2. Why so sensitive?

So, seeing shadows growing up, hearing voices (someone speaking my name, normally), feeling like I’m being stared at from the outside I thought was normal. Perhaps it is, but either way I just assumed everyone saw these things just as I did as a snot-nosed punk that would play with his Star Wars figures until I’d lose capes, light sabers or their heads would fall off.

But it really isn’t, at least not the way I experienced the scent of my grandmother’s perfume pass by me. Or those days when visiting my grandparent’s home in Edinburg — after my grandfather died — I could smell him and his boots. Grandpa used to wear work boots after retirement, and for a spell, instead of wearing a cool ventilated baseball cap outside he’d instead wear a hard hat to keep the sun’s rays from baking his thinning hair.

Grandpa was a typical grandfather (or at least in my culture): He would go days without showering, would wear the same white undershirt with a flannel over it, some khakis and long tube socks. In any case, I loved the man, but he was stinky and we all knew it. We just dealt with it.

In any case, every now and then I’d go to a room and in a specific spot at the time (the scent wandered from time to time) and I could smell him. For confirmation I summoned my cousin, who also could sense the paranormal. Her’s was a bit more scary than mine, which I’m thankful for. Then I called my aunt over, and she couldn’t smell a thing.

Calling my aunt over was really not to confirm what we could smell, but to test her sense of smell. We would joke with her after one day she came into our room (my cousin, and sometimes her and her brother — also my cousin in case that is lost on you — would share a room — and exclaimed that she could smell our ‘body oil.’ Well, if she’s so sensitive, I wanted to test how sensitive it was. Apparently it was reserved for bodily fluids, and not much more beyond the realm of the living.

In any case, that was a mild example of what I have the ability to do, although I’m not the only one in the family who has abilities. My cousin, as I mentioned, also has her gifts. Trouble is she seems to pick up on the very negative a lot. From growling voices speaking to her as she walked from our mobile home to my aunt’s house just 20-30 yards away in the dark to seeing red glowing eyes outside of a window staring at her. Her sensitivity is far more intense than mine.

I mentioned the scent, I also lightly went over seeing shadows. Aside from those advantages (we’ll call them advantages for now), I could feel spirits, and if I concentrated just enough I could figure out what they were like. Man, woman? Old, young? Serious, jokesters, angry, just observing? Things like those I could sense.

I was even tested by another sensitive. She wasn’t trying to do it, but another friend mentioned what my skills were so I was placed to the test. We were at a friend’s house and I was asked if I sensed anything there. After about a few minutes I said ‘yes.’ I mentioned it was a man, maybe young or an older teenager. He wandered in her hallway, but stuck to rooms at both ends of the hallway.

He was just trying to tease the living because he enjoyed it. I got a sense of a clown. Now, I’m not saying I think he was a clown, but I think he’d clown around a lot. A prankster. I said it was scary to the kids to see him when he appeared too them because, well, who wouldn’t be? But really, he’s just observing and sometimes playing practical jokes.

The other ‘sensitive’ agreed. She wouldn’t stop staring at me as if she couldn’t believe I picked up on all that. She was a believer then, as was the friend who thought she’d put me in an awkward situation by seeing if I really knew what the hell I was talking about.

I consider those gifts pretty minimal. At best I can sense people, events, or situations that are about to occur. An innocent example was when I was a pre-teen and visiting my family up north of the Dallas area. I spent the summer there and I would do whatever would keep me busy (whatever I did, tv watching wasn’t one of them).

One day I was upstairs, looking through my older cousins albums (I was young, but we had similar tastes in rock music). I heard my uncle’s pick-up truck pull up outside and then I heard him shout my name so that I could go outside and meet with him. The way he said my name I knew what I was about to be ‘surprised’ with.

The first thought in my head? He bought me a bicycle. I went down the stairs (which were rumored to be haunted by a little boy who roamed at the landing at the top, and the bottom step, but never anywhere else) and there was a used kids bike. It was the best bike to me, a banana belt, good color, nice tires and it was mine. In any case, just the way the truck rolled up and the sound of his voice specifically told me he brought me a bicycle. Or was it the little boy whispering in my ear to alrert me what was about to happen? Hmmm. I just thought of that.

