Sadly, this is my final entry.  It’s been a good run for sure.  A lot of shit got written. I am taking my next stretch of creative writing to a more user friendly off-line platform. The goal is to finally begin merging a bunch of written material that has never been given the light of day. It is here where I will start the process of organizing this material for that book I keep telling myself is right around the corner.

I have put forward in excess of a hundred thousand words on this domain.  There are a handful of you that I would like to thank. You that have encouraged me in one form or another to believe that my words could be worth reading. It is you that I will be thinking about during the next writing campaign, should it blossom.  In no particular order: Nackles, Sean & Lisa, Michelle C, Em & Kamper, Billy, Jaak, Heidi & Loot, Iris, Vaird, Susie & Milk, Biscuit & Bruiser, Dr Carl, Guny G, Johnny & Kristen, Teresa, Berk & Krista, Kiki, Candy, Joey & Julie, Cousin Alison, and last but not least, my Mom.  

Mahalo,

Ghost of Oaxaca

Semi Secret Santa

As that holiday approached, I braced again for the blues. I continued my personal work towards betterment, but removed any personal pressure to speed up that process. I wasn’t in a rush.

*********

For no apparent reason, I acted on a thought that had been entering my mind for maybe the past couple of weeks. I decided to broach the subject cautiously.  The hope, a cleaner conscious.

*********

I reached out to a niece, and told her the motorcycle story. The moral being that I wanted to send her 5000 pesos so she could get it to her uncle Joe. Her uncle was a close friend of mine once.

*********

She thought it was gracious of me, which helped me purge some guilt. I disguised the MXN in an envelope and mailed it. Instantly I felt a little lighter inside. I was just doing unto another…

 

She finally had a dream worth remembering

He met her at his 50 yard line

They let go of the past

They embodied the present

They embraced for the future too

**

Truth poured from every angle

Like alchemy, the darkness softened

Naturally there was enlightenment

She finally had a dream worth cherishing

He met her half the way 

I share a living room with a good amount of people. It’s more of a TV room. You might call it a reading room. Coffee and tea in the corner sort of morph it into a cafe. The little packets of Carnation Hot Cocoa Mix give it that snack bar feel. The high-end art on the walls lend a warm, bedroom ambiance to this wonderful space. Call it what you want, I share it.

The other evening, I think it was a Thursday, I remember coming into this personal lounge of mine, hoping that I could catch the football game. Unfortunately, there was an old lady watching something else. It might have been Ellen, or the San Bernadino massacre, or whatever. And she wasn’t really even watching, rather knitting. She must have been in her early eighties. She wore specs and mismatched polyester. Her hair was teal grey and unbrushed. She was hunched over from the mid-back up.

I spotted the remote on the round ottoman waiting patiently to be clicked.

I went to the back portion of the room and made myself a poor-man’s mocha. I stood there contemplating how I should get this job done. There were seven, white leather chairs that I had at my comfort’s disposal. They were all identical. Of the seven, only two of the chairs fell in line with my plan of attack, so I decided to sit myself down in one of those two.

Picture this: It would be like if you walked into a nice chinese restaurant and sat down at what they call a “shared” table, even though there were plenty of empty tables. And not only do you sit down at this “shared” table, you sit right next to the other person. Pretty odd I know, but that’s how I played it.  The goal here was that she would have little choice but to engage with me, leaving me plenty of natural opportunity to ask this old lady if I could change the channel to the football game.

I sat down with my mocha. We immediately made eye contact, because again I was darn near sitting on her lap, and she said, “You can put it on any channel you want Sonny Boy.”

That was the easiest squeeze play that I ever performed. What a kind old lady I thought. She didn’t care one bit. Not only that, she had the foresight to think that maybe I might be the kind of guy that wants to watch football but isn’t willing to ask for what I wanted. So she took that possibility right out of the equation. Kind, smart, peaceful. My kind of old lady woman.

I turned on the game, and sipped my mocha. She sat there knitting.

Thirty minutes later, an old man walked into my TV room slash lounge. The old man and the old woman appeared to be together. If I recall, and of course I was fixed on the HDTV, she told him that there was hot coffee in the back and he said great. Moments later, the old woman got up. I remained in my leather seat watching this game. I assumed they were married. For all I know they could have been brother and sister. Regardless they talked quietly together towards the back of the room. I obviously don’t know what they talked about, but I remember thinking how beautiful it was that these two old people are still together, and still communicating, and still supporting one another. Etcetera, Etcetera.

As halftime was approaching, the old lady walked out of the TV room alone.  The old man stayed in the room and chose to sit down exactly where the old lady was sitting down. Whoa, that’s odd.  Hmmm.  And then, without even saying one word to me, almost as if I wasn’t even there, he grabbed the clicker off the round ottoman and changed the channel to Wheel of Fortune. Wheel of Fucking Fortune. Now that’s more like it.  Good for him I thought.

And so without buying a vowel, I waited about six seconds, grabbed my belongings, and left the room.

Graveyard Shift

An old friend recommended I check out the book Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. She made the suggestion after she heard brief parts of my sob story. I didn’t tell her nearly the whole story because she had already told me about her sob story which made my sob story less sob and more story. I’m sure she listened like any friend should do or pretend to do, but like I said, she didn’t even really have to listen to what I was saying to know what she was going to say to me. And instead of saying it, she suggested I read the well written words of somebody else.

Timing continues to unveil its importance, so I walked, not drove, rather walked down to Bookshop Santa Cruz one rainy evening and bought a copy. Quinnie and I walked right in like we owned the joint.  I didn’t even think twice.  Nobody said a peep.  The book was located in the Psyche Section. 

In between Yoga Classes, Runs w Red, and Piping Hot Jacuzzi’s, I powered through this little book. And the reason I was able to power through it so effortlessly was because of the timing. And it’s because of this timing that I consciously decided how reasonable it ‘stood to be’, with just a little bit of structure and some gamesmanship, that I could begin the process of uncovering who I really am.  Not who I have built myself up to be, but who I really am.  It’s easy to accomplish actually. So  easy that it can appear impossible. So painfully difficult and improbable that it captured my attention and sucked me in.

Here’s how it started to pan out. I began checking in with myself throughout the entire waking day. What do I mean? Well I’m glad you didn’t ask.  I chose five sure times throughout the waking day where I would bring myself to a conscious space where I was being aware that I was being aware. And that was it. For example, before I started my van, and before I got out of my van, I would check in with myself,(hey lil’ buddy) and consciously make myself aware that I was being aware.

Aware of What you might ask? Good question whoever you aren’t.  And not to go all Deepak on you or anything like that, but it could be anything your psyche has, and continues to persuade you into believing is better served billowed up inside your Being, ready and able to be used at your safe disposal.  Versus of course just allowing this thought, emotion, or fear to pass through peacefully like it most certainly could and should.

Sometimes it’s even good stuff that we lose our unconscious mind to. Who wouldn’t want to hold onto and think about good stuff? We all are prisoners to that so called safe haven. Your kid scores the winning goal and you are still thinking about it and embellishing that news with friends and family. A co-worker tells you how pretty you look and you can’t stop thinking about it as your mirror time increases three-fold.  You won the week in fantasy football and keep thinking about next week’s stupid fucking lineup.  And you do this because thinking about it, and playing with it under the influence of the unconscious, makes you think like you feel good, thus offering up what you can now use to duct tape your inner darkness.  But for fucking what?  What purpose can it possibly serve to waste precious energy recreating feelings and emotions that you’ve already felt? And in many cases, over and over and over.

Much more common however, are the stupid-ass, painful, dumb dumb, useless thoughts or inner voices that deceptively control the state of your true happy being. You know, the stuff that clings to our hearts, polluting it without having to struggle too hard at achieving victory at this inter-personal battle.  For example, your boyfriend cheats on you, lies to you, and basically shows you that he is a complete douche.  What good does it do to wonder why he did it, or wonder how he can sleep at night, or continue to ask WHY and HOW COME?  Or worse yet, listening to that worthless inner voice of yours that keeps telling you that YOU never ever ever would have done something so mean like that. Like I just said, it’s that roommate in your head trying its best to ensure you create a false sense of security OR take the risk of languishing in your pain so horrifically that it becomes debilitating.  And for what?  And for why?  I’m here to say that voice is poisonous.    

I was getting fed up of that voice so I began making a conscious effort to make it(them) go away. Yes, like choosing not having them. And when I do have them, instead of unknowingly losing myself within them, wrestling with them before stuffing them back inside the back of my black heart without even being aware that I am even performing this useless task, I have made a habit of becoming aware that I am aware of having them. Wait, What?

It’s like how many times do you get in the car, drive from point A to point B, and your mind is getting stuck on useless shit?   It’s a loaded question because surely you have no idea how many times. More than likely though, the answer is much closer to every single time than it is to once in a while. Maybe your cat is sick. Maybe your boyfriend has a small penis. Maybe you were hoping for a promotion but didn’t get it. Maybe your father died. Regardless of what it is, because it could be just about anything, therein lies the problem.  We choose to allow that inner voice of ours to fill us up with dark fodder and rationalizations whose soul purpose is to properly compartmentalize and dysfunction-junctionize all the pain and suffering, preventing it of course from exiting the fuck out.  Much better to let it go. 

OK, back to the van thing. So every time I get in and out of the van, I check in with my thoughts. Just like every time I feed my canine, I check in with my thoughts. And every time I go to my yoga mat, I check in with my thoughts. Brush and floss, I check in with my thoughts. Each and Every time I go to bed and wake up, I check in with my thoughts.  Some days, especially when I am flossing a ton, my daily ‘check in’ number can be in the teens.  Again, checking in on my thoughts, feelings, and emotions, to make sure I have no thoughts, feelings, or emotions.  Zero.  

Checking in just means checking in. Checking in with my conscious, inner self, making sure I am not, or was not wasting any of my precious energy creating thoughts designed to protect and skirt around my pain. And if during the ‘checking in’ process, I was making thoughts that prevented pain from leaving my heart, well then I would make myself aware that I was aware that I was having those thoughts. And once you do that, holding onto those painstaking thoughts only acts as a false sense of security. There’s that phrase again.  But seriously, who in their right name would ever want a false sense of anything? Not me, not you, not nobody.  None of God’s Creations actually.  Especially not my Quinnie.

So again, I chose five personal spots throughout the day, where I would check in. You know, clear the mind.  You know, meditate.  There, I said it.  Meditate.  In the process of deciding that I was going to become aware that I was aware of when I was going sideways or backwards in thought, it ignited an opening for happy thoughts and ideas to enter.  And then I began to believe that the more I practiced this, and the more I honored this practice, the greater the likelihood that painful thoughts, however they came disguised, could flee the heart just as easily as they filled it. 

