‘Cause we have the experience

2003 is on its way out and I say good riddance! This last year was the worst year of my whole adult life. Hyperbole? Maybe, but then I haven’t been, shall we say, revealing in the entries of the blog. Not sure if I am going to change that but I will say this- “If you have a question about what happens outside of poetry- just ask.”

Thinking of how this last solar cycle is wrapping up leaves me wondering as to how the hell I capped off last year… and I honestly don’t know. It did involve Eric’s house and spending time with the fam but that’s about all I can muster at this point. The end of 2001 is pretty clear as I was in David Scott Levi’s apartment hanging with him, Franklin Leonard and Rachelle Street wondering what the future held for ‘a lil bit louder’ as Guy had just departed for Virginia and we weren’t sure what was going to happen to the reading series we were calling home on Mondays… Damn! Shit sure changes quick don’t it?

I think that might be the beginning of me actually caring about the future of Mondays and what my role would be in it. Well, at least that’s how I picture it since I find the beginnings to be much clearer than the endings. I can see points where people enter my life and their subsequent transformations but sometimes it’s hard to envision the last moments.

Well, here is a big ending that won’t leave me anytime soon and one of the highlights or rather lowlights (Time will tell) of the last year— the end of Vision Network. Even just looking at the name leaves me a little spooked. VN was the business that I had for ten plus years before my internal demons began to take over and I found myself just showing up for work and counting the minutes till closing time. NOT the right thing when it’s your OWN business.

The end came on a June Monday morning with me packing the last boxes of stuff into Tina’s car and quietly saying goodbye as the kids that populated the local high school just marched right by. A part of me was hoping/dreading that the close of a local landmark (we were in the same spot for over a decade) would make someone pause but they didn’t and I just went home unpacked the last of the stuff into my house and had Tina drop me off by my friend Ali’s place. The rest of the day was marked with some walking around the Bronx and then finished with a louderJAM at 13 with no one the wiser as to the fact that I had just said goodbye to the biggest accomplishment of my adult life.

Not that anyone had a reason to ask, for me it was just another Monday and it was easy to put on the face that I have learned long ago to put on. Hell, I even read a piece with Jai on back up. The poem dealt with everything except what was going on in my life. Another constant, writing about shit I don’t know about and passing it off as authentic.

I can picture the beginnings of Vision clear as day. The phone call from Eric while I am in the Collins’ kitchen. The proposition from Daric as we are in the Boston Road Mickey Dees. The first day and the next door neighbor reconnecting his beeper. The first sale to Tasha. Daric leaving me and Eric with the biz. All of it is like yesterday.

It seems like I have a lot of beginnings on my mind. The first time I walked into 13. The first night I hung out at the Blue Ox. The first synonymUS jam. Meeting DSL and Franklin in front of the Nuyo. Thinking in my car about my boy John getting dissed by a girl at the Copa. Tina almost leaving my life. Lynne forcing me to read a poem in Spanish. Seve asking for a favor. Guy mispronouncing my name because I wrote it phonetically. Fish reading. Lynne being up front as I read. Guy’s fateful after thought to the back-to-back debuts- “That was the first time you BOTH read? Hhhmmm…”

Seeing Guerrieri read for the first time. Omar hating on LA, post Nats. The word hibiscus. Buying my first chapbook (lost to a girl that I lent it to). Hanging in the back and being able to come and go without a trace. The first night at the Nuyo- my first “That’s poetry?!?” moment. A 20 below zero Bowery Poetry Club. Ed Garcia reafing “Mind of a Dreamer” The first slam. Bonafide giving me a low score. All this shit is WAY more vivid than the last night at 13.

I guess it’s cause the story between me and poetry is far from over. Then again, there are some things in my life that I have never let go of and of which I should have. I can still see Jeanette walking into Vision and me casually asking Carlos to the back.

“Who is THAT?” ‘My wife’s best friend and by the way— Don’t try it! I got everybody and their father asking me if she’s single.” This would lead to a chapter in my life that has never really closed because I sure as hell can’t picture the end. Even though there were a lot.

