Godspeed, Thin White Duke

But Bowie was…something to aspire to. You could be a fan of specific types of Bowie: Berlin-era, Ziggy, Thin White Duke (my personal fav) and you’re still looking at deep catalogs with each one.

It was 1999 and I was a senior in high school. Like most high school students I was preoccupied with bullshit, but unlike most high school students it wasn’t my whole world. On weekends I was at UIL competitions that mainly consisted of hours of waiting and about half an hour of actual writing–it was basically a journalism competition. Yeah, I was one of those dudes that the ladies were just lining up for. I’d have to call my mom on a payphone an hour before we finished so she could pick me up.

One week I called and my mom said, “your dad’s gonna get you. He’s in San Antonio right now but he should be there when you get out.” It was weird because my dad NEVER picked me up from school, but whatever. We got to campus and I waited outside with some friends–I was probably awkwardly flirting with someone (or imagining I was) when all of a sudden a brand new, black corvette Tokyo-drifted its way into the parking lot. As it careened closer the sounds of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” blasted through the air–the car pulled up I saw that it was my dad. “You gonna get in?” I jumped in the car and my dad tore ass out of the parking lot, leaving burnout tracks in a sign of not giving a fuck. It was probably the coolest I ever looked in high school.

The reason I bring up that memory is because it’s the strongest association I have with David Bowie. The thing is, my dad’s music tastes were mostly AOR with a heavy dose of the Eagles and some Yacht Rock rolled in (I think that’s where my love of pre-Cetera Chicago comes from). But for some reason, my dad also loved him some Bowie. He always had his 4 disc greatest hits album on regular rotation in said corvette’s CD changer. I grew to like Bowie more and more, particularly when I got into Nine Inch Nails and saw the work he did with Trent Reznor.

If you don’t like this song you’re an asshole

I admit to being a bit of an anglophile: many of my favorite bands, from The Smiths to Radiohead and The Cure, are British. But Bowie was…something to aspire to. You could be a fan of specific types of Bowie: Berlin-era, Ziggy, Thin White Duke (my personal fav) and you’re still looking at deep catalogs with each one.

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I always admire people who could inhabit so many different identities and Bowie was a master at that kind of shapeshifting. Maybe I, being a short, dumpy brown dude, saw him as that kind of effortlessly cool artist who could simultaneously blend in and stand out in any era. As a musician, there’s much to respect about him: from his work producing for people like Iggy Pop and Lou Reed to the producers he worked with like Tony Visconti and Brian Eno, he always seemed to surround himself with brilliant musicians. I once read an interview where he described himself as a “tasty thief”and I’ve always like that idea–of picking apart those things that influenced you and unapologetically making them your own. I mean his vocal style was undoubtedly due to Anthony Newley, and he even admitted it:

I respected and really liked Lemmy–dude was the baddest of asses. But this one hits hard: Bowie never quite seemed human and that’s what made him awesome. He was ethereal and otherworldly and he’s finally phased himself out of this realm. At the very least I’ll have that memory of when, for one small moment, David Bowie helped make me feel like the coolest dude on the planet.

In Defense of Jack White

I'd be pissed too

I’ll admit that I’m kinda late to the White Stripes/Jack White/Jack-Whites-Various-And-Sundry-Projects game. I never really listened to the White Stripes too much before, not because I didn’t like them, but because it never really caught me in that way. But I respect him as a musician: that abrasive, garage, cheap guitar sound is fun as hell for one. He also seems to have a knack for pushing other bands and formats (his recent experiments with and push for vinyl are amazing). But recently, he’s taken some slack for an article that OU-Daily wrote up about his tour contract, rider, etc. 

Now, I wonder what the purpose of this article is? Was it a slow news day? Were they lacking for content? It seems to me that when a newspaper, any newspaper, writes up an article that breaks down the cost of certain events that there’s an implication that the cost warrants some investigation. It’s suspect at best, insipid at worst. And once the media got ahold of it, all hell broke loose. The paper defended itself, citing FOI and a need to hole “public figures accountable”.

Here’s the thing, OU Daily: I’m calling bullshit. When your headline is “‘We want it chunky’ and other gems from Jack White’s contract with OU'” you’re playing the clickbait game. You found specific details, fucking REASONABLE ONES at that, and saw a bright, high-traffic light to push you into the blogosphere.

