Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba
Taken from Huatusco, Veracruz, the closest town to Margarita's family's ranch.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

God

I don't know if I believed in God when I was a child.  I went to temple every Sunday for Sunday school, hebrew school one afternoon per week from the age of 9 until the age of 13 and we randomly went to Friday night Shabbat services.   I don't know if I believed in God as an omniscient, omnipotent man in the sky.  Going to the temple or synagogue was not a personal choice.  I didn't have the option of staying home and doing something more to my liking.  One day I asked my mother if she believed in God and she responded, "I don't know.  I believe I'm agnostic"  I must have asked her what that meant, since it was the first time I heard the word used, and I would never forget that word the rest of my life.  Did she say obnoxious?  She forced us to go to Sunday School and Hebrew school and didn't know if she believed in God!? How could that be?  My classmates rolled pennies down the isle, called me names, and alienated me because I was Jewish and my mother didn't know if she believed in God?  My mother didn't study the bible, nor the Torah.  She didn't know any of the prayers; not the prayer over the wine, not the prayer over the candles nor over the bread.  But, I was forced to go to temple twice a week and to tragar (swallow) my "Jewishness" every day I went to goy school.  (Goy is Hebrew for Non-Jewish).

I wanted to believe in God as that superman in the sky.  But I couldn't understand how he could oversee everyone and everything; be everywhere all at once.  I liked the idea that we were the "chosen people".  At the very least I had some value.  But the chosen people for what?  If God cared for us, then why did he allow Inquisitions, Pogroms and Holocausts?  Why did he allow the kids to ostracize me for being Jewish?  For a while I entertained myself with random conversations with God, bargaining with him for a better life.  Concerned that he was punishing me for something I did or that I didn't do.  What would happen when I died and appeared infront of him.  But, everytime I thought of appearing infront of God, I saw my father.  And I saw my father turn his back on me and walk away.

In 10th grade I found myself laying on the side of a hill looking up at the stars and watching the airplanes cross the sky to and from Newark Airport; to my left lay my friend Peter. I thought about what I had just learned in Geometry class about straight lines, planes and infinity and became excited.  I realized that I had finally resolved the problem of being a Jew and feeling pressured to participate in rituals due to fear of repercussions by God.  If a straight line never ends and my vision is that straight line shot out into space, what would I see when I followed that line as far as it could go?  And that's just it.  There is no end.  But Humans don't accept limitations and infinity is a limitation; it's a limitation of their capacity to organize, control and understand.  During my trip into infinite space I needed resting areas.  So, the line encountered a wall.  But that wall must have another side for it to be a wall. The line passed through that wall to the nothingness on the other side.  And that nothingness ended, the line continued...  God could not be bigger than the Universe, because the Universe is infinite. Within infinity, anything is possible, with the exception of God as the creator of the Universe, because God is a finite entity and the Universe is infinite.  In the face of infinity humans feel too small.  The bigger the Universe, the smaller the man.  Hence the obsession over discovering, conquering and controlling..  Infinity creates a vacant feeling in the gut.  It is impossible to conquer, to control, let alone understand.  It makes humans almost obsolete.  But I didn't feel obsolete that night.  I felt very alive.  I felt free from a trap.  And I constructed theories upon that theory; of why God couldn't exist.

For instance; Religion does not have significance without God.  If I don't believe in God, I can't believe in Judiasm.  If I don't believe in Judaism, I am not Jewish.  The problem with this is that I had nothing against Jewish people.  Supposedly they were my people. However, I was against people punishing me for a label I didn't place upon myself...  I found a justification for not going to temple, listening to the same stories repeated year in, year out.  I didn't have to stand up when the Rabbi said, "All Rise".  I didn't have to mouth the words of the prayers and songs everyone had to chant or sing all at once.  I didn't have to bow my head, put on my face the expression of remorse or the expression of solemnity during the appropriate moments.  Repetition and Conformity...  Repetition and Conformity...  Repetition and Conformity...

Although I didn't believe in God, I still worried about what happened when I died.  I still saw my father in that space where we go after death.  And I worried about that...  If we remove the concepts of heaven, we remove all hope of saving ourselves from true aloneness...  But why was I concerned about what happened after death?  I was only 15-years-old.