And here is kind of the kicker. Always a kicker.  I added this to my healing game. Visualize if you can.  It involves a cemetery, a tiny white, un-engraved headstone, and a medium sized redwood tree.  It goes like this:

So four times per day like clockwork, I drive past this particular cemetery. Twice on my way to the spa and resort, and twice on my way out.  I don’t drive out of my way to this cemetery, rather it is on the way. And not only is it on the way, it is right on the way. So right on the way that it’s almost in the way.  So in the way that it began to signify a spiritual focal point for present thoughts and feelings.  A ‘drive by’ graveyard for ridding myself of fear and pain.  Every time I would drive by this beautiful cemetery, I would slow down a little, and throw a painful thought or two towards that tiny white, un-engraved headstone next to the medium sized redwood tree. And then I would smile at myself in the rear view mirror and say Good Job.  If I didn’t have anything, or anybody to throw underground, I would just remind myself to remain aware of being aware.  Fa la la la la….

IMG_1331         IMG_1351

Free Parking

My first day back in SC, I was quick to find the studio. On the drive home, I had decided that I was going to begin incorporating more Vinyasa classes. This meant different teachers and different practice times of the day.  As the most humbling year of my life was finally coming to a bloody end, I felt grateful(astonished actually) that I could somehow stumble upon an exercise that stands a real chance of making me whole  again.

I walked in and saw a smiley pregnant woman working her ipad. I figured she was the teacher, and I was right. I introduced myself. I found out she was new to the area about a year, from Aspen. I found out that teaching yoga is her career and not just a job. I didn’t say too much after that, and I certainly didn’t make any mention about how frigid the temps were last night. I took off my Uggs & Parka but kept on my Sweat Pants and Hoodie.

For maybe the first time inside a yoga studio EVER, I was possessing a bit of confidence. Not the type of confidence that rates well on any yoga scale per se. Rather an inner confidence. I was now four months into this ancient form of practice and/or exercise, and by golly, it had begun working helping curing. Plus I was just coming off a week of big city yoga w YZ. I was semi-sorta looking forward to dare I say, a little Downward D.

There were 20 people in this class. 15 chicks, 5 dudes. For whatever reason, and you would need to ask her, teacher lady began using my name pretty regularly. Nice Fella. Left hip back Amigo. Reach with your fingers Digger. Breathe Old Man. I had just met this lady, and already she had referenced me like ten times. Nobody had ever said my name in class, so I took it all to heart. The final part to this story can’t be made up. 

We were in Reverse Warrior. Teacher was walking around the room saying things like squeeze, extend, and stare. She then started saying something about how the quad area of the front leg should be sturdy like a park bench. And right when she said the word bench, pregnant teacher lady sat down on my front leg. She parked it there for what seemed like an eternity. I softened my jaw and continued with my Ujjayi breathing…

Ten of us sat on our mats around the perimeter of this heated yoga studio. Nine women and One man. I was that man. The ten of us were gathered for a special alignment workshop.  The teacher entered the room and explained what we would be doing over the course of the next two hours. She used the center of the studio as her pulpit.

Before getting on into this workshop, we went around the room, one by one, introducing ourselves to the other attendees, and maybe saying a little something about who we are(or were at this point) and what brought us here. I instantly forgot if there were any more rules for this exercise because once I heard that I had to open my mouth and say something in front of a group of strangers, my mind immediately went limp. Thankfully I wouldn’t be going first or last.

First the teacher introduced herself. Now of course she has done this a million times, so it was no wonder that her thirty second verbal resume was so eloquently sounding and stated. Then it was our time. And so the first lady went, and then the next. And so on and so forth, I heard a Euro Accent. I heard a Boston Accent. One lady went on for two minutes, and another just said her name and that she was happy to be here.

Well I already knew what I was going to say. I had it all memorized and it seemed doable.  I was going to say, Hey I’m Murray. I am on a road trip with my dog Madison. We are from Lake Tahoe and are having an excellent time.”

This is what I ended up saying though. IDIOT!! I said, “Hello everyone, My name is Aaron, and I’m just here for the chicks.” Obviously it was going to provide laughter, and of course I was right.  Easy Joke, Easy Audience.  All I did was let go some perfectly timed words, and all the ladies bit like candy. The part I didn’t anticipate coming, came next.

Because I have been battling my way through this new onslaught of false insecurities, like the kind of insecurity (dare I day)issues that lead to confidence levels being rattled,(yeah those kind) the fact that I could capture the attention of a group of people in a positive, funny way actually sent me deeper into this crumpled shell of mine. The laughter didn’t do me right, it did me wrong. It shouldn’t have, but it did. I compare it to the stand up comedian getting all the laughs she needs to fuel a brilliant stand up performance, but after her opening monologue she forgets all her lines.  Likewise, after I made my simple little funny, and received positive validation from the nine other chicks,(and maybe even the teacher) it sent my mind into an unconscious stage, and God only knows what I spewed out next.  The only thing I remember is that as I was finishing up whatever it was that I could have possibly been saying, I was feeling nervous, self conscious, uncomfortable, and out of body. It felt pretty lame.

After class, I still thanked the teacher for bringing that exercise into the classroom. I explained to her that having to perform something as simple and innocent as was that introduction exercise has become like the most un-fun thing I could ever think up to do.  The teacher smiled and gave me a Vegemite Sandwich..

She opened up about her talent for wearing two hats, and he knew exactly what she meant. He let go a medium stare her way, spawning a visual. A visual of what she might look and be like wearing her other hat.

He opened up, albeit barely, about his history of sabotaging relationships with the truth. She wanted to know what he meant, so he shed a wee bit of light on the subject.  Revealing too much wasn’t on the menu.

Cafe Gratitude

https://www.instagram.com/p/-Xsga4CPRY/?

Five Stars

I pulled up at our 4.5 star hotel in San Diego. The valet kid came up to the driver side door and I instantly said that I was marginally overwhelmed and possibly not ready to give up my van and check in. My belongings in the back were in total disarray. Quinn more than likely needed to relieve herself. I didn’t know where they would be taking my van in case I forgot something. I wasn’t sure if I should have the valet muscle my keyboard to the room just yet. I didn’t have a leash or collar. I was blocking traffic on a pretty busy One Way.

I desperately needed that extra half star which would have provided an area to take a moment to get my act together. We were in a big city, and I was thoroughly proving it.

I couldn’t take the situation another honk, so I drove off and ended up in a student parking lot for I believe San Diego City College. I pulled into a one-hour, visitor parking spot. Snoopy found immediate relief on a grassy island. I cleaned out my van, reorganized my van, fed Curly Q, and drank a liter of water. I attached a surfboard leash to a shoelace collar, slipped that around my Hyena, put on my New Balance running shoes, and decided to give the city a quick once over by foot before bringing my van back inside for round two.

So Dingo and me hit the pavement running. I played The Beach Boys mix thru my original Ipod Nano. As has, and likely will always be the case with any Beach Boys mix I have ever given to someone or received by someone, the first song most certainly always seems to be Good Vibrations.  Feeling positive, we ran our way all throughout the entire Gaslamp District of Sunny San Diego.  California Dreamin’ for sure..

Admittedly, I still thought too much about Janet and about my warm winters in Puerto.  Both subjects, on their own, still opened up the emotional floodgates.  Combined, they will forever represent just the most hurtful series of blows I will ever be forced to accept.  Christ, I had admired and appreciated that woman for some 35 years, and had been equally splitting my time between Santa Cruz and Puerto Escondido for the better part of a decade.  So yeah, I was still grieving my way through these shitty, unforeseen losses.  All the while doing my very best to let it go and move the fuck on.   

Next subject.  Girl Dog kept shaking her head to suggest the gimmicky, makeshift leash and collar system I made for her was bothersome. Fair enough I thought.  This was her first time being tethered, so I cut her some slack. I also knew she would learn to tolerate it because that’s the kind of canine she is.

I spotted Hotel Solamar. I had wanted to stay at this hotel all along because it was only a few blocks away from where this yoga retreat was taking place. It was more expensive so I opted otherwise. Solamar is the 5 star sister hotel to the 4.5 star Hotel Palomar where I had first stopped. Both hotels are dog friendly.

Piglet and I decided to make our presence felt in the lobby of this fine looking five star. I talked to the Manager in Charge and let him know that Big Ears and I had a reservation at Palomar but that we were beginning to feel that maybe Solamar was the better fit. He made a personal call to the other hotel, and yada yada, we were now going to be guests at The Solamar. Excellent!  I asked if we could get the same rate. He said sorry. I knew it never hurt to ask.

We ran back the mile to where my van was parked, and drove immediately back to our new home. I pulled up to the off-street valet, told the boys what needed to go up, and me and Quincy Jones went on into the lobby to check ourselves in.

They gave us Room 409, and she was real fine that 409, that Fourrr Ohhh Nine. Anyway, it had been one crazy week for Girlfriend and Me. It sure was nice to luxury up for a bit.  I took a long, hot shower, and crawled under the covers for a quick siesta. It was 3:45pm.  My first bit of yogurt was set to begin at 6pm.

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I arrived at The Palazzo West right on time. Quinn was with.

I kept the van running. Classical Music was on the radio dial.

He approached my van and asked if I was waiting for someone.

I nodded my head yes and said that I was a close friend of Milo.

He handed me an Iphone5S box and vanished. I took a peek.

I told Quinn that we better get to a Dunkin’ Donuts Drive Thru.

I felt I was being followed.
Who wouldn’t? I had deep fucking pockets.

I used a Dunkin’ Donuts Drive Thru to off some paranoia. 
Small coffee, cream and sugar.

Da Bears

I found my blue mesh fanny pack with 15K inside. Three bundles of 5K. Each bundle had a rubber band around it. All Benjamins.

I zipped it up and put it around my waste. I got in my van and drove down Sahara Avenue to The Palace Station. Choo Choo.

“Yeah I’d like to place a bet. I want to put $5500 on The Bears.”

The lady asked for my players card and I told her that I didn’t have one. She told me that I needed one in order to place this size bet.

So I wandered over to Guest Services, and signed up for a players card. I then walked back to the Sports Book and stood in line again.

“Yeah I’d like to place a bet. I want to put $5500 on The Bears.”

The lady asked for my players card and I slapped it on the table. I handed over the money and she handed me my paper ticket.

