I’m worried that I can’t write worthwhile in a standing position. It seems I need to build my core, prevent my back from collapsing. If you recall I fell sixty feet off a cliff about eight years ago. (That’s bullshit, who could survive? It’s called “ledges on the way down”.) My back is deteriorating and sitting doesn’t help, but they say standing might be the way to go. I remember soldiers in Taiwan standing along the highway when I drove through once. They were like human metal posts in a war movie. I’m sort of the same way now, waiting for the mainland to attack. Teaching the children how to take shelter in the bunkers.
For those of you who might be thinking about moving to Mexico. Here is a typical half-day.
I wanted some pasta and corn nuts. On my way through the park, I stopped and taught Angel, my slow-motion death buddy, a bit of English. He is having trouble with the verb “to be”, which is funny since the Spanish language has split the idea of “being” into two different states of mind: ser and estar. There are two sets of rules governing the way “to be” should be used. That curve ball seems insane to me, to split being alive into two different milieus of grammar, two different meanings for the state of existence. It goes against the singularity of life. Anyway, I try to explain to him that the English “to be” is all you need for every state of living or death that you might find yourself in one day. Fuck ser and estar, I yelled out for all the park to hear.
In relationship to that, Angel and I discussed “chingar” which means fuck in English. Surprisingly, the Mexicans have expanded the use of fuck into regions of their language and culture that gringos have yet to explore. Octavio Paz (Mexican Nobel Prize winner for literature) wrote this:
“The word chingar, with multiple meanings, defines a large part of our lives and qualifies our relationships with the rest of our friends and compatriots. For the Mexican, life is a chance to screw or be screwed. That is, to humiliate, punish and offend. Or vice versa.”
It is the vice versa that gives chingar more forms of usage then fuck. Chingar can be used in a loving, sentimental, intellectual way and it can attach itself to the most obscure words and situations. Of course, for those of you who speak fuck with your family and employers, who write Christmas cards with fuck, turn in a PhD thesis with the occasional fuck in the data, leave church donations with little notes using fuck, then you are welcome to debate this point.
Anyway, I left him with the caution to say, “Hey pal, fuck you”, only if he were prepared to use all 87 pounds of his miserable body in a fight. As usual he laughed and I asked him if he wanted to come buy pasta with me and he said, no and so I walked away and he said, hey where are you going and he kept asking me until I was out of earshot and we both laughed until I left the park.
On the way to Luna de Queso, the place with the pasta, I ran into Maria de la Luna, not really a coincidence, since Luna is everywhere in this city. Luna this and luna that and I always give her money since she weighs less than Angel, is about five foot two inches, dirt poor, and dresses like a refugee on the road. The people she works for treat her like shit and she has a dying brother at home, and wears her hair in an old-school hair net that reminds me of my grandmother during the Depression. I only had a 200-peso bill, so I sent her into a big hotel to get change. She freaked out. She had never been into a big hotel before and so I had to explain how to get into the place and what to expect inside. She turned grim and said, you have to wait for me, watch me, and I said, okay. At the big glass doors, she entered. A guy with black radio ear plugs and a nice suit, stopped her and they talked a bit and she handed him the money and a minute or so later he returned and gave her two one-hundred-peso notes.
She returned to me and I gave her a hundred pesos and she smiled and walked away. I told her health to her and her brother and she smiled.
Of course, Luna de Queso did not have the pasta I wanted, so I bought cheese (which proved to be rotten), corn nuts, candied Macadamia nuts, stir fried noodles, and two jars of pesto. It cost about 600 pesos, which is $30 in your kind of money.
On the way back, I stopped at the cemetery and bought some flowers. I had the kid split the bouquet into three bunches and he said, you have three people buried here, which was a statement, not a question, and I said, no, all of my people are on the other side. I had it in my mind that I would give Angel and his mother some flowers. I don’t know why I thought this, but I did. When I got to the bench in the park, Angel said, no I won’t take flowers and I won’t walk to the house where my mother works (she is a maid for some gringos), you will have to go alone. I did, but she wouldn’t answer the door and when I got back to Angel, he said, my mother is hard of hearing, almost deaf, really. He wasn’t surprised that I had failed. A little girl walked by and I gave her one of the bouquets. Her parents were teenagers and the mother had another baby in a blanket and three of her front teeth were missing and she and the husband smiled about the flowers. The little girl started to skip around with the flowers. I asked Angel, if he had told anyone to fuck off and he said no. He conjugated the verb to be in present, past, and future tense and he did pretty well on that.
I then headed home as a sprinkling of rain began and the rain fell on everybody.