Tell Your True Tale

Volume 8

Volume 8 Introduction

8 | Introduction

8 | Introduction 1024 683 LA County Library

After a long hiatus, Tell Your True Tale returns. It took a while, but promoting my new book, Dreamland, and, while doing that, a heart attack, took up most of my time. But now we’re back and with a terrific volume of stories.

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a leaf in the wind

A Leaf in the Wind

A Leaf in the Wind 1024 683 LA County Library

Facing the box camera, Antonia sat motionless alongside the man, 10 years her senior, whom she’d promised to obey and to hold from that day forward.

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Birds 1024 683 LA County Library

Nobody here understands what I say. They just look at me funny when I ask them which way is home. At school, the kids sing songs that sound like they could be Chinese. I try to sing along, but I can’t make out the words.

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buddy and dean

Buddy and Dean

Buddy and Dean 1024 683 LA County Library

In 2012 I was hired as part of a program to provide outreach services to the homeless of Hollywood. It was our job to find the most vulnerable individuals on the street and to work to get them into housing. Not long after we began, we found a panhandler at a gas station near Griffith Park.

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City in Flames

City In Flames

City In Flames 1024 683 LA County Library

We had a clear shot on the 110 South after Downtown L.A. At the Century Boulevard exit, Dad’s white Chevy Cavalier station wagon idled at the red light when the song playing on K-LOVE was interrupted by Pepe Barreto’s voice:

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desert sea

Desert Sea

Desert Sea 1024 683 LA County Library

It was the summer of 1963 and Mexicali was hot as hell. Back then, the streets were dirt roads; only main boulevards were paved. It was a hot, dusty hole of a city, but Dad had learned of the border town’s promise and had moved our family there from Guaymas, Sonora, when I was 4.

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end of the dance

End of the Dance

End of the Dance 1024 683 LA County Library

I was in my mid-20s when I landed in Barcelona. A yearlong relationship with Mariano, a chemistry PhD student from Spain, led me to leave UC Santa Barbara only a few months from graduating with a BA in Spanish literature. It may have seemed a dumb idea, but I had other plans. I was on a quest to find myself through a new career as a belly dancer.

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La Curandera

La Curandera

La Curandera 1024 683 LA County Library

It is 3 a.m. and I am lying on a cot in the bathroom of my grandmother’s hospital room, listening to other family members snoring away. Angie has been unresponsive for a few days and my family is keeping vigil. I know her end is near, but I can feel her presence, still hanging in.

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mabes dream

Mabe’s Dream

Mabe’s Dream 1024 683 LA County Library

There was something really peaceful about driving through this mostly rural area on a wide-open two-lane highway. The sky was blue with specks of pollen from springtime blossoms spiraling through the air.

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Sounds of home

Sounds of Home

Sounds of Home 1024 683 LA County Library

The roll call of names flowed from the merchant’s lips as Antonia and the girls rushed to the village store where women and children gathered for news from El Norte. Inside, the village’s unofficial postman drew envelopes from a pouch.

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