Saturday, October 29, 2011

What I Was Thinking About in the Car Today

So I was in my car. I'd just done my exercises which Doc Gritter wants me to do to get my blood pressure down--along with the freaking meds he has me on--which was that I'd walked fast for about 2 1/2 miles. One half mile this morning in the local park, then another 1/2 half mile in the park--2000 steps--and then a trip to HEB supermarket where I park as far away from the entrance as is humanly possible--200 big steps--and then run in and out of aisles till I hit 1000 steps and then back to the car. Then to Walmart, where the parking lot is even bigger and I walk around the 5-acre building a couple of times, then shop, another 2000 steps, making 2 1/2 miles.
Okay, it's not the same as when I was younger and did 1000 crunches daily, plus 300 pushups in 75 push up bursts, plus rode my bike 15 miles daily, plus played handball 2-3 times a week for 2 hours, plus played softball with the Bonghitters from High Times twice a week during season, plus made a point of walking 15 flights of stairs a day. Okay, so I'm getting old. And I had that little heart attack. And I had that intestinal explosion that almost killed me and then the two further operations which fixed me, sort of--including a fake belly button because they had to cut the real one out, which Madeleina thinks is fantastic!--and the two flesh eating staph infections and all the rest. Wonderful freaking life, tell you the truth: You have no idea what health is till it's severely compromised. I mean, I try to run and my body just falls down. After the three major ops on my belly, my bottom half has no idea what my upper-half is doing. They just don't know each other anymore. Which is why I'm walking. I'm trying to get them to associate with one another again. Don't know if it's working and do know that I'm gonna buy a new pair of sneaks tomorrow because my feet hurt a lot--not to mention my freaking ankle where when it broke a few years ago I didn't have the cash to have the pin put in, which hurts not just a lot but a REAL lot.
I do know that walking more makes me do everything more vividly. More intentionally. I don't just stand up, I STAND UP and walk to the bathroom or the laundry room. I don't lollygag while shopping, I race through it.
And I cough a lot. I think I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff that could give me cancer, which I don't want, but still smoke two packs a day, so am probably pushing that envelope more than I should.
So today, after my walking, I was driving to Two Bucks, my liquor store. It's 23 miles from my house, and is the nearest one to my dry county. In the last couple of years, Johnson County--along interstate 35, the place where all the drugs from Mexico through Laredo are stored until they're broken up for shipments across the midwest--has allowed the sale of beer and wine at a few select places, and the sale of drinks at 3-4 bars owned by the local judges, but if you want a bottle of bourbon or vodka, you still have to drive to the next county, Tarrant, to get one.
So I drive there daily at the end of my errands to buy my 4 minis (1.6 ounces, each) of bourbon and then drive home. And on the way home I drink part of one of them. And I often wonder what a cop would do if he found me with an "open bottle" in the car--a big no-no here in Texas--and if that open bottle happened to be just the size of one drink. I mean, how the heck would he present that to a judge? "Your honor, this man had an open bottle, which I confiscated, while driving." And then when he showed the judge a bottle that contained 3/4 of 1/6 ounces, how would the judge rule? It's not the same as having a liter in your lap, know what I mean?
Anyway, I was driving to Two Bucks liquor store and realized I was going 70 in a 65 MPH zone. I slowed down. My 4-cylinder was probably breathing heavy at that speed anyway. But for a second I imagined a cop coming up on me and stopping me and coming to my window and asking "What's your hurry, old man?"
And these were a few of the answers I imagined responding with, none of which would probably have gone over well:
"Well, officer, the bottle of bourbon in the glove compartment is almost empty and I was trying to make it to the liquor store before it closed."
"Well, officer, I just stole this freaking car and I'm trying to get as far away from the scene of the crime and I can as fast as I can."
"My freaking wife is annoying me to death, so I'm trying to get to the gun show to pick up a throw-away piece."
"I'm gonna be Jonesing real soon if I can't get my hand on some meth in the next few minutes."
"I'm short just a little fertilizer for the back yard bomb I'm making and the damned garden center closes in 15 minutes!"
"One of my halogen bulbs burned out and my poor pot plants are gonna freeze if I don't get another hot bulb in that grow room soon."
"I left the six-month old alone while I went drinking and suddenly realized it's been a couple of hours. I'm sure the pit bull took care of her, but then I remembered I forgot to leave the pit bull's food out..."
"I'm trying to get to your house to have sex with your wife and realized you've only got a couple of hours left on your shift..."
"Just wanted to see what sort of speed the cars my tax dollars paid for your car could get..."
Have a great night, everybody.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Probably the Only List You'll Ever Get from Me

