Meet Sergeant Papi Chulo, The Company Guy

When in a pinch, when you need someone who’s practiced in discretion, when you need a wingman, you call on Papi Chulo. Every unit’s got this guy; the Puerto Rican/Cuban/Mexican/Dominican who’s down for whatever! Johnny and Phoebe enlist Sgt. Papi Chulo in their antics:

Finals Schminals!

The Pennsylvania State University
The Pennsylvania State University

It’s finals week at ye olde alma mater (see what I did there?). Remember finals? FINALS. Mind, body, and spirit just wigging out to appease the professor.

Take a break, Sojourner of The Optimal Grade Point Average. I invite you to indulge in a bit of escapism. Enjoy my top 3 popular posts of the last week:

FOOD PORN: This British Divorce Party Ain’t Over!

FLASH FICTION: Eviction Number Four

FEATURED BLOGGER: How To Lead Infantrywomen in Combat


Do I Care?

This week I commemorate two years of living in The Treehouse, and the metamorphosis from shadow artist to blissful writer.


During the journey, I made time to answer questions long unaddressed, by reading, reflecting and journaling. Constant journaling. This particular journal entry is one of my favorites; for one, expression of style really emerged, as well as the deft means of engaging the question concerning care, utilizing Martin Heidegger’s philosophy, applying modern attributes.

Journal Entry June 11, 2012

Police chatter from the side of the building facing the street. You can’t unknow that. You can’t unknow the context of a police presence in the neighborhood. You can’t unknow your personal experiences folded atop the known. You can’t unknow the assumption made based on current circumstances, past situations, and future implication.

The chatter is loud, close by. I go outside to find the officer or police car it emanates from, but no success. I hear mumbles and then, “little boy.” No one’s outside, which makes me think the radio chatter is happening in the building. Which makes me want to know the unknown. It’s not interesting to re-hash what I already know; not for me. I prefer fresh unknowns becoming knowns. I want to know that the police chatter that I can hear but not see has to do more with the dysfunctional family that seemingly reanimates when inconvenient. Spectors the whole of them; when they’re here there’s constant calamity. Taking my past situations, then, I consider them responsible for the police presence. Knowing the loud and brash daughter of the clan has an infant, I relate “little boy” in reference to him, the poor result of an entrapment which leads to the loud girl’s constant abuse from her baby daddy, who has also recently manifested. Taking present circumstances, I deduce the small family is at war again, he volleying with fists, she mouthing off to anyone in range. Future implications as far as the involvement of police, the history of abuse, the negligence of the child’s safety leads me to summate that the state will have to intervene by either a parent in jail or the child in custody. I await satisfaction but may never receive it. Thus the unknown unknown.

There are things we know we know, there are things we know we don’t know, there are things we don’t know we know, and there’s things we don’t know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld, ogre to the world during the Iraq conflict made a great amplification of the angst of the unknown and was laughed at for it. I thought it was, and still is, a remarkable statement. For it is in Angst, where we calculate how to deliver our knowledge to the world. We build Angst on social discourse and philosophy, past events and impact of said events, and then our innate understanding of the topic that Angst is debating.

I don’t believe Rumsfeld ever deliberately did not want to know a thing, but he sure knew when to not Care when he did know a thing. The police chatter is long gone, and I am left with a known unknown. There is an opportunity to revisit Angst to chew over the bits and pieces of discovery, understanding, and past thought. In the act of visiting the concept, Angst allows opportunity to discern whether or not to frame the result as Care or as Known. For there are things we can know and not care about, like Donnie’s knowledge of no such weapons of mass destruction, or we can know it, care about it, enough to do something about it, such as Rumsfeld’s lobbying of Congress to increase defense spending towards a cause greater than the truth of WMDs.

The question is, do I care to know why the police chatter about a little boy occurred near my house? Or do I want to know the components of which introduced the chatter, so that I can merely check against my list of factors and see just how accurate my deduction was? Does it matter? That’s where Care comes in. In this moment, I offer to Angst a reminder that conflict enrages me, cause me to latch on and mull over the offender, occupies my consciousness with a furious want for resolve. It is best, as my own healer, to bade off the angst of the chatter, because if it becomes Care, I’ll become resolute in solving a mystery that doesn’t have to be solved by this mind.

I drop the frame of Care, and be satisfied that I have a known unknown.

Fröhliche Kriskringlestag!

Me, Osterholz, Germany, c. 1988. Somebody's about to get a face full of schnee!
Osterholz, Germany, c. 1988. Somebody’s about to get a face full of schnee!

I’ve been to Bremen,Germany several times, mainly on guided school trips depending what was being studied, and a couple of jaunts around with the family unit, but it was the regular all-school trip to der Marktplatz on Kriskringlestag that excited me the most. My first recollection that Tuesday at the Kriskringlemarkt was of the air of happiness. Everyone was out with their families, everyone was smiling, laughing. We were lucky it hadn’t snowed that day, so the air was typical Norddeutschland cool for the year, and it wasn’t uncomfortable to be out. I thought it impressive that the German schoolkids my age weren’t out on a class trip like we were, they were out with their parents. Their parents and grandparents didn’t go to work that day.

