Sunday, July 31, 2005

Being Tormented by the "C" Word


At first I thought they were mosquito bites down by my ankles. Then these red, hard welts began to surface and as my agony grew, so did the red hard welts. I lost count on my legs... my arms had quite a few, including my arm pits and other places where it's not polite to scratch, and, as far north as near my eyebrows and top of my head.

I looked them up under google and they are a frightening lot. They are so small, I am relieved I can't see them penetrating my skin and sucking my skin tissue as though sucking through a straw. They say there is no creature alive that can cause more torment for its size than the chigger.

Brenda says she has never seen so many chigger bites on a person before, reminding me she has lived in Texas all of her life.

The other night, I met friends at a fun restaurant called Joe T. Garcia's in Forth Worth. It's this old house with a swimming pool in the backyard and we were seated at a table next to the pool. I took the seat next to the shrubs so I could get a better view of the pool while we sat and ate. I believe that was where the chiggers started their attack.

It is the third day. And they say the itching can continue up to 10 days and longer.

Excuse me... while I excuse myself, to go scratch . . . .

Monday, July 25, 2005

A New Beginning

I LOVE summer vacations. I think everyone should experience some sort of 'get-away' during the summer.

I am in New Symrna Beach, Florida looking out over the Atlantic Ocean this very minute. I see so many walkers on the beach with their arms pumping up and down, they look more like marionettes than human beings. I have been here five days. Later this afternoon, I drive into Orlando to celebrate a friend's birthday and then fly to Dallas in the morning where I will visit more friends for another five days or so.

This is a wonderful break for me. I am not allowing myself to worry what I will do when I return back home.

A couple of days before I left, the start-up company I was working on with two friends ended for me. It really caught me off-guard. It happened so suddenly. Just three weekends ago, we talked of putting me on salary and stock options. And then the business plan suddenly turned on its heals and now going in a different direction. A direction far from my illustrations I was hired to do. They said, "we're going to put you on pause for a year." On pause.

Instead, I am fast-forwarding ahead with my life.

I do not feel afraid. I feel safe. Despite these sudden changes, I still believe I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be in my life right now. That's all I know. I don't know what that means. I can't imagine what my future holds for me. I turned a year older two days ago.

It's a good time for a new beginning.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Karma Fed me Burgers

Topic: Karma for

I have always believe in Karma. I haven't always seen it's fruition, but I suppose it's a lot like faith. You sustain from things in the hope that you won't suffer from it later on in life.

I have known people in business who are just contaminated in lies and deceit. Their only purpose is to destroy the little guys so they could get ahead. I keep waiting and watching for Karma to come for them, but so far, all I can see is more lives destroyed and they continue on bulldozing everyone in their path reaching to new heights of success. Perhaps they are suffering in other ways I do not see.

A few years ago, I ordered a kid's meal at a fast food restaurant. When I got to the window to receive my order, the teenager handed me bags and bags of burgers, fries and onion rings and drink containers filled with soft drinks, juices and shakes. I kept handing them over to the passenger in my car, who sat in stunned silence, taking the bags and setting them all on her lap and at her feet on the floor.

As we drove off, (admittedly, I lurched forward with excess speed, as though I was the get-away car in a local robbery). She asked my why I took all that food knowing it wasn't mine.

I shouted, "KARMA!!!"

I truly believed Karma paid me a visit. I said, "It was for all the times I drove off and never received my fries or coke I ordered!!! It's PAY BACK TIME Baby! PAY BACK!!"

We drove in silence some more while she rummaged through all the bags... like looking for the small token in a cracker jack box.

She came up empty-handed and spoke up. "Ya know, maybe if you alerted the kid you didn't order all this awful food, your good karma would have continued on and your reward would have been greater. It seems to me, that you just cashed in.. and all you got were these lousy burgers."

"you just cashed in. YOU JUST CASHED IN. you just cashed in". I heard her words over and over in my head. All my life, I sought out to be a good person and this is my reward to show for it.

We drove in silence for an even longer time.

Lesson learned.

I believe I live a very blessed life and good things happen to me on a daily basis. By taking all that food didn't necessarily set me up for any badness to come my way. But I know that fairness and honesty is always the best choice to make in every situation.

I think I felt Karma in the backseat patting me on the back...

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Staying the Night at Nana's

( theme: metropolitan

I remember sleeping over at my grandmother's home in San Francisco with my brother and sister.

I LOVED my grandmother. After dinner, we'd play blackjack betting with nickels and pennies. And, just before bedtime, she would fix us a nightcap of warm milk sprinkled with nutmeg while she made her own adult nightcap.

We'd lay out our sleeping bags on her living room floor and I would place my bag underneath the window and look out to the evening sky and often times the wind would whip the telephone wires so loudly, it would scare me half to death.

My older sister was always the first one to wake up in the morning. And if I woke up before she did, I would lay still and pretend I was asleep until she got up.

We drank our first cups of coffee at Nana's before I reached the third grade. She didn't seem bothered she was stunting our growth. It was delicious drinking it with spoonfuls of sugar and half milk.

I will always remember laying there in my green sleeping bag with the deer pattern inside, looking out the window, while Nana dug in her black purse for a couple of dollars to buy donuts for our breakfast. She would give it to Kelly and I could hear the front door shut and her little shoes slapping down the stairs and out into what I thought was the Big Scary City. I knew if I woke up first, she would ask me to walk down the hill to the bakery, but I was too afraid to do it alone.