When I entered puberty I learned that I must have examinations of my colon in New York City, colonoscopies.  It turns out that my father was the transporter of a horribly mortal disease, called Familial Poliposis.  Later on I would learn that Familial Poliposis is just a possibility below the umbrella syndrome Gardner's Syndrome.    The explanations of the hereditary rate of Gardner's Syndrome show a 50% risk of passing the gene on to offspring.  However, in my family, the rate is 7 of 8 or 1:1.4, 88%.  With Familial Poliposis, the person developes polyps in their rectum and colon. If not treated, those polyps matastecize.  In 2010 new cases reported for colon and rectal cancer in the U.S. were 142,570, reported deaths 51,370 or 36%.  Of people with cancer of the colon, only 1% fall under the diagnosis of Familial Poliposis.  However, of those diagnosed with Familial Polyposis, if undetected before the development of cancer, the mortality rate is 90%.  No one dies of Cancer of the Colon.  They just open you up, cut the slimy smelly tube out of your gut and throw it into the street...  and you're all better...  Granted, you've gotta recover first.  In 1983 I was the youngest person to have the proceedure.  My surgeon, Dr. Decosse, told me that I had the fastest recovery rate and I was released early. And I felt like a superstar.  I had finally become #1 in something.  However, less than a month later I had severe complications caused by scar tissue strangling my small intestine. So, I was rushed back to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and they opened me up again to remove the scar tissue.  I wasn't allowed to ingest anything for 9 days.  I was fed vitamins and minerals through my introveneous tube, yellow liquids that created horrible burning sensations in my arm... I also had a tube draining my stomach, so nothing passed through my small intestine while it was healing from the surgery.  I entertained myself watching yellow-green fluids pass through the tube everytime y suffered a stomach cramp...  Thankfully, Sloan Kettering received many donations for their pediatric wing.  So, the children have a play room with pool tables, air hockey, table tennis, pinball machines, a kitchen, an arts and crafts room, a music jamming room with all the wonderful electric and acoustic instruments including a drum set, a mini theater, along with much much more.  I saw E.T. during my first stay there...  I spent my standing days playing pool with various of the aids, one of them, a beautiful black man, who taught me how to play and regularly sought me to play with him.  One time I didn't measure my distance from the I.V. "tree" and yanked the tub out of my arm while making a shot...  


My father didn't die of Cancer of the Colon.  He became ill one day and months later he died.  The cancer had metastecized to his liver.  You don't die of Breast Cancer. You just lop them off and voila...  I'm sorry for the for the crassness (if that's the word for it).  It's not insensitivity or maybe it is...  When you have had parts of your body removed, the doctors so matter-of-fact about the proceedures, you become a little bit sarcastic.  I think it's more a sarcasm directed at God or Life or the Spirits or whatever it is that put you in that situation...  It seems just so easy to remove organs, amputate.  But, it's not easy for the amputee, etc.  I was supposed to have my gallbladder removed in 2006, if I came up with the $2,000 dollars...  I have two ulcers at the top of my stomach...  Should they become cancerous as do ulcers... I should have half of my stomach removed.  Did you see the movie "Hollow Man?"  Wrong title...  He wasn't hollow.  He was invisible.  I am hollow... at least that's how I felt in High School.  I had a fixation on bleeding myself, to show that I was actually filled with something...  


For some reason the night after my last surgery, the night I spent in intensive care, I was felt no pain, nothing bad.  In fact, I was very lucid and jovial. It was Halloween night, October 31st, 2001.  I was watching the Yankees pound the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series.  When the nurse came over to check up on me, I said to her, "I feel great!  But do me a favor; tell the surgeons, 'the next time they operate on me, please remove my heart...'"  


Like Familial Polyposis, Breast Cancer has a very high metastecy rate, to the lymph nodes...  


