I am getting to the age that I don’t really know what time is anymore.
On another screen, I am watching a picture in Photoshop get turned into a watercolor painting. I’ve been working on websites as part of my work tonight, both my author site and the publisher site because loving them is part of my job.
The picture is predictably of a sugar skull girl. I am in love with them. I think I will be for the rest of my life. I have a flamenco dancer in aqua and rose-colored dress that’s high on the cabinet in mid-swirl, and she watches down over me. In the darkness, my eyes are adjusted just well enough to see her painted face, keeping me to the task.
I can’t tell you exactly when and where I got so fascinated and connected to them. For about three years or so, I was a pickup worker and worked many physical jobs with Mexicans and other locals. That might have been where it started. They are lovely people.
In all ways.
If you’re hurting, they seek to help. If you’re hungry, they feed you. If you work your ass off like there will be no tomorrow, they will respect you. Life becomes more jeweled if you pay the same back to those around you. The culture is not one in my bloodstream; I’m Viking and Celt. That will never be separated from me, especially as a Heathen, but it is Texan, and I am Texan, and I can’t think of life without that culture somehow involved.
I’ve done a lot of things others haven’t done. I hiked two thousand miles on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve served in two conflicts. For my trouble, I’ve endured five heart attacks and a stroke. I have written five books so far. I wrote those books because Kurt Vonnegut briefly mentored me.
To say I’m blessed is putting it really effing mildly.
But the day I stood on a golf course I was too poor to play at, after working the greens for about three weeks with a team that, for the most part, spoke no English, I heard words that took me by surprise.
I was told I was an “Honorary Mexican.”
That means you’re trustworthy and that you work your ass off. I was proud of that, and I still am. I’m humbled and honored that my Daddy did raise me right in some of my most challenging times, and it came through.
So the sugar skulls also bring some of that sweetness from my own ancestors that have passed on.
Thank you to HEB for keeping it all alive and real every year. I’m drinking my early morning whiskey, which is actually more like midnight on my biological clock out of a special-to-me glass that has… a sugar skull on it.
I’ll have to finish my whiskey and repose for another round of life tomorrow, but right here in the stillness, I feel some of those that have passed on. I feel the love of those I have met. I honor and respect them.
I have to shout out and drink to two individuals that have passed on in the writing and journalism community in the last 36 hours.
To Dan Siddiqui and Scott (poetryin13 on Twitter), we have lost you, and the skulls remind us we will connect again. They revitalize our hope, our tears, our mission in life.
Dan lost his life at the hands of the Taliban, reporting on the region’s injustices and providing that information to the minds that needed to hear it. When I look at the exact shirt I am wearing right now, I read the words “Michigan State Journalism” they take on a harsh meaning. We’ll have to double down on the truth of a matter.
Scott was a sweet and beautiful soul that I had limited interactions with, but his loss has sent a riveting hole through the Writing Community. The shockwaves are nothing to underestimate. I have a hard time out of my thousands of followers finding people he didn’t touch. But he is gone, and we must step up to follow the lead he set.
Life is hard. Many things about it suck. But if you’re still breathing, you’re still breathing. Hope isn’t dead until you are, and from my experience as a medium, I ain’t so sure about that, either.