I went back Tuesday morning to collect.  I took that newly found 5K and slapped it on Northern Illinois.  It pays to be good.

Cattle Calling

He handed me $300 in cash even though it wasn’t going to cost anywhere near that amount. I was given a white piece of paper. In my handwriting, with one of those old skool Bic Pens where you can make the ink, black, blue, red, or green, i began writing down exactly what was dictated to me. I chose to go with Green.

He wanted me to download and utilize all sorts of different map apps and such to make these errands considerably more efficient, but I just kept telling him to dictate. I was in Las Vegas, Nevada. I sat on a white metal bench under a tree. It was a Monday morning in early November. The sun was brilliant. The wind was outrageous.

He had more important things to do, and I didn’t. This was going to be a test of sorts. He trusted me like a good friend should, but I still needed to be tested regardless. I know all about baby steps. After some brief instruction as to how to operate his Cadillac SUV, I backed out of his driveway, and was on my way. I left my Quinnie behind.

He figured this list of errands was going to take me round about two hours. I had created a map in my head even though I knew it was going to be near impossible to pull it all off as efficiently as I could if I were in my home town. I was in a strange place, doing strange things, and I knew that strange events and sets of circumstances where likely to surface.

My first stop was the UPS store. I walked in and said that I needed Express Envelopes. The lady asked how many I needed. I told her five. She handed me five. I asked her how much? She said they are free. I walked out.

My second stop was the FedEx store. I walked in and said that I needed Express Envelopes. The lady asked how many I needed. I told her ten. She said she only can give me five. I asked her how much. She said they were free. I walked out.

My third stop was to have his car washed in the Korean Strip Mall. I was told that it might be tricky to find. I was told how much it would cost. I was told how much to tip. I found it without too much trouble, and slowly pulled the car up to four Mexicans who in 15 minutes had the entire car spit shined inside and out.

My fourth stop was to gas up The Caddy. 91 octane.

My fifth stop was a Verizon outlet. My boss needed a charger for one of his five phones. Since I was running well ahead of time, I decided to take the time to switch my own personal service back to Verizon. It was one year ago to this very day that I had agreed to switch over to AT&T.  I was hoping the switch back could provide some cosmic rebooting.

My sixth and final stop took place in a liquor store where I bough two, 32oz Smart Waters. One for me and one for my boss. He told me they would come in handy at 5pm Yoga.

By noon I was finished with my errands. I got back to the house, put $204 change on the coffee table. He looked at his watch, smiled, and said, “That was fast, thank you very much. You passed the test. Why don’t you go shower and shave, I will reheat the pizza, and then we can discuss where you are going next. It’s gonna get real.  And bro, no lolly gagging, time is critical..”

Spiritual Manifesto

We walked to the downtown studio to stake claim to my prizes. I had never been to the downtown location so I was stoked to finally see it. When we arrived, I gave Quinn the hard glare to suggest she better not move an inch while I was inside. I walked in and told the young lady my name and that I received an email from Sheila that I had won The Humble Warrior giveaway.

With as little fanfare and hype as can possibly be imagined, the young lady reached under the counter and handed me four envelopes in a cute, little, recyclable bag.  I wanted to ask a dozen questions, but I knew not to ask any.  I thanked the girl and went back out the swinging glass doors. Dog and me walked home, prizes in hand.

Envelope One was from The Chaminade Resort & Spa.  I opened it up and there was a short, hand written letter on letter-head from a guy named Trevor.  It basically said call or email ASAP to schedule a convenient time to meet and sign the six month agreement.

Envelope Two was from Divinitree.  Again, a hand written letter, and again on letter-head.  It was another Congratulations and a receipt for a six month unlimited at any of their three locations.

Envelope Three was a small beige envelope that smelled nice.  Inside was a business card from Yogi Z with a little note that said, “Hey there winner. Let’s have a chat Wednesday this week, late morning.  I will call you.  My time is precious, so make sure you are available at let’s say 11:35am. OK? Please text me once you read this as our confirmation.  My cell is on my business card.” 

Envelope Four contained an anonymous type-written letter that struck a chord or two.  I read it a number of times.  Aside from wishing I had written this beautiful piece, I was super extra curious who had written the piece, and equally as curious how and why it ended up in my goody bag. It read:

My dear proud brother,

I know why you’ve always struggled to truly, fully love every woman you’ve ever wanted to truly, fully love.

I know why every romance you’ve ever indulged in for more than a sweet, fleeting moment soon threatened to overwhelm you.

I know why you still sometimes feel the urge to run from the burdens of relationship toward the promise of freedom in quiet, faraway hills where no woman will ever find you—and why you may be tempted to stay there forever.

I also know why you always return to her…and why you always will.
Because you’re not just merely a man; you’re a goddamn warrior for Love.

Deep in the marrow of your masculine core, you know you didn’t come here to play safe and pass time, simply scoring goals and notches on your bed post, or making money and fragile monuments to your pride.

Hell, no.

You came here to throw down with life, to get bloody and muddy earth all over your soul, as you charge gallantly each day beyond the edges of your hard-earned comfort zone.

You are wise, ancient stardust sculpted into mighty earth come alive. You are a volcano with a hot molten heart at your core, risen to offer your authentic love even in the face of forces that would overwhelm lesser men.

I know what’s been asked of you in this lifetime isn’t easy.

But if you’re ready to claim your birthright as a King amongst Kings, a heart-centered warrior-protector of the planet and all things true and good and beautiful, then it’s time you learn how to love a wild woman in her deliciously untamable fullness.

And you are ready to love all of her, because you’re a goddamn warrior.

I know your fathers and brothers and schoolyard playmates warned you to be wary of her. Through stern faces masking an ignorance they dare not confess, they insisted that the emotions and tears and unpredictable extremes of a feminine heart have no place in the productive, rational world of a “real man.”

Either flee or subdue the unpredictable heart of any woman in your midst, they cautioned, lest her raw power snap all your straight lines, ruin your portfolio and mercilessly break your fragile grip on sanity.

But you don’t buy that bullshit anymore.

Oh, I know you still tremble at the thought of her fiery Kali spirit unleashed like a hurricane in your world. You’ve been gutted and wrecked countless times by awful perversions of love. Too many women in their own fear and immaturity have assigned you the Mission Impossible task of making them happy and then tried to hang you when you failed.

Your psyche has been so badly burnt you can barely imagine anymore the woman who would inspire your devotion.

Fortunately, my good man, all that agony was just warrior boot camp.

Every chaotic, heart-wrenching love affair only served to bleed out the immature and wounded parts of you that would otherwise overthrow your Kingly heart.

You didn’t know it, but life has been preparing you for what’s about to happen: your unconditional surrender to a dazzling love that will sweep through you like a wildfire at dawn.

When she arrives, this love will finally teach you how to breathe through your heart down your spine and into your balls so you can stand full and courageous before the fire-breathing dragons life will never stop sending at you.

Naturally, your woman will train you with your own dragons, the ones still lurking in your shadows. She will know exactly where to find them and which spells turn them against you. She’ll delight in casting those spells, too, but only because she revels in watching you, with hungry, primal eyes, claim your mastery.

For that’s her greatest gift to you: mastery in devotion to love.
She will send those dragons after you whenever she doubts your commitment—not your commitment to her little tyrant ego’s selfish demands. No, she’s done her deep inner work enough to know we didn’t come to serve that scavenger dog.

It’s your commitment to love’s will thaUt she wants to trust deeply. That’s the only way she’ll know you won’t abandon her and run for the hills when her own dragons get loose and try to set your hair on fire.

Oh, it’s gonna be spectacular, my brother!

For this journey of devotion is your awakening to the massive truth of who you already are: love, itself!

So give up once and for all using women’s healing energy to fill the goddess-size hole that ages of patriarchy ripped out of your heart.

Stop trying to shrink women into cute, manageable little pets who ask so little of you, and who you can easily love and accept. That just turns them into not enough for your daring soul, anyway.

You don’t need some passive sex-toy with an off-switch that you keep in the closet. You need a spirited sorceress singing shaman songs beside you as you sharpen your sword for battle, because you’re a goddamn warrior, after all.

You’re ready for the sacred quest to love all of her.

She will serve you well on this journey, for this one likes to run with the wild things. She will shine like bright starlight in your eyes and dance like fire to light your way home to your true self.

But it’s only her courage to offer you the fullness of her feminine soul, from her rage to her radiance, that will truly help you navigate deeper into the mystical realms of devotion. No timid woman will ever do for a true warrior.

Your muse is looking for you, my brother, and she’ll probably show up all smiley and sweet-scented. But make no mistake: she will be the best teacher of unconditional love you have ever known.

I suggest you leave your armor behind for this quest. Protecting yourself will only keep away what you most deeply desire, anyway.
Learning to love all of her will require you leave everything behind, actually, except your own authentic heart.

For she’s aching for nothing less than your true authentic heart to step up and boldly claim the untold treasures buried deep within her own.

YumYum

I had to alter our 5am walk. The normal way was putting Quinnie toe to toe with a skunk which was putting me toe to toe with worse. So we adjusted. Quinnie didn’t like it and tried as hard as heady dogs can try to get things back to the way they were, and I just kept telling her that the old way isn’t always the best way.

It was always Albrights Donuts. Small black coffee, no lid, w/ sleeve, buck fifty.  I usually paid with change. If there wasn’t anybody tending the counter, or even if there was, I would just put all the coin on the glass countertop and say YumYum. Fact is, i don’t trust Quinn outside by herself for too long.  Too much sketch lurks at this hour, and she is not perfect. She has giant ears, and tweaks on things from time to time. Certain critters. Certain sounds. Certain homeless.  Albrights is on a legitimate street corner and I know better.

So we were now walking a slightly different way to get our coffee. Next to an unpopular fireplace showroom, I noticed a discreet little yoga studio for the first time. It was still pitch black.  A flickering candle of some sort was lighting up the lobby at this Divinitree Yoga studio. There were numerous flyers taped on the window. One in particular caught my eye. It was a giveaway they were calling the Humble Warrior Giveaway. There was of course a picture of somebody doing an incredible Humble Warrior pose, and the giveaway prizes were to die for.

It read: In 100 words or less, tell us why it is that you practice yoga. That simple. 100 words or less, why yoga.

The winner was to receive a six month pass at Divinitree, a six month spa and fitness membership at the exclusive Chaminade in Santa Cruz, a 25 minute healing phone call from Yogi Z, as well as two, hour long private sessions with YZ at her downtown Santa Barbara studio. Gnarly!

