Fear: The One True Contagion

I hope the reader will forgive me as I comment on the contagions that now litter every news and media outlet. I speak, of course, on Ebola and, more importantly, the fear with which it so poignantly strikes in the hearts and minds of the masses.

By now, the reader has undoubtedly been subjected to a veritable deluge of articles and stories detailing the horrors of Ebola. Ebola isn’t a new virus. Since the discovery of the virus in the latter portion of the 1970’s, a total of five viruses (known under the umbrella term as ebolaviruses) have been discovered, four of which result in the disease in humans.

As you may have noticed, the attention began with the outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa. For those who know the whole story, I shall be brief. In December 2013, Guinea experienced an outbreak of Ebola which eventually spread to its neighbors, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Since that time, the disease has been difficult to contain due to traditional medicine, death and burial rituals, and understaffed and ill-equipped hospitals and treatment centers, to name a few.

Continue reading “Fear: The One True Contagion”

Explaining the Subtitle of My Blog

When I first decided that I wanted to write a blog, I was hesitant. I thought, “Who the hell would read anything I wrote?” I had no intention of making a journal, documenting all the moments of my life and revealing my deepest thoughts and secrets for all to see. Such an idea did not appeal to me, nor does it to this day. My journal is for my eyes only.

At first, I wanted to make my blog about the silly experiences one has, coherent and intelligent discourse concerned with the terrible restaurant experience, bad drivers, poor grammar, and, to be frank, the random bullshit one encounters in daily life. I wanted to present some perceived injustice, rant for a few paragraphs, and then offer my advice.

It came to pass that this style of presentation was deeply unsatisfying to me and I felt that more could be done. The perennial question became: “Who the hell would read anything I wrote?” That was shortly followed by questions related to making my writing more appealing. To date, I have found a suitable solution to this dilemma (I will address this a bit later). I was able to transform my original concept of a blog into something that I would be (and am) happy to contribute towards. The blog you now read is more akin to a social commentary about the experiences common to all. The discourse found herein will still be concerned with restaurant experiences, poor grammar, bad drivers, and random bullshit. But where this blog will differ from my initial conception is that I intend to present the topics I think are important in terms of acceptance.

Continue reading “Explaining the Subtitle of My Blog”

Tickle a Brain

“I don’t see any use in having a uniform and arbitrary way of spelling words. We might as well make all clothes alike and cook all dishes alike. Sameness is tiresome; variety is pleasing. I have a correspondent whose letters are always a refreshment to me, there is such a breezy unfettered originality about his orthography. He always spells Kow with a large K. Now that is just as good as to spell it with a small one. It is better. It gives the imagination a broader field, a wider scope. It suggests to the mind a grand, vague, impressive new kind of a cow.” – Mark Twain

I will preface this post with a little about myself. Despite what my writing (and speech patterns) would suggest (alas, you can’t hear my rich cadence on this blog, so you’ll just have to imagine it), English is not my first language, a fact that I have only recently come to realize. “Quoi,” you say? Well, my first language is Spanish, English is my second. I never truly gave much thought as to which language I learned first because I have no memories in which I did not know either language. The idea that I had always known both languages was shattered when I discovered that I had been placed in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in grade school. My English-as-a-second-language status should have been painfully apparent to me because both of my parents had been learning English at approximately the same time as I had. As I mentioned, I had never given it much thought, so I would understand not only if you were vexed, but if you also slapped your own forehead. I suppose my ignorance of this simple fact could also be attributed to two factors; first, I was never told that I was actually in an ESL class, and; second, the teachers I had had done an exceptional job making me feel normal.

I believe my placement in ESL classes, coupled with my insatiable hunger for knowledge, are responsible for the meticulous nature with which I treat the English language. I have been told by many people, from acquaintances to friends, that I am a great writer with an admirably strong command of the English language. Although I am inclined to accept praise (quite gratefully so) from wherever it should come, I am truthfully much too modest and self-deprecating to make such grand claims about myself. I would consider myself somewhat normal, mediocre at best.


Continue reading “Tickle a Brain”

We Are Alone

I wrote this short story while I was still a student in college, around fall of 2009. This story was part of my end-of-semester portfolio submission, so no one outside of my classmates have ever seen this story… until now. I have made corrections as the years have past but I kept the overall story the same. I didn’t like this story that much when I first wrote it, however, it has grown on me. I hope you enjoy it.


We Are Alone

I bent forward with a match in hand, steadily guiding the flame towards its unseen companion. The wick ignited and the light pushed back the darkness to the furthest corners of the dining room. My hands felt their way down my blazer as my fingers clasped closed the top two buttons. My hands crept toward my neck making sure the tie was not crooked, and lastly they tugged at my cuffs for any unnecessary creases. My feet, as if trained by a wraith, stealthily tip-toed around the table where my wine glass was in place ready to accept my every command. The chair creaked in anger as I sat down, gouging into the wood floor with fervent resistance as I pulled it closer to the table.

