Fresno Times Chronicles by matt carlson

Lily Bean – (Part 2) by matt carlson

The children had been manic that day, so had she. They’d laughed and sang : giggling like crazy! Such a fun day at the San Francisco Wharf last March. They’d eaten fried fish and chips, sodas and cotten candy. They’s walked along the water (Lily more slowly due to her increasing weight) and watched the seals play on the rocks down below. The boat trip to Alcatraz so scarey  too – and beautiful. Now it seemed  so long ago.

Patsie Bean, 14 her overweight daughter was still at home, the spitting image of a younger Amie Winehouse but without the drug problems. She was a sensitive girl, an artist. Open to the world, but only on her termes. She was reclusive in nature, an introvert most of the time and tried as best she could to deal with the world. Her new bedroom at Creek Haven in Fresno California was a protected space, her ‘away space’. she loved stealing away Snickers bars and Gummy Bears in her secret drawer of delights.

Her skinny, pot smoking  younger brother Bernie was in Juvenile Hall. He was 17 going on 30. Already a Father to two little girls who lived with their mother hidden away in Dinuba. He hadn’t met them yet, hadn’t told his own Mother about it either. He felt shame. Adding to the growing list of problems, his stay in Juvenile Hall wasn’t all wine and roses. He’d been picked up for stealing a second car and was paying the price.  Plus he had had marajuana on him when the police arrested him.

Lily sat at her small table in the den, munching on a Gummy Bears (her favorite along with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) while looking out the window towards the courtyard. She scratched her left arm while watching a young mother play with her daughter. It was a special moment for them and while observing the two was thrown back again into her past, when raising her young children had been fun. It wasn’t the case anymore, aside from Patsie of course. Patsie was her rock. So solid that girl. They’d developped a close relationship, much more like  two best friends than daughter and mother.

She ran her fingers through her brown hair and remembered her very short ex-husband Bill with his wavey brown hair; he too had been a part of that little family once upon a time. They had grown apart, wanting different things. He had suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder – this had created an enormous division between them as well.  She had sincerely tried to help him up to a certain point, but to no avail. His being almost dwarf-like had pleased her, at times she could imagine he was her little boy as they walked the aisles of the grocery store. But he had been all man in bed, his endowment below the waist making up for any short stature elsewhere. ..

Besides being alone suited her best. She liked being single. She could just fart in bed when she wanted, instead of leaving the room with a pretext and having to pass gas down the hallway. That and nobody stole her candy or raided her prized refrigerator. It was a european brand called SuperCOLD 5000 and she had gone through a lot of trouble to get it here in California. That was partly thanks to her husband who still sold appliances and had contacts over there. She smiled to herself while looking dreamily at her beloved grey shiney colored refrigerator and its unusual cucumber shaped door handle…With a sigh she breifly remembered Bill’s below the waist attributes…

Suddenly, she briskly pulled a package of hair color out of her purse:  was she really gonna become a blond? Ted had often asked her to do it – now she would do it just for herself. Now that ‘Tampon Ted’ was out of her emotional picture, she could be herself again. She still missed his long blond curls; loved playing with it, brushing it. He had wanted something more from her, something that she was unable to give. Now she wanted to answer that eternal question : ‘Do blonds really have more fun?’ by herself. Patsie would of course, be her hair assistant.

“It looks great on you! I can’t believe it,” claimed her daughter. “You look soooo different!” Her eyes bugged out of her head, her mom really did look terrific.

“Really? You’re not just saying that are you?” Asked Lily. She looked in the mirror, squinted hard at her reflection in the mirror. She kind of liked it, kind of didn’t. But she was going for different and different it was! She smiled at herself, “You’re right it does look pretty good.” Now if only I could get rid of these 20 extra pounds on my ass! They laughed in unison. Mother and daughter where a bit chunky, both with consequential behinds – very popular with black men….

She stood up and looked at herself fully in the hallway dressing mirror, Patsie standing next to her, twin-like, one blond, one dark haired. They laughed together at their image. These little moments were what life was all about.