“As for harm, no harm was done to White unless you count his ego. But it’s important to understand that we didn’t publish that information to embarrass White. We published the information because students need to know how their money is being spent — even if it’s being spent on homemade guacamole and aged salami with a sharp knife.”

And yet you devoted a whole article to his demands. Is this responsible journalism? Do you really think that we’re buying that? You can’t purport to hold a public figure accountable while jumping on the opportunity to say “hey! LOOK AT THIS GUY! HIS FRESH GUAC IS CRAY!”  There’ve been recent examples of people jumping on the “ethics in journalism” bandwagon, and your argument is just as specious.

But even stereogum pointed out that this is COMPLETELY mild compared to other tour riders. White is understandably pissed because he caught on to your game. Look at the Van Halen example–one of the basic reasons for tour riders is to be able check if the venue is adhering to the little details the artist needs in order to keep a show running smoothly. In Van Halen’s case, they had the infamous “sorted M&M’s” clause that Diamond Dave explained was a way too see if promoters were paying attention: see, they had a highly technical (and sometimes dangerous) lighting setup that could potentially hurt someone if directions weren’t followed. If a venue was paying close enough attention to the rider so as to sort the M&M’s, then VH’s camp knew they would be just as thorough with the other details. We’ve seen what happens when things go awry…

So $80,000 and guac. That’s what this is about. Meanwhile, your football team is worth how much?

Yeah, Jack’s the asshole here.

Returning to the music

TMUReunion

Those sounds, those strings, those vibrations you return to. I’d forgotten the feel of the process: the amps pumping large volumes of air, the frustration of not getting a part right during rehearsal, the late nights of “what if we did this on that part…”.

Listening back, those memories flood. I can barely remember the writing process, but I remember the ashtrays on the amps, the beers spilled on the carpet, the “wait…play that again…”. Revisiting those songs that you were a part of, that you helped create, that you drove 18 hours to master. A greyhound named “Pineapple” sitting at the mixing board, coffee mugs and the sweetest dude abusing a mixer in order to please a couple of assholes. The band that you kinda knew being the fucking coolest dudes to ever force you to jump into the Chattahoochee, drink several 40’s and not remember what you did the following day.

What I remember the most was the friends I made: my best friend from high school and I always wanted to start a band for YEARS but never did, for whatever reason. When we finally did, I met several other dudes who would change my life forever. Another guitarist whose songwriting and obsession with high-end gear matched my own.

Late nights post practice: two guitarists chain smoking in a living room. Listening to multiple albums. No words, just the sound of a lighter every now and then, punctuated with the crack of a beer opening. Realizing that you could sit in another room with this dude and not say shit and be totally comfortable just fucking listening. Weekend barbecues with the compound crew: fajitas, pool parties, and the den of sin. Beautiful friends and beautiful music.

Driving in a suburban with 5 other greasy motherfuckers. Playing in La Porte, Austin, bumfuck outside of San Antonio at 1 in the morning and being offered payment in illegal substances. The rollies. “Lil Ricky”. Getting shocked during a lightning storm. Playing the best show of my life in front of literally 6 fans. TMU superfan ironically being in the restroom when we played a dedicated song to them.

Playing local shows. Hurry up and wait. Trunks/tailgates open while we hang out in the parking lot of what was essentially a former elementary school. Playing a shitty show. Friends with other local bands. See little 14 year-old dudes looking up at you in awe. Another guitarist in another band telling you that you’re his favorite guitarist. Thinking that, despite the fact that your home life has been fucked for various reasons, you’re doing something that you love. You’ve made the music that you always wanted to. With your friends. Your brothers. And no one can ever take that from you.

My life is very different now. One of the hardest decisions of my life was deciding to leave the band and friends that I’d adored so much in order to do this grad school shit. Having to tell two of my best friends that this wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do in life was fucking tough. Do I regret it? Sometimes. I love what I do, don’t get me wrong. So much of who I am right now is due to what Purdue and its people have afforded me. And I do love it a lot.

But when I listen back, I think of all of those beautiful things. The “can I bum a smoke”‘s.The “put your shoes back on you filthy fucking bastard!”‘s. The double checking the trailer to make sure nothing falls out. The yelling at Mando or Jesse or RC (in my case, because I was an ornery bastard). All of those things came at a time where it felt like my life was falling apart–and yet out of that time came music that I can honestly say that I’m 100% proud of.

