Pico de Orizaba

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

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Name "Shit"; interchange with Natalie, Conversations with a Past Life May 28th

Sorry to hear you have an allergic reaction. Fred is sensitive and has allergic reactions. Once I changed clothing detergents, and for a few days he complained about itching. Then on Saturday morning his face was deformed. I rushed him to the hospital and thank God he recovered. Fred was born May 17. He is definitely not Fred Mertz. (although does a great Ricky Ricardo impersonation, because that is what my Dad sounds like since he grew up in Caracas, Venezuela) He says he would have rather have been born with the name "shit". He's a third generation Fred, so he's a junior. He suffered greatly in school with name Fred Ferry.  Though I believe it's made him who he is today and I couldn't imagine him with any other name. I was supposed to be Peter, named after my Dad. Although, oops I came out a girl. My father's parents believed that the woman makes the decision of the sex of the child and my mom intentionally selected me to be female to spite them. So, she didn't get the bedroom set they promised to buy if I was a boy. As it turned out I had a great relationship with them. 

It is interesting who Todd decided to pick on. I wonder now, knowing what I know about him through you if his issue was that I was Ukrainian.  Perhaps it was about my last name and not my looks. If that is true, his hatred obviously came from the influence of his parents. Sadly, his mom was in denial that he was a bad kid. Had she stood up to his father/her husband, perhaps he wouldn't have been such a bad kid. But I don't believe in judging people I don't know, for that matter I don't believe I have a right to judge anyone but myself. I can only assume and protect myself from who people may be. I don't believe people change that much. I do believe that people are sheep or they lead. Perhaps Mike S, was a sheep and since he was away from the herd, he could now be the nice person he actually is. I've recently learned quickly from the Branchburg kids that they haven't changed. Interesting how the hot girls got fat, the fat girl is now hot.
But they still are who they are.... though they've only changed physically not mentally.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on what's going on in Mexico. I think you would enjoy talking to Fred about that topic and perhaps other topics as well. He's open minded politically, listens to everyone's point of view, and then votes for whomever will work in the best interest of Nat and Fred. Sadly, we have lost friendships over the last election. But it's for the best. When people you've known most of your life start calling you communist because you voted for the first black president it's time to start re-evaluating that friendship. It's interesting how people who are unemployed/bankrupt forget that they are and vote against what might help them. We couldn't have survived the last few years without the unemployment extensions that Fred was receiving. I'm not educated on politics, though I do try to read up on current events and go with my gut with what I think is right or wrong.
Natalie, I like that name "shit"... Yes, I think I would enjoy meeting Fred.  I didn't like my name until recently.  I spent my young-adult days changing my name, hoping that I would become a poet or a writer, giving me license to a pseudonym, such as Leslie Alan Ross (my father's names switched around--yes, his middle name was Leslie, also she was my first "girlfriend" in second grade, before she became better friends with Nancy Hayes and then moved to Readington).  In NYC I signed my drawings and paintings RJG, not Goldstein (personal rejection due to concern about anti-Semitism), not Ross, because that's a popular British/Scottish surname), here too. But here I tell people, "call me Ross.  That's who I am."  I've never had nick-names and don't know myself as anyone other than Ross. In Mexico the men say, "Nice to meet you.  I'm Rodulfo Javier Pliego Santander, at your service" and I say, "Nice to meet you.  I'm Ross."  And there is a silence as if they are waiting for me to say my last name or last names...  And it's awkward.  But I don't put so much stock into my last name.  Here because there are so many Miguel Angels (Michelangelo) and Juan Pablos (after Pope John Paul) people feel it necessary to give their two last names to show authenticity...  Your father could have named you Petra.  But, thank God he didn't!  I know a Petra here.  One of my first memories of her is she's in the room I was given at the ecological tourist ranch where I volunteered where Margarita and I met.  She was cleaning there and in the middle of a difficult conversation (since I spoke very little Spanish at the time) she lifted up her shirt, showing her bra.  It was something she did regularly, as if it were subconscious.  It seemed so natural to her that one would think she was just trying to air herself...  Later on, I realize that maybe she was trying to see my reaction. Later on her younger sister Rosa married Margarita's younger brother Gregorio (Goyo).  