Okay, so I'm not a big list guy. At least not a guy who writes down lists. When I go to Peru, for instance, I don't make a list of things to pack. I just get stuff washed and then pack the night before I'm going, or sometimes on the morning I'm leaving. When I have to re-up my medical kit for myself and my guests, I look through it, see what's old or what I'm low on, then go to the pharmacy and buy it.
The biggest challenge is getting ready to head to the jungle. To muster stores and equipment and particularly fresh food for 60-75 meals a day for a week takes a lot of thought. But I just stuff it in my head, imagine everyone needing to eat and then picture what they might like to eat, then head to the market to buy it.
It's chancy, I know, but I'm generally on the money and have a little left over in both dry goods and produce to give to the staff and jungle neighbors.
Now I do keep one list for myself: My monthly bills. When I get them and pay them, I put a check next to them for that month. It's just a little sheet of yellow paper with the words "mortgage, car insurance, home depot, IRS, water, electric, phone, television" on it and the faster I check them off the better I feel.
But for some odd reason, during the last few weeks I've been a bit off kilter. I'm getting a lot of work done but also wasting a lot of time. So I thought that to remedy that I ought to make a list of things I need to do daily. And I think it's a pretty good list so I'm gonna share it with you. And then maybe I'll write a book based on the list called IMPROVE YOUR WORTHLESS SELF LIST BOOK or something. Just kidding.
So here's the list of things to take care of daily:
Take care of intellect (read/consider)
Take care of family
Take care of work
Take care of spirituality
Take care of body
Take care of business
Take care of fun
Take care of friends
And when I do all that stuff--even if it's small stuff, like bringing lunch for Madeleina and snacks for Sierra and Alexa to Chepa's house at 7 AM--well, it feels like a good day's work. Today's work, for instance, was collecting info and doing a couple of interviews for a story I've nearly got done and will finish over the weekend. Today's business was wrangling with the local tax collector over what I think is a lousy appraisal (no clear winner yet) and in a few minutes going into my weekly alternative newspaper and picking up my check.
On the way I'll take care of body with walking a couple of miles to get the blood going.
So there it is. The only list you'll probably ever get from me, but it's a good one.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

House Full of Empty

So a friend and I, she's in the same business as me, but in the magazine editing end of it--and she's brilliant, were feeling a little blue that we live so far apart that she can't just stop over and bitch about a new issue or whatever now and then. Because we talk well together. And I noted that further than that, I don't have any friends nearby my house here in bucolic Joshua. I do have my family, and that's the bomb, but they're not always here. This is how it was the other day.
On the other hand, Chepa has been busy with some legal papers for one of her sisters for about two weeks, so I've been taking Sierra to school and picking her up a lot and that's been a lot of fun. Not tonight, as I've come back from Walmart to find no one here. When I left, Italo was sleeping, Taylor, his daughter, was climbing on him with a large bag of tiny marshmallows close to her breast; Sierra and Madeleina were talking about the fish we just fed with a good loaf of bread at the new local park. I still had to do my walking and shopping, so I left for an hour and then came home to a house full of empty. In New York that probably wouldn't have happened unless I wanted it to happen.
Oh, well, it's just life. But I used to love coming home from driving a cab and seeing Clare and Chuck, who initially stayed with Phil and I, and then lived next door with Suzy and Eli, and Chuck and I would just spend an hour blowing a joint talking about our fares for the night. Never seemed to get old because each fare was a bit different. As is each story, each issue, each problem.
So I'm gonna throw some chicken thighs on, and a little basmati rice with garlic and then some asparagus or spinach, or maybe a fresh cucumber. I'll see when it's time for that.
If I had a choice, the house would be quiet in the day and then jam packed at night.
Have a good one, everybody.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

