Dispatch Volume IV: Muggy Chi-Town in the Merry Month of May

"Cum vero infirmor, tunc potens sum."--II Corinthians 12:10.
It's finals week, and my writing students are jamming my office mailbox with their manuscripts and portfolios. And every day I say I'm going down there to read and give final grades, and every day I don't go. In my mind, I'm walking a little ridgeline in the Rockies. Or I'm back in sweltering Luis-iana, dancing a waltz with mah Cinderella in a big dirt lot while the zydeco music plays. But mostly I'm hanging with the baby herself, all 16 months of chaos and anarchy. I put her in the stroller and hit the bricks--a hundred bored moms are out there every day. It could be a swinger's paradise, except the moms don't look at you. They look at your baby. And they scope out the carriage, too, as if to see how expensive it is. I feel like Joe Badd, 'cause I'm wheeling Chayo in a bitchin' Eddie Bauer four-wheel drive type deal with big wheels and bouncy shocks. I am the Road Warrior of pram-pushers!
Other house-bound dads appear. All of 'em seem to be about my age, all of 'em wear big ugly shorts and baseball caps. The faux hip-hop dads wear the caps backwards. We all puff up and look manly when another dad comes into view. We are all bears and bull elks. A slightly embarrassed dude bellowed at me: "I see great minds think alike!" And I baffled us both by hollering: "It's the big tour!" And Chayo, no fool, looked up and shouted: "CRAP!"
Then I come home and fret about my books.


I get e-mails. I used to get fan mail, but hardly any letters of any kind come for anyone anymore. I miss the mail--you never could tell what weird thing would come. I had a flush of notoriety there for a year or so, and I got Polaroids and clothes in the mail. Don't send me any more--I'm a family man now! I got cowboy boots one time, and a flattened cowboy hat. I got books and jewelry, too. Man! It was like a scary Christmas. Mark Spitzer even mailed me a corndog.
Nowadays, people e-mail. I get cool e-fan-mail. I get e-mails from Conservative Christians telling me how e-vil my Teresita research is. Bible verses! Then I get e-mails from Liberal Christians about how e-vil the conservatives are. More Bible verses, though the liberals will throw in some Buddhist quotes, too. Healers, new agers, medicine people, readers, students, old pals, and the kinds of lovers from your past that make you writhe in embarrassment all find you sooner or later. It's a rich experience. I usually love it.
I wish I could answer all of you...no I don't. I wish I could answer most of you. I hope these little dispatches make it clear that I'm at least paying attention. This and my books. I write them for you, after all.
Got a new collection of stories coming out from my ol' pals at Cinco Puntos. It's called SIX KINDS OF SKY, and there's a tale in the Fiction section of this website (called "Taped to the Sky"). Got a couple of books of poems done, and the Teresita book is done. I'm hacking away at a dark new novel of taboos and family. Essays. So there should be a load of stuff in the next few years. I'll keep posting piles of it on the website so you can read whatever strikes your fancy.
I think all you have to do is stay alive and show up for work. Take your medicine. Have some coffee.
Thanks for sticking with me.

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