Speaking of your grandparents...  In college I read a wonderful book published by an asian Indian Poet who teaches at Barnard, Faultlines.  She was born into the highest caste in India, the Brahmas...  However, she was born dark-skinned and was harshly discriminated against by her grandmother.  She went on to study at Oxford and, I believe lived in the Middle-east...  Faultlines is an explanation of how color discrimination is universal and is directly used in classism...  It's to say that you discriminate against the color of the skin at the most basic level of society, within the family...  Thank god you developed a good relationship with your grandparents...  Too bad for your mom. 

I thought about that "Ukranian" question regarding Todd.  But, it would have had to be at a very spiritual level, something like past life or collective conscience levels...  Look, everything I say regarding this "spiritual" stuff should be taken lightly.  I don't read or study this stuff.  I see "new agism" as a lot of "hogwash" manipulative fantasies and wishful thinking...  However, I do believe that something truly exists.  But, writers shouldn't fabricate fantasies out of impatience... I don't believe Todd would have known that it meant, had you said in class that you were of Ukrainian descent.  I highly doubt he knew where was the Ukraine...  At the time he had war board games that take place in Israel and all the movements were between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Yes, he was very informed about the middle-east wars.  But, I don't believe he was informed about the Pogroms, the holocaust and the Republics of the Soviet Union.  He was a horrible student.  

Very "white" Americans blatantly ignore me in Mexico. They don't accept me as "American".  Is it because they are racist or is it because they sense that I don't belong to THEM? But, that doesn't have to be connected with spiritual levels. But, I do believe that Todd could have been connected with his Russian Jewish ancestry (and who knows if his family wasn't from Ukraine...?)  Lyubov was much different in essence than is Anya.  Then again, Georgians often greeted Anya as one of their own, since she has a very Georgian shaped face.  Burcü (my Turkish friend who has not entered yet into the story) looks much more Persian than she looks Turkish...  Selling cupcakes in the lakes of Xalapa, Veracruz, a young German couple, studying at the foreign students' school, passed by our stand...  I made the mistake of telling them that my last names are German and telling them what they are, Goldstein Nacht.  The young woman moved back a step, turned to her boyfriend and said in a very low tone almost in his ear, "He's a Jew"  But, I had pronounced my last name in German Goldschtien, instead of in English, Goldsteen...  I figured that "Goldstein" was an Americanized name and had little Jewish significance outside of the U.S.  Could it be that Nacht (night) was a Jewish surname in Germany?  I have a friend in Aguascalientes who is from Germany married to a Mexican woman.  He speaks Spanish with what sounds like a very heavy Scandinavian-like accent.  I imagined that the German accent would be harsher.  Some Mexicans think I'm from Germany with my, at times, harsh hitting accent...  Robert never showed one sign of anti-Semitism.  But, yes, I always wear my concern as a second skin... 

The metaphysical or ascetic is very hard for me to write or explain.  But, the ideas seem so clear in my mind... There must be a way of successfully putting them onto paper... 

At summer camp we had a few campers who recently came to the U.S. from the Soviet Union as political refugees.  I'm sure that at the time, every synagogue (temple) had their "Russian" families hoasted within the community.  A few of those kids went to the New Jersey "YMHA YWHA" camps in the Poconos.  One of my friends from early on at camp was Olav.  But, he wasn't a recent arrival.  So, he didn't get picked on.  But the others were called "commies"  and I'm sure we taunted them with, "go back to Russia/Kill a commie for mommy".  The horrible thing is that these guys were Jews fleeing the oppression and discrimination of the Soviet Union... I imagine that I write about this stuff because it burned a hole in me during childhood.  

