Fall 2015 Vol.4
Table of contents Page 1
∆ Open Doors by Megan Taylor Smith ∆ Photo by Travis Baugh
∆ Submerged by Naomi Stokes-Wesson
∆ A Record of Note (photo essay) by Sarah Gutierrez
∆ Illustration by Sophia Espinosa
Page 2-3 ∆ Fighting For Us/Epilogue by Megan Taylor Smith ∆ Illustration by Sophia Espinosa
Page 4 ∆ Oh, How I Love When Science and Art Meet by Leslie Farlin
∆ Errors of Judgment by Renee Anderson Cowen
∆ The Christmas Truce of 1914 (Comic) by Sophia Espinosa & Kurt Hyde
∆ Tree of Life (photo essay) by Eriana Ruiz
∆ One Man Boot Shop by Carmína Tiscareño ∆ Photos by Molly Mollotova
∆ Illustration by Phil Pastor
∆ Photo by Paul Lauder
Page 20 ∆ To My Student Who Places Answers Before
Page 5 ∆ Boarder’s Dream Bent, Not Broken by Natalie Ortiz ∆ Photo by Natalie Ortiz
Questions by Jason Carney
∆ You Plant Flowers in my Mind by John Reed
∆ Photo by Eriana Ruiz
∆ Photo by Brigitte Zumaya
∆ The Tea Party by Giraud Polite
Page 6 ∆ The Masterpiece by Naomi Stokes-Wesson ∆ Photo by Eriana Ruiz
∆ The Flood by Erin Marissa Russell
∆ Photo by Giraud Polite
∆ Illustration by Erin Marissa Russell
Page 22 ∆ The Pain (Comic) by Junsouk Isaac Chun
Cover photo by | Travis Baugh (effect achieved in-camera)
Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Bostick
Windmill Adviser Daniel Rodrigue
Managing Editor Diamond Victoria
Illustrators Sophia Espinosa
Copy Editor Megan Taylor Smith
Staff Tom Gill Eriana Ruiz Kate Rhodes
Brigitte Zumaya Ravin Lee
Editorial Consultants Rori Harrington Erin Marissa Russell
Photo by | Nicholas Bostick The Windmill is a literary magazine showcasing the work of dozens of talented, creative individuals who call Brookhaven College home. What you hold in your hands is the culmination of countless hours of hard work by students enrolled in journalism and photography courses at Brookhaven. The Brookhaven Courier staff and advisers teamed with English professor Aaron Clark in Spring 2013 to draw in not only written works but photography, art and illustrations from the students, staff, faculty and employees of Brookhaven. This is the third edition. The Windmill staff gathered to read every submission and review all the art before the project began. Keeping space limitations in mind, Windmill staff voted on submissions and separated them by categories, such as nature, love and death, and then paired the literary works with similar art or photography. Each page was thoughtfully laid out, read, re-read and edited for accuracy. DISCLAIMER: This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the editor. The Windmill’s editorial and design positions are held by students enrolled in the journalism and photography courses offered by the Communications Division at Brookhaven College. The material published in The Windmill was culled from entries submitted by students, staff, faculty and employees of Brookhaven College. Any thoughts, opinions or ideas, either expressed or implied in this publication are those of the individual writers or artists and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of the administration, faculty, the student body of Brookhaven College or the staff of The Brookhaven Courier. Correspondence to the editors should be sent to the attention of The Brookhaven Courier, Brookhaven College, 3939 Valley View Lane, Farmers Branch, TX 75244, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. All rights revert to authors or artists upon publication.
was just sitting in a room. A room with beige walls that were once white and old blankets bathed in the stench of body odor. In that psychiatric hospital room, I made the most important conclusion of my life so far. That week the days had come and gone more slowly with each passing day. The clouds rolled over themselves a thousand times before pouring down acid rain. If only I could have danced in that rain. Smelled that rain. Felt that rain. Maybe I would have woken up to the reality. The room was cold yet stuffy. The bed was stiff and the sheets felt like sandpaper. Those mornings I ate very little. The steam rose monotonously from cardboard waffles and play-doh eggs. If only I could have eaten those disgusting eggs. Those stale waffles. That watery syrup. Maybe I could have woken up to the reality. The floors creaked under the weight of incoming visitors. Flashlights searched for my eyes and I closed them slowly as not to be noticed. They went away and with my mission accomplished, I tried my best to stay awake. If only I would have gone to sleep those nights. Woken in the morning. Smiled to my fellow “inmates”. Maybe I could have woken up to the reality. The sink was dirty. I could have sat and scrubbed that sink all day and it would still be dirty. It was in the sink’s nature to be dirty. If only it had been my nature to take care of myself. To love myself. To see the worth in myself. Maybe I could have woken up to the reality. Maybe I would have realized how precious life is. Before that week, after that week, even during that week. Walking slowly down the halls. Standing in the open doorways prepared for an internal war. But all along life had been waiting for me to see the worth in it. To not take it for granted like those horrid eggs. To dance in that rain. Now I realize that that is what life is all about. Life is about living it to the fullest, not dwelling on the past or the future. Life is about living for today and living the best we can with what we have. And along the way we might as well enjoy it. Take it all in. We should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. And when we’re standing in those doorways - those moments of uncertainty - waiting for the answers to all of our questions, we should seek ourselves. Our inner strength. And then, when it is all said and done, we will have the final word on our destinies.
