Category Archives: adventure

Bard v. Death

Friends,

The following happened last night while playing Dungeons & Dragons with my peoples. Enjoy!

>Dnd 5e
>lv7 party
>been playing together for 8mos.
>Human female cleric, elf female wizard, human male rogue, and me, Guantanamo, a human male bard
>With shades of what might be called ‘Chaotic Spectacular’, Guantanamo is neutral good. How that plays out is when order is too stringent or too much talk and not enough action, he does chaotic (often ‘chaotic stupid’) shit for greatest possible good
>whuddupdrpeterson.jpg
>theoretically, when things get too chaotic he restores order for the same greatest good -I assure the team of this…
>Party are newly-minted members of Mages Guild
“The F-F-Fantastic Waterdeep Chapter!’
>A couple different quests we’re working on simultaneously
>Find ourselves in old dwarven caverns now occupied by evil
>Not really sure why we’re here -like I said many threads we’re investigating
>Also, Guantanamo is stoned. I know this because I’m stoned.
>Shimmy up tunnel to some small room with an altar, upon which the body of a somewhat rotted young man (kidney had been removed), with snake-shaped dagger sticking out of his chest, lies, set in front of some weird glowing relic/tabernacle
>Walk up to altar humming Bardic Inspiration to myself then whip off bandana to reveal sigil of BBEG I had earlier
P R E S T I D I G I T A T E D
onto my forehead
>Grab snake dagger (in meta retrospect, probably where trouble began), slice my palm so blood drips onto altar and yell out “OH EVIL ONE! I , YOUR SERVANT BRING YOU NEW SACRIFICES”
>nocharismacheck.jpg
>portal opens
>fgt floating mike wazowski appears
Literally summoned the Monster Manual’s cover model smh
>Go time! Tuck snake dagger in belt and draw silver arrow back in my longbow as I approach
>Vicious Mockery: “Yo She-Bitch! You got something in your eye!”
> Vicious mockery fails due to cone of magic. Dm tells me it fails so catastrophically that It hurts me emotionally and I am unable to fire arrows
>playinwitmyfeelins.jpg
>Rogue fires two silver arrows
>2nd sticks right into mike wazowki’s eye –he just laughs
>mike wazowski counter-attacks rogue with petrification but saving throw is made and rogue just gets a momentary muscle cramp
>cleric and wizard cast support spells on me and rogue
>Dm is heavily suggesting that we are no match for this thing and should bail, citing its ability to counter specifically
>on my next turn I
P R E S T I D I G I T A T E 
a flash of light for momentary distraction while we escape down shaft, drawing and aiming another silver arrow as I retreat, but not firing cause of counterattack ability.
NOTE: In handbook, P. Digitate is described as sensory effect, and is considered a parlor trick, so didn’t think I was risking counter-attack. DM agreed in this regard but at the same time didn’t even allow light to reach mike wazowski’s eyes because of magic cone
>dm moves to rogue next who plays his turn, moving toward escape, not attacking
>Dm is like ‘oh shit, I forgot to counter-attack Guantanamo’ and moves back to me and makes to counter-attack with one of small eyes
>this sort of quick, specific adjustment within reasonable amount of time is generally allowable in game for dm trying to manage a combat sequence
>”You see the eye moving to attack you”
>Dm allows me to let fly the arrow I had drawn and readied on my turn but have to roll at least 15 for a hit. Roll 9 but
+5atk with longbow and bardic insp I manage to hit below the socket and cause no real damage
>eye attacks
>need to roll 16 save to have the possibility of *only* taking 45 dmg (my total hp is 38)
>I roll 15 and get literally disintegrated
>Party is shocked
>A full minute passes with Rogue, out of character, repeatedly asking, “What just happened?”
>I sit there cross-legged in lotus position calmly pondering my new life after dnd or at least what new character I would like to play moving forward
>as the dm moves to the wizard she’s a little taken aback, like “right…so don’t attack…”
>thatsit.jpg
>turn To DM:
Me: I never attacked you initially, how did you move in for a counter-attack?
Dm: You did attack me though
Me: But only after you moved in for a counter-attack that I hadn’t provoked
>He felt that since I ultimately attacked it was a warranted counter (linear perception of time be damned!) On the other hand, my argument’s legitimacy hinged on him making an out of turn attack that I responded to, rather than delivering an overdue counter which I had brought upon myself
>we discuss at length, seemingly out of character but essentially in character as Bard v. Death
>for Guantanamo’s part, he’s politicking his ass off like a combination of Perry Mason, Clay Davis and Atticus Finch
​>”IF THE ARROW DON’T HIT, YOU CAN’T COUNTERATTACK SHEEEEEEEEEEEIIT”
>Rogue chimes in suggesting I cop a plea deal: “Well Guantanamo, maybe you have an ability that would allow you to survive”
>I stay in pocket, claiming that the focus is not me making a legal move to cheat death, but calling out an illegal/out of turn move that caused my premature disintegration
>point out that I had no issue with dying initially when it seemed fair (‘Transcending Physical Plane’ is literally written as Guantanamo’s over-arching goal on char sheet) -only had a problem when I felt mistake had been made
>at length, Dm grudgingly accedes, no doubt because of my masterful persuasion skills
>as a compromise, he essentially grants me the saving throw I missed, un-disintegrates me and, dealing 45 dmg instead, I end up at -7hp
>dm/Death states this is a one-time exception
>tilnexttimelol.jpg
>dm even has the courtesy to have my flatlining body fall into the hole we’re escaping through into the water below, rightly figuring that he would lose all the rest of his heroes trying to save me if he didn’t
>rogue picks me up and we boo boo
>cleric stabilizes then heals me when we’re back in waterdeep
>”Guys, I had the weirdest dream….”
>We go to mage’s guild for debrief
>Im excited that I escaped with badass snake dagger
>dm doesn’t appreciate my cavalier attitude toward being recently disintegrated and so I am destined to not get to enjoy the dagger
>mage’s guild elder won’t even touch it
>Dagger is analyzed. Its cursed. Basically minus1 to every possible action taken while carrying it (maybe why I didn’t make my saving throw)
>my one souvenir from disintegration is essentially dogshit; unlucky dogshit
>mages seal it in magic box and bury it
>other members begin whispering about me as the one who was crazy/foolish enough to carry the cursed dagger
>I smile because all bards are narcissists
>allattentionisgoodattention.jpg
>try to use my newfound notoriety to demand to speak with the recter, even leveraging my recent disintegration and citing how I talked my way (pretty much) into death’s pants
>end up overplaying my hand with runaway self-esteem and now nobody is talking about me any more
>fame is a harsh mistress
And that’s the story of how a stoned, redneck, yogi bard beat Death on a technicality
Best,
-Andre
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On the Road Again 2018

