I saw Ruben again sometime during that month, February from what I remember. I was with my friend Sapphire who had never been to the poetry reads with me. I remember having a project in my Computer Science class, researching your dream job. Everyone picked doctor or lawyer, or nurse, engineer and typical stuff like that, no elementary school dreams of being a musician or anything like that, normal everyday high school dreams. Mine was writer. I had researched it and found that most writers didn’t make much and usually had to continue to keep a day job. My teacher had told us that a good resource for any info on a job was to interview someone who actually had that job. Ruben was my go-to guy.
At the next poetry read I went to, I sat down with him and a friend of his whose name was Daniel. I discussed with him his job as a writer, particularly his regular job of being a comic book writer. I knew he didn’t make any money doing the poetry reads he did, because aside from the fact that he felt the need to point it out, everyone knows that no one makes money running free poetry reads open to the public. From what I was told that day, as a freelancer (a writer who published their own work and wasn’t sponsored by anyone) he made about a hundred dollars a page writing monthly comic books that were between 9 and 12 pages long I believe.
I asked him several questions; did he enjoy working on his comic books? Was he happy to have obtained such a career as a writer? Of course, he still had a day job as most writers commonly do, even successful writers. I’m sure it’s not just because writers don’t make much, after all, I think I’d find myself pretty damn bored if all I ever did all day was sit at my desk and write. But I digress.
We ended up discussing many topics including how much we hate “Twilight” (sorry Stephanie Meyer but I hate your work with a dying passion). We talked about how it was an extremely gay (no homophobe) remake of the Anne Rice vampire stories, with exception to the fact that Anne Rice captured the voice of a vampire rather well while Stephanie Meyer sucked ass. We also discussed some of my creative ideas, one of which was a piece about the original creation story, the one that included Lilith and the possibility of reincarnation. It was a work that toyed with the idea of many beliefs being interconnected, a work that I loved yet feared I’d never have the words to make real.
My English teacher had always been bothered by my lack of self-confidence, always telling me that I totally sold myself short. I loved my own ideas, but my portrayal of them always seemed to suck. I voiced this concern to Ruben who turned in his seat so that his body was facing mine and he told me something I would value for a long time.
“You’re a young, Hispanic girl growing up next to the border. The things you’ve seen, and the perspective you’ve seen them from are your most valuable asset to work with. You just need to know how to sell yourself, as an artist that is. Being the type of person you are gives you a huge boost when you’re writing. Just be willing to work hard at it, and early because the longer you wait, the harder it is to do anything with any of your work.”
He also, in this conversation mentioned something about tossing a little bit of Spanish into my writing. I guess it gave it a somewhat exotic feel or something of the sort. It helped one create a signature writing style, and having a little Spanish in some of what he wrote, as well as having a few Spanish poems were things that Ruben and some of the other poets he knew did. It definitely acknowledged a style for them. And it was part of what made Ruben unique the first time I met him. I was appalled to hear from him that something could be so simple.
I had the world at my fingertips because my youth gave me an advantage over many people who wouldn’t realize they wanted to write until at least college when they started to find themselves. I was new and fresh. Sure, I smoked and held a cigarette like I was a little kid (Ruben said that it gave away my age), but Ruben said that I had it in me to do something great, to be something great.
Now one can speculate as to whether I’m actually as good as Ruben at the time had told me I was. I continued to be an embarrassing poet, writing what one could only assume was the work of a young teenage girl. Of course, this should be no surprise considering my age now. I’m still relatively young. Nevertheless, Ruben telling me that I had talent meant a lot to me.
In all honesty, I had waited a long time to hear anybody tell me that, but Ruben Ramirez saying it to me was what really made it count. I went home that night with little butterflies flapping around in my stomach and flopped down on my bed and wrote my little heart out.
By this time, I had known Ruben long enough that we would hug upon greeting and saying goodbye to each other. Of course, this means little because as I’m sure I said earlier, this was somewhat of a norm for most people both adolescent and adult-ish. Ruben was one of those adult-ish people, though I can honestly say that I saw him hug few people, and he never once hugged a friend that I had brought with me to the poetry reads. Granted, such a fact is neither here nor there. When all of this happened, I was well into my sophomore year, and I wouldn’t see Ruben again until that June.
Of course, four months is a pretty big gap to have in a story like this one. I continued with my year, I obsessed over my notebooks, I took part in a play in theatre, and I continued to behave as any regular teen did. It was that April that I met my boyfriend Jonathan, early that June when I broke up with him… this will be significant in a later post though.
I can’t necessarily call it conceit that made me post this, but the fact that he would say such a thing to a fifteen year old. I suppose this is my way of showing how one thing can lead to another.
Until next time...