Essay by | Megan Taylor Smith Photo by | Travis Baugh
The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 1
Fighting For Us K
Art by | Sophia Espinosa 2 | The Windmill | Fall 2015
Essay by | Megan Taylor Smith
nock knock knock. Annoyed, I opened my eyes and blinked. How early was it? “It’s too early for all that noise,” my mother groaned, rolling out of bed to answer the door. I turned back over, covering my face with the cool comforter. I must’ve fallen asleep in her bed after watching the ball drop. It was the New Year, 2007. I heard the front door open and close. No one ever comes over this early. It must be someone trying to sell something, I thought. How rude of them, considering the holiday and the hour. A few minutes later, the door creaked open and closed again. I heard several sets of footsteps in the foyer. Mom walked into the bedroom. “Meggie? It’s time to wake up sweetie. I need you to come into the living room.” “What? Why?” I said, unhappy with being asked to leave the warmth of the bed. I didn’t notice her tone at first but when she spoke again I knew something was amiss. “Please, honey. Your dad is here to see you.” I was surprised to say the least. My father was the last person I expected to knock on my door that morning. I began to think of reasons he might be there. Maybe he and his wife had separated and he was picking me up to celebrate. Or maybe something had happened to my Mamaw or great aunt and we needed to go to the hospital. I began to worry. As I entered the living room I saw my uncle John dressed in his Army uniform and, standing beside him, my father, the salty scars of tears on his face. A small gasp escaped my mouth and my stomach turned. I had never seen my father cry, but now I could see that he had been weeping. Dark clouds hovered below his swollen eyelids; his face was beet red and a string of snot clung to his mustache. For the first time since I entered the room, he looked up from the ground and into my eyes. Then, he choked out five words that would change my life, and my family, forever. “He didn’t feel any pain.”
My world collapsed. The walls and furniture, my parents, the spent party poppers on the counter: all of it was stripped away and I was left with nothing but the agony of loss. Unable to stand, I fell to the floor, screaming into the void that opened up around me, “Not Richard! Not my brother!” I’m not sure how long I was like that, hysterical. Eventually they brought me back and when they did I was told to pack my bags because I was going home with my dad. My mom, who was once Rich’s stepmother, told me it was best that I spend time with him. I was, after all, the only child he had left. I agreed, but first I wanted answers - no matter how hard they were. And were they ever. I was told that my brother had been riding in a combat patrol in Baqubah, Iraq when an IED detonated, killing him and one other soldier. Supposedly, the force of the explosion propelled him out of the Humvee and into a nearby rock, where he was killed on impact. I have always wondered if he knew, even for a split second, what was happening. If he knew he was dying. If he felt any fear or sense of loss. I’d like to think that my dad was right: he didn’t feel any pain. The ride to my father’s house was the longest I had ever been on. No one spoke. What was there to say? I stared out the window with tears flowing constantly, silently. I wondered Why me? Why my family? I saw people going on about their daily lives, driving reluctantly to work or going out for breakfast after a night of partying, oblivious to the sorrow that throbbed beneath my rib cage. I was angry with them for the world they were a part of. A world in which a twenty-year-old Army cook, newly married with a son on the way, could die in a foreign land, fighting a war that couldn’t be won. When we got to the house I saw my stepmother Tammy sitting on the couch, looking a little more upset than I thought she had a right to be. She had probably only seen my brother a dozen times since she trapped my father three years prior, and I knew for a fact that my brother was
just as nauseated by her as I was, if not more so. She gave me a lengthy, unwanted hug saying “I’m so sorry. So, so sorry,” between hauntingly fake gasps, and released me to go upstairs to my room. At the top of the stairs stood my Aunt Tina, my step mom’s sister and the wife of Uncle John who had been at my apartment earlier that morning. Exponentially more thoughtful than her sister, Tina stretched her arms out, giving me the option of a hug. I dropped my bags, fell into her arms, and wept. When I was done, she didn’t try to say anything to make it better, just: “I’m here if you need me.” And she always has been, even after the divorce. For the rest of the day I laid on the floor of my room, arms spread like a snow angel, wishing the ceiling would cave in on me. The following weeks were a blur of condolences and nights spent longing to die with him. I started having the same dream every night, one I still have more nights than not. In the dream it’s New Year’s Day again and I wake up to a knock on the door. But this time, instead of crying, my dad is smiling from ear to ear. He tells me that the war is over and my brother is coming home. And then, before I have time to ask questions, Rich walks through the door. That’s when I wake up. One day, a couple days after the dreams started, I was on the phone with my dad. We talked about how school was going
hen you’re thirteen and you think you’ve found the answers there’s one thing you don’t expect: Life gets more complicated. Only a couple months after I was released from the hospital my brother died. It was as if some cosmic power had seen my struggle and decided to take a big crap on my life to reinforce the fact that things rarely go the way you want them to. I dealt with the loss by not dealing with it. I was tired of hurting, so I decided to ignore my grief entirely. Years passed and things didn’t really get worse, but they didn’t get better either. In 2010, the summer before my senior year of high school, a good friend of mine committed suicide. He was one of the kindest and funniest people I have ever known. I saw pieces of my story in his and it terrified me, but I continued to ignore the growing shadow that hung over me.