So in any case, I don’t think I have these great powers for the supernatural, but I have always had a few elements that have tipped me off to presences, future events, avoiding a certain road, waiting a little longer before leaving the house, or just the idea of staring at something random on my way out of the house — like, say, a utility knife. I’d keep staring at it wondering why it drew my attention, but left the house without it. Of course, some situation would arise where that utility knife would have been beneficial.

I don’t leave the house when something tells me not to leave something behind.


1. Hometown history

Before getting started on the short travel through time these next few days/weeks, I’d like to start with a couple of entries that I think are necessary to set up my ghostly experiences.

I grew up in a small town called Edcouch, named after its founder Edward Couch. Now, I repeat what I know about its history from memory from a history class I had in the seventh or eighth grade. We studied the histories of Edcouch and neighboring city Elsa. Both communities were known as the Twin Cities because of their close ties and overall familiarity with each other. Even the school district is called Edcouch-Elsa ISD.

Today the two towns struggle to stay alive, although Elsa is faring much better, being the home of various businesses like Wal-Mart, Jack-in-the-Box, Whataburger, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, Diary Queen, McDonald’s and, of course, H-E-B.

Edcouch, on the other hand, is struggling to maintain its relevance, have nary a gas station within city limits to quench your ride’s thirst. Just like almost everything else, you have to take the two-mile drive or less to Elsa and get your necessities.

But that hasn’t always been the case.

When both towns were first founded, Edcouch began growing quickly, becoming home to various businesses. That was largely due because the Missouri-Pacific train would travel through with goods back in the 1920s and 30s. Edcouch was the place to be for business and consumers alike. The city’s unofficial slogan was, “Edcouch: Where 30 minutes is ancient history,” or something along those lines.

Elsa was no different. Even their main factory (I think it was a food canning operation) was definitely the center of town and also mere hundreds of yards from the MoPac railway. The canning business was such a large part of the city’s business that most major streets led straight to it. The roads, similiar to those of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (or the White House), went south to north, north to south, east to west, and diagnally to meet at the end where the canning plant was.

Both cities were booming, and business was good. Folks would travel as far away from Brownsville, what now is an hour and a half drive almost by a car going up to 80 mph in some stretches on the expressway. Who knows how long it took by horse and buggy? But folks would make the trip to conduct their business in these two cities.

But as most of the nation was at the beginning of the 20th century, there was segregation. The Mexicans were kept to one side of town and were forbidden to travel across certain boundaries after hours and were even handed a curfew each night.

Segregation or not, the railroad still brought fortune with it in every load of supplies it left local businesses.

Then the stock market crashed.

With that came the same fate that did of the rest of the country. Business closed down, people stopped traveling to the Twin Cities, and slowly the cities began a slow death. Nearly 100 years later, save some prosperity in recent years, it’s still suffering.

Now, this part I wasn’t taught, but going through what I experienced when living in both cities, I know something else may have been going on that history doesn’t explain. With so much business and clientelle, and so much money exchanging hands, surely there should have been some vagrants, robbers, heists, thieves and the like attracted to the area. Back in those days, one can only imagine what justice was like. Perhaps death from gunfights? Hangings? Who knows?

One thing I drew a conclusion from, after I learned that most of the supernatural goings on that I have experienced and that I’ve heard others speak of, all occured very near where those railroad tracks used to lay. What went on? I don’t know, but experiences of mine, my family, and friends who leaved within 100 yards of the railroad all seemed to coincidental.

Growing up I’m still not sure if we were poor. We did live in a four-room wooden house built on concrete ‘risers’ (I can’t remember the word I’m looking for, but as soon as I do I’ll come back and edit that). My parents shared one bedroom, my sister claimed the other, and I think my brother and I took turns on the couch and carpeted floor at night in the living room. The other room was the kitchen, and the bathroom wasn’t added until I was very young, so I dont remember much about showering in the shed out in the back that doubled as a shower with a toilet in the corner. Taking a shower during the winter (whicha re mild in deep South Texas) was still pretty rough.

Either way, I saw plenty. I heard plenty, and was uncomfortable at times. But most of the time, growing up with it on nearly a daily basis, I didn’t think much of what was happening. It wasn’t until later when I realize that sort of activity is not normal.

