A little frustrated.

I’m a little frustrated right now. Life is so complex. Each day is a blank slate. I used to think I was bipolar. Some days I am completely happy and cheerful. Those are the good days. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I just feel alone.

It’s almost like waking up to discover that the Zombie Invasion happened and you’re the only survivor. By the way, if that happens, The human race is in good hands. I just have to find some frozen female eggs and somehow figure out a way to grow a baby inside an artificial womb. My genes will become the foundation of the human race. All my children may be crazy, but at least they’ll look good.

Anyway, sometimes I feel alone. My life is great, but I’m missing something. I’m missing a companion. Everywhere I go, I find couples holding hands and saying how much they love each other. It kinda sucks, but during those days, I feel alive. I feel completely aware of the wind, the heat of the sun, the taste of an ice-cold Mountain Dew. When the Mountain Dew caresses my throat (more like eats away at my throat which may give me cancer one day) I know everything is going to be alright.

Girls are frustrating. Maybe it’s just the one I’m dealing with, but I think this applies to most girls. You never know what they’re thinking. No matter how bad they make you feel, you just can’t write them off. I’ve learned to embrace those feelings and let them take over. I’m not afraid of being alone. It will work out. It just takes work.

That reminds me of a story about my grandpa. He first saw my grandma at a drive-in restaurant. Kinda like Sonic, but really old. He was with his best friend when he saw her. She was beautiful. He said she was built like a Coke bottle (whatever that means).

“I have to talk to her,” my grandpa said. “I can’t leave without talking to her.”

My grandma left before he could approach her. She went home and was getting ready for bed when she saw two men walking down the road toward her house. My grandpa walked up to the house and asked her out on a date. She said no.

Every day after that, my grandpa went to my grandma’s house. He would have coffee with her brother-in-law and her sister. He would tell them how much he liked my grandma, and ask for their help.

One day, many days later, my grandma gave in and agreed to go on a date with him. The rest was history.

All of his stories have a moral. Here is what I get from that one. He found someone special. He couldn’t tell you how he knew that, but he just did. It’s a feeling you get. I can relate. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Although he didn’t show it, I know my grandpa must have been frustrated. He probably felt like giving up, but he didn’t. He knew that there was a chance she would come around. He took a risk, and it paid off. So, I guess we are a lot alike. If he were here, he would tell me to be strong.

Oh yeah, the moral…If something is important to you, then don’t let go of it. Resist the temptation to take the easy road.

I ‘ll end with a quote from a random wall in my crappy high school. I don’t know who put it on the wall, but for some reason, I’ve always remembered it.

“If you come to a road with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

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Published in: on December 17, 2007 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Mexican

            His parents named him Chale.  His name meant strength, and Chale Cruz would need a lot of it in the years to come.  Chale sat in a corner booth of a Mexican restaurant named Los Tres Caballos devouring a fried burrito and reflecting on the series of events that landed him in Central Oklahoma.

Two missionaries had smuggled him across the Mexican-American border  three years ago and Chale was thankful for that.  A week later, a small construction company hired him to lay bricks for three dollars an hour.  Within a month, Chale had saved enough money to support his family in Juarez.

            Chale wore painted Wrangler jeans and a baggy gray T-shirt.  His  white Fila sneakers were stained the color of Oklahoma’s red dirt and his big toe protruded from the torn leather.  He could afford a new pair, but his family came first.  In Mexico, his nephews didn’t even have shoes.

            The bricklayer’s hands were calloused and thick veins traced their way up his forearms.  He sported a thick black mustache and ate with his head down.  He didn’t want to make waves.  As long as he blended in, he could continue to work.

            When a blonde college girl dressed in designer clothing told the waiter she wanted a table away from “the Mexican”, Chale gave her a toothy grin and pretended to be oblivious to the insult.  Beyond the dark skin, dirty clothes, and permanently squinted eyes, was a caring man that worked 60 hours a week to feed his starving family.  Who was she to judge him? She had never worked a day in her life.

