LA: The smell of urine feels a lot like Nostalgia

30 Jul

The intense smell of urine shoots up my nose
paralyzing my senses
Flinching, I look down
the cracked sidewalk is a patchwork of black gum pounded into the pavement
smeared brown outlines of footprints
and cracks that swallow stilettos

I can see why visitors may be turned off
why they may see the hustle on street corners
the homeless slumped on the side of the building
and think
Why would anyone live here?!

I continue down Spring Street
soy latte in hand
expertly made in Spring for Coffee
and look up

I absorb the energy of parents pushing kids in their strollers
Hipsters mulling over a trip to Joshua tree
someone out for their morning jog
and old man on a walker asking for directions

I take a deep breath and exhale a loud sigh
which surprises the woman next to me
on her way to work
I smile sheepishly
and she returns the smile as she crosses the street

I sip on my coffee
as I now smile at everyone walking towards me
Not a large smile
Just a nice face saying
Good day

The Spring Arcade building has changed dramatically since I last visited
a large outpost of Guisados commanding great real estate
two artisan bakeries
A juicery
and the same ugly yellow paint on the walls
Some things never change, even when you want them to

I walk back to the office
sticky with sweat
but full of hope

This place has the feeling of potential
waiting to explode
Creating
discovering
Always Being

Against a backdrop of desperation and sadness
a city thrives

It gently sweeps its locks aside
revealing a weathered face
looking in a mirror
full of once youthful beauty
still holding the satisfaction of irreplaceable memories and
the knowing that tomorrow will always bring more

This place has been through a lot
and it speaks to me
Feeds who I am
and I am temporarily satiated

Dear Friend,

28 May

I never told you how deeply your character touched me.  You were different in many ways with your high cheekbones and long pony hair pulled back.  Always so kind and sweet without an ounce of threat in your demeanor.  I felt at ease even when I did not realize it.  You get to always having your guard up that you forget what it feels like to just be.

I never thanked you for the kindness in your eyes, for the natural way you greeted me with tokens of friendship.  Your drawings of Winnie the Pooh and his melancholy friend always amused me.  And it pleased you so to have me tell you how good you were.

Our conversations were quiet, mostly stolen quick glances that didn’t mean much but just said, hey – I’m here, good to see you.

I think of you often. I wonder who you would be. I can’t picture you beyond 13. And it’s funny because every time I see you, I really do see you, standing there in front of me, not a day older and it seems so natural.

You were a calming presence among all the white noise. So much noise. I never told you that.

Sometimes when I run and my mind runs free, I forget where I am and I think of you.  You run right beside me, smiling at my attempt to look like a badass when you know I’m soft deep down inside.

And here I am thinking of you again tonight.

Maybe it’s guilt. Confusion. Disgust. I’m not sure what I feel when I remember with what nonchalance I took the news.  Where is he?  Gone.  Last night. A simple shrug and I walked away. Oh.

Maybe it’s rage. The way you left. Not at you but at me.

I didn’t see how deep in you were.  I wish I would have said, “thank you, dear friend.”

Here I carry you.  Light as a feather.  Sometimes I think it’s you carrying me.  Light as a feather. Your smile.

But now I remember where and when I am and your image is fleeting.  I get older and keep living.  You float away.

For the both of us, for the many of us, I’ll try.  I will always try, dear friend.

Dancing Between Borders

12 May

We linger on either side
Dancing between invisible borders
Split in two

The English me
At work
Speaks formally, taking time to enunciate and think ahead
Choosing my vocabulary carefully
So as not to Stumble and fall

The Spanish me
At functions
Takes care to speak eloquently
Proving myself as not just
Getting by

Hiding
Hoping they don’t ask
Where is your accent from?

The English me
With friends
Is casual, relaxed and at ease
Sassy, funny and bold

The Spanish me
With my sisters
Bursts forth
Words spilling over each other
Hanging in the air
Like bright decorations
Warming my soul

I am me
I am Susana
Fitting in nicely

We waltz between borders
Stepping gingerly
Lingering long enough to feel like we belong
Stepping gingerly
Before we’re caught

Twirling – A song

20 Mar
Twirling and twirling, and twirling away!
Twirling and twirling, and twirling away!!
Twirling and twirling, and twirling away!!!
The ghosts come back.
No matter how hard I try to forget, by:
Twirling and twirling, and twirling away
Twirling and twirling, and twirling away
Twirling and twirling, and twirling away
Vengeful rage quieted by pain!
broken shards of pain and doubt…
Fragments and pieces linger on!
No matter how hard I try.
I pick up my skirts and get some wind!
I smile and dazzle and
put on a good face.
I twirl and twirl, and twirl away
Twirl and twirl, and twirl away
Twirl and twirl, and twirl away
The ghosts are here to stay.

Having It All

23 Sep

“Monkeys, do you have your lunches?”
“Yes!” they cried out in unison.
“Let’s go! Backpacks on, grab a sweater, and make sure you have your lunch packed away in your backpack.”
“Ok mommy!”

After dropping off Bella and Iza at school to make an 8 am call where I had to present, I drove off guilt ridden that I was leaving them on campus so early in the morning – read 5 minutes earlier than usual.  I coaxed myself to shake it off, to remember that they are loved and well-cared for little girls who can handle an additional 5 minutes away from me.

As I pulled into the parking lot at work and reached for my purse in the backseat, my eyes focused on a cute black tote with a panda face smiling at me – Iza’s lunch bag.

I ignored it, ignored the fact that the school would be calling me soon to notify me, ignored the fact that I had 2 minutes before the call started, and dashed up the stairs in my stiletto heels, click-clacking my way to my office where I quickly dialed into the conference call in time to hear the global roll call.

I sent a quick text to my fiancee ‘Iza 4got lunch will drop off after call in case school calls’ as I pulled up my notes for my presentation and silenced my cell phone.

As I was introduced, my phone buzzed with Iza’s school’s phone number flashing at me.  Bad Mom! it read.  As I ignored the call and it rang again it screamed, Terrible Mom!, before I ignored it again.

I placed my hand on my chest and leaned forward into my computer screen to calm my nerves and the chatter in my brain.  I stuck to my script a lot closer than I meant to and probably came off sounding like a robot dictating an essay (thank God I wrote it out and emailed it to myself the evening before!).  As soon as the call was over I got a couple of encouraging notes from colleagues congratulating me on a good presentation which I really appreciated.  I chose to ignore my internal questioning if the praise was deserved or not, and sat back and appreciated the kind words.

I waited a few minutes in case anyone followed up with any questions before I called the school back and apologized for ignoring their calls (I’m not a terrible mom, I promise! I have this thing called a J-O-B which I’m trying to make into a C-A-R-E-E-R), grabbed my keys, cell phone (work lifeline) and ran to my car.  As I pulled into the school 8 minutes later (I strategically live a short distance from my life’s priorities: the girls’ school and work) and dropped off Iza’s lovingly packed home cooked meal at the front office, I took a moment to smile (laugh at myself).

My mother would have kicked my ass if I had forgotten my lunch at home and had the gall to have the school secretary to call her at work and ask her to drop everything to bring it to me.  I started laughing out loud at the absurdity of the thought.  My mother never packed lunches.  She was too busy working as a grill cook an hour away in LA traffic for a 5 AM – 2 PM shift on her feet.  Her J-O-B did not allow the flexibility to “drop by” my school to deliver a home cooked meal.  I never wanted to be a nuisance to this mother of 5 whose idea of a better American life necessitated an additional job on the weekends as a cashier to afford the mortgage payments.

I smiled at the thought of my mother who continues to inspire me with her strength and will to move forward in life.  I smiled at the thought that I seem destined to feel guilty throughout life.  Guilt of being a nuisance as a child to hardworking parents and guilt as a mother for not predicting every minute need that my children may have.  I smile because I wouldn’t take either of those experiences away – my childhood nor the precious childhood that I shape for my girls.

Having it all? I say yes, one crazy (but well planned) day at a time.

What can you do but smile? On my way to Deliver Iza's Lunch.

What can you do but smile? On my way to Deliver Iza’s Lunch.

 

Suicide is everywhere – How Do We Help?

13 Aug

Suicide is everywhere

In the Media
In our closets, with belts carefully hidden away
In our medicine cabinets, full of long-forgotten pain killer prescriptions
In the bathroom, full of razors
In the freeway, over and under each overpass
 
Suicide is Everywhere
In our Classrooms, kids lost in quiet agony
In our home, where it hurts the most
In our work environment, where we may perpetuate it the most
 
Little by little
Bit by Bit
We poke at it
We prod it
We dump more work on it
We walk around smile-less, pushing it away
 
Suicide is Everywhere
A human terminal illness
Surrounds us everywhere
 
Can we stop it? 
Can we see it? 
 
If we did, would we?
   Take the time to offer an embrace
   A listening ear –
       Un-Interrupted with swipes on your phone to check the time
       Stolen glances to your email
 
Would we take the time
To be Human?

All the Pretty Things

1 Aug

Do all the pretty things in life make up for yesterday’s sadness?

lingering in sweet moments

I wonder

But it’s hard to think with a drink or two in hand

relaxing for once

All the sad moments

from another life

blurred away

Moments stitched together

Harder to remember

like a foggy morning melting into a sunny day

Rays of heat burn

whispers of grey floating away

Bathed in golden sun

I look at the broad smiles of happy girls

and forget

the thought of anything but present

Happiness

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