I am a college graduate

Well, it is now official, I am a college graduate. I may not have been able to have a proper graduation but I am able to hold my diploma in my hands, and it’s an amazing feeling, I worked so hard for this.  I struggled so much over the years and because of issues with my mental and physical health, I spent almost 15 years trying to just get a two-year degree. And given the trauma of my brother’s death in middle school and how difficult high school was, I never imagined in a million years that I would have a college degree. In fact, a few weeks before graduating high school at my alternative school, I talked with a counselor and she asked me what my plans were and I told her I just wanted to get a job somewhere and earn a paycheck. She shook her head and asked about me going to college and I told her that I wasn’t sure about it at the moment, she shrugged her shoulders that was the end of the conversation, like at that moment we both gave up on me, college was out of the question.

I took a year off of school and worked at a Grocery store, bagging groceries. A year later, I started college and took a few classes but I wasn’t ready, I was in bad shape emotionally and physically,  I had to get up several times to use the restroom, I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the other students, I felt stupid and I didn’t understand the lectures so, I quit after a few weeks,  feeling like a total failure.

 

I gave up and found a minimum wage job ( one of many over the years) and worked for about three years, just trying to earn any money I could, my emotional and physical problems got significantly worse and it affected my job performance and I was treated poorly at every job I worked at. Finally, my physical difficulties became so bad, that I could no longer work and I forced to stay at home. During that time, I wanted to learn something so I taught myself Spanish by watching Spanish language television, listening to the radio, and reading my dad’s old books in Spanish.

Eventually, I decided that I should take a Spanish class at my local community class and I signed up, I also signed for an English writing course, I took a test and I was required to take a remedial English course to get me up to speed to a credited English course.  I remember the Spanish class well; it was a beginner’s course and I had already learned most of the language concepts. On the very first day of class, I met my teacher, she was pretty with curly hair and she said she was Cuban. My family is Cuban and I excitedly told her my family was Cuban, she looked unimpressed as if I was trying to brown-nose her. And when she heard me speak Spanish, she told me that I didn’t belong there, I belonged in a more advanced class, I didn’t complain.

When I took the English course, they had us write simple compositions about our favorite vacation or just creative writing, I enjoyed it, I didn’t see myself as a writer or have a passion for it yet. One day the teacher told us we could write about any topic we liked but had to have a 3 to a 4-page minimum. Well, I decided to write about the counterculture of the 1960s, a topic I knew a lot about since I watched every documentary I could on the subject.  A few days before the due date, I hadn’t written anything. I sat on my couch and started writing in a notebook every idea that came to my head, it was page after page. Eventually, I was able to mold that into a paper that spanned 10 pages, I just couldn’t stop writing. I turned it in, a few days later the professor talked me and said the dean was concerned because he thought I had plagiarized it but couldn’t prove it, I said sincerely that I didn’t, I just loved to write. The teacher said “I believe you” and handed me back my paper and like the other class, moved me to a credited college course immediately, it was one of the proudest moments of my life up to that point, I felt really smart. After those classes, I took another semester with two classes, I continued the English writing and Spanish courses, I did quite well, I was proud of myself.  As I was taking this class, my family was planning to move out of state, so I have to stay with my Aunt for a few weeks to finish my courses.

 

I moved to another city and took another year off to just get settled, I found another low paying job that I hated but, in my heart, I wanted to be back in school. After a year, I signed for classes here at the local community classes, I now had a school counselor and a set number of classes I needed to take. I started to branch out, I took a communications class and some other class I can’t remember, I did well in those classes, considering I was also working a job that was stressing me out at the time.  During my last year at this job, I missed a few semesters and just lost interest in school, I think my mental health was really deteriorating at this point. Sadly, my job was affecting my mental health so bad that I had a breakdown, I quit after 3 years and I was so distraught that I didn’t know what to do, I came home upset that I lost a job and I also liked a co-worker but she wasn’t interested, I was a mess. I was at one of the lowest points in my life and feeling hopeless. I was on Facebook and I saw a post from an old friend and they were now working with people with disabilities, I was impressed and I was also angry because I had disabilities and I was treated so poorly in the workplace, I wanted to do something to make a difference. I found a book with college programs, I was outside chain-smoking and I saw a program called “Human services technology developmental disabilities” And immediately I pointed at it and said to myself “I can do that”  I didn’t even hesitate.

