When first we practice to deceive.....Sir Walter Scott.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Hope your food is just right, fills your bellies and the rest goes to feed those less fortunate.
Things in a state of slight unrest here. Italo, having gone through six cuts in tryouts for the Semi pro soccer team in town was put on the practice squad last night. He's devastated. He knows he's one of the top 10 players on the team--which, including practice squad has 21 members, but isn't starting and today I had to spend a couple of hours explaining to him that he beat out 18 guys who had college or pro experience to make that squad. The coach is dealing with egos, people who played pro soccer in the US or Peru or Mexico or Spain and you don't put those people on the practice squad. But he's the young buck and can use some seasoning practicing with the team and then watching the games and seeing how, at this level, it's a different game than what he's played. He did do a stint two years ago with another semi-pro team but he says this is a cut above. So I urged him to sit on his ego and practice as hard as he can. I reminded him that when I arrived her in Texas from New York, despite credits with some of the best magazines in the world--along with having been an Editor-in-Chief at High Times--I couldn't sell anything for months here. I was back on the practice squad, so to speak. But I took the work I could get--including the 34-days at the Day Labor center where I was called twice and earned a total of $126 bucks--and kept at it and eventually got work with the Fort Worth Weekly (fwweekly.com), and then my column for Skunk and sold stories to Alternet and elsewhere and now I'm a starting player again.
It's gonna be tough for him because he's a fierce competitor and has more natural talent than most people but if he can do it, just wait his turn and keep working hard, even harder than ever, he'll be starting soon and in a year might get a shot at the pros.
I hope he listens to his old man on this one.
In other news, the financial unraveling of both the recent October trip to Peru and the upcoming trip in January is beginning to take a toll around here. As I've written, the former friend who organized the October Peru trip has decided that I'm to pay her promisory note to the hotels, which has put my two assistants in Cuzco, Peru, in jail and in jeopardy of losing their hard-earned and coveted Tour Guide licenses. And because of the woman's intransigence I will have to cover--she wouldn't have been given the credit she was if not for my word. So that sort of stinks because the woman is short $4,000. Why would people be like that? Escapes me.
And the January trip is tossing more fuel in the fire. After the organizer spent all the trip money--a lot of it had to do with a medical emergency and I would have done the same to save my kids' lives--the fallout is now here. I've got a crew of 12 who work with me in Iquitos and the jungle who are expecting their Christmas presents and then two trips with me in January and early February. I've got a crew of three, including Andy and Maria, who were promised work in January and now have none. I've got my friend, the Curandero Victor E and his staff, who were booked for January 22 six months ago and will expect full payment whether I appear or not. I've got some former guests who have made a plan to meet up with me in Iquitos and then travel with me to Cuzco and do the San Pedro ceremony with me. Now I won't be there, so I'll have to stand them up.
And then selfishly, I was hoping to earn a buck as well.
And we're all out of work now.
And I will still have to do the short end-of-January trip to the jungle for just two or three guests, because I promised them and took their money, even though that will now cost several thousand dollars out of my pocket because it costs me a lot to leave my house and fly down there and my whole crew gets full pay regardless of whether there is a big group or a small one. That's how it's always been done and so I can't suddenly change the rules on them now.
I've also got the 13 January guests who have been offered a trip in May, by which time the organizer thinks she can have her finances reorganized and be able to repay the $44,200 that was used from the January trip. She's a good person, I believe, and will try. But when the guests call me and ask if I can guarantee that she will have the money for the May trip, I can't tell them I'm sure she will. I mean, if she used our money, what other money might she have needed to use? And even if she gets the cash infusion that she thinks she will, will my groups' money be first on the list? So no, I can't guarantee anything. And I'm really never going to vouch for anyone again as the October trip has taught me.
Hey, it's not like I had much of a reputation, but this nonsense ain't polishing up what little there was.
On the other hand, this is Thanksgiving. I've had some really good friendships over the years. I've had more love than I could have imagined, love that far outweighs the bad times. I've been to death's door recently and been allowed to step back. I've got three wonderful--if sometimes exasperating--kids and I never thought I'd have any. And they're all healthy and they're all as glad that I'm their dad as I am that they're my kids. I've got few debts and am owed more than I owe. I've got stories due and as a writer you can't be anything but pleased with that. I've got a roof that doesn't leak, a small turkey ready for the oven and all the fixings ready to go--from biscuits to cranberry jelly to mashed potatoes to veggies and sweet potatoes and a big apple pie. I've got a brother and four sisters in other states but will call them and wish them all well. Then there are the dogs, the goats, the rooster, Marco's rat...
So on balance, I've got a lot to be thankful for.
I hope you do too. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
When first we practice to deceive.....Sir Walter Scott.