For normal people, cancer of the colon has a slow metastecy rate.  For those who fall within the diagnosis of Familial Polyposis, metastecy rate is a lightning strike.  In 2001, when Dr. G. told me that I should remove my rectum  I asked him, "and what if I don't have the surgery right now?"  (He had suggested an immediate appointment at Mount Sinai Hospital).  He responded, "It's possible that you won't develop cancer so rapidly.  But, the moment it develops, it's all over.  Too Late. I don't know if that's the risk you want to take..."  In 1983, Dr. Decosse, the former head surgeon at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the leader in his field as a researcher into colorectal disorders, told us that removing the Colon removes the problem.  Not long after the surgery the rectal polyps supposedly disappear.  Mine multiplied.  He also mentioned the possibility of Gardner's Syndrome, at the time believed to be an extension of Familial Polyposis; the possibility of polyps developing in the small intestine and the stomach. When my younger sister Beth developed Thyroid Cancer in 1996, I found research showing that Gardner Syndrome also presents as Thyroid Cancer, Rectal Cancer, Osteomas, possibly brain Cancer, ovarian cancer....  (If you develop Cancer of the Small Intestine and they remove that intestine, one of the vital organs in your body, you will be connected to tubes all your life.  The small intestine is where most of your nutrients are obsorbed into the blood stream.  The large intestine is a resevoir that obsorbs excess water...  you can remove the large intestine or colon and live fine.  You just run to the bathroom more frequently.  Much more frequently.  When they remove the rectum...)  

The American researchers were at odds with the Australian researchers saying that their test group was too small.  How about my test group?  My cousin Stacy died of a Brain Tumor at the age of 16.  My younger sister had Thyroid Cancer, I have osteomas...  I have something strange in my small intestine, an inflamation near the biliary duct, near the Pancreas.  Supposedly that inflammation obstructs the obsorption of certain nutrients.  However, it isn't a problem requiring surgery (I had an upper endoscopy in Xalapa in 2006).  

I've been opened up 3 times for surgeries related to Familial Poliposis/Gardner's Syndrome.  The last surgery caused more problems than you can imagine.  I don't remember what my original belly button (navel) looked like.  My scar begins 3 inches below my solar plexus and ends at my pubic bone. My last painting was a failed attempt towards painting my abdomin that turned into my painting of the crucified pregnant woman.  The last New Year's Day I spent in the U.S. I drew my abdomin while sitting with Milo and M'nique in The Tea Lounge on 7th Avenue and 10th Street in Park Slope.  We had spent New Year's Eve together in an Indian Sweat Lodge ceremony in Stoney Brook, New York and returned to Michael and M'nique's apartment in Alphabet City to sleep a while.  That afternoon we saw the pitiful Selma Hayek Hollywood version of Frida and ended our 24 hour excursion at the Tea Lounge.  Milo and M'nique immersed in conversation, I immersed in my drawing.  

I don't believe in blaming God for illness, for "tragedies", for suffering.  I don't believe in "Atheism", it sounds like a political movement...  I don't believe in God because he took away my father!  "And he'll take you away too...  Have patience.  Everything comes in due time..."  How can God exist if people are suffering?  How can he be up there watching from above as people starve to death? ...or a club, You're Atheist?  I am too! I wasn't one of those.  I didn't belong to that club.  In fact, I don't belong to clubs.  Somewhere down the road you must conform to their rules, their beliefs and their styles...  You are wrong; I am not a rebel.  I just don't believe in the status quo, in believing things because that's what the others believe. In the U.S. you are wrong for not being Protestant.   In Israel, you are wrong for not being Jewish.  In Mexico you are wrong for not being Catholic.  In Iran you are wrong for not being Shi-ite Muslim.  In Iraq you were wrong for not being Sunni Muslim...  In India you became wrong for not being Hindu, in Bangladesh wrong for not being Bhuddist, in Pakastan wrong for not being Muslim.  Somewhere in the past those three religions and countries were one people...  In pre-hispanic Mexica you became a slave and were sacrificed if you weren't Aztec.  

I guess I am a poor student, a bad learner.  I reject the clubs and put myself at risk of crucifixions and lynchings.  I am not protected.  Thank God I believe in God... NOW. But how many of the hundreds of thousands crucified or lynched weren't believers?  Who's lynching atheists?  You don't get lynched for lack of beliefs.  You get lynched for believing too much.  If the bible says not to kill your neighbor, not to kill anyone, that judgement is up to God, how many of those organizing and carrying out the lynchings truly are believers?  If you believe in the creation of God as beautiful, you leave that beauty alone.  You don't violate it, you don't disrespect it...  