A few weeks later, I signed for a few classes and I entered the program. I met with the man who was the chair of the program and he became my school counselor, he was kind and really believed in me ( sadly he no longer is working for the school anymore) He was teaching a lot of the classes I was in and I was excited to be there, I excelled, I loved the curriculum and I got good grades without even reading much, I was just interested in the classes, I wrote papers and loved the discussions we had. I especially loved when I had assignments where I had to interview people in the disabilities field, I got so much out of that. I was just proud that I was doing so well. I  was required to take a counseling course, which was the hardest class of them all, everyone feared this professor, she was tough. She would get upset at me if I wouldn’t follow the format of writing she expected. She would tell me that she didn’t care about the content, I didn’t follow her directions and I could do better. But once I was able to follow her format, she started to really like what I turned in and I was one of the few person’s that got A’s on her hardest papers; both required us to write over 10 pages, it was hard work but I love to write. I ended up getting an A in her class, I just jumped for joy.

 

After that semester, I had some financial troubles and I wasn’t working, my parents were retired and couldn’t help me much with paying for classes. Again, I had to stop classes and after a few months. I applied for a Pell grant, which basically gives low-income students an opportunity to finish school without worrying about finances, they paid my tuition and books, I even got money back at the end of the semester, it was a godsend. So, I was finally able to go back and get closer to getting my degree.

I took a few classes and began an internship program at a large agency in the area, it was a day support center where they had classes and art time for disabled adults. I was working at the time, so it was hard at first to get my hours. I really loved the clients and they loved me and I also got to know the support workers there, we got along well. I, however, did not like my supervisor, I could tell from the moment I walked in that she did not like me. I am not sure what it was about me but she had this disdain, she looked annoyed every time I would ask her a question, she never gave me direction, so I ended not doing much except helping teach the classes and interacting with the students, I felt frustrated because I didn’t know what to do unless someone took the time to show me what they needed. I finished my first round of internship and passed but I wasn’t happy and neither was she, I questioned whether or not I belonged in this field.

As time went on, I continued my classes, I slowly but surely got closer to my degree, but one thing was bothering me, I have a learning disability in math and I had been avoiding it until the very end, I knew it would be difficult. I finally had to take a remedial math course and it was this large computer room ( like you see in a library) with a station with 5 or 6 computers attached. The course was done in class and online, I was not allowed to use a calculator and I got so frustrated, I’d go home and just want to scream, I didn’t get it. After a week, I walked out, totally distraught, and thinking that I could never pass. The next semester, I tried again and passed the first remedial course. Oh, and the course was only for 4 weeks at a time, which didn’t give me the time I needed to learn and that only added to the frustration.

Before I took this next math course, I talked to someone at the disability department about getting accommodations, I qualified and was able to have a student write their notes for me, I was able to have more test time and to take it at the learning center instead of the class, I felt like this could help me pass. I was also feeling like I could pass this next math course because I heard that I could use a calculator, that was my main issue, simple arithmetic was holding me back and I could figure everything out if I just had a calculator. It turned out that I could use a calculator only if I passed the first test.  When I attended my first class, I was so lost and I kept looking at the girl next to me, she was so much farther along than me and I felt so dumb, I’d asked the teacher assistant a question and she’d explain it and I still wouldn’t get it, I’d ask again and could tell she was annoyed. I had it, I was cursing underneath my breath, I angrily threw my stuff into my bag and walked out. I called my mom and told her that I couldn’t do this, I felt like an idiot and I was never going to pass, I felt so bad at that time and hopeless. I talked to my counselor after and she explained to me that the class required no calculators and there was nothing she could do about it.

At the time I had started volunteering at a Christian organization for adults with developmental disabilities and I was telling the woman in charge about the issues I was having and she offered to help, there was also a parent of one of the disabled adults and she would sit down with me and go over the math problems and explain it slowly so I could understand, she was kind.  Also being there had given me the confidence I had lost while I was at the internship, volunteering I felt valued and loved and knew that I was capable of being in this field if I had the right guidance and people who cared.

I ended up having my mom come with me and explain to the counselor the difficulties I was having and how I was at a disadvantage because the trauma of losing my brother really affected my education in high school ( and that was the truth)  I asked if I could waive the math course and she said that usually never happens unless it were extenuating circumstances. She mentioned that the school might offer the option of substituting a class but it would be in science, I was concerned since I was not good at science either and had dropped out of a few of those classes over the years. She said substitution was also rare and I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I walked out feeling somewhat disappointed because this was my last resort and I didn’t get a solid answer but we did request that the class be substituted, I was told that it would take some time for a decision to be made.

 

A few months passed and I heard nothing, I contacted the school several times and didn’t get an answer, I was ready to give up at this point. I finally got an email from my disability counselor and said that they were looking over the decision and I’d know soon, I knew in my heart that it would be denied, I’d never pass this course and get my degree, after all those years of hard work. I was thinking of trying to find another community college to finish up at and see if they could waive this math course, sadly, I was told that it was a state requirement. My last resort was to write a letter to the state board and keep going higher up until I got an answer. One day, I was checking my school email and I saw something from school with the subject “Class substitution ‘  I was nervous and opened the email, it stated that the substitution HAD been approved and they were offering astronomy. I literally screamed for joy and jumped out of my seat. I didn’t know a thing about astronomy but I knew that it was better than math and I had a chance of passing.

