I had fallen for the writings. On my way to the laundromat a couple of notebook sheets flew right into my knee. Grossed out at the possibility of infinitely contagious air-borne diseases I shook my leg. The wind blew the damned think further into my pant leg. Like glue. I had to pick it off my pants while balancing the basked with the other hand. Unable to throw it back into the wind due to non-littering principles I held the sheets with two disgusted fingers. I hope I dont have an open cut. A broken skin patch that has gone until now unrecognized. A portal into my mortality. Forever open,. Forever waiting for my early demise. I laugh a little. Early by now is questionable. How early is early. I have been waiting for it for about 60 years. consciously more so, some times, sometimes more so than others. So I evade the killer bugs by concentrating on the handles of the basket. Three recesses and 4 protuberances. All there for my fingers to hold onto. Broken skin or not. Reliable plastic of the redder of all red dyes, unmistakable even in the dark. Edges scrubbed cleaner than my soul.

As Irmas do Homerinho

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

Mesmo fazendo um esforco enorme eu nao consigo mais lembrar da primeira vez em que encontrei com o Homerinho. E possivel que tenha side em alguma festa no porao da casa de alguem que eu nao conhecia. No tempo em que eu ainda ia a festas com antecipacao de ver gente, falar com gente, com alguns cigarros sem filtro no bolso, um trocado para o bonde e nenhum desejo de encontrar nem meninos nem meninas, nem uisque, nem guarana. So mesmo aquela fome de discussao intelectual, de escutar um violao talvez mal tocado, de cantar alguns versos de musicas escritas muito antes de eu ter nascido. Era um tempo cheio de surpresas, as historias que de repente circulavam iam devagarinho roubando pedacos de minha inocencia eu ia ficando outra pessoa, bem em cima da miha pessoa. Imagino que o Homerinho deva ter aparecido em alguma dessas festas. Ele tocava violao, mas nao lembro que cantasse muito, ou, se o fazia, cantava mais em ingles o que eu julgava execravel, um assalto a minha cultura tao magnificamente tupiniquim. Como poderia alguem preferir cantar Nina Simone se Noel Rosa nao tinha ainda morrido nas nossas memorias jovens de entao?  Bem mais tarde, eu cheguei a me apaixonar profundamente pela voz, pelo reportorio de Nina SImone e chorei sua morte em Paris. Sem consolo, sem luar, sem violao. Mas era assim o Homerinho: fumando muito, como de resto quase todos nos, com uma barba espessa para esconder a mandibula com resquicios de deformidade causada por um acidente na infancia, ele falava e cantava, a voz passando entre o caos de seus dentes desornadamente empilhados. Pois assim foi, ou de repente ou devagar, Homerinho (acho que Homero Duarte Paim Filho) e eu nos tornamos inseparaveis.

Pois entao, na epoca a gente nem pensava na realidade chan que nos rodeava. Tranquilos ficavamos deitados na cama pequena olhando pro teto e falando das nossas fantasias, das frustracoes de adolescentes incompletos, dos desejos mal declarados de vir a ser.  Para terror do seu Homero, o pai, que pensava que cometiamos pecados mortais enquanto eles ouviam radio na sala em frente.  Para Homerinho ate que era bom, levava fama, ainda que passageira, de  garanhao que nao era nem queria ser – mas, na pior das hipoteses, os ataques se tornavam menos  brutais.

Homerinho falava com uma voz doce, nao feminina, nao masculina. Uma voz coma docura de uma crianca curiosa que nao se sabe observada e vai mexendo nas coisas em que nao deve.   Uma fala macia, o borburinho do seus desecontros e questoes rolando entre nossas cabecas lado a lado, no mesmo travesseiro, sem que jamais sequer pensassemos em olhar um pro outro.

