Saturday, March 14, 2009

Answering A Letter

Hey Mario,

Thank you for your letter. I do not have time to write a lot of letters, mostly emails but I know you do not have that there. If you write back I might not answer for a while because I am so busy. I am very glad my book helped you to think about your life. When your time is up, you have to work hard in your life to do good. Really, if you think about it, it isn’t really that hard to do. One big thing I found when I was young is it all depends on who you hang with. Because even though you hang with your homies and they do something but you stay out of it, they will put you in jail just for being with them. From the way you sound, you are going to do OK when you get out.

You said you wished East Side Dreams did not end. Well, if you read Those Oldies but Goodies it keeps going. The only thing is it is in English only, then, when you are done with that book read, Forgotten Memories. I will send you a flyer on my books. The only one that is in Spanish is East Side Dreams. But they are all easy reading. The Monkey Box is about my family in Mexico ending in San Jose. Even though the prices are on the flyer are what they are, I give guys who are locked-up the books for $10 each and I pay the tax and shipping. If you just do not have the money, they might have it there in jail. Ask someone who takes care of the books, show them the flyer and they might be able to order them.

Thank you about saying you were sorry about my father. We think of him a lot. (From what Mr. Gorman ‘in East Side Dreams’ taught me I plan to see him right here on the earth.) Sad to say but my mother also passed away five years ago. That day a grandchild was born in the same hospital my mother passed away in. So it was a sweet sad day.

I am now 59 years old and I have already had bypass surgery on my heart. I guess I am following my mom and dad. But the thing is with all the new things they have now-a-days it gets better. They could keep me alive longer. I really blame all my bad health on the drugs I was into when I was young. They do take their toll. I am doing well right now. Three or four times I week I go to high and middle schools and speak to the kids. I get a lot of emails from them telling me that after reading my books they are out of the gangs and they are now going to work on getting an education. I tell kids not to tell anyone that they are not in a gang anymore, (no one wants to get shot!), just focus on their education and everything will be all right. Really, the best thing to do in life is what Mr. Gorman (Real name, Mr. Carmen) taught me. To read the Bible and follow what it tells you.

In my other book, Those Oldies but Goodies I tell about having my first two sons. Then when they were babies their mother took off. I had custody of them. Three years later I met my second wife. She had three kids about the same ages that my kids were. The oldest was around 9 and the youngest was 4 years old. So right away we had five kids. I used to tell Flora that we had to treat these kids right because they are going to grow-up and remember everything we did, both good and bad! So we worked on that really hard. Sure enough, they remember everything now that they are grown-up. They all look at us as our real mother and father. Plus, we had three more kids together. So we raised 8 kids. And now I am reaping the good things out of it. I have 16 grandkids and I love it. They come over to my home sometimes twice a week and my neighbors think I have a lot of parties! My grandkids are from as old as my youngest son who is 21 to 6 months old.

I used to tell my kids my stories about when I was young and I used to tell them to learn from them. I remember a friend telling me that I should not tell them my stories because then they are going to want to party the way I did. I told him, “But not only am I going to tell them my stories, but what could come with it. The heartache that one could get and the baggage for the rest of their lives they will have to carry.” Now I tell all young people to learn from my stores. I say young people do not have to learn the hard way but from stories like mine.

Kids who do have a good family and a good life, I tell them to really appreciate what they have. When they read my books they could see what could happen to them, as you well know, Mario. It is not hard to get caught up in that life. I know as you have read.

OK Kid, again, thanks for your letter. I get a lot of letters from young people and I try to answer when I can. The address you sent it to is all right. I own Dream House Press so it came to me. Take care and keep the good thoughts running.
Your Friend,
Art Rodriguez

Friday, March 13, 2009

Accident 2/21/09

If you read this below today is March 13, 2009 and I am doing well now. My head is still bruised and my neck is still sore. However I am back giving talks at schools and libraries. My seat belt and air bag saved my life. Always WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT!!!!!

