Mom Is

The two of us in the car

Stopped at a red light
On the way home
When her phone rings,
Making the little

Ding-da-da-ding-da-da-di-ding-ding sound.

I say, MOM! You know you can turn the volume off
If you would prefer not to pick up.

She curtly replies:
‘Si pero ni quiero hacer eso mijo.’

(It’s not true. She just forgets where the button is.)

We drive along with the Ding-da-da-ding-da-da-di-ding-ding

The concert of being next to her.

J.T.

A Note on Living With Myself in Los Angeles

Mom's in Los Angeles; Winter 2018
Mom’s in Los Angeles; Winter 2018

Tonight I lie back in the living room after a homemade steak, which was followed by some sweet plantains and a warm bowl of arroz con leche. It’s almost like I treated myself out to dinner, but at home.

Maybe a whole person’s life is about learning to live with themselves. In my twenties, I’m learning to see the world as a place to grow my skills for challenges that are also growing with my age.

The world is aging, too, after all. And while idling by to observe it is its own pleasure, I’m now diving head into the world once again to see just how much more I can uncover.

This isn’t always graceful. In fact, the path to one’s better self is filled with forgotten truisms and hasty correction after one’s mistakes. Sometimes at the end of the day, the only grace to be claimed is the finality of it all no matter what the outcome.

In a city like L.A., few things make this as clear as the sight of a car on the road whose driver is obviously in a panic, dashing from one lane to the next in a desperate effort to get ahead, until finally they cut through a slit that’s just barely tolerable as an opening, though not without nearly losing the life they want to get to and placing another’s in danger.

But the world is rushing by, isn’t it, and we need to get to it, don’t we? Isn’t that what we mean by ceasing the day? Plus, in the current environment of things, just what is patience? As in, how much is legally required?

But of course we can only rush so much before we crash into one another.

To be sure, when a great trial through the world is all said and done, the only parts which we’ll remember are the ones we choose to etch into memory.


Tonight I choose to remember my first homemade steak after another whirlwind of a week. It wasn’t bad at all, and yet I’m only just getting started with my dinner game.

I also choose to remember any other driver out there whose life was ever endangered in the making of these Times. We are in this together, and I’ve got much to learn from you all.

J.T.

Abandoned train tracks line the road in South Los Angeles

Pulling Over

At long last I greet the blog again, and I suppose I feel like something of a stranger considering all of the blank pages between us as of late.

I’ve been on the road, up and down the streets of L.A., darting through the 101 Freeway, and so much more. As I mentioned not so long ago, my time away has been due to a super-secret assignment I got recently, which, at long last, is finally nearing its closing stages.

Now, while I can’t quite yet say just what the assignment was, what I can say is that it’s had yours truly on a vastly different rhythm from what I’m used to. For one, the assignment has had me driving like crazy! And in the process, I’ve left the bus and the rest of L.A.’s public transportation in the dust.

This means a lot to me, since for the majority of my life in The City I’ve ridden the bus far more than I’ve driven my own set of wheels, which has made driving a true adrenaline rush!

At first, sitting in front of the steering wheel felt like something of a mismatch, as if it was something I wasn’t supposed to be doing.

In turn, I got on the road looking inconspicuous, just trying to avoid any trouble by keeping up with the flow of traffic as naturally as possible. I was a timid driver, who just wanted to get to his destination in a calm and delightful manner.

Fast forward a few weeks later, however, and it’s a different picture. While I didn’t become a race track driver, I certainly lost the timid attitude, along with any patience for drivers holding up the damn road!

Of course, I’m exaggerating a little here: I didn’t become a road raging python, but I learned to get on with the show despite the (many) hindrances that threatened to make my commute longer than I felt it needed to be!

From there, I became just that with my city: another L.A. commuter.

But this meant a lot to me. After all, how much could I know about my city if I didn’t know the feeling of swerving through its curves?! And how much could I know about my city if I didn’t know what it’s like to be a part of its massive traffic jams?

Of course, I could always observe the traffic from afar, but to sit at the front-and-center of it is another matter! With this project, I was smack dab in the middle of the jam like everyone else: on a deadline, just rallying against the clock in a wild and hastily formed daze of circles.

Now, finally, there’s some time to pause and reflect again. But unlike our time on the road, I’d like to catch up slow and in a manner that doesn’t put anyone’s life at risk.

Ahem.

With this in mind, please trust that you’ll be seeing a lot more of J.T. again soon! But in the meantime, please enjoy some safe travels! And watch out on the road, since you just might have to get outta my way!

J.T!

LADOT/DASH bus along Florence Avenue in South Los Angeles

Driving VS Riding in L.A.

We drive when we want to dictate things, swerving past one another, dodging death at every turn, trying and trying to get away. When we finally reach our destination, it’s the greatest feeling over the gravel, but we don’t get away from death; we just get away from each other.

Taking the bus, on the other hand, is what we do when we don’t want control; when we’re ready to let deadlines go. We reflect on the bus, and observe the lives of everyone else there, making peace with every parcel of it, somehow, as we flow into the abyss, together.

J.T.