Saturday, May 19, 2018

Southern Poetry Stamps

May 19th, 2018

"La Poesia" cafe, one of the notable literary establishments in Buenos Aires, seemed full when I arrived. Then, a patron rose abruptly from his table and walked, leaving most of his coffee behind. He may have suddenly looked at his watch, or seen me come while wearing my emblematic resting jerk face. Either way, I got a table towards the back, right under the metallic stairs that ensured shoe dirt would fall directly upon the dark beer, Spanish ham and bread I ordered later.

Bill Maher said to his audience in his monologue last night that he's not "... sure what you're all so happy about. The world is falling apart." From a Hawaiian volcano, to yet another shooting in Texas, the North part of the globe keeps surprising to the downside. That's not the case of the South, but hardly because of a shortage of tragedy. Down here, tragedy is to be expected. Good news are viewed with suspicion. Everyone waits for the other shoe to drop even before the first one hints at doing so.

A big, fat man walked in wearing the shortest tie in town. Its thinner part is significantly longer than protocol dictates. But he seems like someone who did it on purpose. Perhaps it will distract people from his receding hairline... or his weight... or the penguin-like steps with which he made his way towards a coveted table near the window.

He kept talking to the woman he was with. For reasons I'm unaware of, he seemed to talk with poetic metric; his sentences rhymed. Eavesdropping in their conversation, I noticed that every other statement was constructed as a haiku poem. 5-7-5. 5-7-5. 5-7-5.

I can't hear them clearly anymore. The couple next to me, a music-type long-haired guy with a cast and a tattooed girl with a ringed nose, kept getting louder. They were having a political discussion. But they seemed to be mocking the first couple by speaking in rhymes.

Ten minutes later, they left and an older couple took their place at the table. They are also arguing, but about what they can and cannot eat on account of their weakened digestive systems. Their discussion moved to the aesthetic value of the cemetery door they passed on the way here. She rhymed once and smiled. She did it again 5 seconds later. Now they are both talking in rhymes. This can no longer be a coincidence.

Does hoping for poetry so badly make conversations sound that way? Perhaps there is a mental disease that makes people hear words in a distorted way. Maybe speaking in poetry represents a strain influenced by a combination of an emotional state, the particular alcohol consumed, and the surroundings.

Won't wait to find out
Time snuck up on me again
May beer always join

May 19th, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Why not?

Happiness is overrated and reductive. Seriously, try experiencing some other emotions that remind you that you're human and not just a fucking robot.

Don't go to work today. Tell them you didn't feel like it this morning.

Don't ask people what they do. Ask them who they are, and what they wish they did.

Hang out with strippers. Play chess with bouncers. They may bitch slap if you beat them, but might give you some free cocaine to ease the pain. Same thing if you lose to them, but you will learn stuff.

Comedians are the best. Most of them drink too much. Just ask them for their opinions and you will never need to watch the news or go to church again.

Stroll into a store and ask which wine goes best with Fruity Pebbles cereal because milk is for babies and gives you gas.

Invite a friend over for an afternoon of popcorn and video games. Play and eat until your eyes and stomach hurt.

Who cares that you can't sing or dance?  It's a gift, not a competitive token.

Take a walk to nowhere. Smell some flowers. Get lost and ask strangers for directions.

Talk to a tree. People talk to cats, and YOU are crazy? Trees breathe, drink water, give you air, food, and stay humble. Cats give you allergies and bullshit. They think they are in this world to be served as kings.

Stay awake to the disinformation. Sources are everything. Walter Cronkite isn't here anymore.

French-kiss a stranger. Have an educated opinion. Disagree with people. 

Draw something, even if you're shit. You might never become an artist, but doesn't it just feel nice to do something without validation?

Smoke a cigarette, smoke some weed, drink green tea, and drink beer... as long you made that choice.

You might need to smile for your freedom one day. Have some practice. 

