Portrait of a Restless Woman in the Waiting Room of a Psychiatrist’s Office. 

She charges into the waiting room with a pinched face leaned-forward tightness it seems she might tumble from the friction inside of her.

White-skinned wrinkled like an un-ironed dress shirt, hair back that’s still flyaway.
She does this twice.
Chargestumbles in face forward, leading the rest of her body to lean toward the secretary’s office tucked away in a small recess into the left past the old staircase of the two story building.
Just a few steps in.
No more than four – five, max.
It’s like a highly aggressive peer.
I think I hear her say to the secretary that she’s waiting for someone.
It’s a psychiatrist’s office, maybe she has a child in with one of the counselors or therapist’s.

It’s almost as if she doesn’t want to be here, like stepping in too deeply will be some form of forced admittance of an imperfection. 
That’s the usual mentality when you first set foot into a psychiatrist’s office.

I got over that a long time ago.
But you’re still aware that’s what many people must be thinking.
I imagine it must be the way a scientist would feel entering a curandero’s place of healing.
She’s forced to sit so she does and she flips forcefully through the top magazine that lies on the end table.
Each a flip the exclamation of a paper whip. A punishment.
Whip.
Whip.
Whip as she flips through the pages.
It’s literally too fast to glance much less read anything.
In between page whips as she flips, she leans over and looks at the screen of her smartphone.
It’s an impressively aggressive show of passive waiting.
She puts the magazine down, quick turns around to look at the picture on the wall behind her.
Barely registers it.
An impatient sigh the harsh sound of dried leaves being shaken off a dead brittle-husked tree into a pile of chilled fall dirt escapes her.
She cannot sit still.
Now it’s the smartphone she fingers at.
I’m exhausted just sitting beside her. It’s already been a long day.
And now I wonder, is she waiting for someone? Or is she waiting to be seen?
My eyes grow heavy.
I want to fall asleep so badly …
I must remember to bring my headphones next time.

My Time at The Music House.

“What time are you getting here?” the text read. “Ryan’s here and we’re all set up.”

I looked at the time the message was sent. 2:00 pm.

I checked the time on my phone.

It read 3:35 pm.

Crap.

Part 1.

This is a story about a journey, one both literal and figurative – one of enlightenment, of discovering your purpose, of being wronged – and realizing that you were wrong yourself, of communication, of forgiveness, of healing, of honesty, of clarity, of friendship, brotherhood, and rock and roll, of acceptance, and of letting go.

All of this is true.

All of this really happened.

TMH Cover

Thursday, July 14, 2017.

My eyes opened up.

I honestly can’t remember if they opened up on their own, or if it was the frequent chirping of my smart phone notifying me that I had texts roused me. I sat up. I dragged myself up out of bed, staggered over to my phone at its charging station. I had moved that attention-seeking son of a bitch as far away from my bedside as I could since my Major Depression diagnosis nearly three years ago.

It was Marce.

“What time are you getting here?” the text read. “Ryan’s here and we’re all set up.”

I looked at the time the message was sent. 2:00 pm.

I checked the time on my phone.

It read 3:35 pm.

Crap.

Marce was in Austin.

I was in Laredo.

I had told him I’d leave by 8:00 am – 12:00 pm, latest.

That’s a three hour drive, easy – if there were no cops, light traffic, and no construction work. I had a late night the night before. I stood there staring at the phone foggy-headed for a minute feeling like an idiot. I ran the mental checklist of things I still had to do before I left Laredo:

– go to the bank.

– stop by guitar center to see if they more carrying cases for my drums.

– break down my drum set.

– pack them in their cases.

– load them up.

Screw it, I thought. I texted him back, “I just woke up but I’ll get there as soon as I can.” It would be a day wasted. Wasted where I could have been jamming in Austin with my friends who I first started playing with from high school – Marcelino, who we just call Marce, and Ryan.

I had seen Marce recently. We jammed around three years ago. I was able to persuade him to come down once I had convinced the owner of AJs – a friend of mine – to book us a gig. Marce came down twice in one year. We had a blast. We did two impromptu gigs playing his original tunes at my favorite neighborhood bar along with the blues-garage-grunge-rock band I play drums for.

I really wanted to see Ryan. I hadn’t seen him since high school. He was always really chill, with a nice, dry, weird sense of humor. But damn could shred on the axe. I honestly think he was the best of us – and still is. And he’s a technological wizard.

A few weeks before, Marce calls me up. It’s one of those conversations that stretches over a couple of days, switching from text to phone call to Facebook Messenger in some mashup technological blur. For some reason, Marce really wanted to Messenger video chat me or some such techno-babble. That came out terribly, but often I’ve realized modern tech brings out my Cranky Old Man side. Marce tells me he’s going to be in Austin for some time. He’ll be renting a house, Ryan will be coming over, they’ll be taking their instruments over, some basic recording equipment, set up shop, and we’d have three days to simply jam, create, and make music.

I paused, ready to mechanically spout out one of my many excuses as to why I couldn’t go:

– my girlfriend.

– we had to watch her girls.

– I had to watch the house the times my parents would go to visit my sister and her family in Arkansas.

– my father …

But now, for the first time in five years I realized that I had none.

My girlfriend, Lindsey broke up with me due to my behavior a year before, during, and after, the passing of my father ( Major Depression is a bitch), so that freed me up from her and girls. Mom was up in Arkansas with my sister. And my father – well, my father passed away a year ago last April. My brother Tom moved back into the house with his partner. And the day that I could head up was the day after payday. I realized I could. I had nothing holding me back – nothing to lose and everything to gain.

There was only one tiny problem.

The last time I talked to Marce I had told him off.

Really bad.

Twice.

That and I had gotten so pissed, so enraged at him, I had cut off all contact with him since May of last year. But really it began the day after my father passed away from complications due to gall bladder cancer that spread to his liver. My father passed on April 26, 2016.

How did that happen?

Well, that’s a whole other blog in itself.

 

Next week: The Music House Part Two – Three messages, some backstory, and the competitive conflict that breeds genuine artistic creativity.

Repost: My Thoughts on Finishing Another School Year.

That’s it. 
Another school year in the books, another crop of little souls taught, grown, and raised as best I could on their way to young adulthood.

Another crop will be coming, and even though I’m running new plans for the new school year in my head, that’s still two and a half months away.

And no summer school for me.

Time to rest my body and mind and nourish them with other projects and passions.

They were a good group of kids. They always are.

But then again, there are no bad kids.

Let me repeat that.

Let me be clear.

There are no bad kids.

I don’t believe in “bad kids” as a label or a term, same way as I don’t believe in “stupid,” or “dumb,” – just as the ignorant and ill-informed nuns called me at Mary Help.

They didn’t know that perhaps I had mild ADHD, that perhaps I had Major Depressive Disorder – What child had that? Children are simple things. Simple things with simple minds that are meant to be programmed, like robots. If they didn’t comply – they were bad. So, mental illnesses, cognitive impairment? That thought didn’t even cross their mind. The science wasn’t there, the word wasn’t spread. The educators were not educated.

It was basic binary.
Black or white.
Good or bad.

Bad kids – That’s a term coined by dull, lazy adults for children who don’t do as they’re told because what they’re being told to do is either overly-controlling or too simplistic for the child who needs to know the why of a thing, and if explained properly, just might be satisfied with the answers.

That term originates from that same dull dark place in our collective human consciousness where bigotry and racism are birthed. The dark, primitive heart of our minds that recognized only that binary signal that was necessary for our survival as a species when we first set out from Africa those many ages ago – friend or foe, safety or danger, good or bad …

Right and wrong
White and black.
Good and bad.

That is not quantifiable.
That is not measurable.

That was then. We are in the now. There is science. There are studies. The brain is an organ, susceptible to illness just like any other in our bodies.

I believe in mental illnesses that may affect or impair cognitive function.
I believe in minds, spirits, or souls that have been broken, either knowingly or unknowingly, by their toxic parents or guardians who themselves were broken by their parents or guardians, or by traumas far worse and that occur all too frequently.

I believe that every young mind is a puzzle waiting to be solved, in order for that mind to be open to learning. And it takes skill to solve it. It takes patience. It takes cleverness and intelligence and love and care and just a little bit of humor.

But love and caring, compassion and understanding – that is the nourishment that opens up the bloom of the mind for learning.

Trust.

There are no bad kids, there are no dumb or stupid kids, there is only labeling. Labeling by the lazy-minded and the undisciplined, the impatient and the uncreative, trying to box in bland cardboard, the dull slate gray iron bars of a state penitentiary, those things whom are rightly called people. People with minds and souls and hearts and spirits who have their own minds, minds that are deep and complex and that question, minds of people trying to figure out their place in this world, their place in their own skin.

Do you want to know what I did today?

This morning, at around eleven am, forty-five minutes before dismissal,
I rolled out my chair into the hallway, so I could be at eye-level, and I called each of my children – my students – out, by name, one by one.

They stepped outside. I handed them their report card. I shook their hand. I looked each in the eye, and I told them what a pleasure it was to have them in my class, what an honor it was to teach them, to have hopefully showed them something that was actually useful to them, that was worth learning. I told each one of them what I saw in them, their separate eighteen potentials. Seeds that if planted just right – in the right soil, given the right amount of sunshine and water – may just blossom into their best selves, and may in turn, help someone else.

I told them to stick to their strengths, to not give in to their weaknesses, to listen to the goodness I knew that was inside them, and to fight – as we all do – against the darker side of themselves. I told them each that they were special. That they were worth something.

I know some will fail – as I have failed, as we have all failed – but I know many will bounce back. And I know some will not.

I am not a fool. I do not suffer from delusions of grandeur. I know that my influence is limited, that the influence of the Big Bad World is a far greater, far more powerful thing.

I am merely an old fool playing at wizardry, whispering soft spells onto seedlings and casting them into the wind. And hoping …

I have done what I can, and next year I want to do better, to be better – always.

I love my job. I love teaching children. It gives me hope. It gives me purpose. It teaches me humility. And it keeps me young, and connected with the pure, vibrant, simple way that children live, the simple laws of fairness and kindness and equality that they all mostly naturally possess.

It is a fine world to live in. It is a fine thing I feel I do. But I know the truth. It’s not really me. It’s them.

I don’t know what I’d do without my students.

Dispatches from the World of ADHD: Model Building, The Chubby Kid, and the U.S.S. Reliant.

I’ve been in love with her since I first saw her on the big screen as a chubby child, the shape of her, her grace, her build, the elegant curves of her body – a vessel of good, taken over by alien invaders and turned to evil use.

The U.S.S. Reliant.

Her build simultaneously more compact, yet somehow broader, her nacelles an inversion of those possessed by the U.S.S. Enterprise, the imagery foreshadowing the clash of opposites that was to define the film as she went stalking the Enterprise through the murky, psychedelic depths of the Mutara Nebula in what is the best Pre-Kelvin Timeline Trek movie ever.

Her build, like so many other iconic ships, vessels, structures, weapons, aliens, the worlds they come from, their cultures and languages from so many science fiction and fantasy films that spread out in the post-A New Hope Star Wars cinematic world, burned itself into my brain, and stayed there, and for better or worse filled my ADHD head and became my fascination.

I would beg and plead with my mom usually, sometimes my dad, when he was around, to buy me the ships. I would completely lose myself, immersed, as my imagination took over, and I would replicate the soar, the swoop, and the swoosh of those ships that moved so swift and gracefully – a way that I felt I my fat, clumsy-feeling body would never be able to move.

For the past two weeks, I’ve taken advantage of being on my ADHD medication which allows me to begin a task and finish unto completion. I’ve been cleaning out my closet of all the Star Wars and Star Trek toys, memorabilia and paraphernalia in order to make room and deciding which gems I’ll post up on EBAY to auction, and which to keep. As I was doing so I came across two good-sized models: a tie fighter from Star Wars and The U. S. S. Reliant. 

Like many of the toys I’ve kept, I bought this model back in 1999, after the release of The Phantom Menace. As with most things in my life back then, before my medication, the thought of making the model was something I’d Do In The Future, Something I’d Get To Eventually. And with most goals I’d set for myself back then, Eventually never came. But the guilt would come. 

So taking out this model and having it before me with just about a week before I have to go back to work, I figured why the he’ll not.

And I have never built a model in my life. Ever. To me it seemed so difficult, so beyond my skills and abilities as a child, that I would look at other children my age, or their older brothers (usually it was the brothers I saw build models, go figure) in awe like they were Michelangelo or Einstein.

For forty years I always felt like a lazy, incapable, slacker of a loser.

That was before my diagnosis.

That was before being medicated. 

Since then, on my medication for both my depression AND my ADHD, I’ve accomplished so much, and I feel capable and smart now.

And I said I’d build it yesterday – Friday, August 4th. But now I’m researching the best polystyrene cement so I can buy the best one for the job.

So, did I complete today? No.

But I have a plan. And like most things I do these days, having a plan means I’m about 85% done. That makes me feel good.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some more research on model making to do.

cycles, suns. breathing, heal.

we’ve stopped shouting, finally.

the wounds’ barely a memory of a sting, an afterimage of an amputation.

we can bear each other’s company.

and we know we’re solid enough

that we can look at each other and joke,

when people ask us,

“what broke you two up?”

and we reply, “our mental illnesses were simply not compatible …”

 

 

i’ve been thinking about cycles

a lot lately,

of loops

and rings

and circles

spheres

repetitions.

 

i’ve been thinking about this

because i look at the sun.

i’ve been looking at the sun almost every day

this summer.

i made it a point to go outside every day

because i wanted to

because it felt good

because it’s good for my depression

i went outside every day because i wanted to burn,

i wanted to smolder.

twice a day, actually.

baking, in the 3pm one hundred plus Laredo heat

after a workout.

baking, in the evening bathed in moonglow and starshine.

calmed by the swish of my Three Sisters

and the vapors of the Green Dragon

when he visits.

 

but the smoke

and the sighs

and the swish

and the sway

and the heat

beat

me

d

o

w

n

open my mind

up,

and lift me out

of this husk of a shell.

 

so open my mind sees

suns behind my closed eyes

afterimage moonglows

the curve of a fingernail moon.

 

i’m open.

and i think,

 

my father died.

heal.

 

my relationship was destroyed.

heal.

 

i damaged myself.

heal.

 

i damaged her.

heal.

 

to heal is to close something

that was once whole,

complete,

perfect,

after it’s perfection was penetrated and ripped

 

my father was ripped from my heart.

i ripped myself from my girl – well, ex-girlfriend’s heart.

and in this ripping, i was ripped – from myself.

all around the same exact time …

 

so, circles.

 

i sit under stars.

i lay under the sun.

 

and i breathe …

            (love doesn’t save all)

and i breathe …

            (my depression was me and i was my depression)

and i breathe …

            (she was ill – how can i blame her for the things she did when she was ill?)

and i breathe …

            (can i forgive her? yes)

and i breathe …

(can she forgive me? god i hope …)

and i breathe …

            (can i forgive myself? i’m trying, trying …)

 

and i breathe … and with each vapor misted thought,

clarity appears.

 

and i breathe …

            (what is my purpose here, alone?)

and i breathe …

            (is this my role?)

 

and i breathe.

and i look at the sun.

and i look at the moon.

 

do i love myself … ? … yes.

am i good man …? … i try.

do i still love her …? … yes.

does she still love me? i think so

can it work?

no, we’ve said – in tears and laughter, in smiles and hugs.

no.

 

but circles close.

 

and my ex, my little bull, has her own alphabet soup of issues.

and she has bad says.

so i help her.

why? people ask,

their faces wrinkling bitter instantly,

acid etched grimaces

– the facial expressions of hurts past,

scars forever seared into their muscle memory.

 

why?

because love,

because time,

because Alabama Shakes,

because this is who i am.

