Saturday, October 31, 2015

Child of the 1970's

 "And sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much... and I have to close my eyes and hide."  -Dan Hill

(Do yourself a favor.  Youtube 'Dan Hill, 1977'.  Hit the first track.  The best four minutes you spent this week)
 "For  whom am I to judge you, in what you say or do..  I'm only just beginning to see the real you." -Dan Hill

It's funny how you end up a the beginning.  You run in circles through life, wind up right where it all began.
 "At times I understand you, and I know how hard you try... I've watched while love commands you and I've watched love pass you by."  -Dan Hill

Music is a powerful part of that, time traveling with you, an endless loop of memory so powerful and ingrained you can't escape.
 "At times I think we're drifters, still searching for a friend."  -Dan Hill

I felt that today, out on the open sea.  Old man.  Child of these old songs.
"But then the passion flares again."  -Dan Hill

Love is like that too, isn't it?  Hundreds of years adrift...then suddenly ashore.  Washed-up and cleaned, right back at the very start.

Friday, October 23, 2015

White Sands of Boracay Beach

 It's not easy arriving at the end of the world.
 It takes a procession of boats and planes and buses and a great many spinning propellers and wheels.
 But once you arrive, it's all worth it.
 The white sand beaches of Boracay are something to behold.  Crystal clear water, stunning vistas, and  warm sunshine on your back...
 And maybe today you hire a sailboat to take you snorkeling...or maybe you just skin dive into the lagoon and watch the millions of fish squirming around your toes.
 But no matter what... time stops and stands still.
 You rest deeper, breathe slower, and worries seem so far away.
Time to forget the world... at least for today.  Good Night.  or is it Good Morning?  -ZZZZZzzzzz!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Snorkel Time! Philippines Under Water

 My kids are fish!
 From the moment they popped out, I threw them into water.
 So we hired an outboard boat in Boracay and headed out into the Visaya Sea.
 Our local guide knew the exact place for perfect diving.
 It's a little daunting having all that ocean underneath you...
 But the coral reefs were outstanding.
 And the water was unbelievably clear.
Back at the hotel we showered off, one last dip in the water.  Dad finally gets to relax... finally!

Friday, October 16, 2015

O ASIAN SELFIE GIRL!

'Love is merely a madness, I tell you, and deserves as well a dark house and whip as madmen do."  -Rosalind, As You Like It.

There is nothing quite like Asian Selfie Girl.  Nothing.  You have to see this raw vanity and inane insanity to understand.  The Asian selfie girl will cause pathetic and stupefying disbelief in humanity.  You see here a mile off, utterly clueless, dressed in flowing robes and sun hats and designer outfits standing in front of some mildly beautiful location preening and posing for no other pleasure than her own.  An Asian woman can take a hundred selfies in a row.  An Asian woman can strut past a statue or flower garden or building facade twenty times while her hapless boyfriend films her.  Each time returning to check her image then hitting repeat.  She will be shy, stare longingly into space, then lift a casual and calculated coquettish smile.  Vapid.  Hollow.  Shameful.  It's astounding.  Truly unbelievable.  She can do this for over an hour.  She will stand right next to you while you're swimming or playing with your kids or trying to haggle in the market.  Where did this phenomenon come from?  How long have we had cameras on phones... 7 years?  There is no other culprit more idiotically and painfully on display than the Korean woman.  It's hilarious to encounter.  Korean women will sit in groups of ten at the restaurant table, all consumed by their phones, all taking selfies.  Dozens and dozens of selfies.  No one speaking, just obsessed with narcissistic attraction.  Or packs of Korean woman strolling down the beach in long flowing scarves streaming their image.  Koreans are ruining the internet with selfies re-posted again and again.  When you listen to them, speaking about their levels of cuteness and their daily skin regimens and which friend is uglier than the other ... you stand baffled.  I saw this Korea woman once insipidly sashaying through a resort cafe just strutting in high heels toward the beach.  Bikini, gorgeous sun hat, long flowing silk robe she flipped over her shoulder and knocked over a champagne glass display shattering bottles and wine glasses to the floor...dumbfounded at her own insouciance, she just huffed and pulled out her cellphone...#whoputthesewineglasseshere?  I was shocked.  Years ago, I once had this Korean student tell me that her hobby was practicing her smile.  That she had over thirty different Zoolanderesque smiles she could pull out for any occasion:  shy, nervous, cutesy, pouty.... all perfectly calculated.  It's a blight.  A cancer.  The selfie is a cankerous and blistering open sore on humanity.  Hit reset world.  Resist the selfie.  I know... it's too late.  The selfie apocalypse is upon us all.