There wasn’t too much small print either. The deadline to submit the entry was in five days. All entries needed to be received via email. Of course you had to be affiliated with this particular studio. The winner was to be announced on Friday, October 16th. I think that was about it.

The next day I joined this yoga studio. I had been meaning to surrender to yoga anyway, so I bought a two month unlimited pass. Therefore, just about the time my two month membership expiration would come due, that would also be about the time they were going to announce the winner to the giveaway.  Timing is clearly everything.

I now was a brand new yoga student.  I suppose I had done my share of Bikram in the past, and other forms of bending. This time though, I just knew deep down that this was going to be the breakthrough effort and the very beginning of a spiritual practice that was sure to reawaken me and prove that I am actually still alive.

But first thing was first.  The Giveaway.  I had four days to get my entry in, and I thought a lot about it. Do I use all 100 words? Do I use no words? Should I be funny? Should I be sad? Do I tell them that I have entered this contest just for the incredible prizes? Decisions.

Why do I practice Yoga? By Aaron Lubell

How’s it going? I’m a new student. I’m that guy without a smile. The guy drinking from the half empty glass. I appear to resemble a guy that has been unfavorably pigeon holed.  Do you know the term?  Well I do, and the aftermath has me feeling so raw and insecure that sometimes I am too emotional to even come out of Child’s Pose. But this is NOT who I truly am, and that is why I practice yoga.

For the next seven weeks, I made a point of getting to one class per day. If I felt too tired, I went to class. If I was too sad, I went to class. If it was too hot or too cold, I went to class. Every time I got to the mat, I would set an intention, and completely surrender to all of it.

On Friday, October 16, after the Hatha Flow class with Honora, Yogi Greg pulled me aside and asked if I had submitted an entry for that one giveaway. I told him I had forgotten all about it, but that YES, I did submit an entry. He reminded me that today was the day they were announcing a winner.  We made small talk, and he said he would see me on Monday for practice.

When I got back to the space I now call home, I checked my email. There was something in my inbox from Divinitree.

Dear Aaron, We received 93 entries for The Humble Waririor Giveaway, and your entry was chosen as the winning entry. Congratulations!! We are holding your prizes at our Westside Location. Please fly out of your pigeon hole and come see us tomorrow if you can. Yay!!  Again, congratulations. Namaste, Sheila

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Pigeon Holed

He read her note.

One line stood out.

*

He read her next note.

The same line stood out.

Her third note was sickening.

And there was that same line again.

*

He wasn’t being called stupid, fat, or ugly.

He wasn’t being called a liar or a Jew Boy.

He was being told worse.

Jake

I listened to the voice mail and didn’t hear a word. I just knew that we were losing Jake. My day was now over. It was 9:30am on a Tuesday.

I had spent about forty nights with Jake over the past six months. Three days here. Two weeks there. Ten days here. A long wknd here and there.

We each had what the other needed. He saw me through my un-finest moments. I saw him through some of his. Trying times for both of us.

The first dog that My Quinn met was Jake. Quinn read the situation and knew the etiquette. Jake assured Quinn that her food was safe.

Walks with Jake were reduced to five minutes. Nights with Jake became long and restless. I did everything I could. Quinnie studied my love.

All dogs get missed. Some more than others. Timing can be everything. This time, we are going to feel it. It doesn’t matter why, it just doesn’t.

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90 Minutes

I received a phone call one evening from the manager of Grasshopper. Grasshopper has been the co-ed soccer powerhouse in Santa Cruz County for a long, long time. They lost the title of being THE soccer powerhouse during the five year coming out party of my old club, the FC Rebels. Well, The Rebels imploded in like Fall of 2012, giving room for Grasshopper to once again take over as the classiest, winningest, and overall best brand of co-ed soccer around these parts.

Co-Ed Soccer in Santa Cruz County: Women need to be 27 years of age. Men need to be 30 years of age. I believe there are 32 teams all together. The season consists of 10 games, each game being played on Sunday. Games are 90 minutes, and the fields are about as bad as bad can get.

I was so long gone from this scene. I hadn’t even touched a ball in about two years. It had maybe been three years since anything competitive. If I recall, I got suckered into playing in a tournament in August 2012 up at UCSC. I didn’t have a very good time, and it showed in my play. In fact, I believe when I got back into my van after the final game, I looked myself directly in the rear view mirror of my van, and I said, “You my friend have just played your final bit of futbol, end quote.”

So word got out pretty quickly that I couldn’t be counted on to play any more soccer. Too old and too weird. Nobody really even knew whether or not I was in town or not in most cases, so the phone calls and texts became a distant thing of the past. I had hung them up.

The phone call:

Hey Aaron it’s Watts. Karen tells me you might be looking for a team.
Oh she did, did she?
Yeah. A lot of us are hurt. We could use you.
Are you guys still good?
Ranked #1. We don’t have a keeper, but it tends to not matter.
Hmmmmm.
We all thought you were done.
Me too.
What gives?
I’m in a bad way.
Yeah I heard.
From who?
Troy told me.
What did he tell you?
He told me you need 90 minutes on Sundays.
Can you offer up ‘The Ten’?
Depends on how you play. See you Sunday @ 8am.

 

I was a few minutes late because the butterflies were wreaking havoc with my morning routine. By the time I arrived, the game was already several minutes underway. As I was approaching the field, I did a quick head count and noticed we had no subs on the sidelines, only eight players in the field, and a middle aged woman in goal. So we were down players, and down men.

I saw the pile of green jerseys on the grass and quickly made my way over to that pile. I closed my eyes and grabbed one. It was number 10. I put it on, pinched the refs tush as I walked passed him, and just like that, I was in between the lines.

I played extra simple and extra unselfishly. I made sure everybody in green knew exactly what type of player and teammate I still am. I knew what to say and when to say it. I even knew how to say it. I didn’t call for the ball. I gave  the high five when appropriate.

Leading 1-0 with five or so minutes to go in the first half, I beat the off-sides trap, and Javi fluffed up a beautiful through ball out of the back. I gave it everything I had to get to the ball before the opposing teams keeper. He was coming full speed, and I was going full speed. It was sure to be close.

The ball took it’s only bounce on like the 30 yard mark. Just outside the box is where the collision was set to happen had I not got there a split second before him. As the ball was still about waste high, I got a solid right foot on the ball with the laces of my boots, and lifted it over his outstretched fists and into the back of the net.

Time stood still. At that very moment, there wasn’t one single brainwave being wasted on Cindarella. The only thing on my mind was giving the nod to the young man who served up the pretty ball that led to a 2-0 Grasshopper lead at halftime. I had found some meaning. I was tasting what being happy again might taste like. I allowed myself to feel good, and it felt real good.

Pass The Kleenex

It was just past dawn.  I was at the end of Rockview Street, staring out into the ocean. Quinn sat in the passengers seat. I spotted Marv sitting on the cement wall checking the surf. He didn’t see me. I got choked up. Marv was probably getting close to being about 30 years young. I met him when he was still in high school.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk with him because I was sick and fucking tired of having the same thing to say to everyone. It usually went like this:

Hey aren’t you supposed to be in Mex?

It’s over.

Oh Aaron, sorry to hear.  What happened?

Everything, and Nothing.

I don’t understand.

Neither Do I.

And then I would proceed to tell this somebody that I didn’t want to get into the specifics, but that I am trying to come to grips with THE most defining time in my life.

So there was young Marvin. He looked good. He looked clean and sober. I felt the magnetic pull to reconnect, but couldn’t tell you why:

Yeah Marvin, What’s Up Big Guy?

Aaron, is that you?

Indeed it is. No, stay there, I will be right out.

I got out of the van, went around to the sliding side door, and let Quinn out. Both she and I walked over to Marv. I could tell that he knew something seemed odd. It surely had to do with the fact that I had a dog, and I was right:

No way, Who’s this?

She is Quinn.

Beauty.  I am guessing Puerto is done?

It is buddy.

Dude, what’s the matter?

I lost all composure, and it felt right. I put my head down, cried into my hands, and basically just broke it all down for the kid. I told him everything in like four minutes, and didn’t hold back. Marvin had no choice but to put his arm around me.  There is something very refreshing about breaking down in front of youth.

what do you do? i’m a writer. really? yes, really. well what have you written? tons of shit, i once wrote a short story that made no sense according to my one critic. who’s the critic? it sounds like you are. [sic]

It was Valentine’s Day.  I was sitting alone on a sidewalk in Mexico when Tatiana approached and sat down. Her nervous twitch was twitching nervously. It seemed to be getting worse, bless her heart. She is maybe 50 Something. Beautiful lady. Married. Bizarre. Heart of Gold. Mexican.  In English, it went something like this:

Aron where you are been?
I’ve been living out at the lagoon.
Why you not come visit us anymore?
Spending a lot of time out in Manialtepec is all.
You like it out there?
Oh yes, very tranquilo
What you are doing out there?
I’m writing a book.
Oh wow, what is the book about?
Tatiana was not the first person that I told I was writing a book. I am going to say she was like the sixth. Maybe the eighth. So in calling a spade a spade, I had now told the sixth or eighth person that I was writing a book. Strange behavior I must say. She was about to be the first person that I was actually going to tell what the book was about. It reminds me of the time that Costanza drives his in-laws out to the Hamptons. You know the one.
 
Look, I’ve logged time behind a thesaurus, and i’ve written a short story or two, but for me to make the leap to “author in progress” was just downright lying. i didn’t know why I was doing it, and in the same breath, I knew exactly why.
 
It’s not like i walk around telling people that I am writing a book. I mean if somebody asked me how it was going, or what I was doing, my answer would never be that I was writing a book. However, from time to time, and at times when I least expected it, I found myself in front of some human being telling them that I am writing a book. No, not that i am a writer. No, not that i write short stories. And no, not that i run a corny business blog. No, No, and No. I would say that I am writing a book.
 
So that’s what i told Tatiana. I told her that I am writing a book. A book about a boy and a dog. I told her that I couldn’t give up the title, but once I had one, along with a beginning, a middle, or an end, I would be happy to share.  Trust me..

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Bookends

We sat there on her back porch. We talked about the past, the present, and the future. Just in case she couldn’t see it written all over my face, I made sure she knew right away that I was drowning my way through the most hurtful time in my entire life. She couldn’t believe that was possible.  Both of us began showing serious Deja Vu like symptoms. I told her that it was complicated and that now was not the time to talk about any of that.

