Memoir

Prolougue - The Day before my Freshman Year Summer 2012

I just had an epiphany.

The day before my freshman year in highschool... or it might have been July third, I asked my mom to go on a ride with me. I was going to come out to her. We drove around and little was said, I cried alot and I didn't come out. It reminds me of Fun Home "Telephone Wire."  

This book is everything I wanted to say that night that I couldn't. A culmination of thoughts and anxiety that I can't keep to myself. 

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Tina's Clock

Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, time stays, we go.

–Henry Austin Dobson, The Paradox of Time 


Tina's Clock
An antique clock lies within the heart of time; its hands move briskly as hours fly by, as we become more of ourselves, and as we gently let go of the past that’s behind us. My grandparents were always fond of sophisticated clockwork. They have clocks all over their dwelling; there is a distinctive clock in their house I am particularly fond of: their dinning room clock. That clock is particularly special, not only does it keep track of time like ordinary clocks do, it chimes so beautifully. The clock chimes every fifteen minutes; when the clock strikes the hour, it sings the representative melody. Its pendulum moves gently, side to side, echoing onto others room with its sharp work and its low roll. I remember asking my grandmother, Tina, about its origins. She laughed about it, reminiscing on her journey to Switzerland with Santiago, her husband. She bought on her way over and has kept it ever since my father graduated from college. I have never actually realized its presence. Time works in mysterious ways. When I was young, I used to ignore the clock, except for its happy chimes at dinner where we would all sit around the table, chatting and laughing merrily. As a kid, I would stare at it blankly and think about its importance, but it never came to mind until now. I am much older now, and that clock is still ticking its way into bliss. The Swiss clock, or better said Bucherer would look upon us all. He would stick around for quite some time, admiring blossoming life, the rapture of death, journeys of ascents and descents as we all have come across in life. The clock has a sentimental value, let alone a prized possession of a loved one, it is a mere reminder of the life that’s ahead of us all. It is indeed, a bittersweet paradox. If I must add life’s most bittersweet paradox, to cope with so little time and so much to handle, so much to do; discover, wonder, and yearn! We must learn to deal with such paradoxes. Clocks are not timekeepers but the indicators of memory, the way we’re able to dwell upon past experiences and how we long for them to happen soon. The time has come, for us to reminisce, to dwell upon the drips and drabs of love and look back on the blossom of life. And whether or not we know it, we always find ourselves looking upon time and looking for time itself.

 

 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Prose poem. 

Nelson’s Story: “My name is Felix, a schizophrenic.”

 

Monologues of a Schizophrenic

 

Nelson’s Story: “My name is Felix, a schizophrenic.”


Circa 1975-79


Felix Nelson Lopez was a polite, educated young man. He was the fourth out of nine children; three died two before my uncle Nelson. My family recalls my uncle Nelson being a very social person, always talkative, and helping wherever needed. He also was pursuing an academic career in Engineering, at seventeen he received a scholarship to attend one of the most prestige schools in El Salvador; Colegio de San Pablo, located in Zacatecolucas, La Paz. Between the year I was born 1977 and 1979, my uncle Nelson had a life altering experience, which to date, no family member can explain how exactly did my uncle Nelson became a schizoid.


 My uncle Nelson and other fellow colleagues went to La Paz in the summer of 77’ to visit the campus of Colegio de San Pablo and the town, since he was going to reside there for education. When he returned, one of my aunts’ Tia Dinora’ called my mom in the US to give her the bad news, apparently my uncle Nelson developed a character change that was very noticeable. His attitude went from friendly and social, to quiet and keeping in the dark. My aunt told my mom that he would sit in the dark of a room and laugh. However, none of the family members, including my grandparents knew what was wrong with him. One thing is for sure, during that time the Civil War in El Salvador was about to officially begun; my uncle Nelson witnesses firsthand the horror of the civil war.