and how my pets were doing. And then, after a moment of silence, he said, “Rich is home.” For a split second I thought my dream had come true. I think he realized what he had said, so he added, “We’ll be able to lay him to rest soon.” The wake was held on a bitterly cold evening in early February. The funeral home was muggy and cliché. Recessed lights cast a soft yellow tint over family members and dying flowers, and the smell of leather and vanilla was unbearable. When the time came to see him, I passed through an open doorway into a small room containing the casket. Wreaths of flowers lined the walls. At the head of the casket was an easel displaying a portrait of my brother. At the foot stood his mother, her hands resting on the white satin that cradled her youngest son. I approached, palms cold and sweaty, feeling the heat of the light on my face. I didn’t know what I was expecting to see, but this was worse. He didn’t look like himself at all, but that didn’t stop his mother from saying, repeatedly, “Looks just the same doesn’t he? So handsome.” My brother, once a dread-headed, guitar playing, Cali stoner, laid stiff, the collar of his Army uniform clinging like a noose to his neck. His right temple seemed to sink under the heat, as did his left jaw. I could feel shrapnel hitting my face. The man I had known was not
in that room, so I left without saying goodbye. The next morning was even colder, and a layer of dew covered everything in sight. Several hundred people were gathered in a large chapel to lay Richard to rest. His pastor spoke, followed by one of his Army buddies. I don’t remember what was said, and at the time it didn’t matter. I just sat quietly and thought about not crying. When the emotions did well up in my eyes I’d blot them before they had a chance to fall. As they wheeled the casket out his mother pleaded, “Richard Anthony, don’t go! Don’t leave me!” When we got outside it was pouring rain. Everyone ran to their cars, some sharing umbrellas. We were a swarm of crows trying to escape an eternal winter. At the graveside rows of chairs covered in green velvet sat atop a fake grass tarp while a tent kept the site dry. The earth was opened up, waiting patiently to claim what was rightfully hers. After the pastor spoke briefly, seven uniformed soldiers carrying rifles stepped out into the rain. They moved into position, pointing their guns toward the sky. I was standing by my older cousin, her arm around my shoulders. The first round was fired and I could feel it in my chest, like my heart was trying to escape its cage. I stood still. With the second round, my walls crumbled. I wrapped both arms around my cousin’s waist and
I barely graduated high school and when I did things continued to worsen. I would go to any lengths to drown out my memories. It felt like everyone around me was truly living while I stood still. No matter how badly I wanted my life to start, I could never take that first step. I was too afraid. Then, in the fall of 2012, my friend overdosed. Suddenly I could no longer ignore the path I was going down. I knew something had to change. It took me a year but I finally started college. I was sure the solution to all of my problems would be to excel in my academics. But no matter how high my grades were or how many activities I was involved in I was disappointed in myself. The depression that I had pushed down and drowned out would not be ignored any longer. One spring I had nearly lost myself to it. I had a good life, great friends, and was successful
in most of my ventures, but a stream of nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks had pushed me toward the edge. Late one night I made a hasty decision that I regretted immediately. I drove with windows down and music up to the emergency room. The early morning hours were filled with needle pricks, evaluations and liquid charcoal. My boyfriend stayed with me through the night. I was sure I’d be able to go home the next day, but instead I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I was mortified. I couldn’t stand the thought that I had been so weak to almost give up entirely. I didn’t want to look my loved ones in the eyes for fear that I would see their disappointment. It turned out the only person disappointed in me was me. Somehow things improved. I’ve begun to accept that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. Experiencing tragedy and being left with
let myself go. The third round rang with finality. An American flag was folded and presented to Rich’s mother as “Taps” began to play. She clutched the triangle of fabric to her chest and wept, something I have done many times in the years since. Finally, they lowered his body slowly into the earth. But I know that my brother, Corporal Richard Anthony Smith, was not in that box; he is not underground. He is all around me. He is in the air I breathe and the love I share, forever guiding me in the direction of selflessness and peace. Rich was a man of faith and virtue. He loved life and his family, married his high school sweetheart, and always had a smile on his face. He was recognized as both the Cook of the Quarter and Soldier of the Year for the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. Sometimes I allow myself to be selfish, to feel like I’m the only one who lost someone dear to me. I let myself miss him, cry over him, and be angry at the world for taking him away from me. But I know all too well that I was not the only one whose life was changed that day. Without Rich, my family will never be the same. But we are all so grateful that we had the chance to know such a rare and kind spirit. And we all take comfort in knowing that Rich died doing what he loved. He died fighting for freedom. He died fighting for us.