When I listen back, I smile. Because I was there and it was beautiful. And if you get a chance, check out my old band They Mean Us and my buddy Micajah’s project Castlinaire. I’d really appreciate it.

When things went “boink”

(This is a repost of something I wrote a couple of years ago. It still holds true.

Much love, adoration, and respect to Bill Watterson)

 

So…

 

When I was very little, my family wasn’t what you would call “independently wealthy”. We had what we needed, but very often entertainment was more in the “make your own fun” vein. For the first five years of my life, I was an only child. I have vague memories of that time, but what I do remember was awesome: standing up in the back seat of a monstrously large car (that my parents lovingly called “the battleship”), the faux wood trimming of the apartment complex we lived in known as the “Wood River Apartments”, and various other hazy memories of being a little boy. A week before my fifth birthday, a little, brown-haired alien entered this world claiming to be my “little sister”. All I can vividly remember from that time is the “doctor’s outfit” [read:scrubs] that the hospital gave me before letting me into the emergency room to see said extra terrestrial. Because of those scrubs, I thought that automatically meant that I was going to grow up to be a doctor. (Which, technically, is going to be true, but that’s beside the point).

 

But, when we were older, my mom would take me and my sister to the library once a month to check out books. I don’t have any memories of the books that my sister checked out, but I remember the literary arc that I went through…

 

From a very early age, I watched my dad’s reading habits, specifically on Sundays. They laid out as follows: Sunday morning, head to the kitchen, wait for breakfast, read the front page, then the sports, and finally, the comics. As I got older and began to read on my own, my dad and I worked out a system: I’d read the front page headlines while he read the sports and local news section, then we’d switch and he’d read the comics, with me handing him the financial section and grabbing said comics. It doesn’t sound like it makes sense right now, but it was something we perfected all the way until I was in my 20’s. The important thing to note here is that dad took the comics first. However, we quickly realized that we had a common sense of humor–the one panel comics of Gary Larson were the gateway. There was something very sharp about the one panel format that I still can’t put my finger on. As a kid, however, I thought all of Garfield’s exploits were hilarious. I mean, seriously, THE CAT CAN’T GET ENOUGH LASAGNA! CLASSIC…

 

But growing up around my mom and sister, and going to the library regularly, I noticed a familiar, smart-assed boy kept creeping into my (and, admittedly, my dad’s) life…

 

…Calvin.

 

He was the brilliantly eloquent 9 year-old I knew I could never be. Nor did I want to be him–in all honestly, his exploits reflected my sisters’ more accurately. Yet, I identified with him: I recognized that he could call bullshit, EVEN IN ADULTS! That was a revelation. And no other revelation was more concrete (for me) than this strip:

http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1987/12/06#.U85oWIBdURs

From my earliest memories, I recall thinking that, before me, life didn’t exist.

 

Seriously.

 

I had a whole system worked out: if I told you my theory and you said, “but I remember being alive,” I would’ve claimed that your memories were implanted just to supplement my existence.

 

I’m. Not. Joking. I actually thought this (say what you will about what it means to me and my ego). Which brings me to where I am in my life presently: I think this is why I do what I do. There is a glaring conceit that I can’t let go of, but that I’m willing to admit to. All I know is that I wish I had a counterpart by the name of “Hobbes” that I could bounce ideas off of. That I had a huge forest to run and play and go barreling down in a red wagon with my compatriot.

All that, to say this: you could do worse than to let your children live, breathe, eat, and drink Calvin and Hobbes. Had I not read those comic strips, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing–neither would I be able to articulate what it is that interests me.

 

I also would never have memorized the phrase “I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul”…

 

Because, even if my childhood was still different, I still picture it in terms of a lot of improvised rules and mad chases. Because we all want a forest in our backyard where we can be reckless. Because, even if our “sidekicks” are often uncooperative (or biological, in my case), they’ll still follow us to oblivion…

Let's go exploring
Let’s go exploring

The Hats of my Grandfathers

I am not a hat man

I’m not a cap man

I’m not a beanie man

I’m not a doo-rag man

I’ve never liked the idea of shit resting on my head

In that way, I’m very different from my grandfathers

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Are YOU gonna fuck with this guy?

