Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fast Birthday Dinner

Okay, so I left at 2 PM after a good interview with Erik Davis about ayahuasca on the radio and an apology to my boss that I was gonna miss this week's meeting, and then out the door. I had six errands to run and had to get back by 4:45 to pick Madeleina up from school. I hit the post office and sent Chepa and her babies, Sierra and Alexa, a stash of fariƱa, roasted, fine ground yucca, without which the babies scream all day. Then on to Office Depot to send a fax; a contract for a couple of grand that I really need. Then onto HEB to buy some veggies that Walmart has not had recently. Then on to Walmart to get my blood pressure taken--I've been averaging about 165/105 for the last month and that's not nice, particularly since I've always been a 120/80 guy until I got Dengue Fever a couple of months ago. So I ain't happy and I've been losing weight: about 12 pounds so far and another 20-25 to go to get to 170. I haven't looked at a scale in four years but today I walked around with my shirt tucked in, so I know I've lost some, at least.
From Walmart it was gas/cigarettes and then on to Two Bucks, a liquor store for my two mini Wild Turkeys and two mini Jim Beams, my alcohol for the day, and the it was a race to get Madeleina from school without being too late.
I was late. I ran into a 6-minute train: 120 cars of petroleum that took 5 seconds each to pass. Six minutes. So I was late.
Home, I went to the phone messages and one of them was Italo saying his girl, my daughter in law, had a birthday today. Heck, I didn't know that. Moreover, he said they and a couple of friends were coming for dinner.
I still don't have a good present for Sarah, my daughter-in-law and the mom of my granddaughter Taylor Rain, but I did make a good dinner.
First: I cooked two ears of corn, then cut the kernels off them and broke them up. I put them in a mix with diced red pepper, thinly slices red onion and cucumber. With vinager, white, plus a bit of olive oil with garlic, black pepper and sea salt.
Then I marinated sliced chicken breast in garlic-infused oilve oil, white vinegar, onions, ginger, a bit of teriyaki; to go with similarly drenched asparagus, cauliflower/ and broccoli. Add to that nice sweet barbeque beans, basmati rice with garlic, roasted pork with homemade barbeque sauce and a little roast beef short ribs.....
That was a cool meal to come up with in less than an hour, just with what was in the house.
Now we're gonna serve a german chocolate cake we made while peoploe were having dinner.
Next time please tell me it's you're birthday, so I don't have to sweat about the menu....

I'm Just Saying it Ain't Right, Okay?

So my son Marco brings me something called a Surcharge Notification a few weeks ago. That's something dreamt up here in Texas--and it may exist elsewhere as well--whereby if you accumulate three moving violations in your car over a three year period, you not only pay for the tickets, but you pay a nifty little $150 or so on top of it for having had those three speeding tickets.
Well, okay, I didn't pay it much attention because last year Marco got the same thing and I paid it in exchange for him doing some work around the house.
Yesterday, in an effort to avoid looming deadlines--I like to call it ruminating about the story I have to get out--I was going through the "need to take a look at someday" pile of mail on my desk and there it was. I figured it was a duplicate of last year's notification, so I dug out the previously paid notification and called the outfit that sent it to tell them it had already been paid.
That outfit, Municipal Service Bureau, isn't actually a local government agency but an outsourced private company hired to collect bills for the city. Calling them was easy: I waited through the push-button automated options to get to the option where I could talk with someone to explain that the bill had been paid and that I'd begrudgingly send them the paid receipts if they needed them.
Getting through to a live person took some patience: I got on the phone at 11:45 and didn't get a person till 1:15. That was a lot of patience, but as the company has no address, it wasn't like I could go somewhere (their PO Box is Austin, about 3 hours south of here) in person. I mean, you can't just wait by a PO Box and talk with the person who picks up the mail. I guess you could follow that person back to wherever they bring the mail and try to talk to someone there, but that might get you arrested for stalking. So I waited and finally got to talk with someone.
In the meantime, I'd gotten Marco's full driving record: he had two speeding tickets in 2007, one in 2009 and nothing before or after that. The two in 2007 were in the same neighborhood and three days apart: I think they happened as he and his first real girlfriend were breaking up. In any event, he had nothing since then.
"This is Melissa at MSB. How can I help you?"
"Hello. Finally. Thanks. I have a small problem here."
I explained the notice and that I'd already paid the surcharge. She listened patiently.
"What you might not know is that you pay the surcharge every year all over again for three years," she said.
"Let's say you have three tickets this year. You pay the surcharge next year. But the two following years you would still have six points on your license so you pay the surcharge again. Even though you already paid it. It encourages good driving."
"Three years?"
"That's right. Anything else?"
"Well," I said, looking at Marco's driving record. "Two of those tickets came in May, 2007. If they peel off after three years then he's only got the 2009 ticket."
"That's impossible. Unless he didn't pay the tickets until 2008. When did he pay the tickets?"
To my dismay, he paid both of them in 2008, months after he'd gotten them.
"Yeah, well you see, in that case the tickets counted for 2007 AND for 2008, because the conviction happened the time he paid them. And that's in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 cycle of three years. Anything else I can help you with? Oh, and by the way, the surcharge was due no later than March 24, so if it's not paid by April 7 his license is automatically suspended and driving with a suspended license is not only a $250 fine, it's also two points towards next years's surcharge. And he's already got two points from the 2009 speeding ticket. Have a nice day."
Dang! I'm just saying it ain't right, okay? Only in Texas, where the people rail against big government while their pockets are being picked.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ah, Madeleina Again