depression is normal. Scars are reminders of obstacles that have been overcome. We are allowed to be unhappy, we are allowed to have bad days. I for one will not allow my life to be a sad story. I chose to live a life that is triumphant. I choose to be more than the sum of my diagnoses and bad days. I choose to rise above my insecurities and forgive myself for something that was never my fault in the first place. It won’t always be easy. Some days will leave me hopeless and defeated, and there will be no hallelujah chorus when I wake up and face the next day. I may not feel a grandiose sense of accomplishment when I get a full night’s sleep. But as I look back on all that has happened I believe that I can handle the next curve ball with more grace and dignity than the last one. My story is not over yet, and I am ready for the challenge. The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 3
Oh, How I Love When Science and Art Meet
Essay by | Leslie Farin
4 | Fall 2015 | The Windmill
Art by | Phil Pastor
s a child raised by a chemical engineer father and an artist mother, I was exposed in abundance to both the science and the art worlds. Many believe scientists are driven by data and artists by emotion, and therefore live very different lives. In reality, these two fields of knowledge are actually more alike than different, and even closely intertwined. Albert Einstein said, “The greatest scientists are also artists”. Both ask questions about how things work and why, and search deeply for answers. Both take risks and accept failures as learning experiences that eventually help lead to success. Without creativity, a scientist cannot think outside the box to develop theories, and without science, an artist cannot understand the science behind the art, which is particularly true in ceramics. The chemistry involved in kiln firing and mixing glazes greatly affects physical properties (i.e. color or surface character) of the final fired product. My parent’s marriage worked, and worked well, despite their differences. They complimented each other nicely, sharing many interests. My four siblings and I received the benefits of this union in that we were strongly encouraged to explore both worlds as children. None of us, however, chose careers in the arts as young adults. I studied nutrition and public health, my two brothers
went into engineering, one sister attended law school, and the other became a hospital social worker. Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Sad, but true. Public high schools, with their increasingly limited budgets, often do not make art a priority for the students. Additionally, many parents seem to hold math and science related coursework in much higher esteem than the arts – probably because of the expectation of a higher paycheck when out in the work world. I understand the logic, and obviously shared that opinion when choosing a profession as a young adult, but believe strongly at this point in my life that both are important. I eventually left the health field to pursue a career in marketing and graphic art as I needed a job where I was able to combine my artistic abilities with my technical interests. I still work as a marketing consultant for a variety of interesting clients, which I greatly enjoy. However, I needed more. It seems I have an irresistible urge to create, and am happiest when doing so. Clay is the perfect medium for me in that a ceramic artist must be able to combine imagination and creativity with the applicable technical information and chemistry required to advance in the field. How lucky I ws to be blessed with parents who valued both science and art and strived to share their interests with their children.
Boarder’s Dream Bent, Not Broken
Essay and Photo by | Natalie Oritz
ounds of four wheels slamming against concrete ramps, pipes, steel rails and benches give Brookhaven College student, Jacob Noyola, an adrenaline rush as he glides through the black gates of Farmers Branch Skate Park. Noyola was instantly recognized by a couple of old friends, Jose “Chipmunk” Villatoro and Justino Rodriguez.
Noyola has skated with the two since grade school, after moving to Addison from an area in northeast Dallas, near Bachman Lake. “I ran into a bunch of skaters, and we all had bad living situations,” Noyola said. “We became a group of 45 skating every day,” Rodriguez added. After reminiscing with his two friends, Noyola recalled the first time he felt the urge to pick up skateboarding. He said he remembers flipping through TV channels before coming across the X Games. He watched four-time X Games gold medalist, Paul Rodriguez, compete in a street skateboarding competition. Noyola said his mother, Esmeralda Rodriguez, purchased his very first skateboard when he was 12. The following week Noyola’s cousin, Chris Cuevas, took his car to Noyola’s father for break maintenance. Cuevas was a skateboarder, and after a few hours Noyola nervously approached him. “I finally asked him if he could teach me to
ollie,” Noyola said. An Ollie is a skateboard trick executed by smacking the tail of the board against the ground with the back foot, while the front foot pulls the board up in the air, allowing the skater to execute many other tricks. Noyola grew up in a rough neighborhood in northeast Dallas where crime was high and parents often found their kids in trouble. “I always gravitated towards action sports, but I kept it to myself because stuff like that wasn’t cool in my neighborhood,” Noyola said. After watching YouTube videos of professional skateboarders, Noyola had a desire to make a career out of the action sport. “I wanted to be just like them: Mike Mo, Tory Pudwill, Sean Malto,” Noyola said. He had a passion for skateboarding, which gave him the motivation to go to parks and skate. Noyola said long, consistent hours of practice are how he developed his skills. Noyola’s mother supported his path,
but feared for her son, due to laws prohibiting skateboarding on public property. “I was scared every time he went skating,” Rodriguez said. “I always thought I was going to get a call from him saying he got put in jail.” In 2010, Noyola became a part of the Monster Army. The organization is an action sport development program. After being evaluated, the athletes are invited to represent the Monster Energy brand. Injury derailed his career, though. Gliding off of a stair rail obstacle, which sat right in the center of the park, he landed awkwardly. Noyola broke both of his ankles in one accident at Farmers Branch Skate Park. Noyola said losing everything did not even cross his mind at the time. He did not expect the injuries to stop him from being able to achieve his goals in skateboarding like many other athletes with high hopes and expectations. On Noyola’s most recent visit to the skate park, Villatoro asked: “How’ve you
been since that traumatizing accident?” “Not the same,” Noyola said, shaking his head. Noyola still dreams of the career in skateboarding he once saw in his future. He saw himself living in California, sponsored by Red Bull and competing against the skaters whom he looked up to and found inspiration in at X Games competitions. He once saw himself heading in the direction of his dreams. Noyola’s mother supported those dreams. “It’s about what makes you happy,” she said. Although the 20-year-old claims his skills are nowhere near where they used to be, Noyola still gets urges to push his four wheels out to skate parks, which he does. The goofy-footed skater still practices tricks, follows the sport and idolizes the famous skateboarders who inspired him long ago. However, responsibilities fill much of his time these days, not leaving enough to practice skateboarding as often as he once did before his injuries. The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 5
The Masterpiece Poem by | Naomi Stokes-Wesson
His was a jealous love. he could not stand to share her. he wanted to still her artistic hand, to hold her still for romance’s sake.
yet, she was not aware he needed her in this way.
he imagined, even as they made love, she was creating.
