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Annals of Indolence – 27 NOV 2017

Friends,

Can you still call a bender a bender if there’s no drugs and alcohol involved?

This is what I’m wondering as I’m lying on the couch all night the last few days distracting myself waiting for inspiration to hit like a lightning bolt.

I want to do creative things. I have so many great ideas. I have multiple mediums to express those ideas. Yet for all the inspiration that passes through me, I have been hard-pressed to produce consistently and with follow-through.

Why?

Well for one, my default way to handle inspiration has typically been “write about it,” but I’m out of practice -I haven’t been a prolific writer the last year because I have been away from a computer while backpacking down south. I had a phone but I am loathe to type with my thumbs on a phone so got a little rusty.. That’s probably definitely (sic.) a part of it.

Another part of it is that I just moved to Berlin and my life here so far been so inter-twined with that of my girlfriend, Anne, that I really haven’t had a degree of ‘me-time’ to carve out my own space here and ease in.

One thing that I hope it is not is that I have lost something; some fire that I used to possess which made me post prolifically (often angrily) about matters I cared about. I like to think my convictions have remained consistent but my passions have been tempered with reason and patience.

Is there truth to that? Probably…yes. But I’m also at an age too where people calm down and settle and expect less from the world. I think… I KNOW I have gotten stronger in many ways over the last few years, but I can’t help but feeling I am capitulating by not being angry, or at least passionate like I used to be.

Do I expect less from the world? Do I expect less from myself? Is that appropriate?

I see myself as woefully unprepared and ill-equipped to take the world by storm. I’m not really expert at much, let alone the skills that are most rewarded by society, but fundamentally the problem is deeper than that. It’s a lack of drive because I want for something to believe in. I want something to motivate me to get me excited for each new day. Lately I have been living my life with the mindset, “How can I maximize the safety and inoffensiveness of my existence so that I can prolong my comfort for the longest period of time in the hope that the revolution materializes in the interim?” That’s no way to live and I know it’s against everything I profess to stand for but it’s also a suit that fits well.

So, what do you when the type of living that you’re against is also the type of life you’re really good at? I have perfected living frugally and within my means and managed to find happiness in that. As a student of stoic philosophy I actually think there is something noble about it, but at same time being back in a city makes me feel like I am not being all I can be because I am surrounded by so many high-achievers. It was easy for me to be a relative high-achiever living on a beach the last couple years; if you can make some flyers with an iphone app, open beers, guide people through stretching and bend wire you are a high-achiever. Berlin is a little different and I have felt that I am not really good enough at any one particular thing to make a living at it when there are a hundred other people who focus on that one thing and have become expert at it.

So I’m wondering what do I want to be good at and examining each possible thing critically. Naturally I always find reasons why I shouldn’t be focusing my time on these things. There are so many reasons NOT TO DO things and even the reasons FOR doing things can be taken apart and shown to be meaningless, pointless, self-defeating and paltry.

The only consistent, irrefutable reason TO DO anything always is that it’s inside me and I have to get it out.

I don’t know.

I don’t know if I’m right, if I’m deluding myself, and if this post even makes sense.  I just wanna get back to being good and outspoken again like I used to be.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

 

 

 

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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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‘Nosediving’ I: Life Imitating Art in China

“I’ll just follow my nose…”
-Toucan Sam

Friends,

In my recent efforts to get caught up on the program Black Mirror, I yesterday watched the first episode from season 3, entitled “Nosedive.” In this episode, the protagonist, Lacie lives in a world where everyone is constantly rated by each other on a 5 star scale. One’s rating at any given point is an aggregated average, with 5-star ratings from “high-4s” bringing one’s average higher than 5-star

ratings from 3.5s and lower. Lacie averages a respectable 4.2 at the episode’s beginning but to achieve a 4.5 and receive the benefits such a ranking holds (financial, social and professional) she takes a gamble and enters the high-stakes game of upward mobility at the elite level. Things quickly unravel for her as circumstances beyond her control coupled with some “average-dropping” faux-pas’ cause her to drop just below 4.2 and lose that ranking’s necessary benefits. This leads to an emotional outburst and profanity (a positive no-no in the perfectionist world of social media lifestyle cultivation) which gets her harshly penalized until her average is so low that she throws away all pretension and goes thermonuclear at the very social event that she gambled would bring her 4.5dom.

The whole episode seems as if it’s going to be a sobering parable about hubris and the dangers of superficiality, but late in the episode  Lacie has a chance encounter with a formerly high-4 woman happily reduced to 1-dom and we start to see that maybe letting go is the path to salvation and the moral of the episode. The final scene in a jail cell where Lacie (at an abysmal sub-1 average) trades barbs with a fellow inmate only confirms this moral.


