In Spite Of It All

I didn’t sleep well last night, all on the account of our raggedy-ass phone call. I got up in the middle of the night and walked around in circles. The sun refused to come up, the stubborn sky remained gray from all the wild fires burning up California. I knew it was a Monday. I can feel Mondays even if I’d lived in a cave for the last year and had no access to a calendar. It smells, tastes and has the stench of a Monday. I don’t even work anymore—so it really doesn’t matter what day it is——-but it’s definitely a fucking Monday.

Music. I love all kinds of music. But as the saying goes, “There’s only two kinds of music—Good music and bad music”. But music like all art, is subjective——-So who’s to say what’s crap and what’s God smacked?

Music and writing have been good friends to me over the years. It consoled me, taught me lessons about myself and others, its given my blues a place to call home, its made me laugh and awoken the devils and angels haunting my soul. It’s my Kryptonite to stave off all of life’e bullshit–it’s given me a tiny glimpses of nirvana. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever sale one of my songs or stories and I suppose at this point it doesn’t really matter all that much to me. I’ve never written anything with the sole purpose of being published. I just enjoy the process of writing, dropping my fishing line into the abyss and seeing what I reel in——it’s always a mystery and fills me with a sense of wonder. A lot of my stories and songs are catch and release——Damn, see what I did there with that clever lil metaphor twist?

Here’s what I think. I think we should be kinder to one another. We should be supportive and encouraging. We should find ways to be complementary and positive. We’re all just fumbling around with ideas, emotions, words, melodies, rhythms and vibrations. We may not be on the same vibration, but we can be there for one another at some level. You’re the one who turned me on to the vibration concept. I believe there’s some truth to your theory. Those closet to us are the ones who vibrate at the same frequency. It’s something that once experienced requires no explanation.

The world is full of critics and nay sayers. So, am I asking you to offer only “happy” input in regards to my music? I guess I am. And if you feel this is phony—Well maybe it is. Art is a lonely pursuit and artist need supporters and benefactors. I’m sure you can come up with many reasons why this is hypocritical or of no value. You are entitled to your “truths”.  But for me, find good things to say or say nothing at all. And in return you can expect nothing less of me. And if this rubs you the wrong way, then I think it’s best to no longer send you projects—-I respect your opinion, although it differs from mine. 

P.S, Van Gough painted like a three year old. In his lifetime he only sold one painting. It’s hard to believe in yourself until the world believes in you. I think ya have to let go of what the world thinks. 

“Thank you, in spite of it all

For the good, the bad, the rise, the fall” 

VU

“I’ll be me, and you’ll be you

In the music, find me, I’ll find you”

VU
Love ya always brother, 

I Over Think Stuff

I wrote this for a friend of mine who recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary.

Forty years is a long time to believe in anything, but if you’re going to believe in anything, it might as well be love. Love, what a strange and unreasonable concept. We promise to love people and things as if they’ll always remain the same. Maybe love has nothing to do with those things. When love grows old and uncomfortably comfortable——- is when it is the most real. After the sex is gone, after the sweet Hallmark Cards have all been sent, signed and delivered with their cursory hearts and X’s and O’s.  After all is said and done, there’s only you and that fool-hearted promise that you’d give your love to someone forever—it’s truly hard to love anything or anyone forever. Commitments and promises belong to fools, dreamers and those who know the gift of a miracle. Love is a miracle. If ya wanna be loved, then ya gotta be lovable—–its the receptacle law of give and take. There are some who never “get it”.

Lately I’ve been having this awful feeling that I’m forgetting something, or missing something. I get this overwhelming feeling of loss. I feel like life is going too fast and I can’t catch up, or worse yet, I’m wasting time going in the wrong direction. So many forks in the road. I’m so damn sentimental, I hate letting go of people and things. The Buddhist believe that all suffering is due to the attachment of people and things—–And then there’s the physicists who say change is the only constant. 

I overthink stuff. 

