The Truth Is

The truth is that I have been clenching my jaw for close to 7 weeks now and that I am scared most of the time. It started in Cuba, and has continued unceasingly as I have moved through Nicaragua. So much tension. Fear. Stress.
I thought that I might die twice. Maybe not exactly twice, but definitely once.
Firstly, I couldn’t jump.
Sietske invited me to go with her up north to Somoto and float down the canyon. She was on her way to Honduras, and I was on my way to nowhere, so I said “sure,” and off we went. That is how I came to find myself standing on the edge of a small cliff in the northern reaches of Nicaragua, staring down down down, at the black water below.
I tried over and over again.
“This time I’m really going to do it!” I yelled, “One, Two…”
But every time the count reached 3 my legs pushed me violently away from the edge and I laughed manically in surprise at the sudden surge of adrenaline and terror that vibrated my whole body.
Sietske did it. She was scared too, more scared than me. I thought that I was going to be the one who was so brave. But in the end, she silently disappeared from my vision, splashing into the water below, while I had to walk back down.
It was hopeless.
I couldn’t do it.
There was simply no way.

The truth is that two days later I did something that was possible very stupid. Sietske and I had gone our separate ways. I wanted to go the beach to the west and she was continuing on to Honduras and Guatemala. After 11 hours of bus travel, I had arrived at Rancho Esperanza in the darkness, unable to see with my eyes, the clearly audible waves of the ocean.
In the morning, I awoke too early, with the sun. I wanted to see the beach so I went down to look at the waves and to swim. I had my bathing suit on, my pink bikini that may or may not fit me anymore, the one that I bought to bring to Africa two years ago.

The truth is that after I got in the water and swam past the point where my feet no longer touched the floor, I turned and looked back at the beach and realized how far from the shore I actually was. The same terror rose inside me as on the cliff, but this time I didn’t laugh. When I tried to swim quickly to the shore I could feel the current strongly pulling me back out to sea. I felt weak and dazed. Immediately exhausted. [Read more…]

Letters from Cuba, pt 3: Mango crisis averted

August 9, 2015

Dear Cam,

Remember how I said that I tried to buy a mango and had too much money and they wouldn’t sell me one because there was no way to make change for the bill I had (roughly equivalent to a 20 dollar bill)? Well, check this out. After I finished texting you today I went in search of mango. I was determined. I have been in Cuba for over a week now and have not yet bought a mango. This is not my style. But the produce markets have been intimidating, namely because there are two kinds of currency here, the Cuban Peso, and the Convertible Peso.  The Cuban Peso is for Cubans and the Convertible Peso (CUC) is for foreigners, although I think Cubans use CUC’s too. A CUC is 25 Cuban Pesos, and all the street vendors and fruit markets deal in Cuban Pesos. Cuban Pesos seem hard to acquire if you’re not a Cuban (although I may be wrong about this), and CUC’s come in such large denominations comparatively that using them in the markets is problematic. Confused yet? Yeah me too.  Hence not yet purchasing a mango. I tried yesterday but it didn’t work out. See, if a mango costs 8 Cuban Pesos and I hand someone a 20 CUC note, they laugh in my face because I am asking them to give me 492 Cuban Pesos in change, which is probably about how much money they make in a month. This is when tears stream down my face as I walk away with my stomach grumbling, and pound my fist on the wall while wondering why eating is so inanely complicated in this country.

Anyway, today I was ready. I had Cuban Pesos. I had small CUC bills and some coins. I walked through the streets of Havana searching for a mango seller. It was Sunday afternoon and the markets had already closed for the day so my only hope was to find a lone person with a cart full of mangos.  I spotted one man squatting in the shade behind his cart and felt a spark of excitement as I sighted his offering of green spherical mounds of deliciousness. I approached him with intensity, only to see as I got closer that he had a cart full of avocados the size of my head, not a cart full of mangos the size of my head. Darn.