With Sierra

Okay, I'm gonna tell you, if you don't already know, that I love my ex-wife Chepa's babies. I adore Sierra and Alexa. And though they're not mine, I love them like they were. And those of you who have read this blog know about the time she came running after me screaming, "I have a bike...I'm putting on my shoes...P Garman, wait for me..." while my son Italo, who needed time with me, said, "Dad, if you bring Sierra, I'm not going anywhere." That was one of the cruelest moments of my life and still bites me like a viper whenever I think of it. I let that child beg for my company, beg to be included and left her out.
I had to, because Italo needed my time that day. But I still feel the pain.
So now when I have the chance, I take it with her. For the last couple of weeks I've been going over to Chepa's at 7:15 AM so that the kids can see/hug me, and then I take Sierra to school. I can never make up for that day two years ago. I'm sure she'll go to a psychologist some day to say she feels abandoned, though the won't remember why, but I will. Because she was.
On the other hand, when I pick her up from school, she's just like any other 5-year old. She wants attention, things, food, drink.
Today was no exception. I was finishing a story that's going to press tonight when Chepa called to say she was stuck in Fort Worth and could I pick Sierra up. Instantly my heart leapt, then fell. Yes I could, but no I couldn't. Work demanded I be home for rewrite. Still, with Chepa unable, I would have to go.
Fortunately, my boss called with the rewrite notes 40 minutes before Sierra got out of school. So I did the rewrite and got there a little late. But once with her, Sierra acted like a spoiled kid. She demanded to ride on one of those carts that are so big you can't manouver in the aisles. And we did. And we bought things like marshmallows that I never buy. And toys. And other stuff. And you know what? When I started to get fed up I just laughed at myself. Cause she's Sierra a 5-year old who came out of my wife's belly, and even though she's not mine we're closer than two threads in a carpet. So I laughed at myself for getting uptight, then cut loose and started laughing with her.
Sometimes you just have to let the rules go.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just Showing Off

Okay, just a silly post here. My book, Ayahuasca in My Blood--25 Years of Medicine Dreaming, generally occupies a place on in the Shamanism section somewhere between the top 35 and 100 books. When it falls below the top 100 I sort of panic. Can't do anything about it, just panic that no one will ever buy another copy. But then there are days like today, when it's at #9 in the Shamanism group and about #23,000 of all the few million books they have for sale. So there it is. I'm hot today. That's cool, I think.
I hope you're all hot at what you're doing as well. Hope you're all having a great great time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Becoming a Shaman

Someone new to a forum on which I occasionally post has been asking to be put in touch with a real shaman so that he can finish a process of death/rebirth that he is sure he not only needs but which will make him a shaman. I've watched this post and the responses for a couple of weeks and didn't add my useless two cents till today. Today he finally said that he's 19 years old and has been having difficulty fitting into his world for two years, though he says he's had shamanic events in his life pointing toward becoming a shaman for years. I don't doubt him. He seems like a genuine person. But at the same time he's a genuine 19-year old, and, well, because I'm old I'm allowed to say that all 19 year olds are torn between this and that. (I'd add that most 60-year olds are as well, but you all already knew that.)
So today I decided to toss my useless two cents in and here they are. I guess I waited till my heart responded, rather than the dad in me...

Two years? Heck, I've been doing this for 30 some odd years, the last 27 with ayahuasca and San Pedro, with marvelous teachers to guide me. I've been dead and reborn 20 times and I'm just a little baby when it comes to shamanism or being a shaman. This sort of work can garner overnight results in a lot of healing ways, but I don't know that death and rebirth solve anything for the individual--particularly in genuine clarity. I think the experience cleans out a lot of rubbish and gives you a kickstart but you remain you--or at least I remained me--and that meant with each cleansing and heart/eyes more wide open, I simply saw more things to repair....I will root for you but don't want you thinking that if you can get to the death/rebirth with a genuine shaman and genuine and wonderful medicine that it will be an end of any sort. It's more likely to be a new beginning and one fraught with even more difficult realities than what you're currently working with. Which is fine, because you may also have an extra dollop of strength to deal with that new reality. But then after the next death, rebirth, the next hill is higher still....If I ever met anyone who reached the highest mountain, they certainly didn't tell me. Because in the end, even shaman are just fishermen or bankers or wives and mothers and fathers who have to pay bills, change flat tires, get annoyed at's just living and living wonderfully. Be joyful if you can, every day that you're allowed to wake up and see the white magic illuminating the world, the green magic coursing through the verdancia, the red magic pumping the blood through your veins, and the black magic, the magnetic power of the universe, holding it all together in a way you can appreciate.
Good luck. You've a wonderful journey ahead of you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In the Supermarket

