Leaving LA

9 Jul

The process of moving and telling others that I am leaving LA has been a mixed bag of highs and lows.

I am a native Angeleno and I love my city with all its misunderstood and under appreciated idiosyncrasies. I grew up in Boyle Heights near El Tepeyac and Evergreen cemetary. I moved around but always in LA: downtown, Chinatown and a brief stint in the valley.

I’ve experienced so much within one county which includes the large swath of land that is home to 15 million.

I’ve lived the LA of East LA where you naturally fall into the lyrical song of Spanish, the early conversion to cool of Downtown LA, the ridiculous parties and outings that only LA can outlandishly provide, and the quieter and sweeter moments of growing a parent community as a mother.

Every memory of this city remains etched in my mind; from my early years of living on Union by McArthur Park: drive by’s, elderly neighbors who always had hot apple pie, my grandfather handing us a quarter for a bag of pepinos and even the kind LAPD beat officers who handed out baseball cards to us.

Now it’s a golden sunset setting on my rear view mirror.

I drive past the grapevine, by the acrid smell of cows, the rolling hills covered in blankets of wheat and the fruit stands of Gilroy – to land here. Silicon Valley.

I’ve been here less than a week and already I feel the dull ache of a lost one long loved. I sense the need to see the awesome landscape below the hills of City Terrace. I miss the daily reminder of my connection to a city, a place, my memories… I fell the pull.

Los Angeles.

The bad, dark and shallow times we shared remain on my mind. The empty promises linger on the avenue of broken dreams. Not Hollywood. The place where broken dreams go to bury the pain is always darker than the pretense of the avenue of the stars. In the streets of daily living lie the real stories of LA. On Cesar Chavez Boulevard, Whittier Boulevard, Hoover, 41st, 18th, in every single corner that the downtrodden go to blend into the indistinguishable mess of sadness.

Los Angeles. Like a good-looking love that I can’t get rid of, no matter how bad you know they are for you. You cling to me. Days of fear and anger intermingle with days of triumph and evenings spent toasting on rooftops thinking we’ve done it all. I love you.

But for now, we need to take a break. I need space, I need time, I need a place to lay my head and make a mark before I come back to you. To you I toast, dear city of mine.

Ciudad mia, adoracion de mi corazon, dame tiempo y paciencia y con los aires de la suerte llegare a tu lado de nuevo.

Until then dear LA, find someone else to claw your heartless charms into. I need a break.

On the Fast Lane with the SuperFlyingMonkeys

28 May

giants
Life moves quickly when you have two flying monkeys by your side.

Santa Monica called for work. I drove to Main Street for a work event with SiliconBeachLA. Smiling, chatter buzzing over mojitos, beer and sliders. Tech tech tech. Drinks and introductions, Connections – Stimulating.

A reminder that I am making the right choice in moving to Silicon Valley this summer. Excited.

All networking events must end and this one did with the avoidance of a marriage proposal. That must have been the most progressive and increasingly creepy pick up line I have ever heard.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Susana. Hmmm. Susana, it’s a pleasure. What do you do?”
“Marketing. For law firms.”
“Do you know social media? Yes? I need a social media manager. I need a co-founder. Do you want to be my co-founder?”
“Thank you but I am relocating to the bay area.”
“Really? Where? I like the bay area. I could live in the bay area. I’ve been to Tiburon. Have you been there? Yes? I could live there. We could live in the bay area.”
“Good meeting you but I was just leaving.”
“You have my card. Hmmm. Susana. Such a pleasure. Call me, we need to work together. I’m from Sydney. You’ve been to Sydney? Would you..”
“Goodnight, good meeting you.”

As I quickly scrambled out the door averting one of the more bizarre first time interactions with another human being, I looked forward to my escape up north. I drove to Boyle Heights and spent the remainder of the evening with my parents and family, celebrating my father’s 62nd birthday.

Saturday, 5AM. We are piled into the Honda, filling up the tank with gas.

You can do anything in LA as long as you have a full tank of gas. I will miss that feeling. Completely freeing; to roam a sprawled city intersected by freeways, back roads, and hiking trails full of lululemon.

I placed my two 16 oz. Red Bull drinks on the center divider, covered the girls in their blanket, tuned into KZRW and looked forward to a promise of opportunity as I rolled onto the I-5 North.

Podcasts about India’s marriage and matchmaking trends, sourcing food, and music swirl around the car around me blending into the highway’s hum. Auto cruise.

Two hours. Two and half. Two and 42 minutes go by.

KZRW is long gone – faded into the majestic mountains before the grapevine that block all internet reception. 70 miles. 75. 80. Rolling along en mass.

The air is thick with cow dung flung onto the earth by the huddled, crowded mammals that reek of sickness and death. I hold my breath and shut off the AC. It seeps into my car and takes hold of my nostrils, curling into my breath and wrapping around my gagging throat.

