Eight Secrets for Recovering Dumpees

Cover of "WHAT? (Diary of Forbidden Dream...

Cover via Amazon

I’m not sick very often, or ever, really.  I break a lot of bones, but I have rarely had the opportunity to sit around in bed bored to distraction, I mean like cruising the brackish backwaters of the internet.  I found some genius who made a series of videos on how to carry out simple home repairs, such as fixing a leaky sink, checking for faulty electrical connections in sparking light fixtures, or installing a new ceiling fan after a sparking ceiling fan has blown a hole in a ceiling, leaving a blackened void.  The demonstrators were all pert, young women – none of them truly symmetrical enough to be considered true Helen of Troy beauties, but WebMaster had these demonstrators dressed in crude, cliché bits of erotic clothing…like tube tops circa 1972, shorts, torn and shredded to the point they appeared ready to fall apart and expose the whorish fishnet stockings that truly set off the ensemble.

Brilliant.  The internet is a true wonder of modern culture, and I’m sure our era will be treated well in history books.  Then, there’s those who try to truly help with weighty topics, such as the end of relationships.

This one website I found seems a rich vein of such wisdom, so I thought I’d pass it on to all of you who have too many truly constructive matters to attend to.  Another of my Public Service-oriented style posts –

 

"Bubble Bath" Pink Punch

“Bubble Bath” Pink Punch (Photo credit: Javcon117*)

“Sometimes no matter how hard you try to fix your relationship it just doesn’t work out. 
When you are left with a broken heart and just don’t know how you are going to make it, hold your head up high and try a few of these ideas to help you get over your break up.”

 

  1. Join a Gym or start exercising, this not only takes up time but it will help you feel better about yourself and get you out of the house.
  (Nonsense…joining a gym will only give the dumped a view of all those hard-bodied fanatics who do the breaking up with their out of shape partners.  A horrible place to try reclaiming any dignity and sense of self esteem.  Also, I haven’t come across a gym yet that allows pitchers of Margaritas or doesn’t frown on crying jags from flabby dumpees wrapped up on sweaty floors in fetal positions.  Stay home for a year or two…lifting a medium-sized pitcher of Margies is a fine place to start any health reclamation project).
  2. Start a hobby. Try something you have never done before! Art, writing, or collecting are a few things to consider.
  (Again, nonsense.  Opening a world formerly free of risk-taking behaviors, or on pastimes as fickle as the arts is a sure way to increase despair algebraically.  Collecting things?  Wasn’t that the reason that the dumpee was kicked to the curb by the dumper in the first place?  Remember the course words and insulting arguments about the angel figurine collections, or the overflowing bowls of animal bones?  Do not start collecting anything, unless it is suggested by a very pricey lawyer).
  3. Volunteer someplace. Volunteering not only boost yourself esteem, it also gets you out and around people,
    Bubble Bath !

    Bubble Bath ! (Photo credit: Mark Philpott)

    opening up opportunities to meet somebody new.
  (Another “get out of the house” ploy…as if the people one meets on the street offering “opportunities” are of any value other than the entertainment value derived from their imminenet arrest for pandering shakes the cocunuts in your tree.  And, volunteering?  Volunteers do the work that no One in their right mind, or anything useful to do take part in.  The hours are usually rough, the pay is…well, volunteer says it all…but maybe I’m just jaded since Relationship Crisis Counseling was my first volunteer experience after such a breakup.  My second wasn’t much more inspiring, was at a rabbit shelter, giving bubble baths to recently dumped rodents).

  4. Pamper yourself. Get a new haircut and have your nails done. If you can’t afford to go have them done, do them yourself! Set up some nice music and treat yourself to a bubble bath followed by a nice manicure.
  (This strikes me as something the dumpee should have done before dumper got their headstart.  A bubble bath?  Why do people always wait until suicide is a consideration before deciding on a bubble bath?  This suggestion also forgot to mention the cliché tub of chocolate chip, pistachio mint ice cream….amateurs for sure.  Dead relationship experts like this are surely failed therapists).
  5. Reach out to your friends and family. Most of the time when we are involved in a major relationship we neglect our friends and family… They probably miss you and will welcome seeing you more often.
  (Yeah…that’s it…spread the misery around equally.  A sure-fire way to endear one’s Self to friends and relatives that have been avoided to the point of non-recognition for decades sometimes.  Finding a person offering “opportunities” on the street would present acceptable targets for any frantic tirades of how the dumper will never find another pre-dumpee to clean the hair out of the shower drain like the neo-dumpee did for the dumper).
  6. Break off all communications with the “ex” for a while. It is hard enough to forget them and move on, but when you are still in communications you are doing nothing more than prolonging it. Set up a “fake” number on your phone for when you feel the need to text them. When you feel like calling them, write a letter instead and then burn it. Do whatever you have to do, just do not contact them!
  (What?  What was that?  How about just taking a blunt object to the dumper’s communication enablers…starting with that cell phone, working through brittle digits, and finally, all that dental work that the dumpee financed?  There…problem solved…you’re welcome.  And forget all that nonsense about another fake number on a phone…it’s that kind of behavior that started the questions that led to the row that led to all this dumping and being dumped in the first place.  And burning things, like letters…who writes letters nowadays?  No self-respecting dumper cares about letters, so why should grieving dumpees have to deal with fire departments or irate neighbors following the smoke, as they say in the Despondant Dumpee Reaction Force biz).
  7. Start your own website. I know that seems kind of silly, but there are so many places to make free websites and they can take up a lot of your time. Start one about your favorite animal, or one that has you favorite recipes. Start a forum with your friends and have them post as well. It will take up your free time and give you something to look forward to.
  (Yeah…get in a dark room, all by your dumped Self, then write until you are staying up for days conniving new ways to insult, degrade, and defame the dumper…forget to sleep, or eat, and start considering a liquid diet as normal, as long as the garbage bags of empties go unnoticed, dumpees can get away with this for a bit.  Really, this is a calling, not something most dumpees just fall into, like getting law or medical degrees.  Any council including the words “free time” should be ignored…there is no such thing.  Another cliche reactionary reaction).
  8. Hiking – Exploring. This kind of falls in with exercising, but think of it as more of an adventure. Make a list of places you have always wanted to see and GO SEE THEM!
  (The encouragement to exercise again…while trying to rationalize it as “an adventure.”  I saw that movie about the guy who went hiking alone in the Utah desert, I think it was, and  fell, getting his dumpee arm caught between two boulders…remember that?  Yeah…how long is it going to take for the average dumpee to decide to chew off their arm to escape their Darwinian Death Sentence?  Just calm down….stay still…plot some kind of horrible, gruesome sort of adventure for the dumper…then, after a year or two – after the internet thing turns the dumpee into a photosensitive mole – do an internet word search for hangover remedies, or rehabilitation program, and venture out into the world.  And, next time, switch the role…do the dumping, and keep in touch with that quick-twitch response mechanism or prepare for a re-run of the despair of the dumpee).
margaritas on the rocks.