            Chale checked his sport watch.  It’s face was cracked, but it kept time all the same. Chale took in a deep breath, muttered something in Spanish, and rose from the booth.  The boss would be expecting him soon. Chale tossed ten dollars on the table and walked out the door.  When he broke away from the shade of the restaurant, sunlight illuminated his face and warmed him to the bone.  The Mexican closed his eyes, taking in the moment.  Here in America, the sun couldn’t stop shining.

Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 7:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Old Man

Kenny stood atop the tallest hill in all of Beaver Mountain. As a child, Kenny called it Old Man. His grandpa once told him nothing escaped its gaze. This idea always made Kenny feel uneasy. No matter what he did, Old Man was watching.

His grandpa was right. Kenny could see everything from up here. From the foot of the hill, a canyon wound its way through the northern pasture. In this canyon was a damp cave, and in this cave Kenny had hidden from his abusive father on drunken Saturday nights.

He killed his first deer from the branches of a gnarled Oak tree just east of the canyon. Kenny tracked the blood trail late into the night. The buck finally collapsed in a rocky stream two miles away. He would never forget the way he found it lying in the stream, waiting for death. He could still see the swirls of dark blood wrapping around his camouflage boots as he crouched down to finish the beast.

To the west, Kenny could see the fish-shaped pond he swam in with his best friend Scotty. When a cottonmouth bite nearly killed Scotty, they abandoned their hobby and became fishermen. The murky water was home to the biggest snapper turtle they had ever seen. He was a relentless bait thief, and Kenny shot him on three occasions with his twenty-two. The snapper wouldn’t die. Turtle Hell had no vacancy.

From the back side of Old Man, he could see the cows grazing in the southern pasture. It was there he lost his virginity on a bed of sunflowers to a fiery redhead named Susie O’Claire. Kenny was only 14 and uneducated, but Susie knew what she was doing. Kenny chuckled when he remembered they weren’t alone. Old Man had always been watching. He watched a child become a man. That was more than his father could ever say.

Published in: on October 22, 2007 at 5:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fat Sandwich Company

I work at Fat Sandwich Company. I’m the fastest delivery driver this state has ever seen. Order the Fat Milf and some Waffle Fries with Cheez Whiz, and you will hear me knocking at your front door before you can heat up a TV dinner.

I usually arrive at work ten minutes late. The boss forces me to wear an old lady’s night gown, because he thinks it will discourage my tardiness. The gown doesn’t bother me. I like the way its puke-green color brings out my eyes.

Each delivery is an adventure. Sometimes the street lights are out in the neighborhood and I can’t see the house numbers. If this happens, I look for the house with interior lights on. Let’s face it, not many people are awake at 2 a.m.

I don’t like knocking on doors. Unfortunately, I have to knock on many doors in my line of work. I didn’t always have a problem knocking. At first, I thought it was exciting. Is Sarah Goddington of Bishop’s Landing apartment 27C going to be hot? I wonder what she’s going to be wearing.

Sarah Goddington wasn’t hot. She weighed 350 pounds and had a mustache that made me jealous. She was wearing a low-cut cut-off Slayer T-Shirt and reeked of pot smoke.

After my first three weeks at Fat Sandwich Company, I abandoned all hope. If a girl orders a sandwich called the Fat Dutchie at two in the morning, fitness isn’t a big part of her life. For this reason, my fantasies never come true.

Overweight stoners are the least of my concerns. I sometimes wonder what my mom would say if she saw the places I went while on the job. She called me one night while I was working to tell me they’re recalling all Rodeo hotdog wieners and to make sure I haven’t eaten any. Ironically, when she called, I was on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. I have no problem with other ethnicities. If seven white men covered in tattoos and chains were gathered around my car checking out the stereo and rims, I would feel just as scared. Maybe they were going to check the air in my tires and investigate the sound quality of my stereo. I’m probably just being silly.

Every week, I have to deliver to a complex on the other side of Highway Nine. I’ll never forget the first time I went there. When I knocked on the door, a man answered. Pot smoke poured out of the apartment. There was so much of it that contact high was a threat just standing in the doorway. The food was 40 dollars.