Okay: This is the second post of the day, just seconds after the first. But something happened that I missed by just three minutes and I am so angry with myself for not seeing it and taking care of it that I want to write it out so that I will not forget next time.
I was in a grocery store and in front of me on line was a nice young woman--I later found out she's a local teacher, though not at my daughter Madeleina's school--who had bought a bunch of what was obviously going to be dinner. She had lettuce, onions, garlic, a big tomato, some chopped meat, a small sour cream and a can of refried beans, a can of red salsa and some tortillas. So she was a mom going home to make a fast and inexpensive dinner for her husband/kids.
Well, she paid with a check but didn't have her driver's licence so the store wouldn't accept it. She did have her Burleson, TX teacher's badge, with her picture, but the store wouldn't accept it.
She was very embarrassed when a manager was called over and she was told they knew her but corporate wouldn't let them accept a check without a driver's license.
I waited patiently in line, and when she apologized I told her not to sweat it, this sort of thing happens to everyone.
And a few minutes later, when the lady's order was cancelled and I was finished and in my car it suddenly hit me that I should have just paid for the lady's groceries. It was a lousy $14 bucks or so. I just didn't think of it till I was already in my car.
So now I feel like a schmuck for not paying more attention. That poor lady went home without dinner and then probably had to go back out to rebuy that food to feed her kids, and I could have handled it for her if I'd just been thinking more clearly and less selfishly. Dammit. I hate catching myself messing up.
Next time I come on that sort of thing, I will try to remember to simply handle it.

Somebody Asked...So Here's My Answer

Someone I don't know got hold of me today--not unusual--and suggested that if the ayahuasca dieta called for no salt or sugar--because the spirits are slightly repelled by those things, among others--then why do we need salt or sugar in real life when not on an ayahuasca dieta?
I answered the best I could. Maybe tomorrow I'd answer differently, but here's what I wrote:

Dear X: The human body needs salt. It retains the water in your system, keeping the fluids in your body inside your body. And good salt--I mean real sea salt, which is expensive--has a lot of trace minerals and so forth in it. Without enough water in your system, down goes the electrolyte system and then you can't think straight. Fruits and their natural sugars replenish those electrolytes--as, to a certain extent, does sea salt.
So, in a perfect world, you might get what you need salt-and-sugar-wise from eating fruits and, like a lot of Amazon indigenous, getting their salt from eating salt-heavy clay--just like a lot of US southerners eat a couple of handfuls of dirt now and then.
But we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with information to all our senses and so we need much more salt/electrolytes/natural sugar than hunter/gatherers ever did. Most people on the river that I know, even now, work hard three/four hours daily and then don't work at all most days. Westerners like myself get up at 5 AM, read newspapers, feed animals, get kids ready for school, drive to school, get work done for 8-10 hours, go to the store, buy food, make food, feed kids, get laundry done and so forth--a reasonably full 16 hour day, 7 days a week most of the time. So our needs are simply different.
Now, you got to know that I eat maybe two burgers from Sonic a year. No fries or soft drinks ever. Fresh fish or mussels/scallops three times a week, a little chicken--maybe a thigh or a quarter of a large breast--a couple of times a week, and then beef maybe once a week. Maybe eggs once a week. Rice with garlic a couple of times a week, bread maybe once a week or twice if I'm dying for comfort food, fresh corn, 4-5 helpings of veggies daily, lots of garlic, lots of onion, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, zuccini, yellow squash, broccoli, cauliflower.
If I didn't drink at all I'd be in great shape. Happen to like my little bit of bourbon most days and a couple of glasses of wine. I also drink Una de Gato with Sacha Jergon pretty religiously--just a couple of ounces daily, but it keeps immune system up and keeps the liver clean.
Do I need a lot of salt? Not really. But there is a little good sea salt in the water in which I steam veggies, even if I don't add it later. And always a bit of salt on fish, beef, chicken, though it's down from what it was five years ago and that's down from what it was 25 years ago. I don't exercise as much so I don't need as much.
But I have to hold my ground on what I say about the dieta. If Amaringo was told by his spirits that they don't like salt or sugar, then that's perfect for him. The spirits that hang around me want me to indulge in everything. They're freaking rock 'n rollers who want to taste, touch, feel things to the extreme. They hate it that I don't drink so much anymore. They hate it that I've cut down on cigarettes. They can't believe I have not done cocaine for nearly 30 years.
The spirits that hang near me want the visceral. They don't have bodies and cannot feel the physical. So they want to step into my body and feel it all. And I mean all of it. Just for a second or two.
And they love salt and sugar (which I hardly ever have) and wish I would do more, just so they could experience it.
So, lesson? Different people, different spirits. And each spirit wants a different thing from a human host, even if we're just hosts for a little while.
Any of this making sense?
I would never cut salt out of the diet of the people I take to the jungle. I couldn't. They'd all fade after the first half day of walking 5 miles in the rainforest if they didn't have a little salt with their lentils and avocados and eggs and rice and river fish.
But this is just me talking and I've got no special pipeline to anything. I just do the best I can with the info I'm given and with the way I was taught.
I hope this ramble somehow helps you muddle through it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Here's the Deal then...

