Fluffles 2.0 has wagered $20.00 that are as good as mine. I told him Snow is gone. As I shook his paw he smiled and asked, “Is anyone ever really gone?” and settled in for the wait. Last night he whispered, “The night is dark and full of terrors,” before he went to bed. I told him to cut it out because he was giving me the creeps. He should be considered a suspect if I don’t show up to work tomorrow. He hasn’t been the same since we marathoned all 5 seasons of Game Of Thrones. I told him there was no other way to fully appreciate the premiere tonight. He became especially interested in the house of black and white and where he could get his paws on some playdough…..
Look guys, I don’t remember anything after we drank that blue stuff with the fruit floating around it. All I know is I was having this dream that I was at the dentist and I wake up and there’s a cat with it’s paws in my mouth asking me how good my insurance is and if I was serious about what I said…..
Still haven’t found them? Look, you and me, we’re friends. I didn’t want to say anything but the cat, you know, the one with the crooked tail… he was eyeballing your sunflower seeds.
No need to thank me. That’s what friends are for, right? Cats are a bad deal all around amigo. No one’s sunflower seeds are safe if a cat is around.
Art, photos and words by Estela Caballero ❤
Someone had stolen his gloves in the night. He considered himself lucky that was all they did. A sweet melody woke him. The notes rising and falling like his heart used to when he still had one. Long gone the days when celebrations like a birthday marked time. It was hard to say how long he had been living this way. He reached in his pocket feeling around. If it was heaven, he would expect that the spare gloves he kept in his pocket would be gone. After all they wouldn’t be necessary. Heaven or hell, neither would require gloves. They were there and even though the fingers of the gloves had been worn through many winters ago, it was better than nothing. The music played and he still had hope God had just forgot to remove the gloves.
He struggled to his feet and tried to find the angel that was playing the song of a life he no longer had any claim to. The rise and fall of the notes from the violin reminded him of the days he and his beautiful young wife would save up to have dinner in the city. How many times had they walked by this very spot? Maybe it was best this way. He was lost in plain sight. Love and the pain of losing it was worse than being kicked or chased away from places, being ignored and even sleeping outside in the freezing rain. He welcomed the numbness regardless of the source. Brown glass bottle or below zero nights on the concrete– it no longer made a difference. Only the end result mattered.
The old man was warm now and pulled his gloves out of his pocket. Papery thin hands carefully paired them like his older brother had showed him long ago when he was a boy. They often fought over who would ball the socks as they helped their mother fold laundry for the Ballinger’s. They didn’t have toys and would toss the socks back and forth until they were reclaimed by his kind but tired mother. None of them, not even his mother had ever owned anything as fine as the impossibly soft socks. From father to infant, the Ballinger family feet were just as pampered as every other part of their life. Had someone told the citizens of the small town they lived in that they would one day live in the old Balinger home, laughter would surely have followed.
The subway was a world of its own. He noticed a particular boy and his mother. They were in his home along with the other usual morning crowd rushing and waiting. Well, they were in the closest thing he had to a home. The subway was a safer place than some of the shelters he would stay at once in a while when the cops did their sweeps. The boy looked to be about three years old and his mother held his hand tight as they walked by him. He lowered his eyes to show the mother he meant no harm to her or her child. She didn’t notice the gesture nor would she have understood it had she looked. We turn away from that which pains us. We turn away from that which causes fear. When it is necessary to confront the uncomfortable, it’s easiest to chalk it up to the flawed person that surely brought the misery upon themselves. Dismissed. Everyone can continue about their day.
The boy pulled at his mother’s hand, his eyes fixed on the homeless man’s angel playing a beautiful stringed instrument that was a dark rich brown.
Movement like a river all day long. People entered and hopped off the subway cars coming and going just as they did every other day. Few noticed the man’s angel and the few that stopped were children who stayed as long as their parent’s allowed. The violin is unlike other instruments in the way it calls something inside most don’t know is there. Dismissed. Best the call go unanswered. To listen requires an attention long extinct among people blind to angels and deaf to their song.
