reporting from peru

I´ve been staying in Peru these past few days trying to figure when I can find a writing hole/escape in Lima, and so far Barranco seems the most fun. Why? There´s a cluster of all types there, thiefs, rich, tourists, weirdos, sex addicts, various generation, denominations, immigrants, artists, clowns, and finally damn good sea food. I found a hut on a hill, and I think maybe I will try and do some research online on how I can find me a two week getaway to focus on the novel next time I am down.

I don´t think one should wait to get invited to a retreat to start working hard. We must be proactive and Peru is pretty inexpensive.

It´s either Barranco or my grandmother´s house in Callao…but frankly, that place is full of nut jobs and I hardly have time to think.

We will see.

Returning to the states in two days. What a world!


My Useless English Major

As Dave Chapelle once joked, “Haters gonna to hate, lovers gonna love–” …I’ll stop right there.

Why did you major in English? Everybody in the world is going to speak English someday! What a useless major! Blah blah, and so on it goes like this.

It’s not just random people who give me the inquisitive raised eyebrow either, family does it too! My techy cousins make fun of me. I hold a book in my hands and they say, “Have you heard of a kindle?” Really? Has society lost their love for books? I mean, I hate tree cutting like the next person – but now books have recycled paper and that’s cool!

I refuse to let the pages go. The smell of paper, feel of the ink, and the weight of each page as I turn them over from the right to the left (unless you’re in a country that reads from left to right) — until there’s no more and it feels like a triumph at the end. The conquering English major readers who refuse to let go of their dusty overstuffed libraries, their prize winners, their game upon the shelf! We cannot let them go. And why? Because nerdy adventurers like us adore traveling through fiction, scifi, novels, biographies, therapy and medical books. We want to know more and more and more. It makes our heart skip a beat — it reminds us that we are alive — that we are humans and that we are capable of feeling, inventing, connecting, and killing each other.

My useless English major has given me the gift of capturing the subtextual messages between, within, above and over the lines. My ESL background gives me a strange and funny insight on the English language too – I can reverse meanings the way language reverses syntax.

So here’s what I say to you who ask about my useless English major. Every company, organization, and nonprofit in the world today needs to employ a person who knows how to communicate properly, spell words, and for heaven’s sake – write with a hint of humor.

I do not live in a fantasy world (entirely), I know where we are heading, I know technology is taking over a lot of these little pleasures in life (for some of us who used to live before the public internet remember). Like going over to your friends house and talking about whatever, having picnics, or driving to the beach with the family! Those of us who lived before Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I love me my Facebook, but — it has kept me from actual physical contact to some people. Did we use to make more of an effort? I don’t know anymore.

But my major and my books is where I draw the line. I am a proud English major; I value language, communication, and reading. I believe that writing down ideas in a journal is a necessary process human beings need to understand complex daily interactions. I believe reading your thoughts months later can help you reflect on what has changed in your life. I believe stories have the power to heal. I believe writing have the power to regain power over your life. I believe giving someone the gift of ANY language and the ability to write it, gives them an independent voice is of great value.

I love books, I love writing, and I love communicating.

Click here to check out this Huffington post l article by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz entitled The Value of Reading Novels.


Working in San Francisco & unearthing what I love in the Bay


I work in a city now, I work in San Francisco. Sounds fancy, huh? Hi, my name is Lis and I work in the city and life is grand, thank you very much!  I suppose saying “I work in the city” has a nice ring to it. Personally, I am indifferent about it. And it’s not because I am a conceited person or a major douchebag. I don’t have pockets full of money or anything. On the contrary Blog Land – I have barely any time for myself as I juggle 3-4 jobs and get home just in time for food scraps, an episode of House of Cards, and maybe some reading if I’m lucky. Writing? It happens on the Bart occasionally, but it’s not really safe in a crammed trained. I’m afraid of stabbing somebody with my ballpoint pen during sudden stop. So, is it nice working in the city? It is – you know, except for the extra expense of commuting and walking over human feces on Market Street. Usually I find solace when I am back home, writing in my torn up poetry notebook, and sometimes in the morning I wake up to find myself atop my copy of Haruki Murakami‘s novel, “1Q84,” which usually means I must have read the previous night. That’s always good. Anyways, what I’m trying to say (in a long winded way) is that I am indifferent because I am tired.

That being said, I’m having a kick ass time walking to work everyday because there are so many flipping amazing and interesting people all over the place.

