Sunday, April 23, 2006

kuyima part two

When we finally begin descending into San Diego, I am awestruck by the topography. I had no idea there were mountains and valleys cut into the earth in beautiful rolling vista lands of desert. We land and then begin the next leg of my journey - trying to figure out how to get to Tijuana.

A nice volunteer gentleman, probably 75, assists me with directions, which he rips off a pad. I can't imagine how many have come before me. It is nearly 3:00PM, and I have to get to the ABC bus terminal by 6:00PM. I jump on a bus - the PlaneTripper or something jazzy like that - and arrive at Broadway and something, right in front of a Starfucks. I'm thinking I should grab something to eat, as I don't know what I'll find in Tijuana (which was nothing), so I purchase a tarragon chicken sandwich with sliced apples and a big fat strawberry and a vanilla iced latte for the road. I barely sit down on the chair outside when an orange trolley drives up (which turns out to the be the blue line). I suddenly feel like I'm in Amsterdam, having no idea how to pay to ride, even though I had a transfer (I was supposed to pay an extra 25 cents, but didn't know how). I find a seat - thank god, as I am beginning to feel quite weary and more sick as the day progresses. (I still feel like shit as I write) What I see on the 45 minute trolley ride toward the border blows my mind - to think that anyone - let alone people in my own country live like this - mobile home and trailor parks, covered in grafitti, garbage everywhere, and front lawn junk yards serving as post-modern sculpture gardens with run-down cars as the center piece.

The people riding the trolley with me are also downtrodden folk who look like they just walked off the pages of a John Steinbeck novel 50 years ago hence. One woman, who reading a book with a bright blue and yellow cover, wears a sleeveless top. She has raised bumps all over her skin. I've never seen anything like it. Everyone speaks Spanish - but pleasing Spanish, not the dialect spoken in my NYC neighborhood. Two women sit next to me and talk the whole way to the border - about what I have no idea. A group of school kids - Anglo and Mexican all hanging out together, speaking English and Spanish - it's beautiful to see and so different than NYC, where you only see Anglos with Anglos and Latinos with Latinos.

When I arrive at the border, I am completly confused. I decide to sit down and eat my chicken sandwich, as I am not sure I'll be able to take it across the border with me (little do I know what's to come). I eat my sandwich and apples and spy across the way a Mexicali bus that the book said would drop me right in fron tof the bus depot. I see all these people walking up and around this spire leading them into Mexico and figure I'm too weak at this point to do it myself. The book said it costs $2.50 to ride the bus. I go over and see a little man standing in front of the bus welcoming folks in. I get on and think I've entered a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, hoping this isn't the type of bus I'm going to take 15 hours south to San Ignacio.

The seats are all raggedy and the floor is filthy dirty - old men, very poor, wearing dirty, stained clothing load themselves slowly onto the bus. They look like they walked off a movie set for an old Western. The images that I've seen recollect all these snapshots in time: movies, books, posters, television shows. I feel like I've stepped back in time. As if the latter half of the 20th century as well as the beginning of the 21st century has passed them by without even a desire to keep up with the hustle and bustle of (post) modern day life. And I had this longing to be part of it - to stay in this time warp where everything moves slowly; where there isn't this drive to be the best, look the best, sound the best, etc. . . I realized in company with strangers just how much New York has warped me and my drive to succeed - how I've changed in three short years (four, I guess).

We drive what seems backward, toward San Diego, and I wonder if I've gotten on the wrong bus. But I forgot to add that the little man - who turns out to be the driver - walks up and down the aisle before he takes off with a wad of US dollars and a fistful of coins, collecting the $1.75 fare from each person. The book was wrong. I'm nice and comfortable and think that we're on our way over the border when suddenly he pulls into a shopping center in front of a grocery store. Suddenly, hoardes of women board the bus, carrying large shpping bags filled with food and Valentine's Day decor.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

kuyima part one

I arrived at Camp Kuyima today - after what seemed like an eternal journey to the center of the universe. It started by waking at 5 AM on February 3 (not sleeping at all the night before - partly due to nerves and partly due to coming down with what seems like the bubonic plague - more on that later) - getting to the airport, saying goodbye to P., when he looked so sad and worried and at the same time slightly pissed off, and then checking in, only to learn that the flight had been delayed - not once, twice, but three times. We were scheduled to leave at 7:59 AM and ended up getting out of there at 10:15 AM and had to change terminals and get new boarding passes. Meanwhile, I started to run a fever and felt like death - my whole body ached and my skin tingled when I touched it - hot and cold; cold and then hot. We finally got into Chicago and I had to literally run to the other end of the airport to make my connecting flight to San Diego. The plane is packed and I had forgotten that you don't get seat assignments for Southwest Airlines. I end up sitting next to a nice, but dorky, and probably not out-of-the-closet guy from Detroit who was on his way to visit his brother for a Superbowl party - throwing it just for him - and his brother has lots of friends, so it was sure to be a great time . . . Behind me sits a dorky Chicago dude with an Asian wife and a very well-behaved baby no more than two years old. The guy starts to discuss various sight-seeing locations in San Diego with the guy in the seat behind him, so loud that the whole plane can hear the conversation. The guy even offers to call his brother and ask him what's the address of that really good restaurant . . . Meanwhile across from me is a woman reading and marking a file full of lit. crit. I figure a graduate student but it turns out, she's a teacher -- the chubby chick next to her talks her ear off and literally won't stop raving about this and that and the other - including her daughter. So boring - the whole conversation. And this was all that I observed when I wasn't sleeping, which I do the majority of the time, wrapped in a blue felt blanket trying to keep warm.