It's Sunday morning, threatening to rain here in bucolic Joshua, TX. Hasn't rained in about a month. Chepa took her babies, Sierra and Alexa, up to Indiana about a week ago to visit their dad, so Madeleina's been with me non-stop. Actually, she's been with me most of the time since I've been back from Peru. Which is fine by me. But I know she misses her mom when she's out of town. You can't quantify that type of abandonment--but I know she feels it. And not that she wants to go to Indiana, particularly, but I see it in her eyes and the occasional flash of anger that she feels it when her mom leaves with her other babies, leaving Madeleina feeling left alone.
So I try to make the best of it. I drag her around with me, generally against her will for the first few minutes till she gets in the groove and starts having a good time. Yesterday I gave a short talk for the Fort Worth Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as part of a panel on natural gas drilling. The title sounds cool, right? And when I was introduced as someone who'd won multiple state and regional awards, and even a couple of national awards for my writing on the subject, well, I beamed but I thought Madeleina was going to explode!
It was a small group and I was very short and sweet: most anything I might have said could have been construed as political and that might compromise my ability to work as an objective reporter on the subject. So I opened the program, spoke ten minutes and left the stage.
Madeleina wasn't thrilled about coming--especially about waking up at 7 AM on a Saturday morning to go hear me talk--but wound up having a gas, in part because they had fantastic breakfast snacks, like mini-lemon cakes and mini-cinnamon rolls. And she got to stroll around the TCU campus where the event was held.
I paid her back by taking her to a fantastic glass/art gallery she'd never been to before after we left, and she was just wild about the art works. I mean, she was wild: "Dad! Look at these flowers! Look at this vase! I looks like it's a moving waterfall!!!! I want to be an artist dad, forget everything else, okay? An artist who has an appreciation for all things glass!!!!!"
We followed that up with a trip to Ms. Molly's, the best toy store in Fort Worth, for our money. Though she's been there 20 times she never fails to fall in love with it all over again. Her only disappointment being that she's too big a girl now to have all the toys that set her heart on fire. I did manage to get her a sort of mesuda hair thing that lights up--which I'm gonna guess is going to wind up on a youtube madeleinag video before long.
By the time we got home she was bushed and went to sleep. I spent a couple of afternoon hours working on a story due tomorrow, Monday, then headed out to the store to run errands. Before heading out I picked up the mail: there was a fresh box of fantastic jungle soaps--and generally fantastic bath soaps--made with plant essenses by my friend Boa Cowee, who, if she would ever set up a website could make a fortune with her beautiful soaps.
That one was addressed to Madeleina and I.
Then there was another piece of mail, this one addressed to the "Parents of Lydia Gorman". Lydia is Madeleina's first name, but in Peru you don't use the first name, hence Madeleina. It was from the Fort Worth High School of Performing Arts. It was either gonna be an acceptance or rejection letter. Dammit. I wasn't happy with getting it.
On the other hand, it didn't have a negative vibe, so I opened it.
It said that Madeleina had passed the audition to make the school with her flute, but that the few flute slots for freshmen were taken by kids who'd done better than she, so she was on the waiting list.
Good, I thought. She'd done well. This is a pretty high powered place in a town, Fort Worth, where they take their bands very seriously. And Madeleina had done well enough to make the school cut. Just not well enough for the three or four slots they had for flute. But this being Texas, well, people move around all the time, so I won't be surprised if something opens up and she gets to attend the school next year.
But I knew Madeleina was not going to take it that way, and when I got home she didn't disappoint.
"I didn't make it, dad! I'm a loser! I'm nothing! Why did I even try out?"
"Ah, darling. First, stop the theatrics. You're a winner, not a whiner, okay? So have your angst and then get on to the winner part."
"You don't know anything, dad....."
"Done yet? Good. Now reread the letter and read what it says..."
"I can't. I already threw it away."
"Well, then I'll tell you what it said. It said you made the school but that some other kids were better than you. So you're on the waiting list. What's the problem with that? You made the cut. They just don't have enough seats."
"But I'll be a loser going to Joshua High School...."
"Enough, Madeleina. You never thought you were the best flute player. You know you're not. You don't practice enough for that, and that's not the school's problem, that's your choice. So if other kids practice an hour a day, and maybe have a private teacher as well, and you practice 30 minutes a day, who the heck do you think is going to be a better player?"
"That's not fair. I mean, they should just see what a wonderful addition to the school I would be...."
"Right, and then what should they do? Kick out a better flute player to make room for you because you are simply the coolest girl?"
"Exactly! That is exactly what they should do!"
"So much for worthiness..."
She eventually saw things my way, or at least pretended to, and then I distracted her with a cool meal, the likes of which we have never had around here. My friend Gritter, the emergency room doc, sent up about six pounds of the best slightly sharp venison sausage in the world. So I sliced a few ounce of that that thinly, bought some sharp cheddar, a little hummus, good crackers, stuffed grape leaves, good black olives and some sweet pickles. I made us each a tray with that selection, then added a few fresh strawberries, cantaloupe and watermelon.
I had mine with a Cabernet; she had hers with fresh sweet lime juice. She spoke with an alternating British and French accent throughout the meal. "My, the Gerkins make a lovely complement to the venison, don't they dear dad? And ze ftuits, zey are such fierrrce competition for ze cheddar, no?
We both probably gained 10 pounds.
It was worth it.
A nice day all around.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Death of a Friend