Friends,

I have been an absolute failure as a writer of late.

For the last 8 months or so I have been living in Berlin and while my intention at the outset was to spend lots time documenting the previous two years of travel, I just kinda never got around to it in earnest. So here I will provide a brief timeline of some important dates / events so that what follows will make a little more sense.

November 2015 to March 2016 -Ayahuasca pilgrimage from Texas to Ecuador (#justmightbeok, #shredradlyordietrying)

-At the tail end of this adventure I spent a month in Nicaragua where I fell in love
-Woman I fell in love with invited me to go traveling the world with here but I chose not to on account of personal responsibilities

April 2016 to November 2016 – Back in Canada
-Still very much in love but apart from the person I loved because she was traveling
-Worked a lot and became a meme lord

November 2016 to January 2017 -Hitch-hiking in Arizona (#worldwasonfire)

-Woke up hungover the morning of Trump’s election to the good news; flew to the United States that very day
-Amazing experiences with a shaman, a silversmith, a wonderful family who became dear friends and the lovely people in that lovely state
-When I left on this trip I was more sure and focused and confident than I had ever been in my life -I was going on a righteous journey to meet up with my hippie queen

January 2017 to May 2017 – Back in Nicaragua (#pimpingbutterflies)

-reunited with the woman I loved; it did not go well and by the end became very hellish for me
-Made a lot of jewelry and taught a lot of jewelry workshops as well as yoga classes
-I learned a lot about how I had been mistaken going in there with expectations and expecting to pick things up where we left off
-I had been so intent on a life I pictured for the two of us that when things didn’t go that route it really threw me for a loop

May 2017 to September 2017 – Utila, Honduras (#livinginmydreams)

-Became a SCUBA divemaster, made some great friends, got into a bit of a self-destructive spiral of marijuana and alcohol
-Met my girlfriend, Anne and we moved to Berlin together

October 2018 to Present – Berlin (#migrantcrisis)

-I had acute difficulty fitting in here at first with the onset of winter, no job and no friends
-Even as winter abated and I had a job and had made friends I felt a calling to return to Arizona and resume silversmithing and to return to Nicaragua and help my friends build the eco-project down there
-I stayed in Berlin because I wasn’t sure I could trust my own inclinations; Did I really want to go back to AZ and Nica because I felt I belonged there? Was I just chasing a good and powerful feeling I had had in the past? Was I running away from adulthood? And most importantly, was I just trying to ultimately make things work between me and my ex? When I conclusively determined that the answer to this last question was no I felt more confident about moving forward with my inclinations to get back on the road again, which brings me to….

Now (#worldwasonfire2?? #pissontheashes??)
The United States of America is calling me. It needs my help. Trump’s America is the most exciting place to be right now. So much chaos. So much change. So this fall I’m going to be leaving Germany, and after a brief stay in Canada I intend to head down to south Florida, slowly working my way north and west as it gets warmer in early 2019.

My priorities will be:
1) Developing my guitar-playing skill in the southern U.S., primarily in the Mississippi Delta region where I can learn Bluegrass. I’m gonna buy a sweet resonator guitar and slide and make some twangy as balls music
2)Developing my broader skills through workaways. I’m gonna do a lot of volunteering and living/learning through various workaways, supplementing that with couch-surfing and camping when necessary. I expect to do a lot less hitch-hiking than in the past but there may yet be some. Yoga, sailing, guitar, etc… all of these things I can develop to great extents.
3) Creating understanding through a traveling podcast interviewing representatives of various fringe groups. Whether its Antifa, the KKK, the State branch of 3%-ers, etc. I want to breate bridges of understanding. Noone is beyond redemption and I want to prove it.

I have plans to be in Nicaragua but a lot of that will depend on whether or not the political situation quiets down some there.

I am very excited about what’s ahead of me. I had some anxiety about having to end my my relationship with Anne, but we’re talking about it a lot and figuring out a way we can do this together so that’s exciting as I’ve never traveled with someone else before.

That’s all for now, but expect updates in the future as the vision crystallizes.

Best,

-Andre

“Me and my song; we’ll do it alone.”
-Big Black Delta

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The Dervish

*This story is based on a prompt from r/writingprompts which can be found HERE.

THE DERVISH

Ishmael breathed into his hands to warm them by the fire. For all the lofty talk of freedom he had heard, all he could say for sure was that it entailed a great deal of discomfort. If only he’d escaped from MECCA-CITY 01 -at least then he’d be in the desert. True the desert lacked abundant water, but seeing as he wasn’t particularly thirsty at this moment that seemed a reasonable trade-off.


(DAYZ Forest Campfire by Kaelakov)

He was suddenly distracted by a giggle from Fatima.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“I don’t wanna tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’ll make fun of me.”