Hearing voices, shadows, losing toys only to find them later just where you left them even though it was the first place you looked, feeling touched, and getting a sudden chill were experiences not normal for a six-year old.

But of my brother, sister and parently, why was I the only one who could see, feel, smell and hear these things? Well, that guess will be my next installment.

‘Tis the season to be scared

Halloween used to be my favorite time of year next to Thanksgiving (can’t beat food and football) for years. It wasn’t so much the dressing up or passing out candies to the local kids, but just the overall feeling of fall, cooler weather, and the beginning of a wave of holidays.

The nights felt different.

Somehow the darkness felt like it was staring at you, like a stranger peeking through a crack in the curtains or blinds. While you go about your business, you feel something, but you don’t quite know what it is. Yet somehow your stare every now and then is pulled like gravity to that slit so small, but big enough for something outside to get a good look.

These were nights where falling asleep came a little slower, like a skit in a cartoon where your eyes kept drifting shut, but also kept opening up a little less until the weight of the eye lids and lashes were too much to battle.

But as someone who enjoyed a bit being scared, the next morning felt great and the only thoughts you had were, “And I had trouble sleeping last night.”

The day went on as usual, whether it was work, meetings or weekend football games. But at night, the blanket of darkness always brought with it a sense of uneasiness. Something wasn’t right, but you just couldn’t place it.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I spent most of my life in the Rio Grande Valley here in Texas. A place where if local lore about spirits on the railroad tracks, a leg-less torso running across the road using their hands to do so, or a dark figure in a trench coat with red eyes standing on rooftops — stories like that — were part of the local culture.

Consider this entry a preface to what I expect to write over the next two weeks sharing what I personally went through while living there. I may interject stories my family shared, but mostly my experiences are enough to keep someone from sleeping at night.

Halloween is no longer my favorite time of year, but I no longer fear it as I did at one point in my life. I still hear creaking, voices, even the sounds of animals, but I don’t panic anymore. I’ve been through enough for little things like that to bother me.

I probably have enough to write an entry each day until Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), but I’m not making any promises.

I’m not looking to scare anyone, but certainly place you in the mood for this season of the year. I hope you enjoy.

An outsider living in Austin

I’ve made the Austin area my residence for almost two years now. I lived for a while a bit north in Round Rock, but lived in Austin when I got here, and live here now.

It wasn’t my first trip to Austin. In my college years a friend went to school at Texas then St. Edward’s. My cousin went to UT and graduated from there. In fact, he keeps reminding me that if it weren’t for my love of the Longhorns through high school, he may have never gone to school here.

I’ve visited many times, took many canoe trips down the Colorado/LadyBird Lake/Town Lake areae. I’ve flipped my one-man dingy at Hippy Hollow. I’ve eaten Sixth Street pizza, and have smoked the sweet leaf a time or two while here. I’ve been to just about anywhere that needs to be gone to.

But, within the last year, I’ve been described as “one of those.” As in one of those who recently moved to Austin, and not a true Austinite.

I remember having this conversation before, and hearing on the radio, that you need to live here for 10 years before being considered an Austinite. But even then, you really aren’t.

Who the hell makes up these regulations? I was born in Chicago. I had nothing to do with that, but all of a sudden those who lived in Austin all their lives claim they are somehow much more regal than I am? I’m pretty sure most folk who say this lived off of mom and dad for the first two decades of their lives. After that, it was up to them to figure out what they were going to do, and where they would live.

But I’m here, now, being judged as a Johnny-come-lately and not a real Austinite despite my taxes being paid, my Texas Tag (if you don’t know what this is you don’t have one, or don’t need one), and high-fiving the homeless. One thing I will give up to Austin is that they have the most beautiful homeless people one the planet — granted I haven’t been all over the planet.

But you grew up in Austin. Good for you. Go ahead and pretend that’s a badge of honor. I grew up in all sorts of places and I am very thankful for that. But I don’t think of myself better than anyone else for it.

It’s Austin. You have crappy Tex-Mex food, the traffic blows, and your football team sucks. It’s not all that. It’s a great city, no doubt, but people who think like I mentioned need to get the Monty Python fish slap.