About a week ago I got a letter, via email, from the wife of my friend Daniel Blumenau. She said that he'd died a couple of days earlier. I was stunned. I exploded in tears, anger, sorrow. Dan Blumenau was the older brother of my college pal, Phil, with whom I shared a cold water flat in New York from 1970-1976 or so. Phil helped teach me how to behave as a man. When we hitchhiked across country the first time he showed me how and when you needed to wield a machete to ward off serious problems. He taught me how to understand when a girl wanted to make love and how to accept that. I think I taught him some things as well.
Phil's older brother Daniel was something of a rapscallion. And a Cassanova. When he was young he could meet a girl entering an elevator and by the time they reached the 5th floor she was begging him to make love with her. Wasn't my style, but I was always envious.
And Dan was an artist. He took making montages to a high level: Among his well known works was the inside jacket, double fold, of Stevie Wonder's Taurus album, and Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland bathroom montage, for a while the most well known montage in the world. And it was Phil and I who did a lot of the work putting that up, under Daniel's direction.
I worked a lot with Daniel in the old days, when I was in college and shortly afterward. We worked on the Arthur Schlesinger house on, I think, east 64th street in NYC. We worked on the Kennedy house, yes, those Kennedys, across the street from Arthur S. We worked on the Oscar De La Renta house down the street. We worked for Island Records president Chris Black when he opened his offices in the Carnegie Building on, I think, 57th street. And then we rebuilt Island Records' townhouse on Grove Street in the village.
Daniel always had something going. Always was one step ahead of whomever wanted to blame him for Thai sticks showing up in New York and one step ahead of the other artists who would have killed themselves to get the building/art jobs Daniel got.
I've only been in touch with him sporatically the last 15-20 years. Maybe once every two/three years he'd call or email or I'd call or email to tell him I saw him on some documentary or that I was interviewed about the Electric Ladyland bathroom mural.
But he wrote me in November or December that his wife was ill with cancer and wondered if I had any medicines from the jungle that could be used as adjunct alternative therapies. I had a trip coming up and so said yes, I'd bring him some medicine for his wife when I returned from Peru in February.
I did. US Customs confiscated one of the plants; the other got through. I called him; we spoke. I gave him directions and sent the medicine out to him.
He was happy and on the phone he still sounded 32 to my 22 years old. Voices don't change as much as the color of our hair or the size of our pants.
And then two weeks later his wife called and said she felt great from the medicine but that Daniel had died of a heart attack two days earlier.
I am still crying. He was one of the very small group of good guys. Not perfect, but he treated the people who worked for him with respect and love and that is a small group indeed.
Despite not spending time with him for a long time he was still my friend and I always thought one day we'd do another building job together--and with Phil, of course, who has since gone on to be a brilliant physicist. And now we're not gonna get that chance.
Daniel: Have a wonderful trip to the next place/space. Smoke a joint of thai stick and smile and make some art that makes other people smile. That's why you were put here: To make people love the wonder of being alive. And I think you did your work well and earned your stripes and bars and now you go, brother, and show the universe what you can do. The universe will be surprised and will love you. Have a great trip, DB.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just Something Short on a Detail of Healing