In March 24, 1980 the assassination of Archbishop Monsignor Oscar Romero in San Salvador started a civil war that lasted twelve years. However, my family recalls military movement as far as the mid 1960’s. Macabre was the scene throughout the country. Some of the home videos I’ve seen of the war show decapitated bodies on the road, in front of homes, death all over the scene. Half of my family fought with the country’s military against the half of my family in the jungles as guerillas. My uncle Nelson was in the midst of the madness, he was seventeen when his life changed.

 

As a child, I recall a few episodes; full blown episodes he went through. I remember hiding in the closet room once, because my Uncle Nelson began yelling and cussing and pushing one of my uncles; my dad, grandpa, and an uncle were able to force him down on the floor and stay on top of him until he calmed down, which at times took about an hour to calm. Through the episodes that he had already displayed, no family member knew he had schizophrenia, they didn’t know what to label him. Until the incident that occurred after the civil war was over when my uncle was hospitalized at a psychiatric ward after he was detained by police and began rambling about a truck load full of artillery that he had hidden somewhere. The police found to paper work on him, so they didn’t know who the people of contact were.


My uncle Nelson went missing almost eight month before the word got to an uncle that he was being detained by the police in a town a few miles away. When they found him, my uncle Nelson was horrifically disfigured; the fucken police tortured him as they thought he was speaking the truth. The uncle that picked him up had to explain to the officers that my uncle Nelson was a bit crazy, and didn’t what he was talking about. They let him go, beat up, and embarrassed. My uncle Nelson in a moment of clarity was able to recollect the memory of the torture sessions and shared the experience with his brothers.


He was hospitalize in the ward after, and that’s where the family found out that my uncle had Schizophrenia for the last 15 years, and didn’t have proper medication until then. Another episode he went through, my mom says he tried to hit one of my sister’s and mother stepped in, for a minute my mother felt very threaten she says, but she’s a warrior too and grabbed the biggest cooking pan she could find and told him to step back or else he was going to get it. Mom says he quickly changed his attitude and stormed out of the house. Nevertheless, the most memorable episode I recall was when I found him in front of the kitchen window.

 

-


"As I stepped into the kitchen, I saw my uncle Nelson flipping-off someone through the kitchen window. He started cussing at the person outside the window, saying, "Pues que onda contigo?" "What's your problem?" I stood there silently watching the episode that was unfolding before my eyes. I was nine years old and had heard stories about my uncle being mentally challenge, but has yet to witness the severity of his ordeal. I walked over to my mom's room and told her what I had seen. She quietly went to the living room and looked out the window, shook her head and walked into the kitchen.


My uncle was still arguing with the person outside the window. My mom tells him, "Nelson, que estas haciendo?" "What you doing?" He answers, "Que no estás viendo ese pasmado afuera llamándome nombres." "Can't you see that fool outside calling me names?" I notice my uncle's facial expressions were changing, his eyes opened wide, his tone of voice became deeper, a transformation I had never seen in him.


"No hay nadie ayi!" my mom says. When she said that my uncle Nelson rushed at her direction, I ran to the living room. He didn't touch my mom, but walked to the front door and yelled, "Ven aqui hijo de puta, dicime eso a la cara, pendejo!" No one was outside, no one was talking shit to him, and it was all in his head. I see rage in his eyes; he walks into my room grabs my backpack, throws all my school supplies and books on the floor. He opened his clothe drawer, grabs a handful of clothe, probably only under wears and socks.


My uncle Nelson stormed out of the house, my mom tried to stop him; he pushed her to the side and kept on walking. Three days later he calls the house, says he's in Mexico and needs money sent to him so he can continue his trip to El Salvador. My dad and two uncles went to pick him up at the border. That was the first time I witness my uncle’s episode at a close range without hiding from the ordeal. I also realize that a schizophrenic is not always mentally lost, that there is a window of clarity and reason; how else did he get to the Mexican border with no car and money?

 

Sergio Valencia *

#FelixNelsonLopez
#monologuesofaschizophrenic

#NelsonsStory: mynameisfelixaschizophrenic

#SoulcriticPoet
#2013

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I've seen the window of clarity in my uncles eyes and have spoken with Nelson!

