Thursday, December 08, 2005

Me MeMe Me Meme Me On Time

Got this from a beautiful bloom in disguise as a green sticker plant, commonly known as an Artichoke Heart via where ever you are as You Are Here and with Twice the Rice thinking of Decembers past and yesterdays which is where it was all first served up in Blogville. I was inspired to it by A.D. Thomas, another Quick Delete McPete, so watch him, more good poems killed there than at the corner bar -- I hope that means we'll see them in print soon. And to T. Ballard for giving me the idea to extend this timeline, seeing as how I'm older than the internet but still not as old as Ron -- haha. ~ LDC

30 Years Ago - I am 21 years old and have been living on my own since I was 17. I am almost 3 years into a relationship & marriage which is magical. There's nothing like going to sleep and waking up with someone you want to be with more than anyone else on earth, and holding that person and having him/her hold you back as if they're thinking the same thing. Blissful. That's how I think of it. For all it's clumsiness. At 19 I had an instant family when his father died and we took in his little sister as our own child. I'm organizing readings for the Centro Cultural de la Gente. My brother plays music for Teatro Campesino & Daniel Valdez. He plays music for the Teatro de la Gente. I'm no longer acting with Teatro Conciente with whom I had traveled to Mexico (my first time) from San José City College, as it was called then. I've been reading with my mentors, Tony (José Antonio) Burciaga and Bernice Zamora a lot, both of whom are holding regular tertulias at their houses which I think of as "Salons" in the French sense. Beginning that December I will embark on a reading schedule that will have me read 320 times out of 360 days as I am sometimes giving 2 or 3 readings a day. I still catch the sunset every night and remember to bid the sun goodnight. I can still whistle the second movement of Mozart's Concerto in D Major which is like my signature piece, it's so light and optimistic: idealistic. Hubby & I go to demos. My idol is José Montoya. I hang out with Merritt Clifton who offers to teach me everything he knows (about publishing & do-it-yourself-printing). I have 2 gurus: Virginia De Araujo whose workshop, London Meadow I started attended in the Santa Cruz Mountains at 18, soon out of high school after an acting friend from hs told me about it but warned me, "They don't take any No-Talent-Bums." I would ride that death-trip every thursday night over the winding fast hiway 17 and that hairpin cut-off turn off the exit -- Do it right or die. I would think of her as at least 6 foot tall. AT LEAST. I saw her hauling trees off the road, chopping half a wood-shed full of wood in a day. I thought of her as brilliant and strong. She was. I love her. And, she scares me to death. A creative writing instructor at Stanford at the time; and I am the youngest member of the workshop and live in secret fear for years that I am a "NTB." Every week someone in the workshop cries, and, it's not over content. My other Guru is just called that: My Guru. He has no other name. I first hear him at the Foothill Writer's Conference and I feel such an overwhelming affinity for his work that I leave the reading in the middle of it (something I have only done that once) and go into the bathroom and write "Poema para los Californios Muertos," which seems like a break-through for me. When I go back to the reading he, Robert Hass, is reading a line about seeing birds rise from the Palo Alto marshland. I write his name down & the fact that he teaches at San Jose State. I had already tried to sit in on a class there with Harold Norris who was SO by the book that he threw me out of class, me knowing it would never have happened if I were a boy. Bob just took roll the first class, looked at me, the only colored girl in the class sitting in the front right hand row, and when I didn't respond, he just shrugged his shoulders, asked me my name, and wrote it down on his roll sheet. I go back to class every tuesday night for 5 years. I think by 1975 I have given in and enrolled in the university. I am a New College major, (I was an english major, then linguistics, then liberal arts.) I design my own courses: Latin American literature, history of independent publishing in America, a poetry manuscript, Chicano art (muralismo). I work with a guy called Hank Heifetz (I think.) He is an interesting poet (very NY) and a good person to work with at this time. I finish writing Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway in Naomi Clark's class. I drop out, I think we both drop out, my husband and I, (he's an economics major, my opposite complement). I go to work in a CB radio factory where he has been working as a Quality Control inspector. My job is clipping leads all day, the little silver wires that stick out of the components after they are soldered. My hands hurt at the end of the day. I sit in a group with 6 women. All of the women are Chicana, although some deny it. They all hate me. I'm overly political and have a weird vocabulary. I spend my lunches alone at my table eating macrobiotic stuff I bring and reading Camus, Simone d B & Sartre's No Exit, just for the irony. One day they are all discussing moving to Canada if (?) (Nixon?) (Reagan?) is not elected. "Oh, wait!" Says one. "Isn't Canada a state?" They go around the room and no one knows. Finally they decide that is. No one asks me. I always try to be nice. I go home every night, open the door to my house, and cry. I cry for a long time. My husband understands. I think this isn't why they hate me. We have big charts on the wall, colored production graphs marking our errors (unclipped solder bridges, etc.) My charts, week after week, never have any color on them. There is no graph as I never make any mistakes. I am promoted quickly to resister stuffer. (I think of this ironically) I still don't have any colored marks on my chart. I'm quick and I never miss a pattern. I overhear the boss tell visitors over my head that the reason he likes Mexican girls is that they have little hands. I am promoted to hand solderer, checking the boards for errors or bad solder connections. I think to tell the women at my table one day that the reason I never make mistakes is that I have been doing Indian beadwork every day since I was a child. It breaks some kind of ice. One day I stop one of the engineer lackeys bringing me the boards. "This is wrong." I say. "This used to be brown-yellow-brown-red with the brown thingy (capacitor) going this way. Now it's brown-red-yellow-brown on this side with the brown thingy upside down now." He takes the board back and comes by later and says. "It's not wrong. It's right." I insist. "It used to be this way; The QR820z, right?" (or, sumthin) He goes away and comes back later with blue prints, or something. "Look," he says, "That's the way it goes, the QR820z." "That's not the way it used to be." "Are you sure?" "I'm positive." He goes away again, and comes back with the head engineer, the guy who designed the whole thing. He's red with pissedness. He's furious that he has to stoop to being called into the "girls room" to talk to this skinny hippy brown girl who is so clearly below him. He never meets my eyes, just looks around the room contemptuously and asks, "What's the problem? I heard there was a problem with the QR820z'." He looks exactly like you would think an early Silicon Valley nerd to look like, light blue striped engineer shirt, even a calculator in his pocket, glasses. Too bad. The kind of smart guy I could have fallen for; the other, I flirt with, mildly. I like the way he smiles and blushes. I try to make smart jokes. This guy's a racist jerk. And, wrong. And PISSED! I find out later that the whole company has been in a tizzy for months because something is wrong with the new base stations, the ones my husband QAs for and is receiving a lot of irate phone calls over as it is the up-coming holidays and CB radios are the national craze. My husband and I are not allowed to see or talk to one another at work; it's part of my hiring agreement. No one knows we are married. At home we never talk about work as per his/our choice. At *home* it's politics, music and poetry. He plays the banjo, and I cry. I remember that my supervisor keeps a bucket of discarded boards for extracting the gold tabbed components at her desk-- she sells them to a jeweler in her family who melts them down. Soon the other women at the table are saving their gold clippings. He unrolls the blueprint and in a loud slow voice reserved for the deaf and dumb proceeds to trace the comparisons on the page to show me they are the same. I fish an old broken QR820z from the bottom of the bucket and show it to him. "It's the QR820z." I don't say "thingy" but miraculously remember the names of the components. I show him the old board. They are not the same. He turns, immediately, bright red. Then he turns away from me without a word. That night, my husband and I talk about work. "What did you say to him?!" "I just showed him the old part. It used to be the other way." We think the engineer was told he was my husband as I think he hates my husband after that, too. But, it could be my hubby's waist-length hair. The BIG BOSS calls me into his office one morning. I think I'm getting a big Christmas bonus since, after all, I have just saved the company $2 million dollars and who knows what in saved reputation as now the new bay stations work & J, my hubby, is busy shipping new ones to replace the old. (The head engineer had made a stupid mistake in the new blueprints (or whatever) for the new design.) But, NO. He offered me a job as lead supervisor of my own division, and immediately transferred me to learn a new huge automated soldering system to which I was to train others to handle. It involved working over an open vat of solder which was unventilated and gave me solder burns on my hands and arms. But I was good at it. It gave me the confidence to think I could learn how to run a press. I had been promoted from lead-clipper to Lead Supervisor in less than 6 weeks. The "girls" started hating me again. Immediately after I had reported the error in the boards to the head engineer a new policy came down that no one was to hoard gold from boards, from now on all gold clippings and components were to be counted at the end of the day. I still cried every day after work. I decided it had to mean something more than making the bills. I decided to save up to buy my own press. Soon after that I quit. And bought the press. "R2D2." RIP

20 Years Ago -

More soon. As if you thought this was going to be short!


Blogger A. D. said...

i'm engrossed, can't wait for the rest.

thanks for the too-kind characterization. ;-)

9/12/05 08:00  

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