What I remember of my grandpa Paulo, was a kinda strict, skinny, smartass. I remember one time me and my uncle Pepito (my mom’s little brother) were just hanging out at my grandmas house when suddenly my grandpa (my dad’s dad) pulled up in a white pickup and this large, fuck-all doberman hopped the tailgate, hopped my grandma’s chainlink fence while me and Pete (read: Pepito) ran our asses inside. I was too young to remember seeing him at a job but I was told he worked at the animal shelter for a while (thus the appearance of Bubby the doberman). I do remember how my family interacted with him though, particularly my dad and uncles. They all respected my grandfather: my dad would do this thing where he would grab my grandpa’s hand and press it to his forehead. My mom said that it was a sign of respect, but my only interactions with him were when he would (jokingly) call me an “ugly kid” which, to my sensitive ears, pissed me off. But when I needed an extra 15 cents or so, grandpa Paulo was always there to say “que huerco tan féo!” before giving me more than enough change to get what I wanted.

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You fuckin with him too?!

My grandpa Pepe was an interesting man. When I was a kid (and my sis was a baby) we (me, Ana, my mom and Pepito) went to visit him. I must’ve been around 8, Pepito 9. It was the first time I’d been to “showbiz pizza”, which I would figure out later was the equivalent to “Chuck-E-Cheese”. It was a fun time, spent visiting multiple family members, seeing my sister riding a motorcycle with my grandpa, among other memories. I would make another trip out there around the age of 14 by myself and hangout a lot. He had a basement with a pool table and a big stereo system–many nights we’d be down there playing pool with various family members and friends, tejano music blaring. Unfortunately because of work and my grandpa’s legal troubles, the next time I saw my grandpa Pepe was when I was in about 23. My mom and I planned on surprising him at the Villarreal family reunion and to her credit, she didn’t tell anyone. So when I popped up behind a car I walked up to him and grabbed his hand. He looked at me confused until I said, “hey grandpa.” My mom said it was one of the only times she ever saw him cry. The sad part was that he didn’t recognize me because I’d gained so much weight, and had grown my hair really long. After that though, he grabbed me and called me “mijito (my little boy)” over and over. The next few hours consisted of him telling me stories of all the fucked up shit he used to do. We were in the middle of a family reunion and my grandpa, who hadn’t seen me in around 13 years, made me feel like a fucking rock star. I sat with him that day, that week, and just talked, drank, and smoked cigarettes with him.

From what my own father tells me, my grandpa Paulo (paternal grandfather) was a hardass. They (my grandma, dad, aunt’s and uncles) were migrant workers and were expected to be the first in the field and the last to leave. I won’t go into detail there. My maternal grandfather had his own stubbornness too: his daughter left the midwest, met a random curly-haired dude in South Texas, and so on…

Both of my grandfathers are gone now, my grandpa Pepe having passed away from lung cancer this past December and my grandpa Paulo more than a decade earlier. But I still picture them both as very similar people: Pepe as more of a “pachuco/gangster” kinda guy, and Paulo as a streetwise, tough-as-nails kind of bro. No matter what, they both commanded respect and got it. I’ve been thinking a lot about my lineage lately: about how much of who I am is influenced by those before me. About how all of those colorful characters can shape who you become as an adult. The stereotype is that with Mexican and Mexican-American families there’s a lot of machismo with the men, and perhaps there was a little bit of that in ours. But I really don’t think there was a lot of it, and if there was I must’ve been largely shielded from it. What I do know is that these two patriarchs had their own distinct style: they liked to look good, but in very different ways. It’s the kind of thing that you rarely see anymore and that I could only hope to imitate (and never pull off).

They were strong men in a very old school way, in a way that doesn’t really exist anymore. I see aspects of my personality in them: my tendency towards sarcasm is a distinctly Reynoso trait, while my propensity to use colorful language and appear constantly disgruntled is very Villarreal. What tied them together though was a love of cowboy hats. Hats that commanded respect. Hats that said, “when I take this off, it’s your ass!”

I will never be worthy of such hats.

On today’s events

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My undergrad alma mater, University of Texas Pan American, is a decent sized commuter school in South Texas. The largely hispanic student body hails from the surrounding Rio Grande Valley and largely tends to stay there. When people would talk about violence at schools it always felt abstracted, as if that didn’t really happen in South Texas. Sure there was crime and everything, but most of what we knew of school violence came from far away-schools with names like “Columbine” or later “Virginia Tech”. These things happened in bigger cities. I graduated, worked, then eventually came here to Purdue to pursue a Masters, then a PhD.

