Friday, July 30, 2010

I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing Perfect Harmony....

remember that Coke commercial? The original one, I mean. And the song?

The Sun is in String Camp this week. It's been a struggle. Coming right off the trip to Peru we're both a little burned out and suffering from some Traveler's Tummy issues. Not bad, but seriously uncomfortable right after we eat anything. I'm a little closer to better than he is, since mine started first. I think I also drank more chicha morada than he did, since he quickly became addicted to Inca Cola.

But also we're tired. So today was Thursday and it's the first time we got in on time all week. He's also his usually recalcitrant and violin-resistant self, and I waver between letting him quit and forgetting the whole thing, or forcing him. The latter usually wins because while I don't think he's going to be the worlds greatest violinist, I think he'll continue to play as he grows up. And every so often he gets that look in his eye like he did today when he watched Joe Deninzon demonstrate his Mark Woods electric violin with the guitar pedal set and amps.

But the first class he so annoyed me by walking into an empty room and choosing a seat in the back, that I walked out. I told him I wasn't going to sit around and watch him waste his own time. By the second class he was warmed up and in a better mood, and so I decided to sit in on Matt Glaser's class "Embracing the 7th".

When we walked in, the Circle of Fifth's was drawn on the blackboard and I thought "uh oh... Sun's in trouble." The circle of fifth's tormented me in High School; I'm not sure if it's because I started learning to read music late, or if it's because I'm not very mathematical, but I just never got it. I managed to pass the required theory classes for a Music and Art diploma, but I didn't retain the information. And I never learned to read music fluently.

But the Sun already reads pretty well, and is EXTREMELY mathematical and he seemed to grasp the concept pretty quickly though he struggled with actually finding the notes on his violin.

But the class was about finding the harmonic 7th of a chord, and how to either harmonize with it or improvise on it. And I don't know what triggered the thought as he helped the students through a "guide line" built on the 7th of each chord in each measure, but it suddenly hit me:

Life is a harmony; millions of people and beings working and living and coexisting together. And music helps us hear it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Consider The Possiblity what I wish folk would do sometimes when I tell them something. Just listen. Think about it.

Trust me.

Which of course no one does, and why should they? People are liars, and self-serving. The minute someone says "trust me" I immediately don't. So I can't blame them.

But they should consider what I say because I'm not always right, but frequently I am.

I had a dream on the plane coming back from Peru. The trip back was much harder than the trip in... we were tired, we had been made an offer we couldn't refuse by accepting a later, direct flight at midnight instead of the one-stop flight we were in the airport to board at 7AM on Friday.

We had a good rest at the Thunderbird Hotel in Miraflores, the Sun and I lounging on a king sized bed with fluffy white duvet, taking turns in the jacuzzi and watching the flat screened TV. We had an amazing lunch and dinner, but dinner ran a little late and we left for the airport stressed.

The airport was just as packed at 9P as it was at 7A that morning, and then we saw our midnight flight was delayed by an hour. One of the little ones burst into tears and the older ones looked stressed.

Our FearlessLeader held it together until she snapped at our PeruvianFriend who then pretty much refused to have any interaction with her for the rest of the trip home. By the time we got on the plane at 2AM New York time I was drained, and passed out. I barely remember take-off.

And then I had this dream... so vivid it woke me up with a start. And when I got home, the 3rd thing I did after I walked in the door (the first being take a shower) I wrote my friend BeautifulHair:

I had a dream about you

and as I get older and learn to trust myself more, I have learned to pay attention to my dreams.

You crossed my mind before I left for Peru two weeks ago, and I saw you had "liked" a status or comment of mine but in the rush to get everything ready for the trip I didn't get it together to reach out to you.

But oddly enough I was thinking about you in Peru and it's not that there was anything in particular that reminded me of you so I dunno...

When last we wrote each other we had stuff to say to each other :) and afterwards, when you told me why you were upset at me I started really thinking about, and I confess I got annoyed all over again.

Reason being, I was hurt that you thought I would be that dismissive of you after all those years and years and years of friendship... that you would think I wasn't caring about you. You really should have given me the benefit of the doubt... you should have known that after all this time for me to drop off like that was because something was very wrong.

