Pico de Orizaba

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

You don't need wings to fly, if you have feet; Dance I

Yesterday I discovered New York City writings of mine buried in my email account. Most of the writings are poems; at least 2 are stories; very short, but entertaining, some are poetic email conversations with James.  The writings take place between 1998 and 2001, 3 of the 4 years between terminating the relationship with Mónica from Puerto Rico and leaving for Mexico. Reading them, I was momentarily connected with my relationship with the streets of New York City and the simultaneous vitality and loneliness I experienced zigzagging through the city, stopping in cafes to write, draw and drink coffee or chai teas, meeting students and artists who would become aquaintances or temporary friends.  Reading these writings I felt mixed emotions; relief at being able to enter more profoundly into this part of my past, that I may be able to do a little justice to my intense experience in New York City; 

June 27th, 2011
a personal revolution,
an evolution, 
changing within my internal constitution,
birth of spirituality, 
art and dancing, 
love and passion, 


love and passion, 


love and passion


Not a broken record scratched
movement of the brush upon canvas, 
movement of the colors 
mixing, melding, 
my hips rocking, 
painting arm swerving, 
an arch...  
Vicki, Joey, 

God presented itself in strange women
in public spaces, on 
subway platforms 
in Barnes and Nobles Cafes, 
Columbus Avenue 86th Street
16th Street Union Square
7th Avenue Park Slope Sloping...
Sliding me  
dumping me into the East River
Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Fort Green

Park Slope Sloping eastwards to the Ocean
Too Alone in Brighton Beach, dancing with Joey 
Upon the boardwalk in Coney Island
Fishermen in Sheepshead Bay                                                                                              
Sheepshead Bay memories 
with my Grandfather my mother my Uncle and my Aunts

Park Slope Sloping northward towards Jamaicans, Trinis,
American Blacks, Puerto Ricans 
The former Ebbet's Field
Brownsville and Bedstuy
Cypress Hills
Did I want to get myself killed?
Walking within those communities
Such a thrill

Park Slope Sloping southward 
Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Polish, Chinese
Sunset Park overlooking New York Harbor
Bay Ridge Middle Easterns, Italians
The N train to Linda, The N train sliding me away
In the belly of a snake, Linda returning to her other
Ross returning to his hole in the park on the side of the slope

Strange women in Cafes 
the Upper West Side, 
the Village, 
Hells Kitchen down and crossing towards Alphabet City 
Cobble Hill and Williamsburg, Carrol Gardens and Park Slope, 
DOWNTOWN going down. Going way way down,       
A slippery slide, a subway ride
The rollercoaster of my New York City life
Hells Kitchen was my studio on Ocean Avenue/Kings Highway
I was the roller coaster roaster chicken 
God's marrionette 
pulling all the strings I would later alight
Burning those master plans
Awakening with just another chance
And fire in my glans
Dance and paint by day
Back onto the streets at night
My mind's eye blurry
Yearning for movement,
gray New York City smokestack exhaust pipe soul
Smog and dust mixed oxygen for seeing
For breathing
Understanding more clearly, 
feeling more dearly

One day I walked from Williamsburg to the East Village,
the Lower East Side,
to Rivington Street, 
a zigzag, a giant rat or a cat's dash
my head infront of my legs, 
internal radar map 
crossing reds, between cars and busses,
the waking of the dead
a New York City Zombie
Alive once again
turning corners, changing directions, almost spinning.  
A sense  
the moment I stop I will have arrived.  
And I sat down 
A restaurant/cafe on the corner
A moment later 
Laura (Java) 
appearing smiling, 
I knew you were in the neighborhood!  
I had this feeling we would bump into each other.  
So, I left my apartment for the street...   
And I remember nothing more of that meeting,
what we exchanged
never more said the raven sitting upon Edgar Allen Poe's shoulder 
grinning at me from my past... 
Reading these writings I also felt sadness at having squandered such creative vitality, something I don't feel in Mexico, just for a moment between July and December 2011 with my drawings.  I realized that I had potential.  What I didn't have was confidence, nor direction; connections, friends in the right places at the right times; the understanding of where and how to go with what was hidden within.  I didn't believe myself a writer.  It wasn't time.  It also scared me; the two story writings were born on the morning subway trainride to work.  The first writing while working at The Russell Sage Foundation.  The second while working for the Salvation Army Childrens Services; Foster Care Division.  3 hours of intense writing.  3 hours of complete immersion within the writings that I actually became sick.  No one asked me for assistance those two days.  No one interrupted me.  But I interrupted myself. After setting aside the writing, I was immersed within the feeling for hours.  I was in the story writing trance.  