So in the last week I've been feeling like crap. My blood pressure, kept in check for the last several months--for the first time in my life--is running 145./93 or so, every day. Don't like that, especially since I'm taking the meds. But lately my eyes feel like they're so full they're popping. I'll get a glaucoma check as soon as I can swing it.
Some of it might just be getting old. Some of it might be me hiding in a shell. How? I don't know. But I still might be doing it. So I don't like feeling like death is getting close. Not in the playbook that I wrote, anyway. I've too much to live for. I don't drink a lot anymore--more than I should but pretty darned tame if you ask me. And I'm putting my smokes out at the halfway point more than half the time, sometimes less than that. Still, if I'm screwed, it's me who did it.
On the other hand, I am not going easy. I'm gonna be strong and okay. I'm fuggin Irish and they'll get me when they get me. Meanwhile, I'm gonna be on that freaking wanted list and damn those who don't know that. Come and get me, Mr. Death, if you got the balls to deal with me once you got me.
Arrogant, no?
Fuck them. Go out kicking and screaming. Do not go gentle into that good night....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple Lesson from the Spirits

Someone I know and respect wrote to say they were having a difficult time living with what they learned through the spirit of ayahuasca in the real world. I understood. I think it's sometimes very difficult living by the spirits' lessons on this plane. But this is where our living is done, and the spirits often have good advice, even if it's difficult.
In my own case, I try my best. For instance, I'd like to be a perfect father, but am not. Could I be? I don't know. I try, and then try harder when I fail. I try to see--and this is a spirit lesson from years ago--no, try to be my kids to see what it is they need. Not what I think they need, because that's me making assumptions, but when there is a problem, to be them, to see with their eyes for a moment, and when I do that, and when it sometimes work, then I suddenly know what it is I need--or rather, what they really need.
Some things are fixable, some not. I wish my wife/ex-wife's babies, Sierra and Alexa, were my babies. But they are not. So I can either resent that, or be as joyful as possible over the fact that I get to see them a few times a week and that that time is valuable and precious to me--and to them as well, I hope. (Last night the girls, plus my grand baby Taylor had me picking them up and spinning them and having them climb all over me for an hour. That was perfect. It wasn't all day, and it wasn't today, but it was grand last night.
So I wish my family weren't broken, but it is. And it's probably my fault but that's all a long time ago and these days I try to make the most of my time with them. And though it's funny, although Madeleina is the only one of my kids who live with me--and then she also lives with Chepa a lot too--I still make enough food, or have enough food ready to be able to make every night just in case the gang shows up. It might be an extra chicken in the oven, or enough rice ready and enough veggies in the fridge, or enough extra portions of what I'm eating, to feed them all. And a lot of days they don't come over. A few days a week I'm eating alone when Madeleina is at Chepa's.
But I don't mind. I don't get blue over it. I just think of how much fun it is when they do show up and so I prepare for them with a lot of joy. And if they don't, well, they've got their own lives to live. That's fantastic. If they do, they usually show at dinner time, so it's either in the oven or ready to go in a few minutes.
That was a spirit lesson. More joy, less pain. Having the extra food ready is no real trouble for me at all. If it doesn't get used one day it will get used the next or wind up with Boots the Wonderdog. But having them know that they are welcome and thought of and considered in my daily life, well, I think that means a lot to them. I think it brings them joy to walk in and ask "What's cooking?" and be told "something good." I don't think it would bring them as much joy if I only had what I like in the fridge and never had anything ready for anybody else and they walked in and asked "What's cooking?" and I said, "Nothing. You didn't tell me you were coming over."
I think you just have to do the best you can, and if you're lucky enough to get some spirit lessons, well, they won't just automatically fit into your life, but I find them pretty generally invaluable in the long run.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I don't generally bother you with my dreams. I don't know if I've ever written one here. But last night was unusual. Simple, hard, unusual. I woke up after it began at 11 PM. Then again at 1:10 AM. Again at 3:30 AM, then 4:15 AM and then at 5 AM, when I got up for good. I had the same dream the entire night. It never stopped. That alone was amazing.
For being so long it was a very simple dream.
The world was a moonscape. There was no life. No matter where I looked, there was not a sign of life. Not that it was dead, it simply was not alive and never had been. I went everywhere, including to other planets. Nothing. Not even our sun, just the very vaguest of illumination, enough to see that there was nothing. I woke up feeling blue.
I got up, pee'd, drank some water, went back to bed.
The same nothing. In fact almost a mottled nothing. Just a mottled colored planet surface on all the planets.
I traveled everywhere again and then woke up again. I was crying a little. It was a sad place with no life.
When I began to dream the dream again, I discovered a couple of others, like me, who were just as sad at the absence of life as I was. When we began to talk, we began to see a couple of shoots pop out of the ground. They quickly grew into trees on the otherwise barren landscape.
I woke up amazed, drank more water, went back to bed.
This time I saw a lot of people. They were arguing over the trees that had sprouted. Someone told them to stop being selfish. Just start being nice and sharing the trees and see what happened.
When they did, a lot of trees began to fill the landscape. And buildings appeared, and cities and rivers and the sun. And everybody was pretty happy that the world was back to being the world again, full of life, full of a bit of danger, full of energy.
I woke again, pee'd, went back to bed, sure that was the last of it.
It wasn't. This time people were back to being people: Some nice, some selfish. Whenever they were selfish things died or just disappeared and went back to just being not alive.
I began to tell people that though it sounded like some awfully written science fiction book, the fact was that we apparently had to do a couple of things to keep the world vibrant: We had to first accept that we needed to agree that the world would only be the world if we all allowed ourselves to believe it was full of trees and animals and people and so forth. And then we would have to be decent to each other to keep that image of the world alive.
Someone said they'd already read a story like that. I told them it didn't matter. What mattered was that to keep the beautiful world we'd have to do our best to get along.
Most people agreed.
I woke up again for the last time. I went to the kitchen and put the coffee on, then brushed my teeth, and thought about the dream. Really corny, I know, but I really had it. So I guess I must believe it on some level. What I really believe in normal hours is that the world will be beautiful and full of vibrant life whether people are here or not. What I think the dream was showing me was that if we're not nice, not decent, then we'll live in a world where we can't see that vibrant life. Where our lives are just a lifeless, mottled moonscape.
Very very corny.
But it was also very cool to be shown it from that perspective.
Ain't life grand?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bought Madeleina a Cell Phone Today