To say that I was suffering that summer (gosh it was 2007, right?) is an understatement. And all these years it has always been you that I relied on and borrowed from and I know how much you give to people, how much you gave to me. I needed so much and hurt so bad that I felt I would have bled you dry. I knew you had other stuff going on, how much your own family relies on you and I just couldn't ask you to go through that with me. Truly... I went through hell when I broke up with JerseyBoy... but this was 10 times worse. And I was only barely coherent in September. It really took all of that winter to start to feel better.

But I learned a lot about myself. I had to do a lot of introspection.

And I know that I am not the easiest person in the world to be friends with. I have another friend who sort of reminds me of you, and she gets mad at me about the same things you would... that I am self-centered and snappy and forgetful. And I apologize for those things and I try to compensate, and all I can ask anyone who loves me is to take and love all of me... not to separate out those infuriating things about me, and allow me to compensate and make good. Because I never forget who my friends are... and as time goes on and people fall off the ones who stick around I value all the more....

...I had a very clear dream that this girl came to me (I know her; you don't) and said that I needed to reach out to you. That you yourself were OK, but that people around you were having a hard time and suffering, and you were going through a lot on behalf of them. That you were very sad... and I saw an image of prayer beads.

Now, my dreams are weird. It's not that they are prophetic, it's just I get images of things and sometimes my timing is off. Sometimes it's something that has already happened, usually though it's something that's happening right now and only rarely is it something that is GOING to happen. But in any event, my dreams are always right. And when they are that clear I pay attention to them.

So... I just wanted to say "hi". To say that I've known you for so long and whatever transpires with us I hope that time heals. I hope that you and your family are OK but if something IS wrong and you need me, I'm here. Or if it already passed and I missed it I'm sorry... but that you still mean enough to me for me to get the message... I will always love you, always be grateful for our friendship.

...really I hope you are OK. It was weird to dream of you like that so I had to write.... cuz I'm better at writing than I am on the phone these days. I don't even check voicemail :(.

Love you always,

Today, Monday was the first day of the Sun's String Camp which is put on by the celebrated and Extraordinary Gentleman Mark O'Connor. Still jetlagged and tummies slightly askew, the Sun and I were moving slow, the bus we needed never came and the trains were extra slow and so we got to the camp late. By the time we got settled it was probably 10:30 and I left the Sun in his class to go into the lounge. I checked my phone and was happy to see that BeautifulHair had written me back. She said, in part

My dear friend!! :) We have totally moved on from that!! I think the last we talked it was about your Dad because he was in the hospital. Which by the way, I hope everyone in your family is okay my love to them all! Even though we don't talk believe me you are always in my heart and I do consider you one of my dear and closest friends!!

I'm sorry myself for not being around either but it has been extremely busy. Alot of changes in regards to the job and my brother has been in the hospital since February so everyone has been sharing the load to help my parents out. He's doing better and should be out in maybe a month or two. He fell and then all these complications started happening. Your dreams are good!!! :) ... It's true - I don't really call anyone anymore either so I don't want you thinking it has anything to do with that last time. I totally understand about that summer when you went through what you did and you just don't want to deal with anyone. Believe me I've done that myself!

So.... that made me feel good. And it was good to know she'd moved past her annoyance though I was still steamed... but having said it and gotten it out of my system I'm all good. And maybe I'll even call her tomorrow if I can remember to... that and call someone who wants to buy something from me and Medicaid to see if they've reinstated the Sun (who they dropped due to their own incompetence).

It made me think of other friendships and how sometimes you still care and sometimes you just don't anymore. But BeautifulHair and I trust each other for the most part and even though every 10 years or so we've had disagreements there are certain things I know about her and that she knows about me and one of them is that we don't fuck each other's boyfriends. Never have, and never will. Men have their rules; "Bros before Hoes" being one of them... which is why it's so important to a chick friendship not to fuck with friends because the dudes in the situation will ALWAYS move on. Really because they never cared that much about the hoe to begin with. But chicks can't allow bros to do that to them. And CNC and WhiteShoes and BeautifulHair are some of the chicks who know that... which is why I've been friends with them for so long.

