How the Father of LSD kept me off drugs

Between google and social media, it’s pretty easy to fall down a rabbit hole these days. I’ve fallen down rabbit holes since before the internet had reliable search engines, I owned a set of encyclopedia Britannica and in 4th grade I turned in an extra credit report on a topic of my choice, Adolf Hitler. I promise you I was not a fan, but my 3rd grade teacher who told us her story of being a Jewish baby through WW2 . Then, her fellow friend and local teacher from the neighboring elementary school showed us the concentration camp tattoo on her arm; they peaked my interest on the matter.

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Welcome to Fontana

Fontana was originally founded as a rural farm town in the early 1900’s. It grew into a steel town, formed by the white people that flocked to work at Kaiser Steel Mill during WW2. The influx of white steel workers brought racist white people too and the KKK had a strong hold in the city for several decades.

Back when they didn’t bother to hide their faces, 1981.
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A year at Hawthorne High

I don’t easily make decisions but once I’ve made up my mind, you can consider it done. Once middle school was over I was dead set on never stepping foot at Inglewood High. I’d use my uncle’s address to get into Hawthorne High School, just 15 minutes south of Inglewood was a new world of high school opportunity for me. The Beach Boys went to school there in the 1950’s. Hawthorne isn’t a beach city but it’s close proximity to Redondo and Manhattan Beaches was close enough. At the time, it still had a very mid century California vibe until they painted it like an in-n-out.

Me, age 14.
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Seventeen

I love Sharon Van Etten’s song “Seventeen”, if you haven’t heard it. Give it a listen. I believe the beauty of art, any art, is in the expression and interpretation. On the one hand it’s what the artist meant or felt and then there is what the audience will experience. The feelings it may bring you and the thoughts it may invoke.

The song makes me think of being that age and what I would say to myself.

I turned 17 at the start of my senior year, it would prove to be a highly memorable, not always in the best way, year. Senior year felt like standing on a precipice, standing on the cliff of childhood and looking out at adulthood on the horizon. It was intimidating and exciting. I felt like all my childhood I just wanted to be older, to be an adult. I remember being a kid having dinner with parents at a restaurant and wanting so badly to be able to drink a cool margarita with a pineapple wedge and cherry on top. Suddenly, my margarita dreams seemed so close.

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How I Lost My Father

Death is a part of life but unlike new life where people share “birth stories” sharing a personal death story isn’t quite as simple, and understandably so when there is so much pain in loss. I don’t often talk about my father’s death and if I do I rarely share the entire story. The grief has changed over the 12 years since he has been gone from this earth but there is always a huge emptiness in moments where I wish he was there with me.

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What Inglewood Taught Me

My life in Inglewood was only briefly interrupted by Nebraska. That time would forever be a happy blip in my life. Even now, if I had an option I’d probably opt to raise my children in Omaha. Affordable housing, good schools and freedom to be a kid who plays outside… these are not things that come easily in Southern California, if you have the last two you probably can’t have the first one.

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Childhood Green Grass

When people ask where I’m from it seems weird to say Inglewood, it’s usually followed by some “always up to no good” reference from the person asking. Sometimes I say South Bay, because I spent a lot of time in Hawthorne too. I’ve never said I’m from South Central, although that would be geographically correct. I grew up in Inglewood. One day, I’ll write a book about its history because a comprehensive book about it doesn’t currently exist, there’s a “book” out there thats a whole 4 pages long written by an old white lady. Meanwhile, I’ll indulge into my personal story of growing up there.

My parents came to the United States in the late 70s. My dad came from Mexico, he worked as a gardener. My mom was born in El Salvador, she worked as a housekeeper. It was the stereotypical Los Angeles minority love story. At the time when I was born, they lived in a converted garage apartment in the back of someone’s house in Inglewood. We’d toggle around apartments in Inglewood and the adjacent cities of Lennox and Hawthorne. I have two memories of living in the garage apartment around age 2 or 3, the first about a burnt tortilla and the second of being scared when a stranger knocked loudly on the metal screen door. I remember my 4th birthday party at the one story apartment complex with pink shutters. That was where my friend Alex’s brother let go of most of my balloons outside and I passively aggressively fought my mom’s friend’s daughter to stop pulling my Little Mermaid Piñata away from me while we took pictures.

From left to right: Alex, Wendy, Me, Little Mermaid Pinata, The Pinata Hogger, Valerie, someone’s random cousin and Lydia.
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A Little Bit of Knowledge Will Destroy You

I wrote most of this thought a few years ago. As much as I’m a ‘living in my head’ kind of person, once I’m over something I do my best to close the book. How do you continue on with your story if you’re stuck re-reading old chapters? I didn’t see it as revisiting the past as much as writing down a short story and giving it a solid ending. People often dwell on closure, but I think closure comes from within, especially when you get to write your own story.

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life in times of plague

The last couple of months have brought me serious reevaluating. This time of quarantine has given many of us more time to look at things we may have neglected. It’s removed a lot of distractions too.

My started off in March with a shit ton of anxiety. I worried about my job that I love for so many reasons because I’d hate to have to seek other career option if the housing market took another dive ala 2008. The hypochondriac in me kicked in too, feeling slightly sick and praying to God I didn’t catch the ‘rona.

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