Well, against my wishes, I bought my daughter, Madeleina, a cell phone today. Just a throw-away that's to be used in emergencies. With a card that gives her five minutes a day for 60 days. That's 300 minutes, total, for two months. I'm not a fan of cell phones and don't have one and am always hard-pressed to use one when it's handed to me. Not that they don't have their utility: Now that every stinking pay phone in the world has disappeared, having a cell phone when you get a flat on the highway is a good thing. Or when your plane has been diverted to another city and you know people are going to drive two hours to pick you up.
So I recognize wonderful value there.
On the other hand, as a driver in Texas who has to work to avoid having half-a-dozen wrecks a day because people are driving with their knees while talking, calling, texting....well, I don't think they're cool. And to listen to people in the supermarket talk to someone somewhere else about, "Well, the Coke isn't as cold as the Pepsi, so would you rather...?" or "I'm here, hon. I'm one aisle away from where I was when you called me a minute ago...I didn't get to the eggs yet..."
Okay, so I'm old school and a Luddite but if anyone ever asked me those questions, well, I guess I'd have to stop talking with them.
Now, because I don't have a cell phone, when I approach someone and it's sort of an airport or flat tire emergency, I generally ask if they'll allow me to use their cell phone for $10. Most people say yes, cause that's nice pay for a local call. And I don't mind paying it. I don't want to be a mooch.
My daughter, on the other hand, with band, has to sometimes call to say she's going to be back at the school at 1 AM, not midnight, and so I generally try to have her have a couple of bucks at the ready for when she borrows someone else's cell phone to make that call.
But then last night happened. Last night started early, about 8 AM. Chepa was leaving to see her boyfriend--father of Sierra and Alexa, who now lives in Amarillo. Madeleina had an early day off, about noon, but then a 4 hour marching band practice, then a change into uniform, then a football game. Which meant she'd be getting off about midnight. (I am livid at the idea that the band can make freshmen in high school stay till 8 PM twice a week, then have those kids pull a 16 hour Friday, every Friday during football season, and then, like today, about every three weeks have them return to school on Saturday at 9 AM for band contests that last till 11 PM. That's a 12 hour day Thursday followed by a 16-hour day Friday, followed by a 14-hour day Saturday--all for a lousy high school credit. Hell, I was a star writer and decent athlete and in every play my high school put on while I was there and never never got home past about 6 PM--enough time to hold down a 24 hour a week job to pay for high school and still get my work done.)
Sorry for the rant. Back to the story.
So yesterday morning I told Madeleina to get a ride from her friend Sierra, who lives about 2 miles away and who stays her now and then for an over night sleepover. Madeleina said she was embarrassed to ask. I reminded her that I get up at 5 AM and generally am asleep by 9:30, so if she wanted me to pick her up she'd have to call repeatedly until I woke up.
She said she couldn't borrow a cell phone to make 20 repeated calls.
I told her to call her brother Italo to pick her up.
She said she'd try to get a ride with her friend Sierra.
But while I might be the worst dad, I thought I'd better stay sober and be ready to drive when the call came, if it came. And if it didn't and Sierra's parents brought Madeleina home, then I should at least meet them in the driveway to keep Boots from biting them.
So 9 PM passed and I started watching All about the Benjamins. Then 11 came and something else came on. Then it was midnight and I called Italo and asked him if Madeleina had called him. He said no. I asked how the fuck a high school football game that started at 7 PM could still be going on at midnight? He had no Idea.
At about 12:30 I drank water, washed my face and drove to Madeleina's high school. Not a whisper in the parking lot.
At about 2 AM I drove there again. I mean, it was possible she'd gone with Sierra (a different one than her sister Sierra) to her home to sleep and simply didn't call--that would have been gutsy but not past Madeleina to do that. I drove all over that school, looking for a little lost girl but found none.
At about 3:30 I slept for an hour, trying to reassure myself that she must have gone to her girlfriend's home.
That worked till about 4:30. Then I was up and drinking coffee.
At 6, still dark, I went back to bed and slept till 6:30. Then I was up for good.
At 8 AM there was a phone call. It was from the local Brookshires' grocery store, on their house line. It was Madeleina.
"Dad, I'm at Brookshires. Can you come and pick me up?"
"Sure. Where were you last night? Why didn't you call?"
"I slept in a doorway at school. I knew you wouldn't pick me up and I didn't want to bother Italo and Sierra never came to the game and nobody gave me a ride so I slept at the school."
I flew out the door and picked her up.
I was totally freaked out, could hardly breathe, was angry at her for not calling anyone but still seeing my baby trying to tough it out in a doorway and probably being scared to death all night. I was yelling and I was crying all the way to picking her up. I was guilty, I was sad, I was thinking of being her, not me, at 14, thinking you've been abandoned and sleeping in that doorway. And I was angry that she hadn't even tried to call Italo or I.
So I guess she was brave, then scared and finally, when the sun rose, walked the mile to the supermarket and made the call. And I'm happy she's okay. No, I was so freaking happy that she was okay that I almost killed her for being so freaking selfish that she didn't make a phone call to me because she thought I would be sleeping instead of staying awake to take care of her.
And then today, having put the three stories due last week to bed after rewrite, I just tried to sleep. I couldn't but tried. And then I walked a fast mile to get my blood moving and went to Walmart and bought Madeleina her emergency cell phone. Now she can call me 20 times to wake me up.
Cause while I know she's tough enough to handle sleeping in a doorway, and while I know she's seen me do it, or sleep in a cemetery, that's not necessarily what I want for that perfect little girl.
I'm glad she had an adventure, but it almost killed me.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fine Dining Alone