As you must understand, I believe in God.  I encountered my life experiences that showed me that something else is going on here...  and that something else cannot be found within a bible, the Koran, the Baghavad Gita.  HERE THEY COME!  AM I READY?  Oh, sorry... I was saying?  God is not found within the walls of a Church, Synagogue, Mosque.  God is found within all of what pertains to God.  God is found within you and without you...  

One of my favorite movies in early adolescence was "The Dark Crystal"...  I imagined myself as Jen, orphaned after his parents were killed by invaders, believing he was the last of his people until he meets Kira, a sweet blonde haired girl.  I fell in-love with the couple, with the intense love and bond they shared, and hoped to find a Kira in my world... Actually, I was looking for her from a very early age, ever since Leslie moved away in 3rd grade.  Although not accurate, God became this beautiful relationship I sought.  I had lost my father, my mother, the concept of God I couldn't swallow...  There always existed this bond I saw between Jen and Kira somewhere in the future.  I just had to find Kira.

During the summer of 1985 Peter and I bumped into Francesca, her friends and her sisters during a slumber party hosted at Fran's house.  Peter and I regularly walked around the neighborhood at night hoping to bump into someone, especially girls.  Branchburg was a horribly boring place to grow up.  There were no stores, movie theaters, not even a high school where one could hang out.  Peter had the tendency of preparing himself screwdrivers (Vodka and Orange Juice) in his mother's "bar" in the basement.  He would bring the half gallon orange juice container with him on our walks.  I didn't drink.  The smell of alcohol made me queasy.  Truthfully, I don't know what we talked about during those walks.  Peter wasn't exactly an intellectual; at the age of 15 he argued vehemently that there were 18 hours in a day and couldn't read the face of a clock. I'm sure I shared with him my theory about the existence of God.  I imagine we talked about what we would do if we met a couple of bitches at the turn of the next bend.  I remember Peter once asking, "What would you do if you saw 3 lesbians going at it under a table (in a bar)?"  I responded, "Nothing.  I probably would just watch them..."  Peter answered, "Well, I would jump in!" and I quickly said, "If they are lesbians, what would they want with you stupid?"  On the walls of Peter's bedroom were posters of Heather Locklear, Christie Brinkley in bikinis.  We spent hours contemplating their bodies, hours spread over the months of our friendship.  On the walls of my bedroom were posters of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Doors, photographs of animals ripped out of my Ranger Rick magazines covering all the holes in my walls.  One week I spent hours and days creating pencil drawing copies of my favorite animals. I submitted those drawings as a project in my 10th grade art class.  The teacher, I don't remember her name, exclaimed, "Ross, you should enter the county art competition!"  and I responded, "I'm not an artist."  And she said, "How can you say you are not an artist?  These drawings are incredible!" I didn't enter the competition.  I couldn't present myself as someone I wasn't. I wasn't an artist. Much like the idea that passes through my head everytime I invite you to read my postings, that I am not a writer...  In fact, I didn't draw again and, I probably didn't speak another word to that art teacher, if I even finished her class...  But I did meet Francesca on one of our walks, later to remove the photographs from my bedroom wall, replacing them with photographs of Francesca...

Peter and I were walking down Old York Road, sloping towards the bridge below.  We heard the ruckus of a group of girls approaching.  So, we crossed the street in their direction.  Someone said something rude and Peter responded with something rude or maybe it was Peter who started the interaction.  A lot of yelling.  We continued in opposite directions, blurting things out towards them and receiving responses.  Somewhere during the figure 8s of the neighborhood we bumped into them again and somehow we ended up in the tent behind Francesca's house.  Some of the girls serving as sentinels in the possibility that Mrs.or Mr. Mendrick decided to check on the girls, or if they heard boy's voices.  Later on Peter and I would learn how to outrun Stanley, the many nights we were caught speaking with the daughters below their windows. We also developed night vision during those 100 yard dashes; one time a clothes line caught me in the throat at top velocity.  I was surprised it hadn't decapitated me.  Maybe I would have been more fortunate...  When we first met the group of girls, I wasn't interested in Francesca.  I was interested in Kaytie because she had large breasts for 14 and she was interested in me.  The problem was that I could never date someone just for their appearance.  Katie was obnoxious and didn't seem to have anything between her ears.  Francesca, on the other hand, seemed more serious...  Peter hooked up with Cara, Francesca's first younger sister, although he wasn't as persistent as I, probably to the benefit of Cara later on...  

