Monday, December 12, 2011

Born September 3rd, 1937

I love my Daddy, born Aristeo Gomez, but known as "Ted Gomez" over the years. Born and raised in west Texas, in the Stamford-Anson region near Abilene. They were pretty poor--it was during the Depression, after all, that he was born--but things got even rougher when his mother (Dominga) left her husband (Jesus) and all the young kids to go chasing after another life, maybe another man--as I've heard. As the second-oldest child, Daddy had to quit school (after 6th grade) to stay home and help Jesus with work in the pastures (Daddy drove a tractor at the age of 12) and raising his siblings (Wendell, Paul, Adela, Lorenza, Stella, Ray, Martin, and Wally). He was gentle and creative, I imagine, because he certainly was by the time he got to raise me, my brother Ted, and sister Miranda. As a father, he was consistently very attentive, nurturing, and patient.

We heard that he once caught a baby raccoon (or two?) and gave it to his sisters for a pet. And for Christmas, all Jesus was able to provide was a paper sack with peanuts and maybe an orange or apple in it.

By the time Daddy was in his early 20s, he was a seasoned hard worker, enough so to have saved earnings to buy himself a new car. He dressed in the coolest threads, Levis and sports shirts and penny loafers. Or in a Western style, cowboy boots and snap-button Western shirt, again with the Levi jeans. And always, the well-coifed hair, with the help of the ever-present Three Flowers Brilliantine styling gel. (To this day, Mama says that whenever she has a chance to take a whiff of Three Flowers it reminds her of Daddy.) Daddy was definitely something to look at. Which is why I often refer to him--when describing him to my friends--as the "Mexican or Chicano James Dean." I really hope that he was happy and had great adventures in the years after he was done raising his siblings and before he had a family of his own.

Love you forever, Daddy.

My daddy as Buddha

Some of us are lucky enough to be able to look back on our fathers as "heroic" but I'll go a bit further and add that, for over a decade now, I've also thought of him as a "Buddha." Strong but silent, patient and enduring, and always kind and helpful. In this early picture, taken in the 1960s, he looks to me like the James West character of the tv series "Wild, Wild West." But instead of a gun-slinging Secret Service agent, Daddy was a ranch hand and field worker who could do everything from shearing sheep and branding and herding cattle to picking cotton and other agricultural products. Because he loved cars, he became a self-taught auto mechanic and he worked on all of our cars--especially near inspection time.

He and Mama loved to dance and she tells us that together they once won a jitterbug dance contest. If only I could have seen that. She and Daddy would sometimes travel to the Mexican town of Acuna to see the bullfights, and to go dancing. The photos we've saved from those trips show a quite stylish couple, looking glamorous and happy. My parents truly loved and cared for one another. I would say that Mama is still in love with him--even after two decades of him being gone. That's enduring love.

21 years ago today: December 12, 1990

Daddy wrote me one letter after I left for college in Maryland. It was the first time I'd been so far from the family on my own for more than a weekend away. It's a precious letter, which I'll keep for rereading for the rest of my life. In it, Daddy wrote how quiet the household was without me and how, when he arrived home from his night job--and i wasn't there doing my homework or up to greet him--that is when he missed me most of all.

There are many many things that could be written about Daddy: what i have heard about his life before my birth and what i remember about him from his years as my father. Those complete and detailed accounts will come in time. For today, suffice to say: he was an amazing man and father, husband and sibling. He left us way too soon, way too young.

On December 12th, 1981--on Virgen de Guadalupe Day--he was overtaken by a brain tumor that had probably been a sinister invader growing since before i'd left for my first semester at college. The next day, December 13th, i received a fateful call from Texas that Daddy was going to have emergency surgery to remove the just-detected tumor, but not soon enough to save the vision in his left eye. Things went on a sometimes-nightmarish freefall from there for Daddy. (He was diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes and eventually lost complete eyesight in his right eye, becoming completely blind.)

These changes affected the entire family, of course, and imposed hardships too painful to detail even decades after their occurrence. But i must mention that the Virgen de Guadalupe has figured quite significantly in our family as well. It was on her celebration day (December 12th, 1981) that Daddy was diagnosed to have the brain tumor. It was on Virgen de Guadalupe day that he passed quietly away (December 12th, 1990) after almost ten long years of illness and neglect. Gone but never forgetton, as they say.

So, once again, another Virgen de Guadalupe day to commemorate and remember. It's been twenty-one years without Daddy as i first knew and loved him. But our relationship is stronger than ever, existing on another, more ethereal and spiritual, plane, which sometimes manifests in the most mysterious and miraculous ways. I'll leave those details and explanations for a future date.