“Ah, at last. We are alone,” I whispered. “I have waited so long for you. It was an exhausting search, one that threatened to test the very fabric of my patience, but I have at last found you. If only I had thought to look at the closer stores. The owner thought he could hide you from me, my love, but I… I persuaded him to reveal your location to me. And in that instant I knew we were meant to be. It was, as they say, destiny.”

My hand caressed the bottle’s smooth glass inching closer to the label. My fingertips slid gently across the label cataloguing every bump and roughened area, comparing it to past bottles that had shared this table with me. With each area I passed, my neurons sent luscious jolts of nostalgia up my arms and into my spine where my body surrendered to the quiver.

Alas, without proper notice, the air around us began to shudder as if shards of ice were about to precipitate. The hairs on my neck tugged at my flesh. My ears picked up the maladroit footsteps of some intruder, a thief looking to steal my treasure.

“Again…?! This needs to end! Alex! Every damn night,” she shrieked. My lips immediately warped into a smirk as I tried to hide a chuckle.

“Why?” I whispered.

“Why…? Did you forget: we have two kids who depend on us and I alone can’t support this family.” I looked up at her with the wine glass in my hand.

As my wrist floated, it made the glass gyrate creating a gentle swirl which released a pleasant aroma that saturated my nose. The wine approached my lips and they opened in eager anticipation. Upon contact with my lips, the wine sent every one of my neurons into blissful overload. Tingling erupted from my jaw and sent a cascade of pleasure throughout my body as I swallowed a deluge of wine. As the last beads of wine sank into my gastric crypt, my lungs exhaled and rejoiced in an audible sigh. I returned to glare at the cutpurse that now had a scowl on her face.

“This…” I pointed to my glass as I cleared my throat, “is harmless. Besides, why would I stop? I love this. It would be to deny the very feelings that make me human. Every time I indulge, it is like discovering hidden treasure, mounds of gold, loot – booty.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?!” she retorted sharply.

“Must I truly spell it out for you? I dare not say it aloud for the children might be eavesdropping.”

“I work two jobs now because of your harmless habit.”

“Custom,” I interrupted. “Habit makes it sound insipid and tawdry.” Her eyes – once a beautiful shade of amber – slowly transformed into tiny, bituminous pieces of coal.

“I barely have the energy to tuck the kids into bed at night, not to mention attend to your desires. You’ve been slowly bleeding dry our savings and soon… we’ll have nothing left. Alex, you have to think about the kids. On some days, Allie and Brian go to school without lunch money!”

“I do consider our children, my dear. They have been gaining a bit of unhealthy weight, haven’t they? A missed meal would do them well.” The words tumbled out of my mouth and struck the chord of disdain within the cutpurse. My eyes gravitated towards her eyes and an icy paralysis spread throughout me. Her gelatin masses threatened to escape their sockets, beads of sweat leaped from her face while her skin began to roil. Her metamorphosis was accompanied by unnatural muscle growth and commensurate vasculature. Any semblance of a thief was now gone. What stood before me was a primeval fiend that seethed with rage. Fear slithered from the farthest depths of my gut, permeating every cell of my existence and I, as the air before me, began to quiver as if about to precipitate.

“You PIG!” The sound to tendons and sinews rippled through the now-palpable air as the beast’s legs primed to pounce. Her words had only arrived at my ears when I noticed her claws grow longer with each exaggerated moment. I thought I had time to shield myself but the savage claws were upon me faster than I anticipated. Rage slashed and clawed at my face. The force of the claws made the chair sunder, scornfully delivering splinters into my underside; the chair’s final act of defiance.

The fiend insisted on wasting no time continuing her assault. I had no response to her mounting my chest and releasing a fusillade of punches and scratches. My arms were pinned under the mass of her body unable to protect my face. It was at that point that I knew the beast had to be stopped.

My lungs propelled a roar of anger throughout the house as I drove my chest into her and tossed her aside. I scrambled to pick myself up taking notice of the numbness that had begun to radiate across my face. Without delay, I pushed my wife away with all the force I could muster. A mixture of surprise and fear tore my eyes open allowing them to frantically search the battleground.

“What are you doing, Claire?” I screamed. Claire’s feral screech drowned out my query and she lunged at me again. This time I had prepared myself for the second attack, responding by twisting my upper body and curling my hand into a fist. My muscles propelled the clenched fist to intercept Claire’s face, the impact – a resounding crunch. Her body was hurled back stumbling to regain balance.

Like a geyser, my rage swelled and erupted in an uncontrollable torrent. My feet gripped the ground pushing me closer to Claire. I leapt onto her confused form and wrestled her to wood floor. I firmly positioned my body over her chest, pinning her to the floor while the palms and fingers of my hands coiled themselves around her throat.