I remember grouping in the marktplatz, our instructor offering firm warnings and descriptive consequences if we misbehaved, and then, we were released into the public space. These moments were wonderful opportunities to indulge in wandering. In typical fashion I broke off from the group, and got the lay of the land.

Roland surrounded by Christmas season decorations. From 1988 visit to Kriskringlemarkt.
Roland surrounded by Christmas season decorations. From 1988 visit to Kriskringlemarkt.

One of our trip assignments (of course, we had to work) was to visit the booths and engage the vendors in German, which, looking back, I am so glad my instructors required this. This was 1988; I was 11 years old. So I had to practice manners, structured German, and international diplomacy in one fell swoop. No wonder I don’t get stage anxiety now. Thanks, all my teachers between 1987 and 1990!

If you know your world history, Bremen is and still remains to be a large commerce hub. But here in one of the German benchmarks of international commerce, you didn’t feel that stuffiness, that air of self-import, that braggadocio that comes from competing markets. No, not on Kriskringlestag.

Each vendor I engaged was an artisan in his or her chosen craft. I recall visiting a cuckoo clock stand, a marionette maker, a doll house display tent (little girls love houses!), all made from hand. There wasn’t any pretense to the work, either. I remember picking up a wooden recorder and admiring its smooth and shiny surface, the precision of the holes cut along it, then looking up to the vendor, looking down at it and me with an undeniable pride.

Knowing me, I probably spent more Deutschmarks on brötchen and wurst than gifts for my family, but I’ll always remember how community-centric this event was. That stuck with me as paramount, and why now, I don’t get into any of the American celebrations. They’re too cold, too marginalizing. There’s no sense of community, no remembering the basics of humanity. Let’s use this holiday to be together and to enjoy the act of gift giving as a celebration of culture, not a celebration of excess.

When the stress and overspending get to be too much for observing, I find my quiet space and think about those days in the Kriskringlesmarkt.

Enter The Blitzkrieg

T minus 9 minutes…

First phase, see what we got that meets the graffiti on the wall.

Second phase, see what needs to be created by scratch.

Third phase, let the characters put themselves in order. Call them forward, write as that person until they’re done telling their part of the story.

Twelve minute nap.

Cycle through the phases until all the graffiti has been addressed.

Gonna be writing for the next 10 hours? We’re totally hangin’ out!

Hmmm…what music are we feelin’ for Act Two? Thinking 90’s R&B. Oh, here’s the jump off song:


7:04AM. Manuscript refitted to 82,834 from 90,000.

I was actually startled by the sun already being up when I rolled my spine up straight. Bobby’s had the bed to himself the entire night. He must be in doggy heaven.

Can’t really blink right now.

I discovered if I’m cold, I won’t fall asleep. Also, there are people who are not good at snark, but are determined to post comments anyways. Ahh, humanity!

The toughest thing in pulling an all-nighter is realizing you’ve just heaped on just as much work as you thought you cleared away. In my case, I discovered a fishtail in my ending chapters. Freakin’ freaky freak freak FUCK!

Sleeping on it. Best to sleep on these things.

7:10am. Going to bed now. Please leave witty, thoughtful comments. And of course, click to Follow my blog! Nothing like new friends.

Good morning.

Too Big For My Britches

Original Post Date October 09, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Technical difficulties send Von back to the draftboard.

Technical issues, all day, every day this week! It started with a video call with my family, and my cousin informing me my Patch blog link doesn’t come up at home. She lives in Panama (the country, not the beach up north) and she and others over there can’t read about my antics. If they can’t read it, then people in Germany can’t read it, the guys in Afghanistan can’t read it, shoot.

Then I received a return email from our very own St. Pete Patch editor, William Mansell, regarding the want to adapt my blog for different Patches in Pinellas County. His answer, emulate same post with an individual account where I want to be. Tedious. I reminded him I couldn’t embed videos in the body of the posts. William (Will? Willy? We never got informal) said all it needed was a refresh to the page. You can look at “Grace Under Fire” and see the short code in full; even if you refresh all day, it’s not showing the video. Argh.

onthemic1I designed a music-centric post with the intention of embedding the videos related to the conversation I wanted to have with you. I logged into my YouTube channel, typed in one of the artists, and when I hit play, I got no audio. I noticed the speaker icon had an x beside it. Must’ve disabled it somehow, right? Checked my settings, visited the video manager, and there was a copyright issue. “Third party dispute,” was the phrase highlighted beside my video. To borrow from my friend Sonia’s catalog, “What the WHAT!?” I clicked on it to read further, and some organization claimed to own the song I sang in the video. The random organization cited “We Was Crazy” as the infringed composition. Huh? The song I sang is “Crazy,” by Patsy Kline, written by Willie Nelson, recorded in 1961. I highly doubt “We Was Crazy” was rockin’ the airwaves back then. Erroneous, erroneous claim! I shouted to my YouTube screen, and I prepared to dispute it formally, but trying to be time-sensitive, opted to just click Acknowledge and move on. The restoration of audability didn’t occur til close to 6pm.