waterfordchocolate part fifteen

cerulean blue shapes jettison
elongated and prickly
washing ashore in the
womb of hydrogen’s oxygen

before the longing
love in distance
come the whipping winds
of change holding
steadfastly to the other


waterfordchocolate part fourteen

ribbons of silver waves unfurl along the dusty coast of pebbled memories torn apart by the gesticulation of shrouded skins of times into layers of perception misunderstood by compelling lessons unlearned over conversation and demarcation -- moving foward into liquid sludge


waterfordchocolate part thirteen

"First I must be allowed to appeal. I shall therefore fight against those who want to choke my voice, prevent me from expressing myself, prevent me from being . . . . Then I need to have before me human beings who are free for me, who can respond to my appeal."
--Simone de Beauvoir

Sunday, February 12, 2006

waterfordchocolate part twelve

"The harvest of symbols in our minds seems to have been planted in the soft rich soil of our pre-humanity. Symbol, the serpent, the sea, and the moon might well be only the signal light that the psycho-physiologic warp exists." -- John Steinbeck

Sunday, November 27, 2005

waterfordchocolate part eleven

"In less than two and a half centuries American whites have virtually destroyed a whole continent and large areas of the United States are now almost uninhabitable -- even so we seek to 'sacrifice' large rural areas to toxic waste dumps. The idea of defining religious reality along temporal lines, therefore, is to adopt the pretense that the earth simply does not matter, that human affairs alone are important."
--Vine Deloria Jr.

NB: As of 2005 it looks like not only rural areas are doomed to be toxic waste dumps but also metropolitan areas as well. Over 60,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste is being temporarily stored across the country at nuclear power plants and facilities. The federal government has yet to come up with a solution. Bush and Cheney -- the white lords of sound energy policy -- are pushing for up to 50 more nuclear power plants by 2020. Their hope: science will come up with a solution to the waste pandemic by the time storage from new production is necessary. Their faith: they'll be dead by the time science yet again fails them.

waterfordchocolate part ten

"Whether we are prepared to embark on a painful intellectual journey to discover the parameters of reconciling history and nature is the question of this generation."
--Vine DeLoria Jr.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

waterfordchocolate part nine

"Chess looked around the graveyard, at all the graves of Indians killed by white people's cars, alcohol, uranium. All those Indians who had killed themselves. She saw the pine trees that surrounded the graveyard and the road that led back to the rest of the reservation. That road was dirt and gravel, had been a trail for a few centuries before. A few years from now, it would be paved, paid for by one more government grant."
--Sherman Alexie

waterfordchocolate part eight

"My grief is my castle . . . there I live as one dead. I immerse everything I have experienced in a baptism of forgetfulness unto an eternal remembrance . . . then I sit like an old man, grey-haired and thoughtful, and explain the pictures in a voice as soft as a whisper; and at my side a child sits and listens, although he remembers everything before I tell it."
--Soren Kierkegaard

waterfordchocolate part seven

"Who has held in his hand the magic lamp and yet has not felt that swooning of delight at the thought that one only needs to wish?"
--Soren Kierkegaard

waterfordchocolate part six

"There is a time for everything; and you must beware your predilection for green apples."
--Sylvia Plath

waterfordchocolate part five

"It is no longer the man who fights for his rights, his convictions, or the safety or honor of his family, it is the nation including its women and children who are in the war, affected directly or indirectly without a chance of survival."
--Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross

waterfordchocolate part four

"A chance for peace may thus be found in studying the attitudes toward death in the leaders of the nations, in those who make the final decisions of war and peace between nations. If all of us would make an all-out effort to contemplate our own death, to deal with our anxieties surrounding the concept of our death, and to help others familiarize themselves with these thoughts, perhaps there could be less destructiveness around us."
--Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross

Monday, November 07, 2005

waterfordchocolate part three

"We even had a mandrake root -- a perfect little man, sprouted from the dead -- ejected sperm from a hanged man, and also we had a veritable mermaid, pretty ratty by now, but cleverly made by sewing the front end of a monkey and the after end of a fish together."
--John Steinbeck

Sunday, November 06, 2005

waterfordchocolate part two

"Then I told him how I had always planned to open a bar where you could only get your second martini. I would make a fortune." -- Ethan Allen Hawley

Friday, November 04, 2005

waterfordchocolate part one

"I went to the water and was forever changed by the eye of the whale in which I saw an entire world. peace is here, in accepting that smallness of our place in the world, in being as humble as the birds around us."
--Linda Hogan