A friend of mine, someone who was with me in the jungle a few years ago and subsequently went on a big hike to the Matses villages on the Galvez with some of my team, wrote to say her dreams are often prescient and very very vivid since she drank ayahuasca. She also told of having dreams where she was able to "suck" illness out of people, but that when she did she didn't know what to do with the ick she removed so she just tossed it into a nearby river in her dream. She wanted to know if that was okay and also whether dreams that later happened was a normal thing to experience after having had the jungle medicine ayahuasca.
This is what I told her. And I think the second part is important. I've written it here before, and noted in my book that the late Bertha Grove, a wonderful Southern Ute medicine woman, was the first to tell me that illnesses have a life of their own, with their own desire to live. And just pulling them out of someone doesn't mean they're going to die. They're going to keep looking for a new host--in which they might appear as a different illness than they did in the person from whom they were removed. She basically saw the illness in a person as a negative energy that had taken form to stay alive in a host. Anyway, here's the short note to my friend:

Well, I think that once you open that door, it never shuts, so no, I'm not surprised if your dreams are vivid and sometimes let you glimpse what's going to happen: After all, it's us that sees time as linear. But it may not be linear at all.
Now if you're given a gift of being able to suck out bad things, it is important that you know the bad things have a life of their own and don't want to die, so they will try to go into you, a new host, or to be dropped somewhere where they can wait for new host to come buy and affix themselves to that new host.
So, you have to not let them get in you: Just suck them out into your mouth and keep your throat closed when they're coming out. If they do get into you throw them up, then catch them on the way out.
Once you have them, either by spitting them into your hand from your mouth, or by throwing them up into your hand if you have accidently swallowed them, you must dispose of them in a way that will prevent them from finding a new host. You can send them to a place where no other life forms are. You can wrap them in light that will prevent them from ever escaping. You can put them somewhere where they will be transformed from negative to positive energy.
But don't be tossing them in the river girl, where they're gonna get in/on some poor fish and wreak no havoc, okay?
Peter G

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why I Do Aya in the Jungle and not in a Camp

Someone wrote me asking about my upcoming June and July trips to the jungle. She expressed interest and noted that she had been at a very very well considered place to do ayahuasca twice before. I think it was twice, anyway. And I wrote her back and then mused for a minute on why I keep insisting on going through all the trouble to take people out to the deep green when it would be so much easier and so much less expensive to just build a place on one of the properties I have just outside of Iquitos and take people there.
Well, I know why. Because I love the jungle, that's why. And even though my places are in deep jungle, it's not the same as getting on a river boat and moving up the Amazon River 212 kilometers and doing everything else we do. But there is more to it and so this is the short note I wrote to the potential client on why I do things my way, instead of another way.

L: Just a note on why I do things my way: I was always taught that ayahuasca was a part of the jungle life--not apart from the jungle life. So I like people to get out on the river and live with the people who live on the river. I like neighbors asking if they can be part of the ceremony if they need healing. I like the occasional sound of a child laughing during ceremony. With Julio there were always neighbors and kids around: They just added light to things. The same with Airport Juan and Francisco before Sachamama became formalized. And forget Don Solon!!!! He had no door on his room and neighbors walking up and down the hall all night! Still, just part of things.
Anyway, I was thinking about that and since you just wrote, I thought I'd let you know.
Peter G

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Taxes, Madeleina, The Catholic Mass

