City Terrace Postcard

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

It’s 10 PM Rocha, in a cold wind you stand guard, sentinel from the old days,

standing in the shadows on the front steps of City Terrace Elementary,

but I catch your silhouette from the street light on the corner of CT & Eastern, as I drive by like I usually do, Rocha,

I see you like I always do, Jack in the Box drink on the top step, all chubby (the same age as me) now, your face taut and thick

your ponytail gone thin, gray and straggly down your back, it’s cold staring at the Eastern Avenue traffic in the dark—

but you got a thick black jacket and a steely look on your face, as if to say, “Yeah, they shot me and so what? I’m still here.”

They shot you, Rocha, and so what, you’re still here—but does your mom know where you are? She was…

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Another Portrait of Dad

About Paul’s father.

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines


I saw dad sitting on the porch of the rooming house on 6th Street, San Jose. Leaning back in a ratty chair with a tall can in his hand, he hadn’t shaved or cut his hair in months. I saw him before he saw me, staring off at a distant point. When he fixed on my face as I crossed the yellow lawn, he recognized me and grinned.

I saw Mario Ybarra standing in the center line of Sunset Boulevard at dusk, between lines of streaming traffic. I yelled “Hey Mario!” driving by, but I don’t think he heard me.

I saw Selene Santiago at the Alhambra farmers market, and when I turned around, she was gone.

In a warm summer drizzle in Manhattan, somebody said, “I heard someone call out your name.” I stepped off the corner at the corner of 5th and 34th and looked up and down…

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3 by Paul Foster

More about Paul.

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines


list of things I like at work (for Sesshu, March 28, 2014)

  1. wild turkeys wandering around the abandoned barracks with broken windows at ford ord.
  2. working with Jose from guanajuato who gave me an excellent recipe for chicken enchiladas.
  3. waiting in the dark, in the rain for the 6:30 bus to work with the lady that doesn’t speak and marches in place.
  4. my supervisor, stephanie’s beautiful laugh coming out of the break room at lunchtime. I always eat outside.
  5. fernando cooking flautas at lunchtime, the smell reaching all the way to me and my bologna sandwich.
  6. waiting for an hour at monterey beach after work for a bus to pacific grove, watching the boats (two small sailboats playing with each other in a strong wind) and the people.
  7. Learning patience and tolerance and other things from the other G.A.’s (workers like me) like lola helping me get ViaCare and Medical…

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4 by Paul Foster

Miss my dear friend so much.

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

los banos


It’s weird being sober—for me, I mean… it’s like getting a brain transplant. or something kinda weird. There’s a thought… There’s another one… Where’re they coming from? It’s kind of trippy… like when you first get high. it would be cool if you could get hooked on being sober.

Then the feelings start coming, bubbling up inside… what is that?

Maybe I have to fart.

Maybe I’m in love with that girl over there.

I don’t know.

I’ll figure it out.

My father is hopeless alcoholic. Not because there’s no hope, not because we gave up hoping he’d come home someday and be okay, but because he gave up hope for himself. One day my sister called from way up north and told me the doctor said dad was gonna die soon if anybody wanted to see him they should come soon.


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A Christmas loss.

kittensI’ve always felt so sorry for people/families who have lost a loved one around the holidays.  I can’t even imagine the pain, it must be devastating.  If you are one of these people, I just want to let you know that my heart truly goes out to you.

I have a friend who lost her only child to an extremely painful form of cancer.  I’m not sure if it was around the holidays or not, but she was saying recently how hard it is to face the holidays without any children around.  She says she and her husband just try to stay busy to avoid feeling the pain.  I doubt that it really works.  My heart truly goes out to her.

My best friend, Paul, died the week before Thanksgiving.  I sort of rationalized that since it was actually before the holidays begin full swing that I wouldn’t be devastated about it every year.  I thought I was doing so well.  My heart goes out to his family.

Yesterday, just before Christmas dinner, I got a knock on the door.  We really don’t get many visitors, and my first thought was that it didn’t sound like Paul’s knock, and it couldn’t be, unfortunately.  It was one of my neighbors telling me the orange feral cat I ‘d been feeding, that I’d named Carrot, had been hit by a car.  I was devastated.  Lost my appetite for Christmas dinner that’s for sure.

The first time I saw this little guy was out my kitchen window walking on the five food hedge.  I’d put water and food out there for the birds and he was drinking from the water dish.  It struck me as funny that he was so light he could walk on the hedge, and that he was resourceful enough to find the water.