Foi entao que eu soube pela primeira vez o que era sadismo. A Vera, irma mais velha de Homerinho, havia acoplado um pequeno gravador a um cabo bastante longo e de alguma forma simiesca ou milagrosa, alcou o cabo com o bandido gravador de forma que se postasse logo fora da janela dos vizinhos de apartamento de cima.  Ela assim o fez por que escutavam varios barulhos suspeitos e julgavam que alguem provavelmente estaria cometendo algum crime de violencia fisica contra outro.  Pois nao e que eu chego com Homerinho e estao Vera, Madalena, o menino, e seu Homero ao redor da mesa ouvindo com muita atencao uma gravacao muito cheia de ruidos alienigenos. Mas, e um enorme porem, sem duvida alguma um homem estava batendo numa mulher e a mulher estava gostando muito.  Nem Homerinho nem eu entendemos naturalmente porque a mulher estava tao feliz e foi preciso que Seu Homero nos chamasse de burros e explicasse que a mulher so gostava de foder se tomasse pau.

Ficamos chocados.  Nossas fantasias relacionais, sexuais, amorosas, sentimentais eram todas coloridas de ambientes vagamente enfumacados, com flores, gim fizz, cigarros, roupas caidas de vagar, viagens a parte alguma, e quase sempre teminavam no que bom se um dia, sem chegarmos a uma conclusao real do que fariamos ou o que deixariamos de fazer.

Assim, de passo a passo, fomos, Homerinho e eu nos despojando de nossas virgindades. Tanto Vera como Madalena eram de certa forma pessoas amargas. Elas trabalhavam duro, apesar de que eu nunca soube fazendo o que, chegavam tarde em casa, cuidavam do seu Homero, de suas roupas e refeicoes, dos seus silencios casmurros, jornais, chimarrao e cafezinhos e cuidavam com muito carinho do menino.  O menino, diziam todos era filho temporao do seu Homero. A mulher dele nao vinha a cidade. Ela morava na fazenda e seu Homero voltava a cada duas ou tres semanas.  O menino era quieto, bem comportado e so falava quando alguem falava com ele.   Nao era particularmente apegado a ninguem na casa, e eu nao me preocupava muito com ele pois na epoca julgava que criancas fossem objetos completamente desprovidos de interesse.

Madalena usava chinelos em casa. Sacudia o pe sem parar, com a perna cruzada sobre a outra, era facil ve-la de olho no menino. Mas tambem nao falava muito. Acho que tinha esperancas de que Homerinho resolvesse virar “homem” pois andava comigo.

Homerinho me contou que o menino era mesmo filho dela.

988, who is counting?

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Hey Jenn!
I didn’t have anyone in mind when I shrunk my list of Facebook friends. Don’t know if you remember but I sent a “goodbye Facebook” note to everyone on my list, precisely so nobody felt singled out by being “dropped”… There are some that accidentally stayed, either because I had them in sub groups, or some other oversight.
I have added my Brazilian relatives with whom I share a mild interest in my messed up family‘s genealogy.
I still and forever will consider you my dear friend. I know we had a rough patch and I just am not very good at watching out for where I can be hurting people. The last time we talked I felt that you were still raw, so I just kept my quiet (presence) around.
For me our friendship has always been a comfortable one, we didn’t HAVE to talk every day, or see each other a whole lot, and when we were in closer contact it was always good, even if and when either one of us were not in such good terms with life or our own wounds.
Maybe my silence or apparent distance has more to do with the progression of my therapy than with you and I. It is a painful process, the reconstruction of one’s person, it is hard to be a phoenix, when we are nothing but human, and yet, some people like me, have the drive to phoenix around and keep digging Watson, on order to uncover my good person that hopefully wasn’t so completely damaged after all…

Of course I miss you and Jake, a whole lot. I have always looked forward to your visits – like a mini micro vacation for me, having the two of you here.

