The Release

The Easter bunny was not as gripping as Santa Claus for me, nonetheless, as a child, we still decorated Easter eggs and our parents hid them as we searched anxiously throughout grandma’s yard for them. Whoever found the most was the “winner,” though winner of what, I’m unsure, aside from a warrant to boast. And I really loved boiled eggs – still do, though not as much as I did as a child. I especially loved when grandma would devil them up, er, make deviled eggs – I wonder why they are called deviled?

My dear mother was born on Good Friday, my aunt, brother, and mother’s birthdays have all fallen on Easter at some point in history and I am far from religious. Today, I do not celebrate this holiday. When you’re a kid, you’re more concerned with whether or not the Easter bunny is going to bring you a basket full of crap that’s going to “rot your teeth out” as the elders would quip. As an adult, you come to realize how deeply religious this holiday is and I’m just not one of those people that you’ll find sitting in a pew one Sunday out of the entire year.

I do miss the family gatherings, however, and there’s nothing like a holiday to make me realize just how much I miss them. I’d give anything to dye some eggs and whip up a home cooked Easter dinner with my mother right about now. It’s a beautiful, sunny Spring day in Los Angeles and the sounds of gathering families are plenty while the scents of their fruitful meals they’ll sit down to soon waft through the air.

Holidays just remind me of how I lost my family, gained one, and then lost that one, too. Dramatic sounding, I know, but it’s the truth and I kind of hate admitting how lonely I can be on days like today. I hate how speaking the truth can sometimes sound like I’m looking for sympathy when really I’m just looking for a release. And what good is the writing if I can’t release the truth and unload the weight that has burdened me for so long for shoving it deep down inside?

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Imaginary Friends, Pt. V – The Birds and the Bullets

My neighbor shot me in the back three times with a BB gun when I was about eight years old. I was standing on the corner of our front lawn with Hitler’s wet dream and the strange chick from a few houses down. We were using our imaginations, probably playing some version of what the Midwest kids called, “house.”

The first shot hurt badly and I remember continuing whatever make-believe I was in the midst of. After the second shot, which hit me directly in the same place as the first, I began to imagine there must be a bird pecking at my back. I have no idea what brought this imagery to mind. Perhaps it was the simple fact that I’d never experienced this kind of pain before or that I’d just finished watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds with my mother and a bullet was the furthest thing from my young mind. I still didn’t move or tell my friends what was happening, though by the third shot that hit, again, in the same spot, they could see the discomfort on my face. They asked what was wrong as I began to cry. I bolted inside, seeking my parents.

“My back, my back,” I was shouting in between sobs and trying to reach the wound, twisting my dominant right arm behind my back, unsuccessfully.

Both my mother and father were telling me to calm down as they sat me on their bedroom floor and lifted up my shirt to investigate. I began retelling the situation and it didn’t take more than five seconds before my dad quickly stood up, muttering angry f-bombs as he stormed out into the warm, summer air.

“Rick! Where are you going,” my mother yelled after him. My dad didn’t stop, but responded, “Call the police! This motherfucker shot her with a BB gun!” By “this motherfucker,” he meant the neighbor boy across the street that we’ll call David because, well, that was his name.

By the time my mother had dialed 9-1-1, my dad was already pounding on David’s parent’s front door, demanding, audibly from our home, “Open the fuckin’ door you son of a bitch before I break it down.” He could be seen pacing from the door to the living room window while continually shouting his demands. Obviously, the parents weren’t home and there was no way David had the balls to open that door.

I am uncertain how my dad was so certain that it was the juvenile delinquent neighbor or that he knew it was a BB gun I had been shot with. David must have made his character evident prior to shooting me and my dad was an army brat, after all.

All of us were relieved that the police showed up before my dad got his wish and got inside. It may very well had been my dad in handcuffs in the back of the cop car instead of David had my dad broken down the door. I recall my dad even saying, “I have no idea what I was gonna do if they’d opened the door.” My dad wanted blood that day and that may be one of the more telling moments in my young life where I could see how much my dad loved me and how far he was willing to go to protect me.

The three BB gun bullets broke the skin, but thankfully, because it was from far range, they did not penetrate. I don’t even have a physical scar. My parents didn’t press charges, but David was required to personally apologize for his actions in front of the police and my parents. When questioned on the reasoning behind his actions, his response was, “Because I wanted to see what would happen if I shot a living thing.” My brother became friends with my attacker some time after the incident, which didn’t last long as David was later arrested and sent to juvenile hall for beating up a handicapped kid.

This is the part where I’m supposed to talk about how it made me feel that my brother would befriend the person who had shot his sister. Like shit. The end.

Imaginary Friends, Pt. IV – Sara

When I was about ten years old, I had little girl, big dreams of one day modeling. One of the only girls near my age in the neighborhood who lived a few houses down from my parent’s told me that there’s no way I could ever model with all of the cuts, bruises, and scars I had all over my slender, tanned legs. She was blonde haired, blue-eyed, taller and skinnier than I – basically had the kind of looks my mother would deem Hitler’s wet dream. Mama had jokes.

This girl, who we’ll call Sara, and I spent quite a lot of time together but none of that time ever went by without her telling me how she was better than me in some way or how much of a crush she had on my brother. *rolls eyes* She already had an agent and if I wanted even a slim chance at modeling, I’d have to strive for unblemished, shaven legs like hers. She would remind me of this while running her manicured hand up and down her pale, smooth leg, even insisting I touch them once or twice. I don’t even think I was shaving yet.

“Uh huh, okay Sara,” I would repeat and nod my head, often trying to change the subject but nonetheless, feeling poorly about the many bicycle and skateboarding accidents that were visible upon my inferior limbs.

After my mother took me to a local modeling agency and I was told I was too short for anything aside from catalog, I decided dancing was more up my ally anyway and those slender legs were no more! From there, I became a cheerleader and practiced both for six years. To this day, I have scars from some of the more severe accidents I had as a child, playing outdoors, I have curves and strong muscles in places I never would have known existed had I not become a dancer, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of it. Okay, that’s not true, but my thigh cellulite is irrelevant to this story.

I have no idea what became of Sara – the only thing I know is that she became a mother at a very young age, but we had lost touch by then. I recall my mother often asking why I hung out with her. She probably smelled the bad news from five houses down whereas I know I smelled it but I just wanted to hang out with someone aside from the strange chick three houses down or Memo, Tebo, and Julie at that point.

An Ode to Poetry

I have an entire Rubbermaid bin full of my writing dating way back to when I was about six years old and still using monochrome computers in school. One of my first computer-typed stories was titled, “The Wolf’s Tree.” I recall my brother assisting with the edits of this very short story involving a wolf trying to save the trees from being chopped down in the rainforest. I’ll save that amateur story for another post but I wanted to share a poem I came across in this Rubbermaid bin titled, “Have a Safe Flight.” I’m pretty certain I wrote it circa 2007/2008 before submitting an entire manuscript of poetry to an anthology. I rarely write poetry these days though I still maintain an affinity for the style. Anyhow, I give you the downright sappy, in young love, “Have a Safe Flight.”

You kissed her lips as she waved goodbye and then you muttered, “have a safe flight”


You held her tight as she cried herself to sleep in your bed that forsaken night


Brushing the hair away from her face, you gazed intensely into her tired, brown eyes


You made love to her on the sand and told her she was beautiful so many times


You nursed her to health when she was sick and convinced her it would be all right


You played her that song, the one about despite the distance, everything would be fine


Even confessed to her friend how you loved her and felt so lucky to have her in your life


You told her you wanted her and only her, making it all seem so worth the fight


When she returned, you told her you’d walk the many miles to her house late that night


Refused to drive until she gave you those kisses while holding up traffic at the green light


You slow danced with her, just the two of you in your room, amongst the candlelight


You invited her over, surprised her with dinner and even white wine


You ran her a hot bath, rubbed her back, played with her hair and still, stood the time


She gave you her everything because little did you know, you changed her life.

Imaginary Friends

I had imaginary friends for years. Their names were Memo, pronounced MEEMO, with the long “E,” Tebo, rhyming with the latter and Julie, the most normal named non-existent friend of mine.

While driving around my hometown, I would often point out random vehicles, wave ecstatically and exclaim to my mother, “OH, there’s Julie!” Or while kneading play-doh between my little fingers at the dining room table, pretending to run a bakery, I would scold my invisible friend, Tebo for burning the cookies.

Tebo! I told you not to forget the cookies! Now what are we gonna do?”

Needless to say, I possessed a great imagination, however, the older I get, the more rumination I do, the more therapy sessions I partake in, it is becoming clearer to me that my three friends were more about an escape from my reality than they were a product of a typical child’s mind.

My mother worked hard for as far back as my mind was able to register the virtue of work and able to perceive time. Though I imagine the nights where I was left alone with my inattentive, older brother and equally as inattentive, alcoholic father seemed to last a lot longer than they actually did. I hated being left alone with them. It’s probably more accurate to state that the impression has lasted longer than the situation.

On many of these occasions, my brother, imaginary friends and I wound up at my grandparents’ home due to an exceptionally inebriated dad who was passed out on the brown, dingy couch spotted with erratic burns from a dropped cigarette or five. After countless attempts to wake him we would call grandma to come pick us up because we were too young to be left unsupervised or so that’s what adults like my father told us.  How’s that for an underdeveloped mind fuck? Besides, what if my dad was dead? In my naivete, I needed another adult to ensure it wasn’t the grim reaper but an excessive amount of booze causing our father to abandon his adult, fatherly duties.  On these late nights, my tired mother would fetch us from grandma and grandpa’s after long hours at work before heading home.

If my dad wasn’t working the following morning, a heated fight would inevitably ensue. In fact, the appetizing scent of bacon cooking in the kitchen would often waft into my slumber and trigger the anxiety, a feeling I was unable to identify at such a young age.  If the sound of shouting hadn’t rudely awakened me, the aroma of dead, fried pig that most associate with an enjoyable breakfast would inform me of an impending argument between mother and father.

Thankfully, inanimate objects, like pewter ashtrays, didn’t go flying across the room meeting the plaster walls with a heavy, sharp crash, sending gray, morbid plumes of cigarette ash into its damaging path every day. Fortunately, my mama and I would leave before it escalated to such levels because I couldn’t bear to see my mother’s pain nor be left alone in her hasty departures.

En route to grandma’s or my aunt’s, my mother and I would sometimes discuss our relationship woes with the men in our family. That was a normal Saturday for me. That was the familiar, what I could learn to count on, to expect.

Hey! There goes Julie!” I would wave at a random Pontiac, “She didn’t see me,” I would explain, disappointment drawn in a southward facing scowl across my little girl face.