Saturday February 21st s on my way to Watsonville Public Library. I was on the fast lane on freeway 101 in Gilroy with my speed control set on at 65 miles an hour. I felt my steering wheel move a little and as I grabbed on to it tight to correct it. Instantly I saw the concrete center of the freeway wall coming toward me so fast it was as if it slapped the side of my car. I do not know why, a blow out in my tire or something I ran over. (I have new tires on my car.) As the car started rolling over the windshield and some of the other windows were cracking all over in little prices, and then I saw white, not knowing at the time it was my airbag. (I did have my seat belt on.) I remember thinking, “I am going to die today!” Then as the car landed right side up as it was getting ready for another roll I saw all the glass flying toward me and it seemed as the next instant the books and things in the car were floating in the car. It hit right side up hard again. As the car was starting to roll again I thought, “I do not feel any pain and I do not think anything entered my body yet so maybe I will live! Maybe!” I told myself “Hold on!” I could not see out of the windows and I came to a stop, landed on the ground right side up.
Right away a lot of people were around my car trying to pull the doors open. A lady said, “I’m a nurse, are you hurt? Or where are you hurt?”
A man yelled to pull me out of the broken window because the car was going to blow up! But the nurse shouted, “No! Don’t move him!”
I was sitting there rubbing my neck because it hurt so much. A man on the other side of the car yelled out that there was no gas leaking. On both sides of the car there were three or four men rocking the car trying to open the doors but they could not get them open.
I asked one of the men if I had hurt anyone else. He said I did hit another car but no one in that car was hurt. Then it seemed as if it was one minute that the fire trucks and the Highway Patrol arrived. The cop said he had called the midivack (Helicopter) but right then an ambulance pulled up so he canceled it.
I asked the Highway Patrol to make sure if any of the people in the other car were hurt? He said, “No, there was no other car. Don’t worry, no one else is hurt.
The firemen were on the other side of the car working. The back door opened. One of the firemen crawled in and got behind me. He put something around my throat as if he was going to strangle me. He said, “Don’t move!” He was putting something on me so I would not move my neck in case it was broken.
Another fireman pulled my hat from somewhere and shoved it against my face. I remembered wondering, “What in the heck is he doing.” I did not know but they were using the jaws-of-life to cut my door open.” As soon as it was open they put something on my whole back and tied me onto it so I would not move. They laid me out head first and pulled me slowly on a gurney.
I was on the way to the hospital. It was funny because they were talking on the radio to the hospital telling them what happened and where I was injured. Then the guy in the back with me asked, “OK, I am going to ask you something important!”
I looked at him and answered, “OK?”
“Do you know where you are?”
I answered, “Yeah, I’m in an ambulance.”
Then he said, “OK, the next question is really important!”
“Is your head lopsided?”
I asked, “What?”
“Is your head lopsided?”
I said, “No!”
He then told the guy sitting on the passenger seat to tell the hospital on the radio that I also had a head injury!
Well, at the hospital first they took an x-ray and put an IV in. They gave me pain morphine, a few injections. Then they took a CT scan of my whole body to look at my spine and for any bleeding inside.
It all checked out OK. Then x-rayed my spine. By the late evening they said they were not going to let me go home because they were not sure of how I was and my head looked very large. The doctor kept me over night and said that the next day they had to take a MRI incase something started happening inside over night. I tried to talk the doctor into letting me go home that night because I just do not like being over night in the hospital, (My worse nightmare!) However, he said he could not let me go home because if I went home and died then there was going to be a big problem for him!
The next day the hospital did the MRI and blood tests. Everything was fine so finally I was able to come home.
Even though they tired to clean all the glass off of me, even vacuuming me I still had a lot of glass all over under my clothes. Glass was still stuck in me. I had to get in the shower as soon as I arrived home. When I stepped into the bathroom to take a shower I could not believe how I looked! I was all cut up with small bleeds all over and then my HEAD! It looked like the movie, “The Cone Heads!” The movie were aliens who came from other planets, that’s how I looked, my head was so big!
After the shower Flora had to pluck out the little glass all over.
I could hardly move my body the next morning, I am so sore. Even the first night my hands were so swollen that I could not close my hands. I guess it was from holding the steering wheel so tight. Today my swollen head went down a little but it is still large and lopsided. It looks funny.
I am very sad that I lost my car but everyone else is glad that I am still alive and could move my limbs!
I am being asked a lot, “How many lives do you have?”