I'd lay there on the floor, looking out the window ... praying for her safe return with the donuts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

My Own Feeling of Paralysis

My childhood friend's father is dying of cancer. His cancer has now paralyzed him from the waist down. My sister, a nurse, said she went to visit him yesterday and his eyes looked set in like little bird eyes.

Like ... little bird eyes.

I can't seem to get that description out of my head. She said, "He's scared, Shawn. He doesn't think he has two months to live and he doesn't want to be bitter about it, as he had a good life. You should go see him. He asked all about you... "

I was so touched by that. I DO want to go see him.

He was a barber all his life. Annette was an only child. And every Monday while in elementary school, on his day off, he would bring her a hot hamburger, steaming fries and a coke from a local hamburger place. I was so envious! A typical lunch for me, would have been a bologna sandwich, an orange, cookies and some chips or grapes. We rarely ever had the luxury of eating at a fast food restaurant.

I'd wait with her in front of our school and she would always share her fries with me. Her dad always drove up in his green dodge truck. She now owns that truck. It must have a million miles on it by now. She learned to drive in that truck.. long before she was old enough to get her license. I was a year and a half older, so when I got my drivers license at 16, and her parents went out to dinner, we'd sneak off in that truck to a new neighborhood being built where just the streets were paved and I taught her to drive.

Over the years, we grew up and apart... (I have seen her only a handful of times since high school) ... but I will always treasure the memories we made in our growing up years.

That truck took us everywhere with it's camper shell on top. She and I would lay on top of the bed above the truck's cab and tell stories and listen to her transistor radio playing "Hotel California" and "Cats in the Cradle" on her transistor radio.

That truck took us to South Lake Tahoe, where we slept in that cold camper in the Harvey's Casino parking lot in the snow. I was 12 years old. I remember laying there under blankets with my jacket on for added warmth and her mother said, "we better blow out the kerosine lamp before we get affixiated." It was the first time I heard the word "affixiated". The way it sounded to my ears and the way it felt in my mouth when I said it was just so much fun. I repeated it inside my head the rest of the weekend so I would memorize that word so I could use it sometime. And, I HAVE used it. And, it still makes me smile. Just like when I say "dilapidated". Dilapidated. Dilapidated. -- The way my tongue moves all over my mouth. And the sound of it is just so cute. I must stop. The enjoyment is enormous.

The following morning, I learned to snow ski at Heavenly Valley .... snow-plowing down the hills. Her parents took the tram up to the top of the hill and met us to take pictures. They slipped all over the snow in their tennis shoes. I felt embarrassed and worried everyone would think they were *my* parents. But I loved them. And they would have made nice parents. I still feel a tinge of pain when I remember my embarrassment toward them.

That truck took us to Disneyland for my first time just before the 8th grade. We stayed at the Jolly Rogers Motel in Room 212. I would also vacation with them up north in a seaside town called Anchor Bay.

I watched The Wizard of Oz in color on their TV for the first time. And, when Annette grew out of her Adidas tennis shoes with the blue stripes... she gave them to me, and I wore them proudly.

I will never forget one night, spending the night at her house, and we laid in her big, double bed and watched, endlessly, the Prisoners of War unboarding the airplanes from the end of the Vietnam War. She wore braces and had the neck gear. I remember seeing all these teeny, tiny rubber bands on her pillow.

We'd stare up at the screen searching for their names as they scrolled down while hundreds -- thousands of soldiers limped and walked down the steps in their fresh crewcuts. In case we forgot, we'd stare back down at our oversized, metal POW bracelets dangling on our wrists, hoping their names would appear, ... but ... they never did.

I DO want to visit her dad. I miss his laugh. The way he would throw his head back and grab his stomach to feel it wiggle as he laughed hard and long. I want to thank him for introducing me to so many wonderful adventures.

It hurts that I'm afraid to drive to the hospital. Park my car. Walk into the lobby, take the elevator up a certain floor. Walk down the hall and then turn into his room and say, "remember me? You took me to Disneyland when I was 12-years-old".

I feel immobilized.

I need to get past my own feeling of paralysis. Once I do, I will be happy I did. I feel small and belittled in admitting, it takes a lot of guts for me to drive down to that hospital to visit him. I hope I will be able to tell you that I did visit him. He introduced me to a lot of "first time experiences" as a young child. I would like to extend it to him in visiting him.

Oh, I pray that I can.

Friday, July 1, 2005

The Rings

Today is my first Friday to ever participate in Illustration Friday.

The topic is SPORT.

I drew this, because it's how I'm feeling right now. I have been working from home for 10 months now. The warm days and evenings are inviting me outside to come and play. But I need to sit at the computer and work. Today, I am feeling out of touch with everyone and eveything that brings me joy.

When I was a child, I was never able to swing from Ring to Ring at school. Just weak arms, I suppose. I would leap from the steal bar and grab them and swing to catch the next ring and then the next.. and then I would just hang there, holding on to two rings before I had to let it go.

Today I want to be a good sport. To focus on the goal and not let the rings get in my way.

See the illustration? It's not me letting go. It's me jumping up to reach them and trying again.