to face this woman, actually calculating how fast her husband might respond after I socked her in the face. I wouldn’t have done such a thing, most likely, but the fact that I thought about it at all shows I was not handling the situation or my emotions very well.

That’s when my youngest son intervened.

Perched atop my shoulders, he waved his hands over my shaved head, stared at it intently as if looking into a crystal ball and said, “I see…I see…an angry woman.” It took everything I had not to laugh out loud. He instantly diffused the situation. My thoughts of violence vanished and the “angry woman” even apologized and offered us cookies. It was a good thing there was someone present smarter than the adults to keep things from getting out of hand. One of the many blessings of children is that they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.


Beware the Sand Shoveler

Sand Shoveler

I have a friend who is a hard-working carpenter. He’s compassionate and generous to a fault. He’s quick to laugh and easy to get along with. Because he’s dealt with a good deal of adversity in his life, he possesses empathy for people who walk difficult paths.

About a month ago, this friend of mine was shoveling sand into the back of his truck to repair a water line at his home so his family could have water. He was parked in an area designated for just this purpose—people come and get sand. I don’t know if the cops were called or just happened on the scene, but a sheriff arrived to investigate what the media described as “suspicious behavior”. The sheriff patted him down and discovered he was carrying knives—also known as tools. Carpenters carry tools; they’re weird like that. My friend was compliant and handed over his knives, and when he was searched the sheriff discovered my friend was in possession of small amount of narcotics. Due to the cowardice and incompetence of the sheriff, things quickly got out of hand.

The sheriff had my friend interlace his fingers and put them on his head, which he did, and the cop took hold of him. Back pain and construction go hand-in-hand, and the sheriff repeatedly forced my friend, who was being otherwise compliant, into a position that caused his back to spasm, forcing him to adjust his posture. My friend asked this thug to stop hurting him, and tried to tell him he couldn’t hold that position. The officer, despite being in no danger, felt threatened by this and took my friend to the ground and proceeded to strike him repeatedly. Perhaps he forgot his job was to serve and protect (and de-escalate), not pretend he’s a fucking cage fighter against someone who can’t even protect himself without risking great consequences. The sheriff punched him something like seventeen or eighteen times, and at no point did my friend attempt to fight back. All he did was try to stand up—a natural enough reaction when another human being is savagely beating you.

The media had a slightly different take on the situation:

That’s when, the deputy reports, the man became uncooperative, broke free and ran, leading the deputy after him. That led to a struggle during which the deputy was unable to free his hands to call for help.

“That’s when our Good Samaritan came to the rescue,” Sheriff Balaam says. “She observed the violent nature of the struggle and immediately called 911 so that dispatch could advise other responding deputies about the urgent nature of the situation.”

There’s several problems with this interpretation. First, my friend told this hooligan where he lived. His truck was parked there. Why would he run? Where would he go? The only reason this gangster in blue couldn’t reach his radio is because his hands were occupied trying to smash in my friend’s face. If he felt threatened, he could’ve asked my friend to sit down until other officers arrived, and he would’ve done so.

I’m not only sickened by the complete lack of the officer’s ability to control the situation while dealing with a compliant person, but I’m disgusted by the media and the police and the so-called “good Samaritan” damn near breaking their collective arm patting themselves on the back for averting near disaster. Fuck each and every one of you. All you averted was a working-class family man from providing water for his family. Yeah, he had some drugs on him. Did he break an unreasonable law? Yes. Should it be up to the government to regulate what we put into our bodies if we’re not hurting anyone? Fuck no. And should citizens be beaten instead of restrained by incompetent officers? I don’t think they should.

I recognize police have a difficult and dangerous job, but I also think that because of their position, they have a duty to conduct themselves in a professional and civil manner. An officer, like any human, should protect himself when in danger, but I would hope they would be able to discern the difference between a compliant person and an actual threat.

My buddy took it all in stride. Whenever people asked what happened to his face he told them the truth—not such good publicity for the cops. His sense of humor gave birth to the Sand Shovler—a heinous, dangerous deviant who should be avoided at all costs. Beware the Sand Shoveler. Luckily, we have the police to protect us from such horrors.


Laughing to Keep From Crying

It’s been several years since I posted anything new in this blog, and those years have not been easy. I spent some time in jail, I lost custody of my kids, and until recently, made less money than I did when I was ten years younger. I’ve struggled with bi-polar disorder and the drug and alcohol addiction that commonly accompanies it most of my life. Those struggles have changed, and I think I deal with them better now, but I don’t think they’ve lessened much as the years progressed.