Taking the Bart to work from Oakland makes me feel…what’s that annoying word people say now a days? Legit. I feel legit. I get to see bizarre business men on the Bart everyday, and pretty business women who can somehow walk in six inch heels without toppling over and screaming, “Holy sh*t!” – as I did once on a rainy day. I get to see green people gracefully tetris their way into a nonexistent empty spot in the train with their humongo bikes. They inspire me and I imagine a communal utopian cabin somewhere in Walnut Creek with moss filled walls and an  outdoor  fireplace in the backyard – – as a haven from the city’s noise and Starbucks Coffee spots. San Francisco has a charm that no other city has.

And even though I’ve been living in the Bay for about four years now, I still consider myself a tourist. Just yesterday I went into a sushi place off Union Square and found myself walking into an underground basement that transported me to another world. That’s what San Francisco feels like — secrets and portals all over the place, but you just have to know where to look. Of course I will never forget my favorite tourist spots — I suppose I don’t mind crowds of people because I am a people watcher. San Francisco, inspiration lies beneath your surface, and I will hold the following things forever in my corazon-zon-zon: the Bay — “Dock of the Bay” happened here, clam chowder gets consumed at fisherman’s wharf, part of you is a Little Italy, City Lights Bookstore will blow your mind, and the most delicious egg tarts in Chinatown ever come from the Golden Gate Bakery. Ah, I can go on for days with my touristy ways, but frankly it might annoy you.

This working in the city gives me one fear, though. This fear occurs on my way to and from work. I walk into the train usually listening to encouraging music like De Sol a Sol (sung by my tween crush, Salserín!), a nice pump-me-up morning tune, and I find myself surrounded by the most weighed down energy on the planet. I fear aliens might have something to do with this because it seems like nobody is aware of how they act in front of each other. People sit or stand looking like their soul have been sucked out of them. The morning coffee dangling from their fingertips promising a syrup of spark, fails them. Some of them sleep with their mouths wide open, and I can only imagine how horrible it could be waking up to find that you have missed your exit by three stops. No one wants to interrupt anybody. People look down, up, or straight ahead into a non existent space before them. Time stops as we go underwater from the east to the city. We are transported from our home lives into our work lives, and then suddenly everyone becomes erect and vertical.

Someday, years from now, if I never leave this side of the country I hope I never become that tiredI hope to that work will become something I do in appropriate hours, so that I may go to places like Vesuvio in SF in the evenings to enjoy a glass of wine and a private writing session. I want to relax and not think about anything but my novel and my characters (who constantly show up everywhere in my life to remind me to finish the book!). I don’t want to stay tired.

It’s dangerous, overworking, overanalyzing — it stops you and makes you stale and stagnant. I wish to forever keep the curious five year old child in me excited about the world around her. I would hate for her to die from boredom and ditch me to live by a tree somewhere. That would suck. The best ideas come from her and the dreams she gives me.

it’s romantic to hurt sometimes

We planned on something romantic tonight, something to get us out of our eat tapas and watch a movie routine. Let’s go for Peruvian food! Haven’t done that in a while. But the potatoes were frozen and the cream in the papa a la huancaina had lumps. The chicha had some strange essence to it, and so did the lomo saltado. It was not fun, and my Peruvian pride dwindled into a ball of guilt. I looked around the restaurant at the smiling faces, and cried within – you are being lied to! This is not Peruvian! You are eating a LIE! I kept it inside instead, and finished the plate that tasted more like a teriyaki steak and stir fry. He tried my rice, it was undercooked. We both grimaced across the table and whispered our fake foodie review on a non existent food blog or article. One out of five stars. Finally, in a long while, we agreed on something. The meal sucked, on a major level.

Wanting the taste of failure to leave our tongues, we drove to the city to get our ice cream fix. Didn’t want to risk a dessert fiasco at the Peruvian place. I wanted to throw up the beef from the lomo, but nothing came out.  We got to the ice cream spot. I downed as much of the banana split that I could fit into my already hurting belly. It settled the sadness and engulfed my taste buds with banana, strawberry chunks, and sugary stuff that made me forget the sad sad dinner meal. My legs nestled around his, and he unsatisfied with the way the meal had distorted his tastebuds, so much so that he couldn’t taste the fudge.