Whoa! Those are three pretty heavy things in a title, don't ya think??? You betcha (apologies to Sarah P for appropriating the phrase!!!)
But they're all in action today. The back taxes, well, I got to pay them and today I sent off $700 to start. Ick. Miserable, I am. Hate it, I do. Still, I now owe only $4450, and that's better than $5150. And I also filed the new taxes for 2010 and they ought to bring back some money. Chepa gets most of it because she needs most of it, but I ought to get a couple of grand and that will be nice.
So darn it, I looked at it every which way, but even the CPA I hired couldn't find a way for me to not owe the taxes. The issue is that we, Chepa and I, get child tax credit, and you can't get that if you have more than $3100 in a given year in royalties from things like a gas well. In my case, I had more than that because my mortgage company took nearly two years to release the money to me but the IRS doesn't split hairs. I had a check for over $3100 in 2009 so I owe the child tax credit back to them. Which is nearly $5 g's and a bit over that with penalties and interest.
I've given up being angry at the system and only hope they spend the money on care for the vets who are coming home from one, two, three, five tours of the middle East and need good psychiatric and physical help. If they spend it on those guys and gals, well, then I don't mind putting it into the pot. And I'm hoping they do.
Now Madeleina, well, she's getting grown up. She asks things that surprise me. She asks about how to raise children and how to apply eye makeup and how--even though she doesn't like boys yet--she should respond to a boy trying to kiss her. Not to slap him but how to kiss back. WAIT!!!! This is my little baby! What's going on here?????? And she asks about books and why people like caviar if that's just the same as eating 50 fish embryos per spoonful. And she asks about why some singers get famous while others, more worthy, get left on the scrap heap. She's asking about everything. And she's angry. She's angry at her mom for not being a regular mom and she's angry at me for still catering to Chepa instead of cutting her off completely. And she's angry at her brothers for living at mom's and not here at our house anymore.
She's a handful and all I know to give her is time, attention and love. And I probably fail miserably at those.
But look for a new video under the name madeleinag tomorrow. I have a feeling she's planning something awesome for St. Pats. Us being Irish--or me being Irish and her being half-Irish and all that. I think it's gonna be good cause I saw her collecting her green stuff for it. I'm not sure she has it all planned out yet but given her mood--which includes us dancing together wildly to Billy Idol's White Wedding at full volume today in Marco's room, after which she said she hoped that's not how I ever danced in public!!!!---I will bet she'll be in fine fettle tomorrow for the video.
And then when we were driving to Two Bucks, the liquor store where I buy my four minis of bourbon daily--two Jim Beam and two Wild Turkey--she asked me something about catholicism. She said: After the priest finishes reading the bible, what's left in a Catholic Mass.
And so, as a former alter boy, I thought for a minute. And I realized that the Mass, as celebrated by Catholicism, is just the preparation for and the reception, of the representation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest comes out, blesses the congregation. The alter boys, in my day, responded for them in Latin, signifying, yes, we hope you are blessed as well, and so forth. And them there was the purification and then the feast on the host and then the thank you and that was it. Half-an-hour, tops, except on Sundays, when there was a homily--story--stuck in there.
I told her that thinking about it made me think of how we do ayahuasca in the jungle: We invite the right spirits, invite those who are not right to stay the heck out, thank the medicine, ask it to help us/heal us, then we drink it. And then we say thank you. Very very much like a basic catholic mass when I was an alter boy.
And I told Madeleina I wished someone had told me that was what a mass was like when I was a kid. I would have understood it much better.
And then she asked me about homily's. And I told her imagine three kids from a foreign country moved into the neighborhood and they were beat up by locals. The priest might find a passage about loving your enemy, read that, and then talk about why those new kids should have been greeted with love--even though they were outsiders--rather than beaten up. And he'd ask the congregation to consider that and to consider that their grandparents were outsiders when they arrived in the USA years ago and that it was better to greet them with a fresh pie than with fists. And if it was a good priest--and I dealt with all good priests in my years as an alter boy, which means good, giving people, nothing more--he'd tell the congregation to go out and tell everyone in the neighborhood to bring those new families food and pies and shower them with love so that the enemy would become a friend.
AND NOW I have to finish dinner--fresh dover sole of all things!!!!!--so I will leave it here. And I hope some priest somewhere is making the analogy in his homily this Sunday, that if we can all come together to want to help the people of Japan, then we can and should all come together to help heal ourselves here at home. Cause that would be a good homily.
And I love you all for reading this and putting up with me. Thanks. Peter G

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today's Opinion--Or Rant...

A friend of mine, one of the coolest people in the world, wrote today. He wrote a rant about having to get a new computer, his fourth in three years, or third in four years, and he wrote about getting ready to retire and not being able to afford health insurance. And he wrote about the youngsters of today who are not carrying out our political legacy--a legacy that includes civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, anti-nuclear proliferation, environmental work and a host of other very very important human work. And he asked why I wasn't writing about politics anymore, particularly as regards Wisconsin and the new Governor's bid to eliminate state workers from many angles of collective bargaining. And he wrote about the lack of poetry in the world today and how, if it doesn't change, he's gonna take his marbles and go home.
I was stirred. Like a chemical cocktail!!!! So here's what I wrote back. Just for fun, kiddies, but with a grain of truth...or sand....or whatever:

Dear Lar:
Wow, bad luck with the computers. I treated myself to a Mini-Mac---which is not a laptop but is a tiny square box that I could theoretically use anywhere that had a keyboard and screen--and it's freaking wonderful. I have no idea of everything it does--I still have not even figured out how to get the oral sex it's supposed to give, for instance--but man, it's quick and steady. Ran $800 with Macoffice, which it didn't come with. First new one I bought in five years--first new one I ever bought actually. And I wouldn't have had to buy it but my computer guy moved to Colorado and I couldn't find anybody in town to fix my old Mac G3, which I think is great but other people say is old fashioned.
It's just like the Nishiki 12-speed bike you gave me: You remember when that was a pretty top of the line bike: Steel frame, long body, racing/touring, very comfortable. I think it cost about $750 new 25 years ago. Well, I recently had it overhauled for about $300, including new tires, and it's a freaking dream. So I looked it up on Ebay. And people are selling them for $10-$50--when they have them! Unvbelieveable. But it turns out new bikes weigh half as much. And it turns out my old G3 MAC, the newest of the new, the state of the art, is now as much a lead sled as the darned Nishiki!!!!!!!!
And yes, kids are nuts. And I've got one son, Marco, who needs to be beaten but I'm not allowed to do that. Plus, he's 23, so what the heck. But he's been out of work for a year and there are signs up all over the place asking for people to work. And he swears he's applied but he's lyin!!!!!!!! He just sits in his shed behind Chepa's trailer and broods and plays video games all day. No drugs, nothing bad, just crazy.
And I agree about the tats. I am so sick of kids getitng these freaking tats that are just gonna look so bad when they gain 100 pounds in 20 years. And they look pretty bad already. I still don't have any, though I've got a lot of well earned scars from botfly infestation and sapo burns, and the flesh eating spider bite and the intestinal explosion and the hernia and all the rest. Now those are tattoos in my book. I remember the pain of each one of them. Not just: "Sat in a chair for an hour and had this guy write my boyfriend's name on my breasts. Then I had to have it covered over with another tattoo when we broke up!" That's not a tattoo in my book, that's just a bad hair day.
And you're ready to retire? I just turned 60!!!!!! I'm freaking out and freaking old and my beard is mostly white and my hair is gray and I hate it. And I have not had health insurance since I moved to Peru in 1998! Everything is cash on demand. Fortunately, I've been able to do most of it in Peru but still, I've spent more than $10 grand on the stomach ops and $3 grand on teeth--and they are not finished--in the last 4 years. Add another couple of grand in other stuff and that's been my whole profit from my Peru trips for a few years.
On the other hand: We be living, Lar. You're still probably the most handsome man on the planet, and you're strong, still doing triathalons, and you're gonna live 25 more years and make love a thousand or two thousand more times and you got a wife who loves you and beautiful kids and a tiny house that sounds like a nice tiny dream and your social security will come in and you'll get $1200 a month and work part time and sell paintings....and I'm selling my book a little at a time and making maybe $600 a month after expenses, and I get to travel to Peru and lead groups and my kids are gone but not far away and me and Madeleina still have the best of times and I have a grandkid and have something to do with raising Chepa's new all yer bitching is really just a way of saying "I'M FUCKING ALIVE!!!!!" I think. And the problem is that you see others who are not so alive. Well, I agree that sucks. These kids should have taken what we learned and gone further, not sat back and watched the politicos and corporations take it all away.
But they did. At least for now. And you and me, we can be in the fight--and I'm in the damned fight daily, though not in Wisconsin, particularly--but I'm in the fight about dengue in Iquitos right now, and in the fight about radioactive gas pipes and in the fight for the drug war and in the fight over corrupt politicians in Texas and as many other fights as I can be in--and you living right puts you in the fight as well. So we're doing our part. We're setting examples.
Aren't you sorry you got me revved up here?
I'm thinking I'm gonna buy a box of suspenders and some clothes pins and start handing them out to kids whose butts are hanging out....just an idea.
Anyway, I love you and I'm sorry we're all getting older. I still think and feel like 34 and so I'm gonna keep acting like it. Cool, suave, tough (okay, semi-tough) and excellent.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Okay, So I'm not really happy right now