I remember returning from New Jersey to Amherst, Massachusetts driving Randi's car up I 95 with Randi listening to an interview on NPR with Amy Tan.  Amy explaining what inspired her writings.  That her writing room is like a closet within which she holes herself and disappears from herself.  She claimed that her dead father and dead brothers visited her and wrote the stories.  She would kind of black out for hours and days and then suddenly come to with what seemed like the manuscript typed...  Believe what you wish.  I read her first 3 books in New York City.  I bought them in Spanish for Margarita in Xalapa.  I have read them here too.  And my response is:  "Whatever it takes..."  If I must die again to be able to accomplish what I need for myself within my art and writing... For me, it's the creation, the movement, the vitality that's important.  

 June 27th, 2011
I must apologize 
to myself 
for not giving myself 
a chance, 
for not risking more, 
for not becoming 
a Basquiat living in the streets, 
for needing to sleep 
on soft mattresses 
with bulbs illuminating my darkness
closets open, white walls and high ceilings
A bathroom with a bathtub
I would later drown myself within my security
trading intellectual and artistic creativity
For a well stocked kitchen
For nice pots and pans
Expensive cookbooks
For cooking international cuisine, 
For having to eat.  
For believing that God was a woman disguised as a lover

I hung myself within a liminal space 
a paradox of yes and maybe no 
or maybe yes and probably no. 

I found that woman, 
she is as much me as I am she
But she is not God, 
just part of a wonderful intention.
An intervention
An invention
A foreign nation
A warm and full
Strong and passionate body 
Soft, embracing
Protecting me from myself
From my vices
And devices for sabotaging todo
For camauflaging myself  within sheetrock walls
And oil paints
With whirlspins within my own psychological whirlwind 

I wish for the opening of my arteries
For holes in my wrists,
Releasing my ability to fly
Like Spiderman
Spitting out my artistic life fluids upon canvases on the floor
Like Polok
And painting with imagination and memories 
Like Chagal
Painting my light and shadows 
Like Hopper
Sharing my internal reality, pain and concerns
Like Frida
Informing us of an alternative physical reality
Like Pablo Ruiz and Chaim Sotin
Painting the subconscious world
Like Carrington
Being in-love with the complete experience
Like Chigi
And never being so unfaithful to myself
Like me.

I open my wrists...  and feel a leavening
No longer must I eat sitting down at a nicely spread table
Thinking that this is what my friends, my lovers expect from me
This is what I offer of myself, my profundity, my sensuality
I dance, I float, I fly,
I paint dreams

Vicki said, "I am in-love with your dark side."  
Did she want to see my blood,
Slide in the mud
Of my childhood memories, fears?
I painted her thrice
One, two, three
Will you dance with me?
Alcohol, Janet Jackson 
And the roll of the dice
Vampire woman sucking my soul
With one gulp, opened her throat
She swallowed me whole
I fell into a Martini shaker
Mixed with chardonay, vodka and 16oz Samuel Adams
Fortunately she was a mother whale
No teeth for chewing
Dancing within the depths of her misery
Mixing incompatible realities
I was regurgitated upon 6th Avenue, Canal Street
Her favorite holiday
Saint Valentines
Rafa's birthday
A memorial to Cupid/Eros
Replaced by Hallmark cards
I fell upon broken hearts
Red and pink glass shards
Moonstruck diner
Struck me with her wand
Crayola Crayon drawing of Vicki
Floating upon my mirky pond
My darkside
Not so much in-love 
as living within her alcoholic vampiress delusion
Optimistic illusions and alusions 
Ignoring a lifetime of denile, evasions
She substituted the dance floor and those dreams 
For the bar and sex with strangers, blackouts
Riding the subway to nowhere

I got off the N train at 15th street, Winsor Terrace
Carrying with me under my arm and between my legs
her Valentine's gift to me, 
another completed dance class
and Sexual vitality 
Concluded was the two-month binge 
and the draining of myself 
The levee breaks and the soaked sheets
A viper paralizing its prey, 
Between her legs, a king cobra
Throwing out its undulating throat
And throwing it out again,
No need for movement
Caught in her spell
In the eye of Hurricane Katrina
Wind battering the window panes, 
Shaking the walls, the bed
An increasing drone, 
like the moan of a locomotive
A loca with alterior interior motives
Suddenly a cry, 
"Here it comes, Oh my god, here it comes!"
I hadn't moved, locked below her
Braced against the mattress
The levee break, 
Lake Charles water flooding New Orleans
90% inundation
water gushing over my pelvis and lower abdomin
Warm scentless textureless water bathing me
And she colapsed,
Hurricane Katrina had passed

Clitoris memories of a climactic climax
Georgia O'Keefe paintings   
And an orchid stretching its neck to the sun
returning to its dorment state 
after Vicki’s web had been spun.
Memory paintings of an artistic experience 
colors fading
With this poetic moment of my life
I am done, although I had just begun                                                                                                        

I don't invent.  I look for words that match my internal and external experience.  Since that experience had always been limited, my poetic vocabulary was limited and I seemingly repeated myself; probably why I didn't write for long stretches of time, why I didn't or don't consider myself a writer...  

I knew that, while living in Mexico, I had lost access to many of my memories in English, books I had read, movies I had seen.  Many of my New York City experiences are faded.  Part of adjusting to my life here in Mexico, adjusting to the improbability of Margarita entering the U.S. with me, I received physical loss of material possessions connected with my former life as a sign that I was within the point of no return; that it was true--my life in Mexico.  Seeing things this way, it was easier to accept the disappearance of my poems, recipes, paintings and drawings in the flood of my mother's basement in Flemington, NJ.  One day, all the adults of my youth will have died and decomposed.  One day, I will have died too.  But will I have accepted my life here in Mexico?

I became ill in 2006 and was prescribed a diet that would make an anorectic unhappy.  Around New Years 2006/2007 I became ill again and decided against doctors and medications and investigated alternative ways of healing.  I drastically changed my diet and my cooking style (never to return to the heavy and spicy past--spicy does not refer to chile hot, but to dry spices such as black pepper, cumin, allspice, coriander seed, etc.  I use very little dry chile peppers and cook with mainly Jalapeños, Serranos and Habaneros).  Instead of taking blood pressure and cholesterol medication, I took Omega 3 and Soy Lecithin.  4 years later and managing inter-personal relationships with more tranquility, as the say in Mexico, con más relax, and managing colors with much more clarity within my drawings, I realize that something is wrong: I eat so much less than in the past, much less fat, much less sugar...  Standing for up to 18 hours, and running for up to 40 minutes per day when I ran, I don't lose weight.  I pass long periods of time without sexual interest, which concerned Margarita.  I feel guilty.  I tell her, "when I have so many preoccupations...  When I am so exhausted from working so much, exhausted from the living situation here in Mexico..."  So, I stopped taking the Omega 3 and the Soy Lecithin I believed not only dropped my blood pressure and metabolism rate (I had a very high metabolism rate, could shed the pounds with the beginning of an exercise regimen) but I believed created premature impotence.  Margarita would try and try and try...  I would blame the issue on my J-Pouch lower bowel issues...  Too much work for so little gain...  

I began taking the Soy Lecithin again 3 nights ago; for a clearer mind.  I want to draw again and see the colors clearly and live within my drawing and be my inspiration.  And I awaken in the morning. And I begin carressing Margarita.  And that other part of me is alive and Margarita begins the day happy. And I feel vital and like the lover and the man I should be.  And what is the case?

I believed that a sign of an unhealthy relationship was that I gained weight.  Maybe the sign of a healthy psyche is increased sexual vitality.  I firmly believe what I have heard women say about male dancers:  “You can tell how he is in bed by the way he dances.”  It’s something about rhythm and the enjoyment of prolonged movements.  The dancer focuses upon something beyond their actual body.  The body is a tool.  But what creates satisfaction are the changing movements and the rhythm, a feeling of ecstacy within the movement, a flying; not the climax.  When the dance has concluded, there is nothing, but respiration and your heart pounding within your chest. 

When I met Vicki I was 29-years-old, she had 36 years under her belt.  We met in Cinema Bar Café (not it’s real name, since I don’t remember what follows “Cinema” on East 11th Street near 2nd Avenue.  I was painting with markers and she was visiting her roommate who worked there in the coffee bar.  We were the last people to leave the café at 3am.  My first impression was that of my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Ennis.  Her first impression was my painting and my muscular legs.  Vicki was a Connecticut girl and was making her return stint within the New York City dance after 9 years of hiding in Florida.  Out of high school she had been a promising dance star, but lost her confidence in New York City.  So, she fled to Florida and tended a bar on the beach.  Fortunately her boyfriend’s mother insisted upon her studying at the University of Florida and even paid for the schooling.  Supposedly her boyfriend spent his days watching porn movies and “choking the rubber chicken…” 

Vicki told me that she had been very sexually inhibited until she turned 29-years-old.  She also alluded towards an incestuous relationship in her childhood home.  She showed me photographs of when she was with her father; Vicki looking very holsome, conservative appearance like a television anchor woman.  Like Mrs. Ennis.  At the age of 29, she began experiencing female ejaculation.  Probably because of modern dance and controlling your center; for modern dancers, it’s imperative that the stomach muscles are the strongest part of the body.  Kegel exercises are utilized for strengthening the lower abdomen.  A wonderful side effect of those Kegel exercises is the ability to move the vaginal muscles.  Hence, decreased necessity for male movement. 

When I spent my Sundays at Drummer’s Grove, I met a middle-aged black man who sold incense and other things.  He called himself Prince Yohanawad and enjoyed educating young men on how the correct way of being sexual with a woman.  He explained that sex must be performed like cow’s and bulls, from behind.  And that the man shouldn’t move.  That the woman should be in control.  But, for the woman to learn control of the sexual act, she should practice Kegel exercises.  Prince Yohanawad explained that if the man meets that woman with that training and decides that he should be in control and should be on top in the missionary’s position, the woman will just lay there staring at the ceiling picking her teeth and then exclaim, What’s all this jive dance Brotha?  You getting all hot and sweaty, your eyes turning back in your head, and me laying here bored!  “The next thing you know, your ass is on the sidewalk and your things strewed around you. People laughing from their doorsteps.  The following week you press her doorbell and a strange man answers dressed in a towel.  She had found someone who respected her needs… who was a bull and didn’t try and confuse her with all their song and dance…” 

Vicki was a unique experience.  I didn’t bother my girlfriends with the kegel exercises…  There were too many possible negative reactions.  Best would be to try and be what was good for them.  But, truthfully, it helps to try and be what is best for me.  Sometimes we benefit from the other person’s selfishness.  


Ross said...

If you appreciate the ideas and what you read and see on my blog; if you are enjoying the writings and the poems, the artwork, please say hi or something. Don't be afraid to be alive and real.

james said...

I enjoyed these reflections ross. Hurricane katrina is a subject that touches my soul like 911...so metaphorical and poignant..... know i said it before, but you have something here.......

Ross said...

I thought you would appreciate it James. We were living in Xalapa at the time. 77 years had passed since a hurricane touched land in Veracruz. After Katrina, 3 hurricanes have touched land in Veracruz. The last one was a year ago. At the time of Katrina we had recently become friends with a client who had just moved to Xalapa from Lake Charles (before the Hurricane destroyed New Orleans)... He and his wife were installing their alternative church in Xalapa. They never suggested we should participate in their religion. They never suggested anything. But, Michael was a very beautiful man. And that was all that mattered. What happened to them? Who knows. But they were from Lake Charles and were very concerned about friends and family at the time. Michael had said that fortunately, no one close to him was horribly affected by the hurricane...

Kim Chigi said...

First thing... I love it. I love it all.
I feel as if I need to digest these letters & words so much more so I have come back a few times and read them again & again. If we were sitting across from one another we could certainly discuss for hours & hours our thoughts & your processes. There is so much here, yet you have to keep going! You have to regurgitate everything that is inside of you until you feel you can't possibly write, exploit, emote or project another word...another sentence...another feeling...another shred of personal sacrifice. Offer yourself to your dreams. Give yourself over to the thing inside of you that keeps pulling you in those directions. Never compromise. Never give up. Move toward what frightens you and grab all of that visceral shit that is inside. Let it loose and never be afraid that the well will dry up. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom to feel what you want when you want.
It's interesting how the places where we live have a way of transforming us...for the good & the bad. I am still learning how to process what is inside. Although, it is important to find a physical place this is good for your soul. I have lived in so many places..I have no regrets but I always reflect back on what each part of my life was like in those places.
I experience internal droughts for months on end....times where it seems that nothing comes out. Then I realize that all of that visceral shit is in there I am the guardian at the gate. My depression/anxiety begins and I get lost for a time in my mind, in my feelings and I can't find my way out. It is our responsibility to realize where we are & how we must take care of what is inside...responsibly, creatively & respectfully. In a way, it's like being an addict but the beauty lies in that split second that we realize something has to change. Let yourself fall but always remember to pick yourself back up. The dark inner sides are the most beautiful ones of them all. It's what makes us unique & special..there is a fanatical beauty about darkness....it's.....magical & confusing but there is never a substitute. It's real, visceral and changes people forever.