Monday, May 31, 2010


My husband doesn’t like to talk about music. He’ll keep John Coltrane a secret. He’ll tell you he has never heard of that Leonard Cohen song. And if you insist on Johnny Cash, he’ll just gently and very politely close the door. You will never hear him make a comment about music or God. He won’t trash Lady Gaga in public like I do. He will not praise Miles Davis in the presence of people. He thinks people sometimes get wrapped up in their opinions about music and as a result, the music itself gets lost.

Our music taste also differs. My music taste is eclectic. His taste doesn’t have a label. Don’t get me wrong, my husband loves music, but his love is private. When he came to this country four years ago, he brought 7 books, 3 music CDs,  10 music cassettes, and some clothes in a suitcase. He placed his books in the bookshelf. He placed his clothes in the closet with mine, but he stashed away his music in a box. He tells me I’m always welcome to listen to his music, but sadly, I don’t like some of his music.

When I go on and on about music, he listens to me patiently. He loves that I’m passionate about music. In fact, he supported my love of music by buying me an ipod for my birthday. He taught me how to download music (legally) from the internet. He even bought me a kick ass set of headphones. He is tolerant with me on weekends when I play a Nina Simone song and then immediately after that, some Jarocho music.

Since we don’t share the same taste in music, I’m slowly collecting musical stories of our life together. My husband does not like to listen to music with other people, not even with me, but many years ago, we listened to Lhasa de Sela together. Not even John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme has managed to achieve this gathering. I think it was Lhasa’s voice that brought our music taste together. And one day when I was stuck in dark woods of my depression, I asked my husband to sing one of his favorite songs:

(cuentame otra vez cuantas sirenitas se llevarón a Alfonsina)

Cinco sirenitas te llevarán
Por caminos de alga y de coral
Y fosforescentes
Caballos marinos harán
Una ronda a tu lado

Y los habitantes
Del agua van a jugar
Pronto a tu lado.

My husband and I are a couple without a love song or any other song. We will never say:

Honey! They’re playing our song!

At our tiny wedding, there was no Moondance. There was no Casiopea. 

In this collection of musical memories of our life together, I’m discovering silent songs. Today, when my husband rode his bike to the beach, he came back with a white little rock. He placed the rock on my hand and told me:

Mira lo que te traje.

We share silent music. 

(On June 17, 2010 my husband and I will attend our first "official" music concert together. The musician  we are going to hear had difficulty getting a visa to perform in the U.S.  He is from Cuba).  

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Japanese man, goodbye...

I traded my 1998 Honda Civic for a Volkswagon bus. It's light blue. A piece of sky on wheels.

When I got in my new VW bus, I couldn't distinguish the brake from the gas pedal, a problem I've had since I started driving. Perhaps I don't know when to go and when to stop. Maybe is just the going I fear.

From my VW bus window I could see pick-up trucks falling from the sky. Red ones. Green ones. I saw a Doris Day woman in a pink pick-up truck screaming for help. She knew her life was going to end once the truck hit the ground. I saw a family inside another pick-up truck. They were banging on the windows, crying for help. Then, I saw him, a calm and collected Japanese man in his truck. He was falling too, but he was not afraid to die. He wore black rim glasses from the 1950s. He wore a white shirt and a black tie. He turned to me, smiled, and waved goodbye. I waved back.

Goodbye, Mr. Japanese man, goodbye...

The above is another dream I had this week.

The video below is a TV car commercial I watched years ago in a laundromat. Since I don't have a TV set, I'm easily attracted to the light and the colors of the screen. It feels like seeing fire for the first time. The song and the woman's voice caught my attention too. Oh, and I didn't give a rat's ass about the car.

Saturday, May 15, 2010



I found my neighbor's dog in my living room. I didn't really know how this tiny, white Chihuahua managed to end up in my place. He was cold and scared. I didn't have a blanket to keep him warm, so I went to the kitchen and got a pot. I filled it with water. Then, to warm up the water, I put the pot on one of the stove's burners. I turned it on. I gently submerged the dog in the liquid. I heard Greg, my neighbor, calling for his dog. I ran out of the house to tell him the Chihuahua was safe with me. We went to the kitchen to get the dog, but to my dismay, the water was boiling, with doggie inside. I removed the the burning hot and wet dog and held it in my arms, feeling guilty and stupid, I screamed.

My husband and I went to the local train station to purchase roundtrip tickets for our summer vacation. The name of the destination doesn't really matter. We had chosen that place for its gigantic watermelons and honeydew melons that grow in the summer. As we waited in the long line, we talked about children. We talked about children because we watched a little, annoying brat cry in the station. When we see annoying children like this little Mussolini, we fill our heads and hearts with a strange mixture of arrogance and gratitude and give thanks to the Buddha for choosing not to have children (we don't know who else to thank). Unfortunately, my husband decided to share some secret information with me. He chose the long line to make this confession:

He has seven children: six children living in Mexico and one child in California.

