Sunday, April 27, 2008

Off Again

Everybody: I'm leaving in the AM. I was hoping to write something cool today but the family, last minute jobs and all that jazz left me with no time. Not it's 10:30 and I'm left with no time since I've got to be up at 3:30 to do some work on the cover story I'm working on because it goes to press Tuesday and I won't have a better shot at getting it done than the morning.
Just know that though I don't even know who you are, I appreciate your taking the time to come and visit and if I can ever figure out how to log onto this thing from anywhere but my home computer, where it's automatic, I would drop a line just to see how you're all doing while I'm in Peru.
Not a long trip this time: Just three weeks. So I'll see you towards the end of May, okay?
Have a few great weeks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Touch of Malaria

Well, everyone, sorry it's been nearly a week. But what a week. Jeez, Louise. Saturday night I came down ill, crossed my fingers and knew the worst was coming. By Sunday, when we went out and got Marco a car--a 2004 Kia Sentra LS with 63,000 miles for $4,000 in what looks like perfect condition (at that price it was probably stolen in some other city and wound up on a lot here, though I hope the heck not!!!)--I nearly couldn't make it back home. Malaria had got me by the throat and man, Sunday night through Wednesday night seemed to take a year. It's a pretty amazing malady: the first time you get it, in my case in 1985, I was laid up for a month, alternately freezing and boiling, lots of vomiting, and the key thing: Delirious thinking. After the fact the delerium is funny, but at the time, it's just impossible to think straight. I mean you can go to get water to cool down and take three steps and forget what you're doing, or realize that there's no point, that you'll never get cool and then you just lie down on the floor. But you can't sit still because your body is jumping out of your skin so you get up and put your head in the freezer. Then go to the shower and sit on the floor in scalding water for hours. And you can't sleep. And the first time for me it went on for a month till my body got control.
But when your body gets control that doesn't mean you eliminate the parasites. It just means they retreat into your organs--kidney and liver I think, though I am not perfectly clear on that this sec. And they sit there until something happens to weaken your t-cell count: an enormous amount of stress, working so hard you forget to eat for a few days, coupled with drinking and then toss in maybe an infection like I had a couple of weeks ago that caused me to take antibiotics--which wreak havoc with your immune system--and voila, the little buggers see their opening and are all over you.
So I was out out out. The only thing I was good for was for a laugh for the kids now and then when I was sitting in our house with the heat on on 80 degree days, my teeth chattering, me under covers an inch thick. "Hey look at dad! He thinks he's freezing!"
Anyway, that broke on Wednesday night and what a wonderful day yesterday was. I mean, I felt like I'd been used as a punching bag by a real mean guy, but still, just being able to think clearly was so fantastic.
So no big deal. Just try not to get malaria.
The only think worse is the prophylactic Larium. Larium can not only have your body duplicate the symptoms of malaria but toss in psychosis, suicidal tendencies and occasional violent outbursts. It's why I think our kids are killing themselves in such numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just an opinion.
Anyway, I leave town for a trip on Monday. I'll try to think of something to write before then.
Oh, and for any of you who might be interested: There's a piece in the current Men's Journal (Harrison Ford cover) from a guy who was on a trip with me in January. Mostly relates to his ayahuasca experience in Peru, but he's a pretty good writer and it's a pretty good piece.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Love Yourself

Just a short note to everyone to say it's better to love yourself than hate yourself. I woke feeling the latter this morning, and with good reason: I drank too much last night and wasn't good company to some family that were over. And the drinking too much was part of hating myself, and then I wake up guilty and really hate myself. But you know, I've been forgiven for sins for a long time and at my age you'd think I would have leaned, particularly with the medicine, ayahuasca, that I've been given, to love myself.
So I'm trying to. Despite my flaws. And if there was one thing I could ask of all of you it would be to stop for a minute today and simply love yourself. Let yourself take a few deep breaths, just for you. Let yourself really enjoy that coffee this morning. We do so many things with love for others, all of us do. And we shouldn't forget to love that mug in the mirror, because he/she counts too.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's Try Flowers Again

