As I sit here, well into the fifth hour of our steam-room afternoon by the side of the highway in the state of Yucatan, I'm wishing I had some of last Sunday's dinner, prepared by my fiance's father, a chef from Spain, and served at a local hotel: Squid-inked paella negra, tortilla Espanola, jamon serrano, manchego, chorizo, marinated artichokes, good bread, vino tinto in a glass that by the constant miracle of excellent Mexican service was always full.
I'm wishing for water, water, water. Cold, fresh, sweet water.
I hate being so disappointing an American to the Mexican people I meet, who seem to believe life is really a beautiful dream there in the land of bullshit and silicone. The guy re-tiling Ani’s bathroom (a sweet Mayan guy from Chiapas, always described as an alma blanca, a pure soul) asked me if bathrooms in the U.S. are made of gold. I answered, “No, diamonds.”
I can see hopeful faces dimming when I explain I am not a personal friend of Johnny Depp, I live in a tiny apartment instead of a rococo mansion on 80 acres of golf-course greenery, I can’t even afford to go to the doctor regularly let alone buy myself the pair of Hummers and the Lamborghini every American surely must keep in her garage. I suppose I could lie and make my life in the States seem grand and interesting, but then people here would think me cheap instead of poor. Somehow I can live with “poor” more easily.
Even when I tell them I’m writing a novel, they ask if it’s like Stephen King and when will it be made into a movie. I’m feeling my direction is backward to the movement of the world.
Listening to my (thank god for it) iPod: Joni Mitchell singing her version of Yeats' Second Coming. (Poem linked below.)http://www.potw.org/archive/potw351.html
“Surely some revelation is at hand.” I suddenly see the appeal of the New Testament, the need for revelation, salvation from some unearthly source. When we try for ourselves these things do not come--likely cannot. The best we can hope for are a few crippling insights—tips of revelatory icebergs—we must swallow and try to forget. Knowledge is unhelpful in navigating that shapeshifting mass of unrecognizable structures and wild emotions which, mashed together and strained through the sieve of cultural mores, compose reality (things we only "know" due to res judicata, precedent, the stories our grandparents told us--different grandparents, different realities, different knowledge).
At least with religious revelations we are spared contact with reality, and we can go on ignoring it. Angels and flaming towers and white lights and all that—it is not here, is not us, is not our squalid little lives. The end of the world is a comforting thought; it must be or it would not be such a persistent theme in the history of human belief systems. Those who believe their earthly snobbery will result in eternal snobbery—saved over unsaved, taken over left behind, Brahmin class over untouchables, oil-rich Republican fundamentalists over welfare moms, poor over rich camel-through-a-needle's-eye types, Orthodox over Reform—are more comforted than most.
Silly people, dreaming of an eternity where everything is cause and effect instead of wholly unfair, unexplainable, as in this life. Despite their general aversion to science, their ultimate faith is in logic--the logic of causality. I think they are in for great disappointment.
Days like this, hot days, crazy days, make me think of Hemingway despite my general disinclination toward him. Hemingway my ass. There is still nothing new under the sun. My generation is just as lost as his if not more so, overshadowed as it is by the innumerable Boomers and their well-intentioned colonization of consciousness. They gamely insert themselves into others' shoes trying to empathize. In truth they are only stealing shoes.
I should cultivate an image of the hard-drinking adventuring author. It sells, yes? It's expected. But I'm not sure our culture buys that image of women as readily as of men. I'd just end up looking like a haggard old witch. Notice how they never say a woman is "ruggedly handsome." She's either beautiful, young, well-bred/decorous, or a haggard old witch. You see my dilemma. At this point beautiful and young are both outside the realm of the possible, so I must focus on being well-bred. Nowadays the well-bred no longer worship cocktails as emphatically as they do teetotalling judgmental godheads. Nick and Nora no more. Lillian Helman, Dorothy Parker, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, Anais Nin, adios. Martha Gellhorn--well, she was considered a haggard old witch even in her time. Hemingway, you old bastard. Good thing you caught up to yourself before she did. Although you denied her her just deserts.
Welcome to life with the legacy of the Moral Majority--no more innocent fun. Now everything good is thought dirty and shameful and wrong. Even if we don't believe in Puritan morals, we have to watch our step or there'll be a hell of witch hunt--lives ruined for no real reason, scarlet letters branding all of us. A for Allowing yourself to laugh in public, B for Bitchiness, C for Crying in sadness, D for Delighting in something you love, E for Erring, F for... well, you get the picture. Thanks a lot, ye reformed, guilt-peddling hypocrites. Maybe, just maybe, you're overdoing it to make up for your misspent youths. (Koo koo ka-choo, God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson. You all married your young Miss Robinson and shoved her mother's bony old Pucci-clad skeleton in your closets.) I'm not the first to say this, I know. Nothing new.
At any rate, Moralizers, Boomers, your many gifts to my generation will ensure the following generation is nuttier than Zelda Fitzgerald's fruitcake. But here; let me excuse you: Not your fault. No one responsible. Way of the world. Natural order. Darwin-eat-dog.
Ah, here is the tow truck. We’re on the road again—sort of. Next stop, Wonderland.