It hasn’t been all bad though. During the short time I spent in jail, I forgave my ex-wife and my father, and in doing so put down a heavy, burning hatred I’d been carrying around for far too long. Later, I experienced God in an undeniable way for the first time while attending a church the laws of this land forbid me to, and in that place my broken heart was healed, returning to me the capacity to love. The hardships I’ve endured have humbled me and instilled in me an empathy for those whose accrue a greater share of suffering in this life than most.

The best way I’ve found to deal with life coming apart at the seams is to keep a sense of humor about it all—as much as one can. Believe me, I know there are times when one can laugh about as easily as he or she can shit gold. However, a certain fatalistic gallows humor has served me better than dwelling constantly in sorrow and hopelessness. Things are looking up again: I’m writing, I’m spending time in the dojo, and I’m staying as positive as I can. If you’re reading this and feeling totally fucking hopeless, then I encourage you to hang in there and maybe try cracking a few jokes about the situation most people will probably find in bad taste. What people think matters not, especially if you can find some way to smile, or better yet, laugh.

Doghouse Valentine

Love tattoo

I hate Valentine’s Day, and I’ll tell you why. When I was younger and thought what women said directly correlated to what they meant, I had a conversation with my girlfriend (or was it my wife?) that went something like this:


“Valentine’s Day is coming up,” she said.


“Yeah, I guess it is, huh?”


“It’s stupid. It’s just another day. I think it’s sad that companies try to make it something more than it is in the name of profit. If you’re in love with someone, you should give them gifts and kisses anyway, not just on Valentine’s Day.”


“Really?” Wow, I thought. My love for this person, whom I cannot now remember, seemed to deepen at the time. “So what are you saying? You don’t want to celebrate it?”


“No,” she said. “I don’t think we should support that kind of sham.”


“Well, great. Yeah, I totally agree. Let’s fight back against corporate America in our own small way. We’ll just completely ignore it.”


Now, those of you who are married or have some basic experience with women can see how terribly the naïve young man who was me was being set up. I figured she was speaking in a manner that represented her true feelings, the way I used to speak in relationships. I’ve since gained some subtle filters.


Valentine’s Day arrived, and I ignored it—probably going as far as to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” in a sneering, ironic manner. I thought we were flying in the face of baseless Hallmark holidays. What rebels, I thought. This chick is great.


But she wasn’t great. What she was, was upset. Upset at me for being so inconsiderate as to not even acknowledge the one I love in a simple way on Valentine’s Day. I was even dumb enough to recall our conversation and point out that we’d both agreed to righteously ignore the day. I can’t remember if she gave me a card or not, but that hardly mattered. I had utterly failed the test.


As you might imagine, this soured Valentine’s Day for me from then on. I liken it now to a dirty trick, a “fool me once” kind of scenario. I’d encourage you, young men, to go out of your way on Valentine’s Day (if you want to be happy in your current relationship), and show her how much you love her with over-priced sweets and saccharine cards. As my divorce and general failure in relationships will attest, I’m probably not one from whom you should take advice on how to be romantic. But those same credentials do impart to me a special knowledge you might benefit from: I definitely know how to make a woman unhappy, and skipping cards on V-Day is a surefire way to do it.


Helter Skelter

helter skelter

Ah, feels good to be back in the blog-saddle again. My bipolar seesaw seemed stuck at sea level for a while there. Whenever I’m coming out of a funk, I find myself asking how I got funked-up in the first place. I don’t have cancer; I’m only mildly addicted to huffing paint; I don’t own a Chihuahua. What’s the deal?


I think one huge factor is my thinking, or rather not having proper control of my mind. Our thoughts and intentions create our reality (or at least our perception of reality), and if I don’t stay positive, my brain tends to babble like a hateful little goblin, assuring me that I’m breathing too much of the air that real people need to stay alive. Unchecked, my thoughts create spiraling patterns of negativity that suck me into an invisible abyss. When I emerge, I usually feel like the whole episode could have been avoided if I possessed more discipline. I wonder though.


I know it’s unrealistic, even foolish, to expect to be happy all the time. But I would like to at least even out the peaks and valleys somewhat, find a mental middle ground. I believe I can do this by changing or reducing my thinking, but this is a hard pattern for me to break because I’m flying in the face of a lifetime of negative conditioning. However, I don’t feel like I have any other choice.