I guess I hoped Francesca was my Kira.  The problem was that we weren't alone against the world like in "The Dark Crystal".  Our world wasn't as portayed in Shultz's Peanuts cartoon.  She lived with parents who became horribly concerned about her relationship with me.  We lived too near each other.  She lived on the other side of the block from me. A hop, skip and jump and I was at her door or window.  She wasn't allowed to go to my house, although we managed to go out together once a week when I had my '73 Monte Carlo, then my '70 Mustang...  She found ways of escaping and meeting me. We passed through the yards behind the houses, ducking out of sight at the first glimse of her mother or father's car or Cara and Danielle possibly with their young cousin Christine sent out their her mother as a search party...  We would be up in my room and suddenly there would be a knock on the door.  We would wait until her sisters returned to from where they came and then Francesca would say, "I really gotta go" and I would watch her escape between the houses and the trees...  Had I known that she wasn't Kira, would I have put myself through all that occurred during those 4 years?  But, God doesn't have a form. How did I know that we weren't God and this wasn't where I should be...?  Don't let me fool you.  Of course we should have been, because we were.  It was all part of the process...

We spent hours on the phone in the attempt towards recuperating the time we couldn't spend together.  We read books to each other on the phone: she read me V.C. Andrews and I read her Watership Down.  Years later on the phone in my vacant apartment in Mercer Street, she tried reading Helter Skelter.  But I didn't find humor in real-life stories about psychopathic people mutilating others.  I wasn't partial to horror movies.  Tragedies played in my mind for up to days like films, my mind asking how? why? Feeling so bad for that person, for those people.  Truthfully, I don't know how Francesca felt, although she tried killing me when she realized I had finally ended the horrible relationship with her, after I had tried killing myself 8 months earlier.  Although she kept her head in the battle with her parents, with her sisters.  During my second 10th grade year I realized that the girls were attracted to me.  But I was with my Kira.  I fell in-love with Cathy's big cat eyes and her laugh at my jokes in Mr. Gonzalez' Basic Geometry class.  She hugged me in the hallway...  We exchanged music.  But I was with Francesca. We were in the middle of a war against Francesca's parents, because they waged it against us.  We were supposed to win.  Foolish me.  My fantasies of running away with Francesca.  Francesca telling me that she would.  But, in the end, we didn't go anywhere.  I guess I knew the relationship wouldn't survive.  Somewhere within, I knew that she couldn't leave behind her family...  For me.  But how could she leave behind her family for anyone?  ...although they were the enemy?  But family is all we have...  This is not Peanuts.  We don't survive on our own... not at the age of 16, 17, 18.... 


In the beginning, Stanley received me happily.  My younger sister had been good friends with his 3 daughters for years. Cara always attended Beth's birthday and slumber parties... Stanley treated me as Beth's older brother Ross.  Maybe he thought he was receiving a son he didn't have... until he learned that Francesca and were more than just friends... when Isabel caught Francesca and I kissing on the side of the garage... A smack on the face, the word "tramp" and a comment to me that I would lie about Francesca to all of my friends.  That I would give her a reputation.  All of my friends...  I wanted to tell Isabel, Give your daughter a reputation?  This isn't a game.  I love your daughter. One day we are going to marry... I wonder how things would have been had Stanley and Isabel accepted our relationship and invited me into the house when I came over, instead of making us sit on the porch for hours, had they invited me to their midnight Christmas dinners, to celebrate New Years Eve with them...  I didn't go to my prom because they didn't allow her to go with me.  I didn't go to her prom, because they didn't want me near her beloved Catholic school.  But she went to her prom...  She said that her parents made her.  Maybe it could have been less complicated.  But nothing was uncomplicated back then.  I had a lesson to learn.  Many lessons to live.  Girlfriends and other battles... especially with myself... 

Out of exasperation and an attempt to escape the trap I put myself in, I told Francesca I was cheating on her with Cathy.  And then I told her that it was a lie...  I run away, I run to. If I don't have the balls to do it, maybe she will do me a favor... But I didn't run to who was waiting for me those years and years afterwords.  Maybe I knew she wasn't truly waiting...  So many games we play.  Some of them horribly hurtful and dangerous. The most dangerous game is that played within the mind of the individual. It took many years, but I decided that I don't like the games.  One day when you are truly honest and sincere with yourself and with others, you meet people truly honest and sincere with you.  