But more importantly that all that... the dream. To have my gut instinct or feeling be right, to have learned, finally, after many years and painful mistakes and misunderstandings that when my gut screams at me or I have vibrant and recurring dreams about someone out of the blue, or if I suddenly feel a situation is brewing, to know that I'm not just being a bitch makes me feel better. It doesn't mean people will listen to me; it doesn't mean I can prevent anything. If anything, sometimes it hurts all the more because I realize I have to withdraw from something and it bothers me to think people think I'm just being a bitch. I'm not. I'm just telling you something cuz I feel it.

And I wish folk would consider the possibility...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yo Quiero Perú

... mucho.

But I am glad I live where I do now, though I could almost almost live here. Almost.

In funny ways it reminds me of Jamaica, of Bull Bay in particular. Bull Bay in spanish.

Lima, where we have spent most of our time with the exception of the 18 hours plus travel we spent in Chincha, is a strange mix of old and new, efficient and inefficient.

There are lovely old homes and incredibly futuristic looking buildings. There are efficient roadways and speedbumps but insane driving. There is great food but hardly any vegetables. They are amazingly aware of the ecology by conserving paper, plastic and using fluorescent bulbs, but they use a lot of diesel and the air quality is horrible. Sometimes my throat burns and my asthma has been a little weird by my allergies are nonexistent.

People are poor mostly compared to home, and don't seem to have personal computers or internet and I don't see a whole lot of folk with cell phones... but who really needs it because there are internet cafes on every corner and it costs 1.60 soles--less than .60 American cents for an 11-minute call to the US. Fifty centinos--less than .20 cents for 15 minutes on the internet.

I don't see a lot of people smoking cigarettes either, but smoking is allowed everywhere, and there aren't a lot of bars but there are pharmacies on every corner. Sometimes two or three.

I heard healthcare is bad and expensive but the pharmacies sell antibiotics freely.

There are no leash laws but no poop on the streets, dogs run freely but are as polite as the people, and I don't see cats. OK, I saw one. And our FearlessLeader took the kids to Miraflores today and came upon a park that was also a sanctuary for stray cats.

They don't refrigerate their eggs, even in the supermarket. But I wonder if they even know what salmonella is....

There are pet clinics everywhere, but they eat a revered American pet--the guinea pig. They call them "cuy". I also found out that cuy are the symbol for life.

The cars are mostly modern... I've seen a lot of Rav 4's and Nissans, but I have seen more Volkswagon bugs than I have ever seen since my childhood. It's like every VW LoveBug America ever threw away ended up in Lima.

It makes me realize how much America throws away. We went to a chain restaurant the other day, for pollo y papas fritas (chicken and french fries). The chicken was (finally) the spit-roasted kind and was really juicy and good... but the waitress didn't bring out napkins until AFTER everyone was done. And how American napkins are one large square folded in fours? Peruvian paper napkins are that one small fourth of an American napkin. They recycle soda bottles... Inca Cola ("el sabor de Perú" which is everywhere here--and while available in the US it's still made here with sugar) bottles are smoothed along the ridges like beach glass. Even beer comes in recycled bottles.

There is very little garbage in the streets. Even in the seedy parts.

And good God but Americans are SO wasteful, throw SO much away. It amazes me that people bitch about old cars breaking down and falling apart, and there are cars here on the road almost as old as I am...

There are cacti and palm trees every where but right now it's winter. The sun is out maybe 3 hours a day if you're lucky, most of the time hiding behind mist. It rarely rains but everything is damp.

And it's fascinating to me to see the racial breakdown, since all of the same players started here as they did in North America, but it all ended so differently. The Afro Peruvians are discriminated against, they feel... but nowhere here has anyone been dismissive or disrespectful to the Afro Peruvian we are traveling with, the way they blatantly are disrespectful in America.

So.... that's only the tip. There are all kinds of feelings and things bubbling, but I'll need some space and time to process, along with the 1,000 or more photographs I've taken.