 

I quickly signed up and attended class in the fall. I was concerned though that I might not do well but the first class, I enjoyed the lecture and the teacher was really cool. It was both an in-class lecture and online work, that was ok with me. But the best part was yet to come, the professor mentioned that we did have in-class quizzes and exams. When the exams came, he surprised us and said that the exam was online with open notes, everyone was relieved. I ended up passing with flying colors, my heart soared because I knew that I was going to do good in this class. The next exam came and I studied so hard, I made flashcards, I got notes from the professor ( like in the math class), I just focused on that one class. And to my surprise, the next exam was online as well. Most classes never allow exams online so I was ecstatic. It turned out all the work online and I was able to eventually pass.  The last day of class, I was on top of the world, I knew I passed and it was like a huge boulder had been lifted off my shoulders and I could finally rest easy, it was over, I had gotten my degree

After struggling on and off for 15 years and when I saw that I got an A, that was the proudest moment of my life. Me, someone who struggled so much in his life, someone who made to feel he was stupid and not good enough, finally got a college degree, I was a college graduate at last. I never thought this would happen. I never thought it would happen when I was an 18-year-old kid in that class with that counselor, I was just happy to be out of high school. I didn’t think it would happen when I was working low paying jobs, treated like garbage every day, and sick to my stomach. I didn’t think it would happen when I couldn’t solve a simple math problem ( that a child could solve) and I felt so stupid. But it did happen and it could happen to me, I could happen to anyone. If you want something in your life, you have to work hard with every fiber of your being for it, you have to picture it in your mind and never stop until you reach that goal. You can struggle but never ever give up, that is one thing I learned from this whole experience. I am a walking miracle and I hope somebody can read this and be inspired to achieve their dreams just like I did.

 

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Permanent scar

I’m playing in the pool and I’m by myself, usually, my friend Michael is here, where is everyone? I hate swimming by myself. Suddenly the whistle blows and they tell everyone to get out of the pool, I wonder why, until I see the dark storm clouds above, storms scare me and I am only two minutes from home but when you’re nine years, it feels like two miles. I’m so anxious.

I grab my towel and my flip flops, I can still smell the chlorine on my body. I run through the shower area, out of the main office and up the pool path, I’m beyond scared at this point, I am running home as fast as I can and suddenly the rain pours on me and the path becomes a waterslide, I slip and fall on my knee, tears fill my eyes, I look at my knee and it has split open. I cried “Mommy, mommy” but she was too far away to hear me. I just lay there in pain, soaked with rain. Eventually, I limped back home and my parents saw my knee and we hurried off to the hospital, there they gave me stitches as my mom held my hand.

About a week later, I was riding my bike and I fell and reopened the wound and had to have a second set of stitches, much to my dismay. Eventually, my knee healed but it remains permanently scarred to this day. Every time I see that huge scar on my knee, its a reminder of a day I won’t forget. Sometimes no matter how much we want it, some wounds will never completely heal. 😥

 

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Only in dreams

The only times I see you is in my dreams, in my awaken state I’ve forgotten your face and voice but when I dream you’re there talking to me as if you’re still here, just as I remember you, forever young.  A part of me in the dream is thinking “I know you’re gone and this is an illusion” but I’m so thrilled to see you again I humor the REM waves of memory and subconscious. Old faces join us in the dream, like in the past, we’re all in this place together, like before,  sometimes you’re close by and I enjoy talking with you, hearing your voice again, it’s comforting as it as if it’s your way of letting me know you’re ok. Other times you’re far away in the distance, I can see you but I can’t reach you, I try in vain to get your attention but you never seem to know I’m there.

 

When I wake up, I have come to the realization that it was only a dream and you’re still out of reach and the pains of loss encompass me so, I shake with sadness that the reality is so painful after all these years but with all that, it’s still good to talk to you even when I’m sleeping and our conversation was a figment of my imagination. I only hope when I close my eyes tonight and drift off to sleep I might be able to see you again, if only for a short while.  See you in my dreams, until later

My brother died today

22 years ago today, my brother passed away and my heart broke, he was my best friend and we had a strong bond, we were brothers and loved each other. We’d spend time together, he’d protect me from bullies and we’d laugh and have so much fun. I miss him everyday and will always miss him but I remember the good times and the wonderful sweet and gentle soul that was my brother. I miss you Joe and I love you