I encourage you to smile a little more today, even if you feel like choking the person taking up your vision. Laugh a little more, and try not to take things so seriously. Don’t worry: I’ll grind my teeth enough for the both of us.


What Would Hunter Do…

iPhone Unsorted 042

While watching Where the Buffalo Roam, a movie based on Hunter S. Thompson (who is one of my few heroes), I found myself wondering if I’m being prissy in my writing—bland, emotionless.

I started this blog to demonstrate to potential clients what level of writing ability I possess. In the interest of not driving off would-be customers (and not flinching when I re-read my posts in a year), I try to write well yet still keep my topics and my discussion of them inoffensive. This practice can endanger an artist’s integrity


If I express an opinion, someone in the world will be annoyed or offended by that opinion, or at least convinced I’m a moron (which is not unlikely). However, if I try to please everyone, I’ll produce the “pudding-paste” writing described in Fahrenheit 451. I find myself searching for the line between being an artist devoid of self-censorship (like another of my heroes, GG Allin) and a mousey blogger plinking out letters no one wants to read.


I’ve often wondered if writers possess large egos—after all, they have to answer the question “Why would anybody care what I have to say?” Maybe people care because what’s said is done so in an interesting or poetic manner. No pressure there.


In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter. I enjoy writing, most of the time, and I enjoy sharing my work with people. I suppose I have a certain duty to make that work interesting, and I can only do that by writing truthfully, which doesn’t mean abandoning tact, necessarily.


Thank You

hard hat grad hat

I dropped out of college when I was nineteen. I thought I couldn’t hack it; I was drinking all the time. I thought I was a failure, and maybe I was, but someone close to me went away to prison for life, and I didn’t realize how deeply that affected me until years later.

I went to work right away building air cleaners, then locating utilities, and finally (after a second, weak attempt at college) I began a career in construction. And that’s where I would’ve stayed if the industry hadn’t totally collapsed in this state.

I never gave up trying to write. I wrote short stories and terrible poems here and there, and even sold a couple stories, but I just couldn’t seem to get things going. After my third lay-off in two months, my wife at the time convinced me to do something I swore I never would: go back to school.

So I went. I obtained loans, swallowed my pride, and sat in classrooms with people fifteen or more year years younger than me, trying to relate and learn something at the same time. I learned some stuff anyway.

I graduated this month, thanks to the generous support of my family and friends. I couldn’t have done it without y’all, and I want everyone to know how grateful I am. That scholastic failure that lingered in the back of my mind for decades has been put to rest. I am also grateful to the writing teachers at UNR who gave me the tools to become a better writer—tools I’d likely not have developed on my own. And I want to also thank the Writing Center at UNR, where I was able to further practice my craft while tutoring other students. Lastly, I want to thank the few readers of my blogs and stories—an artist needs an audience, at least this artist does.

I wish y’all a good holiday—stay safe and feel loved.

The Funky Spirits on Planet DMT


DMT (dimethyltrytamine) is a chemical present in mammals, and I think is released in the brain during death. It has been used in spiritual and shamanic ceremonies long before we started worshipping television. I recently had the good fortune to smoke some of this sacrament under the guidance of my most trusted friend.


I smoked several large bong rips before having to hand the works back to my friend, and then proceeded to launch out of my skull like a psychic rocket ship. Swirls of red and pink-checkered patterns enveloped my vision. I had the distinct sense of travelling out of my body. The room disappeared, but I could still hear the documentary on TV (A Band Called Death—a must-see by the way).


I found myself in a large, round chamber, similarly patterned, and I was not alone. There was a sentient presence there that I will forgo labeling. It felt feminine, even motherly, and it embraced me in several red and pink-checkered tentacles.  I felt very safe despite being awe struck. The documentary spoke about revelation, which was perfectly suited for what was happening to me. The best way I can describe it is that I arrived as if by appointment in this being’s office and it (she) chose to show me exactly what I needed to experience in the most direct way possible.


No words were exchanged, though I could hear the screams of hungry babies and the dying on Earth—the ongoing symphony of suffering. Mommy Tentacles placed a mirror before what passed for my body. Whatever emotion or thought I had, I saw reflected instantly in the mirror. If I chose to refuse to forgive, I saw the ugly image of my hate-self reflected in the mirror. I was the creator. I was the originator of reality, not subject to it.