margaritas on the rocks. (Photo credit: ANOXLOU)

Now, for any One who has not read too many of my dosulute (Is that a word?  It should be), and despairing posts in the past, I’m not usually so dosulute and despairing.  I’m just baffled by the experts who ladle out advice like this… if they knew how to mix a decent Margie, they wouldn’t have the time or inclination to be offering it up for free on the internet, unless they’re just one of those kind Soles out to solve all the social problems of serial dumpees.

 

 

Little Secrets (song)

Little Secrets (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dengue Report:  The brain has to re-establish neurotransmitter contact between the positive ends of the synapses, and for a couple of months I might be a bit negative…a woman on the street told me this, right after she wrote the cyber address of this site down for me on the back of an ice cream container she was about to toss in a trash bin.  She walked away muttering about my lack of enthusiasm for her hard-won wisdom, and I can’t say I blame her. I’m too happily married to recall the feeling of being a dumpee, if I ever was…and with gunk like this transmitting from my neurotransmitters to my battered nervous system to my fingers to this screen, I’m sure I have at some time.

Good luck ladies and gentleman, and to all Ships at Sea.

Later…

WARNING: Keep Eyes Open for Serious Nonsense

English: 0

English: 0 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I’ve gone through my morning ritual of web cruising, and finally arrived at WordPress, but not without a few sobering words of caution.

Some whacko newsletter I have neglected to block from my e-mail sent me this collection of product warnings today, and I feel the social obligation to pass them on to you, my few, yet rabid followers.

Wash hands after using:  This sound advice came from an indoor extension cord.  Why?  I think I’m one of the slow ones such warnings are meant to protect, since I can’t think of one reason why I need it.

– Not for contact lenses or direct use in eyes:  I can think of a zillion products this might be an appropriate aid in guiding the consumer to avoid, but this was on a small bottle of spray-on anti-fog cleaner.  Really…I pass on these warnings because I go by the old saying, “If you save one, you save them all.”  In the past I have used this product on muddy feet, waxy ears, and a few areas discretion leads me to leave to your imagination.  I suffered no consequences, so I’m only passing on this specific warning.

Alright…enough of the serious stuff.  Here’s a bit of the warning label advice I found outlandish no matter how deeply I imagined the warped ways my imaginative readers might tease the fates:

Company will not be held responsible for any illness or injury that is incurred while using the pedometer.   Yes, this came from a pedometer…damn tricky little devices, which have in the past must have been responsible for many a disfiguring accident.

Combustion of this manufactured product results in the emissions of carbon monoxide, soot and other combustion by-products which are known by the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm.   This was the warning on a box of matches…matches I picked up in a convenience store in Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles, California.  Good luck avoiding inhaling these dangerous substances, Los Angelinos !

Not for human consumption!  Please…just take a guess or two as to the origin of this warning label.  OK…done?  This came from a package of rubber worms intended for fishing.  I have known a few fisherpeople for whom this might be good cautionary advice, but not all that many.

Alright…I can get carried away with stuff like this, so…here’s a few quick-hitters.  Consider these drive-by warnings –

Caution:  Cape does not enable user to fly.   Why, on a Batman costume, of course.

Remove child before folding.   Oh my…this is from a children’s safety seat made for automobiles.  Get it new parents?

Off Road Commode

Off Road Commode (Photo credit: signalstation)

Not for use on moving vehicles.  From an Off-Road Commode, a portable one that attaches to a trailer hitch.

 

Danger: Avoid Death.  Excellent advice, I would think.  It came from a motorized yard appliance.

 

Harmful if swallowed.  There are so many objects and substances, from the mundane to the exotic, I could apply this to, but does this really need to be on a brass fishing lure with a three-pronged hook?

 

This product moves when used.  What a novel warning…for a Razor motorized go-cart.

 

Do not use for personal hygiene.  This, probably my favorite, came from a toilet brush.

 

So, there you are.  I feel as though my work is done for the day.  If I’ve saved a life, or an eye, or even some run-of-the-mill embarassment, I feel vindicated in my obsessive search of American cultural toys, tools, and health aids for possible dangers to you, and all yours you care enough about to not let swallow fish hooks, scour their private areas with toilet brushes, or see folded into child car seats.

march 28 2013 695Have a safe rest of the summer, and check any local listings for the dangers of jumping into piles of leaves as fall approaches.  Remember, there’s a possible lawsuit in nearly any action in the Land of the Litigious.

I’ll be here on the beach if any emergency cases arise despite my best efforts at steering readers clear of such dangers.  And, yes…I am reading the warning label on my water bottle, since I’ve finished the warning against wearing baseball caps backwards.

Later…

The Philosopher Red Stimulates my Reptilian Core

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

Great…I finally get home, and I have had to make a strategic move back to the Ghost Hotel.  I’ve heard rumors of three gringos in town, very white-toned skin, wearing dark blue pants, serious expressions, and asking questions – which is bad form in a community of refugees from the “real” world – too many with too much to lose from answering questions.  Then, there’s that terrifying AA of American Airlines on the patch sewed onto the breast of the trio’s equally dark blue jackets.  I think this has something to do with my outburst in O’Hare after being delayed three times, missing a connection, and being re-routed to Chicago where thunderstorms had us grounded for three hours.  Look…I really had nothing to do with the disappearance of that snaggly woman at the Missed Flights/Distressed Passenger counter.