 

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My meeting with the disability counselor at school

So I had my meeting with the disability counseler today and I had my mom there for support. It went surprisingly well, the counselor was really friendly and I told her about the issues with my learning disabilities and the history pf not being taught math because I bounced around from one alternative school to another. I also told her about the trauma of losing my brother at 14 and how that impacted my learning. I made sure to point out that I am an honor student and my struggles in math were not due to lack of trying, since I have taken these courses several times. I told her about the accommodations that I needed. Apparently I was entitled to one on one tutoring but I assumed that meant the tutoring class with multiple students, not individual instruction. I again asked about using a calculator and she again stated that it was part of the curriculum, nothing she could do. I noted I was disappointed that the class was not adaptive to my needs and she said a lot students struggle with how the class is set up and that the course was designed by state level. I asked if could substitute the math course and she told me that she’d talk to the person higher up and then talk to the woman who heads the department of my degree program ( She headed the internship class and I was not fond of her) but it doesn’t usually happen. The counselor was friendly but she basically said her hands were tied when it came to getting some of help I need. I’m still frustrated but the meeting went as well as it could be, it wasn’t tense and I was calm and managed my anxiety. I felt I got my point across and I was understood and I realize there is only so much she can do from her end. I will continue to kep everyone updated and to stay positive. Thank you for all the wonderful support, friends, it means the world to me

 

Thinking of you

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of you. I wake up with the reality that are no longer here.  There will always been an empty chair at the kitchen table. I won’t hear your voice and so much time has passed that I have forgotten your voice, all I have are pictures where you are perpetually 17 years old.  I realize you’d be 40 this week, it’s hard for me to imagine, that you’d be middle aged, to me you will always be a kid.  I’ve lived half my life without you and it’s been so empty without your light. I wish I could hug you again and tell you I love you but I can’t. I’m sure you know I love you, right. I forgive you. I take comfort you are celebrating your birthday with our Grandparents, who loved you so much.  I pray that someday we I can celebrate your birthday with you again. Happy birthday, brother, I love you

 

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The mystery train part 11

Dave spent the rest of day relaxing with his new friends; a few hours later there was a knock at the door. Melanie greeted the man with on the steps with a “Oh hey Johnny” and invited him in. Susan exclaimed loudly “Johnny!!!”  She ran to him and hugged him tightly.  Dave felt some jealous overtake him. He was a good-looking guy; the kind of guys that women fell for; he couldn’t help but feel inferior. He was a tall guy with long black hair and tattoos scattered throughout his arms.  He had was carrying a guitar case and had big rimmed glasses. Melanie said “Dave, Iris, this is my brother Johnny; he’s in a band too”.  Upon hearing that Dave’s jealously faded; he felt stupid for even thinking for that.   Dave extended his hand to shake Johnny’s hand and said “Hi, I’m Dave” Johnny said to Dave “So how’d you meet my sister, let me guess: the coffee shop?”  Melanie turned to give him a scowl. He added “You know, there are other coffee shops in the city” She ignored his statement and replied “Yes, we met Dave and Iris in the coffee shop; they are traveling from New York and we offered to let them stay with us” “Oh” said Johnny.  He continued “Oh I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself to Iris, how are you?”   Iris lit up; she thought Johnny was so handsome; just her type but she still thought of Dave; so, did her best to hide her attraction.  She replied “I’m fine. Your sister is great; letting us stay here and all” Melanie replied “Don’t worry about it” Johnny said “Yeah Melanie is great and I love her but she can’t play guitar like me” Melanie retorted “That’s your opinion, I’m sure our new friends would disagree” “Whatever” said Johnny with a laugh.

Johnny lit a cigarette and sat on the couch; noticing the new records they bought; began to sift through each album.   Johnny then went on about his record collection and music tastes; Dave was intrigued when started listing his favorite bands.  Dave chimed in “I think I like those bands but I can’t remember” Johnny laughed and said “What do you mean you can’t remember, you either like them or not” Dave didn’t respond and looked slightly upset.  Melanie grabbed Johnny and took him to the kitchen to talk; he could see them from the distance. They talked for awhile and it looked like Melanie was scolding while Johnny just listened patiently; not responding. He finally shook his head and walked back to Dave.  Melanie sat next to Dave put her arm around him and kissed him on the cheek playfully.  Johnny sat on the other side of Dave on the couch.  Johnny said to Dave “I am sorry, man. I didn’t mean to laugh at you. Melanie told me your story about how you lost your memory; that’s sucks, dude and also how everyone is trying to help you” Melanie looked at Dave and hugged him and gave him a big smile.  Johnny continued “Anytime you wanna hang out I’m around, man, in fact I am playing a gig tonight, if you want to see me and my band” Melanie exclaimed “Johnny, you know I never miss a show, Dave, Iris you wanna go?”   Iris flashed a big smile; almost blushing and replied “Oh course we’ll be there, right Dave?”   Dave stated “Yeah” Johnny said “Solid, look I gotta go but I’ll be playing at Cool Kat’s at 9 pm, see you guys” He left. Dave liked Johnny; he seemed like a cool dude and possibly a new friend; someone he could trust.

Iris said to Dave “Hey you wanna take a walk just me and you?’   Dave said “Sure” Iris then said “Are you guys are going to here, because I don’t have a key” “Melanie opened a drawer and handed her a key replied “Oh yeah, here’s a spare key, I forgot” “Cool” said Iris and Dave and her left the house.  It was a bright sunny day and Iris was wanted to explore the area a little more and talk to Dave alone.  Iris linked her arm with Dave’s arm and said “Isn’t this a beautiful day, I am really started to really like Susan and Melanie, I know I said it before but I really do and Johnny seems cool too.   “Yeah, I still don’t have my memory back though” said Dave.  “It’ll come” said Iris in a soft voice.  Dave then said to Iris “I don’t know why but I feel nervous about tonight” “What do you mean?” asked Iris.   Dave said “I am not sure but I feel like crowds make me anxious; I feel fine with you guys but being with a whole lot of people” It was true, Dave suffered from extreme anxiety; he had been in therapy for many years and on medication. He stopped both about a year ago and had been struggling ever since; of course, he couldn’t remember it.  He was the most anxious in large groups of people and especially on dates; his anxiety kept his dating life non-existent and never had a steady girlfriend; which really hurt him; at his age and never having a steady girlfriend.  Iris hugged Dave and said “Sweetie, you may have had anxiety in the past, I have it too, you’re not alone” Dave replied “You do!?  “But you seem so confident” he added.  She said “Oh, honey it’s just a smokescreen.  I am always anxious, especially around new people and crowds” Dave responded “That is amazing. I’m glad I’m not alone” Iris smiled; it was rarity to be so open about these things but Dave needed a friend and he was so sweet.  It also wasn’t everyday she met a man who was open with his feelings; it was a breath of fresh air.

 

They walked to a park with a little playground that was empty. “Hey, let’s go on the swings!!” exclaimed Iris in a sing song voice. Dave shook his head no “I don’t think so, we’re a little too old, don’t you think?”  Iris said “Oh no way, Dave. Never too old”.  She ran to the swing and yelled loudly “Push me, Dave. Come on!”   Dave ran to the swing and pushed Iris on the swing as hard as he could.  “Weeeeee” she yelled; laughing her head off.  She was having the time of her life.  An old lady walking her dog looked at this scene and watched for a while; she chucked to herself and remembered the days she spent on the playground with her recently deceased sister so many years ago. She walked by with a smile on her face; it had made her day and brought back fond memories.   Iris jumped off the swing and said “You get on, Dave” Dave replied “Oh, I don’t know” Again with the sing song voice Iris explained “Daaave get on the swing” He complied and sat on the swing as Iris joyfully pushed him with all of her might.  Dave became a kid again; laughing and carrying on; not caring how stupid he looked.

After several minutes they both stopped and ran to the slide. The both slid down the slide and rolled on the ground; just laying there talking.   Dave turned to Iris and said “This was a lot fun” he said catching his breath. “I told you it would be” replied Iris laughing.   Dave turned to Iris and asked “You mind if I ask you something, it’s sort of a weird question” “Sure” she replied.   “Well, I don’t remember my childhood, I hope it comes back to me but what was it like you being a kid, do you remember?” asked Dave.  “Hmm” stated Iris.  She had to think about it.  She said “Well I grew up in Connecticut; it was pretty boring. The suburbs, you know” she rolled her eyes.  She added “I had two brothers, Tommy and Sam and we got alone pretty well.   Her smile faded “Sam actually died” “I’m sorry” said Dave.  “How did he die, if you don’t mind asking” he asked.  Iris didn’t want to answer that question.  Sam had taken his life while she was at college; she was devastated and never been able to get past it.  She regretted bringing it up.  She said “I shouldn’t have brought it up.  I don’t want to go into it” she looked down at the ground in sadness; her heart broke just thinking about Sam.  Dave said “I’m sorry, I totally understand. I’m sorry I asked” Iris looked into his deep blue eyes and said “It’s ok” but she wanted to cry and yet she couldn’t even when she was alone.  She continued the story “So my childhood was rough actually.  My parents divorced when I was young and my brothers and I lived with my dad for awhile and it was tough especially on Sammy he was sensitive like you are”.  She felt herself begin to cry and she just let go and the tears began to flow from her cheeks.  “Oh god” she yelled; crying uncontrollably.  “I miss him so bad, I mean it was so long ago but I still miss him. I just want him back” Dave hugged her and consoled her; she put her head on his shoulder and just cried without saying a word. “Shhh” he said.  “It’s alright”.   Iris said “Thank you for being such a good friend, you are amazing” “I am sorry about crying; I’m a little embarrassed” Dave replied “Don’t ever apologize for that.  Anytime you wanna talk to me, I’m here to listen” he added.  Iris said to Dave “Just don’t tell Susan and Melanie about this, ok” Dave replied of course “It’s between us, friend” Iris smiled and they both walked back toward the house.  It was a powerful moment between them and they were both left shaken and emotionally drained but Iris felt a sense of relief; letting out all of that pain she had held on to for years; she felt a little freer and she had Dave to thank.

 

That night they all went to see Melanie’s brother play at the club.   It was a packed house; full of noisy patrons drinking and the band (Not Johnny’s) was playing at full volume.  Iris went to the bar with Dave to order some drinks; a beer for both of them. Dave really wasn’t a drinker but he didn’t know that. He took a sip of her beer and recoiled at the taste; he didn’t want to seem out of place so he continued sipping on his beer despite how nasty it tasted.  Dave had only been there a few minutes but it was obvious he was nervous.; it was loud and he could barely think.  Iris yelled in his ear “Hey, you alright?   Dave tried to play it off and bopped his head to the band playing “Yeah, I’m fine” Dave turned to see Melanie and Susan dancing close to the band; he couldn’t help but notice how sexy they both looked.  Dave was pretty sure he wasn’t a dancer; so, he sat in his chair next to Iris; sipping on his beer and looking around; trying to remain calm.  He noticed a guy trying to dancing with both girls; they both ignored him; he looked defeated; he was in older guy in his 40’s. He went to the bar to flirt with the female bar tender who was too busy to respond to his advances and besides she was so used to being hit on by creepy guys that she was immune to it.  Then Dave heard Johnny’s voice and he joined him and Iris at the table.  “Hey guys”, he said in a loud voice.  Iris replied “Hey, man.  When do you play?”   “In about an hour” he replied.  “Cool” said Iris.  She really liked Johnny; she had a thing for guys in bands.  Johnny thought she was cute too but had a girlfriend; he wasn’t about to screw that up with some girl he just met. Johnny said to Dave “You doing good, buddy?” “Yeah” Dave replied.  Johnny said “After the show I can introduce to some people, I know a lot the people here” Dave said “Sounds awesome” It was so difficult to have a conversation and compete with all the news. Dave felt overwhelmed and Iris just looked at Dave and smiled.

 

Dave said to Iris “I’m going to the patio for a smoke, you wanna join me?”   Iris said “That’s ok, I wanna hear the band; you can go if you want” Dave walked onto the patio and it was full of guys hitting on every woman they saw; he couldn’t flirt to save his life.  He reached for his pocket; realizing that he didn’t have any cigarettes. “Shit, I don’t want to bum cigarettes” he thought. He asked an older woman and she angrily said “Why don’t you bring your own cigarettes, I only have a few left and they are for me” Another guy overhearing the conversation said to the woman “Why are you so mad” he said with a laugh.  She replied “Why don’t you mind your own business” Dave felt uncomfortable and moved to the other side of the patio.  He saw a muscular man with a cigarette in his mouth and asked for a cigarette. He just ignored him and went back to talking to the woman sitting beside him.  Dave was regretting going to this bar and he sat at an empty table; sipping his beer.  He looked up to see this gorgeous woman walk through the door; he was mesmerized.  She sat at the table with him and asked “Do you mind if I sit here” “Sure” Dave said nervously.  She pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Dave asked “Can I bum a cigarette?”  She laughed and said sure.   He asked for a light and she didn’t hesitate “She cupped her hands with his and lit his cigarette for him.  Her name was Kim. They started talking and she seemed nice.  She was talking about how she’d been in Seattle for a few years; she was originally from Los Angeles.  She told him a story about how she wanted to be an actress and had given up on her dream when she ran out of money and moved to Seattle to find herself (whatever that meant); she had gone to college here so she knew the area. She asked Dave about him and he didn’t want to tell her the truth because he was tired of explaining it to strangers so he bullshitted his way through a story about growing up in Michigan and that he was a writer; visiting his family here in Seattle.  She was intrigued by his stories and much to his dismay started asking him about his writing; he tried his best to avoid those questions; he could feel himself digging himself deeper and deeper into the lie.  She then said to him ‘I want to buy you a drink” Dave didn’t know how to respond but he said “Sure, thanks” She said “No, problem honey”

 

They walked the bar and she ordered him another beer. Dave saw his friends sitting at the table and walked over to introduce Kim to his friends.  Melanie and Susan recognized her instantly and Melanie got up to hug her.  Melanie exclaimed “Iris, Dave, this Kim; Johnny’s girlfriend” Dave felt so disappointed; he knew it was too good to be true. There had to be a catch.   Kim said “Well I met Dave on the patio and we got to talking; cool guy” Melanie replied “Yeah we know” She smiled at Dave.   Kim continued “Dave told me he is a writer” Iris quipped “He is, is he?” she said with a laugh.  Dave looked embarrassed but Iris decided to let it die and she decided that a little lie didn’t hurt anyone.  They all sat down and all of a sudden a man ran up to the microphone and said “Ok guys, this next band you are going to love, here are the “Laugh tracks” Melanie, Susan and Kim all clapped loudly “Yeaaah, wooo!!”  Johnny ran up to the mic and said “Alright guys we do mostly covers but we promise not to fuck it up” The band went into a cover of Stone Temple Pilots “Plush”

Iris asked Dave if he wanted to get closer to the stage and they both went.  Iris began singing the lyrics to the song as loudly as she could; along with a crowd of people who had gotten close to the stage. They all sang in unison; it was one of her favorite songs; she loved grunge music growing up. Dave felt he knew this song and suddenly he began singing along to the song; as if he’d heard it before. Iris looked at him and she sang the lyrics as she was looking at him.  A lightbulb went off in her head and she grabbed Dave by the arm and took him outside to the patio.   Dave asked “What’s wrong?”   Iris had a serious look on her face.  She replied “Nothing, but you remembered the lyrics do the song, your memory may be coming back slowly” Dave smiled and said “You’re right. I think I remember that song. Stone Temple Pilots, right” Iris exclaimed loudly “Yes!!”  “Oh my god, this is a breakthrough; it’s not much but it’s something” she added.  Iris hugged him; she was so happy for him.  She hoped that Dave would begin to remember; it pained her to know that he was struggling so much.  They walked back in; both a little bit more relieved.

 

The band played for another hour or so and afterwards Johnny walked back to the table where everyone was sitting. Kim got up and kissed her boyfriend saying “You did great as always!”  Dave and Iris both felt uncomfortable; somewhat jealous to know that Johnny and Kim were a couple.  “Thanks babe” Johnny replied.  He put his arm around Kim and asked Dave and Iris “So what did guys think?” Iris said “You were great, I love the Stone temple pilots!”  Johnny said “Yeah we do a lot of grunge covers” Iris said “I love grunge” Dave stated “Yeah, dude you really play good, man” Johnny replied “Yeah, man anytime you wanna see me play; I have gigs throughout the week” Melanie added “Dave I don’t miss a show of my brothers, so you are always free to join” “Thanks” Dave replied.

Johnny said “Hey you guys wanna get something to eat, the food here sucks” Susan laughed and said “You guys wanna go?”  They all agreed and headed to the diner where they had been before.  Johnny and Kim walked ahead of them.  Iris said to Dave do you mind if I tell them what happened?”  Dave nodded his head yes.   Iris said to Susan and Melanie “You won’t believe it but I think Dave is slowly getting his memory” “Really? That’s great” exclaimed Melanie; she was visibly excited.  “Yeah, well Johnny was playing Stone Pilots; Dave was singing the lyrics with me; like he knew the song.   Dave added “Yeah, I remembering like that song as a kid, I don’t know where I heard it or who I was with but I remember it” he said with a smile plastered on his face; unable to contain his joy.   Susan replied with “Yes!! I am so happy for you.  I told you the memories would come back” They all were filled with excitement; they were hoping it wouldn’t be long before Dave would get his memory back. But it was more complicated than that; and it would take longer for any of them to imagine. Yes, it would be a long road until Dave could remember again.  For now, he could enjoy the company he was with and his new life.

 

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Dream #6

I haven’t been sleeping well lately and last night I finally slept the while night through for about 8 hours (which is a rarity); I had a nice long vivid dream. As soon as I woke up, I immediately wrote down the dream; the best I could remember.

