Friday, July 30, 2021


Finally got around to migrating the contents of this blog to WordPress, something I've been considering for awhile, and now working on for some time.

Go here from now on:

Friday, July 23, 2021

through the haze

We may not ever find the meaning of life, but we may find meaning in our lives. A fine distinction. The search for the meaning of life—a lifetime could be spent in pursuit if one bothered. Some seek to become the best version of themselves. Others want to live out their wildest fantasies.  Some people want to live forever—or at least as long as possible. There’s the quest for knowledge. The desire to leave the world a better place. To be of service. Many wish to understand the mystery of God. Still others seek love, beauty, pleasure, power.

Some people, they understand life has no real purpose or meaning because us, we only happened due to random chance.

Me, I step on the gas and my 1970 Plymouth Superbird goes careening around the loop of the offramp, the 426 Hemi V8 engine roaring. It’s a smoky, hot summer, the sun blazing red through the haze like the cherry of a cigaret. I’ve got the top down and I’m driving much too fast, but I deftly weave in between two other cars on the freeway. Dropping a gear, I fly out into the passing lane thundering past a row of slower cars, slicks gripping the asphalt.

A 2 mg Ativan tablet is dissolving under my tongue much like the other did just a couple hours ago. It’s a strange sort of sweet. Candied, though I know it should taste medicinal. A forbidden dessert. In the distance, the downtown skyline melts into the sky. My finger fumbles for the volume on my phone to crank up the stereo. The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa album blares from the car’s speakers, Frank Black clawing out the lyrics to Cactus. Perfect summer music.

I’ll keep on chasing
What I know is there—
through the haze.

I’ll never find the meaning of life because there isn’t one—and I’m not looking. But I do often find meaning in life. A fine distinction. Like a razor’s edge. Torrid summer. Back pushed into white leather seat. Sticky. Hot. Wind blowing through hair. Chemical calm. Hum of rubber on the road, hypnotizing. No destination. No cares. No worries. It’s fleeting, I know. Artificial, too. But I’ll keeping chasing it. This meaning in life. This simple sense of oneness, of presence. This sense of being here in the moment.

Friday, July 16, 2021

prólogo con playa

You wouldn't guess to look at me, lounging on a beach in my threadbare linen suit, my battered briefcase half-buried at the heels of my dirty bare feet, that I was once a very wealthy man. You wouldn’t guess it, but that doesn't mean that it is not the truth.

Watching as I close my eyes and take another half-hearted sip from a half-empty bottle of Segarra Absenta, you might guess that I was another penniless expatriate, through with seeking the elusive inspiration that seems to hide so well in the dirty alleys of the cities.

I shudder almost imperceptibly and, as I wipe my mouth on the sleeve of my jacket, you might think that I was another drunken, world-weary intellect, sick of the heartache and loneliness caused by too many meaningless nights with intoxicating, intoxicated women half my age. Women whose mouths taste like the warm, bottom gulp of beer after you've smoked too many filterless cigarets.

Throwing my head back, I lazily drape one arm over my face, shielding my eyes from the blazing sun, and my chest heaves as I take a giant breath of blood-warm air. My breathing appears to be almost an afterthought and you think to yourself, maybe he’s sick. Maybe he’s in need of help.

And maybe I am.

You think all these things, not realizing how close to the truth each one really is. Then, proving your basic humanity, you apathetically turn your pale face away, disgusted, and point yourself in the direction of the resort. I leave your mind almost as quickly as I entered, and by the time your heels are clicking rhythmically across the cool marble floor of your four-star hotel, the only thing occupying your mind is your new cashmere cardigan—a sweater to wear in more hospitable climates than this.

Don't think I didn't notice you.

Once more, I go through the routine of taking a drink. I toss my head back and smile again as the sun's rays turn the inside of my eyelids a brilliant pink. I just lie there thinking, for what must be hours.

Or at least a few minutes.

I know I'm in desperate need of a haircut. A shave. Shoes. But my finances permit no such frivolities. My suit could use some attention from a dry-cleaner, but what would I wear while I wait?

Instead of wasting time rationalizing my hygiene, I’ll explain why I'm here. At the beginning of this story, there was no girl. There was no crazy crime. It didn't even start with a drinking binge.