Any Way…I thought I could sit this out in peace here with the Philosopher Red at the Ghost Hotel, but he wasn’t around, only a dozen or so empty Impeial beer bottles and a messy pile of clippings from magazines to even suggest he had been here in the last month or so since I’ve been gone.  The clippings of word combinations were a bit disturbing, since I lean toward gallows humor and conspiracy theories.  Here’s what I found:

Sometimes, coming home can be a battle in itself.

TE ESPARA (you wait, in Spanish)

Black Magic

EXCESSIVE FORCE

Stay Comfortable, Stay Connected

No more business as usual

Donde estan los ninos?  (Where are your children, in Spanish)

Robotic revolution

Heroes among us

Prefiere sus reuniones cara a cara a las 7:30 (you want to meet face-to-face at 7:30, in Spanish) with the “7” inked out, and a “9” scribbled above it.

Brilliance.  Proximity.  It’s all Here

VeryKool

A Costa Rica Wilson

While sifting through this debris I noticed a few marks on the fence Red and I put up to discourage any outside examination of our life in the Ghost Hotel.

Lifting a candle up to the marks I found this.  Wilson…  Yes, Wilson in Costa Rica.

I was getting the fear.

The more optimistic types – those who don’t know the history of the Philosopher Red – might take these clippings for an exercise in found poetry…the image for an innocent blot left after a day of painting – but I do know his history.

Now, I’m not sure about anything any longer, but the purpose for these clippings, and the paint blot?

I’ve  watched enough television cop shows to know the beginning of a ransom note, or a warning to the Rude Red Dude’s perceived enemies when I see one.

 

pilsen girl

pilsen girl (Photo credit: w rollins)

A young surf bum on a stool at a beach club bar (or, an apparently young surf bum) with an Australian  accent, leaned into me and whispered, “They hijacked an Imperial truck two days ago,” to me while I was yelling – I mean asking – the local Pilsen Girl why the only cold beer they had was Pilsen.

Imperial is the “Beer of Costa Rica” as the advertising says.

Just then the local miriachi band started playing Hotel California for the 137th time since I’ve been here, but there were no tourists paying them, and the singer was  staring directly at me.  The rest of the musicians were looking at their instruments, the ground, the palm trees, anywhere but at me.  Something in that Reptilian core of my brain began to itch…the fight or flight center which has always served me well.

The Aussie beach bum slipped me a local magazine called The Howler, opened it to the editor’s page, and said, “I’d read this if I were you.”  He left immediately, without finishing his Pilsen.  I did too.

It seems that some researchers have been snooping around, trying to connect the way children learn language with the way baby birds learn to make bird calls.  One of their bodies was found in the estuary of Las Baulus National Park, the favorite dumping ground for Nicaraguan and Columbian – I’ve got to go.  I’ll explain later, when I can…if I can.

Later…

Internet Privacy and You…What’s Up With That?

privacy

privacy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

“People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither, and will lose both.”

I made a mistake and watched the news last night…I also received an e-mail.  As usual with life, it seems, these two events collided leaving me in some strange, uncharted territory.

First off, I saw a story on a brand-name cable news network about two previously secret government operations, one called PRISM, and the other BLARNEY.  PRISM, it seems, is an operation set up by the U.S. government to collect images and documents posted on internet sites such as Google, Yahoo, and FaceBook, to name the most popular.  BLARNEY does the same thing with the written word, such as e-mails.  I don’t watch news much any more, so I was surprised that the interviewee felt he was in for a bit of persecution, outing these two previously covert operations.  Would this be considered an illegal search under the U.S. Constitution and its amendments?

Second off, I received an e-mail from my friend in Pakistan telling me that she had been sending me two e-mails a day for two days, but FaceBook was not delivering them.  My friend said she had taken out any mention of religion (she’s a Muslim), drone strikes, and politics…that self-censored e-mail I got.  I know she is not guarenteed anything by the U.S. Constitution, but I am, and it seems I’ve read somewhere I had the right to privacy.  I was wrong, and I’m not just being snide…there is no specific right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution.

Constitution of the United States of America

Constitution of the United States of America (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

The fourth right, in whole, reads – “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the places to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Like all our “rights” in such old documents, they don’t translate well to the current world.  The right to bear arms in conjunction with an organized militia being the one that gets kicked around the most.  These vague and outdated “rights” need a serious bit of updating.  But, the U.S. Supreme Court is supposed to take care of that, and such interpretations have been proferred.  Pertaining to this presumed right to privacy, Justice Antonin Scalia‘s dissenting school of thought has been that searches must be “reasonable” and the warrant requirement has been overly emphasized.  Those italics are mine, the watering down of any rights, pure conservative blather, an asterisk followed by an invisible – “…unless we feel like it.”

Does the U.S. government and that most powerful of intelligence agencies, FaceBook, really need to protect me from a young women using Ishaa-Allah, god willing, following her hopes for sales of her new book of poetry?  I know she’s a Muslim.  Does the U.S. government need to censor the fact that drone strikes happen near where she lives?  I know they do…and probably more often than we are made aware of.  Do I need to be protected from the fact that politics is a dirty business where she lives?  It doesn’t seem so, since only a dolt wouldn’t know it’s a down and dirty business everywhere.

On my guitar I have a bumper sticker that says, “Ignore your rights, and they’ll go away.”  How true.  I really am not some sort of militia weirdo hiding out in the woods of Michigan or Idaho or Montana or Hoboken, New Jersey.  In fact, I think I’m in pretty good company in contemplating what rights I truly have, and how they’re being coerced.  A pretty famous guy who most Americans admire – if for no other reason his mug is on the $100 bill – is reported to have made similar statements when trying to rectify past infringements on rights he thought should not be infringed upon.  I’ve always seen one of his more famous quotes listed as –

“People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

Benjamin Franklin

As with many oft-quoted persons, this was not exactly how it was originally said.  Franklin was preparing some notes for the Pennsylvania Assembly, shortly before February 17, 1775, and wrote –

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

This was published in Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin, published in 1818.  But wait…as is often the case, he was probably doing a bit of word “libertion” since he, being a publisher, had occasion to produce a book – An Historical Review of the Constitution of and Government of Pennsylvania – by an author named Richard Jackson in 1759.  On the title page that same warning appears, with the word “purchase” instead of the “obtain” found in Franklin’s quote.  I do love the liberation of words !  But, no fear, Franklin lovers and respectors…seems that a few years before that, in 1738, the following appeard in Honest Ben’s Poor Richar’s Almanack

“Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power.” 