I miss my BigMan, my cat, Upstairs Neighbor and the family... It's hard traveling with people who aren't family, too. Although out of this there are some people I've truly come to like and some I could truly do without...

The Sun has enjoyed a fair amount of freedom on this trip--he isn't rooming with me and I almost feel like I haven't seen much of him.

I'm tired though, and I want to come home... at least for the warmth. I'm tired of being cold when I know it's summer in smelly New York. But I'll be home Friday... God willing... and then I get to see where my life is really going...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Living Well Is the Best Revenge

Two years ago, just about this time I boarded a plane to fairyland with a man I knew would break my heart. I had a great time, came back and crashlanded in hell, and survived.

Two days ago I boarded a plane to an unknown land with my Sun, leaving my heart behind with a man I love and trust with my heart. Two days in, it's been quite an experience and I know when I get back home to my heart with my outlook changed, my life is going to take on new directions.

What a difference two years make...

The countdown to Peru began with a fast.

I would have been fasting anyway, because for my crazy family it was Yom Kippur. Yup, still. We still haven't converted to the proper Jewish Calendar. The world still shakes it's head... but I am my father's child. My grandfather's granddaughter. I am the product of four generations of people who make a decision to do things their own way... why stop now? And it was appropriate, to fast and reflect before embarking on a trip that should have been impossible.

I sat on the deck with my Sun and BigMan's boy, talking about the logic of the dietary laws and the Ten Commandments, giggling over the Old Testament's repetitiveness... just in case you missed it the first three times, or thought it complicated, it's there for you to see again. And again.

I was pleasantly surprised that BigMan's boy joined the Sun and I on the deck... he had looked at me like I was crazy when I was explaining it to him. How my father read the Bible cover to cover and happened on the Holy Days. How we began to keep them, but on the regular Roman calendar... and so since the fast was to begin on the ninth day of the seventh month at even, here we are in July when the days are longest, in the middle of a heatwave, not eating for 24 hours.

Sunday I vacuumed and mopped until my heelspurs begged me to stop, did laundry, began to pack. The Sun went to spend the night with WhiteHorse's boy and have a Nerfgun war.

When WhiteHorse brought him back the next morning, we sat and chatted for awhile about DeepThings, and BigBear and the Professor stopped by and I packed some more...

And of course, like always I couldn't sleep at all that night. But I got up on time and was ready when the ParentingPartner came to pick us up. BigMan was still asleep. I tried to wake him but he looked at me bleary-eyed and so we left...

And now we are here, in Peru. It took some adjusting. I guess I am 45 and a little more stuck in my ways than I'd like to be, and the low water pressure bugs me and the "Continental" breakfast here sucks ass and I was having serious Internet withdrawal... but I am below the equator in ancient, ancient land.

And how I feel about this place needs to be in a separate post. Though really, it's too soon and too deep to really say right now, but I tell you what: It ain't Vegas. That's for damn sure.

And by the way, you over there? It's not worth commenting on except to say: Whatever helps you sleep at night....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Going To Peru Tuesday.

I spend my days in a fog of freakout moments... scraping together dust to pay the communications bill, dealing with Con Ed, getting PP to pay the cell phone without guilt because he's not paying child support. I wrote a two page letter to my landlord acknowledging I owe them over $11,000 and begging them not to evict me while I'm Peru. I had to tell them I was going... The Rock is really small and someone would say something or they would just decide to they're done and try to evict me, and if I'm not there to answer the summons I'd come back to no home.

The letter could still piss them off, though I gave them as many facts as I could... that my trip was paid for in return for photodocumenting and chaperoning, that my Sun's trip was paid for strictly on donations.

And I marvel that of the $1673 the trip cost, I am short $38.50... and it was all on donations. Some amazing people came out to help, and I am grateful.

I marvel that I was able to raise that money for the organization, but I can't raise anything close to that for myself. So obviously I'm doing something wrong.

Then I got into a discussion with the BigMan about art. I love him, and I accept him completely because he's what I asked for and what I needed... but he's not an artist. The Cricket was... and I miss that about him. BigMan is not. He said I process my pictures too slowly. I needed to be faster.