I had a couple of emotional debacles with Carole and her family cutting us off after I let her go from the job. It is not too simple, is it? Then there is DJ who with time has become more difficult, or I have gotten older and less indulging. He continues to be in love and wants to marry the girl. Her family is not too enthusiastic and I stand on the side lines and watch him get hurt. Not too simple either. Then there is Don, of course getting older, but kind and gentle even if sometimes irritable and not wanting to take a shower or go to a movie at all, or increasingly more compulsive and I have to carve my own sitting space not to say existential bubble, to manage to stand reality as it is. Again, never quite simple…
So I see my great shrink and she is awesome. I can swear, laugh, cry, be small and petulant without punishment. I can take myself apart and look inside and it is safe. I enjoy that. I work hard, many hours a week. The business is slowly being changed into a real business… and that makes me feel good. I guess I don’t have a whole lot of my old emotional space, like I used to have, because it is filled up by the people who are in my close environment and the little bit that I have left, I HAVE to use for myself, lest I lose my sanity.
Much like my former friend Deborah Shuller, I don’t like to talk on the phone. I don’t know why but I avoid it, even at work and people who know me, know that. But, I’m nice to myself and I keep doing the right things whenever I can. I have been writing some, not painting too much. No time, maybe. Work is hectic but I have a pretty good team. Next step will be to make money hehe..
I haven’t talked to father ed much either. It is hard to get pass the secretary and I don’t find that to be worth the effort. On Sundays, which is my only day off, Wendy and her family, Karen and her family (her husband the greatest asshole in the world) and Sara and her husband usually come over and we cook and eat, sometimes we play games and laugh a lot, then they leave and the kitchen is a huge mess and I let it sit until monday night. Sometimes I leave work early on Monday to clean up the kitchen.
Wendy had told me that you are having another little fellow in the family. She didn’t know much, but I am sure it will be great. Families have a great way of sprouting love. It happens around here. And it should happen around there.
When Carole and her family used to come out to the river, which was not very often, the atmosphere wasn’t always pleasant, a lot of tension, jealousies, anger, looks across the room, criticism
all kind of shit, which I do not miss. I guess I thought about this because I remember how it used to be when we were friends at st Thomas and we all used to go out to lunch and how much I enjoyed the fact that we were a dynamic group that was always open to welcome new people. No questions asked. People either fit in or not and it was a natural thing.. I feel that with Carole it was never quite that. That maybe she had expectations that either I didn’t know or didn’t have the withal to give it. So it wasn’t easy and in an odd way it is better, that is, life without the friction of a very imperfect relationship.
It would be nice to have you live in town so you could waltz in like they do, on Sundays and fall asleep on the couch because everything outside is falling asleep and there is no time to keep,, no clocks to mark it. I guess it is difficult to get all these when we live so far away.
Don will be 80 in February. We are planning to come up for a week to stay with Jake’s family. I would love to have you guys come to the party (I think the plan is to go to a tapas restaurant) and if that were not to be, I would love to see you and just hang out, without hang ups, just like we always did, let life happen at its own pace, in its own way… Yeah, it would be nice to have pics once in a while
love,

