The story he told was that it happened in the heavy weave of the jungle, during the awful times of war. And as the sweat from his arm dripped down onto an old machete- a machete stained with the throats of men, a bullet from a rifle ripped through branch and vine and nicked a piece of bone from his scalp. What was left was raw meat and a dent so perfect it could hold a sip of water. And I was born.
He always finished the story with “but I got him back”.
You would ask him to tell you that story over and over again. After each telling, every time, you would place your thumb into me and ask “why does it fit so perfect?” and he would shrug and go back to work.
Years later, when you stopped asking him to tell you stories and had begun to live your own, you asked him how I really entered this world. You wanted the truth. Do you remember? He answered with a question, “The whole truth?” and you replied with “Yes, please.” So he began that new story with just two words “a roof”. He would later explain it was, specifically, the international symbol for being poor as shit- a roof made from corrugated tin. And underneath it lived your family. And with this roof, every lick of wind rattled it and every drop of water echoed, so when the hurricane touched down that early evening in Iriga City, things especially sucked. Him, in fear of the entire thing blowing off and landing somewhere in the rice fields leaving his family defenseless of the harsh elements, decided the best time to securely nail down the roof would be in the middle of a Class 1 storm. So, at the top-rung of a makeshift ladder constructed with self-cut wood, twine and glue- him, your grandfather, with hammer and nail, wobbled brave and stupid into the mouth of the vicious winds. Suddenly, and like a violent ballet, the tin roof spun off its frame as he stood high at the edges. It pitched and yawed, first away and then straight at his goddamn face. Before he could duck, the metal clipped his head and stole a piece of bone and chunk of flesh and I was welcomed into this world. But being as stubborn as a mountain, the next day he found the roof that attacked him, cursed at it, and threw it into the river.
He ended the story with “I got him back.”
Even though you thought you were too old to hear his stories anymore you would still, from time to time, ask him to tell this one, my origins, like you’ve never heard it before. And like you’ve always done, after each telling, you would put your thumb into the dent and ask, “Papa, why does it fit so perfectly, even after all these years?” And like he’s always done, he would shrug and go back to work.
He liked to tell stories, didn’t he? And you loved to listen. I remember you too, then, sitting like a smiling rock, just a kid, at the kitchen table as he told tales as tall as the reach of god… I’m here to tell you the truth about me. How I really came into this world and why we were always a perfect fit. I hope you’re ready.
It happened long ago when your Grandfather was a very young man. He was scared but brave because he was about to be handed a gun and told to go make war with strangers. Days before the war was going to take him, a woman dressed in rags and covered in dust, grabbed his arm as he crossed the street and whispered over and over as he struggled to get away “go to the volcano, go to the volcano, it will tell you the future. I will meet you there.”
This shook your Grandfather. She felt so honest and sincere. He sat awake through the night and wondered if she was right, if she could tell him his future. He wondered so much so, that he decided to make the journey to the volcano the next morning.
As he stood at the foot of Mt. Pinatubo, he saw that it was covered in smoke and fire and down it sides flowed burning rock. People ran in every direction like dropped coins. Photos, clothes, and trinkets covered the dirt streets like a carnival just left town. He stood, your Grandfather, and waited for his future to be unraveled before him like the strange woman said it would. Smoke eventually squeezed his throat shut and burned his eyes. Rocks pelted his skin and burned holes the size of fists into his shirt. No matter the pain from his searing skin, or from each breathe that plumed black clouds with every cough, he stood and waited. Villagers ran screaming past him, terrified. It was chaos. When he reached to lift a man who tripped next to him, a piece of exploding rock that fell from the blackened sky smacked him across his forehead and took with it his flesh and bone. It made me. He staggered and eventually had fallen onto his back. He watched the dark sky fill with streaking red ribbons and fought the urge to fall asleep that had begun to envelope him. Minutes had passed and his eyes had begun to close when the woman in rags and covered in dust suddenly appeared and slapped his face. She said frantically “I had to be sure. I’m sorry. I watched you and nothing happened for so long but it finally happened. If you would’ve walked away without a scratch- if you didn’t even show up, you would have been cut down by the third day of war but now I know, Paul, now I know. You will live through it all. You will become an old man, living far from your birth, and filled with the joys and regrets of life. How do I know? It’s because that hole in your damn head. It will heal and you will fight and survive and love and marry. I think…”
“You think! You think! I’ve done all this and you don’t really know!” Your Grandfather screamed.
“Yes. I don’t know how you will live your life, Paul, but I’ve seen a few of your days in the future and it tells me a great deal. You are an old man. Your hair and teeth are gone but your smile is still young. You are sitting at a table with a young boy, your grandchild, and you are telling him a story. At the end, the young boy lifts his hand to your forehead and his thumb will fit perfectly inside your now old wound. You both laugh… I have seen another day. The boy is older, a man now. He is standing above you trying to be strong. His thumb reaching towards your face…” Her words were spilling from her mouth as if they were only seconds left.