“Pfft, I’ll make fun of your dumb-ass ass anyway.” At this, he lunged and attacked her. They wrestled for a moment until he pinned her loosely underneath him. She looked up at him and smiled. Without her head-scarf, her thick, brown hair fell in cascading locks that were quite lovely.

“You should be wearing your head-scarf,” he said, admonishingly.

Fatima’s expression soured. “Oh what, are you gonna be the religious police now that we’ve escaped the city?”

“No….it’s just that it’s cold and if you get sick I’m gonna have to be the one to take care of you.”

She weighed this and nodded. “You know ‘ll get sick even quicker if you keep me pinned on the ground like this.”

“What were you giggling at?” he inquired again? Without waiting for her to respond he grabbed her wrist and gently twisted it so he could see the image on the smartphone’s screen. It was a picture of the prophet engaged in immoral acts with a camel.

“What the fuck?” he exclaimed and got off her, registering mild, though still exaggerated, disgust and disappointment.

“See, I knew you’d think I was stupid for looking at memes.”

“I don’t care that you’re looking at memes, but that’s disrespectful.”

He resumed sitting on the log he had leapt from moments ago. and took on a brooding demenaour.

“It’s a fucking joke, ” Fatima protested. “Have a look. Now, that we’re outside the mosque we’re picking up all kinds of signals from parish and synagogue satellites. I find the parish memes funnier so far…”

But Ishmael drifted off into his own thoughts. There had of course been speculation that the infidels had their own networks and advanced technology, but he’d never been very much interested in that notion; he wasn’t one to spend much time online anyhow. But now, seeing firsthand that the ‘barbarians at the gate’ were actually sophisticated societies…well, it was all a little sobering. Fatima on the other hand, always had her nose in her phone and took it for granted that the infidels must have the internet because what else would they do with their time? She was so far past the shock Ishmael was feeling that she was already doing a comparative analysis of various infidel cultures.

“Why do you think that is?” asked Ishmael slowly and deliberately.

Fatima neither looked up from her phone nor missed a beat as she answered: “Well it seems that the Jews are more afraid of us and the Christians are more disgusted with us, so they’re less overall respectful and therefore make funnier content.”

“No, not that. Why do you think we’re picking up these signals?” he asked, already knowing the answer. “Why couldn’t we receive them in BAKU?”

“Duh! The men who control everything control EVERYTHING!”

That was it. He still wasn’t sure why he found this so shocking. Perhaps it was because it was final, irrefutable confirmation that he -they- had lived a lifetime of betrayal.

“You look surprised.” Fatima observed with as much compassion as she could muster, even looking up from her phone and trying to penetrate his sullen state with her eyes.”

“It’s just…”

“Just what?”

Ishmael took in a deep breath and unconsciously straightened in his posture while turning to Fatima. “Look, we both wanted a way out, but we both knew we wanted it for different reasons.” Fatima unconsciously turned herself toward him and let her hand with her phone in it fall to the side.

He continued: “You have always felt trapped by every aspect of society. You were always a rebel, since we were kids even. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find you’re gone tomorrow. The elders will probably make a gestural condemnation of you but I don’t think it will go past that. To their credit, they’re pretty liberal in the periphery. Even the men of the desert -most came this far to escape Meccan stricture.”

“So then why did you want to leave if they were so understanding?” she asked with a touch more condescension than she had intended.

“Well as liberal as they are, there were certain things which were beyond questioning. I was fortunate to learn under Mullah Enoch. At times I asked him questions which others may have had me flogged for. But he would just laugh understandingly and say, ‘This isn’t the place to ask such things.’

“Where was the place to ask such things?”

“I didn’t know…at least at first. Then I started to think that perhaps I should approach him outside of the mosque hidden in plain view where noone would be particularly interested in a student and teacher’s conversation, but whenever I approached him he was evasive or just told me that we could talk the following day in the mosque, which of course was ‘not the place to ask such things.’ So I started thinking perhaps he wasn’t talking about the mosque, but the city itself. Perhaps it wasn’t that he couldn’t talk about what I wanted to know, but that he didn’t have the answers to my questions.”

“So you’re gonna gonna look for a mosque in the wild?” Fatima interrupted with some derision.

“I don’t know!” Ismael responded defensively. “But I’m certain that Mullah Enoch was trying to tell me to leave the city.”

Fatima laughed unexpectedly which startled him. “What? Another clever picture of one our faith fucking an animal? What is it -a pig this time?” he asked, disapprovingly.

“No, I’m laughing at you, dumb shit. All this time I thought you wanted to escape the faith and now I found that you want to go deeper.” She brought her phone back into her lap. “That’s so ridiculuous -you’re finally free and you want to imprison yourself even more.” Her eyes traveled down toward her phone.

Fatima’s words didn’t bother Ishmael so much as he realized his story may have been a touch melodramatic, but he had enjoyed having her complete attention. He felt a tinge of panic when he saw it go back to her phone so he decided to tease her to get it back.

“Well, I can’t let you become a godless heathen,” he said matter-of-factly, casting her a sidelong glance. “We’re still going to pray several times a day and read the word of the prophet.”

“Oh really?” Fatima said, not looking up. “Maybe I just abandon you in the middle of the night.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it.”

She looked up from her phone, amusedly challenging him. “Why’s that?”

He looked at her phone. “The battery won’t last forever. Who you gonna talk to when it’s dead?”

“Congratulations! The one reason for staying with you that I can’t refute,” she said as she looked up at him and put her phone to sleep.

His confidence regained by his triumph over her phone, Ishmael relaxed a little and the conversation began to flow a little more freely from his end. “Yeah well when it comes down t it, it’s our crippling fear of being alone with no one to talk to that truly gave birth to civil society.” Fatima smirked at this. “If nothing else, it kept my parents’ marriage from falling apart.”

