During rehearsal tonight, I happen to be passing by the table that the director and the stage manager tend to work from.  I looked down and began to stare at this neat picture of Death…on a cart.  I think it was possibly a chariot, but it looked like there was no way to hook up a horse to it, so I am gonna call it a cart.  Very long bones, Death has.   I know weird thing to notice, right?  So I picked up the paper (cuz it was a photocopy from the web, I thought) and underneath it there was a book.  And I already forgot what the book was called.  Crap! Anyway…I began to flip through the pages, without any true interest in the book as I was killing time before we got started.  After flipping all the way through and not really seeing anything that caught my eye, except to find out that the Death Cart was a photocopy from the book, I put the book back on the table.

As I begin to walk away, I looked at the cover once more and I recognize that little picture of a boy just sitting there.  Then, I hear in my head, my nina’s (or godmother’s) harsh shrill voice!  She’s calling me a child of the devil and telling me that I am possessed.  Then I begin to remember how I got a spanking out in the parking lot of that little place in Bakersfield where a statue of this kid is located.  That creepy ass little kid statue.

Let me backtrack a little bit.  I was baptized apparently and I think I’ve mentioned before that I used to spend the summers in Bakersfield.  Bakersfield if you don’t know is as hot as…well, hell! Back then, in the early 80’s there wasn’t much in the way of shade in that place.  I only remember one big community pool, a lot of running around in the sprinklers, and burning sidewalks and roads at 7 in the morning.  I would stay with my nina and listen to her yell at her daughters that they couldn’t have this or that. I don’t recall ever needing to go to church, ever.  But there was one time when she wanted to go and see this thing what I always thought was called “Santonio Toucha.”  I didn’t know Spanish then either. And they spoke it so fast, I hated having to stay there for 2 and a half months.  I didn’t know what they were  talking about half the time. I have since come to learn that the little bugger is called “Santo Nino de Atocha” I was close. It translates to the “Holy Child of Atocha.”

I don’t remember what the outside,  or inside actually, looked like. I just feel like it was small.  If I had to compare it, I would say that I felt like I was in something that was that size of a crypt or small mausoleum in a cemetery.  There weren’t other people in the place.  Just my nina, Cecilia, my Uncle Robert, and their crybaby daughters, Angela, Rita, and Lena.  I remember walking into the room and half of it was enclosed like the picture above.  You were supposed to walk through the gate and kiss the statue’s feet or shoe or something like that.  I remember watching my cousins do it, but not my Uncle.  Then my nina tried to make me go in the gated area.  I remember not wanting to go and holding my ground as she began to shove me through.  I grabbed onto the gate, not wanting to go near that thing.  Finally, she pulled my hands off of the gate and picked me up and carried me up to the statue.  I went NUTS!  I know I pulled out some of her hair, because I still hear about it from my cousins on the extremely rare occasions that they are in town. But I flailed and screamed and cried for everything that I could so that I didn’t have to touch that oddly shiny little boy sitting in his gown.

This picture is just a small ceramic statue for the tourist to have.  The ones in the shrine areas are pretty big.

Thankfully my uncle said “Let him go! He doesn’t want to do it.” So my nina dropped me and I “teleported” outside of the gated area.  Hell yeah! It was instantaneous.  As soon as my feet touched the floor, I was already at the gate.  She did her thing, and whirled around and grabbed me by the arm, under the armpit as she dug her nails in as was her custom, and was screaming at me that I had the devil in me as well as the things I stated previously.  As soon as we were out of the (room?) (building?) whatever the hell it was, she whipped off her  chankla.  Urban dictionary has a great entry for it! It reads:

a flip-flop, sandal or slipper. 

If you’re hispanic, you know all of the above are known chanklas and considered sloppy attire.

Gangsters are notorious for wearing them with white tube socks & shorts when having bbq’s at the park.

Abuelitas are also known for slapping you with a chankla if you get out of hand.

Vas a salir con esas chanklas? 

Te voy a pegar con me chankla si no te sientas!

Don’t make me take my chanklas off! (spanglish)

I don’t remember how many times she hit me, but I do remember having large red welts up and down the front and back of my legs.  I don’t care if I did have the devil in me, I was not going to touch that thing, and still won’t to this day.  Of course, now it’s a different matter, but that thing is still gives me the willies.
On a different note, I will begin posting pictures of the Bless Me, Ultima rehearsals on my Facebook page.  Check ’em out here!  That’s all for now!

Days of Reflection: Day Ten!!!

Wow!!  I did it!  Ten posts in ten days.  I am usually not this diligent but I am super excited that I am done!

One of the things that this exercise has taught me is that it’s really hard to open up about yourself to people who may or may not know you.  In a past issue of Backstage, Amy Adams, when asked about aspects of being an actor that she didn’t like said “You’re very subject to people’s opinions.  It’s hard to have tough skin and a vulnerable heart.  It’s a delicate balance.”  Being an actor comes with a lot of disappointment.  There are so many times, when one just isn’t what the director has pictured in their heads, and it could be any of several different things.  Rejection is always hard to get through, but actors shake it off and move on to the next audition and the next and the next.  After a while even though you question why in the world you continue to do this to yourself, you know there’s nothing else that you would enjoy as much as performing.

Day Ten: One confession.

This is the hardest one by far.  Here is my confession:

I will never be comfortable in my own skin.  I really want to and I am going to work on it, but I know it’s gonna be the hardest thing I’d ever have to work on.   Jeez my hands are shaking as I put this out there.

My dad loved James Brown’s music.  His music could make my dad dance.  Of course, my dad would dance like him. There’s a youtube video below for those of you who don’t know who James Brown is.  He wore his hair like him and everything.  But my dad was also racist. Sad, huh?  A minority being racist against  another minority. And he was at his worse when he was coked up and drunk.  Except when it came to James Brown. He was the one man that my dad refused to acknowledge as a strong black man despite the lyrics “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.”  So as a kid, I grew up with the idea that being dark was a horrible thing.  I have the darkest pigment of my parents and my siblings.  On top of that I had to spend summers in the hot-ass town of Bakersfield. Which of course made my skin even darker!  I grew to LOATHE that awful place and myself even more.  I was called every horrible racial thing and that was okay with my parents.  Sometimes it was my parents doing the name calling.  Sometimes I am still called things like darkie or spook.  They’d tell the littlest nieces or nephews “Who’s that black guy?”  But they’d say it fearfully that would make the kids cry.  Eventually, the kids get over it, but it teaches them such a bad behavior, and the kids think that it’s okay to say the same things.

In his old age, my dad is still a rickety bitter man, but he’s off the drugs and booze.  As for the racism, it’s still there, but it’s toned down immensely.  While I am very happy about that, the marks of his abusiveness will always remain a part of me.

When I stop and take the time to think about it, I feel like that could be the root of my big problem with having to look at myself.  And this project has been as I said before a great exercise to help me work out some of the mess that is my personality.  And by doing this, I hope that this makes me a little more fearless.  After all with most of my personal laundry out in the webz, what else do I have to lose!

*Sigh*  Okay, so now that I have gotten that out, what are YOU going to share?  What’s your confession?  I’d like to thank all of you how checked in and kept up with all ten days.  You are greatly appreciated!  I promise.