But today that abstraction became all too real. I found myself amidst a scenario that no person, much less a young student, should ever have to be in. My officemates were quick to begin herding undergraduates into classrooms and ordering them to stay put, even as our own instructions during the incident were far from clear. We weren’t panicked, for the most part. We all called and texted our families and friends and kept up to date with information through social media and news sites. It wasn’t until hours after we’d received an “all clear” that we were notified that classes were officially cancelled, and even then I stayed behind and talked to the handful of students who hadn’t gotten word of the cancellation. I shook my head as one of my students told me the name of the victim long before news outlets had reported it.

And then I looked at my students: mostly juniors and seniors themselves, similar in age to both the victim and the shooter. They’re so YOUNG–they’re babies. Not too long ago, schools made them raise their hands when they wanted to go to the restroom. Now we’re not only asking them to decide what they want to do with their whole lives by the time they’re in their early 20’s, we’re asking them to do so in an environment where things like this happen all too frequently. I think of where I was at that age: young, very immature, unsure as to what I was going to do with my life. I would hate to have dealt with watching my instructor get gunned down in front of me at ANY age, much less in my 20’s. And then I think of the countless faculty, adjuncts, teaching assistants, and graduate students who have to live and work in this environment. I’m not here to get into the politics of the situation–there’s a time and a place for that and it is NOT here and now. All we know is that two lives were destroyed and countless others horribly affected by what happened today. As one of my good friends said today, “I told my students their homework was to call their parents.” I would suggest you do your homework too.

We are all cheapened by this.

On Sports Snobbery

If you don’t think this is fucking amazing you’re being willfully obtuse

Hi, my name is Ricky and I come to you today to speak about a serious topic: Sports.

Now I’m not going to talk about how great being a fan of sports is. I’m not even here to talk about the “intricacies” or “beauty” inherent in particular sports. I’m here to talk about anti-sports people. You know the type: they roll their eyes any time anyone in ear shot mentions a particular sports team or rail on whatever social media site about how unimportant sports are and how hard it is for them to care.

Can it already.

Being condescending about sports doesn’t make you special. It doesn’t make you particularly interesting either (which is not to say loving sports makes you interesting, by the way). Here’s what you’re doing–you’re bemoaning sports, not because it annoys you, nor because it inconveniences you in any way. You’re doing it because you want people to know you don’t like sports as a way to build cultural ethos. It’s an “I don’t bother with sports because it’s a waste of time,” kinda thing. The implication is that a) you are the arbiter of social activity and b) your social events are never, in any way shape or form, a waste of time. You’re like one of those insufferable atheists who feel the need to insult anyone who has a modicum of belief in whatever deity they choose. In other words, you’re being an asshole.

I mean I could give a damn about Downton Abbey, yet my Facebook feed is inundated with “which Downton Abbey character are you” quizzes and references to plot points. Hell, I’ve gone on at length about how terrible Mumford and Sons are as a band and how they have absolutely no redeemable qualities and how you should really be listening to Frightened Rabbit instead.

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Oh you wear a trucker hat AND play the banjo? How delightful.

But, here’s the thing *motions you over*:

I KNOW it’s all fucking subjective. I know that my music tastes are very different. I know that some people really like certain bands and that’s completely ok. I know that, just because I don’t really watch TV it doesn’t mean that others can’t enjoy it. Sports fans are seen as easy prey by lazy intellectuals and it’s very fucking annoying.

But you know what? Those athletes who do those things with their bodies day in and day out? They’re…get this…REAL FUCKING HUMAN BEINGS! They’re not creations of a writers room. They’re not notes from a guitar. They’re people who beat astronomical odds to get to where they are. They’re essentially pushing their bodies to extremes to do the things they do.

There is actual research on these athletes to better understand human physiology. Are there problems with certain sports? Abso-fuckin-lutely! But that’s the thing–we’re living in this world with those same athletes and most of us are aware of the various problems embedded in sport. That doesn’t make sports bad; it makes it more engaging.

So think about THAT next time you fire up Game of Thrones.

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I actually like Game of Thrones so eat it.

Threes

Revisiting/revising an old post that I can’t find anymore.

