Monday, September 10, 2012

You Decide! (Poll)



Createspace is allowing me to display samples of my autobiography, so I was wondering which of these two clips would make a better sample? Leave your comments below saying which one you think is best...


COULDA HAD A V8

You only die once, so make it spectacular.

It’s funny how the seemingly inconsequential days of our lives can suddenly contain life altering events. This happened to me one night when I hung out with Sean from the Fighting Stallions. Our MMA crew had long since broken up, but he was the only one I still kicked it with, in part because we were both flakey and didn’t mind each others’ flakiness, but also because we were creative people that thought outside the box. For example, he once made himself a Halloween costume that captured Spider Man transitioning into Venom....

So anyway, this night was the conclusion of a particularly long day for me because Sarah had me come in early to help her with a presentation she was giving to a local real estate company. Sean called me that evening, “I need to pick up. Wanna come with?” Though I hardly had any sleep, I said “screw it,” grabbed a Rockstar and a 2-11, and headed over to his pad.
  
Once I got there, we rolled out to the parking lot of a restaurant chain where he purchased various goodies as I waited in the car. Sean and his dealer were chatting for a bit when out of nowhere a crackhead in a wheel chair rolled furiously towards the two of them from across the street. I guess his spidey sense was tingling, and he knew exactly what was going on. When they saw him coming they said, “Think it’s time to book it!” returned to their respective cars, locked their doors, and started their engines. We drove off quick giving the crackhead just enough time to smack Sean’s car with his hand.
            “Holy smokes! Did you see that guy!? Where did he come from!?”
       “Yeah dude! That was crazy,” I replied looking back at the disappointed druggie through the rear windshield.
            Having dodged the junkie, we returned to Sean’s pad with the loot which he shared with his roommate.
            “Want some?” he asked me.
            “Sure.”
            It had probably been a good couple of months since I had touched anything, and I figured this was as good a time as any. Sean popped in the DVD Pineapple Express; I still remember the black and white opening scenes right before I knocked out. Then, suddenly, I woke up in a state of shear panic.
            “Sean! I’m scared!” I yelled out.
            “Relax bro; you’re just having a panic attack.”
            “I need water!”
            “Come on man, let’s go outside.”

It was the creepiest feeling that took over me as I paced back and forth frantically: a profound fear with no explanation that could not be quelled. “My heart is going so fast! I feel like it’s going to explode!” I said as I could feel my heartbeat echo throughout my body. Being a pharmacy tech, Sean knew about health, and he checked my pulse; now he was scared. “Dude I can feel his tendons throbbing through his throat!” he yelled out to his roommate.
  
Together, they laid me on a couch where I started fading in and out of consciousness. The left side of my body would go limp and I would lose a couple seconds to darkness. “Sean, I’m dying.” I could barely speak by then. I fought hard with every last ounce of strength I had reaching for God begging Him to save me, but nothing was there except darkness. “I can’t go out like this!” I kept thinking to myself.
   
All I could think about was Tats. He would be so ashamed of me; to know that I died of a drug overdose. How could I do this to him? My only comfort was that I would be dead and thus wouldn’t have to see the look on his face when he heard the news. That I was a fiend. A waste. A disgrace to everything he stood for. Not to mention the eternal darkness completely devoid of God that was only inches away. There was no way He was going to reward me with everlasting joy, even I knew that.

Next to cruelty, I believe that waste is one of the worst sins man is capable of. In fact, they kind of go hand in hand. And that’s exactly what I did; I wasted my life. I begged God to give me another chance to please Him, to follow His will. I told Him I knew I didn’t deserve it but asked Him if He could do it for Tats who didn’t deserve to have a piece of crap pseudo son like myself. But as hard as I tried to picture Mary and her Son, I could not reach them. Next thing I knew, I had an EMT in face.
            “What’s going on?” he asked me, but I wasn’t capable of responding. They hooked me up to a heart monitor. My heart rate was at 190.
            “What did he take?” the EMT asked Sean.
            “A Rockstar.”
            The EMT wasn’t buying it. He stared me in the face and repeatedly asked me what it was I really had.
            “Rockstar; those things are really bad,” I said when my vocal cords started working again.
            They loaded me into the ambulance and rushed to the ER, but by the time we made it there, my heart rate was coming down as was I from the high. The panicked feeling left me, and I now felt ridiculous. What was I acting like a little girl for? I asked myself. Suddenly, my practical side kicked in, “What’s all this going to cost me?” I rose out of the gurney.
            “Sir! Where you going? You need to lay down!”
            “You can’t keep me here,” I replied.