The reason I had stopped by to see her was because I had this deep feeling that it was the supernatural move to make. SuperNatural? Maybe that’s not the right word. Organic? Partly that for sure. On a superficial level, and it’s hardly that either, I had this desire to see her because I wanted to show her my new canine. I now had Quinn for about two months, and I was certain that this Dingo like Jackal was extraordinary. If you are a dog owner, I know what you are thinking, and you are not right. You are not right that your canine, as special as it may seem to you, is extraordinary. Because if I’m declaring my Quinnie as extraordinary, then unless your dog can do what my dog does, and can do it as consistently and as bionically as my dog can, then your dog is less than extraordinary. I’m sure it’s sweet and fluffy.  Fair enough?

Lorna is her name. This woman. She is roughly my age, maybe a little older. We have a little history to say the very least. Back in college, and much like the rest of our circle, Lorna was a full time student and a full time athlete. Unlike the rest of us, she also was a full time dog whisperer.  20 year old Lorna whispered to Ashley. Ashley(RIP) was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, of the chocolate sort.  And everybody knew Ashley because Ashley knew everybody. She would go to school with Lorna. She would go to the bars with Lorna. Ash was smart and dialed. She was big and beautiful. Consequently, she will always be remembered.

The past two weeks had presented me with a perfect opportunity to stop by and say hello. It had been awhile.  I had been dog sitting for my dentist and his family in the Carbonera Estates area, which semi put me in perfect line with her house as I would regularly weave my way past her little property en route to the Pleasure Point area. I told myself that if I ever saw her truck out front that I would pop in and say hello. I was curious to know if her current dog Zeus was still alive, and again, I really wanted to show this lady my Quinnie.

So we sat there. Me and 3 year old Quinn. Her and 10 year old Zeus. Elliott was there too. Elliott is a cat. Lorna was drinking a Sierra Nevada. I was drinking a Sierra Nevada. Quinn kept one eye on Elliott and one eye on me. Zeus was sleeping with a ball in his mouth. Elliott was bugging Zeus, keeping both eyes on Quinn.

Lorna informed me that her son would be home any minute. We talked in depth about her son. He was doing very well. He had just turned 19 and had his life together. I hadn’t seen the kid since he was maybe 14. Part of me felt like telling Lorna that I had to go, and part of me was curious to see what had become of this kid. This kid Michael grew up without a father. I was told by Lorna that during the ‘high school’ years, the boy put her through a living hell, but when the California Conservation Core ‘came a knockin’ he answered the door, and it changed his life. No more partying. No more bullshit. Over the course of the last 12 months, he had completely turned his life around.

About 6:30pm, Michael walks in the door. I knew who he was, and he knew who I was. He knew that I knew his father.  I knew that he didn’t.  I stood up and we shook hands. We were face to face. He was a nice looking young man. He was lean. He was engaging. He was also hungry like any 19 year old boy might be. Lorna cooked him up some dinner while Michael and I did some talking.

I knew that he was a musician, and I knew that he was a soccer player. This gave us quite a bit of material. I remembered back about five years prior when Lorna asked me to paint her house even though I wasn’t a painter. One day while painting high up on a ladder, I was able to listen to Michael play his electric guitar. I think he was playing Jimi. The kid was good. These days, his instrument of choice is the banjo.  He even pays for his own lessons.

I asked the questions, and let Michael do all the talking. I let him do the talking because he was beaming to talk. I could tell he was excited about life. I could tell he was stoked and appreciative of somebody like me wanting to know more about his life. He was polite. He was respectful. He was my kind of kid.

His phone rang.  He pulled the phone out of his pocket, looked at who the caller was, and then asked me if he could take the phone call. I told him of course, and he stepped away for a minute.

Lorna came back outside and sat down.  She and I finished up our talk and agreed to make arrangements.  It all seemed so bizarre.  All of it.

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God Save The Quinn

Quinn sat at the U-end of the U-shaped parking with a soft frisbee in her mouth, staring at me, waiting for me to lock up the van. I had a cup of coffee in my hand. I was the only vehicle in the lot. It was just getting light out.

In his Chevy Truck, the Capitola Park’s and Recreation guy enters the parking lot. For whatever the reason, and I actually know the reason, he has his eyes fixed on me. As he approaches the U-end of the U-shaped parking lot, it began to feel like he had no idea there was a dog sitting patiently up ahead of his truck with a soft frisbee in her mouth. It was a feel. The feel quickly became real. 20 feet, 12 feet, 8 feet, 5 feet, GIANT SCREAM..

It was almost a blur. I got halfway through my entire life flashing in front of me before i passed out onto the asphalt. I did see stuff. It most certainly happened. I watched my little Quinnie get run over by a truck. Front to back. Top to Bottom. Side to Side.

The outcome had already revealed itself as a Given, and I was not going to survive this one. That is probably why I passed out before I watched her finally get squashed. So in the slowest of all motions, with only certain sounds making noise, I was sure i was watching my girl get run over and killed in front of me. What could be worse?

The next thing I remember, I was being helped up off the ground, unable to stand on my own. He kept his arm around me but apparently had no idea what had just happened. Crying like a baby, I told the guy that he just ran over and killed the only thing in the world that I loved at the moment. With his arm still around me, all the while apologizing and apologizing and apologizing, he then directed my attention to the left/centerfield portion of the softball field. With my eyes only able to focus in at about 100 yards, there stood Quinn. “Is that your dog,” he asked.

I made my way over to her. The parks and Rec guy came too. He was talking to me the whole time but i can’t really recall what he was telling me. I wasn’t mad at him because he didn’t do it on purpose. A part of me feels like at that point he still didn’t really even believe me. He didn’t hear me scream from the top of my lungs, and he didn’t feel anything hit his truck. And..there stood Quinn.

When i get up to her, I didn’t notice anything different. Not only that, she had her frisbee face on. I picked up her frisbee and threw it. She fetched it just fine and came back for more. I threw it again, and again she fetched it just fine. I asked the guy if we could be alone. I spent about ten minutes combing over my dog, checking for injuries. She did have about a half dozen superficial scratches. Little scuffs down by her paws, and maybe one little one between her eye and ear. Outside of that, there was nothing. I balled my eyes out.  It felt like a miracle.

 

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It was Friday. I was tired, dirty, sad, and without a place to sleep, clean up, or be happy. I sat in my filthy van with Quinn and went back and forth on whether or not I should “reach out”, as she liked to say, and finally let Janet know that at least I was alive. I hadn’t answered her last email because her last email was so fucking lame that it became unanswerable.  It was like, “Hi, I miss you, I want to reach out to you but don’t want to upset you, so just know that I’m thinking about you and hope you’re OK.”  One anonymous relative of mine said, “Must Ignore!”

But I was feeling shitty and vulnerable so I poked her back.  After I hit send, I immediately began wishing I hadn’t “reached back out.” Fuck Fuck Fuck! I’M AN IDIOT!!!  I should know better. What I need to do is tell this lady that she needs to consider me dead. And that is why I felt like such a fool again for wishing her a happy friday and a happy summer etc.. I sat in my van creating false tears and feeling sorry for myself.

At 3:41pm I received a text from my therapist that read, “Beer Tonight?” Man O Man, had I only held out thirty three minutes longer, I never would have sent the text to Jane.  Yeah this Janet thing was totally consuming me.  This lady was twisting the screws let me tell you.  She had me so roped and tied that it was ridiculous.  God I wished I never replied! Anyway, no point in beating myself up too badly.  If nothing more, it was fresh shit to share with Kiki.  Kiki the Therapist.

K the T rides up on her bicycle looking all Vegan Organic & Farm to Fork. I gave her a hug, she locked her bicycle up to the handrail, and we made our way into the new brewery on 41st Ave. We went upstairs, ordered a couple of pints, and found a table on the outdoor patio. I immediately tell Kiki that I think I fucked up. I tell her that in a moment of weakness I reached out to Janet and wished her a happy summer or something like that. She and I start talking all about it. She tells me that I didn’t fuck up, but just kept asking me what I really wanted out of the relationship.  “What do you want Aaron?  Are you just being hopeful that she comes back around?  What best serves Aaron?”

Because it was Friday, and because she was off the clock and off the record, we somehow moved right on into her personal life. I could have used some buttered popcorn because this lady is living her own personal Novela. I swore in spit that I wouldn’t provide any of the details, but she is making grown men cry, and making married men vow to leave their families.  That’s about all I can say about that.

She asked me why I had come back early from Lake Tahoe, and wondered if that had any affect on my living situation for the present evening. Realizing that this was a grand opportunity to tell somebody the truth about my present living situation; The truth being Quinn and I were prepared to sleep in my van tonight, and that I was never quite sure how to use a semicolon, that’s what I did.  “Well, if you want to know the truth..Me and Quinn are sleeping in my van tonight,” I said.

Kiki the Therapist said that Quinn and I would be more than welcome to stay at her house in the Live Oak area. “I have a second bedroom that you guys can use for as long as you need,” she said.  I told her that I would let her know by the end of the evening.  I made it seem like there was something magical and mystical about sleeping in my van.

We talked and talked. Laughed and laughed.  I used my best words.  She let her guard down.  As she began to talk, I began to listen. Almost as if the roles were completely reversed. I was aware of her recent breakup after six tumultuous years, but the situations she was putting herself in the present had me pleading for more. I promised her that I wouldn’t say a peep to nobody about nothing, so she kept the nitty gritty right on coming.

I had an opportunity to be funny so I took it. Ladies like to laugh, and here’s how I did it: She goes up to the bar to order something. If I remember correctly she had said she was hungry. It was also time for our second pint. So she’s ten feet behind me at the bar and it looks like she is talking to the bartender with an open menu in her hand. I walked up and Kiki asked for my opinion about some kind of cheese platter. I think the question was like should I just order the cheese platter or should I have them include a variety of meats and salamis? And I said, “I got your big fat salami right here lady!” And I grabbed my crotch. Just Joking.

So she asks the question, and I put my left hand on her right shoulder and said something sorta like, “Since when does my opinion matter to you?” And then followed that up with something sorta like, “Whatever I decide, you’re just going to order what you want anyway!” There may have even been more, I forget. The bartender had this frozen look to him. Kiki was all laughter because it was dry and I was serious. And then of course the shock value meter teetered a bit too.  But more than anything else, there was ten years of familiar chemistry between my therapist and I, and it showed.

We polished off the measly little cheese platter and our second pint, and decided it was time to leave. It was 8pm. I didn’t ask her if she was hungry, I told her that she must be hungry. She offered to make food at her house for us.  I offered to take her out for dinner. She said, “Woah”.  I said, “It’s actually spelled Whoa.”