She seems happier cussing out this black man than at any other point in the episode….RACIST!!

And it’s a good moral. It smacks of Voltaire’s timeless bit of wisdom, “Man is free the moment he wishes to be.”

I pondered this moral and it’s implications for me and where I’m at. I realized a few years ago that cultivating a squeaky-clean image online was not possible for me, nor desirable, as it would psychologically limit me in the future when I wanted to say some real shit.

Or perhaps more accurately, recognizing that a social media presence is a digital monument, if I built one based on omission and SFW opinions, I would be unwilling to topple it down the road (with risque points of view), it being a monument after all and something I would have, at that hypothetical future-point, invested much time and effort into creating.

No, better to speak my piece, polarizing as it may be, and let the chips fall where they may.

Enter the universe (or invasive data-mining), which, in it’s infinite wisdom, has been known to conspire: Logging onto the Facebooks this morning I saw that a friend posted an article from Wired entitled, “Big Data Meets Big Brother: China Moves to Rate it’s Citizens.

 

That’s right, China is moving to implement citizen ratings based on stringent governmental standards by 2020. I would suggest you read the article for Rachel Botsman’s in-depth analysis of the implications, but essentially people will qualify for better services and greater privileges based on how high their rating is. Furthermore, and much more insidiously, those considered “untrustworthy” (Naturally, China is framing it as a trust-scale more than a conformity-scale) will not only have a lack of privileges, but be a threat to their circle of friends, as one person’s degree of “fuck-uppery” will reflect poorly on anyone who deigns to associate with them, threatening even the ostensibly “trust-worthy” with loss of privileges.


“China, YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!”

It’s like in Full Metal Jacket when Pyle keeps fucking up and so Hartman decides to punish the rest of the platoon, alienating him from everyone and causing them to beat the shit out of him, in what was (impressively) arguably the most disturbing scene in any Kubrick film. Punishments against bystanders for indulging and tolerating undesirables is a fundamentally malicious policy because it goes against beautiful and humanistic ideals such as “Love thy Neighbour” and “Do Unto Others…”

I’m not so naive to believe that this is a China-problem, nor that people-rating hasn’t already manifested there and here in the west. In a way, I’m all for it; I’ve worked hard to be a good traveler and earn a good reputation on CouchSurfing for example, and that reputation (rightly) gains me the trust of new hosts in new places a lot quicker and more easily. The logic is simple: Don’t be a shithead; Don’t get treated like a shithead. Simple! I, much like Ms. Botsman believe reputation to be the once and future currency of the world -good enough for proto-human tribes, good enough for the post-scarcity economy we’re moving toward.

However, China is bastardizing the noble concept of reputation by taking two of it’s ugliest permutations, credit ratings (a mechanism to further deprive the already deprived) and people reviewing (a “legitimate” way to smear someone via apps like Peeple), and combining them into an ugly abomination with the power to bestow privilege and convenience to the worthy and mete out suffering to the unworthy based on pre-established standards which are reflective of the state institution’s survival needs rather than the ability of citizens to co-exist with each other. And if that wasn’t already enough, those afflicted with “unworthiness” carry a memetic contagion of sorts, alienating them from worthy members of society who may help to, at the very least, rehabilitate them, even though they may have done nothing worse than question policy.

In this last regard, China is almost creating a prison without walls, which might not be so bad if this state-sanctioned social smearing was implemented as an alternative to physical incarceration (even though the ‘bar for entry’ seems to be much lower), but there has been no apparent mention of this, so its essentially just a way to lock up more citizens and scare many more into falling in line.

Well-played, China. The magnificence of your bastardry apparently knows no bounds.

My knee-jerk reaction to this article was predictably fear and anxiety. I’m not a violent criminal but it seems ‘crimes’ we all engage such as out-spokenness may one day land us in hot water as state-ratings become normalized and global. From a strictly amoral and Machiavellian perspective, it does seem to be a viable way to conserve and consolidate power and only someone with a complete lack of imagination or an interest in seeing this system propagate could deny it will be implemented in the western world if the China test-case proves successful.

Again, what was most paralyzing about the worry I felt  was that I realized one day having an opinion that was considered unpopular could hurt those I care about. If I had to dissociate from my father for example, or worse, if he decided to dissociate from me because I was too much of a liability… Well, how could I fault him for that?