“Wow, that’s a pretty cynical view of the social contract.” Fatima observed. ” ‘We are both completely inadequate -so let’s be somewhat less cumulatively inadequate together.’ ”

“You could at least give me a ring before you make a proposal like that,” he said, feigning haughty indignance.

Fatima stood up and got one one knee in front of him, looking him in the eye. “I’m just a young apostate kneeling in front of a young heretic asking him to complement her shortcomings with his his own in a co-dependent, probably destructive way.”

“I hear apostate chicks go all the way…

“Till they stone me or burn me with acid.”

“Wow. You just gave me the weirdest boner.”

“And at that, the condemned young female’s vagina dried up and she rediscovered the faith. Allah hu Akbar!”

They both laughed and Fatima propelled herself by pushing against Ishmael’s chest, causing him to fall off the log.

“Lucky for you it’s cold out here so we’ll have to spoon to keep warm.” she said, giving him an accusing smirk.

Ishmael hadn’t bothered to get up from the ground after she’d pushed him. Instead he laid there and cast her seductive eyes., dragging his finger slowly across the ground. “I feel so tiny wrapped up in your big, strong arms,” he said in a smoky, sultry voice.

“Ha, nice try -I’m little spoon.”

“Dath coo!” He got up and began brushing his clothes of while singing, ‘Ain’t nothin’ but a dry-hump par-tyyyyy…’

“Just keep your weird boner away from my butt-crack and we won’t have any problems.”

Ishmael rolled out a blanket on the ground near their fire while Fatima gathered some more sticks and wood for their fire.

“Should we stay awake in shifts?” she asked.

“Probably the most prudent thing to do. You wanna take first or second shift?”

She yawned. “Umm…neither…”

“Then it’s settled. Let’s go to ground.”

They both laid down on their right sides and Fatima curled herself into Ishmael’s embrace. After a few minutes of fidgeting and getting comfortable they finally settled and began drifting off.

“Fatima”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

A moment passed.

“I’m all you have.”

“You’re all I want.”

They both began tearing up as the knowledge of how alone they were set in. A few moments passed then Fatima spoke:

“I love you.”

Ishmael squeezed her tighter and kissed her on the back of the head and they, at length, drifted off to sleep.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under adventure, Islam, reddit, religion, Uncategorized, Writing Prompt

ONE DAY AT THE WATCHTOWER

***The following story is a response to a thread on the sub-reddit, r/writingprompts.
View thread HERE.***

ONE DAY AT THE WATCHTOWER

Kal slurped his coffee loudly as he sat in the lounge of the watchtower reading the news on his tablet.

“Do you have to be so loud?” Diana asked. “Also, put on a goddamn shirt -this is a common area and we have a dress code.”

Kal began scratching/caressing his chest and belly as he looked over at her. “What’s the matter? You never seen a real man’s body before?” He then put two fingers to his tongue and began mockingly rubbing his nipple while giving her seductive eyes.

Diana shuddered. “You’re gonna turn me into a fucking dyke, you know that?”

Kal smirked, but before he could offer some pithy comment, Bruce walked in with a serious look on his face.

“Kal… Diana…All is well I presume?….” Kal shrugged as if to say ‘meh’ and Diana rolled her eyes and returned her attention back to her tablet.

“What is the status of next week’s operation?”

Silence.

“Do we have a belligerent to attack Munich?”

Silence.

“Guys! What the fuck? We have a plan and we’re supposed to stick to it. Why haven’t you scheduled any belligerent?”

Diana cleared her throat. “Nobody wants to work with us. They are all scared since Kal broke Zod’s neck.”

“Oh fuck them and fuck you for saying that!” Kal snapped, indignant.

“She’s right, Kal -you fucked up. Have they flat-out refused?”

“Some did…Brainiac gave us his ‘fuck-you’ price.” Diana said as she turned her tablet in Bruce’s direction for him to see.

“Jesus! We could level the city to the ground, buy it for peanuts and still lose money if we paid him that.” Bruce looked disapprovingly at Kal, who stared intently at his tablet, pretending to be unaware of the negativity focused on him. Ever the pragmatist, Bruce swallowed his anger, “We need to purchase that city. I’m open to ideas.”

“Well, you’re Bruce Wayne -you could always pay ful….”

Before he could finish, a pillow thrown by Diana hit him with the force of a moving car, exploding into a blizzard of white plumage as it hit his cheek.

“Pth pthh!….well that was unnecessary.” Kal retorted while spitting out the goose down feathers now fluttering about his head.

“I told you, we pay full price as an absolute last resort. With the sheer number and scale of acquisitions we are making, we can’t afford to pay market price -I CAN’T afford market price.”

“Well, me and Diana coul-”

“Diana and I…you stupid fuck.” Diana interrupted.

“Diana and I,” Kal resumed. “We could toss on black masks and dark clothes and just go wreck shit.”

“No! Too risky. We’ve had to endure too much scrutiny the few times we resorted to that.” Bruce sat at this and let out a sigh. “We need a clear-cut villain and not some mysterious man in black with suspiciously Kryptonian abilities, otherwise it’ll be the fast-track to registration, ankle bracelets and panoptic surveillance like they’re dealing with in 616.”

At this, Kal and Diana looked at each other, then at Bruce. Bruce remained looking straight ahead, only his gaze was fixed on something which seemed thousands of miles away. At length, he blinked and seemed to awaken. “Kal, do you still have it?”

“The motherbox? Yeah…. but are you sure you wanna ask for their help? Just think about what they’ll ask for in return.”

“It’s true,” Diana chimed in. “But at least we know it won’t be money.”

“Listen, I know I’m not the smartest one here, but it seems we’re opening up a can of worms that we may not wanna open. What if they want us to fight on their behalf in their universe someday?”