We decided to go to Suda for some dinner and more alcohol. She rode her bicycle there, and I went back to my van and threw the frisbee for Quinn. Ten minutes later we were sitting down at a booth for four, face to face yet again. She was all smiles, and I knew it wasn’t because of me, rather just the way she is. Maybe a combination of both.  Maybe.

We each got a top shelf shot of tequila because Kiki informed me that it was National Shot of Tequila Day. Suda was packed. All the boys were there. We decide to split one appetizer, one salad, and one dinner. Just as our food arrived, so did Biscuit and Wilson. They said they saw my van and spotted Quinn’s ears. In that order. So I ask them to join us, and introduced the boys to Kiki the Therapist. They both started staring.  I showed Biscuit the series of texts between Janet and I from earlier in the evening.  He said it made him want to cry.  I agreed.

It was now about 10 making it well past my bedtime.  I gave Kiki the head jerk. She understood what that meant.  When we got out front, I told her that I would take her up on her offer to stay in her second bedroom.  But under one stipulation I said.  I told her that she needed to pick Quinn and I up in her canoe, and paddle us to her house. “Can I bring Tracker?” she asked.  I knew that meant she was down.

She knew why I didn’t want to park on her street, and didn’t bring it up another time.  So I parked the van on Fresno St. I put some gum in my mouth just in case we decided to close talk. Me and Quinnie walked to the end of Fresno, looked across the bayou at Kiki’s beach house. All the lights where on in the upstairs and downstairs portions of her house. The downstairs I remember her telling me was being rented out through AirB&B..

I spotted her in her house talking on her cell phone. I figured she was talking to one of her boyfriends. We waited by a Eucalyptus tree.  A few minutes later her back door opened, and she walked down the rickety back steps, dragged her canoe into the water, and paddled across to pick us up. Quinn spotted them first and gave a bark to let them know where we were.

I got into the canoe.  Kiki had to lift Quinnie in. Next thing we all knew, the four of us were back up in her beach house.  We both put on hoodies, and decided to take the dogs for a walk.

Yes, one of those walks. Those Pleasure Point dog walks when the waves are up, the tide is high, the fog is out, and all human beings are inside watching TV. I know those walks real well. I think Kiki does too.

This is all fact. It surely went down. Not to me, but to my friend Abel. I wrote about my friend Abel a few stories back. This story doesn’t have a thing to do with that story. I really shouldn’t even be writing about this story, but I am going to anyway. I figured my stuff is so under-read, that it just doesn’t matter one way or another.

Back to Abel. Abel was enjoying a fresh fish dinner right off the two lane highway that connects Acapulco to Salina Cruz. It’s a big stretch. 500 miles or so. Where it happened along that stretch isn’t of too much importance. In case somebody IS reading this, I will say the Google Coordinates can’t be trusted anyway.

OK, back to Abel. Fish Dinner..Restaurant..Hwy. In walks this old man. The old man looks around the empty restaurant, approaches Abel’s plastic Corona table, and decides to have a seat. When Abel looks up at the old man, the old man smiles, introduces himself as Alex, and politely asks Abel to buy him a Coke. The old man tosses a 10 peso coin on the table and says, “They know me here. They know I am not supposed to have any simple sugar in my diet because that’s what the doctor has said. Pretend it’s for you.”

So Abel calls over the server and orders up a Coke. The server looks at Alex and just shakes his head. After the server leaves the table, the old man and Abel begin talking. Small talk. Super Small. Secretly small.

This wasn’t Abel’s first time seeing, or even talking to the old man. Abel told me that he had seen him around numerous times before, typically in the oddest of odd places. Places that would make anyone sense as though he/she were being followed. It never felt spooky or dangerous.  Privleged if anything. Abel said that it had happened enough times at enough odd places, that he began to jot notes. So in a notebook, he decided to write down each encounter, rather each old man sighting. He would write down where he spotted him, and what time. He would jot down weather temps, sights, sounds, stuff like that. And after having a dozen or so worth of sightings, Abel began to size up the greater meaning.

Whoa dude, so he just came right up to your table?
Simone Ese. He was hard to look at actually.
 
The server brought out a cold coco with a straw and said they were out of coke. It didn’t seem to bother Alex. He knew a cold coco will forever be the golden ticket in the tropics, so he smiled and started sipping away. Through a straw of course. Abel kept his head down, eating away at his fish dinner. The old man sat in his plastic chair, sipping away his cold coco. Nothing was spoken between them for what felt like centuries. Therefore, sometime between 10 minutes and 100 years later, Abel says he must have made it obvious that he was finished with his fish dinner. What happened next Abel says will forever be impossible to forget. It goes like this:
 
You’re not going to eat around the head..it’s the best part?
I think I will pass.
I was told you were smart. Because if you were smart, you’d eat around the head.
I guess I’m not smart then. Would you like it?
Sure thing brother!
 
Abel pushed over his plate, and the old man began eating away around the head. He began humming as he was picking away at the fish head. Periodically he would take a sip of his cold coco too. Abel just sat there and watched. And that’s when it happened. The old man had his head down, working his plate. Abel watched him take a small piece of corn tortilla, smear some hot sauce over it, add a little wedge of avocado and some black beans, and then stuff it complete with some fish eyes and brain meat. Abel recalls the old man taking a gigantic bite of this concoction, and chewing with his head down for about 15 seconds before lifting his head. When he lifted his head, that’s when Abel saw his eyes. Everyone who was anyone had heard about Alex’s eyes.
 
What do you mean they turn Gold?
It means his eyes turn from Blue to Gold.
Yeah but what does that mean?
It means what it appears to mean.

Seven Year Itch

I was wide awake at 3:30am. Suffice to say, nobody was up. For reasons not entirely unknown, I found myself on Craigslist. I hadn’t been on Craigslist in at least five years. I know some of you are on there everyday, but not me. Just don’t use it. Or do I?

So I was on Craigslist. And again, I really don’t know what was behind all this, but next thing I knew, I was looking at a picture of a dog with an ad that read:

2 year old Red Queensland heeler. Great dog for a family or being a companion for a female preferably. Quinn is smart, sweet, affectionate and active. I’m asking a $100 rehoming fee just to know she goes to the right family/ person.. Give me a call and we can chat further. I would prefer she go where she would be the only dog. She is a gem and I only want her to go to the best home possible.

Hmmm. Rehoming fee, and a desire for her to go to the best home possible. I found my first loophole and knew I could have the $100 rehoming fee waived because I didn’t have a home. The part about going to the best home possible didn’t really phase me either. Sure a dog might care about a home. But more important than the home itself is the master. Because home, for the great most part, is where the master is. The homeless canine that gets to spend 24/7 with his or her master is the privileged canine. The canine that gets food in the morning, food at night, and a couple pats in between, could care less about his or her 4 bedroom 2.5 bath house near the park.

When my brother woke up, and after making coffee of course, I told him to go to Craigslist and pull up the ad. Neither of us completely understood the line about being a companion for a female preferably, but I decided to reply to the ad to say that I am interested. I basically told them that I am going through the breakup of a lifetime, and that I could provide a wonderful home for the dog.

After we went back and forth for a bit, she asked if I could meet at New Leaf on the westside of Santa Cruz CA. She was coming from Bonny Doon. We agreed to meet at 11am.

I arrived at 10am because I had nothing else to do. Again, I was in a world of hurt, and I felt like I needed some serious grounding. This felt much more than just being ready to have a dog again in my life. It had been seven years since the M & M show were in town, and once Madison had passed in September 2008, that is when I began my winter migrations to  Southern Mexico. Well all that came crashing down in a foul way, which opened up the possibility of ‘dancing with the wolf’ once again.

At 10:45am, two young women, with two dogs in the back, pull up right next to my big white van. It all felt like a real moment of truth. We introduced ourselves to one another, and they let Quinn out of the car. I got down on my knees, looked the other way, put my hand out, and that was how it began.

Immediately I noticed the golf ball-size knot around her left knee area. One of the young woman said that Quinn injured her growth plate when she was a puppy, but that it’s a non factor. That it was scar tissue that had grown around the plastic rubber band that never held in place after the surgery. But again she assured me that it had been checked a number of times and the general consensus is that it doesn’t bother her, and that surgery to remove it, albeit a pretty routine surgery, wouldn’t be necessary.

I then noticed that the inside part of her right leg wasn’t growing hair. They said that Quinn was caught in barbed wire some time back, but that too was and is a non factor. She also had an inch long scar under her left eye, but I didn’t even bring it up. Fact is, my mind was racing and my heart was broken. It was a surreal sort of morning.

One of the girls said that they were going to go inside New Leaf for a cup of coffee and maybe I should see if I could bond with Quinn while they were away. They left. Quinn didn’t like it, but dealt with it. I was still down on my hands and knees. I was trying to get this dog to look at me, but she was intent on watching the girls walk away.

I scooted closer to this canine, and slowly began to make eye contact with her. I kept my hand on her underbelly, and slowly moved my head closer to her head. I went to pet behind her ears, and that’s when she nipped me in the face. I knew right then an there that this attempt to bite my face marked the beginning of a relationship that was sure to flourish.

Ok so now i had this 40 lb Queensland Heeler on a leash in a parking lot. She wasn’t so good on a leash either. She was actually pulling pretty hard. I was like, “Aren’t you a heeler?” And she was like, “Not when I am on this fucking leash with somebody I don’t know!” I took a deep breath, and let it go. I totally understood this canine from Australia. Knowing this, I opted for no commands, no discipline, no nothing.

The girls came out of New Leaf. I took the leash off Quinn and let her run to where the cars where parked. She ran straight there. When we all regathered, I asked the girls what they wanted to do. The one girl said that she was hoping that I would agree to a one week trial with Quinn. She suggested that I provide daily updates, pictures, etc..  Basically just see how it goes.

“When do you want to start?”(gulp) I asked.
“What about right now,” she said.
 

So now I had a dog. The seven year itch was being scratched.  She sat in the passenger seat. I drove straight back to my brother’s home in Aptos, CA. When I pulled up to the house, the whole family was outside in the driveway. Everybody’s eyes lit up. Out of thin air, I had just come home with a dog. Hey everyone, this is Quinn!

Juanita and Mary were at church. I slumbered into the restaurant. Lupita knew what that meant, but asked anyway.

I took my coffee down to my vacation hammock. I wondered why Juan hadn’t arrived. It was 7:45am. Birds were everywhere.

At 8am sharp a car pulled in. At 8:01 Lupita appeared at my vacation hammock and said the people were here to do a SUP tour. She didn’t actually say exactly that because she doesn’t speak any English. She said the word Tabla, which in and of itself, can mean a lot of things. Yet I had taught someone else that it very well could mean SUP board, and she told two friends, and so on, and so on.