“Look at what your selfishness has wrought! All I wanted was to be alone but you couldn’t show restraint. Do you realize how petty your concerns are? You will not separate us!” All the muscles in my body tensed. All the muscles of my hands and arms began to fill with fury instigating them to grip tighter around Claire’s throat. She began to writhe and squirm in pain as she struggled, in vain, to gasp for air. Slowly, Claire’s face began to take on a blue hue; her eyes began to bulge out her head as if to create new passages for air. A small growl sequestered from my mouth as Claire steadily ceased her struggle. Her eyes darted from left to right looking for salvation and then… they met my eyes. My body locked like one caught in a hypnotic trance. I suddenly became overwhelmed with icy fear looking down at the dying fiend I called my wife. The events that had transpired that evening began to flicker before my eyes.

“No.” I whispered. “For wine? No… I can’t do this. It is only wine.” My hands heard the pleas of my mind and gently released their grip. The blue color began to fade and Claire finally drew in a breath of air.

“I… I don’t know… what happened, I lost control. I’m… so sorry.” Tears flooded my eyes and my body succumbed to hysteria. I slowly began to stand and Claire scurried towards the table. I extended my hand in an effort to console her but she whimpered and recoiled further away.

I turned to face the cursed bottle of wine on the table but it had vanished. Footsteps drew nearer calling my attention to my right side. My vision remained blurred as I caught a glimpse of a tiny person wielding the wine bottle – a little leaguer prepared to hit a home run. My hands raced towards my face but were beaten by a bone-shattering crash.




I opened my eyes to a pale white ceiling and rhythmic beeping. Confusion had soaked itself deep into my mind trying to find a reasonable explanation as to my current predicament. I frantically sat up looking around hoping to see my family but was greeted by a gang of machines and strange tubes sticking out of my body. A discontented groan escaped my mouth. The clatter of footsteps could be heard beyond the door and one set seemed to scrape ever closer. Without warning, a disheveled male nurse staggered into my opalescent room with a tray of what appeared to be food.

“Mornin’, Alex. It’s good to see you awake.”

“How long have I been here?”

“About 5 days. You’re really lucky you have a thick skull, otherwise you might have never woken up,” the male nurse said in an exaggerated chuckle. “The doctor told me that you need to be put on a strict diet…”

“Diet?! What diet?”

“The doctor felt that you had a bit of extra weight, which might lead to complications during surgery, so your rations have been…”

“Shut up! You’re giving me a headache. Just hand it over and leave me in peace.”

“Oh, I almost forgot.” The nurse lurched over to the far end of the room where a slender, beige box sat atop a window sill. He grabbed it and lobbed it into my lap. “That was left here by one rather unsavory woman. She insisted that I overdose you on that morphine you’re hooked up to. When I told her I couldn’t, she came back a few hours later with this. Said it was ‘the perfect gift’ for you.”

As the nurse turned, I extended my hand and barked: “Wait! What complications arose during my surgery?” But it was too late. The nurse had hobbled out of the room leaving me to gaze upon the gift.

I lifted the top open to reach inside. My fingertips felt a cylindrical glass shape with a label bearing all the ridges of familiarity. Electrical impulses seized my brain slowly revealing to me the horrors that left me in the hospital bed. Nausea coated my stomach, coaxing me to wretch, and my skin began to crawl with an icy sting. I extracted the bottle from the box and I saw a bloody grooved dent in the bottle. The cork rested firmly in the neck hiding the now-spoiled liquid inside. Even as I held this once great joy in my hands, I could not muster a smile. The joy I once had was now gone, trapped inside the glass prison. A tear escaped my eye tenderly placing itself on the label of the bottle. I remembered everything. I remembered the rage that boiled inside, the gluttony, the exhilaration I felt every time I sipped from a wine glass, the searing pain of feral claws. I remembered all the money I spent, all the meals that my children missed, all the distress my wife felt when she begged me to stop. Before I could break out into an uncontrollable hysteria, the palms and fingers of my hands coiled around the neck of the bottle.

“We are alone.”


What does an apology truly mean?

It may not sound like a profound question but I believe it is worth taking a few moments to consider. Far too often I hear people utter words that should, in theory, let others know one has acknowledged some transgression or misconduct, that one has felt some degree of remorse, and that one would wish to make amends. I’m not going to focus on apologies made by governments as a result of war crimes, atrocities, and other injustices because those apologies encompass a whole different beast. In fact, I may be quite generic in my “analysis.” My focus here will be to address what I feel apologies have become, what I think they should be, and hopefully, by the end of this, you will question what you accept as an apology.

“I’m sorry.”

“I apologize.”

“I didn’t mean it.”

“My bad.”

“My fault.”

Continue reading “Apologies”