Being Spring in Texas, it's freezing one minute, hailing the next and lightning rocks the homestead later in the day. Then too, the goats have eaten every flower we've ever planted. So we're trying again.
Italo's Sarah went out yesterday and bought a bunch of bushes, some hedge-like, some rose bushes, a few hanging plants and who knows what else, and had Italo's pal, D-Ray use this cool earth turning tool to smash up the little strip of land in front of the front porch. So today's planting day. And it's going to look so beautiful there. And coupled with the tree-trimming Italo did with my brand-spanking-new chainsaw (Madeleina begged me not to buy it, saying she might go "Texas Massacre on your neck if you get one, dad!") and the lawn-mowing that Marco did and the grass-seed planting and the new rope for the tree swing, well, we are going to be one spiffy place.
So if you drive through Joshua and come on this little house with bushes along the front of a ruddy-red fenced porch with an old porch swing hanging there and a new tree swing out between the house and the barn, stop in. I'll find you a cold one.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pivotal Moment

I just got an email from a guy I went to grammar school with, Frank G. He'd stumbled on the blog looking up an old ice cream parlor in our old neighborhood. And that was great. He reminded me of Bob Testani, who wasn't one of my best friends, but with whom I hung out sometimes. And in thinking of Bob Testani I was reminded of a night maybe 40 or more years ago. We must have been 14 or so and for some reason we were at Bob Testani's house. I think it might have been the only time I was ever there. And Bob introduced us to his father, who, maybe by Bob's prompting or on his own, suggested we all go to the basement and he would hypnotize us.
I didn't believe that for a second, but we did, maybe five of us all told, and in short order Mr. Testani had one of us acting like a chicken, someone else hopping on one foot and so forth. Pretty amazing demonstration.
But it was also a pivotal point in growing up for me. Because in seeing that Mr. Testani could do something so unusual it popped my head open with the idea that maybe all the kids parents could do something unusual--or at least that they all were real people who might do real things that kids like me never knew about. And in that moment everyone became an individual for me. I didn't realize how important that moment was until this morning when I read Frank's note and he reminded me of Bob Testani. But now I do and my whole body is shivering. Fantastic. What a moment!
So thanks for writing Frank. And thanks for the great great lesson Mr. Testani. Hope you're doing well wherever you are.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just Your Basic Crazy Update

Well, Madeleina had her 11th birthday and surely got more than three presents. The boys looked at the air-hockey table full of wrapped things, some of which they'd bought for her, and were definitely disgruntled. "What is it, Christmas?" "Why does she get so many presents?" and so on.
Well, because she's a girl and she's my baby, that's why. One of the best, from my point of view, was that we restrung the tree swing out on the great big sycamore that's held together by a double wrap of chain from where lightning hit it some years ago. When we got this place the chain was tight on the split trunk; now it's embedded an inch deep. But I love that swing I made. Just a 2 X 10 with four corner holes hanging from a 14' branch by white cotton rope, but when we first moved here that was the thing that made Madeleina and the boys feel like the yard, and by extension the house, was ours, and not just a place we'd been forced to move to.
And of course, on her birthday Madeleina asked me to tell her again what it was like when she was born and I explained that mom was upstairs in the third floor apartment with Marco and Italo and I was downstairs in Richter's bar having a drink when she called to say her water broke and I should get her to the hospital. The fellows at Richter's got a cab, I called Chuck to have him come watch Marco and Italo and then got Chepa down to the cab and over to Lenox Hill Hospital. Her doc was alerted and said he'd be there in an hour. Chepa was put on a bed to wait it out. She was having contractions pretty quick but was still hungry so I dashed across the street and bought her a hamburger from a good little joint I liked. When I returned you could just see the very top of Madeleina's head starting to make a move.
Chepa didn't eat much of the burger.
The doc came finally and in about 30 minutes so did Madeleina. To my complete surprise she came out face up and with her eyes open. And once her little head was free she looked straight at me and said "Hep.Hep" and I swear I thought she was saying "Help. Help." and I started crying and I had to tell her I couldn't help. That she was a spirit who had chosen flesh and now that she felt the first air she'd ever felt and saw lights through human eyes she wanted to go back inside, wanted to change her mind but I couldn't help her do that. I told her she was basically stuck here in this foreign place for the next 70-years but that I'd try to make some of those years pretty good ones.
The doc thought I was crazy talking that way to a baby he'd thought only burped, but I knew what was really going on. And Chepa was crying with delight, not only for having a beautiful healthy baby but because the pain was done. And then the doc had me cut that umbilical cord and told me to walk my baby across the room and put her under the heat lamp and I swear that was the longest walk of my life, holding that brand spanking new baby and being terrified my legs would give out and I'd drop her.
I didn't of course.
"I love that story, dad," Madeleina said. "I especially love that you're always crying when you tell it. If I told my friends how much you cry about things they'd think you were crazy, you know that?"
I suppose they would.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Do Other Dads Put Up With This?