(not that knowing would have stifled her desire to paint everywhere, at every opportunity.)
she painted pale yellow kernels in cold-blue skies with prison bars that slit the light into gold tear-sheets.
and so, his days began as though she’d painted him onto her canvas. he thought he loved her. he watched intently, learning from her.
and one day as she slept, wishing to capture the innocence of her sprawl, he painted bright slashes across their sheet that bound tight within the bed frame made the colors bead like rain. and he knew she would be proud that the sun’s chilling fingers of light cast a loving glow about her face, for this was his masterpiece.
6 | Spring 2015 | The Windmill
Photo by | Eriana Ruiz
Submerged Poem by | Naomi Stokes-Wesson
she knows even as she slides into the foamy waters
a night when two sloshed and slid the slippery bath.
she knows that not even honeysuckled lather can bathe away the Old Spice of him can wash the gooey bonding from her thighs
submerged she closes her eyes and opens her imaginative juices. and it’s easy,
or cleanse her wine-licked breasts.
so easy to swirl, to rise, to spill:
nothing can rinse from her
the sweet evidence: waterlogged, resistant.
water-dancing with the reflection of another time.
her sudsed movements
her tears, silent,
glide with the fluid of another night
stream unseen but for the bubbles bursting.
like a water-loving, lovemaking seal.
when candle-lit waters showed two the way to catch its rhythm, to float.
Art by | Sophia Espinosa The Windmill | Spring 2015 | 7
Comic by | Sophia Espinosa 8| Fall 2015 | The Windmill
Story based on work by | Kurt Hyde
The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 9
Photos by | Molly Mollotova
Story by | Carmína Tiscareño
One-Man Boot Shop
estaurants, quinceañera shops, bell-ringing paleteros, and the historic Texas Theatre line Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff. But on one corner, next to a purple-painted botanica, a shop that sells religious or spiritual items and herbs, is a jewelry store painted bright yellow with “We Buy Gold” in black. On the top portion of a glass door, “Ramirez Boot Shop, Custom Boots,” is painted in subtle yellow lettering. All along the front window, boots are lined up for display – all handmade by third-generation bootmaker Felipe Ramirez Jr. his father and grandfather. Ramirez Jr., doesn’t dress like a cowboy or wear boots when he is at the shop. He’s a tall guy with light skin and hair that’s slicked back in a ponytail, wearing a faded blue shirt with a small Dallas Cowboys 10 | Fall 2015 | The Windmill
star in the middle, loose-fitting pants and flip-flops. “I have been making boots since I was a young boy,” Ramirez Jr. said as he looked at his display of boots. “The right people love what I do. I am very blessed. It’s a tradition some people call an art.” His workspace is small and dimly lit. Pieces of colored leather are scattered along his desk as well as hammers, screwdrivers, oil and aerosol cans. He shares the space with a jeweler and uses the same machines his grandfather used when he started the boot shop nearly 40 years ago. Ramirez Jr. has been running the business since his father Felipe Ramirez Sr. died in July 2011. Ramirez Sr. started a boot shop in Big Spring, Texas after a stint in the U.S. Army, and moved the shop to Dallas when Ramirez Jr. was ten.
Ramirez Jr. recalls some of his time at the boot shop in Big Spring. “My dad would put the ranch logo on the customers boot,” he said. “I don’t really get ranchers by here in Dallas like dad used to in Big Spring. I’ve never really thought about going back to Big Spring, but I’m happy here. The money is here in Dallas.” However, despite finding success in Dallas, Ramirez Sr. eventually had to sell. Ramirez Jr. said the rent was getting so high that he had to share his space with the jeweler. The botanica next door to the shop he shares now used to be his father’s boot shop. When Ramirez Sr. was young there were shoe repair shops and boot makers on every corner. Now they are rare. Ramirez Jr. said the right people look for a guy like him to make a pair of custom boots to fit their feet only. “That is what
has been keeping me afloat – people who appreciate what I do,” he said. Ramirez Sr. never really advertised, instead relying on word of mouth. Likewise Ramirez Jr. said he’s not sharp when it comes to using social media to advertise. There are a few shoe repair shops around and they send him the jobs they don’t want to do. That’s how some people hear about Ramirez Jr. Ramirez Jr. said he can design whatever the customer wants. He sometimes takes old designs his father made and builds on them when he makes boots. He also makes purses, belts, wallets and sandals, along with doing shoe and boot repairs. “I am a one-man show,” he said. “I do everything in this boot shop.” Before he passed, Ramirez Sr. worked on the boots and Ramirez Jr. handled the repairs. Ramirez Sr. taught his son how to make boots in small steps. He put Ramirez Jr. in charge of a different part of the process each day. “I was taught step-by-step until I learned how to put the pieces all together,”
Ramirez Jr. said. He was 21-years-old by the time he made his first pair of boots by himself without the help of his father. He said he used to mess up all the time when he first started making boots by himself. “I would measure the foot wrong or too fast and sometimes I wasn’t paying attention,” Ramirez Jr. said. “The front is always the presentation of the boot and practice makes perfect.” There were times when he wanted to do the job fast, but his father would scold him and tell him to fix it. He would get in trouble with his father when he messed up a pair of boots he was working on. He said when someone makes a pair of boots it all starts with a paper. “You measure and design on paper – that is where the stitching begins. You can throw it away and rip if you mess up, but you can’t do that with leather,” he said. “Leather is not cheap.” He recalls a time when he was learning how to work the stitching machine and broke the needle. Ramirez Jr. said he used