Mikell

Posted: October 8, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I hadn’t thought about him in a rather long time. Probably something like 6 entire Summers – not an image of his stocky, hirsute legs, generally clad in beige socks and black shoes. It had been a relief to never think about him. Something in the story of Mr. Satch though made the entire picture of Michael slap into my head like lightning. Like in the day I walked into the office and he was sitting on a small stool which made him a couple of inches shorter than the blonde secretary. He had both her feet on his lap, in his hands, and he massaged them, much like one knead a chunky clump of dough. She immediately told me in a melted voice that it felt great and he gave me a self-satisfied chuckle. He never budged, neither did she. Joe and I stood there slightly uncomfortable – like when you accidentally walk into someone taking a crap in a public rest room.  Nothing really wrong, but for sure, nothing you want to be looking at.  Michael would appear quietly and plant himself very close to you. Close enough for you to feel the heat from his skin next to yours, close enough for you to smell his course soap and new fresh sweat from sometimes mowing the lawn.  Well, I actively did not like Michael, he irked me by looking for too long at me, my laughing at his own asinine jokes that always poked fun at midget and other short people. Michael had the thickest eye lashes. They were not long, just thick and grey.They made his eyes look sort of wet all the time and the smiles closed them up, leaving you looking at these two bushy grey spots on his already hairy face.  One day he slithered next to me when I was standing at Joe s kitchen and pressed his thigh into mine. We were about the same height which allowed him to couple his thigh exactly with mine. I jumped and between my teeth I told him to never dare that shit again, or I would report him to the police for sexual assault. It was the first time I saw his face turn serious. Just long enough for me to see what was not quite fear, but a short-lived moment of feeling threatened. On his fucking part!! Mind you.  After that it was a long time until he slip himself anywhere near me.  I remembering talking to Joe about maybe Michael had a reason to be afraid of cops, but we didnt t really think it important. It was then that someone started complaining that money had been disappearing from the Offertory basket..  That was not good for Joe because he had a history of money mismanagement so he took it seriously seriously.  He slipped some marked twenty dollar bills into the o.b. and to everyone involved utter surprise, bam, the first Monday morning counting table finds out that the bills were missing.   This went on for another 3 Sundays: every time, some of the control bills went missing. So Joe goes and buys one of those clocks that has a secret little camera eye in it, that gets activated when people move in front of the clock.  He placed the clock smack in front of the safe and the entire inner circle waited, bated breath, for the next Sunday to roll in. Would you know that after mass a bunch of us were talking in a loose circle formation, saying all of those these and those that people say when they feel holy and shit .  Most of us, very catholic, sporting our dead Christs in our pricey gold chains, dangling from our necks, like our barbarian ancestors displayed the teeth of beasts they had slain for dinner or sport. Michael joined the circle and he was standing across from me.   I saw him walking towards me but I could not fathom that he would date come anywhere near me, until his finger is actually pressing my christ corpus into my chest and he says to all: look how beautiful her christ is, it looks a lot like Joe s. Shit, he was correct on two counts: my corpus was interesting and it had been made by the same artisan that had made Joe s in Mexico.   I shoved his paw away from me and left the circle.  On Monday night, when I went to Joe s house for dinner he told me that the sheriff had come to get Michael. They had him on tape, taking money from the Offertory basket. They had found out that he had been busted doing the same thing at another church in a town nearby. Different denomination! That same week, his wife and daughter brought him over to the church to pick up some of his stuff and when they got out of the car, I saw that they were both Filipino dwarfs.

Truth in Tinsel

Posted: September 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

intel christmas tree in akihabara

Image by shinyai via Flickr

 

Mid September, it is still warm enough to live outside if necessary. As I walked to the back of the store I saw a shimmer on the floor. The dude that cleans on Saturdays hasn’t come in yet..  It looked like water so I mopped it around with my left righteous MBT. It doesn’t dry, despite my smearing action: there it is, a gentle strand, maybe even three intertwined,  of the finest tinsel, silver, shining, recoiling as I move my fingers towards it.  I grab it and with it,  my first married Christmas decorating blobs up to the top. He had been away, in the States, for the usual two weeks. I had been in Brazil, had thus bought the Brazilian Pine (ARAUCARIA ANGUSTIFOLIA) as it customary. Accustomed as I was to the sharp needles, I managed to bring it up the 16 floors to our apartment without significant loss of blood.  The tree remained stuck in its original pail,  it was the greenest, the scrawniest tree I had ever seen. I don’t know how much I paid for the poor bastard, but I was having a tree ready for him when he came home.  He had a surprise, he said. I was going to be so happy. I’m thinking books, chocolate, jeans, tapes, and I’m as anxious to open his suitcases as the little one in the house.  He finally hands me two pretty smashed up red and green flat boxes that read: Tinsel, Christmas Decoration.  I opened the box and felt the almost warm soft silver shimmering stuff between two fingers. It almost sticks to my skin, but it  doesn’t. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what to do with it.   My thorny Araucaria was already covered with small white cotton balls. The spots covered with the cotton appeared soft, but it was the usual Christmas lie, very much like the tall walls the government built all around the monstrosity that was each plot of slums.. He showed me how to pull  one strand at a time, gently, holding it by its very tip allowing the group resolve the pulled piece’s travel out of the box. .. It worked great maybe for half of the box, then it started to get tangled. Untangling was not fun. The more   Tinsel, Christmas Decoration, I put on the poor Araucaria, the worse it looked. It made my cotton snow look cheap, look barbaric, look so fucking third world. Trying to improve it some, I put as much  Tinsel, Christmas Decoration, as I could untangle without losing my mind. Charitably, we never had the 12 frames 400 ASA Kodak film developed. As there are no witnesses, you only have my word as to the horrible look of my Christmas Araucaria covered in  Tinsel, Christmas Decoration,  wisps of Johnson & Johnson brand cotton balls. He said it looked beautiful, the kindness of a lie retracted with venom at the time we divorced. 