I don't know if you understood way back when in my earlier writings that I tried to kill myself in 1988.  This shouldn't be read as "too much information" because it is not meant as a sledge hammer or as psychological manipulation.  Just as part of explaining things...  I believed that it was a direct response to catching Francesca Mendrick cheating on me down in Long Beach Island. And then I explained to myself that I had fully lost faith in my capacity to turn good all the bad that I lived from the time of my father's death until 14 years later...  It could have been fear of not being able to enter adulthood successfully. But, I think it was a true lack of faith in humanity.  I felt and saw too many things, too young...  I say this now, because I still worry about these things now...  Who was picked on in childhood.  The things said and done.  Who was excluded.  Who we picked on, because I participated in certain games...  It could have been a sense of guilt; the not being able to live within the paradoxes, contradictions and hypocracies...  Yesterday there was a news artical in the Mexican papers titled "The Federal Law Enforcement Agency of Mexico (PGR; Procuraduria General de la Republica) reveals that 60% of people who suffered "bullying" commit suicide"...  I thought about mentioning that in Facebook.  But then declined.  For one thing, I have doubts about the numbers and how they locate victims of bullying who didn't commit or try to commit suicide.  Plus, I think that attempt was an easy way out. And think about it...  being born Jewish in this world subjects you as a member of a locally or internationally identified and isolated Jewish community to bullying...  How many Jews committed or commit suicided directly related to anti-Semitism? I think they are very strong people as a group...  I also think that, as a group, they can be very neurotic in certain ways..., which gives birth to a modern history of great creative artists (writers, actors, comedians, painters, comics...)  Ya basta!  

Later on in New York I tried it again.  But this was more like a game of defying "God"... connected with certain things I heard, were told me or told my mother since that suicide attempt in 1988...  Part of this has a great influence in understanding the base of my metaphysical beliefs and how and why I'm in Mexico...  After trying to kill myself on Mercer Street in 1988, I spent a month at Carrier Clinic.  My psychiatrist Dr. Brian Brown could not diagnose me.  That must have been his worst fear as God, not to be able to diagnose a patient before that patient escaped from his claws.  During one visit, my mother brought two cassettes, the first Tracy Chapman album and a recording of her visit with a female psychic. Those were her tapes and she didn't leave them with me.  But, later on I ended up with the one with the psychic.  I had it with me in NYC until I left for Mexico.  It was lost in a flood of my mother's basement with all my poems and drawings and recipes and cassettes my first few years in Mexico (a sign that my life in the U.S. had truly died)...  What the psychic said was uncanny, and the reason I looked for the cassette after graduating college.  My mother is agnostic.  She believes strongly in the Jewish community and in the human community.  But she doesn't know if she believes in God. She visited psychics in New Hope and other places, clear childhood memories.  She visited the psychic while I was in the hospital.  But she ignores everything I say about what's happened in my life that I call "natural miracles" and attribute to God, "the spirits" and something unseen but traceable and clearly connected to our experiences...  or mine.  1988 the cassette with the psychic.  October 15th 2002 "Estrella Botanica" on 5th Avenue, Park Slope.  Mauricio in Xalapa 2005.  November 2007, my grandfather appears in the photograph in my mother-in-law's kitchen.  Harry Nacht was born January 24th 1911.  Paz Robles Cruz was born January 24th, 1954.  Paz's youngest brother Gregorio was born on March 12.  My younger sister Beth was born March 12th.  Paz' son Gregorio was born April 26th. My older sister Sheri was born April 26th...  Joey was born exactly 7 years, 7 days and 7 minutes after I was born.  Her father Joe was born on March 12th.  Her mother was born on March 7th...  Joey returned to Denver on an airplane August 15th, 2002.  The first thing Estrella said to me October 15th, 2002 was, "Your girlfriend left you exactly 2 months ago..."  And I said, "Ok, let's go"...  He said that she was much more attractive than I was.  (Her mother was black, her father white, she was a ballerina and had an incredible muscle structure and great hair)...  I asked him about the importance of the number 7.  And about the 3 7s.  He said that 7 was the highest spiritual number and that 3, the trinity, is a connection with God.  Then he yelled at me, "Forget about her. It's water under the bridge.  You will not see her again.  She's gone.  She lost her Prince Charming.  When a woman let's go of her Prince Charming, she doens't find another one.  But Prince Charmings always find their princesses..."  He then said, "In less than 4 months you will leave this country.  Probably to Europe..."  And I said, "You're Crazy!"  I'm not leaving this country.  He said, "fine, have it your way.  You won't be leaving the country. But you will be leaving New York.  I see a lot of trees and a large body of water where you are going.  You will meet your last girlfriend when you arrive at your destination.  It's not a perfect relationship.  But it's a good relationship.  You will not have another relationship in the time that remains for you here, nor in any other location, until you meet her..."  He then said something about businesses. Said that I was a writer or had something to do with the theater and I said no.  And he had a pained expression on his face.  Then, suddenly he said, "I KNOW.  You are a chef!  You work in a restaurant!"  And I said, "there you go.."  These are very long stories Natalie.  But they must be written. In the connecting of the events and the people, I am sure I can show something...  There's a conversational energy between you and I.  It could be my projection.  But, James, Michael, Milo, Jonathan and other important friends don't inspire these writings and "conversations"... I'm sorry if that comes across manipulalitively...  I don't expect anything from you in the future and don't feel that I'm using you and clearly understand that any of these "conversations" can be the last...  I hope they are useful for you, at the very least as a form of entertainment or at the most some form of a connection...  All this is chance. A chance "meeting" on the internet.  But there are chances and there are chances...  Michael connected me with Margarita without intending.  He did his work.  James introduced me 20 years ago to my future destiny as a potential writer of "Stream of Consciousness"  that was supposedly invented by John Dos Passos (The author of Manhattan Transfer written in 1920--I'm reading one of his books I found in a used bookstore in Aguascalientes 2 weeks ago.)  I had stumbled across him during research on one of my papers in College 18 years ago, just a blurb from one of his books describing a conflict on the railroads out west; something about the Wobblies... I'm having difficulty reading this book.  So, I decided to look him up on Google to try and understand why he reverberates in my mind all these years.  It is explained in his biography that he invented "Stream of Consciousness"...  I thought the "father of Stream of Consciousness" was Jack Kerouac.  Although James introduced me to "stream of consciousness" I refused to read the beat writers (because he said I should)...   There was a conflict I had with James; he had to much freedom to be coming from a comfortable background.  I distanced myself from the hippies and the neo-beats and the Dead Heads for this reason and have never read about Zen Bhuddism for this reason:-)