OMG! What Have I Done?? by matt carlson

March 14th here in Clovis California….I woke up in Fresno (where I’m staying) and I woke up with a stomach ache. I am feeling misplaced & lost. I have left my zone of comfort on every level here. I Have left France (for a while) to return back to my roots, to reconnect. Now, I just want to go  back home and take care of the fish in the pond, take a solar shower outside while looking at the Saint Victoire, feed the birds, sing in my wooden chalet…. see some of my friends…spend some time with my other half….oops! I Wanted, Wanted, Wanted our love to be real :

BUT That other half has turned out to be a monster in Borderline Personality Disorder clothes!! The lamb now a wolf has taken off his clothes and tried to eat the person who cared for him. I have become its favorite dinner and TALL TALE. I  have left to save myself, to recreate a new life here, to reconnect and to qualify people, places and ideas. I want NO REGRETS. I am full of intentions here in the land of the raisin…..OMG!

Fortunately, I haven’t had any expectations; nothing has happened that has surprised me. I learned alot living in France for 27 years and today I know and understand people: their motivations, their hypocritical ways, their words within words….As well as those that show true friendship and love. True generosity comes with NOT expecting something in return. It is not about getting something, or working out your own personal problems against someone, nor should it be a way to manipulate someone further down the road for gain…

I know when someone is being sincere with me or not.

Six weeks are coming up this week since I’ve been here and I’m still searching for my nitch. My nitch might be in Palm Springs, or perhaps even in the mountains nearby or perhaps on a tropical island….hmmmm Hawaii? Will my dogs be happy over there?

I am at the moment here in Clovis California at the PARISIEN, a French bakery… How funny is that? Maybe I could work with the owner by organizing French music concerts around his food…maybe we could organize events together….See? My mind is trying to figure out answers, trying to find my tribe. Palm Springs is a nice idea – had alot of fun there this weekend at the Indian Wells ATP/WTA tournament, with all the stars of tennis and located in a sublime place. On top of that, terrific company with a new friend orginally from Vietnam. I was treated like a king and also met up with some friends from the past, one who lives in Palm Springs….

In the meantime, I feel better after eating a French meal here in old town of Clovis, California. Funny too that name, Clovis. It’s French. Clovis was known as the first King of what would become France….


Fresno Times: Lily Bean by Matt Carlson

That damn sofa was just too darn soft, she thought out loud. And that dang cigar burn brought back memories of Ted and all the trouble that last love affair had cost her.  What an asshole that guy had been. She slurped on a gigantic cola slurpie and flicked off the television. There were too many fù&*ing commercials on the tv and every five minutes or less. She felt she could put a bullet right though that screen sometimes. And no, she was not interesting in becoming a nurse, or studying to become a ….whatever. “Fuck off,” she said to the screen as it went black.

“Ding,” went her phone softly. Another message and another sales pitch. She rolled her eyes in annoyance. Today was her day off, the only one of the week. She had three jobs to pay for her bills and wondered if it would ever end. Somehow and very quickly her life had become some kind of running event. Getting up too early, running off to job number one at Windco’s grocery story, then when she finished at one p.m., she skedaddled to job number two where she sold shoes at Eartha Kits. There she worked until six; bending over and ringing up shoes for five hours was exhausting. She barely had time to get to the Fireside Bar & Grill where she served drinks which was across town. The Fireside wasn’t so bad once she got there. She got a few drinks when she wanted and aside from the painful foot work all day, she did get a bit of a social life and she still looked good in a skirt and high heels. Downside: she worked late & it’s where she’d met that turdface Ted!

She tried not to think about it mostly, but it seemed to worm itself into her awareness like a tired tampax. It was inside, it had to be there, well for a while anyway. The thing was, she had pulled the ‘tampax of Ted’ out of her body a long time ago and still that bastard’s image was haunting her. What gives?  She grabbed a cigarette out of her purse and lit it. She inhaled deeply and felt that instant rush of nicotine. “I gotta stop this shit too,” she said to herself.

Her apartment was rather nice. It was a gated community  – though everything appeared delapidated and sad today. The furniture she’d bought most of it at yard sales. she loved yard sales. It was an American heritage and you got great deals. She’s got her iron grilled coffee table at a yard sale. It was gorgeous – everybody that saw it said so. It was ornate with dark blue tiles and brown – she loved the curvy iron shape of it. She’s bought it at a yard sale where someone had lost their shirt so to speak and the sale was paying back taxes. “Ouch!” She thought.

She reached up and ran her fingers through her long brown hair feeling her scalp and massaging her temples. Her life was no longer her own. She took a deep breath and considered the break up and how she’d lost her life. Now she was paying for it with three dead end jobs and living pay check to pay check. There had to be something better than all this. And she knew too that the food that she was eating, had always eaten was a load of crap. Junk food. All of it.