Looking out the window at all the greenery and watching the rain fall, a light shower, Margarita snuck up from behind, covered my eyes with her hands and kissed me on the ear.  Our relationship is twice the length of that with Francesca.  We didn't just meet.  Francesca and I never truly met...     

When man killed God as a woman, man killed his mother.  If a man hates his mother, he will hate other women.  The son learns from his father and learns from the absence of that father.  When a father blatantly cheats on the mother, he is telling his daughter that it is ok for her future husband to cheat on her...  When a father devalues the mother, the son devalues her too...  It's a repetitive cycle.  The married one is her...  "I don't wear shackles.  I'm no one's slave.  But my wife... your mother...?"  My mother rejected me to protect herself from herself...  and she left me and my sister Beth uncovered..., unprotected.  Every woman is potentially my mother.  Isn't that the case?  She could be my enemy.  She could neglect me.  She could abandon me.  She could tell me today that she loves me and tomorrow that she wished she never had me...

When I told my mother that I wanted to marry Margarita, I told her that Margarita was so like her.  I have never met someone who works as hard as you and can endure so much.  Margarita also is "no-nonsense" when she is in the middle of a project and doesn't rest until that project is finished.  She can be very frigid at times, like my mom.  But, she is also very warm and needy of my physical presence.  She cherishes my creativity and various talents always asking me when I will draw or paint again, not disturbing me during my hours or days of writing.  She keeps in check my tendency towards running away, towards amputating myself from her life...


Joey left New York City for Denver August 15th, 2002.  I had pushed her away.  I was in-love with her.  But I couldn't live with her.  I couldn't imagine a future together.  Plus, she had been a prostitute while at NYU Film School/Tisch School of the Arts and afterwords.  We were "friends" for 2 years before "hooking up" while Anya was in Kiev not calling me after telling me when she left that she may not return to me...  I knew that she paid her rent and maintained a flexible schedule for her ballet dance classes in the afternoons by working as a masseuse in a massage parlor in Murray Hill.  But, I thought I could handle the relationship.  I couldn't, although it lasted 1.5 years.  On the 15th of October, I went to my appointment with Estrella, a very popular Puerto Rican psychic and healer on 5th Avenue in Park Slope.  I had visited him two years earlier before Anya left for Kiev, a recommendation by a Dominican co-worker at the Salvation Army Children's Services fostercare department.  This time around, Estrella said to me, "Your girlfriend left you exactly two months ago... She's much more attractive than you are."  I wasn't happy to be told that, although it was the truth.  Joey is mulatta.  Her mother is of African descent, her father Czecho... she had gorgeous hair, a beautiful muscular dancer's body.  Estrella then said, "but she's got a lot of problems that she will not overcome and that affected horribly your relationship together.  It wasn't your fault that she left..." From there he said, "You are going to leave the country in no more than 4 months."  FOUR MONTHS?  LEAVE THE COUNTRY?  I said, "You're crazy!  I'm not leaving the country.  If anything, I'm going to the other side of the country, to Portland..." (Just after Joey left, James invited me to live with him in Portland, Oregon.  I told him that I wanted to wait until my 7 years were up along with my lease in the end of January.  I was living in New York City exactly 7 years that January 29th.)  Estrella said patronizingly, "Fine, you're not leaving the country. But, where you are going I see a lot of trees and a large body of water.  When you arrive there, you will meet your last girlfriend.  It's not a perfect relationship.  But it's a good one.  Don't think about looking for her here.  You won't find her.  In fact, you won't be with another woman until you meet her, but not until you arrive at your destination."


