These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

night walk

last night it was time to get off work. no one was ready to leave and there was about 30 minutes to wait. i really didn't want to wait and i didn't want to get my wife out into the cold.

i ended up calling her several times but she'd fallen asleep and the phones were downstairs.

after contemplating for a bit, i decided to walk home. it's only about six blocks and most are short blocks. the only problem was it was cold. damn cold and i didn't know if it was snowing out or not.

i stepped outside and yes it was snowing -- but just a bit, light and a little wet. i walked through the work tunnel and out the back parking lot and through the church parking lot behind my work and that would bring me closer to home.

i found the walk, which i thought would be tough at night, easier than walking to work during the day. i didn't have to put up with any daytime obstacles.

as i turned south on pine, the wind hit my face, but it felt good, my skin tightening up, eyes crinkled a bit. i bundled my self up even more.

my walking was brisk, even though i had to tread through sidewalks that had snow on them and high piles of snow after sidewalk plows pushe d up fallen snow. on corners, it can get treacherous because when street plows do their ting, they push up snow up against the edge of the sidewalk as it ends at the street, so you get this large wall of snow about a foot and a half high that you have to overcome. during the day it's tough because it all looks the same to me.

during my walks to work or the library, if you'd follow my footprints, you'd see a drunk man walking all over the snow-covered sidewalks.

but the night provided me with something special. ligh, of all things. the reflection of the street lights reflected off the snow and lit my way home in a manner that sunlight or daytime light doesn't ever do. the night's darkness gave me shadows where snow piled up and the street lights helped me on my way.

only a few cars made its way north and south on pine and they were my only companions coming home.

in some homes, lights lit up upstairs rooms. in most, houses sat in darkness, with the occasional security light flickering on as i passed by quietly.

on 14th, i encountered my only hazard and it wasn't on a snow-covered sidewalk; it was on a clear driveway. i was over confident by the easy walk taht i stepped into the cleared off area only to find it covered in a thin sheet of ice. my feet slipped out from under me for a split second. then i regained my footing and was back on familiar surface, snow.

i arrived to find my wife asleep upstairs, the phones sitting side-by-side in the kitchen.

i don't know what the temperature was last night, i'm sure below 20. but it was a pleasant experience, something i'd not done before but maybe could do again.

Friday, February 16, 2007

open letter to an ignoramus

dear jerkoff,

when i first read your e-mail thursday, i was highly upset. i came home and was still upset. but i calmed down. i don't know if your e-mail was meant to make me angry or hurt me or what.

well, you did succeed on both of those emotions. i was both angry and hurt that some fuckhead would say such ignorant things without knowing me or the person i wrote about in my article on leaving the migrant lifestyle. how did you put it? i believe the phrase was "my own kind." wow, what balls of ignorance you must have, cowardly person.

then, as the night wore on, i relaxed and put your silly words out of my mind. i believe your ignorance is only superceded by your stupidity. what a shame.

the person i my story is not illegal, only someone who wants a better life for herself and child. i am also not illegeal, nor were ever my parents illegal. and check this out...not even my grandparents. we've had generations living peacefully and legally in the country.

it is not illegals (who are generally hard-working and honest folks) that ruin this country, it is people like yourself with such a warped point of view that makes me ashamed to call myself an american. you make this country bad. your attitude sets this country back 200 years. you are as bad as those who killed off the anative americans, who who enslaved the africans and those who blacklisted good americans during the 1950s.

it is you who must look at yourself in the mirror and face the world as yourself. how horrid that must be, having to fake it every time you encounter one of "my own kind" out in the area.

your words no longer anger me, they only make me fee sad for you in your sad little insignificant existence. life is too short to hate, too short to look at skin color or a person's surname and judge them when you don't have a clue about them, their family or culture.

word to the wise: hispanics or latinos are not one culture. please don't lump all of us in one group because mexicans are different from puerto ricans, colombians differ from cuban and spaniards differ from panamanians. there is very little that makes us similar except perhaps our language. however, we are all good, people with rich cultures, cultures that go beyond that of this country.

paz, mi corazon. ya no tengas dolor.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

calling grandma

yesterday was valentine's day. it was also my grandmother's birthday. she turned 88.

i knew i had to give her a call but because she goes off to her daily activities at a center for the elderly and she gets back late in the afternoon, after i go to work, i knew ihad to get up extra early to catch her. and since she lives in central time zone, it was esier for me.