The dream started out at a funeral for a little boy that had died; it was large crowd and I was feeling upset; I could feel myself start to cry. I was carrying a box which I think had his ashes; I almost dropped it a few times and people kept looking at me; I was really nervous. I placed the box on the altar and afterward we were standing on these big steps outside of the church; just talking.  Then I was with the disabled ministry and we were in a shopping center and close to an abandoned warehouse.  We were just hanging out there for some reason; one of the leaders was there but in the dream she looked different. I keep trying to talk to her but she was ignoring me; in fact, everyone seemed to be ignoring me. At the end of the shopping bar was like a biker bar and there were all these tough guys walking in. There was some woods to the side of the bar; full of trash.  I was talking to one of the young adults there; I was asking him how his job was going etc.  I had to go the bathroom so I was looking for a place to go; I went in the woods and came back and everyone was in the same area; gathered in a circle just talking.  At one point I was just walking around and I think I was in a house.  I was still concerned about the leader who was ignoring me.   All of a sudden, I was laying on the floor and I saw an old childhood friend. In the background the song “Under the Bridge” by the Red-Hot Chili Peppers was playing.  That song reminds me of my brother who passed away.  In the dream I said to my friend “This reminds me of Joe” He said quietly, I know, man, and gave me a hug.   Next, we were all back outside and I had to use the bathroom again. I went back in the woods and when I returned; everyone was still there. I got bored went to the abandoned building by myself and it some graffiti and there were some kids skateboarding.  I came back and everyone was gone; I was concerned. I was looking everywhere and couldn’t find them.  I ended up in an office building and trying calling them on their cell phones but to no avail.  I walked through a nature path and they were nowhere to be found. I was feeling angry and hurt and literally abandoned.

I woke up kind of shaken; trying to find meaning in this dream.  All I know is that maybe   Even as I write this, I am emotional about; it was such an intense dream with so many interpretations.   I have to remind it was only a dream and I am ok.

 

Thanks for reading

Dave

How I have grown as a writer

I just finished backing up my blog; it took a long time and I finally got it done.   For the last year or so; I have been working on my old computer and I don’t have Word on it; so, everything was saved to my blog only and I was really concerned about losing everything. I finally managed to buy a new laptop for Christmas and was determined to get everything safe; in case (God forbid) something happened to my blog and I lost all of my writings; that would have been heartbreaking.  So right now, I am relieved to have everything saved; safe and sound.

As I was saving my writings, I noticed that I have written a whole lot since I started my blog in October 2017 (has it been that long?); 530 posts to be exact.  I sometimes would make 2 or 3 posts in a day; I had a lot to say; a lot of personal pain and memories I needed to get out; it was therapeutic.  My early writings are short but potent and raw, honest; full of anger, extreme sadness and a need to be understood.  It was the first time I had ever written these feelings and certainly the first time sharing them with an audience; I was risking being vulnerable and feared being judged about my posts; I wrote quite a few posts about the anxiety of sharing my writings online. I had been judged all my life and put down and wasn’t sure how people would react to my posts; I was surprised at the positive reactions I got; I didn’t expect it at first.  I was just happy people were reading my posts and could relate to them.

 

I look back at those writings and although I’m proud of all my posts; I can’t help feel somewhat embarrassed at my early writings. I hadn’t found my voice as a writer yet and while I was honest; I spoke about my feelings in metaphors. I wrote a poem about River Phoenix that was really about my brother that passed; I couldn’t bare to write how I felt about his death; I wasn’t ready yet. When talking about my anxieties about women; I wrote a poem about traffic lights and mixed signals; it’s a great poem but it wasn’t until I made posts about how exactly I was feeling (without the metaphors) could I really reach my audience in a major way.  So, while I wrote poetry; I also had raw honest posts about the death of my brother, childhood memories, my issues with mental health and disabilities. The more I wrote; the more confident I became; I stopped caring how my audience would react and just started writing from my heart. As I scrolled up; my blog posts got much better (in my opinion) I found better ways of articulating my feelings; my posts because longer and expressive and I could write about a different range of topics; with an air of confidence that I didn’t have in the beginning.

I learned a lot about myself in reading my posts throughout my writing journey; I see myself as a different person now; the writing helped me make sense of the past and cope with the present. It hurts to read some of those posts; some of the most painful things I have ever written and it was in public no less.  Sometimes I see a post and it makes me want to cry; other times I smile at my accomplishments and other times admittedly; I cringe.  I saw I’m proud but some posts I made were cliched and amateur but that’s how you get better, right?

I hope this past inspires new writers not to give up; to keep writing and to be honest; to grow as writers.   My tip is to write for yourself and hope it reaches someone; if you write (like I did in the beginning) and worry what others will think; your write will come across as authentic and the best writing is real; so be real; be yourself and keep posting; even if it’s multiple times a day.

So now I can sit back and relax; proud of this blog and grateful for all the amazing support of my followers; you guys have been amazing. I have had nothing but positivity on this blog (with some rare exceptions) and I appreciate all of you; your comments make the difference and give me the confidence and the privilege to call myself a writer. Thank for taking this journey with and will continue to blog for many years to come.

 

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