Rest in eternal peace, Daddy. And thank you for the gentle surprises and welcomed gifts that you continue to bestow upon me. I love you forever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's so cool to have a mom who digs poetry.

It's so cool to have a mom who digs poetry. And it's so cool that she will call you up, day or night, when something related to poets or poetry comes up on tv or the radio (never the internet, cuz she's just not there yet) and she knows that you'll probably appreciate it too. For the last few years, she's even started assuming that I'll know the poet she's watching or listening to. "Tammy," she'll say over the phone in one of these calls, "she's saying some of her poetry, and it's on Channel 13 (the PBS affiliate here in the Dallas market), and you probably know her." Truthfully, I often do. The poet network is vast, but tight. We need each other, cuz, in reality, poets appreciate other poets more than anybody else will.

So last week, when mom was watching the Latin Grammys on television, I was surprised to get a phone call from her. She was practically in tears, well, she had already cried them, but I could detect the hangover of her weeping as she spoke. "Can you see if you can get the Grammys on the internet at your house?" she asked. "It's so beautiful, with the orchestra and a young man, he looks like some of your friends--his head shaved and he has tattoos--he's reciting poetry, and I just started crying, it was so beautiful..."

Extremely touched by her caring to share, I immediately went online and tried to hook into a livestream of the broadcast, but to no avail. Telling my mom that it was probably a rapper (and it turned out to be the lead vocalist for Calle 13), I assured her that if the segment was as powerful as she made it out to be, it would probably go viral online as a video on YouTube or whatever. Sure enough, today I got an email on the Historia list-serv that directed me to the link for exactly that Latin Grammys performance. I clicked, I watched, I wept. It was beautiful. Just like mom said. After the second viewing, I decided to phone her and let her know I'd seen the spot and that it'd already gotten over 80,000 views. Nothing that excellent goes unnoticed by the internetters. But I'm proud of my mom for noticing on her own, no thumbs-up needed.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hey, it wasn't a spam email! I really won!!

Every once in a while, I end up on a site that intrigues me with a cool link to a cooler click that directs me further to another click, link, or site. I spend quite a lot of time doing this, actually. And calling it "research." Or "inspiration." The other day, it was a direct arrow pointing to "win a book." It was a Justin Chin (Bay Area writer/poet) book that was being given away; all I had to do was say I wanted it, leave a comment, and provide an email address. Easy enough, harmless really. And I really like Justin's work, have even met him and bought a cool book from him after some flattering banter. Oh, I think I also had him come on my radio show back in Austin. He didn't literally come, I have to add, but he showed up and read some of his work, and made us laugh.

Well, anyway, I opened my yahoo email up today and found that there was a message in my inbox with a Subject Line that read: "You've won!!" Wondering how the spam filter managed to let that one get through, I yawned and clicked it open. Well, hot dawg. I really actually won! So the UPS truck will be dropping by sometime this week. And I'll actually be delivered something inspirational by Justin Chin to distract me from more research and other online contests which, ultimately, keep me from doing my own important writing. But seriously, a Justin Chin book is full of important writing. Can't wait.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blazing all chambers, my heart is supple, radiant. (an intention for 9-11-11)

On September 10, 2001, I prepared to go to bed with a particular trepidation that soured my mood, making me tense and worried. I reached for my rose quartz crystal, an angular specimen rough and unpolished, that I had purchased at a shop in Basalt, Colorado. The proprietress of the shop had been instrumental in this purchase for she had said it was the stone that could best help me open my heart chakra, to enhance my instinct towards love and understanding. I'd had that stone for 10 years.

So that night, the 10th of September, 2001, I decided to make a simple intention for myself. I laid back upon the bed and placed the crystal over my heart chakra, breathing quietly and trying to quell my troubled mind. What worried me was this: I had not spoken with my ex-novio in 364 days and the next day, September 11th, 2001, would mark a one-year anniversary of silence between us. Of course, I both marveled at and regretted this astute observation. Why would I have chosen to remember this unpleasant historical marker, and how doomed did I need to feel, realizing that the next day might bring uncomfortable distress, unsatiated longing, and sorrowful tears?

With the chakra in place, I began a slow and deliberate mantra that went something like this: You will not spend tomorrow crying about this. You will allow love to flow through your heart chakra, there will be no blockage of love due to pain, regret, sadness, or anger. Keep your heart chakra open, and continue to feel, continue to love. Your heart is so much more capable than you realize, and you must forgive, accept, and move on in an eternal rhythm--love. Love. Just love.