Stop watching the news and go outside, even if "going outside" means doing so in your mind. What does the world look like to you?

Love and learn to let go of love. Just try. It works. And it doesn't, but that's okay.

Try something, man. Stop following everything and everyone. Stop worshiping human beings who don't give a fuck about you.

Live your life, man. Split your last $100 with a homeless person and have a conversation. Maybe then you will realize that the idea of happiness they have sold us our entire life is a trap that will have us living in fear more than hope.

Imagination is powerful. Create your own world and live in it.

Don't be afraid.

You are going to die.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Brief accounts of the inner self - Oaxaca

San Jose del Pacifico is a small town south of Oaxaca, in Mexico. Getting here is quite the journey. Almost four hours drive from Oaxaca city, most of the route is going up and down the mountains. The views are as beautiful as they are dizzying. This is not a journey for anyone suffering from vertigo, not for the faint of heart.

Vertigo cam, in fact, result from exposure to heights; but also the consumption of substances that alter the cognitive ability of the brain. The latter can be frightening and disorienting for the occasional participant of artificially induced experiences, like the ones elicited by the consumption of psilocybe-containing mushrooms.

Depiction of an ancient mushroom ceremony

Intake with a small red apple, in the afternoon takes place.

5:55 pm - Ingestion of Psilocybe Caerulescens, locally known as "Derrumbes" took place on a rainy afternoon, accompanied with a small red apple to manage the disgusting earthy taste. On their own, it's like putting muddy dried celery and banana skin on your mouth. The aftertaste is just as bad, if not worse.

6:09 - Because the ingestion was solid units of the mushroom, the vision already started to become blurry. The process is slow, but more noticeable with each passing unit of time.

6:13 - Auditive ability improves, with increased capacity to isolate sounds and overall perception of distant sounds. Blurring vision process stabilizes.

6:24 - Slight chills start to take place on the neck and back. Legs start to feel week, uncoordinated. Future walking will be compromised very soon. Oxygen feels scarcer. Deeper breathing is now in order.

6:28 - Sudden shaking starts. Vision blurred further. Strange metallic taste surrounds the mouth and starts expanding to the nose. The senses start to melt, with the nose growing taste buds and sounds starting to smell.

6:38 - Nausea takes over. It's now impossible to shake it off.

6:40 - Some fluid starts to drop from the nose. The body is confused. The disorienting feeling that started with the senses has expanded to the mind and is taking over.

Ability to continue journaling the experience is greatly diminished after this. The remaining entries are added in a disorderly fashion, and depart from the objective, chronological coverage up until now. It is now time to enter the house of the mushroom.

The house of the mushroom

Undeserving. Unworthy. Funny how clouding the body can often clarify the mind and open the soul.

Just live, man.

Maybe I brought the rain to your life. Maybe you liked it a little bit. Maybe you still miss it, sometimes.

Come back to NY! Come to LA! See you in Mexico! Yet, here I am, hiding from myself, escaping what you call reality. That's why I'm so patient with people that do this to me.

Praise! A lifetime of seeking one bottle after the next, stepping on anyone in the process. 

Storms everywhere I go. They I leave, and they flood.

It took me a while and a lot of courage to finally turn the page.

I'm supposed to be the charmer, but I've had some pretty incredibly affectionate things said to me by the women I was supposed to conquer. It's disarming, and against the rules. 

How full can the stomach be, and still feel?

How much of your past defines you, how much just breaks you?

I guess I always admired funghi's ability to bring beauty out of some of the most vile of things. I mean, how cool is it that the word goes from "fungus" to "funghi" to denote the plural?

Somos los que nos rehusamos a echar raíces donde nacimos los que luego luchamos más duro para enraizarnos a lo que queremos.

Always wondering "what do I need?", when we should be also asking "to do what?!".

They grow in the dark? Yes! And see what they make of it.