We drove on the 101 towards the golden gate bridge, which is actually red…not golden. And he took me up a side road in hopes to take me to a cliff. We get there and the gate is closed. Fail two for the night. We drove to the side point view and tried to take a picture in pitch darkness, it didn’t work. Hug me, I asked to which he grabbed my stomach and pressed against me as if administering the heimlich maneuver. My urges to throw up returned to me. The couple in the car beside us were hot boxing it together. Why can’t you be kind? I asked, and he laughed. I looked at the glittering stars and thought to myself, you deserve this…and I believed it. For some strange reason. I think aliens were sending me wave signals. I said, let’s go back home. We’ll take the Richmond bridge.

We drove over the bridge and listened to Brazilian Yemanja music. I sang along while he groaned under his breath. His ears have been sensitive to South American and Salsa music all night. This is going to be my life, I said to myself.

We argued on the road. We judged each others’  driving skills. We huffed and puffed and tired our hearts. When we got home, I just wanted to go to sleep, but instead I sat by the computer hoping that this stomach pain could go away. And then I resolute to this tonight. Romance has its good days and bad days. Tonight was a painful night, for our bodies and for our hearts. Yet, it makes me appreciate the good days even more. And frankly, I am sure we’re going to laugh about it someday. Why?

Because we writers know, that pain = comedy.

Welcome to 2014!

My grandmother’s AGUADITO soup and Ceviche. A reason to LIVE!

The New Year! A metaphorical station in life where you can feel like you can start anew and everything in the last unlucky numbered year DOES NOT count. It just doesn’t! That terrible date you went on with that guy who ended up asking you for gas money – Forget about it! The money you let your cousin borrow before he left for Mexico with no word or update on his whereabouts. Forget about it! The extra pounds you gained after your neighborhood opened a new cookies and ice cream place around the corner. Forget about it! The overpriced satin sheets you bought at Bed and Bath thinking it was time to be mature and make a new change to find that have lost it somewhere in your overcrowded closet  —  FORGET ABOUT IT!!! This is no longer about those days, everything is now different because it is now 2014. Can I get a high-five? Ugh, I’m so 90s sometimes. But in all honesty, I had crappy last couple of months in 2013, and it was nobody’s fault but mine. That’s the truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that they were mostly crappy – that is (OF COURSE) until I made my way to South America for December.

Peru in December! I went to see my grammy and the rest of the fam-bam. The trip twas  fun, educational, and wild. But what else to expect from family? I guess since I’m a writer, I am like also the therapist in our family and I learned so much (too much) about my auntie’s sex life. She even modeled one encounter with her baby daddy using a toy from her son’s crib. I have never seen pornography be applied to a plush doll in that way before. I ended up crying from laughter while she demonstrated and her husband turned red from the very vivid descriptions. I also have a new cousin (as a result of her demonstration), and he was pretty awesome. He liked to pretend talk with me, and though most of the time he just ate and farted I knew that deep down inside, he was saying I love you so much cousin! 

I also went to see my uncle’s graveyard, he passed away recently. The family was really sad about the whole thing, and we paid our respects to him. Then looking back at our photos, I realized that the entire family was posing next to the wrong grave. : / We had all, for some reason, gravitated towards some dude’s graveside who had huge balloons and a cup of Cuzqueña beer beside him. We had a good laugh about it. Just another way our ancestors make fun, I suppose.

During the trip, I lost another family member in the states. Man it was a tough December, Reader. I carried on memories of my family, our loss, our memories, our new family members with me when I went over to Brazil.

Brazil shook my spirit up. Salvador, Bahia is no joke. I couldn’t believe the amazing people, the amazing food, the amazing hosts, and the amazing dreams I was having during my stay there. I went through a transformation that was both earthly and spiritual. It was an experience that allowed me to connect with my pain, my desire to learn, my connection with the earth, and with my family. Moreover, I kept being reminded that in the end all that matters is the time you are given and what you make with it. I mean, how are we using our time? Have you asked yourself this?

Are you spending it being angry?

Are you spending your time regretting the what if moments?


Are you leaning over and kissing the one beside you?

Are you listening to your grandmother’s story? I mean, REALLY listening?

Are you reminding yourself of all your blessings? Asset, friends, business, travel experiences, food on the table, etc. etc. etc.

There are miracles everyday really. We just have to open ourselves to them. In Brazil I found out, that they reveal themselves often, but it’s up to us to listen – to open our eyes and to connect the dots. Everywhere we go, there are signs.

