Saturday, December 31, 2005


Powerful Event 2005

There is a light rain here at home. It is a good time to write because I feel reflective. I am thinking to myself about the most powerful event in the year 2005. It wasn’t Katrina or my mother or the War in Iraq. It was the death of my brother, two years younger than I.

Barbara Kingsolver wrote “It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time”. During the wake, I was recounting a memory I had about Pieter and I to my cousin Carmen. My father’s friend Julio walked to the table where I sat with Carmen and asked me if I could stop talking while my relatives prayed. I snapped at him because it felt as if he did not respect my space in the home I grew up in. I said; go back to your prayers old man, “your praying does not minimize my need to talk about my brother’s memory”. He’d interrupted a soulful moment of honest expression to satisfy his sense of prayer decorum. He shrunk as we met eye to eye.

In March my brother died. In the middle of the day in my office, I was in a conference call with my client Chuck and John our PM. “Miles, my structural guy has concerns the building can’t handle the weight of your equipment selection.” Shit, this phone keeps going on give me a minute.” The calls coming in on my cell-it was my mother. “Miles, Pieter is gone.” “Where is he?” “Pieter he’s gone!” I thought “Dammit, I should’ve pulled the starter! He’s found his car keys. “Miles, you don’t understand, he’s gone!” Her tone pierced through my original focus. “Where is he? He was in the garage and I dragged him into the hall. I looked at John in my office and said “take care of this problem. I’m out of here!

It was difficult to think about things during this time. It hits you hard in the gut; like a fist to your heart. When I finally heard my mother’s cry, “Pieter, he’s gone!” I locked in and focused. I focused on the paramedics, police, crises intervention and the examiner. They all came when I called 911. I told the examiner he was an alcoholic. The creeping thought came over me…this “business of death” it gets in the way of grieving. When I finished with them, my tears flooded my vision and my heart heaved and wailed. I held his hand it was cold like his eyes, vacant to the world around him. Several days later we received news from the autopsy: He bled to death because of a breach in his esophagus. They believe it was due to the alcohol. It made his esophageal tissue brittle and prone to breaching. It was slow and physically painless death. Carmen placed her arms on my hand and asked me to continue…

It was earlier in March when I drove up in my vintage Ontario Orange 71 convertible Vette. I drug Pieter out from bed and chucked him in the passenger seat. He was still groggy but his eyes cleared as the unmistakable rumble of a muscle car’s engine breathed. All three hundred plus horses vibrated to life. First gear and then second gear planted us against the seat. It felt as if we were riding the engine of an overgrown go cart. The speed bumps on the road became digital dots and our hair resisted the wind. At some point we were on Hwy 52 enjoying the desert bloom and killing butterflies at 100 miles and hour far into El Cajon! There were thousands of them floating through the desert, migrating from Mexico. He told me I didn’t know how to drive. “You drive like dad-reckless! We were hearing each other that day. We talked over a wind that mumbled our words and burned our skin. On Kearny Villa Road, a dip scraped the cowl and the fucker laughed-the bastard! I didn’t notice at the time- it is a memory of my brother who I love and shared joy. Much sweetness was built around things like this. But with him too, I lived a thousand deaths and killed him a thousand times before I set boundaries. When we finished, the sense of quiet surrounded us as he cleaned my tires, and helped me wipe the bugs from my car. Little did I know, this would be our last drive together. It was another memory unnoticed at the time, built around “things”. At the Eulogy, others shared their memories too built around these things unnoticed in the past. I now relive them as memories.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


This speaks to me

Learn to walk in the sweetness of the possession of your own soul.
D.H. Lawrence.

To be influenced or pushed or manipulated into situations that compromise what I believe, who I want to be or what I am -I have a particular awareness of it during Christmas Time. During this time, I find myself hanging on to this syntax of words by D.H. Lawrence.

The expectations of others can be overwhelming-especially the ones that come with conditions! This year, I’ve battled my mother in her efforts to cripple me like she crippled my brother. Throughout his life, he was crippled early on by an enabler and his inability to stand up to her. He was desperate in his battle to be the favored son. In doing so, he sold his soul and in his adulthood he chose surrogate mothers as girlfriends and when they left him, he was further weakened by alcohol as he medicated the pain. In my mother’s home, my brother chose to die last year by drinking himself to death. Death my medication.

I don’t villanise my mother as she was built by powerful events of her time like World War 2. She lived a life hiding in caves terrified of being raped or bayoneted and she hungered for food. Her childhood was stifled by the terror outside. She was a girl who couldn’t play and always lived in fear of the outside world. She resented her father and brothers because they took things away that were rightfully hers. In protecting her, they prevented her from living. Thus, this was her model to raise her children.

Upon my brother’s death, she relied on me handle my brothers affairs, sell her land, and handle her trust. During this time there was an insidious undermining of my efforts. The second guessing and the numerous advisors who would have her ear and then she would do nothing. She would take no action. It felt like her giving me money and then snatching it away from me at the last moment unless conditions were met. The message I received was my efforts didn’t matter and that she didn’t trust me. Intellectually, I wanted to help her. Unconsciously I grew to want and fight for favored son status. I fell into emotional trap of money and material value being equated to love. My intellect fought with my emotion. It took me months to become aware of this battle and while the battle raged I was immobilized like solitary confinement without dark or light.