The Bronx, 1973. My father picking a piece of glass from my lil sister’s foot. (Added into a poem this year.) My first Christmas in the BX. Yeah, I still remember shit from when I was three. I remember going to Ecuador that year and seeing my grandmothers for the first time. Coming back to a shitty apartment with no bed. My baby sister waking me up from a dead sleep. My stepmother being introduced as ‘the baby’s nanny.’ Hearing that I had a new lil brother. And while I can remember the day my mom died and seeing her drive away in a VW rabbit, I can’t picture the first time I really saw her.

All the people in my life that my ‘other’ friends rarely hear about. Tom smashing a soda can on his forehead. Mike’s fringe deerskin boots. Keith with a sunburn. Jota Love in an arm sling. Jose’s Saturn. Angel in an ankle cast. Padilla playing pool.

Walking Linda home from Vision. Bumping into Wanda on the dance floor. Letting Alisande ‘marinate for a minute’ at Vision. Being in a sweet sixteen with Tina.

Paging Fish for my sister. Playing pool with Fish. Telling Fish I wanted to start a new reading series. The first Acentos show. Crying the next day when I read the guest book folks left behind. (The first big cry I had for this year but not the last) Meeting Nina and having her introduce me to her friend in the leather jacket and hat. You’ll know him when you see him, she said and she was right. Rich was easy to spot. Rich introducing me to his sister. A woman who would make me walk WAY too much from the word go, in order to show me more kindness than I deserve. Right, Maria?

The cop bust at Vision. Confessing to my family that I wasn’t perfect.

Hanging with Bassey, Lynne, and Rog in Brooklyn as Fish tells the ‘mother-in-law’ story. Seve coming up to me after I read ‘Capicu.’ Alexa IM’ing me the next day. Meeting Caroline. The UPHA repping hard and bumping into Chance- literally. Booking CR Avery for synonymUS, 13, and a gig with Urban Word (thanks, Marty) Guy guest hosting. Doing well in a slam. Mara’s birthday. Turning away Siegel from a sac goat spot. GK bidding on a Salsa lesson- never delivered. Getting Jayme to judge a Slam. Getting Jayme to read at Acentos. Getting Jessica to read. Hearing Juan yell at Acentos. Ray performing ‘Gypsy Hands’ Hanging with the crew later for some eats as Ray collects e-mails for what would become synonymUS. Talking with Ray on the pier.

Betsy hanging out with Monica. Taking her to the gym at 7 in the morning. Noel covering his eyes. Noel’s first black eye. Jackie’s long nails. Jackie saying ‘moto-otah’ My sister at the movie theatre pregnant with Jackie. My sister calling me to help her move out.

Eric in the staircase when my Mom died. I had known him for a long time before that but it wasn’t until that day that I knew I had a best friend. We parted during high school but met again in a different staircase and became inseparable. Started a business, had more fights, laughs, and revelations than any two people could. He was taller than me when we were young but I caught up- not much- but I caught up. He stayed my big brother anyways and was always the person who picked me up. In return, I almost ruined his wedding this year. The sad part is that he is still more worried about what’s going to happen to me than I am. Aint that some shit. I can single handidly fuck up a person’s most important day and still stay in good graces. A part of me wishes he would stop worrying about me but that part is the stupid part.

I can picture a lot of shit and it includes the last time I saw him. It wasn’t the greatest moment. Nothing bad happened. But it wasn’t the way I would like to go out. Ya know? So I have a lot of shit to clean up in 2004 and nothing is more important than that.

I leave this last entry with a tear in my eye and it may be the last one for the year. A year that saw me cry way too much and laugh way too little.

In the final analysis, I leave this year with almost all my old friendships intact plus many more that I never imagined. 2003 was bad, but in the measure of friendship it was a good year and that’s how I’ll end this.

To new friends! Meet my old ones! And I hope everyone has a good story to share…

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