And theoretically he's right if I'm shooting a paid assignment. And, when I am paid I do process quickly. But when I'm doing it for me... I take my time. I put myself in the same zone I'd be in if I were in the darkroom. I've learned finally, how to dodge and burn in Lightroom. It's been a revelation.

I still miss printing my own photos in the darkroom. I miss the dark, the soothing running water, the smell of the chemicals. I miss exposing my negative to light, counting the seconds, using my hands to shield light or focus light. It was like painting in air. And the final thrill... taking the empty paper that doesn't show all that work, slipping it into the developer and watching the image appear. Watching the story unfold. Am I telling it the way it happened? Or the way I wanted it to be?

My favorite photographer is Henri Cartier-Bresson. I can look at his pictures for hours. Every corner of the image tells a story. When I take pictures I remember him. I try to tell the whole story, especially when I'm taking pictures of people. Who are they? Where is their pain, their joy? How do they fit in the world? How have they shaped the world in the frame? Where are they going after this moment?

And sometimes I don't think any of that, just take the picture. But sitting at my computer later those questions form, and I try to show them in the picture... and all that takes time.

So I told BigMan that I take pictures for me. I take pictures because I love photographs, and when I "develop" for me I take all the time I want. That art takes time.

He looked skeptical. He said but you don't make any money. I said that's why I never wanted to be an artist, because you don't do it for money, you do it because you are compelled, because you have something that needs to be said. I told him he didn't grow up an artist child, so this concept might be unfamiliar.

He thought I was taking a dig, but I wasn't... and I tried to explain what it was like to be this kid in Paris, who's earliest memory is the smell of linseed oil and paint and the tap-tap-ching of my father's typewriter. What it was like to have paintings all over the wall, the sound of jazz, of folks laughing and talking about life and people and art...'s just what I am. And I can't fight it. Don't want to fight it anymore.

I told him I hate being broke. I don't like owing my landlord $11 grand or worrying about Con Ed. But I don't get freaked out about it because I've been here before. I know that whatever happens I will survive. I have faith though, that I am following my path. I know I am... how else would I get to Peru?

I'm going to Peru.

At some point, when I was defining what it was I really wanted out of life, (someone who would love me the way I could love them, accept my crazy, be my groundwire) one of the things I asked God for was the opportunity to travel with my Sun. I didn't want him to grow up his whole life in one neighborhood, one town, one country. On the one hand he's had far more stability than I ever did, and I did want that for him, but I wanted to be able to show him what the rest of the world is like before he got too set in his American life. So he has the pow wows... and he has his Albanian culture to explore, but he's still here, in America with his PSP and cable and cell phone... where no one is TRULY poor. We have shelters in America, and foodstamps. They don't have those things in other parts of the world.

So... while I have no money at all ($9 today... I have to buy fabric softener, cat food and carfare) my Sun and I are going to Peru. He will see something and people completely unfamiliar to him, except for the music and the drums...

and while I'm gone my love, my heart, my groundwire, my BigMan will be here to hold down the fort and watch out for my Upstairs Neighbor.

I try to be kind and honest and loyal, I try to live a good life as a mother, daughter, friend, mother. I am full of shortcomings, I'm not always kind for one thing but I am loyal to the death and as honest as I can be with myself and others... but I hope that this trip means that I am living life to the best of my ability, and that when I come back I'll still have a home, and a family, my BigMan... I hope that this trip signals a break for big things to come.

But if nothing else I will have traveled with my Sun to see something different, and I am grateful.

I am going to Peru...

...where I look forward to taking pictures of 11 amazing and brave children, one amazing and brave woman who has started this organization, and a funny and engaging and brave man who is willing to accompany us and protect us in his homeland, sharing his home, his family, his history with us for 10 days..


Saturday, July 3, 2010


...maybe I'm starting again. In a way I am.

Seven years of my Sun's and my life intertwined in a place and a time we are no longer an everyday part of...

It was his journey, really... I was just along for the ride; the Guardian, the Keeper of his flame. But along the way I ran into my own (mis)adventures and towards the end I had to remind myself it was his story, not mine... and that my issues were not to corrupt or maim his memories, his stories.