Lake Travis smells like a dump, and apparently now there’s a reason to believe it is a dump.

I’ve lived in much better cities. I love Austin, but don’t pretend to be better than I am because you grew up here and never moved and bothered to see how the rest of the world lives.



Where are you from?

In recent months I’ve noted that when people ask other folks–or me– where we are from, I take pause. I think about the question and wonder, “Where am I from?”

My journey to this point in my life has carried me to call a lot of places I call home, even if for a short period of time. From birth, to early years, to my formitive decade as a pre-pubescent kid who loved Star Wars, biking around the city, had a crush on several girls in elementary school and got into my one and only school fight.

A friend and I picked on a shorter, skinnier kid our age for the sake of just doing so. His older brothers noticed we were engaging in some not-so-friendly conversation, and some pushing was involved. They came and surrounded him, but not so much to defend him, but more in the sense of making sure they had a good view of what was about to develop.

Well, I forget the details, but punches were thrown. I don’t remember how quickly the fight ended, but the conclusion wasn’t part of the plan. The one ended up taking me and my friend behind the woodshed for a good ol’ country whooping. My friend and I were so upset we ended up fighting each other.

When I got home, my brother found out about it and made fun of me for days, pointing to the shiner I received under my left eye from trying to bully a kid that ended up turning the table on us.

But I digress…

Back to the question at hand, and the answer I’ve struggled to find. Now, I’ve never felt as if this was a question directed at me concerning my legal status. At least I didn’t take it that way (I’m American by birth, by the way).

See, I was born at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini hospital in Chicago, Ill., in the early 1970s (I’m not telling when). As an infant I lived there with my parents and older brother and sister. My maternal grandparents lived there, too, as well as family friends. But I only lived there until before I was a year-old, or so I’m told. The tale goes that my grandfather was mugged outside our apartment complex, and my parents thought it wasn’t safe for me to stay with them for the time being.

So at this point, I was sent (not by mail) to live with my paternal grandparents in Celina, Texas. Rumor has it I lived with them for a few years before my parents decided to leave Chicago and return to Texas. We continued to live in Celina, but I only really have one memory of the place. My cousin, who was around my age of about 4 or 5) had to really, really go to the bathroom, but someone was in there. So she proceeded to walk outside into the flower bed next to the steps leading up to my grandparent’s house, drop her drawers and took a poop. I couldn’t believe she was doing this, but I couldn’t turn away. That is my only real memory of Celina while living there.

From Celina, my family moved to Edcouch, Texas, which is the complete opposite of the state of Texas from Celina. In Celina, we were closer to the Oklahoma border, being not too far away from Dallas. In Edcouch, we were about 15 miles from the Mexican border. Edcouch is a city in the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost four counties of the state near beautiful South Padre Island.

I lived there until I was a freshman in high school. By this time my parents had divorced, and my father lived outside the city of Elsa — Edcouch’s sister city. I ended up leaving my mother’s home for reasons that I may talk about at some point here, just not now. So I live with my father now, and we are generally though to live in Elsa (I still went to Edcouch-Elsa High School) but had an address listed as residing in the city of Weslaco (I’m not going to get into the semantics).

I was with my father a very short period when, at the end of my first semester of my sophomore year in high school he decided to leave for North Carolina to work as a day laboror. My father was always a worker, so this did not surprise me. Thing was, I didn’t want to go to North Carolina. I wanted to stay behind. My dad didn’t make it a big deal and made arrangements for me to stay.

So yet again I find myself living with my aunt, my cousins and my grandparents, but they had move to Edinburg from Celina years before. Edinburg was just west of Edcouch and Elsa, and so I stayed with them for a short time, too, when my aunt met her future husband and her and my cousins moved to a city near Houston. I didn’t follow, and instead  moved in with my father’s other sister in the city of McAllen.

By now I should be getting the idea that peopole will move away a very far distance in order to get away from me. I know it’s not true, but if my sense of self was fairly weak, I would have thought that for life.

I lived with my aunt in McAllen the rest of the way through high school, graduating and then accepting a scholarship to go to college in Michigan. So I took it. I could have stayed home and gone to the local university, but something told me to go. So I went.