Okay, just to make you crazy: Tonight, I am eating alone. I was thinking about making a hamburger, or the good mussels I have. I was thinking a steak would be good.
I settled on the small piece of swordfish I had left over from a couple of nights ago. Maybe 6 ounces.
So I sauteed that in my garlic-olive oil (just fresh garlic chopped every couple of days and put into good olive oil to steep to have it when I need it). Then I was dreaming of my fried tomatoes with that, so I put two thick slices of organic beefsteak tomatoes into the pan as well. Everything got a good bit of butcher ground pepper.
I have left over basmati rice cooked with that garlic olive oil, so I'm using that as a starch, but minimally.
For a second veg I'm steaming spinach, then gonna saute that with thin slices of fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar.
Now the swordfish, I've just turned it over and it's nice and brown on one side, is gonna finish with crumbled blue cheese. Then I'm gonna take that out and put in capers and a bit of lime juice to make the sauce.
The tomatoes will be turned, covered in good grated parmesan, then sprinkled with the cooking grease of garlic olive oil.
And then I'm eating.
Have a good meal everyone.

PS: Okay, so don't try that at home. Each element of the meal was almost more delicious than your taste buds could handle. Thank goodness I tried it for you. The swordfish with the capers/onions/blue cheese was way over the top of wonderland.
The spinach, garlic and strawberry slices nearly made my mouth fall apart.
The grilled tomatoes in garlic olive oil with good parmesan would kill most people.
And the basmati rice, well, it's just plain good.
Aren't you all glad you have me eating this stuff? I'd hate to find you all dead of exquisite ecstacy if you actually tried this stuff at home. But someone's got to do it.
Have a good night, all. Especially you, Morgan and Laura, cause I am thinking of you this second.