“It’s true,” said Bruce, standing with resolve. “But we can set the terms for such a payment, and if we set the terms far enough off in the future we may negotiate some wiggle-room. And who knows: when they call on us it may be to champion a cause we can actually get behind.”

“Ugh, I feel so dirty”

“Do it!” commanded Diana.

Kal left at a grudging pace, decidedly well slower than he was capable of. When he had gone, Diana walked to Bruce who was now staring out at the vast expanse of space and the world below them. She stood beside him and watched the world twinkling below them. A skin-coloured object moved incredibly fast past their field of view and seemed to terminate somewhere in the Arctic circle.

“The idiot didn’t even bother to put a shirt on.” observed Diana. “…Bruce. Do you think it’s really worth it? Buying the world?”

Bruce grimaced. “You know I do.”

“Do you ever feel like we’re becoming the villains?”

“I do.”

“So does the end justify the means?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m not justifying anything anymore. I’m stopping crime.”

“By destroying cities?”

“If necessary, yes! I spent years, Diana -YEARS- beating the shit out of petty criminals and the mentally disturbed. But they weren’t the problem -they were symptoms. Every city that Wayne Enterprises has bought has been completely overhauled -better infrastructure, better connectivity, integrated agriculture, energy independence, decentralization for greater local autonomy, universal standardization for greater compatibility and cooperation with all other cities…..ABUNDANCE, Diana. People in my cities no longer want for things. And as their circumstances have changed and they’ve been freed from drudgery, their values have changed too and we’re are seeing a marked increase in innovation, virtually no crime, a flourishing in the arts. There is a veritable renaissance going on below and it’s all thanks to-”

Bruce caught himself and took a breath.

“What I mean to say is that we are already seeing the fruit of our labours. Besides, the cities that are destroyed are typically those we can’t afford because the people have become so soulless and speculative that they no longer view domiciles as homes, but as assets. Their loss is a sacrifice I gladly make for the greater good.”

They both stared out again at the Earth. The glass in the window darkened in a split-second as the sun peeked over the Earth’s horizon.

“You really hate gentrification, don’t you?” Diana asked.

“Not as much as I hate yuppie scum!”

Then they had sex with no condom.

THE END

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Mental Gender and The Kybalion

Friends,

This past January I fell in with a hippie named Timmie somewhere west of Tucson in the Sonoran Desert, a few scant kilometres north of the Mexican border and on the fringes of the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation. We were living in what amounted to a desert suburb -giant plots of land, hundreds of acres each, connected by endless desert track. Maverick bovines mingled with their branded counterparts, and save for the fences which partitioned each ranch/plot of land, the only features which dotted the horizon were the farmhouses, existing kilometres upon kilometres from each other.


We spent our days mountain climbing and smoking metric shitloads of dope…
…rather idyllic…

Add to this isolation the natural desolation of the desert, the alien appearance of the saguaros, the evidence of coyotes ferrying illegals over the same routes we walked mere hours earlier, the omnipresence of the border patrol, the unseen eyes of the minutemen, the looming threat of danger from nearby neighbours who’d tried to rob Timmie, and most importantly the raw spiritual power of the reservation land we were on, and it all amounted to an exciting and interesting place to do drugs.


The remote watering hole on the reservation where we’d take Timmie’s sick dog, Oshe every day, read and allow our peace and harmony to attract wild horses.

And do drugs we did. Well, weed and mushrooms anyway.

I should qualify that: We smoked weed everyday, several times a day and it was even more of a trip because Timmie was one of those guys who could see the matrix; he was always making connections between words, acronyms and numbers and well….everything. As well, he had the gravitas of a wise Indian shaman and so there was something hypnotic about hearing him deconstruct reality…

But with regard to the mushrooms, we only did one trip: 9.5 grams of Amanita Muscarias (which I recorded and edited down to an 8-minute youtube video).
It was a powerful trip spiritually and we did a multi-day preparation for it which included a simple, nourishing diet, meditation and discourse, and reading aloud from The Kybalion. For those unfamiliar with this text I encourage you to read the wikipedia entry on it, but in brief it is the distilled teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, the greatest of all the alchemists, and it posits that there are 7 Hermetic Principles, which it then expounds upon. They are:

I. The Principle of MENTALISM
II. The Principle of CORRESPONDENCE
III. The Principle of VIBRATION
IV. The Principle of POLARITY
V. The Principle of RHYTHM
VI. The Principle of CAUSE AND EFFECT
VII. The Principle of GENDER

These principles don’t seem profound in and of themselves; indeed any pop-scientist who’s ‘liked’ IFLScience on Facebook could probably give you a tenable breakdown of vibration and cause & effect at the very least. However, it is when all seven principles are taken in conjunction that their synergy and implications manifest. It’s all very interesting and their are certainly more in-depth analyses of each specific principle to be had out there if you don’t have an interest (yet) in reading the entire book, but herein I just want to explain the fascinating revelations of chapter fourteen, which deals with MENTAL GENDER.
Mental Gender (MG) might be best explained as an elaboration on the previous chapter’s discussion on principle #7: the complementary masculine and feminine principles/energies/aspects in all of creation. Indeed, the book goes to great lengths to explain how in any act of creation, from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the universe itself, there is always a masculine energy/will which then imposes itself upon/inspires a feminine energy/womb. The masculine impresses itself upon the feminine and the feminine receives impressions -BAM! Creation!
I’ve found a handy conceptual tool to imagine this is that the feminine might be considered the energy (or matter at lower levels of vibration) and the masculine might be considered the vibration itself, determining what form the matter/energy exists as.
So why break gender down further into mental gender? Well, refer to the first principle, Mentalism, and it’s assertion that “All is Mind.” Everything is a creation of the mind, and if every creation is a culmination of masculine meeting feminine, then these two principles, mentalism and gender, share a very interesting connection.

