Tag Archives: writing

down in the Texas of my heart

To say I miss Texas would be imprecise. I don’t miss everything about it: the neverending wind, the weird traffic customs, steaming my ass in a chicken suit on a tarmac in the summer…it’s not all worth celebrating. But then I think about the drives I used to make from Del Rio to San Antonio, especially the ones by myself, early in 2004, when my ex was in training and I had to feed the snake myself. (He had graduated from rats to rabbits and was getting cumbersome to handle. The snake. Not my ex.)

I would rouse myself at six in the morning, feed the cats, make sure no tarantulas were peeking out from under the bed. Then I would grab a few CDs and set up some music for the drive in my lemon of a Ford wagon with peeling paint on the hood. I was finally used to driving again after the accident the previous Easter, though driving past the Hondo McDonald’s never got comfortable. I would get in, ease down the road, stop half an hour later at the gas station/laundromat in Brackettville to check my tire pressure. There was nowhere to stop in between. Brackett was the first chance. Sometimes I’d peruse the flavors of Blue Bell in the ice cream case, but mostly I’d head back out and drive without accommodation.

Here was the Border Patrol stop, at Cline, the one that always closed during rainstorms because of the bend in the road. Our Congressman was fixing that with funds appropriated for a new covered station with a dog kennel on site and 24/7 surveillance. It’s probably there now, but I haven’t been back.

There was Uvalde, where my friends and I went antiquing that one time and the interior decorator in the group brought home a framed windowpane to hang from the ceiling, to separate her living room from her kitchen. There was the hairdresser. There was Wal-Mart. And then there was nothing again.

Here was Knippa, with a sign letting you know it was okay to blink. Everyone knew the only cop in town attended church on Sundays, so if you wanted to speed, do it before noon. There was Sabinal, where the speed traps got serious, but you could really start picking up San Antonio radio if you tuned just right. And then there was Hondo. I didn’t like to think about it much after the accident. I always saw myself on the side of the road, in the middle of a standing takedown and apologizing to the firemen on either end of my litter for whatever gas was about to escape from my loosened body.

Castroville was my favorite. Not only did it mark the edge of San Antonio, but it held an Alsatian bakery I loved going to if I could get there early enough. A chocolate milk and a cruller could hold me for most of the day. Most people know San Antonio is heavily Mexican-American, but I’m always shocked at how many fail to recognize the area’s German heritage mixed in. After all, isn’t norteño just polka with a different accent? If you want to know what’s unique about this part of Texas, look to the confluence of those two bits of culture.

By the time the sunrise stopped troubling my eyes, I was in western San Antonio, complete with Sea World and The Best Little Warehouse in Texas, scoping out the Best Buy and Super Target and anywhere else I couldn’t visit in Bordertown, U.S.A. I knew I only had a few hours to kill. I needed to head back before nightfall, before the deer took over the road.

Now I have Best Buy and Target and even IKEA within a ten-minute drive. I have an incredible view of Mount Evans and Longs Peak every day. But I don’t have that long, lonely drive. I don’t have an early-morning cruller, and I don’t have the occasional radio transmission from Victoria or Odessa, borne on a spring fog. I don’t have any sense of isolation, and so I don’t have gratitude. The natural beauty and capitalistic abundance here breeds smugness. I miss missing things.

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this has the word “sex” in it

no real title yet, still a work in progress

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Fearful Symmetry

Friedrich Kekulé once said
he discovered the shape of the
benzene molecule, a perfect ring of
carbon studded with hydrogen,
by dreaming of a snake eating its own tail.
I am reminded of this story
every time I put my foot in my mouth.
I would like to believe in purpose.
I tell myself that this is destiny,
that my mistakes are not mistakes,
that the pristineness of my self-destruction
like the immolation of the phoenix
is an invitation to new beginnings,
to forgetting how broken you make
sure I know I am.
I would like to believe
that even thrusting combustion
out in all directions like
a frightened and flammable
porcupine,
even in this prickly state I am learning
atom by atom
how to live without your oxygen.
I burn bright
all by myself.


a promise for 2016

i have a habit-building app called Streaks on my phone. it gamifies all the little things you’re supposed to be doing regularly anyway. so if you have an exercise goal, for example, you can say you’re going to play tennis three times a week. if you achieve your goal for the week, you’ve started a streak. you keep it going by continuing. if you’re supposed to be doing something every day, and you miss a day, your streak starts over. but you can still look at all the days you accomplished something and feel good about it. so it’s motivating without feeling impossible.

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the first hitch

she stepped onto the edge of the pavement. her foot overlapped the white line by a fraction of an inch. she remembered avoiding the white squares in the supermarket as a child because they were lava. avoiding was a luxury. these days were bleached bones, and she faced her ghosts with a set jaw.

she extended her arm.


ain’t it feel right

she touches needle to vinyl, finds the groove, releases. closes her eyes. again.

the lights are out. late afternoon shadows shuffle into the room, making it cool and green. her feet trace circles into the matted carpet. she feels for the sonic sweet spot, then settles in and stills herself. the sound comes, full, embodied. it’s the same sound she’s heard for the past hour, three minutes forty-nine seconds at a time, before she rips the arm from the disc and searches for the beginning. as if finding it could somehow help her wriggle out of her skin, become frequency and amplitude. life feels all amplitude anyway these days.

again.


welcome home

Here’s the thing: when you’re driving somewhere and you don’t know where you’re going, when you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, it’s all beautiful. It’s all possibility. (This includes the possibility of driving off a cliff, my mind chants to me as I swear silently. Minor details.)

You find yourself in situations you’d never contemplated, like shimmying sideways on a two-lane road to escape a thirty-foot dust devil on an August Saturday in west Texas. You find out quickly that, much like the controllers on your Nintendo when you played Mario as a kid, your car doesn’t jump when you do. You also find out that you didn’t die. You didn’t die! And now there’s one more thing you’ve survived, another tale of badassery to add to your arsenal: I survived almost getting eaten by a killer monster dust devil.

You wind your way around canyons that call to mind Wile E. Coyote. Then you realize you’re in roadrunner country for real and it all hits home, you’ve done this thing, you’ve left the mountains you called your heart and descended into a new country full of tumbleweeds and grit in your teeth, and you can’t take it back. It’s for love, you tell yourself. It’s an adventure, you tell yourself. This is true. But when you’re rolling into town at ten at night and it’s still ninety-nine degrees outside, when the hot action on the strip is the makeshift car show outside the local Blockbuster, when you aren’t yet familiar with every other radio blasting accordion, all you can think is, I can’t take it back.

Welcome home.


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