Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter at the Gorman's

Well, it's Easter at the Gorman's. I was hot under the collar last night. Started off good: I had a meeting with someone coming on my July Jungle Jaunt and she was great and will be a great addition to the trip. Then I raced home for a radio interview about ayahuasca that was scheduled for 5 PM. Or so I thought. It turned out to be scheduled for 9 PM, which was when Chepa and the girls were due over to color eggs. Now that is a tricky one because Chepa's boyfriend comes in from out of state to have Easter with his daughters Sierra and Alexa. Nonetheless, Chep generally brings them, and Sara and Italo tag along and Marco comes in as well.
This time, it didn't work that way. With the late time of the interview, nobody came. So it was just Madeleina and I and she was the only one coloring eggs as I was making us a very late dinner. And that was just so so sad. I know Madeleina is capable of entertaining herself, but I'm afraid I've got her doing too much of that. She really ought to be around her sisters and brothers more. Unfortunately, she's attached to me and pissed off at her mom--for not making her spend more time at her house--so she doesn't want to be there too often. Actually, she loves being there but wants her mom, Chepa, to drag her over there and pay attention to her. Which doesn't happen enough.
So I thought it was sad my girl was coloring the eggs all alone. But she did a gorgeous job. Everything the girl does is art.
This morning was different. The easter bunny got here early and made up baskets for everyone, then hid the 18 eggs and then while I was out for the corned beef I'm making for dinner--okay, I know it's not lamb, but then the kids don't like lamb--everybody showed up. Now that's the way I like it: Pure mayhem looking for those 18 eggs. And 30 minutes later they were still short two. Those guys have never found all of them. Not once. And the eggs are always in the same living room. And that bunny still makes a couple of them invisible.
And now, the corned beef is on. Italo is here. little Taylor is here. Madeleina's here. Sara and Marco will come by later. Laundry is on. I'm working a cover story.
It ain't perfect over here. Hasn't been for a long, long time. But for a broken up family, we still do okay.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Well, Earth Day, Good Friday, Good Evening

Well, today was/is Good Friday. For catholics--and I was an alter boy who considered the priesthood for a couple of early teen years, until I discovered that girls had, you know....things that were nice to touch but incompatible with being a priest--it's the holiest day of the year, the day Jesus was crucified. I don't know that it really was the day, but that guy was something special, that is for sure. As were Krishna, Buddha, Mohammed and some others. So I'm all for taking a day of reflection to consider what real love, real forgiveness means. Or three, or 10.
It was also, this year, Earth Day. Another reason to reflect. What are we doing, how well are we interacting. Let's face it: By now, even those who have not dropped acid or had ayahuasca or magic 'shrooms have to see that we're not living on a planet in the middle of the universe, but that we are being permitted by the benevolent spirit of the earth to stay here. She shrugs her shoulders, we're all gone. She knocks her plates together, we're finished. Not her. She'll be fine. "Got along without you before I met you baby, I'll get along without you when you're gone," goes the old jazz number. So I think it's a good day to stop and reflect on what we each are doing here to help or hinder, to better or worse, both to the planet and to each other. And we could probably use another 10 days a year for that reflection as well.
In that spirit, I sang today. Not just rock 'n roll, but some good, deep notes that come out of the medicine I've been served over the years. I hope you all felt the resonance. They're not my songs or notes so no ego here: I was just lent them for a little while and couldn't repeat them now if you begged me. But for a minute, they were in my mouth and heart and soul and needed to come out and so I opened my mouth and out they came. And I hope the Earth, and the spirits, and all of you felt them. Not even on this level, just in your soul singing a little. And I felt songs from others as well. So thank you.
And now I'm off to cook dinner. It's simple tonight.
While it's cooking I'm gonna cut some grass in the front lawn.
And reflect.
Not on killing grass, just on giving it a haircut. Just on trimming the nails, so to speak.
Have a great night, everyone. And a great Passover or Easter or whatever else you call this time of breaking into Spring and welcoming the warm air and the start of the growing of the fruits and vegetables.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Car Trouble