I must have fallen asleep with this, because there was restfulness in my body. Until, until the next morning when there was a sharp, urgent knocking on my front door. Rising quickly, I found my mother in tears on the front steps, urging me to turn the television on. She sobbed loudly, while nervously repeating, "We've been attacked. We've been attacked." Everything after those words became a blur of incredulity, dismay, shock, and dread. I saw the video feeds, the live reports, the ongoing and incessant pundit analysis, the broadcast of national chaos. I turned to the internet for more information, updates from friends, poignant poems recently penned, and horrifying photo images. The events of that day so consumed me that it wasn't until after 5pm, while driving around in a stunned stupor with my friend Carol, that I realized I hadn't eaten at all.

And then, a day or two beyond that, after the post-911 world had found its feet and asserted its profoundly-changed character on the history of humanity, I realized that I hadn't thought about my broken heart, my ex-novio, and the last phone conversation we had ever shared. In fact, he was completely pre-empted on September 11th, 2001, and I cried no tears for him. My rose quartz crystal intention had worked. I'd gotten what I'd asked for. I went to bed on September 10th, hoping to banish suffering from my heart. And woke instead to a changed reality, a profound historical moment, and an utterly unfathomable new challenge for my heart and the hearts of all people.

Tonight, I have my rose quartz crystal next to me, as I prepare for a night's sleep. A new and different anniversary will be marked tomorrow. My crystal stone is small, fits easily in the palm of my hand. But I wish it to be powerful enough to soothe your heart, your mind tomorrow. Tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow. I want us to move on, move forward, with heart chakras open, inspired by clarity of thought and unfettered by denial or enmity. If we must cry, then let us cry to release the tension, let go the sorrow. But let us not be stuck in a misery that prevents advancement towards unity and peace.

As my friend and fellow poet, Richard Loranger, wrote in a message from Brooklyn that fateful September of 2001, "Let us all practice utmost discernment and kindness in all our actions."

Wishing you a beautiful restful night and a day and future of growth, wisdom, and love.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Special Visitation

A bright orange and brown butterfly flitted close by as I worked outside this evening. At one point, it flew up to my ear, and its beating wings sounded shockingly loud--stunning me for a few seconds. A minute later, it landed on the top end of the rake I was using, and so I spoke to it. Already, I had the strongest feeling that it was the spirit of Rigoberta Menchu's mother come to direct me to action. As it kept its place on the rake handle, pulsing its wings open and closed, open then closed, I asked it: "What is it that you want me to do? Tell me what it is I should do." All I could conclude is that she wants me to protect her daughter, that I am to help her be safe.

Friday, April 01, 2011

NPM 2011 - Poem 1 of 30

Awaiting a squall of sound,
tremor of words, these distant
fingers begin typing, aware of
the Times New Roman time-keeper
hastening my thoughts--and my worry.

"...after 25 minutes of inactivity."

Famous last prompt for soon to be written
infamous first lines--of poetry.

And so this begins.

Copyright 2011 Tammy Melody Gomez

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Let's make this project happen!

SHE: BIKE/SPOKE/LOVE by FW bicyclist and writer Tammy Gomez is going to AUSTIN for performances along the hike/bike trail in the Spring of 2012.

And Tammy is doing the dollar holla – raising funds now. And YOU CAN HELP!

CLICK HERE for more info and to MAKE A PLEDGE. It's easy!

If you make a pledge of $5, 20, $50, $100, $400, you’ll not only be part of an amazing project, but you’ll get some cool perks for pledges $20 and up. Like getting your name/company listed on the website as a funder or “Big Wheel.”

“'Extreme' production fascinates with variety”

-Mark Lowry (FW Star-Telegram theater critic)

“It's extreme in that it involves bicycles, of various sizes and shapes, with the actors riding them around a small stage, close to the audience. But it's also extreme in how it fascinates with a variety of performance styles. It's modeled after hip-hop theater, using spoken word (the 'If I Hit It' passage was the best verbal moment), showboating (there's a bicycle stunt dude) and a turntablist (DJ SOL*LOS). There's also multimedia, live music and agitprop (the line about how we're 'choking on auto exhaust and government deceit' sums it up best). One thing's for sure, you'll probably never see anything else like it.”

(Photo credit: Shannon Atkinson)

For pledge forms (so you can donate by check), email Tammy: sound_culture(at) or reach her at 817.924.9188. THANKS!!!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Listen to my story on NPR's "The Story" tonight, Jan. 31st, 2011

JUST found out that my interview for "The Story" radio program is going to be broadcast on National Public Radio TONIGHT!!!

(In the DFW metroplex, that means you can hear it on KERA 90.1 FM - 9pm)! ~
WOW, that's fast. We just recorded last Tuesday! ~ Check it out!