I want what makes her content and brings her happines. For me, being loving forgives but it doesn't let go of the awareness of the jagged rapier in her hands. I will take time to visit her and give gifts. I suspect I will wear leaded armor because she is kryptonite. My saving grace my deep friendships who see truth in my actions and share their honest thoughts. This work has helped me understand and acknowledge that I have no need or want of her possessions or her machinations of manipulation. My friendships have given me a basis of what being loved looks like. All of this among other things brings my intellect and my emotions congruency and thus my soul has never felt so sweet.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Horse Dust

Driving toward the coast the sunset held a bright blue sky and brilliant orange hues gleaming beneath the clouds. Clouds that reared like a team of horses with their hooves in the air, forcefully pulled back. Clouds that shown the bridle's bit cutting into the horses mouths spewing spittle to mix with the dust. And this dust takes the shape and colores of an aurora borealis streaming from the mane and tail of these clouds.

What a time to write this! To write an acknowledgment of my son's entry in to the adult work a day world. He has fullfilled a dream since he was sixteen. Dammit he has begun to break the bonds of his mother. He is an academic and he's won essay contests. But, instead of concepts and ideas, he will live where brick meets mortar, and amperage is pressurized by voltage and where fluid flows through pipe. It is concrete, stable, and blue collar. In any event, it is his first steps toward mature masculinity-a sense of independence and an identity through his work.

Isn't this the age old struggle between the mothers desire to protect her sons and in the process infantilize them? When a man begins breaking the psychic bonds created by these maternal instincts-he is ravaged by confusion, fear or anger. He'll need the men in his life as he breaks through the infantilism. He'll need us as models even as we struggle through our own doubts of masculinity. As I come from a generation of men raised by women, I hope women will be sensitive to this vulnerability.

Though I remain gaurded with my own pathos complicit with this: I hope men and women together, we would gain spiritual peace and not criticize but to nurture and support and we would grow in respect for one another and provide physical affection for each other. Is this too much to ask and are we capable of it?

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Balls of Abandonment

A friend and mentor asked me one time why same sex friends could not call or write and each doesn't get all freaked about it. If the answer can be found in our relationship, I believe it's because we know and trust how each other feels no matter the circumstances.

If I recall, the main point we focused on regarding your fear of abandonment was around your motivation to "glorify women" and not see them for who they truly are. You see the things you like and deny the things you don't, not wanting to discuss the tough stuff. You also don't seem to be honest about who you are, and after time your self denial causes soulful problems that you have trouble living with.

We deal with it differently, but we both seem to have difficulty seeing and accepting women truthfully, as complex & intriguing creatures with human imperfections. To you they need to appear mostly, if not all, good and to me all bad. You glorify them, hoping they'll stay and I villianize them knowing they'll leave. Neither of us seems to believe we are acceptable for who we honestly are and can't accept women on the same premise.

Meanwhile, we both live lives devoid of an honest, loving and trusting relationship with a woman like the one we share together as men. What fools we are.

In writing this, I've experienced a brief moment of clarity. As a man when I'm in a relationship with a women it seems "I have no balls". Is it easier with you because you have your own balls? You know when you think about it, without a woman our balls are useless and with a woman in our lives our balls are theirs. So are they really our balls at all? Aren't we just courteously carrying them around for a woman until she wants them? Have I been worrying about loosing something that really isn't mine? If we are destined to be eunuchs, I think letting a woman have my balls sounds more enjoyable that letting them wither away.

Your brother eunuch


White Woman

My father on leave, was a triumphant warrior returning home from post War II. There in the barrio was a feast in his honor. Among his friends and relatives, his brother rifled through his personal items and pulled a picture of his Romanian girfriend. Right now, I'm angry when I think of my uncle. When I was little, he was the one who stole the wood my father was saving to build his home. Call it jelousy, sibling rivalry or whatever it was, he was the man who betrayed my fathers relationship with this European woman. He loved her, he told me so. When my uncle presented the picture to my grandfather, I know he was not looking out for my fathers best interest. I suspect it was his own need to be respected by my grandfather with much the same reasons Joe Kennedy took on a fatal mission to surpass Jack Kennedy's exploits in the Pacific. My grandfather was a simple man, illiterate and a man of the land and narrow thought. He also wield great power as he struck the relationship down. He told my father he would not be a part of this family if he married this woman because she was white. A brave soldier struck down by the force of his father's will.

My oldest aunts husband (he forged the birth certificate) was charged with finding a husband for him. He arranged marriages on the side and knew of a young woman in town. She was to become my mother. When I look back at this arranged marriage, for the most part it was a marriage to survive. She was the boundary to his seemingly reckless adventuring. She was full of fear and he was fearless.

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