I knew how ER’s worked from the heart attack scares in my days as a power lifter. The trick is to give them a fake name and claim you’ve been exposed to tuberculosis to move to the front of the line. Then tell them, “Oh by the way, I think I just had a heart attack.” I also knew they weren’t allowed to force you to stay; so I bounced out of the hospital, my heart still beating fast. However, last time I checked the monitor, it was down to 120. As I walked outside and looked around, I realized I had no clue where I was.
            
I felt like an escaped science experiment as I ripped off the little round sticky pads they put all over my arms and chest and discarded them onto the ground. Looking at my cell phone, I saw that it was now 3:00 A.M. Time to make some phone calls. Apparently, Sean had turned his phone off, and as far as the other friends I called, I reached their voice mails. The only person who picked up was a girl named Peggy, who had been chasing me for a year. Since she was a rich girl, I did not get with her because I felt I had nothing in common, though I must admit she had a decent body. Later on, I broke down and went out with her for a while, but that happened six months or so in the future. She lived in Glendora, so I told her not to bother coming down to pick me up.
  
As I wandered a little further, I recognized the streets and realized that I was still in El Monte, probably a good five to ten miles from my cousin’s garage. Granted that might not seem that far, but still, a lot can happen in five miles in El Monte at three in the morning. As I lowered my gaze from the street signs, my eyes fell on a car that was creeping up to me. I anticipated the sound of the words, “Where you from?” and I pictured the window rolling down to reveal a strapped gangster about to finish the job that drugs had started.
            “How ironic,” I thought to myself, “to have survived a drug overdose only to be capped by some random gang banger”...


or, 


 ROCK BOTTOM


God only gives you so many chances. Some people are given plenty of chances; some not even one. But even if you are given 1,000 chances, eventually you will run out.

So there I was out on the streets once again with nothing but my car, a tote bag, and a suitcase full of business clothes that I kept in the trunk, the rest of my possessions being small enough in their collective size to fit comfortably in my 10' x 5' storage unit. I had gone full circle from the beginning of this story. Due to the fact that I had been in real estate, I had a password for MLS which is an internet-based listing service for houses that were for sale. I would therefore gain access to foreclosed houses by checking MLS for the codes to the lock boxes that contained the keys to the various properties.
   
Since my laptop crashed, every day I would go to multiple libraries and use the internet to apply for jobs online since most libraries limit your internet use to an hour a day. So after I hit up a few libraries, I would pick up paper applications from restaurants and such and go to a Denny’s in the evening to fill them out in the light while sipping away at a soda.Then at night, I would break into different foreclosed houses and find a spot on the ground to sleep on. It did not feel out of place for me to sleep in these houses; the truth is I felt at home alone in the shadows. Shadows are a forgiving blanket for ugly souls.
   
Obviously, I had to get around without turning on the lights (assuming they even worked) usually using my cell phone to light the way to the bathroom at night. Often times there was damage from random acts of vandalism such as broken tiles, paint thrown on the walls, or broken toilets. These were the sad remnants of the “owners’” stay; owners who acted out their anger at being evicted, as if they didn’t share in the greed that lead to the crash by trying to live in houses they couldn’t afford. It’s so easy to pick a fight with a giant then cry when you get stomped saying he had an unfair advantage.
  
I always had my eye out and picked houses where I thought I had the lowest chances of getting caught. But one time, it took me a little longer to open a tricky lock box, and all the sudden I heard, “S’up bro, what you doing?”

I turned around to see a lanky White guy, probably in his thirties, standing a few feet away from me. Since using foreclosed houses as a dwelling was obviously illegal, I kept a preplanned story in mind to tell my “neighbors” if I ever got caught. I figured I would say, “Oh I just bought the place. I’m going to sleep in it ’cause I hear vandals have been wrecking abandoned houses. But good looking out.” Yet for some reason when it mattered the most, my mind went completely blank; and I had no explanation for the gentleman standing in front of me.
  
I looked him in the eye apprehensive of what would happen next, but his eyes looked down at the blanket I had in my arms. At that instant, he understood exactly what was going on. “Oh. You’re alright bro,” he said as he waved his hand in an unofficial sign for me to continue doing what I was doing, and he walked away. Funny sometimes, the random people from whom you receive compassion. You should never expect it, but it’s a pleasant surprise when it hits.
   
The economy during this time was not only the worst I had ever seen, but also the worse most people had ever seen, including people in their sixty’s who’ve seen it go up and down once or twice. When my dad first kicked me out years prior, jobs were practically falling from the sky. The temp agency I signed up for would have multiple jobs for me every day. Now, the local temp agency I signed up at had literally one job available for months, and the requirements for employment were too strict.
   