to break everything. His father understood that in order for his son to learn he had to mess up and occasionally break things. Ramirez Jr. said his dad learned to have patience with him because he knew he would be the only one who would run the boot shop after he was gone. People have asked Ramirez Jr. why he doesn’t mass produce his boots, but he likes keeping his business a one-on-one relationship with his customers. When he was younger, there was a time when he didn’t want to be at the boot shop or help his dad with repairs. His father would tell him “I didn’t ask you to help me. I told you to help me.” Ramirez Jr. has three children. When his kids were born he got a job at the post office, but it didn’t work and he said he is glad it didn’t. He said working at the post office made him appreciate what he did at the boot shop. “It’s nice being your own boss,” he said. “I can work in sandals instead of boots.” So far, he hasn’t accepted help from any
one that has offered to help him around the shop. “It’s somewhat of a family secret, but it would be better if one of my sons ran the boot shop after me,” he said. Ramirez Jr. said if he could be anything else he would be a singer, although he does not sing currently. “Either you got it or you don’t,” he said. “I can’t sing but I would like to be a singer.” Ramirez Jr. said he loves meeting people and that is one of the reasons he loves his job. “I like seeing people walking around in my pieces,” Ramirez Jr. said. “Anybody who buys my boots [I consider] my fans.” In the next five to 10 years Ramirez Jr. wants to charge more for his boots. He loves the Jefferson Boulevard location and hopes to stay there. He said he wants to put his father’s shop on the map, and for more people to know about what he does. One day, he wants to have his own shop again so he won’t have to share his space. “A place where I can run my mouth when I want to,” he said. The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 11
You Plant Flowers in My Mind Poem by | John Reed Whenever the fields in my mind are left to fallow, Plowed but void of seed, And the mists begin to rise within, Clouding my mind’s eye and causing me to stumble... A gentle whisper blows through my ear, Loving words to dispel the gathered mists, A warm touch steadies me, then reaches deep inside, Planting seeds; turning gray to green. And with your words, your touch, and the sunshine of your smile, Through all the years, and all the seasons, Through weather fair, and weather poor, You’ve never stopped planting flowers in my mind. For this I’m blessed, And for this you can be sure, I’ll always be there, To bring light to your darkness too.
12 | Fall 2015 | The Windmill
Photo by | Brigitte Zumaya
THE FLOOD Poem by | Erin Marissa Russell
I have read that many waters cannot quench love, and neither can the floods drown it. But this is imperfect, essentially flawed. It has missed the point, which is this:
Love is the flood, the sweeping elemental force you cannot plan for or attempt to withstand. I did not see you coming. I did not ever hope to find you.
Now that I have, I claim everything as our love -the lions with tearing teeth and stoic sight, the forest fires that raze trees aeons old in wild conflagration, the sweeping sky spinning atomic suns.
My love is a planet hardly held in my quenchless form. My love is a century of floods when no one drowned.
足足Art by | Erin Marissa Russell
The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 13
Photo and story by | Sarah Gutierrez
A record of note
ucked away in the design district, surviving the elements of constant construction, is A & R records. The building stands off of Riverfront Boulevard in Dallas, just a few blocks away from art galleries, antique malls, the Trinity River and 35 South. Established in 1967, the store had two previous owners. Stan Getz, with a background in manufacturing and studio work, easily transitioned into the role of the proprietor in 1997 after spending over 10 years working with the company. Upon entry, I was greeted by Gracie, a veteran of record manufacturing for nearly 30 years prior in Mexico City who has been working alongside Stan for over a decade. Shrouded with a small layer of dust and residue, a few records were displayed on a side table just next to the store entrance among an array of rainbow-col14 | Fall 2015 | The Windmill
ored vinyl and past releases. Gracie apologized for the messiness and explained that it is a never -ending struggle to keep up cleaning due to the construction taking place on the street just a few feet from the front door. Business was booming that day as the warehouse was producing three records: one from a lo-fi band from California, a local indie artist and disc jockey copy of an Italian alternative rock band intermixed with the Beastie Boys. Stan Getz, was wearing blue jeans and a black vintage ACDC T-shirt. He raced around the muggy warehouse to check a machine that flashed a red light and blared a high-pitched tone, signaling that it was jammed - a common occurrence during the pressing process. The warehouse was in constant movement as staff prepared several orders of vi-
nyl from across the country. Excess material from the vinyl empties out into large gray bins to be reused; while one employee makes sure that each of the machines are well stocked and that the labels from the warped records are organized. A mountain of piled boxes for shipment were stored in the corner of the warehouse, hiding the bags of material used for rainbow-colored vinyl. Toward the back of the warehouse is the packaging area, where the vinyl records are tenderly checked for any errors by hand. The metal master records rested on top of the sleeved records to keep them stacked neatly before they are shipped off to their destination. Since Stan spends all shift working alongside his staff making sure the plant works efficiently, he courteously took a few minutes off to discuss A & R records.
Getz said that in order to find out the history of A & R, I should ask his assistant Gracie, who had been there longer than he had. He gave credit to the staff and friends for helping him make the manufacturing site a desirable location. Stan also mentioned that he remastered CDs for local artists like Sarah Jaffe. I asked who started the colored vinyl process, not sure if the Flaming Lips were the catalyst in the production of multi-colored vinyl. “We did color vinyl before that,” Getz said. “We had a guy named Daniel Huckman who had this idea to make it look all tie dye and from there we just experimented with it.” While the job remains demanding, Stan said his favorite moment was the day he bought the store, yet he doesn’t know if the decision was a good or bad.
