Early Morning

As sleep was skillfully and stubbornly alluding me long past midnight this brisk early April morning I decided to revisit my blog after a long and somewhat unanticipated hiatus. Lack of time and interest were sure factors in my departure from the click-clack of key strokes some two years ago; but, as they say, other things just got in the way.

I began my blog back in October of 2010 for two reasons: as a way to journal my new experiences living abroad; and to create a lifeline for my beloved friends and family whom I knew would be separated from me for some time. I think there were many more reasons why I stopped so abruptly. Truthfully, the grief I suffered due to the passing of my dear friend Matt Sayles in 2011 made words come not so easy. Also, the thrill of living in a new place eventually fades and I didn’t feel like bitching about the mundanities of northern Mexican city life as a late-twenties gringo. My negativity overpowered me and naturally I grew unhappy.

I didn’t get inspired this morning to recount all the trials and tribulations of late, nor do I have an uplifting story about how from the depths of sorrow I found the will to carry on. Simply put, for the first time in a long time I just feel good. Lately, life has been hectic, tiring, rewarding, lonely, joyful, stressful, terrifying, exhausting, dynamic, exciting. It’s been draining and rejuvenating. Demanding and fulfilling. Life has been all of these things while carrying on so deliberately, devastatingly and terribly uncompromisingly fast. At such a rapid rabid pace goes life that if left unsupervised it holds the devious power to deceive us and pass us by all together. For that sole reason I rose from the discomfort of my soft blankets and cool pillows to the familiar harsh glow of a laptop screen and the click-clack click-clack of midnight key strokes.

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New Years Eve

The last two nights we camped at a stunningly beautiful virgin beach in Arroyo Seco, Jalisco. The water clear and blue had amazing visibility and the waves were spectacular and impressive in size and power. We had driven the day from Sayulita and arrived in time to have an evening surf before we made camp. The 3 kilometer road to the town proper from the highway was oddly enough riddled with telephone poles in the car lanes. I shit you not. The town itself was about a mile from the beach and had a population of 400 according to the sign at the entrance. We filled up on tasty tacos and rich Pozole for pennies and then enjoyed a local fiesta de quinceañera, which must have included most of the 400 people living in Arroyo Seco. When we got back to our campsite in the evening we made a fire only to be driven into our tents shortly thereafter and fairly early by chilling offshore winds and dropping temperatures. The moon was so bright that night I reckon we could have surfed by moonlight.

The next morning we surfed for hours in the crystal clear water and through some waves that packed a real punch if you found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the evening surf the night before I got thrown off a wave and landed on my board breaking off my fin with my ass. That certainly left a mark. The small bay was very remote and there was nothing on the beach besides swaying palm trees, steep jagged rock faces, fine sand and a handful of campsites here and there. The closest bank or ATM was about an hour south so we headed there in the afternoon to get cash and buy provisions for the night. In the evening we prepared a fresh fish that we bought in the market with chiles, garlic, tomato, onion, lime and cilantro and cooked it right on the hot embers from the fire. It was suberbly delicious and we cheersed over some cold beers as we ate off of wooden “plates“ which was really firewood and with tent stakes as chopsticks. It was a sultry hot night compared to the one before and I took off my rainfly for the breeze, but it was still uncomfortable and hard to sleep in the heat.

This morning we packed up camp early, which was a fortuitous because shortly afterwards it started to rain and has continued slow and steady all day. We drove south to eat breakfast in Barra de Navidad and decided to find a hostel here to pass the new year, take a hot shower and have our first night sleep in a bed since over a week ago back in Culiacan. During my vacations as I am exploring and enjoying many beautiful places I am always thinking of my friends and family who I miss very much. I am happy and very fortunate to have great travelling companions in my dog Suiza and my mate James. I want to wish all of my friends, new and old, back home and abroad a very happy new year and I wish to see you soon.

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Life is too short to worry about the notes. But, then again you can only forget about them once you’ve dedicated your entire life to the notes.

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It’s time for something big.

Me preguntan cuanto tiempo llevo aqui en Mexico cuando me hablan. Entre los primeros diec quince minutos la pregunta se sube y cuando les digo que tengo unos dos anos siempre me vean igual. Luego me dicen que hablo muy bien y quieren saber como aprendi.

Gasto mucho tiempo hablando con nuevas personas en espanol porque obiomente hay mucha raza aqui donde vivo que hablan nada mas que espanol. Pero el asunto es que si, ya tengo dos anos viviendo en Mexico y ya hablo bien espanol. Y con mejor conocimiento del idioma lo estoy utilizando mas y mas. Para conocer a nueva gente o para dar clases de oboe. Para sacar papeles y tramites de migracion o para ordenar comida. Dar consejo y luego escuchar critica. Decir gracias. Quejar.

Ha llegado un momento en que pienso que se me hace falta algo en la vida. No se que pero es algo muy importante. Pienso que algo hay que cambiar y puede ser una cosa muy grande o tal vez varias mas pequenas pero conectadas.

Me pregunto bajo cuales circunstancias saldria de aqui, cambiar de la vida que tengo ahora. Luego me pregunto que quiero hacer con la vida. No estoy seguro cual de las dos preguntas tiene mas importancia pero si, se que las cosas que quiero hacer no son faciles y me da miedo fallar.

En este momento estoy feliz, emocionado, cansado, de hecho agotado de vez en cuando. