Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snappy Crotch Kicks Take On Black Market



Description
There is good music, there is great music, there is bad music, and there is badass music, we are BADASS!!!
Band Interests
Drinkin, Smokin, Fuckin, and being somewhat of a bastard, set to music!!
Artists We Also Like
The Clash, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Rancid, Black Flag, The Descendants, NOFX, Ol' Dirty Bastard

This is what you see when you go to Snappy Crotch Kicks page. I was unsure of what to expect when seeing their show at Black Market, a bar in the Cincinnati area which hosts live music, much of it, local talent. It’s located on a slope across from The Lowbrow Palace, a prominent local live music venue. As you walk inside Black Market, low ceilings give the place a basement like feel. The black walls, well they don’t help, but it supports local art shows and has a large patio that makes up for moments of possible claustrophobia.
Tonight we’re here to see the Snappy Crotch Kicks play. They’re the last show of three bands. It’s 12:00am and everyone has a good buzz going. A tall girl in a short, short, red dress is trying desperately to be looked at. She is pretending to be a lesbian with a more than willing chubby friend in the corner. The chubby friend smiles, rubs red dress’s leg, and looks around hopefully, but no one is looking.
The Snappy Crotch Kicks are setting up as we take our seats right in front of them. Daniel and my two faithful friends Nacho, and Sarah have accompanied me in my journey of writing about the El Paso music scene. Tonight, Nacho and Sarah look at me with a little trepidation because neither of them has an appreciation for rockish music, loud heavy guitar and both tend to get a furrow between their brows and head for the bar. I smile reassuringly, although I’m not sure what to expect.
The Snappy’s are just about done setting up and the lead singer Nathan Zeller introduces the band. He seems brash in the way a punk band leader should be, and later in the week when I meet with the band he is brash, answering my questions with the same stage persona I witnessed at Black Market. When I ask where the name Snappy Crotch Kicks came from he answers, “Basically, it’s me and a friend cutting each other down. He called me a faggot sex priest, and I told him I’d give him a snappy crotch kick. It came out of joke.” The rest of the band, Tony Buonvino, Gabe Escandon and Angel Gonzalez agree laughing. Gonzalez, the drummer and founding member along with Zeller, tells, “Yeah, he came to me and said, ‘I got a name the Snappy Crotch Kicks, you wanna join up?,’ and that’s how we got started.”
The band gets started and their influences are readily apparent. Under genre on their Facebook page they list “Rowdy Rock” and they are true to their genre. Bands that come to mind are NOFX and a lighter version of Black Flag. They interact with the crowd and during one song Zeller falls on the floor bent back from the knees. It makes me uncomfortable knowing the feeling of over-stretching your body as he’s bent at the odd angle, but the crowd cheers and obvious off-duty soldiers jump and bump against each other to the music in a small make-shift mosh pit.
This seems like a long way from how the Snappy’s got started. The band has been together since 2003 and, the start was a meager one, but Zeller and Gonzalez, made the best with what they had, an acoustic guitar, an electric drum set, a computer, and one microphone. Since then, they’ve had members that have come and gone, but now it is the four members with Escandon, and Buonvino, being the newest member, who began his relationship with the Snappy’s as a fan.
When asked what the transition was like, “It was really cool, obviously, one of those things, if you dig a band, especially a local band here in El Paso. It’s hard to find somebody who’s playing some kind of music with real feeling rather than getting up there and they’re like ‘Hey look at us’. It seems like a lot of bands are doing something like that. You know, but these guys have a lot of feeling to it and you can tell they're into it and giving it their all.” Going from a fan who listened to their music to being on stage with them now, is something that is apparent in his playing. Buonvino smiles as he plays and smiles bigger when the military boys in front of him bounce against one another. This is the moment where he is a part of the machine that is Snappy Crotch Kicks.
At any show I can’t help but look around at the crowd and the people here are feeding off the energy that the Snappy’s are providing. Gonzalez is sweaty and drumming as if his life depended on it. Escandon, attentive but quiet during the interview, plays with the same silent intensity. The four together are an addition to the El Paso scene. Their sound is something that has been developed through a process Gonzalez describes when talking about the El Paso music scene, “I respect all the musicians in El Paso, because there was times when I started out, and everything is a process, you know what I mean? You just don’t come out with songs out of nowhere, it takes time, years. It takes looking like fool and going out and putting your whole soul on the line.” This is apparent in how they play and the fans here at Black Market are feeding off it.
They end their set close to 2am. Everyone is more than a little buzzed including the Snappy’s as several fans bought them shots in between songs. As they tear down their gear the people who had been jumping and bumping mull around them and sometimes get in their way as they start to carry their equipment out. But, that’s okay, because they’re the Snappy Crotch Kicks, smoking, drinking, fucking, fucking, bastards.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Royalty Rock The Lowbrow Palace



            "Their sound is like tantan tan tan tantan, right?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well you know how The Strokes sound like tantantan tantan taran? They seem to have
that tantan tan tan tantan sound in their songs."
"Oh?" I wasn't sure I understood.
"It's not bad. I mean all bands have their sound, you know?"
"Oh, right. I get it."
Daniel and I walked up the steep hill of Robinson Ave. in the Cincinnati District. The night noise of passing by cars, disembodied laughter, and music overflowing from doorways surrounded us. Cinci, as everyone calls it, is one of the nightlife areas in El Paso, and tonight we came to see The Royalty.
We walked away from The Lowbrow Palace where we had just seen the band. Lowbrow is one of the handful of venues where you can see local bands, budding touring bands, and well-known bands. Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem and Kinky will soon play there.

Tonight VRNS and Fever opened for The Royalty.  I struggle to remember which band was which. Fever was very Mana pop rock en Español, and VRN, well I did not like. They were too loud and the industrial NIN meets Yelle was too much for the small cave like interior of Lowbrow. Aside from the fact that everything looked pre-recorded, the drummer drummed lightly, the singers high pitched singing made my ears tingle in a way they didn't like.
Daniel gestured through the loudness that he wanted to smoke, his two fingers held like a peace sign to his lips, I simply shook my head and pointed to the space we were in. I didn't want to lose the space we had secured. The Royalty was next.
When they finished their set we both sighed, the tiny hairs in our ears relieved to stop vibrating from the noise.
"That was no bueno," he said to me shaking his head.
"Yeah, but it's over. The Royalty is next and you'll like them. You'll see," I nodded and
re-nodded my head reassuringly.
"How many times have you seen them?"
"This is the third time. Last two times were at Tricky Falls, but we weren't that
close."
"What do they sound like?"
"I don't know, kinda No Doubtish, but not all of it, like their first album, Tragic
Kingdom, kinda. Retro Pop-y New Wave-yish? With a slash of rock? I don't know," I said
scratching my head, "you'll see in a bit."
The stage is nestled in the corner and rises in levels in an uneven stadium seating type style. People stand around the small areas. The cave like feeling comes from the rock walls and knowing the stage sits in the corner of what now is a dugout basement. People mull around as the band sets up, secures places, grabs last minute drinks, and bathroom breaks. I always have a couple drinks at shows, but never so many I have to go to the bathroom while the band I came to see is playing. I've never understood people who get so drunk they don't remember the show, leave in the middle to go to the bathroom, or for a trip to the bar. Only when I'm not into the band will those trips be made. When I like a band, I want to hear the music, and feel the notes as they pulse through my system, and right now I'm waiting for the The Royalty.
They quickly set up as more and more people gather around them. They are have been touring all over the country, Canada, zipping up and down to and fro, but now they're home, and it seems home is giving them a warm welcome as the people scramble to find a place to stand.
"Hello El Paso, it’s good to be home," Nicole, the lead singer says into the mic. Her voice is sweat, breathy, and genuine.
The audience claps and cheers, happy they are home too. That's the thing about El Paso; we feel the success as an extension of the city. The Royalty is sprinkling a little bit of El Paso everywhere they go, and now they are home.
"We're just gonna get right into it."
She says into the mic and they do get right into it. The band consists of five members. Nicole is the voice fronting four guys, Jesus on guitar, Mike on bass, Daniel on keyboards, and Joel on drums. At times when she sings on the small stage the guys seem to overwhelm her with their drumming and riffs, but then her voice belts out and you know that it’s just them. It’s their way of drawing you, seducing you, so before you know it your body is rocking to music.
In the crowd I watch as those closest to the stage hop and writhe to the music. Even those farthest from the stage rock their bodies back and forth. I’m standing up on the black leather seat of the booths lining the walls, a birds-eye view overlooking the band, and the crowd as they interact. The Royalty plays, gives with each song, and the crowd takes as they dance and scream, sing along to their songs.
Maybe it’s because they’re home, or maybe it’s because it’s the end of a tour that’s kept them away from home for a while, from theirs wives and dogs, boyfriends, and significant others, or their own bed, but they really play. The drummer, Joel, nursing a cold, coughs turning his head to the side in between songs, but powers through by taking sips from an amber glass to soothe his throat. This is the best part of show, where everyone loses themselves, and the band and the crowd have a relationship, even if just for a night. They bring us up, high; take us down, but just a little, because it’s the finish that counts. The end of the show has to end in a certain way, the fan, excited, wanting more but satiated.

And when the show ends? We leave wanting more but happy, glad to have been their final show for a bit, here at home.

“So, did you like the show?” I ask before taking a drink of water.
It’s after hours and we’re at Star Kitchen at a late night trendy diner.
“Yeah, it was good. They are a very cool band. It’s even cooler they are from here. I would see them again. For sure,” Daniel says nodding his head.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bread

Have you ever bitten into a piece of bread and let it turn into a big ball in your mouth? The mixture of saliva and bread is pushed against the roof of your mouth into a doughy ball. As you try to chew it makes it difficult to swallow because the bread absorbs the excess saliva and  for a second it's hard to breathe as it continues to cling precariously to the concave flesh roof.

Trying to break the doughy mass into pieces seems out of reach as you continue to try to make a an air pocket between you and the bread, as you push your tongue against the back of your front teeth. And just when you are about to reach into your mouth, with your fingers to pull the doughy mass that feels like it's about to kill you, it comes free.

You chew it tentatively, then a little more excited because you're free of the bready mass. You chew harder because for some reason you are angry at the bread for making you feel as if you are about to die. When you swallow you are a little sad, because you realize it wasn't the breads fault. It was your fault for making a ball and pushing it against the roof of your mouth. The bread didn't do anything out of character. That's what bread does. It absorbs.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rocka on the Music


A Conversation with Alex aka “Rocka”: Ex-drummer of Mexicans at Night current drummer for Los TraQues

Y: How long have you been in the El Paso music scene?
R: Not even that long, like thirteen years.
Y: Thirteen years? Okay, how do you think it’s changed from where you started to now?
R: It hasn’t really changed. Has it?
Y: It hasn’t changed at all in thirteen years?
R: No, I mean it hasn’t. I mean the kids did get new stuff and everything, but you know, they got new DJ stuff and all sorts of other stuff, but yeah the scene hasn’t changed. Nothing’s happened. I mean before there were a lot more original bands. Now there are a lot of posers.
Y: What do you consider an original band?
R: A band that doesn’t play covers.
Y: And posers, you used that word, what is that? What is your definition of a poser?
R: Cover bands.
Y: So—
R: There’s a lot more posers. A lot more cover bands. And, not enough support for original bands, because, there was a lot more venues in the past. A lot more venues that catered, Wildhairs, La Tuya, The Attic, The Regal Beagle, there was just a bunch of places.
Y: And now there’s not as many places?
R: Not for original music, no.
Y: So how many venues do you think there are now? What are good venues in El Paso, now?
R: There’s places like Lowbrow, House of Rock, but now a lot of places just have cover bands because that’s what makes bars money. A lot of places don’t pay original bands to play. A bar owner won’t pay if they don’t make enough money, you know, but then what happened to those original bands? Cause if I go in there and play three fucking hours of Mana, they’re gonna fucking pay me, but I’m not gonna do that, you know?
I’d like to see venues be more supportive of original bands. There’s a lot of changes that people, places should do, a lot of things, from the business side, to the managers, to the bands, you know?
Y: What about the sound though? If you just focus on the music? What do you think is different about the sound of music here versus other cities? Because we are different.
R: Well, because we’re really isolated you know, and then we have Juarez right there and everybody refuses to see that it’s a huge influence. And it is a huge influence, a giant influence you know? Because you know we have so much original stuff here, because of it. You just can’t write anywhere else, you know? We used to go to L.A. and play there all the time, and they would, just the lingo alone, they would try to be like us, you know? Everybody tries to be like us. Nobody knows what it is. Everybody—
Y: Tries to be like you how? Tries to be like the music how?
R: Like, El Paso style. It’s because El Paso is a very organic city. Kids have a bunch of fuckin’ technology and pedals and a bunch of shit, but deep down inside it’s a very organic city, a lot of us, not me per say, but a lot of us learned guitar through your uncle. Stuff like that, from around the family, so it’s a very, you know, you just know because you know it. You play it because you love it, you know? So, nobody expects to get big in this city, nobody, everybody does it because they love it. In L.A. everyone expects to get fuckin’ big. They want a contract, they want this, they want that. But, here man, nah, everyone just makes a fuckin’ band to play, and sometimes it gets attention and they look at it from other places.
Y: What is about music at its core that still interests you?
R: I don’t know, you know? I’ve played music for so long, it’s taken a lot from me, and it only gives back a little. It’s like that girlfriend you can’t get rid of, you know? You don’t want her sometimes but she keeps coming back, and then when you play a show, it’s like make up sex and you remember, “That’s why I love her.”
I don’t know. I guess… It’s when you’re playing music with a lot of people, like with a band, and you start a show and it starts like this (holds hands far apart) and then it gets tighter and tighter and tighter (moves hands closer and closer) it just becomes a little ball, you know? And it just becomes your own little world, right there (hand in a clenched fist). And everything is floating; you know what I’m saying? Time is just like, it belongs to you now. I get a little rush off of that. I think sometimes, I think that’s the only reason that I do it.
Y: Do you ever feel that way when you listen to other people’s music?
R: No.
Y: It’s only when you’re playing?
R: Yeah.
Y: What music do you think has inspired your music?
R: Holy Shit, a lot. Like a lot. Like a lot of music. Like a lot, a lot. I pick little shit from, fuck man, shit from Veracruz, shit from Seattle, Colombia, anywhere you know?
Y: If you had to be specific though? Artists that you’ve listened to, or dissected, closely.
R: Well everybody likes the rock n’ roll stuff, you know?
Y: Rock n’ roll like what?
R: Well you know I’m a grunge kid. But, then again, you live in El Paso, so like, you have your connects with, uh, Juan Gabriel and all these other people, from your mom and stuff you know? So, yeah, it’s like, uh, toof toof (makes a mixing gesture with his hands), a freakin’ Kurt Cobain Antonio Aguilar kinda combination you know?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

ForWord Writing Prompts

Today I had the ForWord writing workshops at Glasbox Studios. The class was small, intimate. I participated with the young authors in the writing prompts I'd created for them called, "What Happened?"
I gave them a sentence and they decided what would happen to the characters situation. Here is what I managed to write. I'm posting without editing.

I wish I could  have kept some of the stories they wrote from the prompts because their talent continues to awe.

Prompt ·         While I was pumping gas a man came up to me.
 

I had been driving for two hours. Only one more to go and I would reach my destination of Austin, TX. I hadn’t seen Lori for six months, and now we going to enjoy a weekend in Austin. It was dusk, that time of day where the light and the night meet half way in the sky. My gas gauge was a little less than halfway. Although I didn’t want to stop, I knew I had too. Austin traffic could be murder and the thought of being stranded on I35 was not something I even wanted to imagine.
As I pulled off the highway and onto the axis road I saw my only option was a desolate small town gas station. I hated these. They made my skin crawl and the color of my tan skin seemed even darker compared to the gas attendant that talked to me through brown stained dip teeth and worn baseball cap. They looked at me suspiciously as if I would steal or my tan skin would rub off.
No bathroom break, I would pay at the pump to avoid this. The pump handle was caked with grease and I hesitated to touch it. I shook my head. I was only prolonging my stay. I punched the numbers and watched at the numbers ticketed the money I would owe. $25.46 $25.47 $25.48 $25.49
                “Excuse me, ma’am?”
                I had been so engrossed in the numbers I hadn’t seen the small dwarf walk towards me.

Prompt  ·         When he woke up the dead dolphin was there.


The light streamed in through the curtains. Tiny slivers of light cast directly over my eyes, taunting them awake. My body fought hard, needing more sleep, but the light won the battle. I blinked my eyes awake. Sleep making them sticky and difficult to keep open. Then the smell hit. My nosed twitched in an attempt to identify what it was that overwhelmed my room. I sat up quickly only to find there was a weight holding me down. I tried to shake my head, to wake up, to figure out what was going on. I finally saw that I was not in my room. Surrounding me was blue. Deep blue going on and on forever and ever. It was water. I was in water. Algae and pebbles, mounds of sand going on and on. It looked like the ocean. I was in the ocean. How did I get in the ocean? Was I breathing? What was the smell? Was I smelling ocean? Tiny particles danced in front of me as I finally lifted myself off the ground. My head ached. I looked down and saw my body covered in a black suit. How did I get in a black suit?
Then it came to me. I had been scuba diving. The light was from the sun above. I looked down at my gauge and saw that my air was almost out. What happened? In a daze I tried to push my way up. I felt weak, my limbs swayed like the seaweed. As I floated paddled to the top, red waves surrounded me. I couldn’t stop to think if I was hurt. I looked down once more and saw her there, a dolphin with my spear through her middle. Her eyes were dead, but they still stared at me. Accusing. The red surrounded me even more and the smell, a smell; I knew was not there came with it.

Prompt ·         Mom, don’t throw that knife!

“Mom! Don’t throw that knife!” I yelled in a high voice.
It was difficult to keep the sound of desperation in my voice, because really, I just wanted her to throw it already. The ties on my wrists were tight. The lights were bright. I could feel the weight of the make-up caked on my skin. No one liked to be tied spread eagle. But, the show was packed tonight and that meant we had to let the energy in the crowd build. We would feel the right moment as the energy moved in waves across the room across all of them and finally onto us. Then she would throw the knife.
“Mom! Don’t throw the knife!” I yelled with more force. I yelled from my belly that was tightly girdled. She hesitated still. Her hand trembling in exaggeration.
“And now, the Magnificent Lily will throw her murderous daggers at her very own daughter! Will she hit the apple off her head? Or will she miss??”
Fred the ring master held out the ssss on miss. His voice slithered like a snake, like the snake that he was that is. We had to make sure we had the right amount of our cut after every show. He was sneaky like that.
The audience cheered. Roaring. Sometimes I thought they wanted her to miss.
“Mom, throw the knife!” I yelled again making eye contact with her. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

For the Love of Art

I heard something beautiful said about art today. When I say art I mean every part of it, all encompassing, music, the written word, murals painted onto the concrete giants that hold highways up, Dali hanging in a museum of art, the guitarist playing on a street  corner....

"When you look in the night sky, you see a million stars.
                                                    They are all there, seemingly blinking.
 At times one looks brighter than the other, but in reality the stars are all working together, that's what art is."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grateful for Sunday's

sunday's have become the day i look forward to all week. they are the days that i have nothing planned. that i use to recharge because by saturday my red light is blinking in warning.

sunday's i sleep in late. i wake from a sleep so deep and heavy it's as if my bed, with it's thick gold comforter and numerous pillows have wrapped around me in a warm embrace. i'm surrounded by warmth and an arm that reaches for me while dreaming in the middle of the night to pull me closer.

half the day is spent in this overstuffed bed. only rising because the rumbling in our stomachs demands it. this afternoon? spinach and mushroom omelet with a garlic cheese middle, roasted potatoes, two strips of crispy bacon, steaming french press coffee and  homemade agua de sandia.

the rest of the day is spent in the living room. it's a carpet camp out. coffee table pushed to the farthest part of the room. blankets and pillow stretched out and puffed up in a makeshift bed. i can watch the shows from the week. nap. work a little so tomorrow won't be overwhelming, but just a little. snuggle deep in the fluffy blankets. now that it's cold? it's a sunday blanket cave we only leave if we have too.

and for the rest of the day? i don't think we have to...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Celebrate Estylo Frontera Bugalú

September 1, 2012

The pleasure of your company 
is requested at the marriage of

Amy Ann Porras
to 
Brandon Alejandro Ayala

Dance & Celebration 
Nine O'Clock in The Evening 
Grace Gardens
6701 Westside Drive
El Paso, TX 79932


The church nestled on the far Westside. The service, beautiful and filled with tears. The tears that glimmer and make eyes overly shinny as they hang, precarious on the edge of the bottom lid, before one spills over and glides gently down cheeks flushed with happiness.

After, a certain sigh of relief as all the well wishers crowd around the newlyweds showering them with hugs and kisses, lip stick imprints and pats on the back. The sun is shining, warm. Small beads of sweat are added accessories to the court and guests as they linger in front of the church. Next?

The pictures. Downtown El Paso. Surrounded by The Camino Hotel, The Museum of Art, and the breath of the southwest. 
        "Smile!" 
        "Okay! Parense asi. Close close. Y muñequita aca en frente."
        "My feet hurt."
        "It's hot."
        "It's so hot."
        "Is it always this hot here?"
        "Yes, girl!"


9:00pm
The father daughter dance. The son mother dance. The couples first dance.The dollar dance. The dance. 

      "Since Amy and I began planning this day, we knew that we had to have this band play for us and for you. We hope everyone enjoys their music as much as we do, Frontera Bugalú!"  Brandon said as he stood in front of the family, friends, and well wishers all there to be a part of their moment.

       "Estamos aqui para celebrar la union de Amy y Brandon. Les deseamos felicidades a la pareja en esta nueva vida. Y a bailar!"

The music starts. The rhythm bouncy. The kind of bouncy that has shoulders swaying, guests dancing in their chairs, as hips swing on the dance floor. The accordion player, also the singer, sways his head and rocks his body as fast as his fingers move across the keys.

Timid dancers make their way to the floor, but in seconds match the incessant rhythm. The numerous members of the band combine their chaotic strums and drums to make hips swing left right left in a sinuous circular motion. They dance too, as if the beat created is too much even for them to contain.

The floor? Now packed. Couples move back and forth against one another. Hands clasped and released only to be pulled tightly against one another. Moving. Swinging. Swaying. Around one another, away, and back. The beat, infective. Children move on the outskirts of the dance floor. Little girls try to pull their crushes to the floor, dance, then run away blushing. The bride and groom? Moving between guests, smiling and hugging, stopping to dance with one circle of people, moving on, but still keeping time with the music.

         "Y la que sige, se llama "La Murga" a moversen!"

The beginning similar, a moment to catch a breath, before it starts all over again Moving. Swinging. Swaying. Glistening sweat slickened bodies move in unison, become a living embodiment of the notes and strums, the beat of conga drums in celebration.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fragments of Mom and Ita



Fragments of Mom and Ita

1.        1. A running joke, “Ya se te olvidó que tienes, Mamá,” has morphed into a fond memory. My family, a group now consisting of my mom, my sister, and my uncle, has turned the phrase into one of standard family sayings. A repeated phrase, when you haven’t called someone in a couple days, “Ya se te olvidó que tienes hermana?”, “Ya se te olvidó que tienes hija?” etc. The use of the phrase began with my grandma, Ita. She called my mom on a daily basis.

2.        2.      “Who’s calling? I asked.
We watched a movie in my Mom’s room, my eight year old body curled on my side towards my Mom. It was one of the few days she was off from work. We still had our pajamas on. This morning she called the school and told them I wasn’t feeling well. The Fritos I just ate heavy in my stomach.
“Aye, it’s your Ita,” she looked at the display on the phone and set it down.
Gorda! Dónde estás? Hablame,” her voice crackled over the answering machine speaker.
I looked up at her.
“I’ll call her later,” she said turning back toward the T. V.

3.     3. Ta Taaa Ta Ta!  The horn honked outside. I had to hurry.
“Bye, Ita!”  I grabbed my backpack and the mail that still came to her address.
“Aye, pero tengo unas cosas para tu Mamá.”
I looked at her and began to turn towards the door, “I’ll tell my mom.”
I paused before stepping out onto the porch, but heard the honk again.” Ta Taa Ta Taaaaa!
“MOM! ITA HAS SOME THINGS FOR YOU!”
“WHAT?”
“ITA HAS SOME THINGS FOR YOU!”
Our voices echoed off the concrete and bounced off each porch on the block until it disappeared at the intersection of California St. and Brown. She paused, her brown Blazer idle in the street, pushed at her hair, “JUST BRING IT WITH YOU!”
I looked back at the shadowed screen door to see my grandma already bringing out a plastic bag in her hand.
“Le compré una blusa en el town. Dile que me hable, si le gustó. No, sé por qué todo el tiempo tiene tanta prisa.”
               
4.      4. It is odd to realize there was life in your family before you were born. Before I was born many things happened. They tell me the stories. My Mom told me how Tio always got away with everything, while she always had the brunt of it. Your uncle, she said, he could do no wrong, and me, I have to bail your Ita out of her messes, like that time…

My Tio told me how my Mom always took everything too seriously. You know how your Mom can be uptight?  She wasn’t always like that, you know before, before she married your Dad, my Mom helped her a lot. With Angie, and babysitting, just like she does with you. Your Mom was just a kid when she had Angie, mija. But you know your mom, just always have to prove everyone wrong.

My sister, Angie said, Ita always took care of me just like with you. Mom’s just always so hard on Ita you know? She takes for granted that Ita doesn’t have to help. She forgets all the things Ita does for her and focuses on stuff from twenty years ago. Oh! Tio’s her favorite. Oh! She wouldn’t have that house if it wasn’t for me! Oh...

5.        5. "Ya se te olvidó que tienes Mamá?” I heard my Mom’s through the phone.
“Haha, Hi Mom,” I forced the laughter.
“What are you doing mija?”
“You know, working Ita, I mean Mom,” I couldn’t resist.
“Si chistosita, It’s because I haven’t hear from you in days. Your Ita? She always exaggerated everything. I talked to her sometimes three times a day, and there she was telling your uncle and your sister she hadn’t talked to me. Se olvidaba no mas cuando le convenía  a esa señora.”


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Weaved Music of our Lives

"If you ever get lonely, go to the record store and visit your friends." Penny Lane, Almost Famous 

The theory behind music. Who would have thought there was a theory behind the music. That there is thought behind the incessant beat we can't get out of our minds. An ear worm that embeds itself deep into our subconscious before we even know it. And, when we hear the song, the Zeppelins and Hendrix of our lives, we believe the song was written just for us. The artist somehow knew what we were feeling and they wrote it for us.

The music gets under your skin and seeps deep into your soul until its twisted, combined, and changed your DNA. It's a memory of a first kiss or a caress and that won't change from the still in your mind. From then on that song will take you back to that place, the moment when you were happy, or sad, or...and you are friends for life.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Live in Half-Hour Segments

I just finished watching a cutesy movie about love. The Hollywood kind that a friend of mine refers to as presenting an idealized version of love that doesn't exist. And, perhaps she's right, perhaps it doesn't exist because nothing in life is ever that perfect and ends with a bow tied around the middle. One of my favorite movies has a quote about The Brady Bunch.



  • 01:14:32 Understand why things just can't go back to normal...
  • 01:14:35 at the end of the half-hour...
  • 01:14:37 Iike on "The Brady Bunch" or something.
  • 01:14:42 Well, because Mr. Brady died of A.I.D.S.
  • 01:14:49 Things don't work out like that. 


Maybe things don't work out that way. And, at the end of the half-hour reality sinks in. But, maybe it's not about the going back to normal at the end of the half-hour, maybe it's about the half-hour. And, maybe I'm being overly optimistic, because right now I feel like I'm in that half-hour, but if we don't appreciate the half-hours then how do we deal with the rest?  If in the grand scheme of things all we get our half-hours then, we might as well live in them whole heartedly right? Because if we don't well... what else are we left with?


Friday, October 5, 2012

The Sex of Music

a start
notes my body recognizes,
foreplay...
loosening me up. tip tap tip tip tap
making me lan-gu-id, pliable like
finger tips dancing across my skin  
a rhythm created 
by the drumming of fingers against my 
wet lips 
singing the song your hands have created
against my slicked beat 
flicking the strings
increasing the speed
of the bass 
of your moans
penetrating  
my breathe 
the treble to our song
rocking 
         rocking 
                  rocking 
faster
in 
the moment 
when we, give ourselves
over 
to the action of being 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Balloons in my Mind

Last Saturday, I used an analogy that I believe gives an accurate description to one of the processes that takes place in my mind. I call it the balloons in mind.

Because it's my last year of school, because it's things I worry about, because it's that person I just don't know how to deal with, because you don't know how to get the wording right, because what's going to happen in June, because, because, because, because...

Because as I think of all these things I blow another breath of air into the balloons in my mind.They continue to expand and grow until the red one is bigger than the blue one, and the yellow gets pushed to the side, while the orange one, it stay the size of a medium grapefruit. With each conversation, as the breath travels up my chest and out of the pink flesh of my lungs, and into my mouth that tastes like coffee, a breath is exhaled. My words are exhaled into the balloons. They get filled with the worry and the doubt and the hopes and the dreams about everything and anything that flutters through my mind.

And the bouquet of balloons in my mind? They float to the top of my skull and push and tangle with each other at different moments, until sometimes the pressure is too much and I cry or I scream. Some get flat and whither away to their wrinkled balloon death until they match the wrinkled skin of my grey brain.

My head though? One day will it float away? Will you look into the sky and see my shortly cropped head floating away in the distance, only strings hanging where my body used to be? And will you wave?  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Need for Chaos

The sky is clear as glass. A bright, blue, technicolor vivid. Below, it's mirrored reflection bounces on and on in the infinite blue of the water. The trees embracing the lake, stand still, towering guards. The bottle neck opening provides the only open space from the endless branches, leaves, and acorns interweaved tightly together. A canopy of life and green and earth.

Suddenly,

The steps of a stranger interrupt. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.The dead animal soles echo.
He walks to the edge of the lake and stares. Brown eyes attempting to take in all the blue.
He looks at the trees, the water, the sky, and yells.

Loud. Hard. The scream bursting out from the center of his body, out of his mouth opened wide. Stretched to the seams of where his lips meet. About to stretch apart if they could. His stomach slowly sinking in on itself as all the air vacates his body. It goes on. Long. Deafening, until he can't breath. Till the scream turns into a hoarse whisper and only his mouth his open wide, gaping, at nothing.

Silent.



  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Afternoon Showers

perhaps it is cliche , but there is something special about desert rain.
i've lived where it has rained for weeks on end, and although special, because i love rain,  it doesn't hold the same whimsical quality.
whimsical.
i use this word for lack of a better term.
but today running through a river of rainwater racing down the depression in the mountain my campus sits in, the Sun Bowl, didn't cause frustration.
instead a bubbling of laughter rose from my core. squeals escaped as the down pour increased its drenching rhythm. the splash my sandal-ed feet made echoed with exaggerated suction as i pulled away from the rain insistent in encompassing me.
rain drops ran down my shortly cropped hair into my eyes, drops ran down my naked arms, splashed onto my bare legs, until i was soaked.
and still more laughter escaped me because of the fruitless effort of those around me carrying umbrellas and scurrying against the running water.
inside we all looked drowned and soggy; cold.
but in a place where rain is sparse, the unexpected shower seemed like a blessing in a typically dry unforgiving heat.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

CLoWnS!

I need to make some clarifications before I post this. 
    1. I think clowns are creepy
    2. a student picked this image for a writing prompt. 
    3. This was written in 5 minutes
    3. most of the photo's were of IT.


They Don't All Float

White clad faces
red nose changin'
small car playin'

                    HONK!
                    BING!
                    BAM!
                    BOOM!

Elephants trippin'
tight rope walkers flyin'
Lion tamers shakin'
ALL
       FOR
                   LOL'S!
                   OMG'S!
                   WTH'S!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Imprinting

When I was younger, before I had a car and my biggest concern was what would happen if I got caught smoking a cigarrette, I was told by my mom that she could spot who my friends were before she even saw me. She'd look in the crowd of self-conscious hormonal teenagers and notice the similarities in the toss of our hair, the bobble in our neck, and our hands scribbling emphasis in the air.

Now, I'm sure the way we dressed gave some things away, our scuffed Vans and low hanging pants, all hints of which group we belonged to. But, I was thinking about those gestures and how they change, evolve, and sometimes disappear. How the people in our lives help develop our mannerisms. Almost like cooking, a pinch of this person a cup of this one and WHAM! You've made them all your own.

How do we know what was ours and what we picked up? There is the conscious, "I like that I'm going to start doing it." An ex-boyfriend used to dissect my phrasing and he'd steal things like, "We're going to X, wanna come with?" He was fascinated with "the come with" for some reason. He thought it was cool and made it part of his vocabulary. I kept a light popping sound he used to make by smacking his lips together then open.

I suppose there are gestures that are simply ingrained in our DNA. I frown in a certain way that I've seen only in pictures which show a dad I never really knew. I suppose we even keep things that we never really knew we wanted.

Where did this come from? Not sure, but perhaps thinking about the people I surround myself with and what little tidbits I have picked up from them. How they have become ingrained in my mannerisms, in me, even after they are gone, after you're not friends anymore, after years of being friends, and well simply just after. The ones that stay with you are perhaps indicators of just how important the people were to you. The ones that never go away, well stay.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Los Dichos


No hay mal que por bien no venga.
Tanto quiere el diablo a su hijo que hasta un ojo le quiere sacar.
Mejor sola que mal acompañada.
Tanto pedo para cagar aguado.
Lo barato sale caro.
Más seguro más amarrado.
Para buen entendido muy pocas palabras.
Para cada roto un descocido.
Hijo pepe mariquita!
Para pendeja no se estudia.
Limosnero con garrote.
Soy como Orozco, cuando como no conozco.
La zorra nunca ve su cola ni el zorrillo su fundillo.
El muerto y el arrimado al los tres días huelen.
Amores de lejos, amores de pendejos.
Estaba haciendo chili con la cola.
Me  da diarrea con gusanos.
Enfermo que come y mea, y el diablo que se le crea.
La esperanza es la última que muere.
El flojo trabaja doble.
De noche todos los gatos son pardos.
Una cosa es Juan Domínguez y otra cosa es no la chingues.
Es de Don Cuco, entra la bola no se supo.
Primero me besa un ciego.
Dime con quién andas y te diré quien eres.
No porque te levantas más temprano, amanece más pronto.
Para el santo que es con la vela que quedó del otro.
Tengo malos ratos pero tan malos gustos.
Que Dios lo ayude y a mí que no me olvide.
El sordo no oye pero que bien compone.
Peca más el robado que el que robo.
Debo no tengo y si tengo no me acuerdo.
No es lo mismo amar a Dios en tierra de indios.
Después de buen servicio, mal pago.
El que por su gusto muere, hasta la muerte le sabe buena.
 El que se aconseja come pedo de vieja.
El que nace panzón aunque lo fajen de niño. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Excerpt from "Drum Beats"


I darted between cars in the rainbow stained parking lot, leaping over small inky puddles from the gathering mist. I hurried, only to stand in line. I was late. I was always late, even when I tried to be on time. My phone vibrated and I looked down as it lit up with a text that said, “Inside where u @?” I sent a quick response and waited. I sighed and leaned against the wall to keep out of the spray, resigned to wait another fifteen minutes till I could get in. There was always something about live shows that I loved. The air tingled a little and people stood around anxious, waiting, hoping, that they were going to have a good time. The slight deaf feeling after and the rush of adrenaline always made them worth it. Tonight, Sage had convinced me to come out even though I didn’t know the people playing.
 The walls from the venue reverberated from the music inside. I felt my leg, shaking from impatience, begin to match the beat of the muffled song. The people in front of me smoked and chatted as they waited their turn to go in. I looked up at the mist haloed lights and took a deep breath of the damp air. A stream of cars drove up and down the street in front of the parking lot, their tires making wet little splashes adding to the song of sounds around us. Everyone seemed to be gesturing and nodding to the same rhythm. As I waited, looked around at Converse clad feet, replicated vintage rock shirts, and shaggy hair, I noticed the beat in everything; the shuffle of our feet, the intake of our breath, the pulse of our heart. We carry it without noticing, the flutter of fingers as they gesture to make a point, a leg swaying beneath the table, all part of the music that makes our individual beats.


 I was lost in these thoughts as I witnessed everyone making their own music, when I saw a tall, slender guy, with closely cropped hair walk out of the door I was eagerly awaiting to get in. He bounced slightly when he walked; heels seeming to barely touch the ground. He emanated a nervous energy, a little faster, more animated then the rest of us, who now mirrored the beats from inside. As he talked to the door guy, he gestured broadly with his hands patted him on his meaty arm with one hand while he pointed inside and laughed. The laughter moved his whole body.  His shoulders scrunching up toward his neck, in a childlike motion, back moving in unison to the laughter I couldn’t hear, and when he did this I couldn’t help but resent his exit while I was still waiting to getting in. I watched as he walked past me, grin quickly fading, shoulders suddenly braced, head up as if daring the misty night air. I cocked my head for a moment as I stared after him then turned to see the line had not moved.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Boxing: Round One

It's a sauna. No, to say it's a sauna is an understatement because along with the wall of heat that hits you as you walk down the stairs there is the smell. The smell of sweat and work slick bodies working harder than they've probably ever worked before twists and combines with the humid air of the basement.

I enter and feel the breeze of fans touch my already warm skin. This is a basement filled with six other people all working together, whether consciously or unconsciously toward the same moment. That point in the running, stair climbing, punching, crunching, jumping, squatting... where you don't think you can go anymore. When the burn in your muscles doesn't subside and the burn in your lungs makes each breath hard even though they are screaming for it.

But, still, I punch.I punch the bag and wait for it to swing back at me to punch it again. My arms, brown, are slick with sweat. They look oiled and I feel the drops of sweat ribbon themselves down my head, my face, my chest, as I run up the stairs. Going down, there is a relief in the burn of my quads. My calves take the brunt, but they're a smaller muscle. Strong stubborn muscles. Back to the bag I punch, left, right, left, left, right. Take that bag, take that cop that gave me a ticket today, take that lady that makes my life difficult at work, take that and that....

Until I can't breathe and my lungs scream in defeat. I gasp trying to keep the sharp pain on my side at bay, when the bell dings, the light is red. I can rest, rest for thirty seconds until the next round.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Middle




We walked into the small viewing room. The swell of panic bubbled up into my chest toward my tightly clenched jaw, teeth forced into one another, the urge to run overwhelming. There were no windows in the small beige room, only dim fluorescent lighting that cast shadows across faces and corners.  I willed my feet to move in a forward motion knowing I would regret not seeing her one last time before the cremation. As my family walked forward, I lingered behind my mom and uncle as they broke into tears. My mom’s back heaved up and down and the ache she must have felt escaped with a low unnatural sound. My uncle sniffed and wiped at his checks while standing still and simply staring, his hand rubbing my mom’s back in a counterclockwise circle from time to time  They blocked my view slightly and I stayed back still waiting to see a sign that she was still going to look like my grandma. Finally I stepped forward and looked down at my grandma, sleeping, the sheet from her bed wrapped around her like a butterfly getting ready to leave her cocoon. I began to choke again, my throat on fire as I tried to not walk away, to run out of the tight beige room. My sister broke down beside me, crying, shaking her, “Wake up Ita! Wake up!”, the volume in the room magnified by the imminent silence and the speechless sounds of our grief. I shrank further inside myself, muted,  and I found solace in smoothing my grandma’s hair back, tracing the bridge of her nose with my hand trying to make myself not forget what she looked and felt like. I stood there longer than the rest of my family, running my hand along the planes of her face, trying to make the last imprint she would make in my life. My family faded into the background, I stared at her sleeping face and tried to imagine her getting ready for bed, to imagine the nightly ritual I had seen countless times. I saw the faded little girl image of myself sitting in the center of the bed watching her as she sang to herself, watching as she had quietly gone to sleep, watching as she had quietly died alone. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

sans

today is saturday. a lazy saturday. i woke up with my cat, Drew, curled up next to me, sans alarm, sans my neighbor throwing his trash away as he does every morning at 5am, simply sans. there is nothing lovelier than waking up on your own accord, stretching from fingertips to toe tips and laying quietly with only the sound of your breath.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Journal Blast

sometimes when your mind is deliciously empty of words that would have meaning for anyone but yourself, you search into things written in the past, and i stumbled upon an appropriate piece for today.

drum beats and rocks gods and
shiny things that keep your mind from standing still
long enough
to make a
point.

they keep
r o l l i n g
togetherintomoreandmore
until you can't keep track of where you started
and where things ended,
started...
ended.
repeat and rinse,
but she's still there

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stream of Conscious Wednesday

At Village Inn, my favorite writing place. This one, is my favorite in the city. Bright orange booths with light fixtures out of Rock Hudson's Pillow Talk, and witty quotes on the wall like, "Never trust a skinny chef." 

The cloudy skies stream in through tinted windows and continue to draw me away, seduce me into daydreaming about all the things I should be writing and trips I should be taking and money I need to be saving. So I can go high and low and down below the country's line I have never crossed before. 

Then I look back to the screen and I think, Ita, Ita, what do I write about Ita. My thesis, a memoir, and Yeah, my stories are that interesting. There are many, but I need pictures, I need something, because right now they are floating, tiny little words on paper bouncing around outside the atmosphere of my brain. 

Oh, there's an art show soon. I should go. It's starting to rain and it makes me think of dancing. Dancing Donna Summer style with my arms open and twirling. I used to twirl a lot when I was a kid. But, I can't dance in the rain because I'm wearing white. But the rain also makes me think of porches and sitting next to someone who likes the rain just as much as I do. I'm not sure who that person is in my memory. Really, I swear. I think maybe when I find that person they'll replace the shadow in my mind. 

Hey, there's a fundraiser at 5 Points Bistro for the fight against AIDS. I should go. And the 17 Ojos  Collective Art show, and the battle of the bands at the Percolator. I hope it's not hot. If it's hot I'll leave. I'll walk out! How do people do it? 

The rain is already pooling in the street. My Ita hated driving in the rain. She would stay where ever she was until it stopped or she wouldn't leave the house. Her car sunk into the street once when it was raining. I think it was a mini-sink hole. She hated the rain almost as much as I love it. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunlight Sunday Afternoon

There are two types of Sunday afternoons:

A. You realize that your weekend is almost over and tomorrow is the beginning of the week. That's right Monday, and with that comes early morning and (hopefully) coffee, work and and and....

B. The lounge-y Sunday afternoon that lets you sleep in, tangled in cool sheets (hopefully), followed by a leisure brunch.

Today I am having B. I am having B and completely enjoying it, because although I don 't have a stressful summer I still have things to do like everyone else, but for now, today, I'll enjoy the warm breeze weaving itself though my house through the sliding glass doors, Luna curled up dozing, sunshine making the words I'm typing  brighter and more meaningful, and if needed a conversation, with the one writing sunlit words, as well, in the other room.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Good Morning Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. D.C. D.C.
I took an opportunity to visit and see your city.
The work the training really had nothing to do with me
(Boys and Girls Club apparently needed a girl. Thank you gender equality)

Long days with sneaky rogue missions to the meet the streets
The streets that hum and buzz with the plank plank plank of the souls of peoples feet, speak, and dreams.
Thank you musician man for strumming Jimi as I walk walk walk toward Capitol Hill
I'm just a bill, yeah, I'm only a bill, and I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill

Monuments, Why hello! So nice to meet you. How do you do Mr. Lincoln and Jefferson and King and geez simply all the history. My silent repects to President Kennedy and all the soldiers resting around you, quite sombering.