I left the comfort of my home and the security of my job for no good reason at all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


Winding its way around lush rolling hills, the train rumbled through emerald valleys carpeted in sugar and tobacco crops, and past patches of fog-veiled lowland tropical forests. Quaint, colourful farmhouses dotted the landscape between picturesque plantations, while tiny, thatched huts squatted amongst imposing limestone mogotes. Overhead, not a single cloud marred the cerulean sky.
Inside the powerful machine, the first-class passenger compartments were elegant, a fine mix of polished oak panels and shining brass fixtures. I sat across a small table from you, relaxing in the padded velvet seat. The pleasant scenery scrolled by the window—it was opened a crack, and I was relieved to feel the movement of air over my skin.
You sat thumbing through a copy of Harper's, spending more time looking at the pictures of outfits than reading the articles. You were quiet, grown distant. You hadn't asked me any further questions about my business on the island, and I worried that I may have offended with my earlier huffiness.
I slid the train's window closed. “I'm feeling a little more comfortable now.” I cleared my throat. “Beautiful country. Everything's so green.”
“Mhmm.” Turning a page in your magazine, you didn't look up.
“Can you believe the luck of getting a cabin in an empty car? No-one to disturb us.”
“It'll be good to be away from the big city, even if it is only for a day or two.” I settled back into my seat, making a show of relaxing. “The nightlife I can handle, but I can do with a break from the demonstrations and general bellyaching during the day.” Catching myself before venturing too far down this touchy subject, I corrected my course a touch. “What I mean is, being away from the crowds will do us some good, I think.”
You offered only a tight-lipped smile before returning to your magazine.
Encouraged, I leant forward on the table. “There are so many people in Havana—it's no wonder they get cranky with one another. It's a little like when you have too many rats together, say in the hold of a ship at sea or some such place. They turn on each other, get downright nasty, fighting to the death, gnawing on themselves, even committing cannibalism.”
I instantly regretted the analogy.
“You know what?” I stood up and grabbed my straw fedora from the table. “I need to get the blood moving.” I gripped the brass luggage rack, allowing my legs to grow accustomed to the gentle sway of the machine beneath me. “I think I'm going to go for a bit of a stroll. Stretch the ol' legs.”
Dropping your magazine, you looked up, eyes wide, red lips parting. “Oh, dear, what a great idea.”
“You'll come with me, then?” I rubbed my hands together. “We could walk down to the observation car, maybe see—”
“Well, no.” You picked up an issue of Time and opened it to a random page. “But I'd so appreciate it if you'd stop by the lounge car and bring me a tea and one of those gorgeous pastries I've seen some of the other passengers carrying.”
“Of course, my dear.”
Stepping out into the swaying, red-carpeted hallway, I looked left and right past identical cabin doors to the ends of the car. I couldn't remember which direction the lounge was located. At one end the car, toward the front of the train, a porter in a blue coat sat hunched in a chair beside the gangway door.
The porter stood when he saw me and tipped his bright red cap. “May I assist you with something, sir?” His face was young and earnest, with a moustache so faint it was barely worth a mention.
I, having acquired my footing, strode toward the porter, ironing my own great broom of a moustache with my clammy fingertips. “Why yes, my good lad, I believe you can. I'm having a little trouble orienting myself—which way to the lounge car?”
“Your instincts are sound.” The porter opened the gangway door with a flourish, motioning toward the opening. “You'll find the lounge straight through here, one car over.”
“Many thanks,” I said, slipping the boy a folded dollar bill. I’m hunting for a delicious dessert. Possibly the most important dessert of my life.”
I stepped past the porter, gripping the doorframe with one hand and the oak door with the other. The gaping maw of the gangway was right before me, decidedly less luxurious than the rest of the train. Hot, dry air hit my face like a desert heat. It was lit by a single buzzing electric light overhead, swaying with the movement of the train. Rattling tin walls. The stench of grease. A single step down led to crudely cut pine boards which covered the train cars’ couplings.
How connected were they? How connected could they be? Humans built these machines. Fingernails digging into wood, a throat cleared behind me. The porter. Desserts. I’m sure the connection is fine.
I stepped into the maw.

Monday, July 5, 2021


Burning summer—
rain falls like
smokey bourbon on my lips.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

further down

Where I am, there’s little opportunity to check in, and my on-line journalling has suffered because of it.  These moleskin notebooks, though – I’ve been filling them up.  It’s not quite the same, however, having no-one to read them.  I complete the last page of one, toss it on the stack of others, and start a new one.  It all seems rather impotent.  Though, should something happen to me, I guess it’s a nice thought that I’ll have left something behind.

Eight hundred kilometres away from any sort of major centre, I’ve been instructed to wait.  I do.  Wait and watch, they said.  And I have been.  Beginning to feel like I’ve hit the pause button on life, it’s as though I’m on standby.  And I am, I suppose.  I await further instruction.  They’ll call someday.  In the meantime, I count the days to the next airdrop.  More food, more water, more moleskin notebooks, more pens.  Contact.

