Here’s what I want to do before I leave LA:
So I’m more underemployed than usual these days. My solution to my lack of constructive activity and lack of marketability is to learn Arabic. That’s gotta come in handy some day, right?
Step 1 is to learn to the Alphabet, which I have done, thanks to the lovely Maha on YouTube.
She has a 6 lesson series on the Alphabet called “Read & Write ANYTHING in Arabic in Just 6 Lessons”. Here’s lesson 1:
After watching the 6 lessons (plus 2 on the vowels) I can definitely write any of the letters, and probably make out most words. I’m still a little unclear on spelling (when to use long and short vowels) but it was an excellent introduction.
Mexican drink is a fountain of revenue and deliciousness for owners and strangers
Under a black sun umbrella, Dona Lupe squeezes and squeezes lemons, the last ingredient in the refreshing drink she sells from a cart at the exit from the city of Pico Rivera.
"It cleans out your whole system, it’s good for the kidneys; it’s fresh, natural, it doesn’t have any chemicals," she assures as though it were a magic potion that could cure all.
What she’s offering is called tejuino, a drink made with a base of corn and has its origins in prehispanic Mexico, and alleviates, at least, the heat of this afternoon that doesn’t seem like winter.
Dona Lupe adds salt, lemon and cubes of ice, enough to mitigate at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
For years she has been selling here and she has more than enough clients. A day before the interview someone bought a large pail.
"He was going to Las Vegas," she guessed, "People come here from San Diego; the ones from East Los Angeles buy from me because they don’t like what’s sold there," she adds.
Some park on the shoulder of Rosemead Boulevard and walk over to her location, but others just indicate with their hands the size of the cup they want and she brings it to them.
"They already know what they’re buying, they know it’s good," she said while preparing a small cup (of 16 ounzes, which cost $3 dollars) for a woman who didn’t even lower the window of her car.
At this improvised drive-thru Tom Hung has arrived, an Asian who was brought by a friend
He had never tried the drink and asked a group of customer what it’s called and how it’s made. “It’s Mexican Red Bull,” someone said to encourage him.
Hong, a resident of El Monte, askes for the biggest cup, of 30 ounces, and doesn’t miss the sight of the merchant’s skill in transferring the tejuino from a vase to a pitcher and vice versa. That’s how the lemon and the salt get mixed.
The Asian takes the cup, consumes the tejuino with a straw and looks at the sky looking at only he knows. “It’s fresh and it leaves a bittersweet taste. I like it!” he exclaimed.
The seller, who was waiting for Hong’s approval, smiled when she heard the new customer’s comment. “Here it’s number one!” Dona Lupe exulted by lifting her right thumb.
* I translated this from La Opinion in order to improve my Spanish which is okay but not great, so excuse the quality. Thanks. Also, not sure about the ethics of translating this but nobody’s going to read it anyway, so I think I’m good.
You can’t have my stories.
How will you stop me?
Once told, the essence is lost. Only the form remains.
Or is it both.
Take anything but my stories. They are orphaned on a page.
It is inevitable.
They are not yours to take.
And yet I will.
Because you have none of your own?
Mine are already lost to me. They have been consumed and forgotten.
Then why would you do that to me?
It is the way of the world. The monster is never satisfied. I must feed it or all of us are lost.
You are willing to doom us all?
Then you don’t deny that to give you my stories is to betray them?
Leave me be.
Leave my stories be.
Have you ever known me to beg.
And I’m begging you, surrender. You can’t win.
I can die, and my stories with me.
What are you protecting so fiercely?
Without them I am dead in any case.
They will be yours. Only in the shape of my pen.
Admit you work for the devil.
The pen is hardly a devil.
Oh but it is.
Old man, I must go. I will take your stories and tomorrow they will belong to the universe. The day after they will be forgotten, merely yesterday’s feed. But don’t mourn them. They will be one with the stars and the galaxies and the dark matter of the universe that sustains us all though we choose to ignore it.
My stories will be stardust?
Yes. With everything else magical and discarded.
I cannot protest their destiny.
Sleep, old man. I can not promise your stories will be safe, only that I will do them the best that words can do.
On the only rainy day in LA I’m in the library watching the tops of the Hollywood Hills fade into fog, and not working.
The radio is rejoicing, the people are wearing galoshes and carrying umbrellas. The city is inhibited, shy, like it’s trying on a new look.
"How do I look in the rain?"
The colors are saturated. The orange metro buses look cheerful.
Because that’s what happens when the lighting is right and you see everything as shots in a continuous movie.
Nothing is continuous.
In. Out. In. Out.
Here. Gone. Here. Gone.
Who can live with that kind of self-hatred?
I didn’t have the heart to answer him with the truth - that there’s not a lot that can kill us, and often, that isn’t a mercy.