I know…in the writing and publishing games everything gets murky if you dig long and far enough.  The word “murky” seems stuck in my mind since the collision of the news that my government is obtaining information from and about me through what I mistakenly think are private correspondences.  I’m not that naive, really…I’m not.  I never expected privacy, but outright censorship of my private correspondence, and the covert skullduggery from a government that claims to be the bastion of freedom and individual liberty and rights?

I’m sure this little bit of dangerous writing will garner me some more un-warrented attention, unless your name is Antonin Scalia, you front the Fear Factor Gang, and consider warrants “overly emphasized.”  So, if you’re reading this, you’ve joined me on some kind of list that some clerk – whose salary we pay – is compiling in some Virginia basement – which we also pay for.

Weird World…truly Weird World.

 

The Victoria’s Secret Model, Dr. Bill, and a Kid Named Alberto

Viví el Victoria's Secret Fashion Show por TNT

Viví el Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show por TNT (Photo credit: sitemarca)

“I felt like a piece of meat,” was the complaint from a model after participating in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

Yeah, this came off of Yahoo News, so you know it’s got to be suggestive, but did an experienced model really have come to this realization only after working her way up to the big time Show of Shows?  When they outfitted her in wings, squeezed her into revealing lingerie that left little to more to suggest, did she pause before high-heeling it onto the runway?  No.  She seems to have made sure the check was deposited first.

Nothing else to report from the world of non-news, at least of any interest…Prostitute ads, Pope wasting food…, Taco Bell firing coupled with FBI investigations – the usual stuff I’ve commented on before, the kind of information that has no value and calls for no action or reaction, other than offering the easy and empty, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” reaction.

I’m considering doing a few posts on some of the American, Canadian, and European ex-pats who call Costa Rica home.  They are an odd lot…mostly people who have left wrecked lives or open indictments behind in their country of origin.  These are risk-taking people, mostly, and they are as quirky a bunch as I’ve ran across in thirty years of traveling.  Few photos can be included with such posts, since many of these people seem very camera shy, and most of them go by names they’ve made up or have adopted since their arrival.

Costa Rica often reminds me of a pirate-era Tortuga.  There is little altruism here, as I’ve seen ex-pats involve themselves with in many other countries I’ve visited.  Some people are here for the eco-tourism biz, and there are some who volunteer for turtle, sloth, monkey, or parrot rescue projects.  But, on the whole, these people are here for their own economic advancement.  I’ve got a better example to draw from – one from when I lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

I was walking down the beach my second day in town, trying to kill two days until an apartment opened up.  I had been sleeping in an abandoned restaurant near the beach, and came across Dr. William St. John on my way “home.”  A skinny man, appearing to be in his 70s, bright green bathing trunks that were too tight for comfort, and he was working away at a pile of beach junk, dock lumber, rusted cable and ropes – there had been a severe storm a few days before that had destroyed the city pier, and this was the remains.  I stopped, watched for a few minutes, he acknowledged me, then went back to pulling the mess apart.

“There’s a pelican in here,” he said.  I started helping him.  We eventually freed the pelican, and by that time he had found out I was homeless, and offered me a place to stay.  I spent the next two days living on the roof of the Hotel California – really, the Hotel California – under a corrugated tin roof, my only furniture was a full-sized Brazilian flag.  His name was Dr. William St. John, from White Plains, New York, and he smoothed over the rougher aspects of my life, asking for nothing in return besides my company.  We spent two evenings on his balcony talking over many topics, the broadest, the meaning of life…the narrowest, the value of one life.

Dr. Bill had been a successful physician in Boston, with houses, summer homes, cars, boats, a portfolio of investments, and a severe alcohol problem.  Putting down the bottle somehow brought him to question the lifestyle he had constructed around the endless drive for symbols of status.  He sold everything, gave much of the proceeds to charities, saving enough to travel the world comfortably for the rest of his life, which he refused to do.    He took public transportation, traveled across seas on cargo ships, hiked dirt roads, paid for passage on Arab trading boats, and generally lived like a bum.

When I met him he had visited 52 countries, and had been changing the world for the better, one life at a time.

In Puerto Vallarta Dr. Bill had made friends with a Catholic priest.  Dr. Bill was an atheist, convinced the best he could do in this world was serve his immediate community, and in turn, the world.  But, he also knew that in a Latin American country a local Catholic priest was probably his surest source to discovering a worthy project.  Through that priest he had identified a young man named Alberto who had shown promise, intelligence, a sense of family and community loyalty, but lived in a shack up on the hill without electricity, indoor plumbing, or any of the other conveniences most of us take for granted.

Dr. Bill moved Alberto’s family into an apartment with the basic amenities…nothing extravagant.  He up-graded their wardrobes, concentrating on Alberto, since the young man would need presentable clothing to attend the private Catholic school he was to be enrolled in, on Dr. Bill’s dime.  Alberto got a new computer, the beginning to a library worthy of a young man on his way to medical school, and reliable transportation to school every day.  The Catholic priest was put in charge of monitoring Alberto’s progress, and a local businessman of good repute was charged with monitoring the priest and his relationship and guidance of Alberto.  With all this in place, Dr. Bill backed his way out of the picture, asking only for bi-annual reports on Alberto and his family.

This was not the first such project the good doctor had undertaken.  He received many such reports from countries such as India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Ghana, Morocco, El Salvador, and Ecuador, to name but a few.  Besides the criteria perviously mentioned, the common denominator in Dr. Bill’s kids seemed to be they had ambitions toward a profession that would serve their community.  I lost contact with Dr. Bill after he moved on, while I stayed to become a diving guide, a waiter in a restaurant called Baby Jaws, checked in on Alberto and his family now and again.  One of Dr. Bill’s requests was after he had set a more manageable future in motion for this lad, strangers – like myself – should stay out of the way as much as possible and let the situation play out.

I can imagine I’ll have a hard time finding another Dr. Bill, but I am sure I’ll be able to come up with some unique modern-day pirates.  Will report soon.