Okay, so this isn't a typically bouncy post on healing or Madeleina. This is a stinky post on car trouble. Specifically, my 1994 Oceanic Green Ford Ranger pickup's car/truck trouble.
The beautiful think has 299,271 miles on it. I'm watching because I want to be there when it hits 300,000, and 400,000 and half-a-million.
Marco has been using her since his car got totaled. Sometimes he uses my 1998 Ford Ranger--dark green--but lately I've commandeered that one since it's been playing better on the highway and can hit 70 mph without a strain, while the older beauty only hits 65 on a good day or downhill run.
But in the last week or two, Marco has been charged with eliminating a 10-foot pile of cement and old wood from his mom, Chepa's back yard. So he traded trucks as the newer Ranger has a little better pulling/carrying capacity and much better tires.
So I'm back to the oceanic green and loving it. She's my pal.
But today, after driving to Walmart and Fort Worth and Two Bucks, she started to smoke on the way home. I pulled onto the shoulder of I-35, the major drug running route from Mexico into the US. No problem, as I had/have no drugs. But I also didn't have a phone, so I had to run across the interstate, jump a fence, walk a wet gully, hit a factory and beg the use of the phone to call Italo to tell him I was stranded, had groceries, and needed a wrecker to pick the truck up and take it to my mechanic, Rick's.
I also told him to have Marco pick up Madeleina from school as I wasn't going to make it.
Italo decided not to call a wrecker till he reached me, about an hour on a 90-degree day. No big deal. He arrived, we called one, they said they'd be there in an hour. They were and brought my truck to Rick's. Then Italo brought me home--me slightly upset because I'll need a new/rebuilt transmission for $1400 on a truck with 300,000 miles, but don't have a choice as I need the truck--to Chepa's, where I secured my other truck, the one Marco has been using.
Darned if I didn't find that the bed of the pickup is loaded with about 3,000 pounds of cement pieces, more than enough to wreak the truck. Damned if I don't have to go to the dump first thing tomorrow so I don't lose another transmission. Damned if I have not figured out how Marco destroyed the transmission in the older ocean green truck--with 3,000 pound loads of cement in a pickup meant to carry half a ton, plus passengers.
I decided not to rail at Marco. Instead, I took my dark green truck and drove home. It was about 6:35 PM.
There I was met with a scowling Madeleina.
"Dad! I told you I had a concert tonight at 6 PM! Why didn't you pick me up? I missed it!"
"Honey, I'm sorry. I was stuck out on a highway waiting for a tow-truck. Why didn't mom take you?"
"Dad, mom went out Saturday to Jessica's, then went out Sunday to Monica's and she hasn't been home since."
"Why didn't Marco take you?"
"You were supposed to take me...."
"I know, darling, but I was sitting on a highway at 3:45, on the way to picking you up at 4."
"I doubt that..."
"Ask Italo. He came and saved me."
"Well, I missed the concert. Thanks a lot."
"I'm sorry. What else can I say. I was 20 miles from here on an interstate."
"But I had faith you would make it here..."
I smiled.
"Thank you baby. But in the future, if I'm with a broken truck 20 miles away and you have an hour to get somewhere, ask your brother to take you if mom's not home. Even if I could have walked home I had no way to get you back to school. And I was not going to abandon a truck and groceries on a highway..."
"The older I get," she said, "the more I realize you're a long way from superman..."
I didn't say anything. I know I'm not superman. I'm just dad. And when she was little, it seemed I could do anything, get her anything, fix anything. Now that she's becoming a woman/a person, she sees the limitations. I've always known they were there but for her to see them is a letdown.
I'm sorry baby. Your daddy is just another person. I'm working in your corner, but even my best isn't always good enough. Welcome to the world, little girl. I'm sorry you have to be here. Cause it's a much nicer place when you think there is someone who can, in a pinch, fix it all.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Amazing Hypocracy of the Far Right