But I think it's time to grow up a bit.  


Jenny said...

Ross, after a decade of literary study in Chapel Hill, I wrote my 400+ page dissertation on Henry James's The Golden Bowl, specifically in relation to Zen narratives and metaphor. James is well recognized in literature departments as "The Father of Stream-of-Consciousness." He invented psychological realism. I have a connection with James so deep and so personal that when I read him I feel as if we are the closest, longest-duration friends in the universe. His ethics, his view of the world, particularly women, the music and delicate intricacies of his language . . . have frequently brought me to tears or made me pace the floor for 3 hours on end just to "walk off" his effect on me. When I'm in high flow states of writing, he tends to infect or haunt every line, all syntax.

Ross said...

That is absolutely wonderful Jenny. I use to think of Henry James when I passed Gramercy Park on my way to the East Village. The funny thing is, in as much as I wanted to read him, I never did...

Jenny said...

The perfect thing for you to read right now is the novella, "The Turn of the Screw." It is about a governess who thinks she sees ghosts everywhere. It is never revealed whether the ghosts are "real" or whether she is mad, because that either/or question turns out to be the "wrong" question.

Ross said...

The title sounds very familiar. Is it by Henry James? The novel that brought Isabel Allende into the limelight was "The House of the Spirits". She is considered one of the primary writers of Magical Realism. The novel is autobiographical fiction taking place in Chile up to the time of the assassination of Isabel's uncle and president of Chile, Salvador Allende, in 1972 if I'm correct. The character who represents Isabel's grandmother speaks with spirits etc... The book is so entwined with historical political and cultural data that I can't write her off as poetically creative. It seems to me that Pablo Neruda was personally friends with Isabel's family and appears in the novel. It also seems that he died just a few months after the assessination of Salvador Allende, death by natural causes, although he was firmly aware of what Pinochet's government was doing to the people left of center in the prisons. I imagine that if he was ill at the time, the helplessness Neruda felt must have killed him... If I'm correct, the Italian movie, Il Postino (The Postman) is about Pablo Neruda living in Italy during a period of exile...