The smell, the green, the things that make D.C., D.C, you're all quite lovely. Rude? I'd heard rude, not with me, all smiles, suggestions, directions, hmm....perhaps it's the boobs.

Today I head home, back to Texas. No not Houston, or Dallas, but El Paso's desert heat. With smiles and laughter from lasts nights fun beats. This swank joint near 18th street? Worth the 3hrs of sleep.

And for now? That's it, fini, D.C!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

If These Blogs Could Talk

if my blog could talk it would say that at this moment i am hungry.
it would say that summer is too hot in el paso, too hot in texas, and just plain too hot.
today could not have really been the first day of summer. it's been summer since may.
it would say that my fb chats with my sister are always funny
my blog would talk you about all the things i don't say.
about past summer nights and new conversations
about wonderings and forgivings and grudges
it would mention that there are moments that even when i'm happy, i'm waiting for the other shoe to drop
don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
it might also talk about stars and the music i've been listening to under them.
it would talk about washington d.c. and kids and some dude i don't know named wally.
it would talk about dinners and pizza's and bandeja's paisa attempted while having sunday soccer sunday.
mexican food will always be the winner.
it would tell you about boxing and the scraped knuckles i have and almost wanting to yack from working out so hard.
it would talk about how i am hesitating on working on my thesis because i have to swim in a pool of memories i only want to dip my toe in at times.
last it would tell you that i'm smiling right now. and right now is all that matters.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Bucket List

This summer I'm going to embark on something new, a summer without a job. For the first time in a long time I will not work, well not in the typical manner because I will be working on my thesis, but I will not be working for someone else, I will be my own boss, will crack my own whip, make my fingers move... you get the point. This is both interesting, liberating, and frightening.

Aside from the writing, I have a created a bucket list. Well friends and I have created a bucket list so that we can ensure there are adventures and perhaps a few more stories...


The Bucket List


1. Carlsbad Caverns
2. Visit a driving range
3. Wet n' Wild
4. White Sands Grilling
5. Horseback Riding
6. Downtown El Paso Ghost Tour
7. Concordia Ghost Tour
8. Strip Club
9. Tram Way ride
10. Western Playland
11. Fishing


So far, we have only in the planning stages of the El Paso Ghost Tour. But, I have to say that with it only being June 13th I have already done a lot.

Neon Desert Music Festival. Snoop Dog. Tennis. Sunday Soccer Sunday. The El Paso Zoo. Teaching. Shakespeare Play. Cooking amazing meals with my Sous Chef. Music Under the Stars concerts. Boxing. Gym time with my now not so smiley friend. and and and..... 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Touch and a Smile

Yesterday was my first day of subbing  as a paraprofessional in a class of four autistic children ages eleven and twelve. I took the job because it runs through the end of the semester, a week from now, and I have yet to hear anything concrete from all the things I have floating up in the air. When I arrived, for a moment, I thought they were sending me to assist with the alternative kids, the assholes, that can't keep their mouths shut long enough to hear the conductor saying, "Train leaving for Loserville! Boarding begins in 5 minutes!" I gritted my teeth and hoped for the best, at least this way I could simply, "keep it real".

Instead, I walked into a room with pictures taped on every surface. Pictures of what goes in the cabinets, pictures which tell you to close the bathroom door, arrows that were moved to show where the students were, and so on. The classroom included two large rooms and a kitchen. I wasn't sure what to think, until I looked at one of the little boys who wouldn't stop clapping his hands. I had never wanted to do special ed, not because of the special, but because I'm not qualified to deal with children that have special needs, hell, I'm not really qualified to teach anything but creative writing, and that's for people that pay to be there, but I since I was only assisting I thought, "Okay, I can do this."

The kids themselves look normal upon first glance, but little ticks give them away if you're in their presence for longer than a few minutes. Three of the boys don't talk, non-verbal, one Nicholas, is the most severe and he simply stares at upside down books and turns his head as you talk to him.

Yesterday though, I thought, "I can do this." I took in all the signs on the wall that said things like "Sensory", and "Rest Area" and made it through the day. It's only till next Wednesday I thought. Today, though, today was different. I played with Hector, non-verbal. We played in a make shift sand box filled with red sand and tiny Tonka cars that he simply shook off and shoved to the side. Instead he stuck his hand in the sand and when  he saw the grains running out of my hand he placed his hand underneath and stared at me. The sand was cool to the touch, the way sand is, for him it seemed to be especially great. When I rubbed my hand on top of his so he could feel the grainy touch, the teacher looked up surprised, "Wow, Hector, you're letting her touch your fingers." He simply went back to what he was doing and I tried not to get too happy. I will only know Hector for a week.

For lunch we take the boys to the cafeteria earlier than the others kids, and I sit with Nicholas and one of the other boys. I talk to them, I want to believe they know what I'm saying, "Mmmm you guys are having spaghetti for lunch. Do you like spaghetti Nicholas?" He looks at me with light brown eyes against brown skin,  they are striking against his dark lashes, he hasn't looked at me before, and I'm surprised by the knowing expression they hold, wise. We stare at each other and he smiles abruptly showing me his adolescent crooked teeth and he reaches up and smooths my hair down, twice. I wait, not knowing what to do, and as abruptly as he smiled it's gone and he's back to staring at the thing I can't see. I swallow the small lump that was in my throat, the lump put there by the gentleness of this little boy. I will only know Nicholas for a week.

It is the end of the day and I'm tired, but I feel happy. Hector let me touch his hands and Nicholas smiled and smoothed my hair. For these boys, this is good, amazing, considering they have only known me two days. It's hit or miss, and I seem to have made a hit. As we walk them to the bus, the other paraprofessional says, "Don't you wonder what's going to happen to them?" I couldn't answer. Instead I waved, walked back to the classroom and grabbed my bag. I waved at her and went to sign out. Then I quickly walked to my car, past the kids yelling and playing and flirting, past the girl with pink lip gloss asking a boy to sign her yearbook, to my car, and began to cry.