Our First Anniversary and a “Friend” Sighting, all in One Week !

This is an unusual post for me…all mushy stuff opening with a couple of questions, followed by a few statements of fact, and ending with a sigh of relief.

First – a year ago this June 1 my beautiful wife, shimmyshark to WordPress People…but forever Char mi amor to me, exchanged marriage vows with me.  That was something I never imagined happening again in my life…but some lifetimes a guy just gets lucky.  My first question is – what is the traditional anniversary gift for a one-year anniversary?  I know the various anniversaries all have some element or other symbolic substance associated with them.  Am I write in thinking it is paper?  I think I recall that from somewhere.  I could look it up in a minute on the internet, I guess, but I’m done looking stuff up on the internet for the week.

This leads to my second question – what in the world do I give the such a special woman as a gift that is made of paper, if my recollection is true?  She got me a bottle of Chilean wine…Pinot Noir…my favorite, which is hard to come by and expensive here since the climate is not conducive to growing those tiny grapes that are cultivated at a very limited range in altitude and under conditions that are rare in South and Central America.  I know about this bottle of Pinot because I’m a snoop, and I helped her unpack groceries after her shopping trip the other day, despite her protestations she didn’t need my help.  If it is paper, that leads me to a statement –

char framed BW

My wife, the budding photographer, is having her work published for the first time next week in a poetry collection created by my friend from Pakistan, Maryam Shahbaz.  There is also an exhibition of her work being planned within the next month.

After only a few months of taking photography seriously, and being limited by the fact that the only cameras we have are a cell phone and an ancient digital thing, I’m extremely proud of her.

This is a self portrait she did one morning on our balcony.  I repeat, how lucky can a guy get?

Our move from Seattle to Central America might have helped a bit, giving her a colorful and constantly changing palette of images to work with.  But, the eye is hers, so we’ll toast her eyes next Saturday, along with the rest of her.

And, speaking of Maryam Shahbaz…

 

20130402_123840A communique arrived from Pakistan.  Some tough times have been had by a young woman who deserves much better, but things work out.  Her first collection of poetry, The Light Behind the Veil, is in the final stages of incubation…a few alignment edits with the printer, a few other minor publishing issues, and she’s off and running as a new voice in Pakistani poetry, a country known for its storytellers and poets.

Maryam is a private person, not used to the spotlight or a lot of attention, so I promised her I would not air any of our communications other than the fact she was alright and will return to the world of WordPress once her poetry collection is out and things calm down for her and her family.

The recent elections in Pakistan, in which the conservative forces of Flat-World-ism won out, stomping on the face of any hopes for the Progressive movement toward a better world for all of that country’s citizens instead of the favored few.

I told her I know how she feels, having lived through a few of those Back-to-the-Past elections which brought a New World Order in name only to the United States.  I can empathize with her and her country’s disappointments.

Here’s hoping for the best for her and Pakistan.

Anyway…I’m off.  Still trying to figure out this anniversary thing.  And, if paper it is, I guess paper it will be.  What does one give to someone so special made of paper?  A book of poetry with her photos in it?

We’ll see.

Later….

The Silence of the “Friends”

20130402_123957It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on him not understanding                        Upton Sinclair

 

To those of you have been following my blog for a while, you have probably seen a post or two about my friend Maryam Shahbaz, the Poet from Sialkot, Pakistan – the City of Poets.  For those of you who haven’t there are other posts about her.  I don’t want to bore anyone with redundant exposition.

 

Anyway, It’s still odd in this new (to me) world of Social Media to have lost contact with her.  We have been working on a project together, Maryam’s first published poetry collection.  The silence lately has been deafening and a bit disconcerting considering her recent activities.

 

 

20130402_130441Maryam is a busy woman.  She’s in the final stages of editing and publishing her book, which is all fine.  She’s also been working on the political campaign of Imran Kahn, a reform candidate from Pakistan, which is all to the good also, except she lives in a dangerous neighborhood…Eastern Pakistan where the borders of India, Kashmir and Pakistan merge.  It’s also a bit dicey when a young women gets involved in trying to get elders and especially elder males to consider voting for a reform candidate when she often finds herself having to go through male relatives to communicate with those elderly, more conservative males.  These two gentlemen would be a good example of that attitude.  She told me that her cousin had to act as a go-between when communicating with them.  They don’t represent the modern, emerging Pakistan, but they are a reminder of the cultural and religious barriers which have been in place for longer than anyone can remember.

 

I’m hoping that all is well with her, and it’s just a case of my friend being busy, busy, busy. It’s as if a friend who lives next door got involved in a tense situation and no longe answers the door when I knock…in this case my “knocking” is in the form of e-mails and blog posts which in the past have been usually answered within a week.

 

There are other issues at play, of course.  The electricity situation where she lives is one of brown-outs, and sometimes black-outs.  Then, there’s the previous theft of her identity by a hacker who set up internet accounts using photographs and information from her previous social media site.  Her family is concerned over this, as she is, and seems to strongly support her regression from the world of social networking.  That would be a completely understandable reaction for parents and brothers to be protective of a beautiful, young daughter or sister who is exploring a world which they might not fully understand, and have been given reason to distrust.

A Shot of Maryam at WeddingThese photos above of Maryam paying homage at the graveyard where the shrine to Imam-ul-Haq is located is a reminder to me that she comes from a culture I know little of, but am learning about through our social media networking and concerted efforts on a book project.

The reverence that she shows for the holy men and poets of her culture must be mirrored by some reverence and understanding from me, as a novice to the world she lives in and will have to live with.  Her work for a candidate whose campaign gave hope to a changing culture in a changing area of a changing world, I admire.  The conservative, failed politicians of her countries recent history seem to be doing everything in their power to slow, halt, or even reverse that progress.  That can get ugly sometimes.

My well wishes for Maryam, along with my impatience may be conspiring to raise unfounded concerns.

I’m hoping so.

Just Who am I Writing For?