What a mess. I have a marketing distribution list, a Twitter account, a channel, a blog, scattered all over the 0s and 1s. Like the time I pulled on Gina’s pants and they stopped below my big butt: I’ve grown too big for my britches. This is a good sign, growth means progress. It means interest in my art. So it’s time to collect all these sources of information and put them in a clean, dynamic, global portal under the brand Von Simeon. I planked down the finski to register a domain name, and will use the rest of October to get it organized for ya. Until I say so, keep checking in here. If you’d like a direct announcement, please email with the header “add to distribution.”

I Come From The Water

Original Post Date August 14, 2013 at 01:32 PM

Von finds the answers to her editing problems underwater. Dive in!

swimmingThe story goes, my siblings and I learned how to swim by being tossed in the deep end of the pool, and the goal was to reach the awaiting parent on the opposite end before sinking. The story goes, we each were initiated while still in diapers. I can only assume this strategy was deployed during a time when we wouldn’t retain any trauma. Thus, I don’t concretely know when I started swimming, I just know I’m a natural swimmer.

When my family was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas during the early 80s, the parents would entertain us three hooligans by visiting the Thomas Pool or the Blue Pool quite regularly. On one visit, my father did something so amazing, it blew my five year old mind. He plunged into the deep end of the pool, and he sat at the bottom, cool and collective, sending up a bubble on occasion to my perplexed face hanging over the side. He seemed to be down there for hours. He’d surface, just as cool and collective, as if he was breathing underwater the entire time. I had it in my head to learn how to do that.

A few pool visits in, and I figured out how to manage my air intake so I can manage the pressure against my body and keep myself from floating. When the lifeguards would blow the whistle to clear the pool for break, I used it as a signal to submerge and sit on the bottom of the deep end. I thought it was hilarious when the duped lifeguard violently blew his whistle from his comfortable post at the sight of me popping up. The other kids found this spectacle entertaining, and encouraged me to keep doing it. Of course, the lifeguards caught on and my mother, needing to be spared any further embarrassment, made me stop messing with them.

The interesting thing was, on the rare occasion a lifeguard did see me underwater, he or she never came in for me. So it became affixed temporally that underwater is a safe zone, a place where I can separate from someone annoying or something bothersome. During my graduate years at Penn State University, I regularly visited the campus natatorium with fellow swimmers from my department, and, as I carved out lap after lap in that NCAA pool, I was able to clear out bottlenecks related to my research, revisit issues with my thesis, or curse the name of certain professors giving me a hard time.

Last week, while reviewing my notes, I realized a certain sub-character was making herself more relevant. I had a direction for her, but she seemed to want another trajectory. It halted all my activity. I looked at my bikini hanging on my bathroom door, and knew I had to take it to the water. It took a few rounds to deconstruct and reconstruct the storyline, scenario by scenario, but once I finally broke the surface, it was figured out.


Today, Be Grateful

Original Post Date September 11, 2013 at 11:05 AM

The author has way too much to smile about these days.

20130829_191228What a gorgeous day! Do you feel that breeze? Mmm, smell that salty Gulf water. Isn’t life grand?

Of course it is. Which makes writing action sequences with intense hate-fueled violence increasingly difficult. I mean really, how can I describe the bones in one’s face crumbling when I have this brilliant gold sunshine bursting over my shoulder?

Been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. I’m grateful that I can have such a dilemma as my creative one. It’s all unicorns and rainbows for me, now almost two years living on the Gulf coast, embodying the Salt Life as my own. It wasn’t too long ago that my mind, spirit and body were riddled with uncertainty. That era, thankfully, an unfamiliar place now. Although Bobby T recently reminded me what that place was like.

Bob and I enjoy three constitutionals a day, on average. A couple of evenings ago, he signaled walk time with a strategic bump of my hand off of my wireless keyboard. I strapped on his harness and we headed down to the lake. At the foot of the tree to our left, Bobby pounced on what I figured was yet another anole. He lifted his paw and revealed a very disoriented, very LARGE cicada. He motioned as if he was going to leave it alone, but it buzzed its wings, which signaled Bobby to suck it up in his mouth. Eww! was my immediate reaction. But then again, dogs be dogs.

I would say we got midpoint along the path by the lake when Bobby T made a customary stop. Instead of lifting his leg, he opened his mouth and released the cicada, very much alive and disturbed at this point. I ordered Bobby to leave it, and he did, but the cicada messed up. It defiantly buzzed its wings. Which made Bobby circle back and inhale it once more.

We arrive at the end point where I usually double back to the house, and Bobby made one more stop. He spat out the cicada. This time I pulled Bobby away from it so it could flit off. But it was too late. The fight in the bug was no more.

“Bobby! You treated that bug like a plaything. Holding it in your mouth just because you could. You’re a torturer, a bully! Where did you learn that kind of oh okay I get it now.”

The errors of my past played out in front of me by my own dog. He didn’t even know me then. I took it as a sign from the Universe, a quiet reminder of the person I allowed myself to be, who I was conditioned to believe was acceptable, who earned a reputation for disturbing and disorienting.

Grateful. Grateful that it is all rainbows and unicorns and black dogs with an eerie knack for interpretive philosophy.