Not too long ago, a famous violinist, Joshua Bell, played in the subway. It wasn’t as a panhandler before he reached fame and fortune. He was already extremely well known. He became invisible to people who proudly claim to love fine music– his fine music. The cloak of the ordinary deafens so even heavenly sounds cannot reach the brain much less the heart. This ailment pales in comparison to the mysterious loss poverty provokes–a temporary blindness among the masses.
It was a social experiment. The question– Would anyone recognize the person playing violin in the subway? Would the award winning music draw a crowd? He was scheduled to play several sold out shows over the next few days in New York. Tickets at the events regularly went for $100 or more. Josh Bell played in the subway for about 45 minutes and made $32. Only a handful of people stopped to see him play. One thought him an angel that might lead him to a wife and daughter long disappeared in the fire.
No one recognized him. Josh Bell was in a subway playing a violin that was worth $3.5 million yet children– those still living in the freedom of enjoying something because of how it makes them feel and not what others think, were the ones who appreciated the sounds of the homeless man’s angel the most.
I will let you in on a secret. No one person knows what the collective “Latino vote” will be. For any presidential candidate interested in this Latina’s (P.S. that’s not even what we call ourselves) vote, I give you the Rooster Challenge.
Chronic fatigue. I was embarrassed at this newest addition to a growing list of diagnosis’. I liked the ones that made me sound like I might be an off duty nurse. I’d rattle them off and even spell them if the pharmacist or doctor looked puzzled. Systemic lupus erythematosus is often reduced down to just lupus. You could have systemic or discoid lupus. I had both. Discoid gave you lots of undeniable and very visible symptoms, mostly on the face. Aside from your skin, your other organs were usually spared from attack. I’ve always been an over achiever. As a young girl, I denied ever being the competitive type. It was mostly a protective measure for my ego in case I lost at whatever it was I had set out to do. Why should this disease be any different? I didn’t become infected with this disease. It didn’t find its way into my kidneys and brain on a Trojan horse. It was me. The disease sprang from me. It was part of my DNA. It was just following orders, my orders. Go big or go home.
I came to recognize symptoms in their early stage. This knowledge, more of sixth sense really, came after several years of ignoring signals that something was wrong. The problem was that lab results didn’t usually pick up my red alert. Visits to the Urgent Care explaining to the doctor that the sores in my nose and mouth or hives that sprang up the size of small grapes were not just uncomfortable. I could handle discomfort just fine. I would ask them to call one of the doctors on my list– the standard treatment was high dose of prednisone tapered down over a period of 2 weeks. Lab tests would be taken that day and again at the end of the steroid treatment. The team of specialists I saw knew my case and admitted that mine was especially complex. I was scared and pleased at the same time. If I was going to be sick, it better be good. And by good I meant, good like go big or go home kind of good. You can understand why chronic fatigue was left off the list on first visits to a new doctor. The doctor would read through the list. When he would ask if there was anything he missed, I would mumble “chronic fatigue.” He’d nod and when I saw that he and so many other doctors wouldn’t even write it down, I eventually stopped mentioning it all together. It was wishy washy. It took credibility away from the very legitimate condition that had introduced itself into my world.
Over time, the symptoms of chronic fatigue would begin to demand respect. I know, chronically fatigued? I’d joke that I’m also chronically averse to exercise and food that is good for me. I could go on. Chronic fatigue knocked me off my feet. It seems like this should take care of itself with a few good nights sleep. You could sleep for the major part of three days and feel the same. I continued to work most of the time since being diagnosed with lupus. If I stayed home, I felt tired. If I worked I felt tired. At least at work, I would be dressed up and could pretend to be the version of me I so wished to be. If I stayed home I felt guilty– lazy, even.
The concept of time took on a different meaning. I don’t wear a watch or have a clock in my office. Time is relative. An alarm beeps to let me know I have an appointment or meeting in the next 30 minutes. Aside from being on time for something, I stopped watching the clock. A good day no longer meant a day. That was too long. I measured life and success in even smaller increments of time—I had to. Instead of getting up and knowing I would have a great day, I accepted that if I could sit up without assistance, I was better than yesterday. If I could sit up yesterday and today I couldn’t, then I told myself, I was better off than someone was yesterday. I cried. I gave up. I had been defeated by the unserious sounding condition of chronic fatigue. To be continued…..