But in that moment of panic I realized that I was just feeling, I wasn’t thinking. The former has a place to be sure, but sometimes we have to be pragmatic and logical. Whenever I am seized by existential anxiety I go over my escape plan. The details of it change over time but points 1 and 2 are pretty much always the same:

ANDRE’S SUPER-SECRET, ‘DON’T TELL THE GOVERNMENT’, ESCAPE PLAN

  1. If shit gets too bad I can always kill myself and then my problems on this material plane are over.
  2. I can always focus on my breathing and the present moment.
  3.  Refer back to points 1 and 2 as needed until such time as a better solution presents itself.

You could maybe argue that the order of 1 and 2 could be switched, but they’re just a starting point and as important as their actual viability as solutions to the problem of life, they serve the purpose of reassuring me while I formulate other strategies.

Those strategies I will elaborate on in my next post which will be a follow-up to this one.

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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Eli Eastwood: Cowardice & Faggotry

Eli laid in the spare bed staring at the ceiling. He felt no inclination to move into the next bed two feet away and make love to the woman lying there in a negligee. Those inclinations had passed. It wasn’t that the sex had been bad or unfulfilling -on the contrary; he’d had his first tantric orgasm with her and she was a good mix of submissive and assertive. It simply didn’t feel righteous anymore and that was enough for him

So why be here? He didn’t know what he wanted from her. It wasn’t a free place to stay -he would have been much happier at the cheap hostel he normally stayed at. There he could stay up all night, plying his craft, listening to gangsta rap and noone questioned his behaviour. Here, if he stayed up late in the kitchen doing that, especially since the sex had stopped, it would arouse suspicions and cause more tension between them. Yet here he was in her house just the same, not knowing for sure why. He supposed it might have had something to do with keeping everything lovely until the conclusion of their business together -collaborating on an artisan’s market- and he highly doubted that their “friendship” would continue past that climax. Since he had stoped sleeping with her It had gotten to the point where everything she did annoyed him and it was a struggle for him to be patient and kind to her. It transcended rationality too: He had been in town the night before and had dropped by expecting her to be home. The fact that she hadn’t been home had irked him. How dare she not be at his beck and call when he was being self-sacrificial and putting up with her?

No, instead some scared Swedish girl -a boarder he supposed- had opened the viewport and nervously told him that she, Kay, wasn’t home.

That fuckin’ Swedish girl. That broken little human being. Eli didn’t have much patience for scared people, much less use for them. He felt they were disappointing as human beings. On some fundamental level they had failed where they could have excelled simply by having a spine. The Swedish girl had been scared of him, he could see that in her eyes, and it was entirely irrational as she had been “protected” from him by a steel door. What a waste of a human.

Jack barked at a noise and Eli looked over at him disdainfully. He thought about how he hated scared animals most of all. Jack’s barking was a symptom of his history of abuse. Kay had rescued him and apparently his original owners had broken his bones and beaten him. As the dog’s big, sad, scared eyes eyed Eli warily, the latter felt a longing to see the dog whipped and beaten until he whimpered in submission and/or learned to shut the fuck up. He could barely tolerate Jack’s furtive movements when he wasn’t barking, but when he was barking, and because Eli knew that barking to be a fear-based reaction to noises in the night…well it was almost too much to bear.

Eli hated Jack. What was worse was that he knew this hatred, like his annoyance with Kay, was irrational, but that still didn’t diminish it. Hating Jack felt good. He was a useless piece of shit faggot of a dog who regularly got humped by Lola (a spunky female 2/3 his size). God how he wanted to just smash Jack in the face with a balled-up fist as he slept one of his nervous, fidgety naps.
It wasn’t all Jack’s fault Eli supposed; in her compassion perhaps Kay over-indulged him. She said he didn’t like men and since she accepted this as one of the realities of Jack’s disposition she never tried to correct this antisocial behaviour in earnest. At most, she would gently raise her voice to quiet him down.
The saddest part was that Kay’s raised voice, even muted from the other end of the house, was often still enough to make him stop barking. God, what a pathetic faggot of a dog, lacking even the spirit to defy a barely-heard master of obliging disposition.
At night, when they lay in bed not having sex, sharing the bedroom with 2 dogs and 4 cats (this irked Eli greatly but he kept his mouth shut…mostly), Kay would have to tell Jack to stop licking his paws (the scared little fucker would stop too) because it was apparently a nervous habit which he had that was analogous to a nervous human biting their fingernails. Jesus, not only was this dog a scared little pussy faggot, he was also a neurotic Jew.

