Saturday, May 22, 2010

Outside- In

From an early age, I realized that I never felt truly comfortable in my own skin. Skin not necessarily being the opperative word in this case, however. There was nothing in particular about my physical skin that I was ashamed of or hated though. In fact, that was one of my physical attributes about myself that I liked the most and I thanked the Italian side of my family for blessing me with such nice, olive skin.

It was more about what lay beneath my perfect olive skin that perpelexed me the most. I didn't feel normal. At least not like my family did or the school yard children that I played with as a young boy might have felt. I desparately wanted to fit in and while no matter how hard I tried, I never felt like I could or did. My poor parents who worked tirelessly to provide for us would make sacrifices of their own so that I could have the lastest and coolest, I might add, Starter brand Detroit Pistons jackent and pin-stripped White Sox jearsey to help me fit in. While these things made me feel cooler in the moment, I knew that the feelings would be short lived.

On one occasion I accompanied my father to Candlestick Park with a brand new shiny, gold 49ers Jacket to watch a football game and I was feeling proud. We had even left my at the time annoying younger brother at home and I was feeling strangely special that day. Feelings of superiority and confidence, rare feelings for me even at that age soon dissapated when a young fan above our section at the game decided to spit a mixture of saliva and mustard from above. In slow motion I watched as the unsanitary and smelly loogie dropped down and landed on the shoulder of my new shiny jacket. It was a cold day in San Francisco and I didn't want to take it off even tough it was soiled and no longer cool.

My father didn't know what to do or say and while I expected him to do something, run upstairs and kick the guy's ass, swear at him, spit on him back in retaliation, I knew that he couldn't and wouldn't. Without saying much other than that he was sorry, he took a corner of a napkin left over from our previously devoured hotdogs and dunked it in my soda. He proceeded to wipe the yellow stain from my shoulder as best as he could without making the problem worse as Coca Cola was not the most idealcleaning solvant. "I'm sorry son," he said when he had done the best that he could.

My fathers gesture was genuine and came from a place of love, however, I still felt rejected by this stranger and by his actions, further prving to me that I was different and thus worthy of such an assault. I think that my father felt the same way as I did but didn't know how to articulate it. He is a quiet man, a man of few words but he is introspective and contemplative, something that I think that I am proud to admit that I inherited as well.

As I grew older and navigated my way through a small intermediate school and an only slightly larger high school, I continued to search for myself, find out where I belonged and as such, find a group of friends who I deamed cool and who would give me acceptance. I changed my hair style, the clothes that I wore, joined sports teams, a choir, and eventually tried to start my own rock band.

I couldn't play any intrusents, however, my incesant banging on the back seat of our family car finally moved my parents to buy me a drum set and sign me up for proper lessons. It would be the beginning of my future successful career as a musician and I knew this, even at the ripe 'ole age of 10.

I banged on the skins for awhile like a pro until I got bored with the lessons. I never liked being told what to do and the required practice assignments were no fun at all. At the time, I thought that I was a rebel for playing the drums in the first place, the loudest accustic instrument of them all. But now, I felt that I was being more of a rebel by ignoring my instructer and giving the whole lot up all together. Besides...I secretely knew that my parents would be happy that they would no longer have to pay for the lessons and that it would be much quieter around the house without me "practicing." I decided to try my hand at baseball instead.

I only made it through two seasons and played every position on the field before I decided to quit that as well. The coaches couldn't figure out where I fit in either. I left so many bruises on my opponants bodies that I had lost count when coach gave me a chance as a pitcher. I told him that it wasn't a good idea ut he insisted. "Ya gotta be good at something, right kid?" I wasn't. I hated making the other boys and sometimes girls cry when I beamed them with the ball, but it wasn't my fault really. They were suach bigger targets than the small invisible box above home plate. I had duely warned the coach beforehand so in my small mind, I was self attoned and gave that up too. I couldn't even watch the sport again until much later in my life when I was confident that the wounds that I had caused had been properly healed.

There was though, one magical day during an otherwise monotonous summer vacation that I will never forget. My other "uncool" friend Jesse and I were debating about whether Bo Jackson was a better baseball player as opposed to football player when we discovered a beat up and unstrung guitar in his garage. Awstruck by its existene, we quickly forgot about our sports debate and ran to find his father, the rightful owner, to see if he could give us any insight regarding the history of this musical instruments past.

When Jesse's dad saw what we were holding, he smiled and we had both noticed a hint of a tear in his eyes, something that father's weren't supposed to do we assumed. "Ya found 'ole Bessie did ya?" He said and reached his hand out so that he could hold it himself. He eyed it for what seemed like awhile, as if she were an old, long, lost friend from his past and I could tell that he had missed her.

Without saying anything, Jesse's father took 'ole Bessie and went back out to the garage where we had found her and began to rumage through old boxes and empty peanutbutter jars filled with nuts and bolts until he found what he was looking for. With a silly grin on his face, one even larger than from before, he presented us with a fresh but dusty unopened package of nylon strings. "I found 'em," He said feeling proud.

That was when Jesse and I would become rockstars. At least that's what we thouht when we say the beat up guitar fully strung and functional.

Years later, Jesse actually became a rockstar and moved from Los Angeles to Nashville to start his career as a musician. I stayed behind with my "new to me" beat up guitar, strumming to myself when no one was looking, hoping thta I would find my stardom in some form as well.

I still have that same guitar and a new one as well, and even though they are both locked away in a storage unit on South Van Ness Avenue, I think about them often. One thing that I did learn though was that I really didn't want to be a rockstar anyway. With all of the pressure and the fans...I would have had so many would just be too much for me. But one feeling that hasn't left me all of these years is my desire to fit in...and yes...I still want to be famous.

Friday, May 21, 2010


So who am I supposed to ask about the symbiotic and metamorphazizing probabilaty of the so-called soul?

I looked to you Mr. Dean Moriarty,

Traverser of dreams, and of moonlight, of wit, and borrowerd cigi-boos.

The warmth of wine, calming

Passed around in circles of old friends

And through ghosts of the past, haunting me unwillingly.

Your only conclusion and the only thing that you know is that we are certain to grow schmuck.

While I know in my mind and through the whispers heard in the wind that you are correct

I refuse to accept this as the only truth about the life and the no-soul.