Okay, now that I got my personal feelings about abortion out in my previous blog (see: The Abortion Issue), I want to just take a look at that issue again for a moment. But this time not from a personal point of view. This time not from the heart of someone who has contributed to abortions. This time from a simpleton's view of the spoken word.
In these hours leading up to a possible federal government (temporary) shutdown over the budget--it's 6:07 PM Central Time as I write this--I'm thinking about several of the riders the far right wing of the republican party tagged onto the budget. There was, of course, several abortion items: No more federal funding for Planned Parenthood, no funds to any country that might use some of those funds to fund abortions; and particularly no more money to or involvement with the United Nations Population Fund, which supports family services.
Those are three of the vitally important riders that the far right wing of the republican party cannot live without and which must be attached to the budget in order for them to vote to keep the government open for business.
Okay, so those people, those congressmen--and their counterpoints n the senate--need those changes because of the value of the fetus. Save the fetus at all costs. Don't give a government anti-malarial pills (which I don't like either) or help with fresh water in a cholera-plagued country if ANY funds given to that country might pay for abortion. Not if the cholera funds are being misdirected, mind you, just if ANY funds given to a country might result in abortions, then NO FUNDING for that country, even if it happened to be in the middle of a nuclear meltdown or a cholera outbreak.
But here is simpleton me. I'm just a kid from Queens, New York who went to catholic school, was taught all sorts of nonsense about the church and christianity--along with the very very good stuff about taking care of your neighbor and treating others like you would like to be treated, or better--and now looks at these riders to the budget and shakes my head. Maybe I'm missing something. Tell me if I am. But the riders don't end with abortion. They go on to insist that the budget won't be passed unless the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency created to monitor and help protect our environment, is no longer permitted to regulate how many tons of greenhouse gasses a factory is permitted to emit. Let's face it: We're talking about the Midlothian, Texas cement factories burning tires to generate electricity and poisoning whole communities. That's what not regulating by the EPA finally means, I think.
And then the far right wing of the republican party is saying in another rider that they won't pass the budget if any funding goes toward health care reform.
And then the far right wing of the republican party says they will not pass the budget unless there is a commitment that no monies will be spent on the new consumer protection bureau.
So simpleton me, the kid from Queens, who used to play in Dupey's field before it was developed and was an alter boy at St. Mels o 154th street, starts thinking: And when I do I'm thinking: Wait a minute! You don't want abortions. Okay. I disagree but okay, you're entitled to your opinion.
But after you want to force women to have babies they don't want, you want unlimited smog, no health care reform and no consumer protection from preying credit cards, banks and other lending agencies.
So I'm thinking, let me get this straight: the far right contingent of the republican party is insisting that a fetus be carried to term to become a human, and then they want that human sick from unregulated greenhouse gasses, with no health care, and in debt to uncontrolled credit agencies?
Do you see what I'm seeing?
I'm not seeing the logic here.
But then maybe I'm missing something.
When I grew up in Whitestone, Queens in the 1950s and 60s, the mafia was all around us. Maybe half-a-dozen players lived right on our little block. Dozens lived within a few blocks. But they way they worked was this: If you needed money and went for a loan, they warned you against it. They said they were bad men who would hurt you if you couldn't pay it back. They tried to convince you not to take the loan. Same with everything they did: They always tried to talk you out of illegally gambling, looking for girls, drugs and so forth. Finally, if you screamed enough, they'd provide the vice you wanted.
Those were good bad guys. They were upfront about the deal.
These people who want to say it's a sin or wrong, or insane to have an abortion and insist that women who conceive by accident then carry the fetus to term as a human baby, are the same people asking for unregulated atmospheric gasses, no funding for good health care and no control of the predatory lenders when they reach out for help.
Tell you what: My mafia was always cleaner than that. Much much more upfront than that.

The Abortion Issue

This is a very personal blog that I put up on the huffington post today. It probably won't be approved until tomorrow. But I thought it needed to be said and so I've said it there and will say it here. For those who don't want to hear about the abortion issue on a personal level, just skip this one.

It's Friday, April 8. A government shutdown looms tonight if a budget can't be hammered out in the next 15 hours. At issue isn't budget cuts anymore it seems; at issue is abortion, primarily, and greenhouse gas regulation. The New York Times ran a wonderful editorial this morning pointing that out. The far right wing of the Republican party is demanding that to pass the budget it will have to include riders promising that Planned Parenthood will receive no federal financing, that the U.S. will not provide any aid to countries that might use some of those monies for abortions, and that the U.S. not provide any support for the United Nations Population Fund, which supports family planning services. Also, there is a rider that prohibits the EPA from regulating greenhouse gasses and another that prohibits any funding to health care reform. Oh, and then one more, according to the NY Times, that no monies be spent funding the new consumer protection bureau.
I've a mind to go off on each of these assaults on humanity, but I'll restrict myself to the abortion issue because that one is one I've been personally involved with. On numerous occasions.
When I was young, I lived with a beautiful woman. We lived together for a long time, about 10 years. During that time she got pregnant several times. Not because we were careless or didn't care about her body: she got pregnant on the pill, with condoms that broke, while using the diaphragm. We were a couple of Irish kids from large families and were both born to make a lot of babies. We were just built for it.
The problem was that we were not ready to raise them. At least I was not ready for a family. And if I had chosen, or if we had chosen, to let those spirits take on flesh, I would not have been a good father. I would have been a resentful father. I would have seen those spirits in flesh as humans and thought they held me back. So rather than make them suffer, she had abortions. Was it selfish? Yes. Should we simply have abstained from sex? Possibly. But try telling that to people in love at 20-25-30. Should I have simply been more mature and decided that my dreams, and her dreams too, were unimportant and should be sacrificed to the spirit we'd invited to her womb? Maybe, but I wasn't mature enough then, so that wasn't an option. Should I, we, have just had a bunch of babies and lived with it the way you live with a hand of cards you're dealt? No. That would not have been in those babies interest. I would have minimally been passively-aggressive, toward the woman I loved and toward the babies she bore.
In the end, after about 15 years together altogether, we broke up. She found a new man and had a beautiful family. Seven years after we broke up I fell in love, married, inherited--gleefully--two children from a previous marriage, and then my wife and I made our own beautiful baby.
Fatherhood didn't come easily: They boys were a handful and I found that I not only had a stern "dad voice" but that I used it more often than I should have. But I caught myself and tried to corral that. And I've been, I think, a good father, a good dad.
The reason was maturity. I just grew up a little by the time I was 42 and becoming a father.
Back to the abortions: We took them seriously. We knew we'd inadvertently invited a spirit who wanted to experience tactile sensations--have a body that could feel, taste, touch, hear, talk, make love, get ill, play sports--into the initial steps of having that body. It's a nine month transition and we stopped that transition from spirit to flesh with each abortion. And we cried over it, mourned some, and prayed that that spirit, those spirits, would find another home in which to grow a body, a home that would welcome them and be open to all that was entailed.
And when my own daughter was born, when the doctor had me pull her free and she opened her eyes while halfway out and in my hand and looked up at me and said "hep, hep"--which I swear sounded like "help, help"--I looked down at her and told her that it was too late. She couldn't go back in; she'd made her choice to go from spirit to flesh and that as long as she was here I would do all I could to make a place for her that was warm and full of love.
And I have. And my now-ex has as well.
If I, if the first woman I lived with and I had allowed those other spirits to take on a body, the reception would not have been as welcoming. And so while I wish I hadn't mistakenly invited those spirits into that beautiful woman's womb, setting them free to find a warmer reception was, in my opinion, the best thing to do for them.
Selfish? I'm sure. It was still the right thing to do. Giving spirit flesh is a wonderful job, but one best done with the right partner at the right time, I think.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Getting Old, Unhappy Camper