The Beachcomber

 Awoke early and jogged along the beach in Boracay.  White sand powder.  Gentle breeze in the palms.  The soft Visaya Sea lapping quietly around me.
 Honestly, I've never felt anything as smooth and silky as the water here.  Crystal clear and soothing as a warm salt bath.
 I see how some arrive here and never leave.
 While I was out jogging I met this guy combing the beach.  I stopped because we immediately started laughing at each other.  Six a.m. and he's drinking beer from a bottle, so I plopped down beside him on the sand.  He wore no shoes.  Tattered up board shorts.  Shirtless with dark leather skin almost oiled from the sun.
 The beachcomber told me he stopped shaving a year ago, hadn't read a newspaper in months.  Said he didn't wear clothes to be 'ironic,' had never used a #hashtag to describe an emotion, had never addressed anyone as 'Bruh,' and couldn't pick a Kardashian out of a lineup if his life depended on it.
 He got me laughing and then we stopped and sat quietly and looked out at the sea.  Two strangers with their feet in the water that knew everything about one another without saying it.
Back at the hotel there was black coffee and internet and dark cool rooms in the pre-dawn light.  The girls were tangled and tossed atop one another on the foldout, and I stepped onto the stone balcony to watch the ocean again.  But from this distance, it's never the same.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lost in the Visayas

 Boracay Philippines:  Two hour van ride and two hour flight, a taxi across the city then an hour propeller flight across the sea.
 Bus Ride and outboard motor boat and local driver to the hotel.
 The Visayas...the circle of islands in the Philippines.  Digging toes in the sand.  Wading out into the warm waves... letting go.
 How does someone return from this place?
Let's get lost in the Visayas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ghost Story

 There's a story I've come to tell my students each year round  Halloween time...about this old rickety classroom that sits in the middle of a forest atop an ancient hillside on the outskirts of town... a story of creaking desks and shadows in the corner of your eye, footsteps in the dark and doors that suddenly slam shut, windows I find open after I've closed and locked them the night before.  A story about ghosts.  Yes, my classroom is full of ghosts.
 You see... there was a battle fought here once.  Soldiers from an island far away who came on ships with guns and canons and fought natives in loin clothes that carried sticks... and after many years civilized them... put them in stiff collard-shirts and neckties and laced shoes... taught them medicine and art and commerce... until the old natives from these mountains grew tired of watching from afar and defeated these invaders with ancient force... pushed them back into the ocean and stuck their severed heads on poles.
 Until years later when another army came... this time from a country so vast it couldn't be comprehended.  This country was welcomed as if a brother... and very quietly, very silently, they rounded up all the doctors and teachers and professors and artists and writers and intellectuals and stripped them on the beaches and drove nails through their hands and sewed them to one another and dropped them in the ocean.... slaughtered them.  All of them.  Every person with an original idea or thought... dead.  The only people that remained... were savage.
 So once again they came down from the mountains...this time to fight for their lives... but they were crushed.  They perished in every way.  Beaten.  Tortured.  Starved.  Burned.  They were broken and outcast.  They were reduced to servants and beggars.  Nodding heads.  Blinkless eyes.  Forever departed.
You can still hear them... their voices calling out ...  a warning.  That the way we lived was wrong... that they way we learned from one another was wrong... that this new army that has invaded is far worse than anything that has come before... this new army from countries even farther away.
So here's to all you grammar teachers in Asia... here's to hours and hours of your passive voice and your irregular verb drills...here's to your fill-in worksheets and your multiple choice tests... your rote memorization homework and standard test of achievement.. here's to your Oxford leveled text book and your Princeton vocabulary list... here's to copy and paste and cut and conform... here's to refusing to teach literature because you simply are too lazy and power-hungry to learn how.  Here's to repeating the same mistakes but keeping all the keys to the kingdom.  Congratulations to you... O grammar teacher, sitting on your puny grammar throne.   I will not join you.  You've succeeded in destroying this place....and turning us all into dust.

Wild Nights Asia

We glide on the water sometimes... just skimming the surface and sliding by. It's impossible to relate all these things that happen, the full depth, the weight washes over us.  But yes... another wild night in the books!