I returned home and boom – back to work! Though in all honesty, Reader, I feel as though the magic I was able to encounter in Perú and Brazil is still with me. I may not be a guru, or a priest or anything but I have learned a few things for 2014. You have one life in this realm. One life that you are fully aware of in this moment. One life to remember you as you are right now. What do you want to carry with you in your bag of life? 

Here are some things I don’t want to carry in my bag of life for 2014: meandering without reason, allowing people to say sexist/racist things in my presence, hate towards my soft soft skin, bullying, gossips, damage, rumors, second-guessing, and so much more.

I urge you to check out what you carry with you in your bag of life. The more you make it obvious to you – the more you can control it. Here are things I do want to carry this new year: sunsets, inspiration, laughter, friendship, creativity, good books, bacon cupcakes, forgiveness, family, love letters, saluting my elders and ancestors, and so much more.

But the number one thing I want to do this year is LESS TALKING AND MORE DOING. May you have fantastic adventures this new year, Reader. Write on!

Interesting Tales From PERÚ

Me looking longingly out to the Pacific Ocean in La Punta, Perú. Wondering when the radiation from Japan will reach the waters.

Hi Blog Land. I’m just got back from visiting family in Perú. Last time I was here, I went to Cuzco and had me quite the adventure. This time around, I spent it helping my family with work, with their children, and well … I spent most of it inside my grandmother’s house. Which has been awesome really…I mean, I can’t complain! I have plenty of food, lots of company, and nobody got on my nerves. : /

Lady Chambi next door who sells the cheapest little treats like potahter chips and Cua-Cua chocolate wafers was my favorite every other day visit. Sometimes when she wasn’t too busy, she’d give me the low down on the neighborhood dirt, but mostly she talked about her daughter who lives in New York and is obviously cooler than me.  The man who bought the Jehova witness church two doors down from Chambi now runs a studio rental space, and we get to hear people partying all the flipping time. I mean, it was  totally great. Though I should have arrived later in December because from December 3-10th (basically ALL of my visit) – everyone was having some type of deadline for work or graduating from some kind of class. Every night the Jehova witness party center had amazing music coming through the walls, but I couldn’t join because my auntie would pass me her flipping adorable baby who I just couldn’t stop kissing.

Maybe it’s just sinking in, that I’m getting older. That I’ll be thirty in just a few days. Seeing my young aunties making babies, my tiny cousins all grown up and graduating from high school, my grandpa asking me the dreaded questions: So when are you going to have one? Are you married? Why aren’t you married? You’ve been DATING for six years?! What’s wrong with you? Blah blah blah are you a lesbian? : / 

Perú…I wouldn’t change you for the world.

I have to explain to all my family in Perú, that though they may think I am an old bat—in the states–women my age are still going out, still doing their thing, still getting their career going. But grandpa doesn’t buy it. “If anything,” he says, “you can be the baby’s godmother. That way, at least you can have one for pretend.” Sigh.

Meantime, I am happy to report that my grandmother’s window, when left open and unattended, has the juiciest mini stories around. Here’s a few things I overheard a few Peruvian men and women talk about this morning with a little bit of embellishment because that’s how I do:

Translated Eavesdropping on Peruvians outside my grandmother’s living room window:

  • “You owe me too much money man!” / “I know, I know I’ll pay you back soon.” / “I don’t believe you!!” / “Get your hands off me!” (voices fade)
  • “If Jesus were here right now, he’d point at her and call her a whore!”
  • “Did he call you?” / “We have different phone carriers.” / “Stupid CLARO!”
  • “Today I am not going to let him come in the house, what does he think he can just come in and out whenever he wants! I’m not a hotel!”
  • “I love you,” / “What did you say?” / “Look, a tree!”
  • “Supposedly I know her, but I don’t see how. We’re just going to say that we know each other and smile from now on.”

Prop open a window, and let the magic in writers!

Forever yours.


INSPIRATION: bar talk, taco trucks, and serial killers

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 3.53.35 PM

Hiya Blog Land, today I am going to discuss talking to strangers. I hope that the majority of you reading this blog are adults. If you are a kid reading this, remember that talking to strangers can be dangerous (#strangerdanger), and you should do it with the supervision of your parent or guardian present. But since I’m pretty certain that most of you are wine drinking, hippie smoking, late night writing insomniacs happy go lucky people (like myself) — I am going to take this opportunity to advice you to talk to strangers. Talking to strangers in public places is a tool I use to help me develop interesting characters and dialogue.

If you read this blog, you know that sometimes I write posts about “Interesting People.” Why do I do that? I do that because sometimes I get stumped and I think, wow — I am going nowhere with this character. I like to people watch as a way to receive information from the real world and transmit the information creatively on a page. This is (in my opinion) prime material for character development.

I know what some of you writing practitioners might be thinking, “Hey weirdo, not all human beings

Rules rules rules....bleh!

are interesting. In fact, the majority of the human race can be pretty boring. Sometimes people have conversations about absolutely nothing!” Which is suggesting that not everyone has something meaningful to express. To that I say, HUMBUG! I think everybody on this planet is an interesting human being. I think sometimes people express themselves with their bodies. And sometimes the things that are not said (things left to the writer’s imagination) can become pretty juicy material if you work at it. Anyways, to you naysayers out there — I say, this is a fun exercise to do in a writing group. It can even be an observation exercise. In fact, at Berkeley I had a professor tell us to go to public spaces and write down the atmosphere of the room to practice creating worlds. Then we were to create a character based on the experience and during class we would combine our characters and create dialogue that could potentially happen between these two individuals. The most incredible things came out of it, and it lead to some bizarre and fun story plots.

Anyways, yesterday I was at this bar with a friend and we were drinking something brewed in their own establishment. The bar is called Hotsy-Totsy in Albany, CA.  We had been searching for a bar all night, and someone suggested we go. We were so happy they were still open we danced into the bar and sang along to the jukebox Motown songs. There was  a man beside us wearing a baseball cap. He had a great smile, but he hovered over his drink as if pieces of himself were falling back into the glass and he was there to drink it. He seemed like a cool cat, so we started a conversation.  I learned about the history of the bar, that they brew their own carbonated alcoholic drinks, the bar lady came to us and told us about the manager and how she won a National Award for her Pisco Sour — and y’alls know I love me some Peruvian themed stories. The award was placed on a placard on the wall. Machu picchu, National, and her name on the certificate. I ordered a Pisco Sour to try it out, and atop the bar lady put chicha morada essence. I was super impressed. Anyways, that night I learned about the history of the neighborhood, the bar, the man in the baseball cap had been going to the bar for years, and next door was a parking lot with a taco truck that closed right as we stumbled our way over. If I wanted, I could write about a man waiting for the love of his life to return to the bar they frequented. I could write about a serial killer who prays on people who are hungry and don’t make the taco truck in time. I can write about a bar lady who left all her family behind in Minnesota to pursue her dream of Mixology. I can write about anything, and that’s the best part.

Endless possibilities! Reach out into this world Readers, it’s absolutely magical.

My family and their close relationship to my sanity

The Simpsons

I spent the last two days reconnecting with family. You know, getting back to my roots  and arriving at a conclusion as to why I had moved six hours away from them. The reason is because one of my gigs in the East Bay ends in April, and I have to decide if I should go back to LA or stay in Nor-Cal.

I arrived around midnight and sat at the dinner table while mom cooked some last minute papa a la huancaina. Yum. My sister sat beside me and  updated me on family drama. Meanwhile, my thirteen year-old brother challenges me to a Mario Bros. 3  game, AND he refuses to believe I used to be a gamer.

And it hits me. God I miss these freaks. I miss them so much and instantly being around them makes me nostalgic. It’s sad really, especially because my brother grew like three inches while I was away. Where does the time go?

So why did I leave? I ask myself. After the second day of family craziness and drama I realized quickly why I left. I am the oldest in my family. The only one who has received a college degree. I cannot go backwards. I have to move on in search of something that could help me help them…from a distance, so I don’t go crazy.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I love them to bits! But they are cray cray. Let’s be real, I am sure there are a lot of people (if not all) who can say — My family drives me nuts!

But in all honesty, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am back in my little hole in the wall apartment now and I think about them. I think about our adventures, our jokes, our insults, our challenges, and it inspires me to write. If I was short any muses before — FORGET ABOUT IT!  I started voice recording writing notes on my drive back to the Bay. So much to do. So much to write!

The New Yorker

Dear people in blog land. I am back in Los Angeles, and I survived two flight connections this past Saturday. I’m not going to lie, it was absolutely BRUTAL—mainly because I am still getting over a cold. It’s been a week and a half, but that’s my fault. Would you allow a cold stop you from going out at night in Paris?    I rest my case.  Anyways, I flew from Paris — to Finland — to NY, and finally back to my hometown, Los Angeles.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you about some Paris adventures, but really…all you need to know is GO. Go explore with an open mind and enjoy the ride of your life. It’s incredible.