In Spite Of It All

You can feel life distancing itself from you

Your gait slower now, as this impatient world accelerates by you, through you, past you-without you

Eyesight blurred in failing light, colors yellowed— fading

Sounds of yesterday’s life muffled, is it my solitary voice, or a strangers echo

Foggy memories withering, names and faces drawn dimmer

Time is a fools theory, where does the circle begin, where does it end

Joints creek and pop, conspiring with winter chill——breaking colder—harsher

What are the things we choose to recall, what are the things we wish to forget

How many overs make an end

Old ships battered, listing in high seas

Less and less of her in view

The saddest four words

She once loved me

In spite of it all

Life remains an unexpected gift

Those Were The Days

Sorry I can’t make it to your mothers Celebration of Life event. This will be my final installment to Jeanne’s letter writing project. I hope she enjoyed the previous eight letters I sent to her while she was in the rest home. I hope they comforted her and made her laugh or perhaps cry—- my stories and words were intended to help her relive some of those good ole days we shared on Briar Lane. I can’t be there to tell my story in person, but if there is a place where pictures and such are being displayed, perhaps you can post this letter.

I’m going back, I’m going way back in time. Back to the 70’s. Back to when classic rock wasn’t something you now hear being played in the produce department of Safeway. There is something unsettling about listening to Van Halen “You Really Got Me” on the store sound-system as I watch an elderly woman examine the firmness of a zucchini. 

 No, I’m going back to when rock and roll was still rebellious and social networking was hollering out your car window at girls in their cars—I can still recall those hot summer Yuba City nights and that distinctive scent of rotten peaches lingering in the stale night air. It’s the end of August and another summer is slipping away. The sound of crickets, bullfrogs and a lone barking dog make up the evenings chorus. Thoughts of returning to school leaves me feeling flat and uninspired. This is the stuff that keeps a small agriculture town like Yuba City forever tucked away at the edges of my memories. We all carry pieces of our hometowns within us. Rainy days playing monopoly, making jokes to hide our insecurities, experiencing an awkward first kiss, playing baseball in a weed strewn field, climbing the levee for a swim in the the river——and coming to appreciate the value of being part of our Briar Lane gang——-where we made friendships to last us a life time.

Back then, on our block we played outside until it got dark or someone’s mom hollered “Supper time”. Yeah, “those were the days”. That’s what old farts use to say to me when I was a kid. I thought that was a bunch of nonsense, but now that I’m an old fart, I find myself muttering “Those were the days”. I suppose, ya don’t know somethings, until you’re ready to know them. Sometimes it’s too late——- and there’s nothing worse than being too late. Too late to share a morning walk, too late to share an evening sunset. Too late to share all those seemingly insignificant moments that comprise a lifetime. Too late to say the things you always intended to say. Things like, thanks for always being on my side, thanks for believing in me when no one else did——thanks for loving me—-cause that ain’t always such an easy thing to do——just ask my wife.

So there you lay and here I stand. Although you no longer inhabit your body and it no longer imprisons you——-I will always carry your voice and memory within me. Somethings are immortal. Somethings never die. 

Jeanne——mother, wife, friend, neighbor, teacher, counselor, life learner, strong and courages, gone but never forgotten.  And to you I proudly say—— “I love you”.

Victor S. Uriz II

Briar Lane Poet Laureate  

Things I Had To Find Out

I remember my first apartment. It never felt like home, it was sparse and empty. It smelled of stale cigarets and flat beer. But I needed to go there and find things out for myself. I had to rid myself of parents and daily routines of doing chores——that draining feeling of being someones child, being someones pride and burden. It’s an awful feeling of being young and realizing that you’re going nowhere fast. Failure is a brutal teacher. 

I thought it was going to be a lot different. I dreamt that there’d be girls, all kinds of girls. Girls dancing with me in the dark, spending their nights in my ramshackle pad. I thought there’d be late night parties, beer for breakfast and never having to make my bed or mow my dad’s lawn. But mainly, it ended up being me and a couple of buddies sitting on my broken down couch, smoking pot and drinking the cheapest beer we could find. 