The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 15
ERRORS OF Essay by | Renee Anderson Cowen
wenty minutes later and I am still jammed in traffic waiting my turn to inch forward another car length. Gasoline fumes scorch my senses while echoing, blaring horns hang on my frazzled nerves that feel like icicles waiting to fall into shattered pieces. I know not to get upset. It won’t do any good; after all, it is always like this the Friday of a three-day holiday. I solidly land every word with determination, “I will maintain my composure. The overpass down the highway is within vague view. I will work through this recurring situation one-more-time without losing my religion. Don’t lose your dignity over things that are likely to happen anyway!” My thoughts begin to carry me back to times of sweet memories, guiding me away from the present circumstance. My attempts at emotional control are quickly redirected by a dirty pick-up truck in the next lane, slowly slithering near my car with painfully loud rap-crap music booming through the rolled-down window. I turn my head to see two men and a teenage boy rocking their shoulders and bobbing their heads. “Maintain, maintain,” I remind myself. “Do not snarl at them. Do Not give them The Look. Focus on Mama’s wisdom, ‘do not judge, do not assume.’” I briefly look at my son, Ricky, playing with his crayons and coloring book, and then take a much-needed deep breath while I focus on the exit at the overpass in the distance.
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My mind whispers: Good Thoughts, Think Good Thoughts. Childhood memories start flowing with amazing clarity. Yes, I remember that time when I was only five-yearsold and Janie was seven, and she started sleep-walking again; but this time no one heard her get out of our small, shared cot at the foot of Mama and Daddy’s bed. Oh how I remember that tiny bedroom in the little house that sat on two heavilywooded acres near the busy road. Janie slept-walked into the living room; she stood on her tiptoes and unlatched the rusty screen door. I called her name, “Janie…Sister!” but she did not wake. I walked onto the porch with her, “Jaa-nie.” She was unaware of my cries. She unknowingly walked down the concrete porch steps. I followed her across the front yard until she put her small, bare feet on the gravel driveway that led to the heavilytraveled street. Her long, soft-brown curly hair flowed across her shoulders as she walked in the hot, muggy August night. Honky-tonk music drifted in the air from the bars two miles away. Her white, ankle-length gown glowed luminously in the full moon’s bright light. She began fading from my sight. She looked as if she was changing from a little girl into an angel. I feared that she would be swooped up to Heaven. I ran back in the house screaming, “Daddy, Daddy,” but his exhausted condition from hot, hard labor kept him in a
deep-snoring sleep. “Daddy, Mommy,” I screamed as loud as a child’s voice could manage. “Baby, what in the world is wrong?” Mama tossed the thin sheet in the air as she jumped out of bed. My beleaguered screams then woke Daddy. I exclaimed, “Janie is turning into an angel and going to the street. She won’t come back!” I shall always remember the crashing vibration of Daddy’s large, calloused feet bashing on the flower-patterned linoleum floor. The old screen door came off its hinges as Daddy slammed it against the side of the house. He flew across the yard with no shirt, wearing only white underwear. His feet pounded the gravel road as he raced close behind her. He waited briefly before he touched her shoulder. He gently turned her around toward the house. She was unaware of being redirected. Daddy let her walk many steps before he calmly lifted her into his arms. Mama and I stood near the house watching as he carried her back to the porch. That is where we sat until she awakened on her own. Mama carried Janie back to our small cot. I stayed on the porch and waited while Daddy went to our old wood shed to retrieve tools. He replaced the busted door hinges and moved the safety latch to the very top of the door. It could not be reached by a child even if she were on a chair. “Ugh... how long have I had on my
JUDGMENT Photo by | Paul Lauder
right blinker, signaling that I need to move toward the exit lane?” I am yelling and pounding on the steering wheel, “It has been another twenty minutes and we still have not moved more than two miles. Crap, I’ll just leave the blinker on and perhaps someone on this blasted freeway will not be too inconvenienced to let me over two lanes.” I look at my son and calm down as I watch him play. ‘Thank heaven my Ricky is being so good.’ The moment of serenity was quickly interrupted. “Oh Heaven help me; that rap music! Here they come again! I want to scream at them, ‘turn down that booming base!’” Remember, think good thoughts, good thoughts. Oh yes, how nice that was: Sunday morning breakfast and going to Brother Hanner’s white-framed church with small steeple. Mama must have risen at 5 a.m. to prepare our Sunday family breakfast. The aroma of maple-cured bacon meandered through the house tantalizing our sleepy noses. Daddy gathered fresh eggs from our hens while Mama prepared turtle-sized homemade biscuits. Our brothers, Bubba and Jerry, shared a miniscule room with one double bed. Janie’s and my cardboard toy box sat at the foot of their bed, as there was no room for the box in the bedroom that we shared with Mama and Daddy. The tiny area we called our restroom had a curtain for a door and connected to our brothers’ room. Daddy’s big, square-looking feet
