Spring Break

Spring Break
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Partying in Palm Springs. Galivanting through Cabo. Rolling the waves off Waikiki. Yep, that’s me on Spring Break…yeah, that’s not happening. I’ve always been intrigued by the college ritual of Spring Break. Any excuse for falling down drunk, orgies, drug-tainted nights where you surrender yourself to whatever whim and desire you wish with the promise you will not remember a bit of it the following day or the next week, so there will be no guilt that you acted wildly out of character and hopefully anonymously. The fear of exposure makes you pucker up your brain and shrink away into a corner to hide.

I remember days like that so long ago, and I wasn’t attending college. It was more than a lifestyle. It was a mission to see how many party days I could fit into one day, to hell, one weekend. I proved that one could fit more hours into twenty-four hours, squeezing minutes into seconds, hours into minutes, and days into hours. Time was stretched and compressed so much that you lost the rhythm of the space-time continuum. Back then, there was no point in a watch. What would be the point? The watch could not measure the stream of lies you told yourself that this would be the last time you got this high and this drunk, the last party you would attend and then forget about it as soon as you left (Who are all these people? How did I get here?).

In 1980, driving a friend’s Volvo (What a great car) back from Miami to Washington, D.C., we stopped in Daytona Beach to catch our breath. Who remembered that it was Easter weekend and Spring Break? Well, we sure didn’t as we traveled up and down A1A looking for an empty room and finding laughter from the motel clerks instead. What do they say about perseverance and patience? Hey, it was a bed in a room with a shower and the sounds of drunkenness and sex and a party next door until they broke night, and you realize that there’s not going to be any sleep in this room.

Spring Break
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Everyone outside has to be at least twenty-one or two or eighteen or even seventeen, not that it mattered as you walked the beach sands. You could swear there was a rule somewhere that driving your car in wet sand was not a good idea or even legal. Still, there they were, racing north and south through a gauntlet of screaming, hysterical, barely standing, barfing college students (I just assumed they were all college students, but something told me that this was also Spring Break for high school students too). We stood at the water’s edge and wondered why we felt so old in our early thirties, and partying like this was a strange occurrence. The only difference between them and us was that we were drunk in a two-story row house or the Hawk N Dove and not on an Atlantic Ocean beach. We also didn’t drive a convertible up and down Rhode Island Avenue half-naked, drunk, stoned screaming. No, we were a little more circumspect and cautious that we didn’t perform gratuitously in front of the police (Funny, I don’t remember ever seeing any Daytona Beach police). There was no sleep to be gotten that night. Not with hard-core partying on either side of our room (what was that rhythmic stomping coming from both rooms?). That was one of those nights that you knew you would write about one day.

Spring Break
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

This week, I’m content with hanging at Seal Beach and Sunset Beach and taking photos of the sky, ocean, and beach. Sitting at the sand’s end and closing my eyes and listening, a quiet close listening, for the sounds of the enormous container ships as they ride the still waters to their final destination. The screeching seagulls ride the waves of air, showing off their wide wingspans, teasing us to look up so they could aim for your head. Yuck. The sand was wet from last night’s storm. But there are the brave folks who, on an early weekday morning, are either walking across the sand or are firmly ensconced in a beach chair smoking a joint with only Catalina Island in front of them the twenty-eight miles from shore, the wealthy million-dollar homes lining the beach behind them. I’m cool with the peacefulness as I pump my meditation music into my earphones, allowing it to flow into my head and my body down to my toes. Spring Break. It’s just another excuse to search for and find those rare quiet moments when you can flush the bullshit out of your life, breathe easily, lazily, comforted by the inner voices that speak to you in many tongues, and you hear them say, it’s all cool. Daytona Beach is a million miles away and a thousand years ago, and that Spring Break is not this Spring Break.

With four or five weeks left in the semester, I am trying to get ahead in my studying, so I will use some of my driving and beach time to catch up on some reading and writing. It doesn’t mean I can’t mix chilling into the life I always dream about. The one where I’m done with twenty-four-hour parties and being reckless in Sodom and Gomorrah and trying to prove some dumb point which I forgot what it was a long time ago. No, I’m good with this life—this Spring Break.

Spring Break
Photo by Antonio Ruiz
The Ocean
	i look at it
	never setting my feet
	in it…not even the sand
	touches me.
	on the edge
	scanning the horizon
	searching for what’s 
	out there
	the surfers in their black suits
	sailboats dodging 
        the container ships	
	that dwarf them
	your cars, furniture, 
        spring clothes
	deep in their bays
	passing me and don’t have a
	care in the world
	because it’s the ocean i wish upon
	the majesty of its vastness
	the deepness of its body
	the hope of its promise
	waiting for me
	to stand at its edge 
	and pray (not in that way)
	pray that it will always 
        welcome me. 


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

I’ve made my one resolution for 2022. I will have no resolutions. What’s the point? I’m just going to break them in one week or one month or somewhere around May when it begins to get L.A. weather lovely, and I just want to throw off all the burdens of winter and our crazy version of Spring and frolic on the beach and in the Pacific Ocean (I’m lying, I haven’t been to the beach in years except to look out over the sand and water). Resolutions are defined as “a firm decision to do or not do something.”

Okay, so I did come up with one, lose weight—the perennial favorite of tens of millions of Americans. However, I’ve decided not to count that one because I’m either going to do it or not do it, and why would I place myself in a situation where I will have to feel guilty later on about not keeping the resolution to lose weight. I could just resolve not to lose weight. Then, if I lose the weight, I will have broken my resolution, but I won’t feel bad because I lost the weight.

Maybe, that’s the trick. Resolve not to do anything, and then if you break your resolution and it’s about something positive, you won’t feel bad about it. You’ll have reached a goal through the back door, and all you did was break a meaningless promise to yourself. It’s a win-lose situation but at least win is in the equation.

Image by Joan Cabras from Pixabay

You’ve heard the old saying about don’t make any promises you can’t keep, right? Well, that’s applicable here. At this time of the year, we make this long list of promises/resolutions about the future with never fully grasping the level of difficulty inherent in keeping those promises.

Hell, we could get sick with COVID-19 the day after we made the promise and be dead in a week afterward. Or we could find ourselves invited to a sibling’s or best friend’s wedding and realizing that they’re serving food that you love and you just can’t help yourself. The smell of pernil and Arroz con gandules overwhelms you, and you eat until it hurts, and they have to carry you out of the wedding reception on a stretcher because you just didn’t have enough willpower to stick to your resolution to lose fifty pounds before your next birthday. Now, you’ve probably gained ten pounds (fifteen if you count the wedding cake and the other desserts that you stuffed down your greedy little mouth).

Image by USA-Reiseblogger from Pixabay

Yeah, none of this is good for you. You make resolutions, promise that you’re going to stop cursing at home and in public (M.F. has become my favorite word of all time, and I know it’s ugly, but it just slips out unconsciously). I know that on April 21, 2022, at approximately 7:30 p.m. I’m going to get pissed off at some news item on CNN or MSNBC, or some fool is going to make some stupid comment on my newsfeed about you know who and I’m going to M.F. them and the television set (Boy, am I old) and then I’ll feel (a little) guilty afterward, and I will swear to my dead mother and father that I will never use that filthy word ever again. I swear I’ll do that.

I’m lying. So why even go through the charade of making resolutions or promises only to end up repeating the resolution or promise after feeling like shit (another word I need to get rid of), and what does it get me? No, it’s just more inner conflict, and I’ll have to explain to my therapist that I once again broke a promise that I knew I couldn’t or wouldn’t keep.

Isn’t that the root of the issue? It’s not just that we couldn’t keep it; we never really wanted to do it in the first place. We just went through the process because, well, that’s what we’ve been trained by tradition to do, make resolutions that we know in our hearts and mind, we’re never going to keep. It’s sort of like a game of cards played with a cheat. You know they’re a cheat. They know you know they’re a cheat. But you still play the game, knowing how it’s going to turn out, but in the back of your mind, you think you’re smarter than them and that you are under the delusion that you could still win even when you know the truth. Wait what? That doesn’t even make sense.

Image by h kama from Pixabay

But we still do it because we’ve fooled ourselves. Once again. We go through life having unrealistic expectations of ourselves instead of taking a moment to take stock of where we are in that moment and decided yes, I can do that or no, I can’t do that. And if I can’t, then deciding okay, what do I have to do to get where I want to go or what do I have to learn to do what I would like to do.

Look, I’ve always wanted to climb Mount Everest, but I know that isn’t going to happen at my age unless I do a whole series of tasks that I just don’t have time for, like you know, losing weight and maybe starting with a smaller mountain or hill before I decide to leap to the top of the world.

Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dream big or make resolutions or promises to ourselves or others. It just means that before you go climbing to the top of the world, you take a realistic moment and figure out what will it take to get there. It’s just about maybe taking a few mountain climbing lessons. It’s about looking at your body and mind and asking yourself if you have the ganas, the balls (metaphorically speaking) to do what is necessary to do it.

That’s why before you go all out and make that long list of resolutions to do this and to do that, you check yourself first. Do you have the ganas, the inner strength, and determination to make it happen? If you answer truthfully yes, then go for it. If you answer no, decide if you got the ganas to find yourself some ganas. Because life is always full of opportunities where ganas are necessary to make it through the day and life.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Good Ganas hunting and a Happy New Year.