I look forward to not being so invested in his life, his friends... I look forward to him making his own memories without me.

After my last post it took some digesting, but generally I feel clean. A weight has been lifted. I did not like the pain and the rage and the venom that was settling in. I don't do well with "frenemies." I either like you or I don't. If I don't like you I prefer that it be outright... it doesn't mean I can't sit in a room with you, or work with you, or even share a laugh. I can smile with my lips at you, keeping my eyes and my heart to myself. But I like it better when you know I don't like you, so that I'm not forced to be nicer to you than you deserve.

And after the rage and the pain was let loose, I felt... profoundly nothing. The way I did the night the Sun's dad left me on the corner of 100th Street and Madison Avenue, in front of the big hospital at midnight with no money and only a Metrocard, walking away with my Sun's hand in his hand, leaving me to fend for myself. Something snapped. A stillness... and I vowed that night to take him on, and I did. And I won. And we are peaceful now. We're even friends. I can even smile at him again, but I still keep my eyes and my heart to myself.

And all that means is the things I fought him so hard over, they no longer bother me because I no longer care. Life will go on whether he's on the good side of his mood or no. Just like that other situation. I no longer care what happens... hearts were revealed, choices made. I can move on.

On Friday, CrazyNicaraguanChick got married. She's only known him 6 months. They went to the county clerk in Rye, and married each other in presence of her children and a few close friends. Family members were unable to make it, but neither of them seemed to care much. The jury is still out on him, as far as I'm concerned, but so far he seems to be good for her. He settles her. She doesn't seem to change much when she's around him except that she's in love. And I wish her the best. And it's not the timing that makes me wary.... my parents met in April and married in December (it would have been August except there was no money), and Upstairs Neighbor married Mr. Kip in 6 weeks of meeting him. My parents have been married 47 years, and UN and Mr. Kip were married 38, until he died. So... I don't know. He seems to love her and is accepting of her insanity, and really that's all that really matters.

The night before, The Professor and I and two other girls went to her house and drank tequila with her and talked about sex and men and friendship. After the other girls left, The Professor and I walked her home and sat for a minute while she settled, leaving her sleeping on the kitchen floor.

BigMan said I came in and sat on the couch and asked him when we were getting married... but the cheap tequila makes that memory fuzzy. He then said I passed out and he carried me to bed.

I woke up the next morning OK, and got it together in enough time to go take pictures of CNC getting dressed. BigMan didn't come with me, in part to not having any money, in part because his son is here, in part because frankly I don't think he's ready to face that scenario.

Nor am I.

I love him... I am still surprised by the things he does, that he sticks by me and does dishes and vacuums and tolerates my increasingly bad PMS and counts pennies with me. But I think we have some time to go, some things to clean up before we can be comfortable marrying each other. But I do want to grow old with him.

Its weird, sometimes. When I'm with him, it's easy to be open. I can tell him anything and everything, and I do. I love that his loyalty is absolute. But sometimes when I think about him in the abstract, my guard goes up.... because there have only ever been two almost three men who have ever been to the core of me, and none of them ended well. The last one was a scrub. And this makes me afraid.

When I can get over that, that fear, is when I know we'll be OK, not because of him... but because of me.

His son is here, and that's been different. He's 16. And I don't really know16 year old boys... had he been the Sun's age or younger I'd be well within my comfort zone. But I like Bigman's Boy, a lot. His humor is dry. He doesn't get in the way. I feel bad that he's bored, and I try to give him space to know his dad without me trying to mother him.

But it's been odd to go from just me and the Sun, to me and the Sun and BigMan, to me and the Sun and BigMan and BigMan's Boy. It's an adjustment. And it doesn't help that both me and BigMan are living on the brink of complete financial ruin.

On the other hand... the fact that all of us are in here and not snapping at each other or whining... that's a pretty good thing.

The Diva is facing challenges of her own... and has been forced to leave the current boyfriend in a hurry. But I'm proud of her... she seems to be navigating her life OK.


...we'll see what happens from here...