(Sung to the tune of Radiohead’s “Creep”)

 

When you were here before

You couldn’t look me in the eye

My shots float like feathers

My threes make you cry

You shoot like a failure

In a pine-floor world

You wish for a technical

It’s no fucking technical

 

Cause that’s a three

That’s a winner

Get that weak shit outta here

That shit don’t belong here

 

I don’t care if it hurts

I’m gonna pick-n-roll

I’m gonna drive my body

I’m gonna have control

I want you to notice

As I rain ‘em down

You wish for a technical

It’s no fucking technical

 

Cause that’s a three

That’s a winner

Get that weak shit outta here

That shit don’t belong here

 

You’re crying for a whistle

Your game is weak so run

run run run

 

Whatever makes the highlights

Whenever I dunk

You’ll wish for a technical

That’s no fucking technical

 

Cause that’s a three

That’s a winner

Get that weak shit outta here

That shit don’t belong here

El clima

hurricane-ivan_200_600x450

My whole life I’ve been a weatherman

All my days spent creating models that predict the future

Warning people about potential disaster

Every moment spent planning and predicting

 

Stock up on water in case of emergency

It’s the most vital thing you need

Batteries, flashlights, radios

Canned food always helps

You never know how long you’ll be without

 

I tell people what to expect

How to prepare

Give them a timeframe

Tips on withstanding the storm

Always planning

Always advising

Always worrying

 

But sometimes I wonder what it’s like

To be the ground that cracks beneath your feet

To be the wind that rushes through your windows

To be the water that breaks the levees

To be the rain that falls upon your face

I’m tired of predicting

I want to let fate carry me where it will

I want the immediacy

The calm before

The flurry of movement

The knowledge that I cannot plan everything

The freedom to just be

 

I want to be the storm now

Maintaining difference is hard: or why I cut my hair

Yes. I was told I looked like this once...
Yes. I was told I looked like this once…

When I was in junior high my hair used to be curly–I’m talking borderline jheri-curl stuff. Now I don’t know why it was that curly seeing as most of my family had wavy hair at best. I’d always get comments about it: from dudes (teasing) and girls (“I wish my hair could curl like that”). I was satisfied with neither perspective since the former was insulting and the latter annoyed the hell out of me. Try being a young curly haired choir boy in South Texas: what you end up with is heat, humidity, and (eventually) frizz. Yeah, I would’ve taken straight hair any day–Wake up, roll out of bed, pour water on my head and face, pat down…BAM. Ready to roll. As a result, throughout high school and most of college I kept my hair short.

Perhaps a bit too short...
Perhaps a bit too short…

Then one year (around 2005) I decided to grow my hair long. My dad and uncles all had long hair back in the day and those photos looked badass. My high school was fairly strict about dress code and hair: I distinctly remember the handbook saying that it couldn’t extend past the “fleshy part of the ear”, and to this day I have no fucking idea what that means. But I was a sophomore/junior in college at this point and in a band, so I figured it was a perfect time to get going. I grew it out and all was…ok. I experimented with it: sometimes my sister would straighten it for me, but if that happened before a show it’d get all wavy again by the time the band got off stage. I kept it that length for about a year or so before I decided to cut it. Years passed, I graduated, got a job, then made the decision to go to grad school.

For the first couple of years, I kept my hair short. At some point, friends of mine saw old pics of me with long hair and commented on how awesome it looked. It was “I wish my hair was curly” all over again. Nevertheless, the seed was planted and after two years in grad school I grew it out again. Curly had long since transformed to wavy, so sometimes it looked good.

REAL good
REAL good

But it was annoying: often it would get in my way when I was running or at the gym, it’d clog the drains in my sink and shower, and all of that shit. What was most bothersome was how it seemed to call attention to me: I was the Mexican dude with long hair. It felt as if there was an ever present fetishization of follicles and it kinda weirded me out. With my friends I tend to be a bit gregarious (some would say cavalier), but when I’m walking or out by myself somewhere my defense mechanism is to blend in. I couldn’t do that with my hair: it accentuated the fact that I was different and that rattled me. I told one of my best friends back home about how people kept pressuring me to keep it long and her response was, “sweetie, they’re white. Of course they think it’s exotic.”  It’s not like this was an ever present thought, but when you’re already different sometimes that’s more than enough.

To be fair, no one forced me to grow my hair out. But peer pressure is a motherfucker at times. So one day I decided that enough was enough, and I chopped it off.

Fuck you. I'm still pretty.
Fuck you. I’m still pretty.