 

and cycles turn.

suns set and rise.

gravity is constant.

time is relative.

and love can be both –

exactly, unknowingly …

 

and unknowingly

i write this poem

coming around full circle

back to that day,

almost exactly to that day –

one half-year of pure hell and

two and a half broken numb separated pieces 

on the three year

 (goddamngofigurewearealwaysatthenexuswebofserendipidtycoincidencedivineconnection)

anniversary of our world ending.

so now here i stand.

and there she is.

we’ve stopped shouting, finally.

the wounds’ barely a memory of a sting, an afterimage of an amputation.

we can bear each other’s company.

and we know we’re solid enough

that we can look at each other and joke,

when people ask us,

“what broke you two up?”

and we reply, “our mental illnesses were simply not compatible …”

 

the sun sets.

the sun rises.

the wound heals.

cycles come full circle.

something else forms, molded

in the elliptical orbits of our lives.

the sun sets.

the sun rise.

 

and i know who i am now.

i know my role.

 

i am the one that pushes.

the helper,

the one offering suggestions,

the hand on the shoulder,

the encourager,

the nurturer.

i am all-encompassing.

i am love.

 

the sun sets.

the sun rises.

 

and

ouroboros,

eats his tail,

over and over.

again …

reading cycles suns breathing heal
The original version of this poem I read at the Laredo BorderSlam Spoken Word Slam Poetry night, July 27, 2017. I wrote that version in 35-45 minutes while my ex-girlfriend, Lindsey was present – talk about pressure! This was the hardest poem I ever read on that stage -for so many reasons. Once I stepped off the stage, I had the shakes for 30 minutes.

Dispatches from the World of ADHD.

I’m feeling very much in the grip of my ADHD right now, despite taking my medication already two hrs ago. There are six different tasks that I want to do and I’m feeling the pull, or the impulse, to do all of them at once – or at least simultaneously. Which means that they’ll all get done half-assed, or they won’t get done at all.

The root cause of this, I believe, was going to bed late most of the week.

I can’t do that anymore. 

That really bothers me, I do miss staying up late nights, reading, watching movies, writing, but then I’d wake anytime between 12:00 – 3:00pm, and I’d feel horrible: head all fuzzy and out of sorts, suffering a horrible headache, and feeling very cranky.

This was before I started taking my ADHD medication.

So the consequences, for me, completely affected my quality of life. It made my ADHD worse, as well as my Major Depression. This was how I spent the majority of the first forty years of my life. 

So even though I’m medicated, I’m still a bit out of sorts. This is due to the fact that I indulged in two fun – but late nights: Thursday night during the Poetry Slam, then after at On the Rocks Tavern, then Saturday night for my best friend’s birthday party. Both nights I fell asleep between 4:00am – 6:00am. 

I realize now that sleep is truly a precious commodity for me and my brain, especially if I want to make the most of my day creatively. Some of that I attribute to age, some of it to the ADHD and Depression medication I’ve been taking.

There’s so much I want to do. Various passion projects in various stages of completion. I also have work activities to complete. 

As it is, right now, all I feel is a deep and drowsy syrupy pull to nap. I’ve caught my eyes closing on their own accord a couple of times.

But then again, it is summer.

Soon my life will be going through another long myopic tunnel of Have-Tos and Can’t-Waits, Due Dates and paperwork. 

What the hell, thirty minutes won’t kill me.

It is summer after all.

a prayer.

“and this is how i’m thankful.

 

For music – oh god! – for music, the heartbeat of my life.

For writers and poets and dreamers and musicians – for all those who sail the Cosmic Seas.”

 

 

and this is how i heal.

 

body rubbery sprung coiled loose

from jogging from kettlebells from thrusters

from moving every part of this body lent to me temporarily, pushing, pumping, exerting,

… this body that one day will no longer be mine …

until exhaustion.

body sweating from one hundred degrees of Mother Sol’s

insistent reminder that her heat

is love.

that i still live.

and i stop, drained,

sweat pouring out every pore,

pouring out of my body like the(neverendingendlessforeverandeveramen)thoughts my head pores over.