“Don’t tell me anymore.”
And that, young man, is how I truly came into this world. Promise.
Hey guys, check out that dudes neck. Am I right?! Anyways, I took this photo last night of this random couple and I was like “Wait a minute! That purse totally clashes with her outfit!” And then I was like “Hold up, did that Armenian-ish dude in the background perm his chest hair?…because that shit is extra puffy.” And then I noticed that avant-garde pillar with a sticker on it and I couldn’t help but think about racism and how awful teen pregnancy is. You know?
(I’ve been hacked by rich kids.)
I support Gay Marriage, red headed step children, big girls who wear leggings because fuck you i’m sexy, weirdos who had a hard time in junior high, whispering “do you want to see it?” to strangers, public nudity, whiskey, the working class, creepy-ass left handed people, Gay Marriage, old dudes who flirt with cashiers, liberal white folks who are obviously uncomfortable around people of color because that shit is hilarious, awful singing at karaoke because fuck you I love this song, a well timed anal joke, hating books that contain rich middle-aged people who “find” themselves in third world countries, whiskey, big asses, making fun of Arizona, Gay Marriage, hating the fuck out of quaint poems, high school movies starring Alyssa Milano, anything starring Alyssa Milano, high school movies that stars someone who kind of looks like Alyssa Milano, Jodeci, fat guys who rub their bellies after eating and the women who love them, the Philippines when their pissed off at the government, Mac Dre, teachers, people who rep their unions like they are a part of the crips or bloods or some shit, holding on to the dream that one day you will win a wrestling match with a bear, getting drunk at a zoo and running full sprint at the bear exhibit, working out for the sole purpose of fucking up a bear in a fist fight, consensual butt sex, ice cream, that moment right before you touch someone’s “no-no’s” for the first time and they’re all like “damn homie, i’m so into it.”, casual drug dealing, bus stops in the summer and the people who ride them, people who like whiskey, people who get serious about Battlestar Galactica and argue that Adama is a way better leader than President Bartlett in West Wing, butter, people who wish more than riches and week-long orgasms for a TARDIS, watching Mike Tyson’s first 20 fights, putting salt on everything, Gay Marriage, making out and maybe a lil’ finger banging action in the back seat of a ‘72 Chevelle, Kirk Rambis’ hustle and Micheal Cooper’s socks, the Showtime motherfucking Lakers, folks who won’t let go of the time when that one place forgot to put extra cheese on their sandwich so they will never go back because fuck you I love cheese and I thought I was going to enjoy this extra cheesy sandwich while I watched 4 straight hours of Archer on Netflix, and Gay Marriage.
Everybody and everything else can go chew on poison and hang out with poets who write quaint poems about nature and wagons and specific bark and about that one time they couldn’t talk to that one person because they were so afraid of shit getting nuts and they really wanted to LONG about it more.
Also, the only argument against Gay Marriage is “I’m a goldfish and I’m not allowed to be left alone with solid foods.”
In the context of the rampant and aggressive homophobia in Hip Hop and R&B, Frank Ocean doing a beautiful love song to a man at the Grammys is so FUCKING PUNK that I want FOOT STOMP IN A DIRTY PIT to this slow ass whistling shit.
i came upon your post when i was searching for info on the davis coit apts. I need to move out of my place asap and so far those apts seem to be my only option. So i want to know all dramatics and jokes aside, how bad was it living there? is the roach problem really huge? like are they crawling on you in your sleep or is it like i see some scatter across the floor every now and again
When I was out of options, tired of crashing on couches and floors around Oakland- Davis Coit Apts saved the day. They gave someone with awful credit and a shitty job the keys to a apartment. I will always be grateful for that.
As for the apartment itself and the building, it is how I described it. The roaches are a problem. You will see them every day, and if food and trash are left out, you will see them more frequently. I’m lazy as fuck so I had to discipline myself to toss out the trash everyday and only eat things I purchased at a liquor store.
I lived there for a little over 3 years and I never had a problem with the neighbors or noise and unfortunately got use to the sight of roaches. If you think you can roll with that, then roll with it. BART is super close. Awesome bars are stumbling distance. Characters are plentiful. Good luck to you.
I found this letter I wrote to my former Landlords when I was cheated out of $435 of my security deposit. They never responded. In all, I sent it three times. This letter is clearly on the side of “fuck it” (the caps lock got heavy use towards the end) since I wrote it after getting the run around on who I should call, which in turn led to the confusion on WHO I WAS ACTUALLY RENTING FROM…
To Whom It May Concern (Seriously, I don’t know),
I was a resident at 1445 Harrison St. #461, Oakland CA in the Davis Coit Apartments. I recently moved out on August 1st, 2010.