And if you won't be near a radio tonight, you can listen to the show online at 9pm,
streaming live via the KERA 90.1 website at:

Also--You can listen to the archived podcast of my segment w/ host Dick Gordon:

Let me know what you think - Gracias for listening!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Hanging out with Green Tara for New Year's Eve

I spent the evening last night with the Green Tara.

What I mean is that my friend Shara and I participated in an all-night New Year's Eve meditation retreat at the Kadampa Meditation Center in Arlington, Texas. It was both the first time for us to visit this Buddhist center and the first time for us to try doing a spiritual retreat to ring in the new year.

The focus for the retreat was the Green Tara, the Buddhist symbol of universal compassion and empathic practice. So, Shara and I arrived at the Center just in time for the potluck celebration meal, which had followed the first chanting/meditation session. Not to worry, there were many more such sessions to come, scheduled at 3-4 hour intervals. We had been (according to an email invite I'd received) encouraged to bring sleeping bags so that we might nap in between the sessions. And we did just that.

After eating, we washed our dishes in the communal kitchen and chatted with a few acquaintances that happened to be there for the first time as well. We removed our shoes (a Center requirement) before entering the sanctuary, which was a spacious bright room with plush white carpet and comfy cushioned chairs. I took advantage of the ample space in the back area to stretch my aching neck and shoulders, and soon noticed a guy over to my right doing some yoga work too. It was very quiet and peaceful, though the sound of laughter would break out regularly, as folks of the community chatted in the dining area and outside vestibule.

It soon came to be obvious when the 11pm chant/meditation session was to begin. Shara and I had been apprised as to the procedure of the sessions by a friendly practitioner named Tom. While others chanted and sang the prayers from memory,
the apparent newbies such as myself read directly from the booklet provided for use. I found my mouth getting drier and drier, as the lines we sang were rapid and wordy, in English peppered with Sanskrit and Tibetan words. Staring at the beautiful array of deity statues and ornamentations, and the offering table covered with lit candles, I felt content to bring in the new year in a humble, introspective fashion rather than in the loud, smoky din of a bar or music venue. (Last year, I spent the entire new year's eve night alone, sicker than ever, watching almost the entire BBC mini-series adapted from a Charles Dickens novel.)

By 1am, the chanting was done and the Geshe (teacher) called out "Happy New Year," which prompted everyone to stand and share New Year's hugs and greetings. My friends Be and D'Zyne stepped over to chat and embrace; it was wonderful to see them here--also as first-timers to this Center.

Folks began laying their blankets and sleeping bags along the back wall and also near the front of the sanctuary, and the lights were soon dimmed for this sleep break. Shara and I went out to the car to retrieve our sleeping things and soon joined the others, bedded down for a few hours until the next chanting session, which was to start at 3am.

A gentle whispered wake-up call was issued near my head. "We start in 10 minutes," spoke one of the community members. I roused myself, feeling my mouth all chalky inside, wishing that I'd remembered to bring a toothbrush. In a beautiful wordless choreography, all the once-sleeping people were now up, lighting candles, turning up the sanctuary lights, and finding theirs seats on the floor or on the ample-seated chairs. Shara kindly brought over two blankets, so we could each cover our shivering legs.

Once the session at 3am began, my mind stopped drifting and became attuned to the communal intention, as well as my specific and personal goals. To be clear-minded (not merely sober, but also keenly aware) and thoughtful, with a dedication to rouse what needs to be roused, but to tame, regulate, and simmer the sorrows, doubts, and worries that distract. It was a tough session, staying awake to repeat prayers in a melodic chant, and my thirst seemed a huge obstacle to getting through this experience. But I've been thirsty before, and obstacles are usually temporary, so I plowed through, sometimes merely whispering occasional words rather than forcing myself to keep up forcefully strong. For inspiration, I let my eyes wander over the visage of the Tara statue. Her outstretched right leg, the mudra (spiritual gesture) formed by her fingers, and the shiny headdress on her slightly-bowed head.

Such practice brings out hope in me--a hope to somehow emulate and radiate the characteristics and internal features of spiritual strength and engaged Buddhistic persona. My striving is gentle, as I realize I am not perfect and that I don't have to be "done" or transcendent today.

I am just grateful that I have successfully turned the corner to a new year and will work intentionally to use every day of the next 365 that I might be blessed to live to accomplish good works for the benefit of all and for the betterment of my internal self.

Before the 6am session started, Shara and I rolled up our sleeping bags and blankets, put on our shoes, and headed out into the dawn and into 2011. Searching for pancakes and coffee, having found a most beautiful serenity at the Kadampa Center, lit on the inside.