We found out the hard way that the girls wanted boys with fancy cars and college bound incomes. They went for the boys who were going to Cabo for Spring Break and living off the money their parents gave to them freely. 

Me and my buddies spent long nights hanging out in my dimly lit apartment. Our big plans veiled the fear that our dreams were like all those pretty girls, untouchable, just out of reach. And it ached deep down to watch them walk by, hand in hand with their privileged preppies. They left a trail of republican stench in their wake. 

As for us, we were never going to comprises and end up working for “the man”. We were going to travel, see the world, have grand adventures and yes, we’d find carefree girls too. But we found out that everything had a price, everything cost money.  The fast-food jobs sucked, and the jobs working at the Canneries were tedious, heartless and grueling. We were constantly being fired for showing up late, or being hungover and not showing up at all. We were  expendable to “the man”. Our only refuge was the broken down apartment where we could exchange big ideas and plot out our untested futures. 

But, this world is designed to castrate young men and squeeze every last drop of life out of them. They wanted us to be content working at their mindless, meaningless, soul sucking jobs that were designed to make us feel insignificant, replicable. Replaceable like a worn out part or broken piece of machinery. They enjoyed watching us fight each other over the table scraps they tossed us. 

There would be a string of rundown apartments, quicksand jobs and that sound of silent screams of someone under water, someone suffocating. The American Dream was a con, a lost cause, a carrot dangling just out of reach, but close enough to keep us plodding along like dimwitted plow horses. 

So, one day I woke up and I stopped trying to be something or somebody. I stopped, shook my head and walked away from it all, from the city and its constant drone of nothingness. Along with its horde of brainwashed proletariat working stiffs, who’s only purpose was to make the rich richer. They worked at dreadful jobs to pay the mortgage on houses they left empty so that they could go to work and pay their mortgage. They got loans to buy cars that they drove from home to work and from work to home in a vicious circle. It all seemed so senseless to me. There was nothing there for me. I had no use for that world that once left me feeling insignificant. I moved to the mountains and never looked back. I found purpose hiking in the woods and sharing sunsets and sunrises with fellow pariahs.

Like I said “I had to find things out for myself”.

Education and Knick-Knacks

This piece is dedicated to a good friend and talented teacher—-Roberta

A complete education teaches critical thinking, non conformity, risk taking and personal accountability. It teaches students to think for themselves and to follow facts not opinions. This requires students to become well rounded in their quest for knowledge and truth. What good is it if a student studies nuclear physics but has no appreciation for the frailties of humanity. What good is it to study philosophy but to not be given the tools to decipher right from wrong. What good it is to study history if you can’t apply it to solving todays social issues. As the saying goes, “Those that fail to learn from history are destine to repeat it”. An education should prepare students to answer the most difficult questions. This includes questions regarding morality, social justice, racism, global warming, political ideals and religion—-to only name a few.

The core purpose of education is not to receive a piece of paper that states a student has completed a series of classes and successfully passed a list of required tests. Education should provide students with the tools and skills to become contributing members of their communities. Compassion and empathy should be a common thread that runs through the curriculum of all subjects and disciplines. This is more true today than ever before.

I’ve dedicated over twenty years of my life to serve as an educator. It’s been an honor to have touched so many lives. I’ve always prided myself in being a motivator and mentor who sought to help each and every one of my students reach their highest potential. I’ll always carry with me the memories of my high achieving students but in some ways, I’ll remember the students who had to struggle and fight to meet their goals even more so. Sometimes what they needed more than anything was for someone to believe in them. That is something not taught in books, but rather given as a gift. These fond memories put a smile on my face. No one can ever take that from me.  

So, I leave here with a cardboard box of mementoes. Some silly knick knacks, a coffee cup and twenty years of student pictures, poems and old flyers advertising plays and concerts. I even have a couple of plaques that recognized me for a job well done. Such a bitter sweet feeling. I’m acutely aware of the sound of my footsteps as they echo down the deserted hall for the finale time. I slowly turn around and whisper, “Farewell old friend”.