I peeked past the man and into the apartment, though I knew I shouldn’t. A woman was lying on the couch with a different man. A blanket was draped over them. She was wearing an old T-shirt and probably nothing else. A third man sat three feet away in a recliner. The next time I delivered there, a fourth man was present. I guess it depends on how much money they can pay the woman. The men don’t live there. Just the woman. They are all business.

Now, here’s the heartbreaker. When the door opened, a four-year-old girl wearing only a diaper rushed to the door. She was clearly high. Her eyes weren’t focused. She tried to talk to me but it came out as a mumble. I dropped to one knee to ask her name. Her body was covered with a rash. Mommy can’t take you to the doctor because she’s working on the couch.

I wanted to cry. Every week they order food. Every week I have to look into those eyes. There’s not much I can do. People only call me when their sandwich contains unwanted condiments. I’m just a delivery guy.

Published in: on September 25, 2007 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  

My grandpa

My grandpa died this summer. He was killed working on his farm on a place called Beaver Mountain in Southeast Oklahoma. A tractor ran over him. He was old though, and that was the way he would have wanted it to go down.

I called him Papaw. As far back as I can remember, he always told me stories about his life. I’m 21 now, and the stories never got old. When he told a story, he had a way about him that made you block everything else out and listen.

He taught me what it meant to “work.” If you’ve never spent an entire day performing manual labor with a man that lived through the depression, I highly recommend the experience. The farm was always a mysterious place that brought things into focus for me. Whether it was the open pasture covered with ponds and grazing cattle or the stories he told me that always had a hidden moral, I do not know. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

The last time I saw him was a week before he died. I felt compelled to come see him. It was almost like God was telling me it would be my last chance. We talked for hours. He told me several more stories…but only one has dominated my mind since that day.

A preacher came to a new church that had a reputation for scaring off pastors. The new preacher was young and determined. Many people warned the preacher of two nasty brothers who had assaulted the last two preachers in the middle of their sermons. It was time for the young preacher to give his sermon. He opened his Bible and immediately noticed two men walking to the front. He knew these were the brothers they warned him about. The young preacher pulled a .45 from beneath the podium and said, “Today I’m gonna preach about hell and if you two boys don’t sit down, you’re about to go there.”

The story was amusing. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I don’t know what to make of it. When the time is right, I’ll know. I told my grandpa goodbye and leaned down toward his massive recliner to hug him. He looked me in the eye as I leaned in. His eyes were the only part of his body that never aged. They were as clear as the day he was born.

“Kendall, I’m proud of you. I want you to know that. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.”

Those were the last words I ever heard him speak. I couldn’t ask for a better goodbye.

Published in: on September 6, 2007 at 11:25 pm  Comments (3)  

Fire

Fire

I went camping last night with my friend Adam. Kinda like Men vs. Wild. A challenge if you will. Before we traveled into the woods, my grandpa gave us a jug of diesel “in case the wood was wet and we couldn’t ignite it.” That wasn’t the case. He thought we were green. Those boys can’t survive without modern conveniences.

We foraged for pine cones and pine needles, scoured the area for dead trees, chopped the wood with a rusty ole axe, and ignited the needles. Fifteen minutes later, we were shielding our eyes against the blaze of the pyre. We didn’t stop there. We needed to dry out wet wood to maintain the fire. The heat of the fire would dry the damp logs.

As I watched the embers float into the air and submit to the darkness, the lonely jug of diesel lost in the void, I related this experience to life.

I’ll admit I was tempted to jump right into this fire-making, grab some wood, soak it with diesel, light it, and watch the flames quench everything around me. It was rough, building the foundation. Sometimes, wondering in the darkness in search of pine cones, I questioned my decision. We always have that option to take away the pain, the loneliness, the feeling, and quench that wood with drugs, alcohol, and random hookups. I discovered something recently about that diesel. It will catch and burn hot, but if the wood isn’t dry, the diesel will burn away. All you have is a cold damp log, with signs of burn damage.

So…the moral…Start the fire by building a foundation that will last. The wind may blow, the rain may fall, but still, this fire will persevere.

Published in: on August 31, 2007 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment