Damn You, Whitney!

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Damn you, Whitney Houston! Why you have to make me cry? I was doing just fine driving to work this morning when I Will Always Love You came on and you made me think of my ex and those sad memories came afloat once again. I never realized the lyrics to that song until today. I never knew this was a breakup song. How did I miss that?

What really got to me was not only the fact that you’re gone, Whitney, and that every time I hear your voice it saddens me. Such talent gone, wasted, misused, such story of redemption, of rise and fall only to get back up again and fall once again miserably.

But that’s not what got to me today. It was Dolly’s lyrics that wish her ex the best, wish him all the love that she cannot provide to him anymore. I didn’t know that the power of her song not only lies in your voice, Whitney, but the realization that you can love somebody enough to learn to let them go and allow them to find love somewhere else. To realize that not everyone we meet is supposed to stick around for the long haul and that we are wise enough to understand when to stop and say: this is not working, the only thing I’m doing is standing in your way of your happiness.

Damn you, Whitney! Why you have to make me cry? That’s cool though, I am cool with you singing with that heavenly voice to me, that angelic voice that conveys love and feeling. A true talent now gone forever but you will always remain in my heart. You gave that gift to me and I thank you, Whitney. And I will always love you, I will always love you…

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Be My Ex Valentine

Last night I had the chance to speak to my ex girlfriend that I used to see way before I came out of the closet. I know it may sound weird but I used to date women thinking that being gay was just a phase I was going through. I thought that if I wished it hard enough and I prayed long enough then it’d go away. Well, it didn’t.

I met Lana (not her real name) in a church group where I became involved in a youth group. We would organize retreats in order to attract more youngsters to come to church. This was an interesting time in my life that I don’t regret to have experienced for it taught me a lot about leadership, psychology and the power of prayer.

Can we really be friends with our ex after all these years, after we’ve grown apart for so long, after we have settled in our stubborn ways, after we have been hurt and used and loved the wrong people for the wrong reasons…?

We have different paths, different journeys. She still does not understand that being gay is not a choice but what I choose for me is my happiness over everything, that I choose to find true love instead of ruining someone else’s life. There was another thing that bothered me about our conversation. We were talking about my ex (that’s a little weird, isn’t it? Talking about my ex with my other ex?) and she said to me: “What a waste of you ten years!” And I replied: “I disagree, Lana, I believe that every encounter, every relationship taught me something that I had to know at that time. Never wasted my time. Only growth.” I also resented the fact that she insinuated that she had “wasted” her time with me and that got me thinking: would she have preferred if I made her life miserable by staying with her? What would my life be like if I had settled down with her and have a family? My parents would have loved their grandkids but… Would I have been happy? Would she? Probably not! I probably would have to eventually get divorced so she could finally be free and find her true love for I wasn’t it. Doesn’t she realize that splitting up was the best thing we did for the both of us? Did she not read my Whitney post?

That’s when I realized that exes should remain as such. We even discussed the fact that I’m no longer friends with my ex Julian (his real name has been changed to protect his identity and, frankly, does not matter), she pointed out how sad it must have been to be separated from him and I agreed, it is always hard to give up on a relationship that’s not working, stop talking to his family and losing most of our mutual friends. After that, there was very little left in me. Yes, relationships are hard and it sucks when they’re over. But once they’re over they’re over. I think it’s actually harder to remain friends after how much we’d hurt each other, how much we used to have together and how little in common we have today. I’m not even the same person I was yesterday, let alone 5 years or 20 years ago. Change is eminent and I have changed, just like Lana and Julian have changed.

The answer is clear now, more than ever, and it’s hard to have to do this to you, Lana, but I’m afraid I will have to break up with you yet once again. Our paths crossed for a reason when they did and we are not ever going to reconnect in a friendly or romantic or even cosmic level ever again. Get that already! It’s over! We are not the same as we used to be and I am who I am just like you are who you are. It was nice while our relationship lasted, I remember how we used to pray together, how we used to talk, how we used to share long walks, kissed in the shadows of the night as we tried to say goodbye but we couldn’t, how we used to stare at each other’s eyes and profess our puppy love. Those days are over and done with. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! Sorry we have to end this conversation short but I gotta go… I will remember you fondly and wish you nothing but the best, I really do, but let’s be honest: we as just friends? Answer’s no.

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Just Another Mental Monday

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Nobody knows my secret. Except for you, dear reader who anonymously is reading my blog right now. The one blog that I have not revealed to the world yet. Not quite yet, they’re not ready for Diary Dearest, no siree, they’re not…
Turns out that this new blog is my secret weapon, the safest place that I’ve found where I can really express how I feel and what I think without the fear of having somebody I know read about my business. This is, after all, my virtual diary where I get to spill my guts and not worry about what they’d say, although quite frankly, my dear readers, I can give a damn!
Last night I had the courage of getting up to the mic and read from this blog, I read the piece that I wrote last week titled Jealousy of My Guitar where I explained how I suffered from stage fright and basically how I faced my fear dead on, just like I was doing there, in front of an audience of 20 or more people that had gathered at House of Brews for their Mental Mondays which only happens the last Monday of every month. As it turns out, speaking about my case of stage fright right on stage was quite liberating, cathartic and revelatory. For once in a very long time, I felt quite comfortable in my own skin, I felt as if I could be up there talking directly to the audience without fear, without hesitation, without pelos en la lengua (in other words: no filter). Mental Monday has officially become my safe zone, an open mic where I can express my mental state without fear that I may sound crazy (for everyone is crazy anyways, right?), where I can openly say that I’m gay, or I suffer from depression, or that I have multiple personalities, or that I am human like everyone else and I’m not such a weirdo after all. As a matter of fact, this helped everyone that followed me open up and spill their guts, made them all reveal how they also suffered from stage fright, how they also have insecurities, how they also suffer from depression like me and it is okay. Everyone have the same problems, if not worse, than I do.
I snapped some pictures of the performances, exchanged some digits with a few poets and musicians, followed them on Facebook or Instagram or their emails or plainly get their names since most of the time I see them here but can never quite remember their names. They all like recognition and validation, everybody seeks feedback, everybody wants to know if they’re not weird for doing what they love to do.
In this crazy world where violence and rape is glorified, when all that media cares about is riots in Venezuela, or punk rock bands getting beaten down in Russia, or gay couples being deprived of their rights to get married, or how brutal and insensitive can some of our police force be against individuals like Michael Ray who seek equality and justice, or how Miley Cirrus twerked at the MTV awards, or how the Kardashians dressed the other night, or how Madonna spoke about Pussy Riot or Obama or George Bush or whomever to stay on top of the news…
When everything you see on TV is make believe, when every politician lies to our faces, when every newsroom is biased, how everything is blown out of proportion, how everybody has an agenda or an ulterior motive, it’s refreshing to hear poetry, it’s a relief to hear and speak about love, it makes total sense to hear what’s good and positive about the world, what little human qualities we may still have as a society that is worth preserving.
Here is a place where we get to talk freely without censorship, without judgement, without fearing for our lives, without fearing that the government is watching us or that policemen are waiting outside with guns, handcuffs and teargas.
This is our safe space. Our last free space where we can be ourselves in public, where we can finally say what the hell we want to say without hesitating, where we want to promote peace and love for one another, not war.
Does this make any sense to you? Are you still there?

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Life is Beautiful

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“I’m suicidal” said a young man sitting next to me as I waited for my friends Dean and Elsie to get my food at Eggslut, located in Grand Central Market.
I looked at him in the eye and could tell that he was dead serious.
“How come” I asked in the most natural voice I could possibly maintain.
“Because my life is messed up. I don’t really know my family, been in drugs- crystal meth mostly, the mother of my daughters won’t allow me to see them… I’ve attempted to jump off a bridge once but then I thought it would be better if I jump on the water since I can’t swim, you know?”
I nodded, trying to find the best response for my rebuttal. I noticed that I only had a tiny window of opportunity to say what I had to say to him. It had to be something profound, I couldn’t just ignore his cry for attention. When I looked into this young guy’s eyes I could see pain, confusion, depression, desperation. I know that he was testing me, waiting for me to simple ignore what he had just said or say that everything will be alright and enjoy your day, buddy. I couldn’t do that.
I had to dig deep into the information that I was just provided in the last 5 minutes: he’s homeless, don’t care much about his parents, he does care about his American Indian heritage though but that was not enough to make his life worthwhile living. I had to think and think fast. His ex girlfriend was probably right in not wanting him in her life after the drug abuse and his mental state but I couldn’t say that, unless I wanted to push the poor guy off a bridge. I looked at him more closely: he had long black hair, tattoos on his back, he was obsessed with his vein as he had pointed out earlier, I’m pretty sure he was hallucinating or tripping out since he had started to draw out his veins with a black marker. I had asked him earlier what he liked to do, there must be something he was passionate about. He shook his head, not comprehending what I was getting at and said he liked to draw and take photography. He was on disability for his drug abuse and mental issues so I didn’t need to pressure him about getting a job.
A lightbulb went on in my head. I had to draw from my personal experience and not sound fake. That’s the last thing this guy needed to hear was someone to be so fake and superficial. I had to share something personal that pertained to his situation at hand. I have history of mental health and drug abuse in my family and quickly came up with this question:
“Picture this: how would you feel if your daughters were to find out about your suicide, how do you think this will make them feel?”
“They don’t even want to speak to me, their mother has made it impossible for me to even approach them…”
“How old are they?”
“One is 11 and the other one is 12”
“OK, here’s the thing. They’re being manipulated by their mother into thinking you should not be part of their lives but there will come a time in your daughters’ lives where they will wonder whatever happened to their father, they will wonder about their heritage, they will want to see those pictures you’ve shown me of their grandparents, they will wonder about their history and you will play a big part of that moment. How do you think they will deal knowing that their father couldn’t handle life and took his life jumping off a bridge?”
I paused for effect. I had to stop to gauge the effect if my words. His glassy eyes were hard to read but I could tell he was focused. I could tell I had reached the core, the one place in his heart that still wanted to hold on to life. I was sure that I had him thinking, if only about the most important people in his life, his precious daughters.
My friends were almost bringing my Eggslut meal but I couldn’t stop delivering my message so I added: “My father was a drug addict and did horrible things to me and my mom when I was growing up. I am fortunate to still have him in my life today. It’s tough for everyone but I’m sure there’s something you’re good at, whether it’s drawing or painting or taking photographs, anything at all. Be good at that, I’m sure that will help you and you better clean up your act and stop using crystal. Your daughters will one day reach out for you and when that happens you wanna be clean, you’ll hereafter to share those pictures with them, you will tell them where they came from. Will you do that?”
I had to wrap it up since my food had arrived: filet mignonette steaks over a bed of romaine lettuce and two eggs, sunny side up. But I still made eye contact, waiting for his response. He nodded and for a fraction of a second I realized I had reached to him. I ha accomplished my good deed of shaking him up and telling him what he needed to hear. He didn’t have to know how much I had hated my dad for what he’s done to me, he didnt have to know about my uncle Raúl’s death to a drug overdose that shook my family to its core, he didn’t have to know about Carlos, my dearest uncle who suffered from depression and ended his life by drowning his sorrow and pain in the ocean 25 years ago. I didn’t have to say all of that to him. I just had to convey that I was on his side, that I understood what he’s going through and how life is just beautiful if you bothered to stop and smell the roses once in a while. I could only showed him the door, now it was up to him to open it and cross inside… Or not.
I couldn’t hold his hand and teach him the ways to deal with depression for I still don’t have all the answers myself, I also suffer from moments when I don’t see what’s the point of living, when I don’t see the beauty in a clear sunny day, when I neglect to realize how blessed I am to be alive. I could only point him in the right direction. The rest was up to him. I hope to see him again, hopefully with a suit and tie, or talking with friends, or laughing with his daughters in the park or watching the birds on the pier or having a good time taking more pictures and creating memories. Life is a blessing, we only get one of those…

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

From Cast to Brace to ??

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My hand has the cast off! 🙂

Now I have a brace to make sure my wrist is healed.

Each day the pain seems less in the hand and wrist.

Where will this all go? What is next? I do not know.

For now it’s ice on my hand and wrist. Wear the brace and move forward.

This too will not control me – for me it is just a bump in the road called life.

Changes will be made, things might be adjusted but I will move forward.

Will I ever play golf, tennis, or ride a bicycle again?

Time will answer these questions in the near future.

Whatever changes the universe has ahead are only good.

For now I am happy to have the cast off and being able to walk as my form of exercise.

From cast to brace to ??

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Like A Song on the Radio

I’m so proud of my dear friend, Elsie, she’s come a long, long way, baby, keep on writing, never stop!

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Like a song on the radio you enter my mind – as the song ends you disappear and all that is left is my memories of us.

Why is it that just about every song on the radio reminds me of you?

Or of us?

They can bring back memories of you and me, places we’ve been to, concerts we seen, and things we’ve done together.

Like a song on the radio the memories come and go, some are loud and clear, others are fuzzy and blurry.

They drive me crazy at times since they make me think of you.

When is this madness going to stop?

You creep back into my head, and my heart.

I want you to leave but I just don’t know how to get you to go.

Like a song on the radio that I do not want to listen to I need to change…

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Jealousy of the Guitar

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I can’t believe that I’m about to say this but is true: I’m jealous of the guitar. I know, sounds crazy, right? I have been wondering what was bothering me after I left a session with poets last Thursday at a McDonalds in Glendale. It’s that damn guitar!

First, let me explain. Every Thursday, George de Aztlan and friends unite in the name of poetry and music at a public McDonald’s located on Central and Millford (500 N Central Av, 2 blocks from the 134) in Spanish. These brave souls stand up and recite poetry like I’ve never seen before, they even sing lovely songs and play their guitar. Everything is cool, everybody has a great time, except for this guy. Oh, no no, no! This guy must think he’s better than anyone else, right? Well, when it came down for me together up and recite my poetry I was a wreck. The words didn’t come out right, everyone looked at me as if I had a monkey taking a dump on my head. Maybe it was just my imagination, maybe it was my head playing tricks with me but that’s what I saw. Everyone was polite enough to clap when I was done after they saw me sweating as if I had run a marathon and finding my seat quicker than you’ve ever seen this guy move.

There. I have stage fright. I am too tired right now to look for the definition or name of that fear but I’m sure I’m not the only one. And I’m sure that I am not the only one that suffer this: there must be a vast majority of poets, writers, actors that all suffer the same. It feels as if every word I speak was purposely being chopped to inaudible pieces, as if I had a translator inside my throat changing every word I was speaking and making it sound garbled, distorted, low and, quite frankly, boring. This became quite clear when I say down and everyone else that followed was wonderful, everyone had so much material than me (I’ve only written a handful of Spanish poems but not that many), had memorized their lines, were able to enunciate clearly every words, every rhyme without missing a beat. These poets have it together. And so I felt inferior, I felt as if my words did not deliver the message, I felt like saying: whatever you just heard and saw you can eliminate it from your memories. ZAP.

Oh, and then there was the guitar. And I saw the panic on everyone as well. Everyone fears a poet with a guitar. What’s interesting is that, while everyone paid attention to the one person speaking, one could still hear the side conversations, people leaving for the bathroom or to make a fake phone call or get another cup of wonderful McDonald’s coffee. Except when the man in the guitar was performing a song. It’s like that fable withthe man and his enchanted flute that came to save a town from a rat infestation. It’s the power of music. The moment this gentleman began to strum his hands through the guitar one could almost see the musical notes floating over his head and hypnotizing every poet in the house, including the clients that were sitting nearby, looking as if we’d lost our minds. It was as if time froze, as if a spell had been cast over us and you could either succumb to it and sing along, or pretend to move your mouth and allow a couple of words here and there escape. The point is that the guitar has that power, that power that this poet fears, that power that I wish to possess.

On my way to my boyfriend’s house last night I was thinking why was I so upset when I left that night. It was a wonderful night, a night of camaderie, jokes, music and laughter. Why was I upset? I mean, that’s what I had come to expect, right? Why was I so damn afraid? The answer came clear as crystal water: I am jealous of the guitar. I know it sounds absurd: how can I be jealous of an instrument, a piece of wood and strings put together to create music, how could I be jealous of an inanimate object that apparently had no threat to me before? The answer was also clear: because you want it. Yup, you heard right, I wanted to be the focus of attention that night, I wanted to be the one that played beautiful music and sang the songs that everyone knows and sings along, feel like Jesse Cook, or Jose Feliciano, or Carlos Santana playing Samba Pa’ Ti or a Gypsy King that has everyone dancing and clapping and singing along. That’s what I wanted to become: a showman. Someone that can literally stop everyone’s conversation and force them to listen, force them to be one with me and my words and my poetry. I wanted that confidence back like I know I had back in High School, back when I wasn’t so concerned with everyone’s opinions of me, back when I could walk onto the stage and own it, back when I was brave enough to let my artistic side out, to let my spirit free, allow my soul to speak through me. And that’s why I was upset, that’s why I couldn’t sleep: I was jealous.

My boyfriend literally laughed when I told him this while drinking a cup of Riesling (or was it the third cup by then? I can’t quite remember) because he wasn’t there to see me crumble in front of an audience of fellow writer and poets. He didn’t see how my knees started to shake, how my voice crackle and broke as I opened my mouth to speak, how much I sweated as I saw everyone stare at me, look through me, judging me, laughing at me or simply ignoring me, which is probably the worst. He wasn’t in my shoes at that embarrassing moment in time that I shall not want to remember for it’s so painful.

Yet, it took this experience to realize that I needed to find my guitar, find that instrument, gimmick, joke that will captured everyone’s attention. I need to find my piano, my own private mic as George carries along with him at all times. I need to find something that will give the confidence that I so desperately need. I need to find my guitar.

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Celebrando el Mes del Amor y la Amistad

Noches De Canto Y Poesia

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Fotografía: Alejandro Molina y María Santacruz

Sigamos celebrando el mes del Amor y la Amistad este Viernes 21 de Febrero. Vengan un compartan su poesía al su novio, novia, novi@s si son vari@s a la vez que celebramos una noche con linda gente que se reúnen cada

Noches de Canto y Poesía

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Corran la voz y traigan a algún nuevo invitado quien nunca haya asistido para atraer nuevo público y llenar las butacas y hasta que hagan línea para entrar.

Celebremos el mes del Amor y la Amistad a lo grande, ¡no falten!

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This Old House

Last weekend was supposed to be dedicated to a friend that was coming from Buffalo, he is my dearest friend with whom I used to hang out with and go dancing in my mid twenties (let’s just say it has been a while since then) until one day he decided to move with his partner up to Buffalo, New York. He was planning on visiting L.A. for his sister who was having surgery. Besides, he never misses an opportunity to come here and go out to the gay bars here for they must bring so many good memories of days past, days and nights full of boys, so many boys and so little time as the song goes. And so he wanted me to join him at one of the clubs we always used to hang out at called Arena.

My partner and I were ready to go, we had planned this weekend around his visit. He had made a beautiful, romantic dinner by candlelight on Valentine’s Day, even prepared the perfect meal: chicken with pasta and a middle eastern salad with Persian cucumbers, tomatoes and something else I can’t quite remember, although I remember it to be quite delicious. We lounged in front of the TV, I practically “spread my wings” on the couch and enter a comfortable position. It’s basically what I look forward to all week long. Being there with my partner, watching The Walking Dead, or Looking, or True Detective or Modern Family, or anything is all I ever want to do, the whole world can be chaos and crime outside the window but this is my little piece of heaven. I’ve come to realize as I’ve gotten older that this is what I want to do, spend more time with Dean than anything else. Period.