Mosquero, one of the most recognized mushrooms

Original sketches. There is no hope of capturing everything that transpired those six hours, an eternity of sorts.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

40 Exceptions

This is 40. And it doesn’t feel a day over 30.

Except, left shoulder and right knee complain at the first unusual twist while exercising, or bending to pick up something heavy.

Except, I can no longer devour my food. It needs to be taken in smaller portions throughout the day, or I will feel bloated and my pants will feel uncomfortably tight.

Except, I now have to squint my eyes in order to read the next street’s sign or recognize the face of the person waiving at me from the other end of the sidewalk.

Except, I now need at least a full eight hours of sleep after a night of drinks, when I used to be able to just shower quickly and get on with my day the next morning.

Except, drinking on planes will now leave me groggy and with a headache, forcing me to resort to water or tea instead.

Except, food that is too spicy will have me postpone morning meetings in order to tend to an upset stomach.

Except, it now takes all my mental and physical strength not to abandon long distance races halfway, when I used to just work to improve my time every year.

Except, there are now signs of hair retrieval that keep making my forehead look larger. And it’s doing it unevenly, just to make things more fun.

Except, the things I used to like (movies, videogames, songs) keep turning 25, 30, 40 years old... They are all now considered retro, rare.

Except, the prospect of even mild success in a high performance sport continues to approach zero, while players keep looking more like kids each year.

Except, I can no longer afford the luxury of cheap liquor drinkage without getting my insides fried and losing most of the productivity of the next day.

Except, the best is no longer ahead. The days of unlimited potential keep turning into days of “just do what you’re supposed to do”. Someone else is the new wonder kid at the office.

Except, dance clubs with 80s music keep getting scarcer. It’s almost impossible to find a 70s disco club, and 90s music sounds more and more distant.

Except, my music heroes keep dying, and there are less potential replacements to choose from that remain alive.

Except, relationships keep getting more and more complex. The checklist grows longer, and my patience more limited.

Except, friends that would have done anything for you have reset their priorities. They are now family men and women. Their unconditional friendship is a relic now, remembered with nostalgia.

Except, love is no longer as deep and passionate. It is now colder, more calculated. I’m now jaded, and more practical.

Except, love is no longer expected to last forever, and there are less hard feelings for those that –unwillingly or otherwise – manage to break our heart.

Except, life just got noticeably shorter and less relevant. You finally collected the properties of the same color in your monopoly, but everyone is already playing a different game.

Yet, being alive is still better than the alternative.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fish, cakes, and naked rabbit teeth

Teeth and Gums

It is already 4:21 PM and I still have to battle the stubborn taste of rotten blood in my mouth. Decades of poor attention to it will not only allow for faster tooth decay, but also the accelerated gum retreat that has already left them semi-naked. Regardless of what people in soap operas can make us think, no pain from social rejection comes close to the one inflicted by our own rotten teeth and receding gums. Mine gave up on me a while back.

Three of my teeth have committed suicide already, only hanging in my oral cavity because they have been unable to physically detach yet. Who could blame them for wanting to leave? I'm not about to give them a reason to stay. They can all go to hell for all I care. I won't be that far behind anyway. Heck, I've been working on it since I can remember. This anti-survival 'Tanatos' desire has stuck with me longer than the smell of dead ocean creatures from under a fisherman's nails.

The Fishery

The few friends that still stick with me are nothing short of social heroes. That's the chief reason I bend over backwards to keep them, firmly stuck in my jawbone.

When Alejandra told me she was attending a wedding in the Cayman Islands last month, and asked me to come for the weekend, I had to say yes. The plane had already landed when I learned she had not been offered the option to bring a guest to it. Real friendship is indeed peppered with awkward situations and flawed good intentions. This is how a nonexistent plus one turned into a miserable flat zero. I'm suddenly in an island with nothing to do on a Saturday, and very limited expectations for Sunday before my return flight.

