Mane Issue

If my son chose to he could sport a Classic Crew or a short pompadour. I may let him try the Caesar Cut and I’m partial on the Side Part. He could also look great with it Slicked Back and its certainly long enough for the Shaggy short. There’s a chance he could get away with the Fringe Crew and I know he’d look dapper if it was Swept Up. The Faux Hawk is a remote option along with the Asymmetrical w/Short Sides. Not sure about a Blow-Out though he can certainly pull it off and/or any cut the delectable Skeet Ulrich has chosen to brandish.
The point is that unlike me…my son has styling options because his mane is still SO generous where as mine is not. He chooses not to style though.

Hair is wasted on the young.

Make a Wish

As I half-patiently waited at my front door for my youngest to gather up her school stuffs my oldest started to make his way up the street.  
He seemed so resolute as he walked past the threshold of our property and towards the foggy foothills to the north. My first instinct as always was to tell him to wait but his stride told me that he was okay to go and so I watched him. My youngest took longer then usual but finally she darted out and as started to catch up to my boy up ahead I saw him kneel at a neightbour’s yard and pick up a dandelion or two. He was making wishes. 
Hopes that I didn’t feel i needed to inquire about or perhaps I was making my own wish and that’s that he would stay young like this just a little more longer.

Guiding Light

After picking up some dry cleaning and making my way to my truck a very tall and quite muscular young black man and a companion walked towards me. He seemed lost in thought and didn’t seem to notice he was in my direct path. As we neared one another he was tugged forcefully by his UCR Blue shirt and in a second snapped by into reality. He apologized to me and with a smile I told him not to mention it. As his much shorter mom and him walked on I overheard her scolding him to pay more attention and he gave out a respectful acknowledgment. 
That’s the power of good Moms I suppose

Truth in Short

Stocky is the word that comes to mind when I see photos of my self as a 10 year old. I was a blocky looking kid with long curly hair, chubby cheeks and lacking in height.
I would lean out in the later years but never reached 6 feet like I wanted to.
That’s why it’s a marvel to look at my gazelle like boy running about the home. He’s got that strong swimmers back and lean long legs that in time will lead his line of sight centimeters past mine. One day I’ll have to look up to my son because that’s what the genes seem to dictate.

Ain’t life funny?

Eye Contact

It had been a tiring two months and at times it seemed as if every third day or so we’d made the drive to the hospital on unassuming Beverly Boulevard in Montebello and rush up to the floor where my father laid in bed after his very last episode at home.

Every time the phone rang during those weeks a rush of sensations would shoot like a bolt of lighting down my back. Why my mother’s number appeared on the tiny grayish screen of my phone I always wondered for half a second if it had finally happened. After the first four or five calls and hurried trips the calls started to become a nuisance and took a back seat to a few other pressing matters before me.

The holidays were now soon just before us. My wife and I were expecting our first child. The economy was quickly beginning to show the signs of a radical change. Things were moving in all sorts of different directions and now my father’s possible demise was becoming just “another issue to deal with”.

Our near identical temperament had kept us away for many years. Soon after my 15th birthday my father and I had quietly come to the understanding that we were not mean to be friends. At least, not for a long while. He had many demons. The alcohol, the rabid temper, his need for women other than my mother. I felt short of his ideal for a son. I was too sensitive, meek to the world and shied away from verbal or physical confrontations.

Things did not get better as I aged. My college years expanded my range of questions and I felt his frustration when he had to admit a lack of answers. He was an intelligent man who had not been well educated. He was proud of his son’s achievements but was troubled to see him pulling away. Fights and threats were frequent. I think I felt his fists on my chin, shoulders and ribs more during those times.

Then I met someone special. Someone different than the usual young ladies they had learned about throughout my first eight quarters of college. The woman I met was spirited, rational, traveled and no-nonsense. She sparked the idea of a life outside of our university and the real life tools we’d need to begin it. My time with her was magical but as we became closer life at home deteriorated at a quicker pace.

By the time the decision was made to move in together, my father and I hardly spoke. On the day I left for home and just before he closed the door behind me I heard his sendoff. “Good look to you and your whore. You are never welcomed here again.”

I made a life with Nicole. We continued to date, we struggled together, we built careers, we almost broke apart, we figured it out, we bought our first home, we planned our wedding and eventually announced that we had created a new life. The process took years of course and in that time, while my life progressed in leaps and bounds, the relationship with my father only moved in the smallest of positive increments.

It was with this history that my father and I met on that cloudy December day. The night before, I was informed by the nursing staff, he had lost the ability to speak and his weakness prevented movement. The man was trapped within his own body. My sisters and mother waited in the hall. They were exhausted, eyes red, shoulders slumped, clothes rumpled. They were also at odds with one another. Two thought he should continue fighting while one ambivalently argued that he needed to go and end the suffering.

I was briefed with options as his next of kin and the only person legally capable of deciding.

His hospital room was surprisingly well lit. He was laying on the bed nearly flat, a white thin blanket shrouded his body and his legs were apart some. It was in this moment that I came to understand how much his body had wasted away. The hulk of a man I had known as a child had imploded to skin and bones. The heavy hands with thick sausage-like fingers that had struck or held me as a baby were thin, veiny and lacked human warmth.

Then I came upon his face. His hearty cheeks were gone. Lips dry, cracked and had lost the full redness I remember my mother boasting about when I was younger. Interestingly, his hair was full and thick. It had grown fast since I had seen him last and it’s waviness caught me by surprise. I had an urge to touch it and I did. Stroking his mane back and remembering when he’d come home late and run his warm fingers through my hair as he muttered “buenas noches Hugo.”

It was in mid-stroke that his eyes opened and we made eye contact. It took half-a-second for him to focus and recognize me. I believe he did because I felt his gaze “leap” when I think he finally saw me. It seemed a long time passed before I spoke to him. It wasn’t a poignant speech and I don’t care to remember what was actually said. I do remember telling him that I wish I had made him proud. That the grandchild to come would be a boy. That I had made a decision and that I wished him the best. After that, he blinked twice and I saw his chest take in as much air as he could muster and then deflate quickly.

I stepped out of the room, signed awaiting paperwork and took a short walk.

When I returned, his body was cold. My father was gone.

A Head

My father scolded me harshly for playing at eastern corner of our residence on a cloudy Spring afternoon when I was about six. He had planned to create a garden there and had spent the earlier weekends tilling the soil.

My mother had explained to me that it was an escape from his grueling and psychologically draining work as a homicide detective in the Mexico City of the early 1980s.

From the window of my bedroom or from the shifting angles of my swing I watched his sweaty back, sun burnt shoulders and thick legs work in unison to plunge the shovel into the dirt and heave mounds of dirt that crumbled apart when they reached a few inches off the ground. It awed me that he could work 4 or 5 hours at a time with only a few lemonade breaks or an occasional beer that my mother would bring with a hearty refried bean, chile, avocado and ham torta.

Perhaps it was an act of rebellion that I decided to play in the island of loose dirt that he had worked so hard on. It had been one of my favorite spots of the yard to play in and I had been annoyed when he announced and described the planned garden to friends during our family’s yearly New Year’s Eve party. For a while I thought he had forgotten but then in early March he cordoned off the area with sticks and string and the special place was off limits for my baby sister and I.

When he spotted me that Sunday, I was doing cartwheels in the dirt. It was fun to feel my hands dig into the soil and I loved its coolness and how it dirtied my fingernails. His yell was powerful even from a distance and I grew cold when I heard it. By the time he reached me I was prepared for the worst but surprisingly he shooed me away gently with a warning not to do it again. This was a welcomed break and I resolved right there to comply.

The fever began early the next day. At first it meant taking one day off from school but when the stomach pains and severe headache sprung upon me my parents became alarmed. It had been about a week and no aspirin, tea or simple treatment helped. I was taken to a pediatrician who ran a few tests but failed to identify the problem. I was sent home while they studied further and it was then that I lost my appetite and for the next two weeks I began to loose weight rapidly.

Day after day my condition worsened and I felt terrible for causing my parents pain. My mother held her tears back as she placed countless moistened towels on my forehead. I saw a quiver at my father’s lip as he scoured my gaunt chest, thinning legs and ashen cheeks for clues or answers. I was slipping away slowly and there was nothing the they or doctors could do to stop it.

The weight of the situation drove my father to take a break and return to his work on the island of soil. A small tree he had planted early into the project was dying and he would take it out and replace it. As the shovel broke away the dirt and moved into the ground his foot felt the resistance of an object. It must have struck him odd as he had tilled this part and he was certain that no large rock or pipe layed beneath his feet. With curiosity he dug some more, pulled out the dying tree and in the whole he found a brown sack.

His fingers shook as he unfurled the burlap’s thick and stubborn knot. When it came undone a waft of stinking hot air moved up his nose. His surprise came in that he wasn’t surprised by the smell for he had encountered it before in his everyday work. It was the smell of decomposition and it belonged to the head of a large black cat.

My grandmother showed up later that evening and performed the ritual. She had been estranged from my parents for a few months and I had been surprised to see her. At my bed post she laid down a pack of cigarettes, a bowl, what seemed to a weed and a couple of eggs.

It hurt to cough as she blew cigarette smoke onto my face and I felt a chill tickle when she pressed the cool eggs about my naked body. The weed I saw smelled sweet and it soothed me as it brushed against my legs, feet and arms. I fell asleep some time during the event.

That night my parents burned the head, the blackened egg yolk and then prayed.

The next morning I awoke. The headache was gone, the fever had subsided and I asked my parents for a hearty breakfast.

A slab of concrete sits a top my father’s garden.


I heard my son’s voice bounce like a ping pong ball about the ancient rocks. Reverberating free and carelessly.

Unaware of it’s significance he played gleefully on the cool pink sands of the alien desert escape. Racing up steep dunes with winged feet. His grin bared in delight.

My daughter joined him. Wild and fiery her tiny voice filled the ancient valley. Her laughter roared up its walls and coated them with her spirit.

They joined a thousand hearts who have passed through these natural passages.


My father believed in the virtue of penmanship.

As a wee one he’d make me practice my writing for hours and would crumple sheets of letters if he didn’t think they were up to par.

Over the years though, as a man, I’ve been praised for my handwriting. I will even go out of my way to buy the best pens so as to enhance my impressions on crisp white paper or yellow Post-It notes.

To my son, I’ll encourage the same fondness for lettering. Perhaps not with the same fervor.