Please read below for four short pieces. Check back later for more!
My dream room
My dream room would be filled
with sunlight, tall windows,
and even higher ceilings
outside would be green and gold
fields, swaying and dancing
but in the distance
sequoia trees, unmovable
inside would be empty white walls,
walls I could cover with art
whenever I felt something
or wanted to feel something
in the night, the moon would bleed
through the curtains
and cast shadows on the
I’d walk the long corridors
to the corner where the
plants would sit
and just talk to them
so I could feel something
and I’d look up to see the
stars through the skylight
and wonder how
to maybe feel something
and maybe I’d feel a little closer to heaven,
but maybe I’d feel a little closer to Earth.
What is art?
To me it is not “form of expression” like most people say. It’s not an expression of my feelings. I don’t paint bright colors when I’m happy, and dark colors when I’m sad. That’s not really how it works. Everyone makes art seem magical and abstract, but in reality it is a technical, mechanical, rather mundane process. It’s a beat-up path of mistakes and successes, an exercise of the mind. It’s a struggle between what is in your head and what comes out on paper. Maybe you have been pondering on a subject for some time, even if it’s something dumb like a movie, or something grandiose like the night sky. Does it excite you? Does it scare you? The thoughts show up in the aftermath, a kind of revelation of the subconscious. You don’t even know what you’re gonna come up with until you actually do. To me, the art is by the artist and for the artist. But if it can relate to someone else, and make them feel something… then that’s pretty amazing, too.
I hate when I’m watching nature shows and they explain how extraordinary the animal is and then they say stuff like: “Isn’t it amazing how this animal has evolved?”…
Everything scientists have proven about the earth is that it is in a state of disorder (or entropy). Things go from orderly to disorderly over time. That is why a room doesn’t stay clean forever on its own, or why debris don’t clean themselves up after a natural disaster. Yet, we are constantly told that the earth gathered itself up from a state of disorder into a state of perfect order and balance… to then produce 8.7 millions of species into coexistence. I don’t know, but have y’all ever seen a bunch of rubber bands come together to make a car tire? Or a bunch of wooden planks stack themselves up to make a house? I haven’t. Regardless of what you believe, I think it’s important to reason and think about these things, instead of letting others tell us what to think.
Some people say that believing in God is the easy way out. That it’s for the poor, uneducated, or ignorant. But, really? Is that so? When someone believes in evolution, what hope do they have for the future? What purpose do they have for being on earth? Believing in a Creator gives you hope and a purpose, but it also means you have to own up to somebody for your actions. Ahh… there it is. Often, people who deny the existence of a Creator simply don’t want anyone “dictating” them how they will live their life, or follow any “rules.” But people who choose to respect the Creator rather than worship the creation, take on this responsibility. So which one is really the easy way out?
I remember the day before it happened. A typical Saturday evening. One of our regular visits at the center. They already knew us. We always came in bunches. Friends, family, friends that were almost like family… I don’t think anyone else had more visitors than my grandmother. Hola, abuelita. ¿Ya comió? She barely opens her eyes to see who has come in the room. Always in a state of half consciousness. No, no, no, I don’t want to eat. Come on, grandma. No, no, no. We prod her lips apart and force water through a straw. We watch the water dribble onto the bedsheets. Every day the same ordeal. We spend hours taking turns in the room trying to talk to her. We talk to her about the weather, we talk to her about school, we talk to her about memories, we try to make her laugh, we try to convince her that she will be home soon. Anything to make the sparkle in her eyes come back. Most times, she’ll give us a faint smile then close her eyes and sleep, as if just smiling has tired her out. We watch her breathe for a while. The room is too little for all of us. Too much love in the room. Too much hope. I quietly step out. I don’t give her my usual kiss on the cheek. I don’t even say goodnight.
It was, they told us, simply a rehabilitation center, that she would be out of there in a few weeks as long as she ate and exercised. Yeah, it sounded so easy. But for an 84 year old woman, it was like trekking up Mount Everest. She dreaded the thought of food, and had no desire to get up and move around. And although the center looked, felt, and smelled like a nursing home, we would never call it that. Because “nursing home” would imply that we had abandoned the matriarch of this great family in some strangers’ hands. That we hadn’t cared for the woman who made it possible for 22 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren to be alive. We refused to accept that this was the bed she would die in. We did everything in our power to keep her alive, to bring her home. And not because she wanted to, but because we needed her to.
Sunday morning. I was eating breakfast with my family. Suddenly the phone rings, but my mom doesn’t recognize the number. I look at it for a few seconds and it hits me. It’s the center calling. Mom, answer it! I immediately regretted my words. She isn’t even on the phone for a minute. Noooo! she screams. She pounds the table with her hand. ¡Mi mamá! she cries, ¿por qué mi mamá? Her arms collapse and the phone falls on the table. As my dad argues with the nurse for having spoken with tactlessness, I stiffly walk over to my mother’s shaking body and try to hug her. She is inconsolable. I see my sister hiding under the table holding her knees, probably more frightened by our mother’s reaction than by the news of our grandmother’s death. Then the truth hits me. I didn’t even say goodnight. And now I have to say goodbye.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, prepares you for a moment like this. I thought so many times about the aftermath of my grandmother’s death because, of course, one can only expect that it was approaching soon. I would imagine how my family would react, especially my mother. But the more I thought about it, the more distant it seemed, like it could never happen. The thing is, we always had hope. Each day we tried to hold on to whatever hope we could find, even though, in retrospect, there was really none. Since the surgery, everything had gone downhill. It’s not that the surgeons did anything wrong. My grandmother’s surgery had gone perfectly fine. She practically had a new heart. But for the seven years that followed, my grandmother did less and less. In her mind, she was still the woman from twenty years ago who traveled everywhere and did everything. But her willpower to actually be that woman again was much too low. Or maybe her expectations were just too high. Maybe she had hoped to jump off the operating table with a skip in her step. Maybe she just didn’t know how these things work.
Thursday morning. We are all standing, staring, silent, solemn. Grass everywhere, but beneath our feet only damp dirt. We are each given a single rose. One by one, we throw the roses in the hole. Red and white ones. They look pretty on the golden coffin. I even take a picture. While the adults quietly sob, the little ones loudly express confusion. Mom, why is she going in there? Mom, mom. Why is she there? I had hoped that if we threw enough roses, she’d come back to us. I don’t know, maybe she’d smell them and open her eyes. Or if I had just kissed her goodnight that evening, she would still be with me. I think of my extended family. Would we still see each other? Would there be any reason to gather together anymore? The glue of the family: buried. First my grandfather, and now, exactly two years later, my grandmother. I feel a huge emptiness inside. I try to imagine my future without her. I feel like a tree that’s been uprooted, or a painter who has run out of paint. I don’t know. It’s just not the same, and I wish things weren’t so blurry.
You know what my grandmother’s dream was? To see me get married. That was what she wanted. She told me all the time. She had wanted it so much that it became my dream, too. But she won’t see me in the white dress. Or hold my kids. Or tell them the stories she used to tell me. I can only recount the memories of my grandmother. I can’t bring her back. Everyone we’ve ever loved eventually becomes just a memory. Good or bad, there they are. I mean, they are still with us if you think about it. They’re never really gone. I think about my grandma every single day, so in that sense, she is always with me. And I know that all those little bits and pieces of her that I hold onto are worth something. Because I remember. Not everything, but enough. Enough to keep me going.