Fresno Times: Return To Fresno by Matt Carlson

Return to Fresno by Matt Carlson

The first thing was the smell. Kind of grassy. Dirt smells too, then some indescribable odor of pollen. A mix of what? Acaccia and…? I longed to hear the Amtrak train leave out a forlorn cry, but to my ears there were only back ground sounds of cars in the distant night air. Out here in North Fresno, there were no trains. The trains were in the south… We’d been picked up at the airport by my little brother who had as promised brought: dog food, water and water dishes, blankets and a towel for clean up just in case. He arrived in some humungus SUV or jeep/tank, all new and shiney. I wondered how short people got inside – I’m not short and had to give it a good hop to get to the passenger seat. “Ohh, I-HOP”, and suddenly I’m thinking of pancakes! Wondering if it’s still as yummy (short stack) as it used to be. Without the bacon, of course.

It was all good. The dogs had survivied the ordeal and seemed just fine. There wasn’t even any pee-pee in their temporary  housing that they had had to stay in during the fourteen hour flight. And “No”, I repeated, each time when one of the airport attendants told me to put my dogs back into their cages. “I’m not doing it,” I said. “They’ve just spent 16 hours locked inside!” (I’d added a couple of hours to my original assessment which was actually more accurate…Flight plus pre-flight and after flight time.) With one woman who apparently didn’t like dogs, and as I battled with my guitar, two dogs, two empty cages, and four bags, I replied while lifting everything ever-so-gracefully on the sliding coveyor belt to be scanned, “If you want to come over and do it – you’re invited.” My sarcasm was truely a glorious weapon at times like this.

Getting back to the stress of the flight, I’d been probably stressed out enough for the three of us,  certainly enough for the dogs. But it was the only way to get them here: by plane.

“Here” was to my roots; where I’d been born. To come back before I couldn’t do it anymore.  Exactly like a salmon swimming up stream! I wanted to at least give it a shot to see if I could somehow fit in back here one last time – though I had never fit in here.  Why would that be different now? I was in reality  a very different person than who I was at 20 years of age when I’d first left….On top of that, I was seeing the clock ticking away. In ten years I wouldn’t be as spry as I am at 56. In ten years I would be (gasp!) 66 years old!! So if I wanted to have this experience in my lifetime, it had to be now or never. I chose now, not interested in having regrets.

I came without expectations, which is a good thing. I am observing, but not judging. People are saying things that they do not do or mean. While eyes are looking into mine, words are spoken, but eyes do not lie. People are much more what they do and much less what they say. I know this and yet in the beginning of my trip, I had forgotten. There are few people from my past that I knew  I wanted to spend time with – and others I haven’t remembered yet.Those that I’ve thought of have given me one day, or one afternoon, perhaps a dinner or a phone call with, “I’ll call you next week.” Fortunately, I’m making new friends, unexpectedly, because those promised phone calls are not happening. But I’m not waiting by the phone either. I get it. Life goes on.

My new story is coming along well and I’m ready to get back on stage. In the meantime, the neighbors, the gardners and especially the dogs are my audience. No complaints so far!

Animal Farm by Matt Carlson

Seemingly disappointed by their great fall & stuck on the wet, cemented or dirt part of the ground, they  silently waited. Would the breath of the wind come? Perhaps a child’s hand to pick them up & admire their beauty? Or maybe a rake? Not so long ago they had ruled the trees, had been in cohorts with the sun, the sky and the birds – so sure of their foreverness. Even the moon sang to them…Now, their outer edges frayed, in varying stages of decomposition, brownish & blackened, they lay patiently. Two days of icy rain added to the crock pot effect: Mother Natures way of cold cooking her elements, of transfomation.

This was dog poop land & so excrement was disposited here & there along the row of trees & among the dying leaves which added an element of laisser aller by the city’s inhabitants…Some of the more concientious citizens picked up their dog’s fecal matter – always a piece of paper or a plastic bag in their pockets. They seemed to be waving these small papers like flags while awaiting their chocolate covered reward. As if to say: “I’m picking it up! I’m picking it up!”