So my Madeleina is turning 11 next week and in that spirit, I wrote her an email at her new email address that I secured for her last couple of weeks. This is what I wrote:

Dear Madeleina: So you're going to be 11 years old, eh? That's a pretty big age for my baby. And good for you. The question: Don't you think 11 years old is too old for presents? I mean, wouldn't you rather have a nice card that says "have a nice day" or something? I mean, do you really want your dad to have to go from store to store looking for things like giant frogs and mittens made from kittens and the best worms to make your favorite, worm soup? I mean, that's a lot of work....
Okay, then a card it is....and not a credit card either. Maybe a nice post card...
Yeah, that would be nice, a nice post card....
Glad we had this talk honey.

And then I get this response today. Do other dads put up with this?

Dear Dad: if u don't buy my a least 3 presents i will get a hammer, and whack u till u r out
Love you u mutt, Bye

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Life Goes On...Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily....

Well, well, well. I write a stinking blog about the world condition and everybody freezes like deer in the halogens, eh? C'mon, people. We all need a dose of reality away from Gorman's insane family now and then, don't we? I know I do. If it was up to my family we'd be sitting here shooting the spit about 24-hours-a-day and dad would be doing all the work with a wonderful smile on his face. But as an intense, insane, joyful and rowdy dad, that ain't happening around here, hear?
Pause for a second while I stir the franks and beans we're having for dinner, and NO, they're not just canned beans. There are those, of course, three types, but I started with bacon, diced, just to poison the family. To that I added a whole head of garlic, an onion, a sweet red pepper, 5 scallions, five smallish organic tomatoes and then the chicken franks, cut in 1/2 inch slices. Would have been bigger but I only had 13 franks and Sarah brought a friend over, as did Italo, so I've got to stretch the meat part.
And of course I'll be adding a nice touch of mustard, a bit of fresh jalepeno and a three-finger pinch of minced fresh cilantro. And some good Sam Adams Beer for liquid.
Okay, pause over. Family been busy. Chepa's still in Indiana with her beau and babies and now that she's there she's calling two, three times daily to check up on us. And putting Sierra on which I freaking adore. I know she's not really mine, but until her dad, the beau, steps forward to raise her, I'm the fellow in her life and she thinks she's mine.
And Madeleina continues to amaze. The other day, afraid to get on the skateboard which she just started riding without gear, she fashioned elbow and knee pads out of clothes wrapped in duct tape. Fantastic. Fell like a true pro half-a-dozen times without crying a bit.
Then this afternoon, while we were in Walmart picking up dog food and asparagus, which don't really go with franks and beans but will on my plate, there was this very pretty woman at the door. As we passed I said, loud enough for the woman to hear, "Wow, that's a pretty woman," and Madeleina hit me. But we saw the same woman on the way out and I saw she wore no wedding ring or engagement ring--she was probably 40 or 45, a woman, not a kid--and Madeleina saw her look at me several times. She was in a different line, however, and while I smiled, I couldn't think of anything to say cross-aisle, and so didn't. And so missed my chance.
And outside, Madeleina said: Hey dad, I thought you were great with women. Operative word 'were'.
Too smart for her own good, eh? She won't be 11 till next week.
I told her I was good with women, and everyone, when I started, but not good at getting started, particularly with pretty women I am fantasizing about.
"Why not?" she asked. "Do you think she wanted you to say something or do you think she was hoping you wouldn't?"
\ Floored me. I'd never thought of it that way and when I answered I said: "I guess I think she's thinking that if this creep says anything to me I'm calling the cops."
"Well, if that's what you think she's thinking, no wonder you can't think of anything to say. I wouldn't be able to talk then either. Why not start imagining that they're hoping you'll say something, even if it's lame? Just because they think you're handsome and nobody who was handsome said anything to them in a few weeks or so?"
I didn't have a rejoinder.
"Dad, I like it when you come to me with your problems, you know? But if I'm going to be like your psychiatrist, and I'm only a kid, then I'm going to have to start charging you. Is that okay?"
God I love my family. Thank you heavens, white light, angels. You've given me the best.