I call my love. His cheerful voice full of excitement takes me away from the I-5N and the dead grass with dark nauseating earth. It blocks out the cows that eat what the others digest. Recurring. I won’t be eating meat for a while.

We plan and together count down the hours of our arrival. Together never sounded sweeter.

Spotify saves the day and my hours quickly fall away until I see the 101 N to San Jose and the exit to Palo Alto. I drive up under the big tree and wake the girls so we can run up the stairs together. Together, always, it has never felt so good.

We stretch and hug and kiss and smile. And out the door we go to downtown Palo Alto. Thai food at Siam Royal for a lunch of yellow curry, Pad sew eew, and tofu, only tofu please.

As we walk out I feel my legs leisurely stretch out before me and I realize I am home. With him by my side, flanked by the flying monkeys, we are home. We stop at Stanford to frolic in the grass, dance around the fountain, and giggle down the archways.

We get home and nap. A blissful unworried sleep shadowed with sounds of light laughter coming through the window, likes rays of sunlight gently warming my skin. Even the shower that follows feels different. As the water runs down my back so goes with it all the tension from the drive, the residue of LA.

Sushi Fuki for dinner. Rolls and nigiri and sake. And smiling girls across me. Gently lifting their pieces with chopsticks, deft hands a true sign of LA childhood.

Champagne once home. We are celebrating many things, all things that lead to us, together in life. Dom Perignon treats us well as we cuddle and love life, love our little family.

After my run, I make breakfast tacos with sizzling bacon and egg whites kissing each other with mozzarella. Yogurt for me, the cows have not left me. Oohs and Ahhs over breakfast, followed by scuttling about as we all walk to the local school. Two Flying Monkeys racing along from tree to tree. Like Santa Claus he strides forth with a sack over his shoulder, but these are basketballs. Layups. Free throw line, base line, back board, rim, start low and carry through – in the wrist. Chest pass. Two on Two. I’ve never felt such admiration for patience and happiness. Basketball drills, who knew?

On the road again but as one. To SF for the Giants. Freezing in our seats we play a game you think of to ease the focus on the chilly weather and bring to light the joy and wonder of life. You breathe in new life into baseball, already a passion, you make it magical.

We shower, we prim, we aim to impress as we make our way to Madera for dinner. The view is amazing. Rolling fog over the hills, enchanting grounds at our feet, and smiling faces all around me. Over wine and seared tuna he dazzles. He charms and he loves and I memorize every minute.

At home over movies all four of us sit close – an entanglement of wonderful cuddling.

In the morning we rise and smile. Off to the market today. Camarones, tomates, aguacates, clamato… I love the sounds of Spanish markets. Mi Piquito de Oro by Ramon Ayala playing in the background as we check out. The musical goodbye of the cash register lingering long after we walk out the door.

At home we cook and we sit. We dance and we sing. We play Loteria and roll our R’s and silence our T’s and laugh. Rich and deep laughter that fills my soul and carries me through. We sit by the low tables and eat our cebiche and talk the language of happiness.

The morning turns afternoon well into the evening and night beckons us to bed for dreams of tomorrow, our tomorrow together. Even the gray following morning that feeds the hurt in my chest doesn’t diminish the gift of today. I woke by your side, in your arms and you loved me as I love you.

Miles away now but with me, I carry you, together, never sweeter, never felt so good.

Swipe the card

28 May

Sparkly sandals, boxes piling up at my side
Platforms
Stiletto black patent leather
kitten heels
Swipe the card

Men’s wear
Dad’s birthday
Lovely polos
Swipe the card

Walking back
Shiny red sign of SALE
Toss it aside
Keep
Swipe the card

Red gel manicure
pedicure to match
smooth legs
Humming of the massage chair
Swipe the card

Whole Foods
Bright and fun
Kale
Wild Caught Salmon
Swipe the card

Sports gear for the girls
sneakers
for basketball
sandals
for summer

A dress maybe?
Or two
And shorts
or a jumper
All three
Swipe the card

Theatre camp
piano lessons
dance
lunch money
Dinner out
a movie
Rent

in LA
on the freeway
pulling in to fill the tank
Swipe the card

Gotta keep moving
and working
to swipe the card

Baby Chicks Flock: Loners always Lead

21 May

Have you every been on a farm and played with baby chicks? Ok, if you’ve been to a farm more than a few times and have never played with baby chicks as a kid, you seriously missed out. You can scoop them up and get them all riled up and quickly let them go before they poop on your hand. It’s a good time.

If you had the chance to chase them around the yard, you’ll remember that as you paused long enough to rest your hands on your knees to catch your breath, the baby chicks would scatter about lost, trying in vain to rearrange into the proper grouping. They would flock to one another, huddle close as they flapped their wings and chirp as loud as they could, their confidence growing with their unified front. But you would always have the lone baby chick off to the side, captivated by the confusion as if thinking, why am I alone? Why is no one flocking to me? This would usually be the toughest chick that was used to being followed but when a six-year-old kid is going hog-wild running and giggling in the yard, no one follows the leader. They flock together as a crowd and as a crowd grow stronger and set in their ways, leaving the leader to the side, alone and confused.

During a recent exercise at work I noticed the same phenomenon. We were caught up on the excitement of being forced out of the comfort of our 9 hour a day nest, i.e. a fire drill with mandated evacuation. As we made our way to the general meeting area, people ran about excitedly until they found their “friends” and congregated in tight little circles laughing loudly and using exaggerated expressions to show how much fun they were having, how well they belonged. And off to the side I saw the day-to-day leaders of the office, i.e. the big bosses, standing by themselves shuffling from foot to foot looking confused as they felt the glaring presence of loneliness seep into their hard armor of fearless leader. They looked out-of-place as the sunny LA afternoon was awash with a glow hinting of summer BBQ’s, pool parties, and picnics in the park – everyone huddled under summer’s social blanket that warms and brings all Angeleno souls alive.

And just as quickly as I felt sorry for them, I realized that it is just as easy to walk up to a group as it is to isolate yourself and expect others to come to you.

So I looked up, made eye contact and waved – a friendly and artful gesture that says, hey I am happy to see you, come over. And they did and we talked and they relaxed and they felt at home again. And as soon as they reclaimed their sense of self, they led the way in conversation and direction and I was happy to sit back and enjoy the ride because there’s nothing more enjoyable after rousing a bunch of baby chicks than to gather the lonely one and gently coax it back to the group until it starts chirping with authority again.

Lesson of the story: Everyone has a tough time bridging the gap from alone to company – meet them halfway: smile, wave, and engage.

A Belated Mother’s Day Post

14 May

A Belated Mother’s Day Post

The rise and fall of my emotion is punctuated with bouts of extreme joy and maddening sadness on this day.

Your excitement, hardly contained, explodes into a dazzling smile that reaches your eyes – like shining angels that guide my way.

“Cookies! We made you cookies and a cake! It’s a surprise but it’s a cake.”

It’s a reminder of everything good in my life. Seeing the two of you grow up is piercingly beautiful, hauntingly sweet. I see your smiling faces start to grow sharp with the angles of pre-pubescent youth and I gasp.

Where has the time gone?

I held you to my chest and your body would rise with each breath.

Rise and Fall

Now I hold you close as you cuddle up to me but I can’t breathe with the weight of your growing bodies on my chest.

Where has the time gone?

Am I doing right by you? The happiness of holding you close makes me break down inside and weep openly within the confines of my conscious as it weighs heavily on me that I only give you myself. Will you be fine?

Rise and Fall

We get home and you take my hand, running up the stairs to show me your beautifully hand crafted decorations on the sugar cookies you have baked with your tia. Colors of happiness – light hues of green, pink and baby blue.

“A cake, we made you a cake!”

A strong palette of dark chocolate with accents of light pink mini hearts: a reflection of your own spirits. And I know that you are not just fine, you are wonderfully enveloped in my blanket of love.

Rise and Fall

Day by day. Smile by smile.

Rise we will.

Running

4 Apr

Running

I feel the music
flowing
spreading through my body

I have to fight the urge
to dance
Wild and Free

My arms start swinging
propelling me
my legs find the rhythm
hitting the pavement to the beat

The lyrics carry me
Forward

I feel myself
Floating
Invisible

A wide grin flashes on my face
I can fly
I can soar

Stronger
Faster
Happier
I go

Hip hop
Cumbias
Rap
They heal me
Transform me
As I run

Run free

Tengo Una Tristeza y no la Puedo Borrar

4 Apr

Tengo Una Tristeza
y no la puedo borrar
Se me cuelga del cuello
y no la puedo despegar

Camino por las tinieblas
Y no me puedo enfocar

Siento que lo mas que camino,
lo mas que me pierdo…
Pierdo mi lugar

Me diras tu?
Como me encontrare de nuevo?
Me diras tu?
Como me encontrare de nuevo?

Tengo Una Tristeza
y no la puedo borrar
Se me cuelga del cuello
y no la puedo despegar

Dentro del corazon
lo siento muy obscuro
Muy pesado
No lo puedo cargar

Y me pongo a pensar
Y me pongo a pensar…

Seras Tu?
Seras Tu?

No te puedo encontrar…

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Zack Hunter | Phenomenological Fiction

Zack Hunter is the pseudonym of a Californian poet, author, artist, musician, and researcher. He lives on a farm and spends his free time reading and writing about whatever it is he is passionate about at the time.

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