Ayahuasca--Part of the Jungle, Not Apart from the Jungle

Someone on a forum to which I occasionally post recently asked where they ought to go to drink ayahuasca for the first time. And in the message he/she was clear that he didn't want to visit markets or such, but to basically stick to ayahuasca. Well, I thought the person was a little presumptuous so I responded. This is what I wrote:

Hello: There are lots of good places to go, but let me suggest that if you skip a trip to the market, or a dozen other places, you won't have the context in which to drink. Ayahuasca is part of the Jungle, not apart from the jungle. It's just one of a million things that people who live in the jungle do, like hunting, planting fields, making their dugout canoes, swimming, fishing, cooking or going to the market. So please reconsider your preconceptions. If you want it as apart from the jungle, then go to a camp and drink the day you get off an airplane. If you want to experience it like people from the jungle experience it, then imagine it's just something done in the course of a life lived to the fullest, which includes kids playing during ceremony, neighbors showing up while brewing--a very very social time, typically, in my experience--a wife or husband telling the curandero he's singing too loudly in the middle of the ceremony; the neighbors listening to the radio of a soccer game in the background of a ceremony; heading to market the day before ceremony because someone forgot to buy enough mapachos or agua florida or having to deal with a baby who needs a toothache remedy in the middle of ceremony.
All of this is what makes the medicine--as a part of the jungle, not apart from the jungle--special. If you miss that in favor of a controlled environment, you will be drinking like a lot of Westerners drink, not like Peruvians drink.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

CL: This Is Just For You

Hello, CL. This is Peter. I might be out of line here. I understand and this will be understated.
You cannot imagine how sorry I am for your loss. I kept my distance because of the love I felt. There is no credit for that. Just reality.
But I have been running through my head the possibilities of what happened last week happening and I keep coming up with zero. You didn't cause it. I didn't cause it. If you read the piece on How Guardians Work, you know what I am talking about. It should not, could not have happened. But it did.
If it all happened just for me to apologize to you, an apology so late and insignificant that it didn't need to be heard by you, that's what it was.
But someone/something/some spirit wanted us back in touch.
We had our conversation.
If that was enough, then okay.
I'm embarrassed because this is very public.
And if you never call again, I understand. You had a different life. You had a guy who loved you and whom you loved. I'm sorry for your loss.
I don't mean to be a dope. I probably am being a dope.
But the circumstances were just too out-freaking-landish not to be important. Like Italian Round-O's. Something significant.
Thanks for calling last week.
PS: My daughter, Madeleina (named after my mom) loves the Sherlock Holmes stuff you got in your last life. And she adores the ink well set.

Rats and Marco

Okay, my son Marco and I have spent at least part of the last 19 or so years fighting with one another. At least half my fault, some his. He's obstinate, won't do what's asked, thinks of himself before thinking of others.
On the other hand, he's also the only 23 year old in the world who would come into the house, see a stranger--to him--sitting on the couch, and then, in a completely uninhibited way, sit in my lap and put his arms around my neck.
So while he's the worst, he's the best, and I love him always.
Today he's best: I was writing when creaking began in the kitchen. I had about 10 wonderful people over for the weekend and it was glorious, and they left Sunday and yesterday. Everything cool. So this morning I was back at work at the computer when the wall behind the kitchen food cabinets began to creak. I don't mean a little settling, I mean creaking and creaking, like a rat was trying to go from inside the wall into the rear of the cabinet.
Not much I can do since rats, in my house, terrify me in a way that goes back to a childhood fear. Something devilish about them, and I just freak out. So I was not going to do more than a cursory investigation. I did. No signs of anything. And the creaking stopped.
But then it started up again.
Nothing to do but call Marco and tell him to come over and help find and kill a rat.
He didn't argue. He didn't hesitate. He just got here, opened the cabinet that I'd been too afraid to open, declare that there were no holes in the rear that would allow entry and no rat poop.
"Probably in the wall, dad. You know, from the gaps in the flooring under the house."
Then he took $20 and went to go buy a few cans of sealant. And when he comes back he'll crawl under the house and seal the cracks.
And then I'll be safe.
And not so scared.
Two nights ago I killed a black widow with an empty pack of cigarettes. No sweat. No fear. Just a spider.
But a field rat?
I'm two years old again and want my dad to fix it, quick.
Thanks, Marco.