Alright, I generally like to write cool stuff here. But sometimes things bum me out and this is one of them. Last week or so I wrote about the IRS saying I owed a bunch of money. I wrote them and they reduced the amount to just over $5000. How? I have no stinking idea based on what's earned and what goes out legitimately to feed people around here. Legitimate people.
So I went to a CPA who spent half an hour going over things and said, "Well, you might owe $1.200, but not more than that. Give me a few days and I'll write up the papers for you."
So I went home happy. I don't think I owe even the $1.200 but it beats the heck out of the bigger figure.
And then today I called his office and his associate told me she was about to call. The paperwork was done. The bad news? "Well, you still owe the amount the IRS says you owe."
"I have no idea. But you do, so we've included a partial payment form with your paperwork."
I am not happy with this. I don't mind paying my taxes. But I think I'm genuinely being jobbed on this one.
Okay, that's my bitch.
Everything else is great.
And if you're reading this, I've got trips coming up in June (jungle/mountains, either or both) and July (jungle intensive). So if that's something you would like to do--and the trips are better, much better than fair to middlin', now would be the time to write me either here or on private email (you'll find that at to get the luscious details.
Sorry for complaining.
I hope you're all having the most fantastic of days!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A Moment of Pure Magic

This is a story that involves my Madeleina, the electric company, my ayahuasquero, Julio Jerena and blind faith. I thought I had told it and written it down a couple of years ago, but yesterday when I was telling it to my friend Lynn, who has heard an awful lot of my stories--and lived a bunch of them with me--he said he'd never heard it. So maybe I didn't write it down afterall.