… all fading away …

toxins, please leave.

please leave my body and my brain,

please.

and i’m done so i strip off my shirt

(idontcareanymoreaboutthisbodyofminebecauseivehadthisoldmanbodyofminesinceiwastenbecauseiwasfatbutyouyoudidntcareyoulovedityoulovedmybodyandyoumademecomfortableinmyownskinyoumademeyourmanandifyoulovedmybodymybodythaniamnolongerashamedbecauseyoulovedmybody)

and i lay back,

eyes closed,

offering up my body to her, to Sol in her sky,

my body, in all its perfect imperfection, in sacrifice, in adoration,

surrendering,

earbuds in,

music playing,

breathing in the air,

breathing in the misted smoke

of the Dragon of the Green – when he comes to visit,

under the tender hushing swish

of the leaves of The Three Sisters,

surrounded by their soft calming sighs,

a cold one or two to quench this godawful thirst such heat.

and the sweat and the sun and sighs and the smoke and the songs,

clear everything away,

push everything out,

blessedly blanks my mind,

my eyes closed, my mind open,

slowly, ever so slowly, the openwoundache of loss

of my father, of the life with the woman and the family i thought i was going to have

– the life and the loves that were ripped out of me –

has been filled,

with peace,

with clarity,

with enlightenment,

with understanding,

with hope,

with forgiveness …

 

and this is how i’m blessed.

 

by the radioactive heat of Mother Sol,

burning my burden of bad thoughts away,

of memories i don’t want to remember.

her love, so hard, so forceful, so demanding, i can think of nothing else

(excepthersometimesexceptthelittlebullandcherubimhummingbirdwings).

of the sigh and swish like hurried aunts’ aprons against skirts in a kitchen like memory,

like the soft sweet singing of a mother to her frightened child suffering a fever dream,

shushing me, calming me,

sighing songs,

ancient songs telling of the doomed love of Wind and Leaf

as they forever flirt and swirl and spiral against each other,

but never conjoining,

no blessed consummation of such movements and motions, no,

just the making of musics that have been sung

lifetimes before me, that will be sung lifetimes after i’m

(dust) …

 

and this is how i’m thankful.

 

For music – oh god! – for music, the heartbeat of my life.

For writers and poets and dreamers and musicians – for all those who sail the Cosmic Seas.

For the life and the breath in my body.

For the heart that still pumps fiercely.

For the strength and the power of my muscles.

For my brain and for the love of Word and Rhyme in Time and Story.

For my mother who is fragile but capable of flights of fancy

of mind and music, and her fidgets and her sweet forgetfulness,

the true source of my ADHD, my love of the road,

and with her coloring books – my art.

For my brothers, Tom and Mario,

who gave up their lives for me

and came back to The Last Homely House,

and with their quiet calm, gentle magics, weaved a net of safety and sage

with spells and incantations and appeals for blessings from the Good and the Just,

protecting this old home from evil and the acid decay of negativity.

For young poets, old friends, and the young children i teach,

who fill my days with the silly joys of youth,

and the worries of growing up to soon in a place where one choice can mark them forever.

For my true friends who have stood by my side,

making music, making jokes,

for my fragile Guardian Angel, who’s resilient and harder than granite, but slight like bamboo.

For these angels who check up on me,

who keep me going,

who keep me writing,

who keep me writing,

who keep me writing,

and worried,

and happy …

and, happy.

 

and this is how i live

 

day by day, asking for nothing,

looking for everything,

going into doors that open,

saying yes to everyone who asks,

by giving of myself what i can, what i have left,

one eye peeled for silver lunch trucks and porcupine neckties,

while the other tries to keep myself in check,

while my angels try and keep me in check.

for friends I love who truly love me for me.

such good people, such sweet people …

… how can one broken mad old fool be so blessed …?

 

and this is my prayer,

 

that i reflect upon every night.

this is my sword and my shield.

this is my mantra,

my talisman against the Dark.

 

and this is how i go on …

sun worship