i caught her and we chatted for a few minutes. she's not big on phone conversations, at least not these days. she used to be great on the phone 10 or 20 years ago, but age has slowed her down.

as i dialed her number this morning, i realized something very interesting about my grandparents telephone number. it's the number that's been the longest in my memory. it goes back more than 20 years. i believe it may have even been the first number we ever called from our house.

even though i was born in the early '70s, we didn't have a phone at the ranch until the early '80s. i'm more than sure that we had phone service by the time i made it to seventh grade. we were way behind the times when it came to phone service.

i recall my mom had to get a petition going from many area ranches, none of whom had phone service. you have to realize that it's rural south texas, so pretty much anyone living in scattered ranches didn't have telephone service.

i don't remember what it was like without it, only that i don't know how we did it. i guess it goes to show you that it can be done. we survived a major hurricane back then without telephone service. also, the deaths of my grandparents who lived at the ranch. if something happened, it wasn't a matter of getting on the phone or flipping open a cell phone. we had nothing. i'm unsure of how it came about that an ambulance arrived to help take my grandfather and grandmother (these are my paternal grandparents and they are both dead). we lived six miles from the nearest town, so we were pretty much in the boonies.

when the petition finally got signed by more than 20 families, we went through the process of getting phone service, which took a little time, having to put up telephone poles and lines and then run them to houses.

but that first call...well, we called my grandparents (mom's parents) from my parents' bedroom. we had an old creme-colored rotary phone. we had that damned phone up until the 1990s, or some version of it. we didn't get phones with key pads until the mid-1990s. what a crazy concept, eh?

now, my parents have caller id, call waiting, two lines and no rotary phones.

one quick sidenote: my grandparents had the same rotary phone they got in the '70s up until the '90s. it was black and old as can be.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

just like riding a never forget

it feels like it's been ages since i've blogged. i guess it has. several friends have commented that i've not done so; they even knew the last time i did this. so a new blog entry has been long in coming.

too many things have occurred that have contributed to me not sitting here in front of the computer and tapping away at the keys. work has been up and down and all over the place, lots of headaches. however, my center is calm and that's all that counts there. rattle the cage all you want.

plus, with my dad, well, that's the last entry i had and i didn't feel there was much to say or writer. but there is. lots more. when the bad news came about the condition of his liver and the inability to operate, i blogged it and then i felt empty, almost as if i'd purged all i could on that situation and it left me void of anything else to say about it or any other subject.

i now feel that is bogus. recently i've gotten theurge to write again. i'm not talking about the daily grind but actually writing at home for my own pleasure...and perhaps for others one day. i've joked with dawn about my alter-ego: Rolo. i figured tht maybe one day i'd write books under the psyeudonym of Rolo. i've even got a last name for this fictitious author: Garces. Rolo Garces. i'd write the fiction, air out the dirty laundry, so to speak, as Rolo. i know it sounds dumb, but i've gotten into it and it's fun. makes the time go by faster. so Rolo will write the juicy, down-and-dirty books about thing Roel wouldn't write about. now, what would those things be?

anyway, ramble on, as led zep. was so fond of singing. but, yes, the writing bug has struck me again. is it serious this time? who knows. the sonofabitch bug comes and goes. i should try to lasso that bugger in and harness it's power for my benefit.

enoug on that. i've got lots of things to write about now. ideas for blogs are popping into my head. i think i'll wait on a few of them.

however, i must make a mention on my dad's condition (i'll write a full-length blog on him this week). he's home now and i'm glad of it. there's nothng like being in your own home. he's going to the ranch with my brother to check on the cows. however, he's in some pain. he and my mom are convinced it's the cancer and not the operation. he will not go to chemo for another month, so we'll see how it goes until then. he had not been taking pain pills as often as he should have for fear of running out and not having any more. but thenurse told him not to worry, he'd been given painkillers no matter what.

this past weekend (sunday) was something like world marriage day. my oparents were chosen at their church to have their vows renewed. it meant a lot since who knows if my dad will be alive next year. my parents anniversary isn't until june. this year they'll be married 37 years. a long time when i think aout it. but it's never too long.

i feel so much better tonight having written. i missed it. after a few glitches with logging on last night (i was afraid i wouldn't be able to log on again), i'm back.