Years ago, perhaps in 2004, I was in Peru with my friend Lynn. We were at my friend and teacher Julio's home on the Aucayacu River in Peru's Amazon. We drank ayahuasca and during the course of the evening, Julio gave me two guardians to help me with all sorts of things. Like guardian angels but much more imposing and frightening.
I've written about them.
But that particular night I asked them if they could help me make a living writing. I mean, I'd been a journalist for 20 years, and a damned good one, but after having moved to Texas in 2002, I couldn't catch a break. Nobody knew me, I didn't know what interested Texas readers--heck I didn't have any contacts here and so was having a hard time keeping a roof over our heads.
The guardians told me not to worry: that if I did the work and did it well, the work would be there for me. I didn't really believe them and so was pleasantly surprised when, a few days after I returned to the US I got a call from someone in Canada. The caller said he was the publisher of a new magazine called SKUNK, an irreverent marijuana magazine, and that his key staffers had told him I needed to be involved. "So here's the deal: I don't know who you are, but my guys say I have to have you, so what are you going to do for us and how much is it gonna cost me?"
That was a very cool line. I thought for about three seconds, told him I'd write a regular column and he should pay me $1000 an issue. "$1000?a Are you crazy? How bout $100?"
We settled on $400 and I've done 48 columns for them--at 8 per year--since then.
Other work came in as well. Unexpectedly. And that's when the Fort Worth Weekly, our local and fantastic alternative, decided I should be on a weekly stipend rather than just freelancing for them.
So I thanked the guardians and worked my butt off. And I told Madeleina, then maybe 7, why I was suddenly getting work. She was thrilled. "I'm glad Julio decided to help you, dad. Now you won't have to worry about money all the time..."
Unfortunately, in the world of magazine writing, having the job, even doing the job, doesn't produce instant money. It's often several months from turning in a story before you get paid. So several months later, when Madeleina was 8, I think, the electric was going to be turned off. I'd begged and pleaded, told the electric company I had checks coming in soon, but it was no use. "We really can't wait any longer, Mr. Gorman. We've done our best and we'll get it on as soon as you get caught up. I promise."
Well, the next day or maybe two days later, was the turn-off day.
The truck came shortly after I brought Madeleina home from school. Guy said he was here to turn off the electric.
Madeleina called me aside: "Dad, the guardians don't lie. They said you would have the work if you did the work and you've been doing it. So they have to fix it."
"Honey, I have the work. They never promised people would pay in time to pay the bills..."
"That's not fair. That has to be part of the deal or they were lying. And you said the guardians don't lie. So tell the man to wait."
"Wait for what, baby? The mail already came and there were no checks today. We'll get a check in the next few days and we'll get the lights turned back on."
"No. Tell him to wait a few miniutes. Just tell him, dad!"
So I walked over to the guy who was waiting impatiently to turn off our electricity and explained that my daughter believed in miracles and could he wait just 10 minutes to humor her? Maybe go to another house and then come back?
He wasn't keen, but started to chat a little about the bushes in my front lawn, which would buy me enough time to satisfy Madeleina.
And then, over the hill at the far end of the road, came a yellow DHL truck. I wouldn't have paid it any mind but somehow knew it was coming to our house. And it did. It turned into the driveway and the fellow asked if I was Peter Gorman. I said I was and signed for an envelope and off he went.
I opened the envelope. Inside was a bank check for $1000. It was from a magazine I'd done a story for nearly a year earlier. A story I'd already been paid for.
"I knew it, dad! The spirits don't lie!!!" shrieked Madeleina.
I showed the electric company guy the check and asked him if I could have half-an-hour to cash it and I'd bring him the dough. He laughed, said he couldn't believe it, then left. I said a silent thank you to the spirits and apologized to the company who was paying me a second time, then went to the bank, cashed the check, returned, paid the electric company and that was that.
And then I called the outfit and explained that I'd already been paid for the story but had cheated and cashed the check anyway and told the editor that I'd pay it back as soon as I could. He said that would so completely gum up the people who handled paying the freelancers that it was better I just kept it.
And Madeleina? Well, she had faith. Extraordinary faith that if the spirits really told me we'd have the work as long as I was willing to do the work, that that included avoiding things like electricity turn-offs. I don't know if it was her faith that made that check appear or not. I do know it showed up out of the blue, no advance warning, and that it was not due. And that it was a bank check, not a regular check. And that it came after I asked the guy to stall to give Madeleina's faith a chance to play out.
I don't know why I've never written that up before. Or why I've forgotten that I did if I did. I do know that when a friend who is at the end of his rope came over yesterday I told him that story and told him to keep the faith. That maybe just over the next hill was his DHL truck with a solution to his current problems.
I hope it is.
Thanks, Madeleina, for teaching me just how deep you have to believe to truly have faith in something. And thanks for coming through, guardian spirits.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

New Radio Show

Everybody: Here's a link to a radio show I did recently. It's one of several I have done with this fellow. He's very nice. Don't know where my half hour is in the show, but what the heck, it's all worth listening to. The url is
And if you hunt around in his area, you'll find that I did a two-parter a year or two ago with him. This group of interviews--I think we did 5-6 hours altogether, includes me talking/answering questions, as well as me reading from the book. Which I hope is not totally and horribly boring.
Now, on another note: sad thing is that Chepa's boyfriend is moving back to Fort Worth from Indiana or Wisconsin or wherever next month. Which means I'll have a lot less access to Sierra and Alexa than I currently have. That's is painful. Cause I love them calling me and asking: "P Garman? You bringing donuts?" from Sierra, with Alexa in the background shouting: "P Garman, don't forget the donuts! Don't forget the donuts, you butthead!!!"
Still, if Chepa loves the guy and he loves the kids, hell that's the best thing that could happen. So I'll be resolute and fine with it all. Just stinging while thinking about it.
And then there is my Madeleina, who is currently out in the back yard on the tree swing, twisting the ropes so tight so that she can spin out and nearly puke.And, she's making up songs while she's spinning.
If you want to see her in action, she made a new video last night. Just go to and punch in madeleinag--note the spelling--and look for her video on homework. It is pretty hilarious. I know I'm prejudiced, but damn, I think she's very very good for a kid who has only made 5 videos in her life, a total of maybe 7 hours of working with a little $150 camera and her own spontaneous ideas. I'm impressed.
And I think you will all get a laugh.