The thing about Santa Barbara is that the weather never seems to change. It was August, that was a fact, but I wasn’t sure if it was summer or spring or autumn. I know, I should have memorized this stuff in school but I decided to skip the class. Besides, the procrastinator inside of me had a feeling none of this shit will ever actually help me accomplish anything in life. Probably. The only important issue that needed my attention was the green, lustrous dollars I was selling my ass for while working at Staples full-time. Everything was fine and dandy for a month, but one day, as sudden as a Californian earthquake, a piece of bad news landed on my lap.
“Hours are tight, morro,” Juan told me one morning as I came into work. I felt better, a bit more optimistic, and ready to seize the day; carpe diem, as the old, Latin phrase says. I was even smiling, something I didn’t do often. It had been over a month since I worked at the gas station and my internal clock had adjusted to a certain sleep schedule.
“What do you mean by ‘tight’?” I asked. At that time I wasn’t familiar with many slangs, and Juan seemed to have many of those under his extra large sleeve.
He was standing next to Arturo’s office, looking at the board where the schedule was posted. “They’re cutting hours, ese,” he said.
I looked at the schedule. The smile on my face disappeared as fast as it came. It was true, I had gone back to having the meager amount of hours I was having before, while the managers and higher-ups seemed to be doing just fine. The little, whiny voice inside of me was beginning to complain, saying, “Not fair! Not fair!” but I had a feeling complaining wasn’t going to take me anywhere. “I see,” I said. Juan was surprised with my reaction (or the lack of it) and went back to doing whatever it was that he was doing before I got there.
I walked further into the break-room. There was a new, white, rectangular table in the middle, and six plastic chairs surrounded it. Arturo sat on one of those chairs, alone, eating cold pizza, and looking at a bunch of papers he had on the table. He looked at me, briefly, stopped chewing, and went right back to it after realizing it was me, the undocumented employee, standing right there. “I supposed you already saw the schedule,” he said, and a bit of tomato sauce adorned the left side of his mouth.
“I did,” I replied while walking behind him, toward my locker. I opened it, took out my work shirt, and saw the book I was reading at the moment: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, courtesy of my highly-motivated friends at Amway.
“You did?” he asked, but the tone of his voice suggested surprise. “Is that all you have to say?”
I got it now, he was also surprised by my lack of surprise. “Yeah, what else do you expect me to say?”
He turned back, while I was putting on my red, polo shirt. “All day, I’ve been getting shit from everybody because they have fewer hours. Even the managers! And lemme tell you about the managers: they don’t even get that many hours cut from their schedule.”
I came closer to him, pull out a chair and sat down. I leaned closer and smelled him. “Yeah, you smell like shit, boss.”
Ok, you got this far, that’s good news. Click here to read the entire chapter.
I think it’s been a month since the last time I posted a journal chapter here in my blog. Some of you might be thinking I threw in the towel, hung the gloves, or simply gave up on this seemingly unconscious, comatose, and monotonous habit of putting words on a paper and coming up with stories that would probably be buried in the internet clouds for years to come… even after my death.
But don’t worry. I can’t give up on the only thing I like to do.
And so, while still doing what I don’t like (a regular job), and reading a bunch of interesting books, I still have time to write another story; it’s more like a novel, actually. and that’s why I haven’t been here in a while. Trust me, I wish I could be able to keep writing my journal and the book at the same time, but, unfortunately, a man has to eat, and writing hasn’t given me the freedom to say goodbye to Corporate America and write all hours of the day and night until by butt gets glued on the chair of the Starbucks I spent my afternoons writing.
Anyway, I’ll just keep doing what I need to do. Maybe hoping and wishing are a waste of time?
Let me tell you a bit about this book, which looks like a dystopian and slightly apocalyptic journey on the streets of Santa Barbara; it falls under the same category as Waterless, a novella I wrote about five years ago. The main difference between the aforementioned and the upcoming book is that I am using a recurring character; Galuri Leirbag, previously mentioned in Five. Last time I wrote about Galuri was about seven years ago, and, trying to keep up with the character idea, he will appear in stories that are ‘real events’ that happened in his life, and later, he writes about them and try to publish them.
But he never publishes shit.
Yes, Galuri Leirbag and I have a lot in common.
Anyhow, I like where the story is going and I’m happy to see there is a great, almost philosophical ending in it. While I continue writing, I’d like to invite you to keep reading my journal. If you haven’t read it from the beginning, go here. Thank you for reading, and have a great day.
The Shell Gas Station is a thing from the past, a rather unmemorable memory. Eating lunch at my favorite McD’s, I was pondering on my life, thinking about my past and present mentors. Esmeralda was undoubtedly the first, on this side of the wall, for she made sure I didn’t leave my dreams and aspirations hanging on the border as I jumped into The Red, White And Blue. Now that I didn’t have to worry about the gas station, I was paying more attention to my education. I had developed this routine of coming to McD’s to read, do homework, or even write something on my journal. I had become a regular customer.
Mr. Big Shot Quiroz looked like the Mexican version of Donald Trump; he had on a black suit and a red tie, a cellphone on his ear at all times, yelling at someone on the other end, and a suited up trophy wife sat happily right next to him. But of course, this guy had black hair (or was it a wig?) and didn’t speak a word in English.
All right, I guess it was time for me to follow the flow.
It was hot outside, Hollister Ave looked lonely, except for a couple of white men who were standing right outside the 7-Eleven. They looked just like the men I’d seen last year, when I came to Altamirano’s for the first time. Juan Carlos parked right behind a recent-model, black Thunderbird and stared at its rear-end the same way you look at a woman’s ass.
Can’t say I blame him.
“That car belongs to Mr. Quiroz,” he said. The look of happiness on his face was like the one I make right after I ejaculate.
I couldn’t help assuming I knew what his next sentence would be. “Let me guess, if I sign up with you, I’m gonna have a car like that?” I know I was being cynical about it, perhaps a bit of an asshole, too. But I think it’s good to be an asshole sometimes, especially when you’ve heard the lyrics of a song for so many times you end up having nightmares about it.
Yep, if you’re not careful, The American Dream can turn into an Anglo Nightmare.
June took over the calendar and half of the year 2007 had faded away into oblivion. It was on a Thursday, at 10:34 in the morning, when I sat in front of my desk, inside the box, staring at the blank page, hoping I could write something down. I hadn’t written a word on my journal in a while. I spent five minutes threatening the blank page with my pen, pointing at it like a bank robber who is yelling at a deaf clerk who can’t move a finger because he’s afraid he’s going to lose his life. Is that how the blank page feels?
In the year when smartphones were beginning to be popular, I still had a stupid phone, which was on the desk, between the computer keyboard and the notebook. I looked at it, praying to a God I didn’t like, hoping He could send a distraction my way, or something that would allow me to say or write down a paragraph worth reading.
And He did.
Praise the lord.