A trip HusbandHave I lost my way?  Have I found my way?  Am I busy being born instead of busy dying, to quote Bob Dylan?  A constant reader commented the other day I was a “softie” under my crusty exterior.  I had written a post about my wife and I rescuing an abandoned kitten.  How mushy is that?  And, I’ve been writing posts about joining in on clean-up projects promoted by a young boy in Florida, and worrying over the fate of people from the other side of the world…people I wouldn’t even know of without this social media connection I’ve fostered.

Where did my inner curmudgeon go?

Have I pawned all my angst, anger and attitude off on the Philosopher Red/alter-ego I seem to use more and more often for dirty work?

Kurt Vonnegut speaking at Case Western Reserve...

Kurt Vonnegut speaking at Case Western Reserve University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was reading an old Kurt Vonnegut interview published in Playboy magazine in the early 1970s, post-Slaughterhouse Five, and he answered a question posed by the interviewer about why he writes with this:

Writers are specialized cells doing whatever we do, and we’re expressions of the entire society – just as the sensory cells of your body as a whole.  And when a society is in great danger, we’re likely to sound the alarms.”  Later in the interview he answers further questioning by saying that artist’s work reflects the society they are a part of, and if they’re good at their work, they offer comforting lies to make people feel good about being alive.

Sometimes I think I should be sounding the alarm.  I agree with megalomaniac dictators like Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler that artists should serve their state…I just disagree with them as to how I should serve my state.  But, to do this I need to define my state, just who it is I’m writing for.  I know the most common answer from artists is they create for themselves and the audience can buy the ticket and take the ride, or they can go jump in a volcano…but their work is still affecting their society, even if they reject that society and any approval from that society.  A question I used to pose to students…a writing prompt –

“What does ‘America’ mean?  Is it a geographical area…rivers and mountains and deserts and seashores?  Is it the people who live within those borders?  Is it an idea, started by a gang of rich Virginia planters and Massachusetts importer/exporters and interpreted by succeeding generations to fit their times and fashion?  When you pledge allegiance to the Flag, what does that piece of cloth symbolize?”

I got about as many answers as I had students, and none of them made much sense.  The one know-it-all I had write a screed about Communism’s faults and Democracy’s superiority…I told him he was comparing a method of organizing the commercial life of a group of people with a political one and he should sober up if he was going to preach.  The ones who answered it’s the American people…I asked them exactly who they were including: crack dealers…robber baron CEOs…lazy cretins who live off SSI or other taxpayer-supported programs intended for the truly needy, or people they perceived to be very much like themselves.  I wanted an answer for myself as much as I wanted them to think about something beside “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” or “American Idol” results.

I seem to be going in several directions…or, are they connected in some manner beyond my non-inquisitive intellect?  I guess I’m flailing around for a subject to write about, and I’ve written about one.

Bob Dylan at Massey Hall, Toronto, April 18, 1...

Bob Dylan at Massey Hall, Toronto, April 18, 1980 Photo by Jean-Luc Ourlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just now I was having an e-mail conversation with a writer, and I told him about the little comic books I saw in Mexico called “revistas.”  They’re turned out every week, and the government gave them away for free in the Mexico City subway, thinking that people who are reading don’t commit as much crime as those who aren’t.  These “revistas” are hyper-sexual, awfully written, and the cheapest form of “low art” imaginable…but they were being used to serve the “state” in a positive way.  Goofy entertainment to reduce the chance your grandmother won’t get beat up and mugged on the way home from her $12 a day job cleaning rich people’s toilets.

Big Joe Stalin, Benny Mussolini, Uncle Adolf, and The Dylan would all probably spit on revistas if they even thought it worth their while.

 

Virginia, Rosalie and Hallie

Virginia, Rosalie and Hallie (Photo credit: Robert of Fairfax)

But I’m still at an impasse…do I serve my “state” better by promoting small, feel-good posts that make readers go, “Awwww…” or do I dredge up heavy-handed, loaded, and brain-straining issues that are not – and have never been – manageable to the average reader?  I think I’ll just shut up until someone more intelligent than I offers some sort of answer…or write for these three gals.

Later…

 

Crucifying My Inner Monkey

And a thousand thousand slimy things lived on; and so did I – Samuel Taylor Coleridge “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

I told a “friend” about an idea I had for a simple post.  He stole the idea, the photo, and who knows what else.  Got to love some people.

Social Media Maniacs, the Worst Book Ever, and a Birthday Bonfire

My internet connection went dead three days ago.  I felt as if all the color run from my life, as my world turned to black and white.  I felt alone, stranded on a rocky, desolate island surrounded by violent crashing waves.  My social media needs went un-fed, and I was feeling surly.  I jest…I went to the only bookstore in town and bought a new book.  It reminded me why I usually stick to authors I know – it was the worst piece of junk I’ve ever started to read.  I tried to return it, but the shop was closed.  I thought of propping it up against the door and sneaking away, but if an unsuspecting reader picked it up and tried to read it…they could be turned off to reading forever.  Going back to the beach I found some friends involved in some birthday bonfire mayhem.  I gave the stinker of a book to a local whose vinegar outlook on life I’ve come to dislike.  He should have known better…the Aztec calendar warned of the coming of Cortez, the publication of this book, and the Great Internet Crash that is so common it needs no powers of prediction.

 

Aztec Sun GodBefore my internet went down I had seen a post from a blogger that claimed they had only been posting for a month, had received 11,984 hits, and had been followed by 1,218 other bloggers.  What?  The math is astounding…que milagro, as they say in a world of miracles.  Why should I care about this?  These kinds of posts always amuse and amaze me.  It seems as though the greedy acquisition of view, likes, and follows is the end to some means, like spending days following, liking, and commenting once or twice on every post from every blog.  There will probably be a new disorder named in honor of people like this.  There will also be a pill developed soon to counteract this debilitating, unquenchable desire, I’m sure…if there isn’t one or a few already.

I am proud to announce I have 29 followers, 208 views, so few likes there should be a minus sign before the number, and not one award.  I have clicked the “follow” button on a few of these afflicted addicts…past tense, since I’ve just as quickly un-followed them.  Some of the best writing, most interesting bloggers, as well as the most inspired and inspiring posts I have come across have been from people with less than 100 followers, few likes, nearly no comments, and best of all…no sense that they’re a cyber-social failure.  I guess they create posts because they like the process of creating quality posts more than the racket of insincere approval.