I kept walking, and finally I found them. Around the corner to my left there they were. Dozens of them. A mango oasis. I walked up to the vendor and cheered excitedly “Mangos!”, raising my fists above my head. [Read more…]

Letters from Cuba, pt 2

 

Letters from Cuba, pt 1

8/1/15

Dear Cam,

I’m in mother fucking Cuba.  I don’t really know what else to say.  It’s exactly like all the pictures that you see but it’s alive and has smells and tastes and sounds.

I was nervous this morning and didn’t really know how everything was going to go but it went as smooth as it possibly could.  I had to stand in line 4 different times at the airport in Cancún because there was a separate line to purchase visas, than the one for getting boarding passes. I bought my visa but messed up filling it out so I had to buy another one. I guess that La Habana is a real stickler for accuracy in paper work and you can’t cross anything out.  Anyway, 500 Mexican peso’s later, everything was sussed out and I went through the freaking security line and got on the freaking airplane and then flew to freaking Cuba, like a total badass.

I had a window seat and as I saw the island approach I realized that never in my life had I thought that I would go to Cuba. Repeating in my mind, were the words of people asking me what the first stop on my trip was going to be. My answer was always simply, “Cuba.” Then I would tell them that I was going to fly through Cancún, and draw an imaginary line through the air from Cancún to Cuba. Looking out the window, I realized that now I was on that imaginary line and that it was no longer imaginary. It was really happening. Isn’t that amazing?

[Read more…]

Bald ladies with long necks

This is one of the first drawings that I have actually completed in years. I decided to try to stop over-thinking it and just see what came out. Bald naked ladies with long necks. I like it.

Untitled, 2015 Pen and marker on paper 11"X11"

Untitled, 2015
Pen and marker on paper
11″X11″

The Magic Number

 

36 is a number.  To be precise, it is a square number. 6 to the power of 2. 6×6=36.

36 is three dozen. That’s a lot of bagels or buns or eggs or cookies. Why are perishables sold by the dozen? Is it because there are 12 hours on an analogue clock, and their time is slipping away? Bakers always throw in a bonus five or 10 minutes.  A dash of time.

36 is a magic number.  It’s divisible by 9, and when you multiply any number by 9, then add together the integers of the product, the sum always equals nine. 9 x 4= 36 and 3 + 6 is nine. Nine always returns back to it’s origin, home, without fail. Like a circle. Like magic.

36 is also my age.  That’s me. Perishable. Magic. Simultaneously a circle and a square.

Also, I’ve come home.

I left Arizona when I was 19. Although, I didn’t so much move away as extract and catapult myself 3000 miles across the country, leaving an abscessed pustule behind, in the collective heart of my parents.

The Short Story is: I met a boy.

The Long Story is: I met a boy, moved to Massachusetts, lived with his family for several months, saved up money [Read more…]

Last Days

I spent those last days in Portland biking down the esplanade no-handed, with Kid Cudi in my ear buds, hands clapping to the beat of Alive. I spent them bouldering at The Circuit and eating salads by the pound with vegan ranch dressing at Papa G’s. Each day for three weeks, as I prepared to bid that soggy city farewell, the sun shone bright, warm and true; trying to convince me that I had made the wrong choice.

I spent my last days in Portland with you. Eating pho at midnight. Destroying pint after pint of Coconut Bliss ice-cream. Hiking to the hot springs. Sneaking on to carnival rides. Documenting the city’s murals.  Sharing books. Sharing early musical influences. Sharing nine mangoes in three days. Driving and singing and dancing and talking and laughing and sleeping.  Sleeping while holding your hand. Sleeping while holding your body tight like my touch was the only thing anchoring you to this world. Sleeping and waking and dreaming with you, through each expiring moment, as the past rapidly accumulated beneath the weight of our vanishing future.

“Eliza,” you said in your sleep, eyes closed, “Why do I have to lose you?”

“I don’t know why,” I replied, confirming that I was, in fact, being lost.

One

I’m not sure if I have to tell you the whole story for you to understand.  I’m actually not sure what the whole story is.  The past is always changing.

Maybe you don’t need to understand. Would understanding change anything?

Either way. I’m still here. This is the beginning.

You’ll figure it out.