So here was the conflict: my friend’s plane was delayed coming from Buffalo to Los Angeles and wasn’t sure whether he would make it on time or not, he had to divert over to St. Louis before landing at LAX. Dean and I decided that we wanted to do something on Saturday instead of just sitting and waiting for Fernando and Edwin to arrive. So we went to LACMA to an exhibit of designer Diane Von Furstenberg

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whom I had never heard of before in my life (I know what you might be thinking, he’s gay and doesn’t know about DVF? WTF?!!!), but anyhow we went, took the one picture you see of me above that has become my new favorite picture for some reason, and headed back home. On the way I learned that my friend was in fact arriving to LAX that night and he wanted to go to Arena.
For those of you who don’t know me you might want to know that I never turn down an invitation to party. Especially when it comes down to hanging out with a friend of about 20 years (I think I was about 5 when I first met him, hhmmmm huh? That’s right!), I’ve always come through and gone to Arena or Circus or West Hollywood in order to have a good time. Except this particular night when I felt really exhausted and needed to lay back, watch a movie and relax. And so I did.

I actually turned down my friend’s offer and decided that I didn’t want to go anyways. It’s come down to a point in my life when getting a good night’s sleep is much more important than going out when I really don’t want to, when I have to listen to my body when it tells me that it’s tired and needs to rest. I’m not a twenty year old anymore and have come to the realization that I never will. I can’t stay up till 3 in the morning on a Tuesday night and go to work the next morning or spend the whole Sunday afternoon drinking beer at a beer bust in Long Beach and yet drive home (quite possibly intoxicated) and go to work the next day. I’m not a spring chicken that gets to do those stupid, insensible things anymore. I can’t do the same things that I used to do when I was in my twenties. Cuz I’m in my forties, that’s why!
I won’t deny that I was upset about the whole thing but looking back now I don’t regret staying home watching Marie Antoinette . I didn’t want to force my body to endure having to go out for a couple of hours only to suffer the consequences the next day, sometimes days. I’m not mad anymore that I’ve come to the realization that there are better things to do with my life than going to a club full of sweaty, hot twenty year olds who probably take a look at us and wonder what these old farts are doing here… I know this because I used to be one of those skinny bitches twenty years ago…

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Secret Poets’ Society

A year ago I would have never thought that I would open up so much to the group of people I just met tonight. Every Wednesday I meet with fellow poets from my area, their names are Alejandro and Virgilio, joined tonight by Julio as well, in order to perfect our craft. For those who still don’t know I am a writer. The reason that I don’t say poet, or blogger, or novelist or playwright, or fill-in-the-blank title is that I am foremost a writer. I don’t see myself as just a poet, or just a novelist, or a screenwriter, or a lyricist but a writer that covers many categories.
So each of us brings a piece that we are working on whether is a poem, a short story, a letter, you name it we bring it to the McDonald’s table and share our piece. I must admit that sounds scary, especially at the beginning when I didn’t know what to expect from these meetings. I thought that they were all weird and that I was the only one that made sense. Well, it turns out that I was wrong. The moment that I started sharing my poetry is when I realized that I was weird, too. Up until this point I thought that my poems made perfect sense and everybody should understand them. Not a word needed to be changed or rearranged.
There’s one thing to give criticism but another completely is to receive criticism. At first, it was my primary goal not to offend anybody with my commentary. I had to be politically correct and polite when giving my opinion which wasn’t totally honest and truthful at first. It’s taken a couple of months for me to know these two poets so well that anything we say to each other comes from the heart and comes from a place that holds no egos or remorse or evil intentions or even jealousy. I have come to realize that they’re honest people that want to see me succeed as much as I want them to succeed. They’re not my competition but my fellow writer who is struggling just as much, if not more, than I am.
Tonight I brought a piece titled La Batalla (The Battle) which describes the character as a soldier fighting his own demons with a pen and paper at hand. A very personal struggle that I suffer to remain sane and in a positive mood. It’s been over a week that I’ve been feeling great and I plan to keep it that way.

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©2014 Victor Sotomayor