This post is about a man I met on my flight from NY to LA. He didn’t give me his last name, but I think that’s for the best.  As soon as I showed him my red book of ideas (for my novel) he stopped giving me too much information if you know what I mean. Prior to me creeping him out, though, we talked openly about traveling and trauma. I know right, out of all the things two perfectly good strangers could talk about — traveling and trauma! But that’s what we did.

I will call him The New Yorker. He is one of the most interesting people I have met in a long time. I felt utterly excited because from the moment I saw him I could tell he was a New Yorker. Not just any New Yorker, but quite possibly a US Marshall.  I tapped his shoulder so that I could get to my window seat (that’s very important for me). He stepped back and I saw his posture…I thought, holy smokes this man can kill me with one hand. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been so territorial, but it was okay because I ended up acting like a little girl once I saw what he looked like. I wanted to ask him so many questions.

Let me explain what I looked like because I gave the man a good laugh too. I had just gone through the Express Lanes at the airport because my flights were so close together. I looked like a hot mess. I hadn’t brushed my teeth from my naps in the last plane ride3, and my greasy hair was hiding under an oversized straw hat I bought at an open market. I inevitably had to show my hair once I settled down, gross.   I had rushed packing and ended up wearing two extra layers to compliment for the over flowing items in my luggage. It was not a pretty picture. Still, I was sitting next to someone who could potentially help me with my novel. I was beyond excited.

The man settled down, and I pulled down the shades like a freakin’ vampire. He leaned over and asked if I was from LA. He said it like this: “So. You from LA?”   I had already been developing a million questions to ask from the moment I saw him. He unleashed a monster. I felt as if I was in a field trip and I was talking to a fireman and asking him why he liked his job because I think someday I would like to be a fireman. Except this guy looked like a secret spy, or Bourne, or something like that. It was really cool. It didn’t help that I had just finished watching SPEED in the last plane ride either. :S

“Yes, I’m from LA. And you are from NY.”
“Can you tell?”

We laughed because we both recognized each others accents. The easy going Californian and the dynamic New York accents were clearly audible. He asked about my book, and we ended up talking about trauma. After I explained what I wanted to focus on, he said…”I’ve seen things,” just like that —everything became quiet and serious.

“I’ve seen a murder before my eyes, a knife fight, multiple dead bodies, and…” he went on and on.

I asked him, carefully, “May I ask how you were able to see all these things up close?”

He replied, “It’s because I’m a cop. NYPD. My name is ____. ” We shook hands; the first time we officially introduced ourselves.

I couldn’t ask anymore questions after that—not after all the things he was sharing. So he started asking me questions about Paris, and what I had done with my time there. We talked about traveling in Australia, the Panama canal, washing clothes by hand, and breathing the toxic Los Angeles air; something he was looking forward to doing.

Reader, I’m usually a good creeper. I pride myself in that. I can keep my cool when it comes to interviews and such, but this man proved to be too interesting. There was a point when I didn’t want to ask anymore questions because I didn’t want him to not trust me with the information he had already given. Is that weird? I think it’s what normal human beings call—RESPECT. There has to be some type of respect for a human being, so that you don’t dive too much into someones personal life. I stopped asking questions when I realized I didn’t need to know anymore. This guy was just interesting in his own way. It felt refreshingly bizarre stopping myself. I had to. I wanted to remember the cop as a man, a traveller, a jokester, a lover of Peruvian food, and a veteran. That’s it.

Sometimes (even in writing) the things that are left unsaid speak volumes.


Licking Blood

For those of you who don’t know me personally (i.e. all of you in blog land), I like to volunteer. That’s right! I like to get my hands dirty every now and then to give back to communities I feel have enriched my life. BUT this is not a post about me trying to be Mother Theresa. Oh no. This is a post about two teenage boys getting in a fight, and the interesting people I saw today. Hazzah for character exploration!

This fight story will have the following elements: 

1.) The initiator
2.) The victim/retaliator
3.) The young girl who eggs on the innitiator
4.) The instigator who screams BE A MAN! (towards the victim/retaliator)
5.) The elder
6.) The fuzz
7.) The “innocent” bystanders
8.) The vet

So here I goes…

* * * * *

I was in the park doing some new age bonding exercises and stuff. Things like the human knot, and the ninja-rock-paper-scissors game with some friends when all of the sudden a sound from the opposite side of the park invaded my ears. Actually, it invaded all of us in the group. A sound I am all too familiar with because I come from Callao–a ghetto part of Peru. It was the sound of a scuffle, and then it was confirmed by the stranger to my right who yelled, “FIGHT!”