stuck out underneath the curtain when he had his ‘morning meditation.’ Mama called with her gentle voice, “Come for breakfast. Biscuits are in the oven and I’m stirring the gravy.” That was the only morning our pimple-faced teenage brothers didn’t have to be yanked out of bed. The thunder of our feet sounded like a herd of buffalo running across creaking wood floors. Prayers of thanksgiving were said before every meal. Mama had arranged church clothes prior to breakfast. Our crisply ironed church dresses were placed near our lace-topped white socks that were nestled in our freshly polished sandals. The church steeple bells played their mellow song, so we began our walk through Brother Hanner’s meadow on our way to his friendly small church. Janie had been baptized earlier that summer at age seven. Mama asked me on occasion if I was ready to be baptized. I told her, “No Ma’am, I’m too little to get dunked.” “Oh, yeah look! We’re moving! Oh please, someone let me over a couple of lanes. This is so annoying, everyone grasping and grabbing to be one car ahead of everybody else. It is so stupid to fight for six-feet of extra space! How long does this blinker have to stay on before someone is halfway courteous? “Oh no, here come those men with that rap music, again. Baseball caps I am sick of seeing men in baseball caps. They don’t even take them off in restaurants! I thought we had gotten away from that
truck! Well, why the heck is he honking at me?” Ricky’s hands cover his ears, “Mama, you are yelling again. Please stop.” “I’m sorry son. I’ll act better.” I give him a smile and touch his wavy hair “Wait, I can’t believe it! They are letting me move over one lane. No look! He is moving over another lane. He’s holding back traffic to let me over again!” I wave in great appreciation while calling loudly, “Thank you, gentlemen – Thank you!” They wave in return and offer pleasant smiles. I am ashamed of myself, I feel awful. Do not judge, do not assume. I hope they’ll have a good holiday too. “Ricky, rise up on your knees and wave at the nice men. Tell them thank you.” Finally, I am crossing over the overpass – just one more hour before we get to the farm. “Mama, Daddy! Ricky and I are here.” The scrumptious aroma of a baking Easter ham float through the doors into the night air. “Sorry we’re late,” I offer while entering, “No Daddy, the traffic wasn’t unpleasant, not bad at all. Some men were really nice, very courteous and I am so thankful.” Ricky jumps into his grandpa’s arms, “Mama has been real fussy.” I quickly add, “Yes, and judgmental again. I’m very sorry.” Don’t judge; Don’t assume
The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 17
Photo and story by | Eriana Ruiz
Tree of Life
love photography because it allows us
beautiful. Each one stands as a unique bastion, this series is to show people what they miss when
to show the inner beauty of the world
telling their stories through every curve and crack life overrides instinct. Showing the intersecting
around us, by exploring the exterior de- of bark, and every twist and gnarl of branch. Peo- points between the mundane and the mystical, tails hidden from the naked eye. I make a
ple tend to rush through life, continually looking
the quaint and quixotic. The forms of design and
point of noticing every detail of the world around to reach their next destination, disregarding the beauty were born from the Earth; I want people me, and from behind the lens of my camera I need, I find to be inherent, the need to notice the to know that if you just take time to stop and can peer into the true beauty of nature. Trees are 18 | Fall 2015 | The Windmill
little details in everything. My ultimate goal with
look, you will be amazed at what you find.
The Windmill | Fall 2015 | 19
o T y t M en es re c d o a u f l t e S P s B o n s h r o i W we st e s u n A Q
What is the price of our confusion? What repeated mistake? What jailhouse lynching can we compare to discriminating admission boards? What lie? What truth? What Sunday School Jesus lay dying on a cross for us?
What part of history not rewritten for our favor? What song from the field inspired by our lash? What Crow, Blackfoot, Ute, Choctaw? What Lakota, Creek, what Hopi can we claim as our sacred scholarship right? How does one inherit 1/16th blood? What language torn from our throat? What torment reserved for our flesh? What shackle, what flag, what hurling ball of lead, what proclamation on horse invaded our land? What descendants of Columbus are we? What nose cut off face and hung around our throat? What enlightened mind, entitled servant of god? What chicken little fantasy we living? What Master, what house? What illegitimate son of ours shot dead in these streets? What ghetto? What slum, what trap? What sweatshop? What bowels of cargo ships did we forget our name? What death by sweat and stale air? What servitude? What freedom we representing? What anthem, what poem etched to our skin? What line, what break can our privilege afford? What hustle, what grift, what scam, what weapon of mass destruction more deadly than propaganda? What plane, what building, what vengeance hides in the belly of our prayers? What country of brown skin shall we consume? What diamond, what crude? What child of color, what foreign g-d? What resource will we not explore? What fusion cuisine? What ornate bobble, ancient prophecy, misguided messiah shall we raise as our own? What part of American do you not comprehend? What fear? What privilege? What stench lay under our eyes? What cryptic message deciphered inside our wallet?
20 | Fall 2015 | The Windmill
Poem by | Jason Carney
Photo by | Eriana Ruiz
The Tea Party 足足Poem by | Giraud Polite Recording my future in the presence of my past, capturing the ritual of old souls at tea time, lounging at the screaming pink table, engaged in a silent but sacred celebration. The birthday girl speaks boldly wearing a deadpan face, at once rejecting her crown, thus at peace with the world, her guest reveals an ethereal smirk of bliss, gladly accepting her role with glee. Content with their imitation tea, poured into a plastic vessel, the sweet euphoria of cupcakes and promise of play, fill their delight. Now sandwiched between my past and future, seasoned both by signal and noise, the memory of this spectacle is not my own, but only exists at this profound moment.
足足Photo by | Giraud Polite Fall 2015 | The Windmill | 21
Comic by | Junsouk Isaac Chun 22 | Fall 2015 | The Windmill