Later I saw his buddy, a tiny black and white one that I named Jersey.  My husband warned me that naming a feral cat was not a good idea since you would only grow that much more attached.  But since when did I ever take his advice (lol!) even when it’s good.

It took several weeks to get Carrot to come to me.  I kept telling him he’d love pettin’.  And when he finally let me pet him he did love it, especially around his whiskers.  And he purred, they really know how to melt your heart that way!  Jersey, on the other hand, was still very frightened of me and kept her distance.

Yesterday when I went out to feed them he wasn’t there.  He had been known to disappear once in awhile during the day but was always back for the evening meal.  But he wasn’t that afternoon.  And not that night.  And now I know, never again.  RIP my little Carrot.

This triggered the pain I still feel about Paul and brought it to the surface as well.  I’ve hardly stopped crying since.

Paul and I had four cats between us, we had three and he had one, Boo, who had been a feral cat.  Within the last two years we helped each other bury them all.  It’s one of the things that bonded us as friends.  But none of them had died suddenly like Carrot.

When I went out this morning to feed Jersey she wasn’t there. I put out the food anyway and eventually she showed up.  I doubt that she will ever be brave enough to let me pet her though.

So now I’m one of those people who will always remember the losses she experienced around the holiday season.  And my heart goes out to me.

I’m just not in the mood to take pictures.

I love the Christmas season.  I really do.  The lights, the glitter and glitz! But as you can see by some of my previous posts, I lost my best friend a few weeks ago.  The grief hits when I don’t expect it.  I’m doing my usual things and then, surprise!  I’m in tears.  And they keep coming.  And then I’m okay, and then it hits me again.

He was my neighbor and I find myself looking up at his apartment whenever I walk outside, expecting to see him.  Whenever I see the plants he helped me plant I think of him. Whenever I see the vine we were watching, wondering if it would make it through the winter, I think of him. The plant is still surviving.  Unfortunately he didn’t.

His memorial is January 2nd, I’m looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time.  I look forward to meeting the members of his family that I’ve only heard about.  It makes me sad that he never got to meet his only granddaughter.

I look forward to hearing about things he did before I met him.  I’ve already heard some of it from him.  His time with the Moonies when he was selling tea and was the best salesman.  I believe it, he was quite charming and loved people.  He loved the atmosphere of family since his childhood was not a pleasant one.

He spent some time on a commune and he enjoyed that.  He liked the vegetarian food.  And he loved the children.  And once again there was the sense of family.

I’d heard about his time in rehab for his drinking.  He liked living there, and doing the work that was required of him.  He didn’t really want to leave. He liked the guys that were there.  And the sense of family again. He didn’t have any problem with not drinking then, but as soon as he left he started.  He would have liked to stay there, and work there.  I wish he could have.

I heard about the twenty years he worked as a gardener for a retirement community.  Of course he made friends with the residents.

When he was recuperating from from surgery in a nursing facility he made friends with all the nurses.  He knew them all by name and they didn’t want him to leave.  He also made friends with an old man who never had any visitors and never talked to anyone.  He said he was surprised at how much they had in common.  I told him I’d take him back to visit him sometime, but I never did.  I regret that.

So I have to prepare myself for the memorial.  I’d like to write something to be read, I really would like to, but I’m not sure what to say.  Maybe I’ll extract something from the posts I’ve written.

So I’ll celebrate his life with his family and friends.  And just be thankful for the years we did have together.  And for the fact that we considered ourselves best friends.  And as far as I’m concerned, we always will be.

I miss you Paul, and 1956 - 2015I know I will never have another friend like you.

What’s got you down at Christmas?

More about the loss of my best friend, Paul, and his brother’s other losses. It is hard for those of us that are left behind.

Living with Grief. One Father's Journey

Tragedy. Something terrible has happened and the loss I feel is unbearable. It makes no sense. I am in pain. I have lost. I am lost. Grief is at least in part intensely selfish by nature. When I am broken by grief, it is generally difficult for me to think of anyone else. And whatever is left of my world has closed around me. The pain of grief is selfish. The loss is selfish. And I think only of these things. And these things are mine. And part of me is forever broken.

And in this little dark world, I can forget how to relate to anyone- to consider anyone else’s needs. To care about anything outside that world. To consider any views or anyone’s feelings.

So when my brother died it forced me to step outside my little world of grief and to empathize with family. We loved Paul. So did his…

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There are some who bring a light so great into the world that even after they have gone the light remains.

This makes me think of my late friend Paul.


Who did you know who was like a light shining kindness to others?

Who do you know now that fits that definition?

Image found on Pinterest, author unknown

Compiled by Paulette L Motzko
November 2015
5:39 p.m.

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