The major  inhabitants of this great city known as Paris were the humans. They were responsible for running things in a manner of human efficiency – or so they thought. But their ways were selfish and full of self interest. They only liked the leaves or the trees for what was offered to them: a pretty sight, a nice environment to walk their dogs, a quick break fom their stressed & frantic lifestyles. They were not concerned with the oxyen the trees gave or ever wondered about the roots, or the roots well being or even the leaves for that matter. The humans only thought of themselves.

Yet, somehow and in a very complicated manner, the humans were killing themselves off, setting up ‘their’ planet to a most disasterous end. With their industrialized ways of using anything and everything to their own selfish benefit, plant and animal, air and water, land, other people; whatever as long as it served an immediate human purpose. They never considered the big picture of something. The many pieces of the biological puzzle called Earth was being destroyed – there was little time left.

It was at this moment in time when the Orelians appeared from another planet in another galaxy; so far away that the people from Earth hadn’t discovered it yet. The Orelians had a philosophy about cultures that were destructive to healthy biospheres. They simply took over from the irresponsible race and waited until the planet became clean again. When it was ready, they would colonize it and use it’s resources, but in a sustainable manner. And so,  it was the case of the planet Earth. The people were taken off of their planet.

There were many advanced species flying around in the galaxy, species that had incredible scientific advances of thousands and thousands of years – way ahead of Earth and its population. ‘Earthers’ as they were called were considered as monkeys or as dogs – too primitive to have a choice in the matter of their own fate. They had done too much damage to their own ecosystem, had been killing themselves off. There was no other choice. The Orelians had come upon this planet by chance, the lights and energetic emissions had attracted them to it.  To their dismay they had discovered the ‘Earthers’.

The Orelians, extremely intelligent, were cultured  explorers with the necessary fire power to do what they wished. They had been searching for new resources in the sector and this blue planet had everything they required. Too, they’d just discovered a new food delicacy: humans…



Guests For Christmas Dinner by Matt Carlson

“Oh Paris,” she sighed out loud while thinking to herself, “I’m living the dream in the city of lights…”

The Art of Life Balance by Matt Carlson

complot-spy-1940x900_29453 Get Focused

Paris the 15th of December.

(Le Chateau de La Reine Blanche (the white queens castle)…

“Click, click, click,” went her wheelchair. Patches was constantly playing with the small gear shift-like lever on her electric chair. It was all she could do. The moving a bit to the right and then to the left, or even backing up gave her some sense of self control. Her world compared  to everyone else around her went at about 0.2 miles an hour meaning: slower than slow.

And being that she had very little awareness of anyone else, unless that person served a purpose, she didn’t give a flying fuck about them. It was when she wanted it and how she wanted it. Was it the MS that did that to her? Or was it her personality that had created the disease where her body was slowly destroying itself? The lesions on…

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Intentions by Matt Carlson

At an angle from the gallery window in my alcove at Le Château de la Reine Blanche, looking upwards I can see a terrace with its stone walls, overhanging plants swaying in the breeze, one of two towers, the closed apartment windows of neighbors. The weather is grey, humid ; still undecided. A bit like my heart. Should I stay or should I go?

Yesterday, I was certain of my departure: Being an alien in an alien world where language and culture are constantly at odds with one another, I want to run home where life might be less complicated, surrounded WITH loved ones. I want to share life with them.  I know that that idea of running home is not what it used to be. Mom is dead. Dad is dead. Aunt Muriel, Uncle George  & Aunt Jackie too. All dead. All the grandparents that I loved too. If I want to visit with any of them it will be at a cemetery.

Everyone has procreated too and those kids are young adults now with lives, jobs and yep you guessed it: kids of their own! These kids know me mostly through Facebook, though I visited briefly this summer and got to meet a few of them in person – which was terrific. Looking forward to meeting/seeing the rest of them…

And then there are those that are maybe mad at me for leaving. Maybe too for something else – who knows as they haven’t made any statements yet (or perhaps I’m just imagining all that…)  In any case, the dynamics of the family have changed since I left the states over 26 years ago. Internet was just kicking in…

So, I want to focus on my INTENTIONS; an essential to me. Intentions are the hows and whys we do things. So my intention or desire is  to spend more time with my family and HOW to do that! Being that I’ve lived thousands of miles away for several years adds brain clutter to the equation. That and social security/health care….

And now that I’ve seen the ugly heads of some that I never imagined possible before, I’m weary of that possibility. One brother has already showed signs of ‘non- reception’ . Maybe that’s changed…I hope so!

Stay tuned to following FUN chapters on Fresno Times and Paris Times!