Things that cross my mind while sitting at a table at B&N.

So one of my favorite things to do when I’m alone (read: when Ethan’s at his dad’s and I have free time) is get a latte and grab a bunch of books I don’t have enough money to buy, and sit at a table and read the first few chapters of each.

I used to do this at Border’s Books & Music, but that place is closed now, and unfortunately I can’t bring a latte to the library.  Of course, I could go to the library and get a bunch of books and go home and drink coffee and read but there’s something about that feeling of being able to just get up and grab a couple more books that I have never heard of and sit back down and read a little more, then put them back and grab more.  B&N is okay. They have a LOT of books.. and the coffee is good.. but it’s so crowded that I find myself half paying attention to what I’m reading and half listening to the people around me.  I find myself commenting in my head on their conversations or giggling at whatever they’re discussing amongst themselves.  Or rolling my eyes, which I try not to do, but sometimes it just happens.

One of my awesome friends got me at gift card to B&N, so I came here today and used it to purchase a whole wheat bagel and a soy peppermint mocha latte and I’ve just finished flipping through the three books that I picked for my entertainment.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Wisdom of the Native Americans by Kent Nerburn
Portrait of an Addict As a Young Man by Bill Clegg

Weird selection, right?  But I had no rhyme or reason for picking them, I just browsed and grabbed..

I knew I was going to feel like writing so I brought my netbook with me, but I couldn’t find an empty seat near an outlet, so while I ate my bagel I started the first few pages of the CS Lewis book.  I love CS Lewis!  I need to read more about him as a person, I think.

“During the course of its progress it was read chapter by chapter to his “Inklings” friends, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and others.”  writes Walter Hooper.

Can you imagine…?  I mean, these were the friends that he let give his work a test run to see if it would make a good book… That’s like if I sent a 30 second clip of a new song to John Lennon and Paul McCartney just for some friendly feedback.  Not completely, though, because C.S. Lewis is a legend in his own right,  and I’m not.  Not yet anyway… Mwahahahaha.

Anyway, getting off track.. I think the Screwtape Letters is definitely something I’ll have to actually purchase and read in its entirety.  You should, too.

The Nerburn book made me feel warm and fuzzy.. and a little sad.  See, I’m one of those sentimentalists that believes that your family history.. where you “came from”.. really has great influences on who you are.  Even the things that you never knew.  For example, there are a lot of ways that I’m different than my mom.  There are habits that I have that she never taught me.  My dad died when I was nine, so there were a lot of things about him that I never knew.. and sometimes I’ll do things and my mom will say “Your dad used to do the SAME thing” and it will all make sense.

Speaking of Native Americans… there is a saying, “The blood remembers”.  I don’t remember where I first heard it, so I tried googling it and well, it’s said a LOT.. so I don’t know who said it first, but anyway.. I believe it. I believe there are experiences, emotions, etc that pass down from parent to child, and so on.  I believe that there is a reason why when I learned about Native Americans in my grade school classroom that I felt emotionally connected to the people we were reading about.

My dad used to give my brother and I mixed messages.  One day he’d tell us that we were white.  He’d say things like “You’re white. You should only hang out with white people and if anyone tries to tell you you’re Mexican or you’re Indian, tell them they’re wrong and that you’re white.”  …The next day he’d be all “You have to be proud of your Native American blood. You have to learn to speak Spanish.”  And he’d be teaching us Spanish and singing Native songs and teaching us dances.  Needless to say, to my childhood self it was quite confusing.  My mom says he used to boast about his father being a “Spaniard” and his mother being “Native American” while my brother would argue that they were Mexican.  I remember asking him one day when we were making dinner, chicken and rice, where he was from and he would just sing “Deep in the heart of Texas.”

I’ve never seen pictures of my grandmother.  I remember a portrait of a handsome man, but I’m not sure if he was my father when he was young (side note: my father was 60 when I was born) or my grandfather, but I’m pretty sure it was my dad in his WW2 army uniform. I remember he showed us a picture of himself and his brother, though I don’t remember if said brother was younger or older, and he told us that both of his parents died when he was a kid and he and his brother would shine shoes to make money.  He never mentioned any other siblings or family members aside from their dog, who I’m not sure really existed.

I don’t know how much of his stories were true or how much were false…

I have other siblings from his side.  Three older, older brothers who have families of their own, but I don’t know them well.  I’ve reached out to them in the past for answers and have gotten no reply (yet?).. So anyway… All of that to say: I don’t know who my grandparents were and I really wish I did.

Apparently I was named after my dad’s grandmother. I can only assume that was his father’s mother, because if his mother was Native: Evangelina is not a Native name.

I tried only to come up with nada. Nothing. I get as far as finding my father’s SSN and enlistment record, but absolutely no information on his parents.. and guess what? There are a LOT… A LOT A LOT A LOT of Guajardo’s in Texas. Some from Spain, some from Mexico. None of them in direct relation (according to to my grandfather

So.. as I’m reading through these little snippets of Indian wisdom, I feel.. mixed emotions. I feel like I can relate to them… and I feel a longing to find out more about who my ancestors were and what they were like in hopes that I would find more of myself within them… because the familiarity of some of these words just makes me feel like I’m missing something very important.  In a way, I feel like it’s my duty to my ancestors to learn about who I am so that I can pass it down to my son.  The Indian Nation is falling apart.  There is so much pain and suffering among the Native Americans that are trying to preserve their way of life and so much hurt and betrayal in the hearts of many that there is a feeling of needing to heal and evolve without losing the beauty of the culture. If my father was telling the truth, my grandmother was full blooded Pueblo Indian… and I don’t even know what tribe. I want to know and I want to learn and I want to be whole.

I could go on and on about my father and how weird he was and my theories of how I think he got that way, but there’s still one more book I haven’t talked about.

Another sidenote: Kent Nerburn has written some amazing books about Natives. Check him out.

So this last book I was hesitant to pick up. Clegg’s book about being an addict.

For those of you that don’t know, my brother passed away in 2009.  He was an addict. So the name of this book kind of tugged me toward it because if there is one thing I’ve never understood, and I’m sure many others who have lost people to addiction have never understood, it’s why. WHY?  What could possibly be so great about heroin?  What on EARTH would drag you away from the love of your life and your children? And your family? What makes someone want to put those drugs into their system?  Was there such great pain in his life that the only thing that could fix it was to destroy his life completely?

So I thought let me pick up this book and check it out, maybe it’ll have some insight.. except I only got through a few paragraphs before I became frustrated and angry and started to just skip through the whole thing to try and search for some clues as to why.  There probably is some part of the book where the author talks about what drove him to drugs in the first place, or what caused him to relapse, but I couldn’t get past the parts where he talked about how he was destroying his life and the only thing he could think about was when he could get his next hit.  And he was on crack, not heroin, so I wasn’t sure if the feeling he was searching for was the same as what my brother would have been… Maybe I’ll venture back down that path in the future.. but I don’t think I have the emotional patience for this book right now.  I do applaud the author for writing about it though.  I applaud any recovering addict who puts themselves out there in hopes of helping others survive.

Okay, I’ve been here for a few hours now and I’ve got things to do, so I hope my rambling blog was at least a LITTLE entertaining.  If not, at least I had fun writing it!


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