This letter is concerning my Security Deposit. I was owed $1,230. Approximately two weeks ago I received a check for $795 and a photocopy of the reasons why $435 was taken out of my deposit. I have serious issues with the reasoning behind most of the charges deducted. Honestly, portions of it were flat out false and painted me as a filthy hobo, or, in a less hyperbolic and slightly more flattering light- but still insulting, you could say I was described as a person afraid of soap.
Before I dive into my grievances I would like to convey that I understand the charge for $105 for the carpet shampooing. I smoked cigarettes inside the apartment and once, during a fun night gallivanting with wild women, I threw up near the front door. I have no issues with this cleaning charge.
These are my issues:
- $180 was taken out for the reasons of “stove very dirty”, “refrigerator very dirty”, “bathroom and toilet very dirty”, “kitchen floor very dirty”, etc.
- $150 was taken out because of “touch-up paint needed for lots of nail holes…”
The apartment I lived in was a small studio apartment that overlooked a stunning parking lot in which I was witness to various street brawls and the shenanigans of prostitutes. It, the apartment, didn’t require a massive amount of time for maintenance and upkeep. Nonetheless, I was vigilant with my cleanliness the entire time of my stay, mainly due to the crazy-ass roach problem in the building. (You know what I’m talking about. Don’t act like you don’t. Once, while being nosy at the front desk, and with Jedi-like mind trickery, I read a hand-written 30-Day Notice given by a tenant that, in short and not really verbatim, read: “I can’t take it anymore. The roaches are just too much and I fear for my health. I’m out this motherfucker.”) Because of said roach problem, not once in my over 3 years of occupancy, did I actually cook in that oven (a.k.a. Mordor, a.k.a. Where Roaches Learn To Gang Bang, a.k.a. I Don’t Even Know If It Opens).
As for the fridge being dirty…? No way. At that time in my life I rarely ate anything that was perishable. If it required “heat” or had an expiration date less than 4 years then I didn’t buy it. I now live with my girlfriend and her dietary needs require more things that are “fresh” and less things that are “Slim Jims”. The fridge, as well as the oven, during my single occupancy was kept clean simply by never using it.
Also, the days preceding my move-out, my girlfriend and I spent it detail-cleaning the studio. We scrubbed the (clean) fridge, walls, stove, counters, toilet, sinks, base-boards and everything else. We mopped the floor twice in the last week and once more before I gave up the keys. We vacuumed. I truly don’t understand the charge for $180 for it being “dirty” when two people spent hours cleaning a tiny apartment right before the move-out date. Once more for clarity; we scrubbed all the items some unnamed assessor deemed “dirty” but, hand to mean god, everything was spotless when we left.
So, if you still want to believe these accusations that my former home was left a filthy mess, then dear landlords, you have bigger problems on your hands.
The roaches have evolved and they like to party.
I also don’t understand the “touch-up painting because of nail holes…” and the accompanying $150 charge for it. In the three plus years I lived there I put exactly ZERO nails in the wall. Zero. I hung up my shitty paintings with a wall-safe, sticky, mount tape. Shit, for about a month during the early years I just laid a few of them on my table whilst trying to convince myself that they looked “artsy” until I realized what they really looked like were huge, awful, coasters. So in short, I DIDN’T NAIL SHIT.
And just too clear up any confusion, the weird stickers of cartoon children that were randomly placed throughout the apartment WERE ALWAYS THERE AND I WAS JUST TOO LAZY TO SCRAPE THEM OFF. I am not a weirdo.
The only thing that I can think of that might seem like I left it dirty was the bathtub. It had stains along the basin that can only be described as “foreign”. These stains were caused because A LARGE PIECE OF THE CEILING FELL ON ME WHILE I WAS IN THE SHOWER. NAKED. The hole that it left was the size of a really fat baby. It leaked a substance the entire month it took to fix it- a substance that can only be described as “alien sweat.” There is a record of my complaint/request for an immediate remedy if you find it hard to believe that somebody had a piece of ceiling fall on them while shaving their balls inside an apartment you own.
After much cleaning of the tub I could never get the stains out. I feel I should not be financially responsible for this fee.
I should note, before ending this plea to give me my motherfucking money back, that a couple of times during the “Hole Above My Shower” event of 2010, while taking a hot shower, I would feel a single, cold, drop of water splash on my forehead that obviously came from ceiling. I really need you to know how that feeling of a solitary, lonely, freezing drip of ALIEN SWEAT during a hot shower, still haunts me. I need you to know that.
Thank you for your time and consideration.