So I knew what she meant. But more importantly, I knew what it appeared to be meaning for me. But why wasn’t Juan here I kept thinking?? He just told me the other day that he would be out to the lagoon on Sunday morning to lead a couple of couples on a tour. I thought for a second that something might have happened to Juan. Perhaps Juan was involved in a wreck. Gads.

So I get up out of my vacation hammock and walk over to people that I presumed were from Canada. “You must be here for the SUP tour?”. We are. From Canada? That too. I told them I am NOT the guy they are looking for, but I would make a phone call to see possibly what happened to the guy they are.

Bueno.
Where the fuck are you guy?
Everybody cancelled.
No, a couple of Canadians are waiting here at La Alejandria.
Really? The other couple cancelled, so I just figured….
Oh is that what you figured?
I will be there in 25 minutes.
Oh so they are just gonna wait here for you?
Well do you want to take them out? It’s easy money
Fine. You owe me. Click.

I told the kind folks that the other people cancelled and Juan thought that meant that everybody had cancelled, and that there are no dramas whatsoever because I would be their guide. They didn’t seem to care one way or another.

I unloaded their boards and such from the bodega, and set them up on the water’s edge. I put on sunscreen. It was 8:20am. I fit them with their adjustable paddles, gave them eight seconds worth of useless instruction, and said let’s go have a good time.

The water was dead glass. Rick and Paula I’m guessing were in their early 60’s. Both were on “Dawgs”–Boards designed for just about anybody to be able to stand up on. Consequently, Rick was up and paddling before I even had a chance to tell him or them how to go from being on ones knees to actually standing up. Paula on the other hand…not so much.

Huh. I had to remind myself that I was their guide, and this was their(her) first time EVER doing this sort of activity. I mustered up some empathy and chimed in a bit. Take your time lady. Try when you feel comfortable. Keep your eyes on the horizon. First your right leg. Then your other leg. Look straight ahead. Relax. You got this! No rush. You’re doing great Paula.

So she’s on her knees, and every thirty seconds or so she tries to stand up. I’m behind her thinking Good Grief Batman! But to her credit, she kept trying and trying. A for effort lady.

She finally revealed an excuse, and I found it to be completely legit. I SHOULD have uncovered this vital piece of information prior to ASSuming that they(she) would pick it up like most people seem to do. Her excuse? She said that she wasn’t sure if she would be able to stand up because she had recently broken both her feet.

At the same time?
No, different times.
Yikes lady, that sounds brutal. Hmmm.
Yeah, it’s a bummer.
Are you in pain all the time?
Yes and No.
Well take it easy, I said.

But she kept trying. And I kept watching her try. It wasn’t pretty. I began thinking that there just wasn’t going to be a way for her to find the strength and flexibility to go from her knees to her feet. And if you need to know the truth, her busted up feet were only part of the problem. The other problem? She was probably 100 pounds overweight. Yeah, she was a big woman.

So after watching her try to go from her knees to her feet for about 20 minutes off and on, I determined, as the lead guide, that it was going to be impossible for her to create that motion. Hey Lady, I don’t think this is going to work, but I do have a good idea. Follow me.

We all paddled to a section of the lagoon that I knew about that had sort of a swampy-esque beach sort of area. A little section I discovered where the mangroves part, and a sandy bottom has created a beach if you will. I call it Vulture Beach because at night, it is littered with Vultures. Littered.

So we get to Vulture Beach. I explain to Paula how we are going to get her standing up. I ask Rick for some assistance. Yada Yada, it wasn’t easy, but next thing we knew, Paula is standing up on The Dawg. Paddle in Hand. Mission Accomplished.

So we paddle, and paddle, and paddle. It’s now about 9am. The lagoon is still dead glass. We are on the other side of the lagoon near some of my favorite mangroves. Toodling and Toodling. I tried to stay in the zone and not think about what I kept thinking about, which was get me the hell out of this stupid mess.

We keep toodling, and paddling. Pretty slow going. Lots of birds. La La La. By now I just knew that Paula’s feet had to have been falling asleep. Most beginners do have that problem, and the remedy is always to go to the knees for a rest or a stretch. Or perhaps go for a swim. Or sit on your tush. You know, break it all up.

But Paula couldn’t do that because if she went back to her knees, she knew as well as I knew, there was going to be no way she could get back up. All of a sudden I hear a HUGE THUMP. That was no pelican I thought. I turn around, and Paula is in the drink. Oh No. Good Grief. I knew this was gonna be a heavy situation.

I immediately get in the water to offer comfort, and get her to smile. The water was very warm which was a big help. She held onto her board, and I held on to her board. Rick was smart. He let me do all the talking, calming, figuring, and refiguring. Paula still had her hat on. She was wearing a tank top over her bathing suit. Now a wet tank top.

The Dawg is twelve feet long, 35 inches wide, and 5 3/4 inches thick. I knew the width and the thickness were going to wreak a bit of havoc in trying to get Paula back on the board. It’s not like a raft. It’s not like a surfboard. It’s more like a CruiseShip. I knew this lady was going to have a hell of a time pulling herself up. She couldn’t touch the bottom, but even if she could use the bottom for a push off, much of the bottom of Manialtepec Lagoon is barnacle. Pushing off of barnacle is no bueno. I certainly didn’t want to add blood to the scene.

So again, it was real tough for her to pull herself onto this board. These boards stay extremely buoyant, and she didn’t have the strength. Remember, she was a heavy set woman. Her breasts alone must have weighed 35 kilos. But I kept her calm. And I tried to remain calm myself.

Thankfully, she wasn’t upset or anything. She just kept trying and trying and trying to pull herself up on the board. Pretty determined lady. Think about it. 60 year old lady. Broken feet. Knee AND shoulder issues too I come to find out. 100 pounds overweight. In a blackwater lagoon. A half mile from shore. Bad idea. Shoulda had her sign a waiver.

The ordeal had me thinking about the Poseiden Adventure scene where Shelley Winters volunteers to swim underwater and ends up dead. I began to conjure up my alibi. I punch out Rick and drown him too. Throw both bodies to the Alligators. That was simple.

But alas, I figured it out. It involved Rick pushing and yanking on his wife’s ass and thighs, and me keeping two boards together, as well as lending a hand where needed. Lastly, and most impotantly, Paula had to have faith.

After twenty minutes worth of solid effort, and trust me, you could see the perspiration on her face, she finally pulled herself back on her board. It was totally fucking nuts!! It was now 9:30am. It was beginning to get hot. The wind had picked up, and my board and paddle had drifted about 200 meters away. I pointed them in the right direction, and told her it might be best to stay on her tush. I swam to retrieve my board.

Back at shore, I stayed clear.  I let them eat breakfast together outside. I figured they needed the time alone to argue. I was pretty hammered myself, so I wolfed down my omelette by my lonesome in the restaurant. After breakfast, and with another black cup coffee in my hand, I walked outside, thanked Paula and Rick for a wonderful experience, and disappeared into my cabana.

The End

Puerto Suelo

Oh Puerto Suelo

Where do you appear?

Are you near?

or far away and in between

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La Alejandria

All in a Days Work

Well, after a cup of coffee and some fresh pan, I put on my one pair of long pants, shoes & socks, a shirt, and walked the single path through the jungle to the other end of La Alejandria. It’s a piece of land known to those as El Paraiso. I was walking to work. I opened my mouth one too many times about my abilities in the field that somebody finally told me to put my money where my mouth was. Who said anything about money?

With a catch, as so many of my promises seem to be these days, I promised to work for seventy five cents per hour. The catch was that I could only promise one hour a day. If they got more than an hour out of me, I told them they were the winners. I thought seventy five cents per hour was a pretty decent wage considering I was ready to work for free.

Once I found the boys, and trust me it wasn’t easy, I immediately knew it was going to be my kind of work. Sketchy ladder work that takes a desperate kind of balance and balls that can only come from experience. Because remember, there are only two ways to set up a ladder. Truth is, they didn’t really want me to work so much as they wanted to show me their work. Aw, how cute.

The views of the lagoon from the workplace were off all charts. We used man made ladders made from both aluminum and wood. Both seemed as sturdy as any Werner I’ve ever used. While on the site, I tried to show the boys a thing or two, but again, they weren’t really interested in my thing or two.  Toy Gringo!

Lupita suddenly appeared in Boy’s Town to tell me that Juan had called the restaurant looking for me and said he’d try back in fifteen minutes. Well that was my calling card to tell the boys Luego.

On our way back down along the path through the jungle, I asked Lupita if Juan mentioned anything about the nature of the phone call. She couldn’t understand what I was trying to ask. I tried to say never mind, but couldn’t make that understandable either.

At the restaurant I had myself a Coke. In a glass w/ ice. The real shit. Juan called and I took the call. He said he had $1200US and 2100MXN cash in his pocket. He suggested I get my ass over to Vivo Resorts immediately to collect it. He told me to bring “The Dawg”. I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about.

I don’t quite understand what you are talking about, I said.
Just get here ASAP, and you’re buying me lunch, he said.
Is this for that guy you told me about Rex? I asked.
No, Rex is separate.  This guy is named Brian, he answered.
Do I know this guy Brian? I asked.
You ask too many questions, he answered.
Whoa, I said.
Whoa is right, he said.

I walked back thru the jungle and up the path to where the boys were sitting in the shade counting screws. I told them that I was giving up my job for seventy five cents per hour so that could go collect $1,350 in about two hours. They started asking me 99 questions. I looked at my watch that I wasn’t wearing and said I had to go to the place with the person and check the thing.

It was just after 10am. There was cloud cover. There’s been lots of cloud cover this winter down here which I love. I told them that I would be back at 4pm to log another few hours.

I loaded my van with the goods. One paddle board, one paddle, one fin. I drove my van about two miles Southeast on Hwy 200. I turned off on a dirt road, and followed the power poles another two miles or so Northwest. I was headed to the one and only Vivo Resorts. A six star spread. I was going to see Juan the Lifeguard, have some lunch, fill my bathing suit pocket with cash. That sorta stuff.

I arrived at 11:30. I walked straight out to the beach where I was immediately handed cold hard. I gestured a 500 peso spot plus the lunch for brokering the deal. He accepted the 500 pesos and the lunch. We walked up to the Infinity Pool and Bar Area. He ordered the fish and chips. I got the chicken burrito.