Joey was born on June 27th, 1976 at 11:55am exactly 7 years, 7 days and 7 minutes after me.  I mentioned this to Estrella and asked him what is the significance of the number 7 and if the significance changes if it appears in a group of 3.  Although I had pushed Joey away, although I couldn't see us together, I knew that our meeting was divine, that there was something incredibly important between us and that could even be proven in Astrology and Numerology amongst other things...  Estrella mentioned that the number 7 is the most spiritual of numbers and that 3 is symbolic of the universal triad (Mother, Father, Child... The cosmos, the Earth plane, the underworld... Infancy, Adulthood, convolescence... pyramids, it is the beginning of a circle...).  Put together, it is a cosmic combination with a ton of power... and then he yelled at me: "But she is GONE.  Water under the bridge.  You will not see her again.  She will not contact you, at least she won't try contacting you for quite a few years, you will not be on her mind... SHE LOST HER PRINCE CHARMING. When a woman loses her Prince Charming, that's it for her.  But, Prince Charming always finds his princess.  Forget about her.  IT'S OVER."  What could I say?  Maybe he was correct.  Maybe I would finally meet her when I established myself in Portland... 


Estrella "works" out of a "botanico" in the formerly working class commercial section of Park Slope. It's a small store full of candles, incense, dolls, herbs and many other things.  There is a narrow isle between the wall of healing products and the sales counter with it's showcases.  The store is managed by his father who receives the clients and has them wait on the chairs lined up from the entrance to the back room where Estrella has his sessions.  My appointment was for 9am.  I wasn't received until 12pm.  When I arrived there were people waiting since at least 6am.  They were of Latin American, Carribean and African descent.  Everyone having made an appointment, like me, up to 2 weeks in advance...  In Estrella's session room there is a small card table where he has his candles and his tarot cards.  On the floor is a circle of ashes with symbols drawn (since I wasn't there as a journalist, I didn't take mental notes...) within which he has you stand if he feels you need a cleansing against evil spirits, black magic, the evil eye, jinx...  The cleansing is simple, and if you are a frequenter of Catholic Churches you will find very familiar the aroma of the incense used for cleansing. Why? All religions maintain certain Pagan rituals and esoteric beliefs of their past origins.  The incense is Frankinsence or Myrrh, both used in Catholic Church rituals meant for spiritual purification...  During the cleansing ritual, Estrella puts a liquid in his mouth and spits it on you...  


While Estrella talks, he shuffles the tarot cards, selects some of them and places them in a certain order.  He passes the palm of his hand above them.  But he doesn't really look at them. He kind of scans them with his eyes, talks to you, re-groups the cards, shuffles them again, sellects others, a different quantity and puts them into a different order, continues talking.  He may light a candle... But, he is not a tarot card reader.  I saw something like this "scanning" with Mauricio in Xalapa in 2006.  Mauricio is a photographer, a journalist from Chiapas, the son of a French and a Mexican.  He is the grandson of a female Chaman who taught him to read palms, to read your blood through your pulse and to help spirits rest or at the very least leave their loved ones in peace...  


Margarita and I arrived late.  The party was thrown by a French Canadian, Sebastian, and his Haitian wife.  Sebastian was in the doctoral program of Economics at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa.  Supposedly he worked for the Quebec embassy and supposedly his wife was the adopted sister of Wyclef Jean, who sang with Shakira on her song "Hips Don't Lie"... I guess he thought most of us were pretty stupid and often said he was the Quebec ambassador to Mexico.  But, Quebec isn't recognized as an independent country.  And if he was an Embassador, he would live in Mexico City, not in Xalapa.  It's true, he was an Economics Professor and doctoral candidate at the State University of Veracruz and that he does work within the Canadian diplomatic services as an Economic advisor...  But...




It was supposed to be a small reunion, Sebastian, his wife and possibly the Italian woman from Rome (we met her at the first invitation to his house, complaining about all the Arabs in Italy There is no space for Italians in Italy.  So, I had to leave and I moved to Mexico)...  We offered to bake pizzas.  For some reason we got carried away and baked more than enough pizzas necessary for 3 or 4 people.  Because we were late, Sebastian looked for us at our cupcake tables in the Lakes and one of my brother-in-laws sent him to our apartment.  Fortunately we had just finished packing up the pizzas and had help carrying them to Sebastian's house.  When we arrived, the duplex was filled with people waiting for the pizza.  I wasn't there more than 5 minutes when one of the Mexican woman stood up, raised her voice to me and said, "Hey!  How can you eat this?  It has so much chile.  I can't even touch it with my fingers..." And she makes a motion shaking her hand and pointer finger as if she had just burned her fingertips and says, "... look at you!  Downing it as if nothing.  You must have been an Aztec in a past life..."  And I say, "Well let me tell you...  there may be something in that..." and I tell her about my paintings and how there was a period in Brooklyn when the paintings had a very strong latin-American indigenous feeling to them.  I told her that I never had an interest in Latin America.  But, I did fall in-love with Chipotle chiles and Mexican cuisine while living in New York City.  That I had drawn Margarita 4 months before meeting her and it seems that I had drawn her younger sister Alba in 1999. The drawing is of her as a single mother, a few years from now. 