Now allow me to digress a moment: when I left Timmie and Arizona to go to Carpe Diem Eco Project in Nicaragua, I met a traveler named Ryan my first night. He had achieved a high-level of mastery at life and so I listened when he spoke. He left the next day but one thing he said which made a deep (masculine) impression on the (feminine) womb of my mind was this: “I AM is the most powerful phrase in the universe.” While I didn’t understand fully why at the time, I knew it to be true, and so I incorporated this phrase into daily affirmations.

Fast forward to months later, and me finally finishing The Kybalion and wouldn’t you know, the phrase I AM is explicitly discussed and now better understood.

Why?

Well first we must separate I AM into its constituent parts and descriptions:

I is the statement of being. The masculine will which is cultivated through discipline, effort and focus. It must be cultivated.
AM is the statement of becoming. The womb or creative space where our ‘ME’ is created through the impressions we receive. It exists (without any need for cultivation) as primordial chaos which seeks order (I) for the act of creation.

The AM will be impregnated by/create with the strongest I (or Is) it receives impressions from. Since many are derelict in their duty of cultivating a strong I or will in their lifetimes, one strong I, whether from a mentally stronger human being or larger, more influential organization can impregnate the AM space of many, while the I of many individuals simply atrophies and languishes. (I don’t think I need to go into the parallels this realization has on our physical plane, but female sexual selection comes readily to mind, even if masculine and feminine are not specifically male and female.)
It is therefore incumbent upon us to take the time and effort to cultivate our I so that we can create our own reality as opposed to existing in the reality of another.

THINK ‘I AM’ > SPEAK ‘I AM’ > DO

Order yearns for chaos and chaos yearns for order, but chaos is a harsh and choosy mistress, so do the mental work of cultivating a strong I through meditation and reflection, speak a strong I in the direction your will is pointing and then manifest that reality through acting in accord with mind and voice.

I suppose this last bit is as much of a reminder for myself as it is advice to any of you xo

For a full downloadable pdf of the Kybalion: http://www.hermetics.org/pdf/kybalion.pdf

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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Migrant Crisis

Friends,

It’s been a lukewarm minute since I last posted here. Beyond indolence, there was a practical difficulty in that I didn’t have a computer and I absolutely abhor typing with my thumbs.

But no need to labour my absence. Here I am. Back in Canada of all places after 10 months on the road which saw me a tear a righteous strip up and down Arizona with my thumb, have a 4-month, beachfront war of the roses with my ex in Nicaragua, and then spend a similar amount of time in Utila, Honduras getting my divemaster certification (also having my first threesome).

And now I’m back in Canada. Not for long though -in 6 days I’ll be flying to Berlin to move in with my Frau, Anna, whom I met in Honduras. I’m excited to move to Berlin because it will be an opportunity to immerse myself among a critical mass of high-functioning people and see how it affects me.

Also excited to see mein frau -she’s teaching me to speak the German

But how does it feel to be back? Like shit honestly. Everything is falling apart at the seams. I feel unhealthy, depressed, angry, repressed and apprehensive. I don’t wanna be in this fuckin’ country. If I don’t hate it I feel hatred toward it. I didn’t want to come back and it’s only because Canada is kinda on the way to Germany that I decided to stop here.

It hasn’t all been bad of course. For starters I get to see family and friends which is always lovely. Particularly I was fortunate in that my two-week window back here happened to coincide with my cousin Sarah’s wedding


Smaller in stature; Larger in retardation

And of course, I got to see my grandmother, Sheila who has been struggling with cancer for the better part of my absence. After seeing her briefly at the wedding this past Saturday (her first foray out of the hospital since being admitted months ago), I again saw her at the hospital the next day. and we talked and joked in a very familiar way, almost oblivious to the sterile surroundings. As we left, I lingered behind to say what I understood might be my final good-bye to her.
We spoke some more and then I grabbed her hand and smiled -it wasn’t an affected smile trying to fight back tears or hide hurt, but rather a large and genuine smile as one soul may give to another as they part ways after a brief (30 year) and benevolent time together.
She said to me, “I guess this is good-bye for a long time.”
“Yes,” I responded, immediately aware that she was talking about more than just my upcoming departure to Germania.
At that she gave me a kiss and told me to take it with me. After one final squeeze I backed away from her still smiling, feeling more closure and peace than anyone in my position might reasonably expect to feel. She’s right, it is good-bye for a “long time,” but I’l see her again, either in this life or the next.

***********

The upshot of all this is that I’m ready to be on my way. As I mentioned above, I don’t feel healthy here. Three years ago was the last winter I spent in Canada and my health suffered drastically, partly as a result of the lack of light and probably partly as an indirect result of depression induced by coming out of a major break-up. From what I understand, Berlin’s weather is more comparable to southern Ontario’s weather than it is to Latin America’s and so this gives me pause.
As well as my concern for my own health, I know that in winter people tend to clam up, stay indoors and generally not be as open. I tend shine brightest in the sun and from what I can tell I have more power to uplift those around me in said circumstances. Bearing that in mind I will have to make extra efforts to engage and interact, rather than resign myself to wintry isolation.
I’m scared though.