The wedding took place near the water - as if there was another choice. What I didn't expect is that there would be a fishery next to it. I decided to grab a bottle of Cuban rum and wait for Alejandra in front of the establishment, called "Commodore Brothers Fishery". Few experiences are as soothing as witnessing sunburned  men cleaning fish. As they took out the gills and pulled the intestines out, I reflected on the difficulty - and futility - of trying to remove the smell off their hands. I thought of these men's wives, eagerly awaiting their man without care for the stink. The strongest detergent wouldn't remove it, but the deepest love would learn to ignore it. In fact, the idea of a woman smiling with joy at the fishy smell of her man approaching the house draw a smile on my face, the first time in months.

Alejandra came out of the wedding salon for a smoke and sat behind me on the backless bench. She hug me from behind in a consoling manner. I must have been wearing the cornflower-blue when she saw me.

That day, it had already been a very long life.

The Mobile Home

A pretty rundown mobile home, I did not expect to see its insides covered with children's drawings. It was refreshing to miss that ugly wallpaper these homes are usually covered on, plastered over layers and layers of designs favored by the previous tenants.

She had her two little girls inside. The eldest I had met, but she didn't remember me. She had seen too many faces come and go in her few years in this filthy planet.

Jenny held my hand and walked me to the back of the trailer, shutting the door behind us and securing it the plasticized metal wire of a bag of sliced bread. I don't think they could hear us, but we could hear them play with their old plastic soldiers; the same ones I had when I was a boy. No solid argument backs the physics-defying statement I made about sounds effectively propagating in only one direction, but the thought allowed me to keep going without remorse.

She wrapped her hair around my legs and never let go again; an eternity that only lasted a few hours. We came out the next morning for breakfast. The girls had put out some unwrapped cinnamon buns of the kind one would find in remote gas stations.

"Ever had breakfast here? No? Oh. Then... there is no cake for you." I couldn't even look at the coffee afterwards.

I walked slowly towards the door and removed the piece of cloth that kept it closed. The door opened in a surprisingly silent manner. The rabbit toy I stepped on as I walked out made no sound either. Good meth helps muffle down unpleasant sounds, and ignore uncomfortable realities.

I had no cake that day, nor ever afterwards.

The Organizers

There is an underground organization of surprise nudists. These individuals spend their time organizing events, retreats, cake sales, trips... Then, at a transitional point during the event, the organizers address the participants and proceed to get naked as quickly as possible. Most of them show up already in 'commando' mode to minimize clothed-to-naked time.

Reactions range from vivid rage to ecstatic complicity. Singles events fare much better for the organizers than those involving full families, where parents tend to disagree with the timing they impose on their kids' exposure to the human body. Even as the organizers make an effort to instill a celebratory mood into their act, some of these events have ended in violence and arrests. However, given the preemptive payment refunds they execute and the strong legal representation the organizers have had so far, they rarely spend more than a few hours behind bars.

There don't seem to be any particular ideology behind these actions. The group is not socially cohesive, yet quite well-organized. They aren't part of any particular age group either. People join as participants, and rarely ever quit. Regulars represent more than four fifths of those present at any given event. Nudists actually represent the same demographic percentage here as they would be in the general population. They could be your lawyer, your bakery owner, your neighbor, your boyfriend... A sense of liberation seems to be the only common factor that brings them together.

Come tomorrow, they could be you. Then, perhaps you can finally be you.

The Rabbit

Aida Conway should have had an easy childhood. The only girl in a family of six, she was her father's eyes. She was also the only technical heir of a family of patriarchal publishers.

Mr. Rutherford Conway, the father of four boys and Aida, lost his wife while she was in labor for her. Himself was one of four brothers. Used to a world ruled by men, Rutherford was biased against them. Losing his wife instilled such a sense of gender imbalance that he became thoroughly attached to Aida. Towards the end of his life, before Aida turned 20, he would be heard uttering his wife's name in tight association to Aida's as if he implied that he saw his wife in his daughter now.

