Okay, so I failed the #WRITE31DAYS challenge, but I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately.


Interesting wall outside Arab restaurant


I was shooting a derelict, burned down motel. This woman entered through the fence, crying. She went into one of the rooms. I felt like a vulture. I left.



Hidden mural


Spools in parking lot of Asian American Family Center.


Aztec dancers swirl around Fernando, who keeps steady time.

Before the effigy is burned.


Close up of American Toilet King, no friend to the Aztec.


Hippies with fire and swirls.




Day 17: A lovely hike

We went hiking yesterday, at the Fourth Of July Trail, about an hour and a half away, in Estancia, NM.



On the way there we found a remote Sufi center in the small town of Torreon. We drove in, realized it was a compound, felt like we were encroaching, and left.


We reached the trail, which is part of the Cibolo National Forest. The leaves had just turned, and it was an easy trail. There were pedestrian gated to discourage vehicles, which required me to take Paloma out of her stroller and pass the stroller under the wire.

I enjoyed being in nature, hearing the wind roar through the trees, playing with leaves, looking for tracks and scat.

It wasn’t perfect. I lost my temper at Selah’s pissy attitude, and smacked her on the back of her head. I shouldn’t have done it. I was upset at her for not controlling herself, which is exactly what I did.  I was wrong. We made amends and enjoyed the rest of the day.

It was a nice trip, and we enjoyed getting out and exploring. I’m looking forward to more adventures.




Day 16: These are a few of my favorite things

I read a blog post recently where the author listed things they liked. My first reaction was “how lazy”, but the list was meaningful, and revealed a lot about the writer. I’d like to do a list in that vein.

Some of my favorite things:

  1. The smell of my father’s trumpet case
  2. Mountains
  3. Sending cards and letters
  4. Getting cards and letters
  5. Discovering new poetry
  6. The Strike’s “Shots Heard ’round The World” album
  7. Judo
  8. Gardening
  9. Spirals
  10. The smell of cocoa butter, but not the feel
  11. The Simpsons
  12. Sandalwood
  13. Ramen
  14. The smell of soil
  15. Horses
  16. The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Klay
  17. Snow Leopards
  18. Nas
  19. Paul Beatty’s “Tuff”
  20. Flash fiction
  21. Salmon, kale, and sweet potato
  22. Finishing writing a story
  23. Bossa Nova
  24. xerox machine smell
  25. new socks
  26. serving food
  27. sharpening pencils with a knife
  28. professional wrestling
  29. Beauty and the Beast
  30. performing
  31. jackets
  32. breaking thin ice on frozen puddles
  33. Teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  34. Kylesa
  35. Being 35


Day 15: Derby Fun

I’m writing a short post because it’s late, and I have reading to do. I took the 2 older kids to see a high school fried’s roller derby bout. I don’t know much about the sport, and had never seen it live before. We had a blast, my friend is a super-badass jammer, and got MVP. She scored a ton of points against the opposing team, and beat them by nearly 100 points. We had fun cheering, and it wasn’t as brutal as I thought it might be. I was worried about having my 6-year old there, but I think she had the best time.

I was invited to go to practice and try-outs. I could see myself going to practices, but I don’t know I can add another full-time activity at the moment, but I want to try it out.

All in all, it was a fun, family-friendly event. Cheap night out, too. Good time.

Day 14: Warrior II

My back pain flared up recently. I have sciatica and a few herniated disks in my lower back, and arthritis in my mid back. I decided to confront it instead of just being in pain or medicating.

I’ve found some stretches that work, and Muay Thai. I’ve done a few classes here and there over the years, but I haven’t been able to really pursue it due to scheduling. I was worried the rotational nature of the kicks would aggravate my back. It hasn’t, but it has had the benefit of loosening up my exterior and frontal hip muscles, which contribute to pain and immobility. I’ve been really drained in jiu jitsu, especially working takedowns. My hips have been weak, and MT has helped my athletic stamina for BJJ.

In addition to minding my posture and stretching every hour, I’ve been trying to do yoga several times a week. The other day, I was able to bend forward from the waist more than I could in years, and was feeling great. I cam almost do a perfect downward-facing dog now. I went into Warrior 2, and the instructor said “say something positive and affirming about yourself”. Without thinking, I calmly said “I AM a fucking warrior”. I was stunned for a second, then I smiled, because even though it’s kind of corny, I know it’s true.

The past few months have been a period of transition, and I haven’t had much of a routine to speak of. Taking the time to ground myself and be intentional with my time has been hugely beneficial, physically and mentally.

I was talking to a friend who had started seeking mental health services. He was worried he was making a big deal out of nothing, or too sensitive. He’s also in the military, and there’s still a stigma about seeking help. He asked a few coworkers about it, and a few thought he was just being whiny. I pointed out that the people he asked are 1) men and 2) military members. We are cultured to ignore feelings and get the job done. When my mom was dying 10 years ago, I feel I shouldered a lot of the administrative burden of managing the details. I had to. I promised myself I would process it later, so I could take care of business. I thought I was acting out of strength, or being tough, but it was a reaction of fear. I was unwilling to process my emotions and thoughts head on, and packed them away. In not dealing with it, I was being a coward. It blew up years later.

That’s not what warriors do. Sometimes you do have to keep moving forward, but you also need to make sure all your gear and faculties are battle-ready. This includes mental health, diet, sleep. Everything.

Being a warrior doesn’t mean being perfect. Namaste, fuckers.



Day13: Baker’s Dozen, I Guess…

…Coming up with titles is hard.

So, Dear Readers™, many of you know I transitioned from a 15-year military career into a STEM career. After the interview, I searched the internet for advice about how to dress in a science/engineering setting, and found nothing. This was unsettling, I didn’t want to be inappropriately attired.

Because: Most engineers dress like crap. Dad jeans tapering to Dollar General tubesocks protruding from dingy white sneakers. Ill-fitting polo shirts, or those short-sleeved shirts not meant to be tucked in, like the ones Charlie Sheen wore on Two And A Half Men. Dorky-ass floppy hats.


SRSLY, that is one dorky-ass hat.

I get it-everyone here’s a nerd, or at best, a wonk. Even the college interns are square.

I thought about it more: and it doesn’t matter. So many websites and magazines tell you to make a good first impression, to wear tailored clothes from good fabric, and so o. It’s no all bad advice, but unlike the military, the content of my character and capacity for performance is not judged solely by my appearance. I can wear jeans with a polo and a cardigan. I can wear baggy black jeans with loose-fitting hoodie. No one cares.

Just as in my post about sparring in Muay Thai, I ascribed more importance to it when I should have been comfortable being myself.

I need to slow down and not take things so seriously. I need to have fun. I need to be more Lil Yachty and less Lil Scrappy.


So that’s the takeaway here. Be like Yachty.

Day 12: Fear And Loathing In Muay Thai



Last night I coached kid’s jiu jitsu, then made my way across the dojo to the in-progress Muay Thai class, as I usually do on Tuesday and Thursday. The bags were all in use, and there was no one left to work pads with, so I stationed myself a the wall pad for the duration of class. It was sufficient for working strikes, except knees, which I quickly learned to throw in air.

After class, I sparred for the first time. I’ve never sparred striking before, except a little boxing a long time ago. I did 2 rounds, and got banged up  a little. My neck and feet are stiff, but that’s okay. We weren’t going hard, and I had gracious training partners who took it easy on the new old guy. I’ve wanted to spar for a while. During advanced class, I’d usually work combos on a heavy bag in the corner, staying out of the danger zone of the sparrers, in awe of the ease at which they stalked, parried, counterpunched. I knew one day it would be me, but I was afraid.

I was afraid I wasn’t ready, I was afraid of getting hit. I wasn’t worried about looking silly or making mistakes, but I was afraid of pain-which never came.

I knew when I woke up on Monday morning that I would spar that night. I was overthinking it-fear was the mind-killer. Overthinking and being in my head gets me in trouble in martial arts as well as the rest of life, doubting my choices and thinking self-condemning thoughts  when I screw up. Like T-Swift says, I gotta shake it off.

I did it, and it was no big deal. I put so much value in it, put it on a pedestal, and in the end it was a fun exercise between teammates. My fear was bigger than the threat, but it was my beast, and I slayed it. Maybe next I can focus on something more challenging, like not getting so worked up by other motorist’s inability to use turn signals, which is also typically not a big deal.