Musical Chairs

We sat on the curb in the parking lot outside the store drinking Mexican cola. It was raining a little but we didn’t mind. LA was suddenly very tropical and we had time to kill. We talked about girls tattooing their legs. I thought it was akin to spray painting a flower. Fashion is so strange.

My friend talked about that waitress from the restaurant we had just eaten at. There was a darkness about her from the moment we interacted, but I chalked it up to something my witch friend had told me: that evil would be in the air until the 26th of the month.

The waitress sat us in the middle of the noodle restaurant. I never like that. It’s a Malcolm X thing. But I decided not to say anything. Before we ordered, a big drop of water fell on me from the air conditioner vent above. I jumped like a man being shocked.

The waitress let us move to the corner where there was a stack of about 10 unused chairs next to our table and a group of punk rockers eating before they went to a show across the street. They were wearing the same punk clothes and band t-shirts that the punks were wearing 20 years ago. Nothing had changed except now their uniform was bought at a corporate punk rock clothing store at the mall.

I was wallowing in sadness over this thought when the waitress came over and asked if she could have the spare chair that was sitting at our table. My friend had to remove his backpack and I had to grab my sunglasses and keys so she could give this chair to people that had just walked in. My friend and I looked at the stack of 10 unused chairs next to us and laughed until the waitress came over and said, “Is everything okay?”

When I got home, I decided to go back out and walk in the rain. I was wearing a tank top and cut-off army pants from Desert Storm. It was so still and quiet in my neighborhood. So few people were out. The rain seemed to be calming the entire world.

As usual, I ran into someone I knew. They said hello and then asked, “What’s with the flip-flops?” I said, “LA is turning tropical.” They said, “No really….” I hesitated. “Ok… they are my girlfriend’s. I didn’t expect to run into you.”
flip flops

Written by Daniel Overberger

Edited by Nancy Winebarger

Evil or divine?

I saw this video on Facebook: a guy walks up to a snake that is wrapped around what he described as a baby hawk. He decides that he is going to free the hawk… and does. The hawk flies away, the snake—looking pissed and aggressive (striking)—slithers off, and the guy looks at the camera like a hero.Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 3.51.13 PM

I shut off my laptop and sat down to meditate, which I had been putting off all morning. (Occasionally, I am a great procrastinator.) When I sit down to meditate, there’s a problem: I can’t stop thinking about that video. There just seemed like there was something wrong about it. I started to hear a backstory in my head… the story that happened before the guy showed up with his camera and his heroic intervention:

It’s the desert. No trees. No fence posts. The snake is crossing a dirt road as the hawk—who can be on the earth and in the sky—sees the snake and thinks, “I am famished.” The hawk is much bigger than the snake and figures, “This is going to be such an easy score,” as he swoops down and grabs the snake.

mary+serpent

The snake, in some panic-induced last gasp at survival, swings his head and body up and around the hawk and by some miracle, turns the tables. The snake is not that big. I’ve seen snakes eat and know that they can open their mouths very wide, but this doesn’t seem possible here. The snake can’t believe his fortune and spends all his energy squeezing the hawk in an effort to kill it so it will not eat him.

Whether or not the snake would have attempted to eat this oversized meal, I do not know. But he must kill the hawk now so he can go on living. shivanadSnAKE

That’s when our hero walks in, and with no backstory, decides the “young hawk,” as he calls it—pretty feathers, endangered species—is the underdog in this scenario. He wants to save it from the evil snake.

I couldn’t help but think of how many stories I had heard or seen in the media in the past where, in just a few-seconds clip, a commentator was deciding for me who the “hero” was.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 3.51.55 PM

Written by Daniel Overberger

Edited by Nancy Winebarger

Me, My Selfie and I

It was an impossibly hot Los Angeles summer day. We made love in front of the open refrigerator with the blinds pulled and the sound of the neighbor kids playing in the driveway outside her apartment.

I was surfing the anti-social media three at a time when someone posted that it was raining off in Anaheim, the City of the Mouse.

I looked at the weather on the internet and it said zero percent chance of rain. I drove west on Fountain with the windows down. My left arm and leg got wet. It felt good, almost like a new start. If only I was a weatherman, I could get away with accepted inaccuracy.

It only rained enough to move the dirt around on my car but not wash it off. Still, the rain was a strange blessing from above. But I would need to wash this car soon.

The radio played songs I had already heard many times before. I turned it off and listened to the wet asphalt under my tires. It droned like a simple meditation that tangled and untangled vines in my thoughts that could never be recorded, only experienced, as all good things must be.

When I got home, I posted a picture of myself on the internet. Someone commented that they had never seen me post a “selfie” before. I looked at the computer and was aware that I was alone.

Selfie940_2343349827791690582_n

Written by Daniel Overberger

Edited by Nancy Winebarger