Well, it’s that time of year when Americans go crazy getting ready for the holidays beginning with Thanksgiving. Some things will never change. There’s Turkey and all the fixings. The grandma recipes come out, and families come from far and wide to reunite over a full table. Even with an ongoing pandemic, families are saying fuck it just so they can celebrate the holiday. Maybe, even using the opportunity to give thanks for all they have. It is a nostalgic touch.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

This is also the time of the year when the origins of Thanksgiving are revisited. We all know the old familiar traditional version: The Pilgrims and the Native people joined together to celebrate a harvest. They broke bread together, and they all lived happily ever after. Americans love their myths. They would prefer not to be told the unvarnished truth about American history, so they cling to fictional stories to make themselves feel better. That’s why all these revisionist efforts to ban Critical Race Theory (like they even know what it is). I mean, we don’t want to make little white kids feel guilty, and little black kids feel superior. But I digress.

No less than the Smithsonian Magazine has a version of the beginnings of the holiday. In “The Myths of the Thanksgiving Story and the Lasting Damage They Imbue,” David Silverman, a history professor at George Washington University, claimed that much of what we believe of the first Thanksgiving is a myth full of historical inexactitudes, uh, I mean lies. According to Silverman, the truth begins with the pilgrims landing at Plymouth in 1620. Seems the local native Chief, Ousamequin, proposed to the new neighbors an alliance, “primarily as a way to protect the Wampanoags against their rivals, the Narragansetts.” Silverman describes how that alliance weathered an onslaught of “colonial land expansion, the spread of disease, and the exploitation of resources on Wampanoag land.” You know, like that old adage about offering peace with one hand and picking your pocket with the other. For the modern-day Wampanoags, Thanksgiving has a whole different meaning, “a day of deep mourning, rather than a moment of giving thanks.” But I digress again.

Image by J Lloa from Pixabay

The past twenty-two months have been, to put it mildly, a shitstorm of panic, depression, isolation, despairing of those who believe this is a hoax, fear for our families and friends who have had to put up with that stuff, and just wishing it would all finally go away and scared it might never. At least, I’m thankful I’m alive. I’m fully vaccinated with a booster. My family is protected and well. We have not been crushed by overwhelming sickness and deaths around us, although a few of my friends have fallen ill, and some have passed. I’m thankful that most have recovered and gotten vaccinated because they never want to go through that ever again. Their words should be engraved on every wall and street, “This ain’t something to mess with.” But I digress.

I’m doing well in my first semester at California State University, Long Beach and I’m thankful. The vaccination mandates and mask protocols are old hats for many of us, with two of my classes in person and the other online. I am thankful that I am continually challenged to be a more incisive student and writer. There are the two original short stories I am writing, my academic essay on Code-Switching as the Language of Identity and Resistance, an upcoming creative essay assignment on Memory as MyStory, the class on English literature where I get to do all kinds of literary analysis, and the study of literary theories and linguistics. Next semester, it will be all about Creative nonfiction and ethnic literature and short stories (I love writing them). I have learned so much from the professors and my fellow students, some of whom are young enough to be my grandchildren. But they’re not. They are grown-ass adults who think quickly and incisively on their feet, understand technology in ways that challenge me (and I think I’m pretty good with it), and who have these incredible dreams about their future that makes me wish for more years to live mine (no, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I’m just sayin’). But I digress again.

For years since the apocalypse began with Donald Trump, I’ve been saying that the craziness was just beginning. Like an epidemic, the diseases of hate and the wish to return to another time that never existed would infect every corner of this nation. It is difficult to not worry over the direction of this country. I mean, we are divided like no other time since the American Civil War. The Vietnam era has nothing on today. Every day, we struggle to deal with inflation, high prices for everything under the sun, job losses and switching jobs, those of us trying to resume normally when we’re not sure we know what normal is anymore, and hoping that whatever is normal is right around the corner. At least I’m alive, some would say. But I digress.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

There was a day back when I was a drunk and drug addict, I would have seen these days as an excuse to get more drunk and take more drugs. Here’s what ten years of sobriety have taught me. All that shit happening outside of you is just that, occurring outside of you. It only comes into you if you allow it to be inside of you. You have some crazy idea that you really need to feel bad because it’s the only way to live. Who thinks like that? Oh yeah, drunks and drug addicts.

I am no longer that person, so I will not allow that shit inside of my mind and body. I will instead welcome peace to be inside of me. My family and good friends are all I need to live in that peace. That’s what I am thankful for. The paths we choose to walk are our decision if we would just tell ourselves that mindful peace is our destination. We may still be walking toward it and have not reached it yet, but that’s okay. I’m thankful for learning that I have that option and all the other self-destructive stuff is disposable. I have the power to live a peaceful life, and for that I am thankful.

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