God, Eli wanted to smash him good. As if hearing and understanding Eli’s inner monologue through the assistance of some telepathic, human to dog translating apparatus, Jack widened his eyes at Eli and the big ivory whites were plainly visible as he stared sidelong.

“Keep eyeballing me you fuck!” Eli thought. “One day Kay will leave me alone in the house and you’ll fucking suffer for every time you barked at me, or a noise, or whatever.”

This revenge fantasy had a certain cathartic effect -it satisfied a darkness within Eli that he knew he had yet to overcome. He was typically good-natured -a dope-smoking yoga enthusiast and beach bum, so he recognized how out of place and problematic these thoughts were and he was introspective enough to look at where they came from. Why did he hate scared people and animals? Well that was easy -he was scared himself. All the macho bravado and posturing aside, he hadn’t overcome his fears of death, dismemberment, etc. He supposed with the latter two (dismemberment, etc) he would find a way to make the aftermath of whatever tragedy befell him his new normal and therefore adapt. In the case of death, he knew nothing would matter once he was dead, but he did fear dying “badly.”

Was that it though? Did that account for his hatred of weakness and fear?

No.

His hatred of Jack and the Swedish girl went deeper than his own fear. It went to the child he was and how small and inadequate he had felt in comparison to his step-father and his older step-brother. He despised how ineffectual he had felt because he had no inclination to work on chores like they had. He had to be forced to work with vague notions of the corporal punishment which would befall him of he didn’t pull his weight. And these notions of punishment were never too vague because getting smacked around, mostly by his mother, had been a regular occurrence.

His mother. That was it. More than his step-father and step-brother criticizing his lack of work ethic it was his mother smacking him around and emasculating him for indolence that made him feel really inadequate as a child. He had been scared of her. They had been close to be sure, and she could very often be the best mother in the world, but Eli clearly remembered her dark side and the thud of the untrained, balled-up fists of a bigger human being crashing down on the side of his head as he cowered and tried to guard with his forearm.
He smiled as he remembered getting hit. When they had taken his mother to court on charges of abuse during his late teens he had racked his memory for all the times she had hit him. He obviously couldn’t remember everything, but there were 5 or 6 incidents which he could remember very clearly and give approximate dates for. Such accounts, of explicit physical abuse, were necessary as their factual, tangible nature made them play better in court, but the memories of being hit didn’t trouble Eli; indeed many of the later accounts of physical violence happened when he was bigger than his mother and already starting to see a way out. By that point her violent flailing was known to be survivable and her dinner-plate throwing was amusing.
Instead, what troubled Eli, even to this day years later, was not the outbursts but those eternal, torturous moments where she would make him run a psychological gauntlet of interrogation and intimidation and he would watch in slow motion as her disposition went from inquisitive to suspicious to intimidating to violent, hateful and emasculating, all the while increasing his fear so that his insufficient answers sounded more weaselly and contemptible even to his own ears.

She made him so afraid that he hated himself for being a coward and so he hated all cowards.
Cowards like Jack.
Cowards like the Swedish girl.
Cowards like himself.

Did he hate her?
He thought about this for a moment but decided he didn’t because that would be too easy. He hated the way she made him feel but he didn’t hate her -his attitude toward her was actually surprisingly enlightened, especially when contrasted to his attitude toward Jack and the Swede whom he realized were largely blameless recipients of his hatred.

No, he didn’t hate his mother. He didn’t fear her either, not exactly. He did however have an appreciation and respect for the power she still had over him. In the last few years there had been many overtures toward reconciliation and for a time things had been good, but she had darkness deep down inside her and when she felt she had gotten her hooks nice and deep she tried to leverage their newfound relationship by having him turn against his step-father, her estranged ex-husband. It was a desperate act from a desperate woman and even through his resentment of her attempt and betrayal of his trust, he still felt pity for her. She was a ruined woman who had ruined two marriages (and who knew how many other relationships during the years they hadn’t spoken) and she was more than a quarter-century past “the wall.”
She’d had it all, twice and fucked it up, TWICE.
When Eli considered this he felt only love, pity and compassion for his clearly disturbed mother….but he wouldn’t allow her to get her duplicitous hooks in him again.

Perhaps part of the reason he was here -in Nicaragua, not specifically in this platonically tense slumber party with a self-proclaimed witch (Oh yeah, Kay also professed to be a witch)- was that he was staying as far away from her as he could. He knew her parents, his grandparents, were getting older and their passing would force the family together, but only if he allowed himself to be forced. He didn’t intend to allow that.

“If they want to reconcile they can come here,” he thought bitterly, yet knowing deep down that this separate peace brought him no peace at all.