We turned around and huddled (we, the group of easy going people), wondering what to do. I’m not going to lie, part of me wanted to take some bets, the little one seemed like he knew what he was doing. Then I realized this was for real, so I began to act like I normally do when I get mesmerized by the intricacies of human nature. I zoned out. I became a fly on the wall who thought, I’m invisible! No, not really the crowd of teenage instigators said with their fast moving feet. I thought the fight might end soon, it does not.

The initiator comes to the victim and pushes his shoulders. A young girl bursts through the crowd and yells “Ari***a where are you?! I’m calling you out. I’m going to kick you a*s” and on and on she went calling out this girl, who obviously was not present to hear the challenge.

Naturally girl returned to her friend, the initiator, and egged him on to keep pursuing the victim, who by this time had began to retaliate, thus becoming the retaliator.

Fists flew right, left, upper cut, round about, chicken in the house, Baby Ruth through the back, swing dancing with a kick, dog choking on a chicken bone, all these interesting moves….get the picture? They were all over the place. Pscht! High school kids.

I had zoned out for too long. I was standing by a trash can without knowing how I got there, a couple of feet away from the rumble. They moved closer towards me, but I swerved my way back to the grassy safe zone where the easy going people were. All of us staring.

And it was a sight. There we were, the peaceful bunch just finished playing our human knot game…and there they were, the high school rebels swinging away at anger, displacement, disagreement, rumors, and all those things that add up to MISCOMMUNICATION. In my experience, this is usually why conflict arises most of the time.

The initiator falls on the floor and gets up. His mouth is bleeds pretty bad, and he licks his lips, painting the pale flesh a crimson color that is both menacing and grotesque. The retaliator gets punched in the nose. More blood. The initiator licks his lips again. More blood. This time he lets his right palm slowly scrape over his exposed tongue and smears it with blood. He smiles as if enjoying the taste of his own blood. Then he collects the pouring slime towards the front of his mouth and spits at the retaliator. The red slime lands on the retaliators ears and crawls its way down to his shoulders in an almost slow motion fashion. Blood everywhere.

Finally, an elder comes from out of the library and breaks up the fight.  They split.  “Young man, now stop that. Stop that!” He pulls the retaliator back, telling him to stop, telling him it’s a trap, warning him that he’s going to be stuck…again and again and again. The initiator taunts him from a distance, beckoning him to come — winking at the retaliator, flirting to persuade him back into the unfinished quarrel.

The retaliator pulls away from the elder with one tug, and another boy comes to him, the instigator. “Come on,” he says, “you have to finish this. Be a man!” And he takes the retaliator towards the other end of the park. The elder lowers his head and walks away.

Me and the other “innocent” bystanders watch in amazement (actually we were stupefied and we didn’t know what to do). It was not the end. Not yet.

I have yet to mention that this whole time we were literally on the same block as the Police Station (facing the park). It was surreal.

Finally the sirens blasted through the block. One, two, ten cop cars arrive. It was a bit much, but I’m sure they have their reasons. We let a few minutes go by before deciding to walk by the cop cars. We peaked through the crowd, just in time to hear a veteran yell, “Damn cops taking forever! These kids could have been dead. That’s why I’m starting an organization called the VET…” he trailed off. Injustice in his voice. Tired marches in his voice. Dried throat in his voice. Busted bones in his voice. He looked like a white version of Mr. T. with golden shades an all.

Reality, Reader, can sometimes be stranger than fiction. We kept walking, my friend and I until we saw him.

The retaliator, who my young friend tells me was a trouble maker at school, sat handcuffed in the back seat of a cop car. I thought to myself, for all the bad things this kid must do at school, this was unfair. He was just chilling with some friends, sitting on a bench earlier that day. He probably watched us do our human knot and thought we looked ridiculous. He probably looked at my young friend, recognized her from school and thought — someday I’ll ask her out. He probably talked about video games, porn, or ditching class…but now he was in the back seat of a cop car. He sat taking in all the gazes from the sidewalk. Fellow classmates, traitors, and so called friends. While the initiator was nowhere in sight.