So while in college, I lived in Ypsilanti, Michigan for about a year, then for a short time in Ann Arbor. I had a technical screw up at school concerning my living accomodations, so I returned to McAllen, intending on going back to Michigan.

That plan didn’t work out so well.

I returned home and found a “summer job” delivering pizzas for a big pizza chain. I did that for a bit over a year before I was fired because I gave an interview to the local media concerning how well I thought we were going to do for Super Bowl Sunday (the Dallas Cowboys were in the game for the first time since the 1970s) and I may or may not have mentioned how much we expected to make. As an assistant manager at this point, I was the only one working at the time that was allowed to make such a bone-headed decision.

I was fired two days later.

So I look for another job and I am not having any luck. I have no desire to go back to college quite yet, so I hunt for something a typical college student would do. I couldn’t find anything, so a friend asked me if I wanted to try and give it a go in San Antonio, and a short time later I became a San Anonian.

That didn’t last very long because I realized that not finding a job was the problem. Not really actively looking for one won’t land you employment.

I again returned to McAllen. A short time later, the girlfriend I had on-and-off ended up telling me she was pregnant with my child. So we figured we were going to have to get married. When your life begins to take on priorities like an infant, you find a job fast. So I did. We moved back to Edinburg where she was a student studying bioilogy.

After a few years I went back to school. Eventually she became a teacher, and I was a sports writer when we moved back to Elsa. We lived there for a while until we, too, were divorced. I left for Edinburg, she stayed in Elsa.

I would live in Edinburg for about a decade before I found love. I met this woman at my best friend’s wedding in Nashville. We hit it off immediately and began a relationship soon after. But she mentioned to me that she had been applying to jobs (she was a banker) in California. I was saddened, but hopeful. I knew she had been delaying an offer she had on the table for a while because of me. I didn’t want her to do that, so she left for the central coast in California.

I don’t remember when she left, but I think it was a few months later. Some timme after that I followed her to Monterey, California. As fait would have it, I couldn’t find a job and my savings was dwindling. At some point we had the talk, and I started looking for jobs back in Texas.

I had no takes, but I had to leave as I didn’t want to be a burden. We didn’t break up, but I needed a job. So I drove back to Texas and took my time– five days to be exact. When I finally passed through El Paso, shortly thereafter I had a phone call. A media company in Austin was interested. I had a few phone interviews over the next two days and a week later I had a job in Austin.

So now, I make my living deep in the heart of Texas.

So tell me: Where am I from?




Memorial Day

(Editor’s Note: That’s me, if I get stabbed, shot or poisoned for this post, then what is freedom about if not vocalizing an opinion?)

So, this country has an anxiety about itself. It puts veterans on a pedestal, like they have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Some of them have, some of them came close, but to me, being a veteran doesn’t make a person any more special than I am. My life is worth the same.

Perhaps I got off on the wrong foot here, my issue on this holiday weekend really isn’t with veterans. My issue is with those who don’t appear to understand the meaning of this day. It’s Memorial Day. Memorial. To remember the ultimate sacrifice those in the military gave because they were given marching orders and ended up losing their lives because of it.

As Americans, many of us are so pathetically skewed on what military might and military right truly should be. Even if you can’t figure out the difference, someone died because of those two.  I just hate being pigeon-holed that I must believe that I owe something to every man and woman in uniform. Thus, the anxiety. This is America’s anxiety with the military.

The whole “Like your freedom? Thank a vet” crap doesn’t fly with me. My freedom has never been threatened, and no veteran in the modern era has fought for my ability to type these here words. That war was fought hundreds of years ago. Normandy, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan didn’t secure my freedom, so let’s get that clear.

On that same note, I also know those who died wearing the uniform should be honored. They deserve to be, because they were willing (sometimes unwilling) to place their life on the line when a writing hack like me didn’t. That’s what Memorial Day is all about. It’s not about a flag, an eagle, the red, white and blue, it’s about the families who lost those who died fighting for something we may or may not have believed in.