Book Cover OhSo, what can a person do when they have no internet connection?  Buy a book.  I did.  This is not a book review…more a book warning.  Do not touch the book Tenochtitlan: The Last Battle of the Aztecs by an author I won’t name out of common decency.  It was a translation from Spanish to English, so I could forgive the non-lyrical prose, but it was still a misguided attempt at storytelling.  There was too much information about the cultural clash between the native Aztecs and conquest-mad Spanish invaders for the novice, and too little unique insight to hold the attention of the initiated.

The only reason I read 75 pages or so into this mess was the wealth of amusing spelling and syntax errors committed by the translator.  It might have helped if I had my machete to cut through this, and that might be a good sales ploy:

Free Machete with Every Copy ! 

I don’t know.  I found something else to do quick.

The beach is never far away, and in a small town of less than 500 inhabitants, there’s always someone or a group of someones there I know who are up to no good, or…lighting a bonfire for an night-long birthday party.  My good friends from Villareal – Francisco and Sylvia, his lively, lovely Cubana wife – were there with their collection of children and a few fellow revelers.  It was Sylvia’s birthday, or so they claimed…as if an excuse was necessary.  These people will light a fire and party all night to celebrate the sunset.

Fire Shot IIFire Shot IX

I tried to get a few photos.  I am an amateur.  There always seemed to be beer bottles blocking my view, not enough light, or both in this case.  My wife – the real photographer – told me I could PhotoShop my failed photos, but I kind of liked them the way they came out.  The dim glow of the fire provided just enough light for me to capture my wife, a professional bellydancer, showing Francisco a few moves, while at the same time protecting Francisco’s anonymity…even though his belly would suggest his attempts at belly-rolls and hip-drops should be captured and immortalized for the edification of all involved.

Fire Shot III

These are trying times, I know, but we who are still walking the walk are survivors.  The internet connection is back, so I won’t take any literary chances and be seduced by books with catchy, colorful cover art, and I’ll just have to force myself away from the “like” and “follow” buttons long enough to go to the beach and find myself involved in LIFE.  There will be updates on this experiment in living, since I’m sure ICE and RACSA, the Costa Rican communications providers, won’t be able to sustain such a dangerous level of internet access beyond sunset tomorrow.

A Book CoverTo my few followers and friends around the world…stay away from this book.  Anyone else dropping in for a cheap thrill – this is the book for you.

Later…

Allama Iqbal, a Naat, and The Mystery Behind the Green Door

Maryam Museum VII

Maryam Shahbaz…young poet on the go…signed into the shrine honoring the life of Dr. Sir Sahib Allama Iqbal, and hoping for the best.

 

She found herself caressing the carpet that a poetic icon and national hero tread on so casually in a past, commenting, “…it is hand woven and has a very desirable feel to it.”

 

 

 

Maryam Museum XIIIThe caretaker, Mr. Riaz, offered up the pen (qalam) and ink pot (dawat) that Allama Iqbal used to make words come off the page and dance for those listening to the music.  Words…words…words, such as –

You are the Sacred Tablet.  You are the Pen and the Book; 

This blue colored dome is a bubble in the sea that you are.

You are the lifeblood of the universe

You bestowed the illumination of a sun upon the particles of the desert dust.

The splendor of Sanjam and Selim; a mer hint of your majesty;

The faqar of Juniad and Bayazid; your beauty unveiled.

 

 

Maryam Museum XVIMr. Riaz seems to have his own sense of the dramatic – meant to tantalize the imagination of those sensitive to the mysteries of the universe, and of those chosen to interpret that universe for apprentices of the senses.

He led Maryam and a friend to a green door, telling her that it had been closed since Allama Iqbal passed on to the universal mystery nearly eighty years ago.

When asked why it was closed, he only offered that it had been used for a dressing room addition to the guest room.

Asked if it would ever be opened, he reserved his opinion and said it could be opened some day…some day.

 

Maryam Museum XXIVAn assistant to Mr. Riaz, offered a dramatic reading of a naat – a written epic honoring the master poet’s sense of his desired union with the eternal…the universal…the mysterious…the lines that moved me to think more deeply about my feeling of that eternal, universal, mystery:

It persuaded me with art, it pulled me by force;

Strange is Love at the beginning, strong in its perfection !

Separation is greater than union in the state of ecstasy;

For union is death to desire while separation brings the pleasure of longing…

 

Persuasion – Beginning – Perfection – Separation – Ecstasy – Union – Desire – Longing

 

And the final stanza of the naat, one that sunk into my hand-woven soul with a desirable feel to it that seeks out the magic left by those who have written my world into existence:

The world has become dark since the sun has set down;

Unveil your beauty to dawn upon this age.

You are a witness in on my life so far;

I did not know that Knowledge is a tree that bears no fruit.

 

To this I not only have nothing to add, but don’t even feel qualified to comment.

Later….

 

(Maryam Shahbaz’s poetry can be found on WordPress through Maryamshahbazmian.  Her poetry collection, The Light Behind the Veil is to be released soon through Multani Press.  Good luck to her…if the truly talented and deserving need luck).

A Young Poet’s Pilgrimage in the City of Poets

Maryam MarketI met the young poet on a social media site.  Over the past few months we’ve become friends – more than friends I guess.  She addresses me in Urdu, her native language, as big brother.  I address her in Spanish as my little sister.  Odd to me, having such a relationship with someone on almost the exact opposite side of the world…Sialkot, Pakistan – the City of Poets.  I asked my little sister, the poet Maryam Shabhaz, if she would visit the shrine of Allama Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan and another native of Sialkot, to give readers an idea of the importance of poets in her country.  She sent me these photos of her pilgrimage.

Maryam started with a photo of the bazaar, not an unusual place to start in a city with a history similar to Sialkot.  Alexander the great made Sialkot the eastern-most outpost of his empire.  Persians, Afghans, Sikhs, Turks, Mughal emperors, Brits, and Hindu Indians all took their turns trying to rule the Punjab, where Sialkot is located.  Cities that have often found themselves in the way of history tend to be market-oriented.  I’m going to let the national Poet of Pakistan, Dr. Sir Sahib Allama Iqbal take over for a while with an excerpt from his poem Age of Infancy –

 

Maryam Market IThe earth and sky were unknown worlds to me,

Only the expanse of a mother’s bosom was a world to me;

Every movement was a symbol of life’s pleasure to me,

My own speech was like a meaningless word to me.