Another thing that troubles me about being in Canada is the politically-correct culture. It has in the last few years had such a deleterious effect on me and my confidence as a man that repeated excursions to the developing world became a must; Say what you will about Central America and it’s problems with violence and machismo, but at least you can call something what it is without people complaining that you’re being offensive.
This PC culture, or perhaps more accurately this Socially-Sanctioned Self-Delusion, has indeed fallen to the periphery of my awareness in my absence from Canada, but it never quite disappeared as I was always plugged into social media. However, coming back here, even for a brief few weeks I’m sickened by the atrophied spirit of people.
Is it the weather getting people down? Perhaps.
Is it my own projections bringing me down? Likely that too.
Still, there is a resignation that people have to their own inability to say the things they’re inclined to say and act the way they’re inclined to act. I say “inclined” instead of “want” because I get the sense that people have convinced themselves they don’t want to speak truth. I recognize this behaviour because I suffer from it too and I’m trying to recover so perhaps I’m more sensitive to it. Yet even catching snippets of SNL and Seth Meyers I am reminded constantly that ostensible taboos are framed as “I can’t say _____” rather than “If I say ____ there will be consequences.” The latter is true but the former becomes a limiting belief and it’s a limiting belief that is pushed forcefully on the masses. This is perhaps what I object to most: the snarky voice of progressive western culture saying “You can’t do/say that!”
Don’t ever believe anyone when they tell you that you can’t do something -they are misguided devils trying to limit the godliness within you insofar as it finds expression through your voice and hands.
Normally it wouldn’t be too much of a problem cause I’m only here for two weeks, but I’m moving to Berlin which from what I understand is a very “progressive” city, and unfortunately the experiences I’ve had show me that progressiveness often goes hand in hand with repression. So in the same way I’ll have to double my efforts to keep my energy up, I’ll have to double my efforts to speak my own truth. My first order of business will be getting a job chopping vegetables -I need a few weeks of some mundane labour to process all the experiences and info I’ve been gathering over the last two years and I think prep work in a kitchen is the route I’ll go.

Winter is coming. My watch has just begun. But if there is any silver lining, it’s that I understand Germany is quite amenable to unskilled fighting-age males with darker complexions.


This is the face I’ll endeavor to face this new challenge and all new challenges with.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

#MigrantCrisis

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…When I Learn to Fly

  1. “I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.”
    -Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly

Friends,

I’m coming up on 5 months abroad now, the last three of which have been in Nicaragua, and, seeing as I just returned from a visa renewal trip to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say I don’t have any immediate plans to go back to Canada. I do have plans and intentions but the only person I’ve really opened up to about my intentions is fellow film-maker, Alex Loubert, but even that was a few weeks back and plans have refined since then. So for whomever is interested I’d like to elucidate upon the plans which have been formulating in my head. My intention here is to not only clarify my intent for friends and family, but to give some advance notice to those who may wish to collaborate on the ongoing art project which is my life.

OVERVIEW

Over the next two years I intend to improve myself and broaden my skill-set in order that I may live on the road indefinitely, making money as I need to and not being tethered to the balance of my savings. Also, should I ever return to Canada I want to have a skill-set which will allow me to live on my own terms and not on the indulgence of an employer.
(In the words of Cam’Ron: “Nobody gonna pay you like you pay yourself.”)
Also, and this is of equal import, I wish to improve myself while at the same time seeing as-yet-unseen parts of the world which I have always yearned to see. Perhaps at the end of this excursion I may be ready to put down roots and stay in one place.
No promises though…

WHERE TO BEGIN?…

About a month ago I spent a few days at Momentom Collective, a yoga and circus focused artist residency in San Juan Del Sur co-founded by Gabrielle Buenaciudad and Therese Lowton.

It was an eye-opening stay as I was immersed in a culture of incredibly high-functioning, supportive, positive and open people. Being there really fucked with some obsolete programming I have been holding onto for years; I kinda felt like I was short-circuiting at times as I internalized possibilities for myself which were fundamentally rooted in trusting myself and my intuition. I realized how much I second-guess my inclinations and how much this tendency has stifled me and postponed my full flowering, no homo.
(*On that note, living in Canada, especially near Toronto, with its “progressive” SJW culture, has been degenerative for my psyche, especially when compounded by working in tv/film where I felt pressure to be inoffensive due to the collaborative nature of the industry. I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but being removed from the industry, the city and the country fills me with a sense of freedom to speak which I ironically haven’t felt since I was in the military. Go figure!).
Since my time there (Momentom) I have made a concerted effort to be trusting of my inclinations and urges and to be deliberate rather than furtive in my overtures.
It’s actually a lot of fun as a big part of it is just saying whatever is on my mind. As a role model I look to Archer and just pretend I have Asperger’s -I say some real funny shit sometimes. Bartending at Surfing Turtle has been great for this because its a license to be deliberate about opening people up and the best way to do that is often brutal, hilarious and honest observation.

But, back to the topic of self-improvement….

My friend Brandon Gowe is fond of saying, “Always have at least three hustles.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, but three is a bare minimum. Right now I:

-Sell jewelry (Occasional)
-Get paid to teach yoga (Occasional)
-Chop a dime here and there (Occasional and illegal)

As you can see my bare minimum three hustles need work. Here is what I intend to do….

NICARAGUA

I have been living in #CarpeDiemEcoProject helping my good friend, Ghislain Beauchamp build the eco-resort he has been dreaming of opening for years. We get closer and closer to completion every week and things are quickening now with large-scale construction projects commencing this week which will see the camp overrun with local contractors and carpenters as well as the usual group of volunteers building with cob.
However, the reality is that it’s getting late in the season and he has floated the idea of closing the place down for the year as soon as mid-May as opposed to June as in previous years. So, using that as a rough timeline I’ve begun to plan life after CDEP.
As mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at #SurfingTurtleLodge and I’m enjoying it immensely, so I’ve naturally thought about switching to full-time. That idea certainly has some lustre and I’m not 100% against it because it would be great hostel-work experience which will be valuable for the next two years (more on that soon), but right now I feel pulled in a different direction.