They wore a flag on their uniform, but they didn’t fight for a flag. They fought for us. Not a bird. Not a cloth, but us. They fought for the guy next to him. They fought for their girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband back home. Thinking they died for a flag belittles their true sacrifice in my eyes.

So if you see someone in uniform walking around today, it’s not his day. His or her day is Veterans Day. Today belongs to those who can’t walk around in uniform anymore. Those who gave their lives for whatever purpose they believed in, but ultimately we benefited from.

I do have family who are veterans, and on Monday (today) they have to work like many other folks. It’s not their day. It’s my great uncle Pablo’s day, who died fighting a war and people he personally had no beef with. He fought because he was told he had to. His life was cut short. Today is his day. If you are a veteran and are getting pretty pissed off right now, I don’t apologize, but your day is coming soon. It’s just not today.

Getting into writing again. My voice is hoarse.

The one reason why I came into the line of work that I do now is because I love telling stories. I love to share someone’s story and interest other people enought to read it. Hell, I love it when people read my stuff. It’s part of the rush.

But here I am, long removed from the days that I wrote almost daily, about a variety of things and often sports commentary as well. The best non-sports work I did was when I was encouraged to write a column a month for the metro section of the paper. It could be any subject, even sports, but they wanted to encourage a different sort of voice.

So I did. The idea lasted all of one month because the editor who spawned the idea stopped keeping up with it, lost interest, or just gave up altogether. I received plenty of compliments, and the subject I chose to write a column about was ridiculous: Fearing vomiting over death every day of my life.

I received all sorts of emails and telephone calls. I don’t remember if anyone commented online. Our paper was a bit behind the times at that particular point (the sports department wasn’t, of course, because we were always with the current or down river on this stuff.)

Here’s how one conversation went (at least the Cliff’s Notes version):

Caller: “That was the dumbest column I ever read.”

Me (thinking): “Somehow I don’t think you can read, dude.”

Me (aloud): “Sorry to hear that. What bothered you by it?”

Caller: “It’s just ridiculous. You’re afraid of puking instead of dying? Who thinks like that?”

Me (thinking): “Uh, I do dimple dick.”

Me (aloud): “I agree, and that was all the reason for me to write that. It was ridiculous.”

Caller: “The whole thing was just stupid.”

Me (thinking): “But you dumb ass read it, didn’t you?”

Me (aloud): “Thank you for reading though. I’ll try to pick better subjects so you don’t have to read that while you’re eating your Cheerios.”

But not everyone was so appaled. One older lady, whom I was certain with give me the, “What’s wrong with you, sonny?” line actually was the kindest. She said she enjoyed reading it and could tell I was very talented (she should have read my “Nacho” column from years earlier), and that I have a marevous voice in my writing.

(Hey, is down river a term? Just thought of that.)

A great compliment for sure. I enjoyed that conversation and wish I had the chance to continue delighting her with my prose for years to come. I never had the chance.

I was in management then, but I didn’t stop writing. I wrote game stories, I wrote features, columns, briefs, notebooks… anything I could. But it’s been many moons since this has been routine, and as such, I find I have lost my voice.

I thought I was poetic when I had to (on publisher said so without using the word “poetic” so that’s how I know), witty, serious and everything in between. I actually had fans/readers like Grantland Rice did in his day, only my audience was a little more, er, less populous.

I stopped writing, and that has really hurt my voice. I’ve tried to write, and so far words are typed onto the screen, but they’re just words that tell a story. I can’t find that knack to paint the picture. Show, not tell, as my college professor used to say. From one column talking of punting a kid the length of the football field where I was covering a game (another “Nacho” column reference), to the soles of football cleats making a thunderous sound with each step as we made our way from the cold concrete floor of the field house on a Friday night, and onto the football field. We sounded like Clydesdales.

I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find that column (I suspect it was around the late summer/early fall of 2003), but one reader called me to tell me he got goose bumps reading that as he sit on the porcelain for his daily expulsion.

I’m just going to write. Hopefully I’ll find that voice again. I miss hearing it, and I miss making those sounds on paper that people loved to read.

For now I just wrote these 800-plus words without editing because I want to think some more before I come back and refine it. Hopefully that will rehabilitate my writer’s throat enough to start writing full-time again. But this time for myself and those who want to read the lunacy that runs through my head.