President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act...

Image via Wikipedia

We were now ready to make the move: we would get an apartment in town. The beauty of it, was that it was exactly one building away from the front door of my office. The river house with all its enchanted hours, visions, wild life, was exactly one hour: from my back steps to my office door. The four-color-process aluminum sign read “excellent apartments 1 and 2 bedrooms for immediate occupancy”. The building looked good, the heave glass front door locked away the noisy street. A few days after the decision and the fruitless phone calls we got tough and walked right up to the front door. A smiling lady was inside, I opened the door and asked her if she worked there. She seemed amused by my question and told me that she Lived there. My hopeless cheerful self immediately wants to play: Great! Do you want a couple of nice old people to join your building? She points to another woman seated with her side towards us and the door and the happy tenant, with a small cell phone stuck to her face. We walked in and stopped somewhere around her field of vision but didn’t manage to catch her eyes.  She talks for quite a while and after hanging up, she looks not at us, but at the tenant with a chin up questioning look: the tenant says we want to see her. Now she looks at us, slowly, from our shoes, golf pants, polo shirts, grey hairs, and then she goes down again, from our grey heads to our lose shirts, to our pants, wrinkled from driving and the Summer humid heat and to our shoes, my  MBT sandals, his buffalo caramel colored moccasins. I couldn’t believe it, but she managed to never make eye contact with us.  So I retrieve my cheerfulness partly spent ont he tenant at the door and tell her too, that we want to live with them, because we live in the jungle and work right next door to them. The light skin, the corpulent built, the house dress draped over her portly legs – no eyes to look at us, she says into the air and more towards the happy tenant “No we don’t have any room, not here. No.” I insist and she says, I have to call a Ms. Gloria to inquire about the building they have West of the Ashley and I insist that I don’t want to live West of the Ashley, I want to live east of the Ashley, where the roads go places and I can ride my bike all the way to Harris Teeter and the square and sit by the waterfall, and watch the horse-drawn carriages full of tourists who look so overheated and eager to hear something about our quaint town, and the sidewalks, oh the sidewalks, there is nothing like a walk – step down onto the street, cross it, step up onto the sidewalk, step down onto the street, cross it, step up onto the sidewalk. step down onto the street, cross it, step up onto the sidewalk, step down onto the street, cross it, step up onto the sidewalk, step down onto the street, cross it, step up onto the sidewalk and bam, here I am at an art gallery, the main library where they actually have a shitload of great books and not just the latest mistery-shit-murder-hard-fucking-cover.. Oh yeah, the sidewalks of the town, I miss these guys!   Although they are not the sidewalks of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Porto Alegre which cover the entire cities where they were made much like the building blocks cities I built when I was small and played on the floor of the apartment in Curitiba, starting with symmetry permitted by the abundance of form to end with semi imaginary rooms, roofs, parks, people and even animals, made up with whatever random piece came into my grasp, accepting even dried up discarded popsicle sticks, match boxes, empty medicine bottles, jar caps… all in the name of progress. So were those wide sidewalks, each following the mind, the vision, and the materials list of quite different humans to make up the grid of safer walking.  The day-manager, the happy tenant called her, dismisses us with her silence and we leave quietly. If we were not so full of confidence we might have felt humiliated. I am not sure that we understood what had just happened to us, but we felt it enough to remain quiet until we were properly seated and seat-belted in our fully paid two-year old automobile. He then says “Well, that went well” which was nothing but an invitation for me to bring the experience into comprehensible discourse. I didn’t know how, so I looked busy with the traffic and told him I had to get back to work.
Well, this morning my good friend Nancy stops by to see me. She is already walking a few steps without her cane but the therapist wants her to bend the bionic knee something like 120 degrees. What if she had never done that like in ten years? Maybe her tendons and other similar parts have atrophied or mutated into straight leg, right? It could happen. So I told her I wanted to live on the corner building but the fat lady int he house dress had glanced at me and my shoes and clothes without ever looking into my eyes and had told me there were no vacancies. Oh, Nancy, saint adorable Nancy, she boiled over, I tell you that. On the spot, she said what? I saw their sign! I’m going there right now and see if they don’t have an opening. Just like that. So I asked her why and she looks at me for a while longer than usual and she says “You’re white”. I said “I’m Brazilian”. “She can’t see past your skin” She mumbles a bunch of stuff about getting me into the building despite the day-manager, about talking to Rev. Dungee who is the President of the North Area, east of the Ashley where I want to live because it is oh so city, so right around the corner of my office, and the Reverend is going to get in that building and have a word with the day-manager whoever she is. That’s when I began to grock the sixties, the marches, the murders, the lies, the deceits, the rapes, the humiliating speech, the abuse, the loneliness, the despair, the ignorance, the violence, the hatred, the desire to kill and to never, ever forgive those that made it necessary to President Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.  I understood the sideways looks, the indifference to my foreign smile and to my foreign touch, to the suspicion with which my words are received. I understood why some of the people I work with, blatantly vouch for me, “she is a good woman” with a look of understanding. When that happens I get a look of cautious acceptance. So I tell him, now you know what it is like to be discriminated. He looks confused, humbled, and almost innocent of any past crimes.