Despite academically “knowing” this before I left my couch to wherever I went, I still choose to feel bad and get down on myself, but seeing myself in that mirror granted an understanding of this principle down to a cellular level. If I want peace and prosperity, I don’t need to struggle for it. Struggling for something creates a struggler in the cosmic mirror. We are energy, and in direct control of what we manifest. The drawback is that negativity is what many of us have practiced manifesting—I certainly have anyway. The vision slipped away and I returned to my living room feeling rested, inspired, and happy. The whole experience couldn’t have lasted longer than 15 minutes.


Was the being pure fiction from my head, assuring me that everything is perfect and there is no need to suffer and fret? Encountering beings is a common DMT experience. Someone I know, who had no knowledge of Buddhism, described to me his experience, which was identical to the Buddha’s description of his enlightenment beneath the Bodhi tree, complete with charging demons. I don’t think Tentacle Mom came from my head; I think I happened along and she gave me a gift to take back with me.


You might think all this is a bunch of hippie craziness. And I don’t really care. I’ve slowed down a bit since then. I feel less urgency in trying to get things done. I’m learning to enjoy the process more. Surely, I have much work to do, but I think I have some freaky fun and cosmically wise mentors to help me along the way.


Are You Smarter Than a Kindergartener?

kinder math

Recently, while “helping” my youngest son with his first semester kindergarten homework, I came across a word problem asking how many bases three cylinders and a pyramid possess. Admittedly, math is not my forte (I might not have a forte), but I can answer that: four.     


            “That’s not right, dad; it’s seven. We learned that in my class.”


            “Seven?” I said. Oh, I get it—they’re (math users, an epidemic) counting each face as a possible base. I counted up the sides and got eleven this time (either it was a rectangular pyramid or I don’t count well, probably the latter). Despite my poor math skills, I know seven is not eleven.


            His teacher hasn’t graded our homework yet, but I’m fairly certain he’s right (I vaguely remember confirming his answer via the Internet.) I thought math was supposed to be logical. I thought bases are on the bottom. Even if I stood on my head, I wouldn’t consider that the bottom of me (some people have made statements to the contrary…) And if I do consider the math top to be the math bottom, shouldn’t I apply that process consistently to cylinders and pyramids? I hate math now more than ever.


            Regardless if my son is right or wrong, this is not a good sign. How am I going to help him with his third grade homework, the quadratic equations? Teach him how to hide the calculator? I can’t say, “What are you going to do? Carry a calculator everywhere you go?” He’ll probably carry a computer in his ear that makes my laptop look like one of those contraptions from the fifties that filled a whole room (but you still couldn’t play Gorf on it).


            I guess that’s what tutors are for. Hell, maybe he can teach me the math I can’t remember.




No Se Nada


I’m from Reno, Nevada. Here in Reno, we have a respectable Latino community, which provides us the opportunity to learn and readily practice a second language: Spanish. I’m trying to learn Spanish, and though I’m terrible at it, I teach what I can to my boys because they are language sponges right now. I wish I were fluent and could instruct them in Spanish, now, while they are so receptive to learning. Zeus knows, it gets harder to learn new languages as one ages (for me, anyway, it was. Is. Read my blog and you’ll see I struggle with English, too.)

I often wonder why, then, people complain about things like Spanish screens on the ATM, or receiving a letter with English on one side and Spanish on the other. Why wouldn’t someone want to increase his or her knowledge, learn another language? I bring this up because it’s a point of contention, and not just at Klan rallies anymore. People really get angry about this kind of thing.

The most prevalent argument I’ve heard is that if someone goes to a country, they should learn the language. I have trouble understanding, though I know it happens, why a person would resist learning the official language of a country—but if he or she does—that’s no one else’s concern. Let them flounder like Americans in a foreign country. English is tough to learn, and writing signs and letters in the native language of what will soon be the majority of people seems like a good idea to me. I know seeing the Spanish beneath the English on a sign helps me better understand Spanish. Many countries have dual languages; I don’t see why a country that prides itself on being a “melting pot” of cultures shouldn’t.

If you are one who gets angry when foreign letters happen across your line of sight, clogging up your ATM screen, or you have to listen, God forbid, to someone to say a few words in another language, you’re probably having trouble reading this anyway. Maybe that’s it: English is so hard for you already, the extra information in Spanish shorts out those last two brain cells struggling to keep your lungs working and you regularly pass out while trying to read.

Don’t feel bad. That happens to me, too, when I do math in my head.