Jack exhaled loudly as he shifted his position on the ground.

“Fuck you, you piece of shit,” he thought, and then turned over and tried to sleep.

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Awakening to my Purpose


Friends,

Things are now in full swing for me; I’m back on the road a mere 8 months after returning from my last excursion, Just Might Be Ok, which saw me quest through Latin America to Ecuador where I found ayahuasca. This adventure, which I’m calling World Was on Fire, has a slightly more reined-in scope as its focused on the American wasteland that is the southwest.
8 months.

That seems like a long time to not be living this life even if it is the shortest time between departures I have yet endured. Part of me feels like I should have been back on the road on July 10, the day after my brother’s wedding (i.e. the only reason I went back home to Canada) but it actually worked out a little better this way as opportunities revealed themselves to me late in the game and allowed me to depart in style.

One such opportunity was flying down to the American SW for a job. Not only was it a nice little cashflow bump but I also got down here on the company’s dime.
Another benefit of departing later was that it gave me time to brainstorm looks, themes and aesthetics I wanted to broach as I traversed the American wasteland. I think all of that experimentation has paid off and culminated in a look which is badass yet softened by various effeminate accents and touches, but most importantly hearkens back to those two most ubiquitous American archetypes, the soldier and the cowboy.
Finally the delayed departure allowed me to test my feelings for my friend, Marijo whom I intend to meet up with over the next few weeks when she flies in from Asia. We had talked of traveling together when we met in Nicaragua earlier this year, but our paths diverged from that point. However, the feelings remained constant which tells me that it’s something more substantial than the strong feelings that surface during a romance in paradise.

So how are things going?

Very well. I was spot on about the goodwill I would receive in America wearing my veteran-status on my sleeve -people are very inclined to approach me when they suspect I’ve served. Beyond that when I engage them in conversation and tell them about my journey they become captivated; either they used to hitch-hike/backpack or they intend to one day and they want to be a part of my adventure.

Whatever it is that motivates people to reach out to me I am aware that there is an exchange taking place even though it may seem one-sided -After all, I’m not typically giving them gas money if they pick me up or paying for room and board if they furnish me a place to crash. Quite the contrary; people who put me up for the evening often furnish me with meals, rides or other above and beyond-type help.

So what are they getting out of it? Well if you’d asked me more than a week ago I would have said that they are getting a story, or a chance to be part of my adventure, or most importantly the glow of living up to one’s highest potential and helping another. That last point especially is foundational to what I’m doing out here: I endeavour to put people in situations where they can act on their better inclinations. I try and streamline and make more attractive the act of doing kindness by making it more interesting, sexy, palatable, etc. After all, it’s so easy to be negative or indifferent to others; it’s almost a reflex. So I’m trying to get around people’s default programming by putting them in an uncommon situations that said programming may not account for.

**As an aside, it’s a beautiful thing when people get that curious look and start asking me about what I’m doing -for all intents and purposes I’m a bum on the street but that descriptor is reductive and frankly inaccurate. After all I’m not asking for anything but I am incentivizing the offering of help.**

However if you asked me what people get out of helping me now, after what I’ve learned in this last week, well the answer has changed, or at least refined. I stayed with the Kramer family this past weekend in Oro Valley and on my last night with them sitting around the campfire they helped me realize that I have something else to offer. I was tapping my bongos along to some music while we sat out there and their son, Kadin put on a hip-hop instrumental and suggested I rap (freestyle). I was reluctant at first but then something occurred to me. Beyond the fact that I’d alluded to my fondness for freestyling in my Couchsurfing profile which I’d met them through, I realized that me dropping bars would amp up the evening and make it better for all.

It was my job to do this.

I rapped for like an hour to various beats and many laughs were had. Did I fuck up, stumble, and say dumb, vulgar shit? Absolutely. But I also said some slick shit and entertained them. I began to realize that this hobby I’ve practiced for years by myself or with fellow “heads” could actually be plied and used to entertain other people and it was an empowering realization. I started to feel like something of a troubadour, a minstrel even.

“The minstrel of the Dawn is he/ Not too wise but oh so free.

He’ll talk of life out on the street/ He’ll play it sad and say it sweet.

Look into his shining face/ Of loneliness you’ll always find a trace.

Just like me and you/ He’s tryin’ to get into things more happy than blue.”

-Gordon Lightfoot, The Minstrel of the Dawn

I’m at a point now where I yearn for a new opportunity to perform and entertain. Not in exchange for food or a room or out of a sense of obligation but simply because it is something that I have to give which can bring joy and so I want to give it freely and openly.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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