I can’t say much more than I have, but I can tell you a bit about the sand.  It’s everywhere.  It’s there, as I push my bare feet further down into it.  It’s always between my toes.  I recline a little, pushing the palms of my hands back further behind me, fingers outstretched, digging them deep down into hot sand.  I push them further down until I find the cool layer beneath.  It reminds me of growing up on the beach in Santa Monica.  Remember that?  I’m only missing a red plastic pail and your little hand to hold.

The sky here is a different shade of blue than back home.  I can’t explain how or why, but it is slightly different.  Almost imperceptible.  The sky, it’s so clear, bright, and blue that I can barely stand to look at it without squinting most of it away.  My eyes water a lot.  I can sit like this beneath the blazing hot sun for a short time, an ocean of sand all around me, but I eventually have to move to shade.  I retire to my khaki canvas shelter for the rest of the afternoon and write.

Yesterday afternoon, I thought I saw someone coming over a dune in the distance.  It was a motorcycle, I thought, but when it disappeared over a ridge, it never came up again.  Afterwards, I walked in that direction for about a kilometre.  I found nothing.  Thinking about it today, I feel like I probably imagined it.  It’s not unusual for gusts of wind to kick up small clouds of debris now and then.

I can say I miss home.  I prefer to be in the city, surrounded by concrete and glass.  But, here I wait.  Limit your contact, they instructed.  And I do.  Curb your signals, they told me.  And I will.  You’re a ghost, they said.  And they’re right.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

to get by

I’m in a mall, standing in line at a chain jewellery store, while Boney M’s Christmas Album plays through crackling speakers.  Feet shuffling along a filthy red carpet, inching ahead about one spot every five minutes, we work our way through a maze of burgundy velvet ropes like cattle through a corral.  There’s a constant cacophony of Christmas shopper’s chatter hanging in the air, and my mistletoe-adorned travel mug brims with equal parts eggnog and black rum.  Thank God.  No-one can say I’m not making an effort here.

Mostly, the Christmas season makes me feel somewhat antsy.  Perhaps it’s the break in routine, perhaps it’s the pressing consumerism, perhaps it’s the underlying confused religiosity, but mostly, I look forward to January 2nd coming around.  I can’t wait for normalcy to return, to settle back into real life.  Me, I try to convince myself I’m not the only person who feels this way.

The girl in front of me, she’s maybe in her mid-twenties.  You know this girl.  Over her tights, she has one of those big red, white, and green Christmas sweaters on, with what might be a reindeer pattern knitted into it.  That is, if the supposed reindeer didn’t look so much like moose.  Her one hand grips myriad shopping bags, and her other grips a Chestnut Praline Latte.  She has mukluks on her feet and smells like Peppermint.  This girl is Christmas.  I look down at my own attire: my battered blue jeans, pink Converse high tops, and band T-shirt.  I pick a piece of fuzz off my pilled cardigan.

Taking a big drink of rum and eggnog, considering that maybe I don’t meet dress code, the girl turns around and asks me how long I think the wait might be.  At the front of the line, I see an exhausted hostess of sorts handing each customer a piece of paper with a number and the name of a sales associate.  Then they wait for a space to open up.  “Like, what are people even doing in there that takes so long?”

“I don’t know,” I say, “are we sure we’re not in line at a nightclub or something?”

The girl rolls her eyes.

I roll mine too.  “I know, right?”

“Why can’t they just, like, let us in to shop like normal?”

I shrug.  I have no idea.  Fire codes, maybe.  Fear of theft.  To build excitement.  “Your sweater,” I say, “those moose?”

“They’re reindeer,” the girl spits, looking at me as if I’m some kind of monster.

I take a drink.

“Ah, no matter,” I say.  “Both are simply varieties of deer; ruminants, from the Cervidae family.  What’s the difference.”

The girl crinkles her nose, sniffing the air.  “Do you smell booze?”

I sniff the air too, and suddenly the pair of us are like a couple hounds at a Louisianan barbecue.  “I think I do.”  I lean in closer so only she can her me.  “I think it’s him,” I say, throwing a thumb over my shoulder at the guy behind me, a frail octogenarian in plaid pants leaning on his walker.

“Disgusting,” the Christmas girl sneers.  “Some people can’t even make it through a trip to the mall.”  She rolls her eyes.

I roll mine too.  “I know, right?”