Aida was known for a unique combination of high intelligence and limited mental stability. Upon Mr. Conway's death, her mental state worsened noticeably. Someone once said that she "outright jumped off the deep end, out of the ship of human sanity". When her beloved rabbit pet died, shortly after Mr. Conway, Aida decided she was one herself, living in the body of a person. Her brothers were much older and, knowing they hand't even been considered for the inheritance,  left the nest early to build their own lives. Save Mrs. Jennings, there was nobody to take care of Aida through her unusual transformation. It was particularly difficult to manage her socially; for even though she thought she was a rabbit, she kept attending every event she got invited to. As a wealthy woman, she got invited to many of these and was courted constantly by suitors that would feed her all the carrots in the world in exchange for the possibility of a piece of her wealth.

She fucked like a rabbit, indeed. In fact, she became a local legend for her kinky ways and indiscriminately frequent escapades. She was the queen of the personal classifieds, seeking men of different walks of life. If you were from town, you didn't truly lose your virginity unless you spent a night or an afternoon at Aida's. Rabbit Lady wouldn't turn anyone down, but they had to treat her like a rabbit and follow her commands in a true femdom fashion. There was no safe word or test drive. Coming into Aida's was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that varied widely from lover to lover. She had an uncanny ability to read people in that she never asked anyone to do anything they wouldn't agree to. No anxious boy was ever asked to accept being tied to her old bed. No insecure man was ever asked to endure her professional use of a strap-on. It felt as if she had carefully studied her partners to be, and stuck to what they'd be willing to accept even if they hadn't done it before.

An avid drug user, Aida died of a crocodile and bath salts mix overdose. Ms. Jennings organized the funeral services and contacted her brothers. They all showed up, eager to take on any residual family fortune after the publishing company went under years ago due to lack of attention by the owner. The older brother was tasked with putting it all together, - assisted by the family lawyer - selling whatever was of value, and dividing it all up amongst the four.

Most funeral attendants were strangers to the brothers and other family members. According to Aida's instructions to Ms. Jennings, the ceremony was officiated by a Buddhist monk that threw her ashes into the wind towards the end. Many of those colorful invitees tried to catch some of these and rub them on their body or chew on them. Fireworks were launched immediately after, an unusual choice for those that knew Aida and her disdain for loudness and explosions.

During the ceremony, a few dared approach her older brother and ask for money - $5,000, $12,000, $20,000 - they said Aida owed them. Some also asked for drugs she had promised them. In each instance, they had produced a note or a text message signed/originated by Aida providing details on the location - safety boxes at different banks in the towns nearby. The brother refused to address any of these requests, but chose to see for himself if they were right. After receiving a power of attorney, he visited these banks and, sure enough, there were boxes in Aida's name containing money, drugs, small weapons, crow feathers and rotten carrots. One of them even contained the skeleton of a guinea pig that disintegrated upon exposure to air and light.

The older brother collected the non-illegal valuables and threw everything else away; but he didn't even try to sell Rabbit lady's old car locally, a 1977 Alfa Romeo Spyder. He was allowed to keep these items, and already knew a man in New York who would buy it at a high premium over book value.

He took all sexual toys and paraphernalia to a local theater company that accepted them gladly. He then went through her clothes, putting her best dresses and shoes in the trunk to bring to New York city for donation right before delivering the car to its new owner to be in Connecticut. A few miles after crossing the state lines into Massachusetts, he was stopped by a cop that happened to be training a drug-sniffing dog. He is still in jail for a federal crime involving intrastate drug smuggling, as Aida's clothes and car were full of them. He did not think about checking them before leaving the house in Vermont.

Rabbits have a way of feeling a person's soul at a non-human level. They are also known to be capable of causing harm beyond the grave. However, they don't tend to be associated with death as much as crows do. Herein lies their power, that of those that seem harmless and are thus freer to act as they please.