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My father's Horse

My father rode his horse with a special feeling. He loved walking with his horse, enjoying the views of his field crops, feeling the breeze in his face, watching his ranch as he went by, relaxing at that large calmed place, beside his chestnut friend. My father would go riding whenever he could, whenever he was mad or stressed, whenever he felt happy and blessed, my father would scape to his ranch, and ride with his four legged friend. I liked it very much when he used to take me with him; I had a lot of fun with him and with his brownish horse. Riding beside him, he used to tell me stories about his youth, about his childhood, about his golden charreria days, and how good he was. We both rode together in that horse, while we both shared a happy peaceful time. While we talked and laughed, while I enjoyed what my father loved the most, in the same horse we rode. That horse was wonderful and loyal, the “Azteca” his name was, strong but short, fast but no for distance-long, he became my father’s best friend at work, and at every time he needed him. Every time my father was riding that horse, you could see him young, full of life, and free… looking like the real Charro he used to be. The “Azteca”, was part of the family. My father and his horse shared many moments together, they raced together, they competed in charrerias together, and they also learned from each other. My father thought him tricks and the horse thought him perseverance. My father taught him discipline and the horse to quickly stand up after you fall to the ground. My father even got married riding that horse; my mother was a little ashamed of course. Instead of a car taking the bride to church, it was the Azteca who brought her to the chapel’s front porch. Indeed, it was a very special horse. My family was very sad, when three years ago, it happened the worst; the poor old Azteca had a stroke. My father was very sad, but very thankful he also was. It was then, when I realized what that so very special horse meant. That horse belonged to my father’s brother, who died in a car accident 25 years ago. My dad used to tell me how close he was to him, to his brother. He was his best friend, just like the Azteca used to be.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Based on real life.

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Butterfly Kisses

Sitting idly with the sunset on this 26th day of August of 2007....the mind went back...down the memory lane to a late winter day of 2000............

........I was looking very beautiful. I had shaven after so many days and had shampooed my hair. My face looked thinner than some of the earlier years, giving an illusion of youth. The black-cream jersey made my complexion look fairer and a few people complimented me. It was a nice feeling to see that I still attracted attention on the road. It was an exceptional day. Some of the old glory flashed for some time. Many images of the past came floating by and I could not help smiling at them. In thought, there are no barriers of time and age and circumstance.

*

Later in the evening, my daughter insisted for a story and I told her about the cap-seller……When the cap-seller woke up, he was very sad to see all his caps stolen. All the monkeys teased and danced in front of him, making funny faces....The cap-seller threw down the cap that he was wearing and the monkeys followed suit. The naughty monkeys had to cut a sorry figure.....

*

It was little after the story time and I had begun to slip into the oblivion of sleep when I was brought back to consciousness by a slap to realize that she was perhaps seeing an action-packed monkey dream and it seemed that she had just slapped a miscreant one. Now, her tiny hand was in my left hand and her small, cold feet were hidden between my legs. Her face was calm and beautiful…and envious.

The whole day, she used to be after me….Why are the trees green, where does the moon go in the day, from where does the breeze come, where do the kittens go to read.....

She would watch a wedding scene on TV and would want to get married. I asked her, “Where is the groom?” and she would say, “I will marry you, papa” and blush. She knew even then that one is supposed to be a bit demure while talking of marriage!!! She wanted to have all the shining clothes and make-up and lip-stick. “Why do you want to marry me?” I would ask and she would say that she would wash my handkerchiefs and press my forehead when it aches. Yes, she loved the only man in her small, little life thus far: Me.

*

Today, she has grown up and asks me about yoga and hockey. She plays the Sitar and participates in elocutions and debates, swims perfectly and learns Karate....and still asks for suggestions for making up with a friend.

Tomorrow, she will be into perfumes and make-up and higher education....then into a career and a family of her own. Will I be too old and out-of-date for her by that time...See, the mind has jumped ahead. It is the biggest monkey of all.

Anyway, no matter what tomorrow brings, I will always remember the butterfly kisses.

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