Magnifying glass

Image via Wikipedia

every time he passes by my desk, he asks the same question, from about 10 feet away: are you done yet? ready for the weekend? At first I actually thought that there was something of mine that needed to be readied for the weekend, then at second, I considered that maybe I had started some project and left it mid spot in the air to never look at it again. But the number of times he passed by my desk and asked the same two questions increased, like fifty times, over the last 60 days straight, subtracting of course Sundays, Saturdays and days that he has classes, and days that I am not at my desk when he walks by it, and days that I come into the office after 10 because I stay up really late when in doing so, I miss the window of opportunity to sleep, only thinking about it when it is too late to reclaim the sleep, how then I close my eyes and put one hand over the other under my pillow, forcing my legs against the mattress, flexing my ass cheeks together until my toes almost cramp but don’t, I fall asleep into that continuous kaleidoscope, part gyroscope, part periscope, part microscope, part telescope,my own full 4″ diameter magnifying glass, personal and private facets of my universal prism, that are my dreams..
Eliminating the two: first and second possibilities I wondered if he were not secretly a king of some small island of universal knowledge, misplaced inside someones desk drawer, or in the abyss that is the ocean, and that he would be granted something like a bathroom pass, approximately once a day to wake up the awareness of the sleep deprived. I was beginning to think so.
After a while I started looking forward to hearing his raspy voice, behind the quick glance he would throw my way: are you done yet? ready for the weekend? At this point I do not feel the need to respond, and I find that my head is drifting after his corpulent majesty. He wipes the sweat off his forehead, the curly dark hair disorderly framing his wide round face. From the back he has this stupid military cut. What a contrast, maybe it is a regal thing and I don’t get it.As I drift my skirt catches a plastic hook on the higher shelf in the storage room and I deposit myself in the wider corridor. Am I done yet? Probably not. In order to know I would have to set a starting point. Does drifting have a starting point? Or is it more like slipping out of immobility, out of paralysis… I wouldn’t know since I am in it. As a bystander in someone elses story I would be quick to know. But here, it is not worth my effort. So I drift, I snag, I deposit, I ponder and I listen to the next question: Am I ready for the weekend? Who wouldn’t be? What is there to do? Does anyone fucking prepare for the weekend? Like I have to ease myself into rest. I don’t think so… It was then that I realized what the shit-head-king was doing. Drift fence, the bastard.