At that moment, Mauricio butted in from the kitchen where he was eating pizza and serving wine.  He said that he could tell if what the Mexican woman said was true and he asked to read my left hand (because reading the right one is like reading your own death...  what ever that really means.)  Margarita went up to the studio style kitchen with me above the sunken living room and Mauricio placed his fingers on my wrist as if he were checking my pulse and he "scanned" the palm of my hand with his eyes half closed, much like Estrella scanned the Tarot cards... and he talked, "You have a very old soul. For this reason you suffer invidia from the day of your birth.  You suffer it from you siblings, from your relatives, maybe even from your parents.  You suffer it from your peers, all your life.  They sense that you are priveleged.  Yet they don't know why.  Having an old soul gives you access to information they lack..."  I was trying very hard to keep from crying.  I never imagined anyone would know my childhood, nor understand it...  


The first time I met Estrella in 1999, the moment I walked into his session room, he asked me, "Have we met before?" and I said "no, this is the first time I've come here." and he said, "you seem so familiar...  You're a warlock." I said, "I don't know anything about that..." and he said, "you are afraid of your powers..."  I read that a bit different than witchcraft.  I read it as fear of believing in my intuition, in truly believing in the sixth sense.  Being afraid of living naturally as myself, of having faith in the changes of the wind, etc... 


Mauricio said that I was surrounded by spirits who guide me, who protect me, who remove me from dangerous situations at the snap of a finger. He said that it was probable that I was returning to a place where I had lived in a former life, since I had lived many lives.  I asked Mauricio when he was born.  He told me June 20th, 1970.  I was floored, not only because I was sure he was 10 years older than I, but because he was born exactly one year after I...  This was the second time someone had mentioned spirits guiding and protecting me.  This was the first time someone told me that I suffered invidia (envious jealousy) from my family and peers from a very young age, and not blaming me for their attacks...


One thing that Estrella said has not come true and I don't believe it will come true.  There was a moment when Estrella became quiet.  He was trying to figure out what it was I did for a living.  He said, "you work in the theater..."  I said, "No, but I have many actor friends..."  "Well, you write for the theater, you are a writer..." and I said, "I have absolutely nothing to do with the theater and I'm not a writer..." He had a pained expression on his face.  He couldn't understand why he felt so close but I was responding in the negative.  Then suddenly his face lit up and he blurted out, "I know! You work in a kitchen!  You're a chef."  And I responded, "There you go!  But I wouldn't call myself a chef."  "You're going to open up a dinner theater in no more than 2 years." And I said, "Impossible, I don't have that kind of money, nor do I have that kind of experience."  He said, "Look, you live in America.  Anything is possible. You will have two partners who have connections with the upper class.  You are responsible for the menu and the kitchen."  


One year later we had our first and last "store front" business in a former theater called the Salamandra in the center of Xalapa.  The person who first told me the "joke" about the boxes of German and Mexican crabs was our landlord Cesar Macias the owner of the former theater who once managed a travelling theater company and was a former director of the Theater faculty at the state university of Veracruz.  He now dedicates his life to making and selling crafts with his wife...  The following year we became very connected with the dance and theater faculties that have their campus on the edge of the Lakes.  We were invited with our cupcakes and coffee to participate in many of their events.  But no one offered to create a dinner theater with us...  I no longer dream of selling international cuisine...  But, I'm jumping the gun.  We still have 3 months to go before I leave the U.S.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Ooo, this is a really good entry. But I'm nodding off from sleep deprivation. Will steal time from somewhere to finish tomorrow. I finally found out how to put a link to your blog on my blog!

http://jenpearly.tumblr.com

Tumblr is awesome, mainly artists and writers!