I reacted strangely to shocking news. I didn't cry. I didn't scream. I numbed myself.

I didn't really care about his children in Mexico. I was curious to know about his child in California. When?! How?!

It turns out my husband had an affair when he came to this country in 2006 with a girl named Susie. They had a son.

In a matter of seconds my husband became a strange man. The man I married one February morning, the man who makes me an omelette with broccoli and corn every morning, the man who loves to place his hand in my sweatshirt's pouch was gone. Así nomas. Se fue.

Filled with numbness I stood in line imagining the watermelons bursting, exposing their sweet, red flesh to the hot and dry summer.

The written content above is a recording of my dreams from Thursday and Friday night. It has been a long time since I had "vivid" dreams. I won't analyze these dreams. I’ll just expose them to the air like Tibetan prayer flags. I do admit I woke up feeling mad at my husband. I even woke him up to ask him about Susie.

There is no Susie.

I used to have a recurring dream with Glenn Gould. In my dreams his fingers played an ocean instead of a piano. His fingers produced violent ripples and splashes of water, thus, releasing beautiful music. Glenn Gould has been away from dreams for quite some time. If you see him in your dreams tell him I want him back.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

naranja dulce, limón partido para mi madre

Today is Mother’s Day. Here are some random thoughts about my mother and I:

1. When I had a cold,  my mother used to clip a handkerchief to my sweater and wrapped a pañoleta around my head. This made me an incredibly happy child.

2. My mother almost died when she gave birth to me. Years later, during one of our many fights, she told me I continued to kill her a little every day.

3. Growing up, I saw little of my mother. She was a migrant worker. She left every spring and returned home every fall. She came back home on the day I made sure I didn’t step on any pebbles on my way home from school or on the day I kept my fingers, tongue, and eyes crossed for a long time, or on the day I continuously said the magic words: please come home, please come home, please come home, please come home, please come home, please come home...........

4. I didn’t learn to read until I was in second grade. Reading didn’t make sense to me until the day she sat me on her lap and read me a book. She never read to me another book, but that enough for me to fall in love with books.

5. Unaware of my presence, one of my mother’s friends told her that of all her daughters, Carmen, my sister, was the prettiest. My mother nodded in agreement.

6. Accidentally, she ran over my dog with my father’s Grand Torino. She didn't apologize.

7. Once, after not seeing each other for a long time, she sent me a Greyhound one-way ticket  home. I was in deep shit and hungry. I got on the first Greyhound bus immediately.

8. Years after graduating from college, my mother told me she was disappointed in me because I was a communist, a feminist, unmarried, and penniless.

9. When I finally got my first apartment, I told my mother I was leaving home because I didn’t want to take care of her when she was old and frail. I wanted a life of my own. A year later, I ended up in the hospital for three weeks. She took care of me the whole period.

10. On the way to a panaderia in Modesto, California, I told my mother I didn’t love her. She cried nonstop. I was 10 years old. Perhaps I should have said I don’t know how to love you instead. We still don’t know how to love each other.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

life map

I had a life plan:

I was going to be a physical therapist.
Heal anterior cruciate ligaments and rotator cuffs.
Buy a house.
Marry a guy named Michael or Pedro or Hakim.
A Jacaranda tree would have been nice.

I don't know when or where my plan changed.

I think it was the afternoon I read Araby.
Maybe my Dr. Martens are to blame.
Or my bob with a Madonna bow.

Perhaps it was the Los Angeles river  that flows on a concrete channel.
The Oxnard strawberry fields I had left behind.
The long bus ride from Seal Beach to ugly Wilmington with the smell of bleach on my hands.
My walkman playing How Soon Is Now? over and over.

Was it the encounter I had with the man from Pakistan?
His letters from Karachi.
The unheard prayers to Allah in the City of Angeles.
The candles to the Lady of Guadalupe at Plaza Olvera.

Was it the downtown streets of a L.A?
The midnight heroin boys.
The homies from East Los dancing cumbia with the dead.
The taco stand on Broadway and 7th selling tacos de lengua perdida.

The long wait for the Greyhound bus to take me home. 

 I took a photograph of one of the few childhood photographs i have of my siblings and self. The shortest girl is Trying (circa 1967).

My husband on his first day of kindergarden. I met him in April, 2001. I married him in 2006.

My father.

My husband wearing his German Boy outfit.
Maria, my grandmother.