Monday, May 21, 2007

Completely Self-Absorbed

Okay, I've lots to tell. I've been home two weeks and leave in a few days for another several weeks in Peru. I've got a great group joining me, plus two pals--former clients who have become friends--so I'm sitting pretty. Unfortunately, there's a money glitch--I'm still waiting on 40% of the trip funds collected by the agency but not yet sent to me. I'm hoping it arrives soon but time is running out. Otherwise I'm going to have a lot of unhappy campers when I explain that I've booked all their hotels, paid for ceremonies, sent two tons of material up the river but have no money for their food, to pay my staff, for all the treats and day trips we do and so forth. So I'm sort of pre-occupied worrying about that.
I'm also worried about leaving my kids for six weeks: I've never done that. I've been gone 5 weeks, 4 weeks, but never 6. That's a long time. I know. My dad was a Broadway actor and when he'd get a national tour it was often 6 or 9 months. It kept a distance between us that none of us liked. But he was just gone 3,6, 9 months every year and so missed everything.
This time I'm missing Marco's high school graduation; Madeleina's awards for the 4th grade; Sierra's first words in English and Spanish (she's been talking baby talk for months and is thisclose to breaking out in non-nonsense syllables, though no one who has ever been a parent should call them that: The kids know what they're saying. The problem is that us grownups don't know that language...)
Okay. So that's one reason, or six, to be self-absorbed. But there is also a good reason: The Houston Press Club--the people who hand out awards for Texas writers, journalists, radio and television people--just made me a finalist for Journalist of the year for my 2006 work here: I'm proud of that.
Madeleina's been dancing around since we got the news. I've tried to tell her we're already winners just being one of three finalists, but she's not hearing it: She wants to win.
Funny, I don't remember teaching her that winning is the only thing. I'm an old hippie, after all, and to me successful sharing is winning.
Anyway, apart from me being intoxicated with my life--and I ask your forgiveness with that, I think it's mostly because I'm dog dog tired--I've begun the process of putting up about 35 new pieces on the The pieces are the beginning of the Drug War Stories I've written over the last 20 years as well as my first 18 columns for Skunk Magazine. The column is called Drug War Follies and it's the first time in my life I've had one. I try to deliver pretty good material because I really don't want to lose the gig. I love having a column. I love writing what I freaking want.
And I loved the way Skunk got in touch with me: Two years ago or so I got a call from a guy who sounded more Bensonhurst, Brooklyn than most mafia guys I worked with at the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, New York. And he says: "Hello. I'm the publisher of the new magazine called Skunk. It's a dope magazizne and we're hoping to have a lot of attitude, like High TImes did 30 years ago. Now I don't know who the fuck you are and I don't care. But my two partners say we have to have you writing for us. I never heard of you. So I'm going along with them. What do you want to write?"
I told him I wanted a column and I wanted a free hand and I wanted a thousand dollars a column.
Guy came back at me like I'd just put three in the back of his mother's head.
"You're shitting me. I wouldn't give you a thousand dollars a column if you were threatening my children. Get the ...."
Ok, I asked, how much?
"Ill give you four hundred for eight columns a year. Best I can do unless you give me a couple of your kids to put on my barbeque so I can save money on meat now and then."
I had to love that guy. What a great publisher.
So I wrote a column and I wrote 20 more and I hope they lend insight to the War on Drugs both here in the US and Canada and Mexico as well as in South America.
Anyway. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I'm having a pretty good moment, I guess.
Thanks for bearing with me. I appreciate it.
Peter G

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