Okay, so I'm getting a little older. I turned 60 in February--don't worry if you missed it, I'm still taking gifts--and feel about 34. I'm strong as an ox, won't flinch from a fight--though I was never very good at winning them--and still have a heart/mind/soul of a kid.
Nonetheless, in the last few years, I have suffered some physical setbacks. Mostly, I had that damned intestinal ulcer that I had no idea I had until it burst and sent 3 liters of really awful junk into my innards, buring my organs. My doc saved me, but then I had to have it sewn up again, and then a third time. Not good. Then there was the flesh eating spider bite that left holes all over my legs and arms. Then there was the septic infection that ate the flesh from my calves and ankles. Then there was the broken ankle that I was sure would repair itself without interference--which it did after two years of pain with every step I took. Plus, it took San Pedro to actually do the fixing, but I only got that by walking up to near 9,500 feet at Machu Picchu, from a base of 7,500, with each step a very very painful move.
Then this year the damned flesh eating infection came back--not so strong, just in about 16-20 places on my legs--and I decided to treat it by ignoring it. I suspect it came back from the original spider bite and that it was time to just beat it on personal power. HA!
Okay, plus, I got the damned dengue in Iquitos.
Which leads me to this: While I've always been a 120/80 guy with blood pressure, when I was tested with dengue and the infection in my legs, I was suddenly a 170/105 guy.
My doc, someone who is a genuine emergency room doc and who has been on two trips with me, suggested that the infection and dengue caused the increased pressure.
Now he's not sure.
Cause I've been back in the states for six weeks, dengue long gone, and the infection nearly dormant--except for two sores that really hurt a lot!!!!!!
And I took blood pressure twice a day for two weeks, same time, same bp machine. And I was about 160/105 the first time each day, then 151/100 the second time, half an hour later and 1/2 mile walked between readings.
So doc sent me bp medicine. He knows I feel strong and don't want no damned medicine.
And then last week, my second reading for the last three days dipped to 96, 93, 91. So I told doc that I didn't want his medicine, that I wanted another week to see if having lost about 13 pounds--an estimate--in the last few months, and having added riding my bike--with a stationary machine--plus walking an extra couple of miles of fast walking daily might not bring it down into the 80s on the dyastolic.
Well, yesterday and today were both at 178/110 and second readings were about 161/104 and doc said it didn't matter how I felt, that those are bad numbers. Bad numbers.
So I at a damned pill.
We'll see what happens.
I am not a happy camper. I don't take pills unless they are for fun. Or basic ibuprofin.
And now I'm old and fat and bald and taking blood pressure medicine.
I'm on the way out.
I'm a goner.
\ I'm useless.
HA! I am going to be walking the Amazon in 10 years!
If I were you, I'd bet on me.
Even if it's a Peter G who is taking freaking blood pressure medicine.