I could have gotten another sales job, but this was after I overdosed, and I did not want to get back in the sales game at all. I wanted to do clean, honest work that pleased the Lord. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of that going around. I remember one decent position I applied for where I asked the guy who took my app what my chances were. “We’ve had sixty qualified applicants so far.” There was another job that seemed a perfect match for me. It was heading the division of warehouse that dealt with France, and I was fluent in French; I’m not French, but I do speak the language. However, they had a falling out with the employment agency that I joined, and they hired an employee from a different company altogether.
  
Although it sucked to be homeless and I probably could have gone couch surfing at friends’ pads, I didn’t want to depend on anyone. I had gotten myself into this mess, and now I had to lay in the bed that I had made. At this point, things were getting desperate. I had been living off the $2000 in settlement money that Amir’s lawyer got me in the nick of time from the Volvo that hit me, but it was dwindling.
   
It broke my heart to have to sell my shottie, but it had to be done. I was on a “dollar menu” food-only diet and shaving in gas station bathrooms. I would sometimes go to a sit-down Mexican restaurant and pretend I was meeting someone there so that I could get free chips and salsa and a nice cool glass of water. Then, I pretended like the person never showed and finally walked out in disgust.
  
As for cleaning up, I knew where all the gas stations were that had single-room, external bathrooms, which were perfect for this kind of thing. Though I’m not sure why, shaving and brushing my teeth in a public bathroom was to me one of the funniest things I could ever do; I would laugh so hard as I shaved away that I nearly missed strokes hoping no one would hear my almost manic chuckles. Eventually, my car was almost three payments behind, and though I could have easily dodged the repo man, I decided I was going to give it up as it was the honest thing to do.
  
Homelessness is a pretty bleak experience, but fortunately for me I had my homies. Of them all, the Borracho Brothers and their parents stood out the most. One time, I somehow managed to get a date with a girl despite being homeless, and Tommy hooked me up with a shirt and even ironed it for me. He was very paternal as Amir had been. He would send me a text to come to his house, and as I walked in the door he told me, “Sit down. No! Not on the floor! Sit on the couch. Here, have some pizza,” as he handed me a plate and went to get me a soda. “Why do you always try to lay on the floor and use your shoes as a pillow? You whiteboys are crazy.”
   
Another time, when I was once again filling out job applications at a local Denny’s, the twins and their parents happened to walk in and sat at a booth adjacent to me. Upon noticing me sitting there drinking my pathetic little soda with a stack of applications, their father told the waitress, “Get him whatever he wants.” He looked at me, “It’s OK dude; go ahead, order a meal.” Their dad always called me “dude” in his accented voice which I thought was funny.

I never asked them for anything, but that didn’t stop them from hooking me up with free pizzas, and a warm bed. Every so often, they let me sleep on their couch for a night or two which was heaven for me at the time. It felt so comfortable sleeping with the knowledge that my friends were right upstairs. Also, they let me shower when I stayed the night, and showers are priceless when you’re homeless because it’s pretty easy to shave and brush your teeth even on the streets, but it’s not as easy find a place to bathe.

But I down played how much this all meant to me, not to be ungrateful but because I didn’t want them to feel guilty about all the nights I didn’t sleep at their house. Their compassion was touching and brings tears to my eyes as I sit here typing about it. All of them, mother, father, two brothers, and grandfather, they all showed me true generosity: helping someone not in hopes of returned favors but merely because they need help...    


With everything I've been through, it's a good thing I turned out to be a responsible, emotionally-balanced adult
 


5 comments:

  1. I would vote for the second clip, as it will allow you to gain people's sympathy.
    Starting off with a story on how you almost overdosed might not be the best choice, allthough it might give a better impression on what the book is about?

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  2. You are a talented author. I discovered and enjoyed your sense of humor and the different light you bring on things, through your posts on this blog. Now, discovering these clips out of your book, I’m impressed. You are a talented writer. Talking to the heart. Thought-provoking (on purpose or not). Moving. I’m not English speaking, so I read slowly (and make mistakes when writing) but reading your clips, I just couldn’t take my eyes off it: so gripping… You succeeded in making me – for a while -see the world through your eyes. Your style is more than an invitation: you grab me into your world and the images you create in my mind must look like those you keep in yours. Knowing these short stories are part of your true Story, …I wish I could find words to share my emotion.
    How could you find your way through this? You’re a survivor. More… you probably have become a magnificent “Pacific Warrior” ! What didn’t kill you made you stronger AND wiser. Not anyone has potential for this “and”.
    So… Considering you didn’t asked a yes-or-no-question (nor a 1-or-2-question)… I felt free to do some chicks’things… like giving a developed answer to a simple question ;-)
    Now, very concretely.
    According to me, read out of the context of the book, the V8-clip stands more easily by itself.
    Looking forward to read your book.
    Yours sincerely,

    ReplyDelete
  3. I prefer the second story. :)


    Nicolas

    ReplyDelete
  4. Loved reading these...can't...choose...!!!

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