During infancy’s pain if somebody made me cry,

The noise of the door chain would comfort me.

Oh! How I stared at the moon for long hours,

Staring at its silent journey among broken clouds;

I would ask repeatedly about its mountains and plains,

Maryam Market IIAnd how surprised would I be at that prudent lie.

My eye was devoted to seeing, my lip was prone to speak,

My heart was no less than inquisitiveness personified.

 

 

Maryam, it seems, stopped off in the market…did a little shopping around.  Here she photographed a dealer of essential oils, Ittar in Arabic…herbal scents distilled for perfume and home use.

 

 

Maryam Museum XThe next photo she sent me was of the exterior of Dr. Sahib Iqbal’s former home.  I think I’ll let an excerpt of Maryam’s poem The Departed Soul speak for the reverence Pakistanis have for a national hero, one so revered he has a national holiday named in his honor.

Giddily, stand at the light curve,

Wait to embrace the departed soul.

The trifle human remains

Are left of the life carefully mold,

After him, days keep unveiling to unroll

Not any tasks hold gild;

At last, men realize, memories aren’t sacred holes.

 

 

Maryam Museum XXVMr. Riaz, the caretaker of Allama Iqbal’s shrine, told Maryam that photographs were not allowed in deference to the memory the poet, scholar, and politician that had such an impact on Pakistani independence.  She told him about the project she was working on, and he agreed the photos were for a noble cause, giving her the unheard of permission to take photos.  The first photo inside the former home and current shrine to Dr. Sahib Iqbal is of Maryam signing the guest register.  Between 50 and 75 Pakastanis a day visit the shrine, with the number rising to 300 or so when a college or school arranges a visit.  The visitors who had signed the register before Maryam were from Rawalpindi, and Mr. Riaz pointed out a former Foreign Minister of Pakistan who had signed the register not long ago,misspelling Islamabad, the capital city in which he had exercised his official duties.  I guess politicians are the same everywhere.

The final entry to this introduction to Allama Muhhamad Iqbal, and to this introduction to Maryam Shahbas and her poetry, will contain photos taken in the former home and current shrine to Dr. Sahib Iqbal, and will be accompanied by one of his most famous naats, or religious praise poems.

Maryam Shahbaz’s poetry can be viewed on WordPress under the name Maryamshahbazmian.

Social Media and Friends?

tamarindo estuary playa conchal atenas 183

I never thought about friendships formed through social media, or any technologically mediated communications, as a possibility.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been critical of any claims of such friendships made by students or relatives young enough to never have known a world without such possibilities.  Now I’m going to have to re-evaluate a few established prejudices.  This is not easy after discounting the whole idea as being born from the isolation and desperation of shut-in computer nerds and people so socially inept they can’t form meaningful bonds with “real” friends.

She – a young woman from a medium-sized city located in the border area where India, Pakistan, and Kashmir have established imaginary lines defining their geographical claims.  Several of these imaginary lines are dotted lines, disputes that often result in social, political, and religious divides supported by prideful indignation and suspicion, which makes for a dangerous neighborhood.

Me – a White-looking male twice her age, an American ex-pat who lives in a Central American beach town with fewer inhabitants than some extended families.  The imaginary lines here are as well established and stable as can be expected.  A sleepy neighborhood where not many consider it worth their time to get excited about borders, or much of anything except too little or too much rain.

She – a devout Muslim from a devoutly Muslim family in a devoutly Muslim country.

Me – an agnostic some days, an atheist on others, from a country where formal religions often take the form of entertainment.

She – a poet with a poet’s soul and a degree in economics.

Me – a prose writer schooled and employed in academic environments where poets and prose writers often defined themselves with imaginary lines subliminally or overtly supported by prideful indignation and suspicion, which often made for a…never mind, that’s a pitiful comparison.

But this is exactly how we were introduced – she reading my prose on my WordPress blog, and me reading her poetry on her WordPress blog.  Comments brought replies…replies brought more replies…e-mails became more convenient, then longer… photos of each other and our neighborhoods on opposite sides of the world were exchanged.  She lives in an area that when viewed on a map appears to be the end of the line…massive mountains rise in Kashmir, then there’s not much of anything between spots on the map identified as Ngari on the western side and Nagqu to the East.  I live at the end of the line also, with the Pacific ocean on one side and a semi-arid and sparsely populated peninsula on the other.  We share the inconveniences of power outages, finicky internet connections, and the ever-present possibility of natural disasters that could at any time turn those inconveniences into serious problems.

She has a mother who inquires about my well-being, and a nephew that asks her if I’m coming to Pakistan to visit.  I have a few close friends who ask for updates on her progress with her poetic works and her personal well-being, and a wife who is raising the possibility of a trip to Pakistan…crunching the numbers, so it is said these days.  This all just seems to have happened as if our friendship was a foregone conclusion…organically…not meaning effortlessly, but despite the barriers posed by geography, history, governments, ethnicity, gender issues, current events, and the spotty technological ties that have made our friendship possible in the first place.

Can reading the writing of another, and their reading of my writing possibly be the basis for a meaningful friendship?

Have I become an isolated computer nerd, or so socially inept I have to search out friends from afar?  No, I don’t feel so.  She is nobody’s isolated computer nerd and her social skills are attested to by the many “real” friends she has in her life, the compassion and feeling of depth that comes through in her poetry, and an online presence that is enchanting despite an experience with identity theft on another, popular social media site.

I can’t say that I endorse the cultivation of frivolous friendships on social media sites, or any sharing of personal information with any “friend” made using similar methods.  But, I do know that when a recent round of power problems caused a break in our ability to communicate, the cyber silence made me concerned – deeply concerned.  I think that that is one of the most sincere signs of a friendship.  I also think it’s a sign that I need to re-evaluate my prejudices toward social media.

Maryam Shahbaz’s poetry can be found on her blog on WordPress – do yourself a favor.  I can’t be found by anyone who doesn’t frequent my beach, or read my posts on this blog.  I think we are friends…Inshaa-Allah…Dios quiere…