HONDURAS

Pursuant to my goal of improving myself through a broader skill-set I have set the intention of heading north to Utila, Honduras and doing a divemaster certification. Apparently it can be done for about $1000 USD and it would be a pliable skill anywhere I went in the world with a coastline. Also, Utila is a paradise chock full of reefs, whale sharks and beautiful people. Being in Central America you hear a lot of grape-vine talk about hot places to go and this is one such place which is thankfully something of a hidden gem still. As a bonus, when I mentioned it to Ghislain, a dive instructor who had lived and worked there 5 years ago, he mentioned he was thinking of going back in May for a visit. This would be amazing as I would have a knowledgeable and experienced travel companion and good friend to roll with. Fingers crossed!

POST-HONDURAS

The next for-sure mark to hit after Honduras and divemaster cert would be North Africa. Timeline-wise I’m thinking I would like to get there by late 2017 or early 2018. My intention is primarily to see the Sahara and roughly re-create Santiago’s journey from “THE ALCHEMIST,” but there’s flex on start/end points and route.

To begin with, how to get there? Well, right now the most appealing option is to hop on a yacht in the Caribbean and work as crew to get across the Atlantic. That would be dope and satisfy a longing to do a trans-oceanic voyage. Ideally I would like to end up in Spain where I would begin my Alchemist journey in Andalucia, possibly after hiking the Camino de Santiago in the north (Lukazs, Tom, let’s do this!!).

Another way I might make my way to Spain would be less direct -heading to Mexico, then up the Baja California, through Cali, Oregon, Washington and BC finally seeing the Pacific Northwest that has enchanted me for so long and possibly working as a weed trimmer there if its the right time of year -As far as trimming goes, it’s great coin, but I’m more interested in doing it for the experience before everything becomes legal. In any event, once I got back to Canada I would finally hitch-hike across Canada like I’ve been intending to for years, stopping briefly in Ontario before jumping off to Spain to begin aforementioned Trans-Saharan Caravan.

#NOTHINGISWRITTEN (NORTH AFRICA)

I’m gonna immerse myself in the desert and just get consumed by the wasteland. But I’m also gonna take my time with it, working at hostels, doing workaways, woofing if possible, learning the language and making my way incrementally across the northern part of the African continent to the pyramids. If possible I would like to do more apprenticeships with jewelers, learning local styles and improving my skill-set. In Morocco, my first country after Spain, I intend to head to the Atlantic coast there and check out the fledgling aurf scene and see if my divemaster cert could be put to use.
In the desert itself I wanna go to an oasis soooooo bad. Oases have always enchanted me so I’m gonna live in one.
For the record, I am quite frightened of possible run-ins with extremist groups like ISIS but I figure I’m gonna be more of a curiosity to them than anything. I have joked that maybe they’ll kidnap and force me to make jewelry for them which would be kinda dope, but I was only half-joking: I wanna find out for myself who’s out there instead of just believing the news. Maybe I’ll write an ethnography.
If it turns out they do want to execute me I’ll try and see the humor in it and laugh on the way to my execution -it’s the only victory we can truly have in life.
This whole African excursion is gonna be gully and by the time I get to Egypt I will be ready to begin the next phase: INDIA.

PSYCH! SAUDI ARABIA…MAYBE…

I wanna see the Arabian desert because for me it represents a wasteland more inaccessible and dangerous than that of Northern Africa. Seriously, going there scares me not because of the harsh conditions but because of the strict observance of Islamic law. If they catch you slippin’, well….. Let’s just say there’s nothing scarier than an establishment that will kill you with impunity for perceived transgressions and all the while believe they are acting righteously *cough* police *cough*…
No guarantees on this one but it’s definitely a possibility.

INDIA

I have been teaching yoga for a while, and I’ve been practicing it for years, but I have yet to get certified and thus learn much of the associated theory. Certification will also lend more credibility to me when I apply to various hostels and hospitality locations looking for work. And really, what better place than India to learn yoga? There are many great places here in Central America to get certified and I will certainly broaden my yoga skill-set over time here, but remember, an important part of these next two years is seeing places I haven’t seen. So as well as getting my cert I am going to see India , feast like a king and maybe buy a monkey. Who knows!?

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Finally, I will make my way to SE Asia. You know, it’s a wonder I haven’t been here yet. For some people it’s their first exposure to backpacking, but even after more than ten years of excursions its uncharted territory for me. As far as self-improvement goes, all along the trip I will be developing my massage skill and reiki aptitude, and here in SE Asia I feel like I could really develop my Thai massage skill-set. Beyond that I’m not sure what I want from this place (food), but I know I gotta see it as it will (mostly) wrap up all my loose ends of bucket list places to see.

EPILOGUE

I’m not sure who I will be when this is all said and done and if I will be ready to buy property and build something of my own, or if I’ll want to come back to Canada or if I’ll want to pursue trips to Patagonia, the Peruvian desert, Antarctica, Eastern Europe, etc. (The bucket list never actually ends) I can literally do anything I want to do. My biggest challenge is aiming high.

So if you don’t know now you know, nigga(s)!

EPI-EPILOGUE

I owe special recognition to two very important people in my life who have precipitated a great desire for growth within me.

First would be Ghislain -meeting him and visiting his project last year was a very serendipitous experience for me and he embodies qualities that I aspire to embody myself. He is a skilled, positive, hard-working, dynamic individual comfortable with himself as a man and as a member of a community. It is by the strength of his will that the culture of CDEP is what it is. I admire the dude and feel honored to count him among my friends.

Second would be Marijo Lariviere. She is one of the most talented people I know whose ability to thrive anywhere in the world with her skill-set has inspired me greatly in my current path. Whether it’s yoga instruction, hair-dressing, jewelry-making, etc… She has so many valuable practical skills that it really made me reflect on what I bring to the table, what I could offer others (manual labor, carry a gun), and realize that I could do better. She made me aspire to improve myself if only to be of greater service to the people around me.

In closing I want to say I can be better than I am. I don’t say that with self-denigration or regret but with optimism, love for myself, and excitement to see the man I am evolving into.

I hope you enjoy the show too.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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