Juan mentioned that there is a new chef, and the kitchen has been somewhat slowww. With that bit, I decided to go for a twenty minute run on the beach. Ten minutes each way. No people, no trash, no houses, no nothing. Deep in the Southern Mexican tropics. Stiff ocean breeze. Paradise.

I jumped in the ocean and then showered off up by the pool. Perfect timing! We sat out by the pool under a giant umbrella. I had an ice cold Corona out of the bottle with my lunch. He had a Coke in a glass w/ ice. With tip, the bill was a 220 pesos. WAY more money than I am used to doling out for food.  220 pesos?  Who has that kind of money to fork out $15 for lunch for only two people.  Not me!  I guess I do.

After lunch, I bodysurfed a bit out front.  I drove back to the lagoon around 1:30pm. I snuck in a little siesta in my cabana. I woke up around 2:30pm and went into the restaurant. I showed Lupita and Juanita how I make coffee at home. They pretended they were blown away. I got jacked up on bean.

I went back to see the boys at around 3pm. I made sure they knew I was back an hour earlier than I had promised. Despite there being sharp metal, rusty rebar, nails, broken tile and concrete, and other hazardous Gringo traps everywhere, I still decided to show back up to work in a bathing suit and flip flops. For me, it was too hot to dress any other way.

I told them I could give them a couple hard hours. I said I had an appointment with The Manialtepec Lagoon at 5pm. They told me that I talk too much. So without saying another word, and right at 5pm, I disappeared like a man on vacation. On my way back to my cabana I stopped in the restaurant and told Lupita I wanted Caldo de Camaron ready around 6:30pm.

I went for an hour paddle. Tropical Sunset, Birds, Iguanas, Crocodiles. You name it, I felt it.

I came back and took a cold outdoor shower. I went back into the restaurant with a clean bathing suit. Juanita had prepared my soup with fresh vegetables and about ten jumbo shrimps. As the soup cooled, I pulled each shrimp out and cleaned them on a separate plate. I put all the shrimp back in, washed my hands, added the chopped onion, avocado, and chiles, and went to town.

After dinner, I didn’t brush or floss, and read about five paragraphs words before passing out. It was 8pm.

IMG_7865 IMG_8008 IMG_8020 IMG_8023

Manialtepec Lagoon

IMG_7882

Sunset February 6, 2015

 

Unwilling & Abel

My friend Abel is single without kids. He was married once.  The majority of his so called friends are married W/ kids. Most of them, at some point or another, have announced to Abel that if they weren’t married W/ kids, or single W/ kids, or homosexual W/ kids, or whomever they are pretending to be W/ kids, that they would have SO much time to [fill in the blank].

No Seriously..if they just weren’t so fucking tied up with their wife or husband, and of course the lives of their spoiled children, they would have SO much free time that they wouldn’t even know what to do with themselves.

“Fuck Abel, if I was in your shoes, my life would be so much better.”

Ha. Abel is quick to point out that these people W/ kids wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they were in his shoes. And that’s because their day to day wouldn’t be so precisely laid out for them like it is now. Wake Up. Pat the Dog. Check the Market. Drink the Coffee. Kiss the Wife. Kiss the Kids. Work the Day. Support the kids in their Chosen After School Activity. Eat the Dinner. Drink the Beer. Kiss the Wife. Kiss the Kids. Pat the Dog, Listen to the Lies on the TV. Go to Sleep. Repeat the Day.

To Abel, that sort of lifestyle trap seems so easy that it’s almost sickening. In fact, 99 out of 100 people are doing it because it’s so fucking easy.

So to ruffle some feathers, Abel began telling all his little friends and family within his social circle that they are so far gone that if their lives were any other way, they actually wouldn’t know how to live. Take away their family and they would probably sit in the corner drinking their personal Kool-Aid while staring out to space.

Oh no, Abel is not done talking.  He then goes on to tell anybody that will listen that it takes way more passion, self esteem, thought, desire, and especially creativity, to lead HIS so-called life. By no means does Abel claim that he’s better or smarter or nicer or superior to his fellow man or woman. He just doesn’t have the benefit of having to go to a Little League game or a Birthday Play Date to fill his time. Instead, he finds other ways to productively keep on keeping on.

My boy Abel then says that any-old human can have kids and become completely emeshed in their kids’ lives. Don’t get Abel wrong though. He’d be the very first person to tell you that if things had been a little different here or a tad different there, he’d be one of those humans.

Please don’t shoot the messenger.

IMG_7857     IMG_7729     IMG_8063

Money Talks

What up Bro? I mean, is there anything you can possibly say? I’m good huh? Real fucking good I know! Best Ever? Who’s to judge? 
Consider me your opponent. If I thought you would read this, I probably wouldn’t post it. Usually best to keep the enemy close. 
I made a gross error early on. You turned offensive. I went into Houdini Mode. And for my next move, I am going to make like Adios. 
My abilities to make perfectly sound decisions during the heat of a battle that you were too little too late for, makes me the champ. 
But this isn’t about winning and losing. More winning and winning. I’ve been applying that formula since 2001. It’s called a win-win. 
So you didn’t come up short with me. You just got beat by the King. Or was it the Queen? You know how I can’t play without my Queen.

On Saturday morning, November 8th, I drove exactly 150 miles in one hour forty five minutes. I had slept in til about 8am, and then spent a solid two hours at the complimentary hot breakfast. Waffles, Eggs, Bacon, Yogurt, all of it.

So with my first true bellyful in many days, I left a La Quinta Inn & Suites just outside San Antonio Texas at, well I guess it would have been around 10am. The sun seemed round. The air felt crisp. The wind was blowing hard out of the North.

Me? Well I was finally heading West.

Real early on, I remember seeing a small pack of fat bottomed girls on a frontage road along Hwy 10. The eight of them were all wearing standard day glow, and had rear view mirrors attached to their helmets. Long been a sign of the times. Good for them I thought.

I also remember seeing a consortium of little league fields. Not like a handful of fields, more like a couple dozen of them. Acres upon acres of perfectly carved out baseball fields, all of which appeared to be neatly manicured, with fences, foul posts, covered dugouts, grandstands, scoreboards, you name it. Games were in progress. Snack bars were in full affect.

I couldn’t help but to think back to the once famous 1976 AA Angels, and teammates Beau Mercurio, Danny Thull, Teddy Canedy, and Jon Aufdemburg. Naturally, I began thinking about grade school friends like Kelly Ryan, Kirby Piazza, and Pat Hegarty.

I found a radio station that was playing Classic Rock, and cranked it. Texas was being downright glorious. Cruise control was set at 85mph. I slipped into a No Repeat 20 song set.

Well next thing I knew, I was low on gas. Like real low. The red jig was resting against the black nob. I knew there was reserve but it also felt like I was hindering on nowhere.

It was my bad.  Blame it on letting my guard down.  Look no further than the fact that I was now conducting life in the grand ol’ US of A.  I suppose I supposed that no matter how fucked a situation I could ever get myself into, there was sure to be a safe and easy way out.  

So with all of the above in mind, I made the executive decision NOT to fill the tank at the gas station across the street from La Quinta Inn & Suites because I wanted to drain the dreadful 86 Octane Mexico Gas out of my tank.

And you know what?? I did a damn good job of it.

But guess what?? No worries brah.

And you know why?? Because there She was.

I pulled into this One Shell Town. There were two pumps. Gas was $3.03/gallon.

Before exiting the van, I looked to where my wallet should have been. No dice.

I recall putting my finger on my personal panic button. I tried to remain calm.

Calm wasn’t working. I frantically began pulling apart my van in 40mph wind.

It was high noon, and the reality of the situation was ridiculously overwhelming.

I walked inside Shell. I explained to the lady that I was out of gas and money.

I told her that the last time I saw my wallet was while I was eating waffles.

I phoned Jan and explained my situation. By 12:30 she had a BofA rep on the line.

I told the rep that I was out of cash in BofA, but had money at Wells. He googled it.

“There’s a Wells Fargo in San Angelo about 70 miles away. They close at 2.”

I checked the map.  From Sonora, it appeared to be a straight shot up Hwy 277.

Time was ticking. I was freaking. The wind was howling. I had to make a move.

Scouring the van one last time felt tempting.  I’m an idiot.  What to do, what to do.

I asked the minimum wage employee if I could borrow $25 for gas. She had $22.

With passport in hand, I sped to San Angelo, TX. I arrived at 1:55pm.  Whew!

“You must be Jackass. Welcome to Wells Fargo. We have been expecting you.”

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I arrived at the Nuevo Laredo border. This particular border is divided up by a river. That means you are crossing a bridge to get from one country to the other.

They have a booth guy (or girl) collecting tolls on the Mexico Side, and a booth guy (or girl) on the US side checking your passport, asking you trick questions, and peeking through your vehicle. If these kids suspect anything non-kosher, they send you along to the patrol area where you park, get out of your car, and trained police officers ask you additional questions as they scour amuck.

So I get up to the second booth after sitting in line and inching along the bridge for about and hour and a half. I get to the lady, smile wide, and give her my passport. In the distance, I see a Taco Bell, A Wall Mart, and an Applebees. No way man.

In English, I ask her where I need to go to re import my van. In English, she tells me that I needed to do that back in Mexico. She points towards Mexico. You have GOT to be fucking kidding me lady! She tells me to watch my mouth or she’ll make my life miserable. I tell her nice try, but my life just got as miserable as it can get.

I was paralyzed.  I tried to process why I felt this way, and what was really at stake. I had about $400 tied up in an importation deposit, and if I didn’t go back into Mexico and do the paperwork, then A. I would of course lose the deposit, and B. I could never bring another automobile registered in my name into Mexico again. It all felt lame. The radical journey felt incomplete. Maybe failure is a better word.

Fuck, by now I should have been driving 90+ mph on cruise control towards San Antonio. Instead, I drove, I stopped, I drove and then stopped. Then I pulled over.

I thought about calling someone now that my flip phone had a signal. Who could I possibly call? What could I possibly say? I scratched that idea.

It was 4pm. I was extra alone now. I was in a very strange state of mind. I fought all my demons. I started the van and began inching my way back on Hwy 35. I stopped again. I inched. I stopped. I inched. I pulled off at a Pizza Hut parking lot.

It all seemed like a pretty fucking dumb situation to be in. It almost felt like the dumbest fucking situation you could possibly be in, and there I was, in it. To myself I thought, Really Guy…after finally reaching US soil, after waiting in line for 90 minutes, after a 10 hour driving day, after a week straight of operating on sheer adrenalin, you’re actually thinking about going right back into Mexico just to keep your record clean and get a $400 deposit back?

You bet I am did.

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