You have to have a little wickedness between the ears to have a shot at a good living in this business. I’ve definitely lost some screws along the way, and my voice.

I hope it comes back real soon.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned …

This is the first blog post in nearly two months. It’s been quite the whirlwind since returning from California.

I was pretty much offered a job 2 hours after arriving in South Texas, where I couldn’t find one (not even mowing lawns as I’ve mentioned before) out west. I begrudgingly left California to see what The Lone Star State — a place where I’ve had roots since I was about 1 or 2 years old.

I’m back in journalism, and while it has taken this long to start getting the hang of things at my new office, I think I’m finally picking up on the process. It wasn’t easy getting to this point, I don’t pick up on things as quickly as I used to. I’m going to blame my lack of mental retention to that night in college when me and two friends split a club sandwich and ordered three waters at Denny’s and it was the greatest club sandwich in the history of the world. But that is another story.

I’m living in Austin now, and while I love the area, I haven’t quite explored it all yet. I know I’ve been here countless of times before, but I don’t remember.

In any case, I find myself now updating my blog after some time of silence. Sometimes this is the only conversation I have with folks after work. I know this isn’t a conversation, really, but it’s close enough.

I forgot how solitary this line of work can be, especially the work hours I have. I go into work when most folks are on Facebook killing the last hour of the day before punching out and heading home at 5 p.m.

So I decided to write. It was either that or heroin, and since I’ve never done heroin nor know anyone who sells it, I settled on writing. It is my first love, after all. I may not be great at it, but it’s the reason I went into journalism.

So I’ve decided to finally put whatever little stuff I have away and write every night after work — starting tomorrow, not today, that is. Why do something now when you can put it off until tomorrow, right? That’s the journalist in me.

So, starting tomorrow, I’m going to try to write my thoughts, outlines, notes, whatever comes to mind. Perhaps I’ll write about my day, or perhaps I’ll start writing that great American novel. Or just a novel, I don’t know.

I have plenty of story ideas written down. It’s only a matter of figuring out if I want to do some investigative reporting, or using past events and basing whatever story-telling I do on those real events.

I don’t know. But I just might start on those notes and outlines right now…

California Diary is Dead

Ok, I have a flair for the dramatic, so I hope that caught your attention.

Since my last post I have left California. I loved the state, save my fear of heights and all the damn mountains there, I loved the view, the people, the weather, I didn’t want to leave. But I had been applying for various jobs since April. I received a few call-backs, mostly from warehouses looking to fill labor positions. Of course, I’d interview with the hiring manager and when they saw my resume I was told I was over-qualified.

I even tried to get a job as a field laborer, but I guess my English was too good, I don’t know.

So I reluctantly left back to Texas, hoping I could find something in the state that has been my home most of my life. I applied for a job in Austin just before I left Monterey. I received an email asking for  a phone interview and I received one before I left.

A few weeks went by (it was the holidays, so I didn’t expect to get a call until after the new year), and I had a second call between Christmas and the New Year. I was somewhere in West Texas, if you can call it that. I was driving on I-10 which hugs the Texas-Mexico border. The funny story is that I was driving with my earbuds on so that I could keep both hands on the wheel while talking on the phone. Every time the phone rang I just hit the button without looking who was calling.

Well, I received two or three calls nearly back-to-back from online college solicitors. I kept getting annoyed as I just was focused on getting to San Antonio at a reasonable time. That’s when I got another call, which went like this:

Me answering phone: “This is Oscar.”

Other line: “Oscar, Hi this is Joe from (I interrupted him here)… media…”

Me, very irritated: “I’m not interested in having online classes.”

A pause.

Me: “Wait, where are you calling from?”

Joe: “I’m calling from Gatehouse Media.”

Me: (thinking in my head, “Holy fuck.”) I’m so sorry! I thought you were calling from the University of Phoenix or something! I am so sorry! I probably just ruined my chances at this job…”

Joe: (Laughing) “No, it’s OK. I’ll call you back later or tomorrow.”

We talked the next day, he thought our exchange was funny, and didn’t hold it against me. As a result, I got the job. I start Monday and I’m moving to the state’s capitol. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited.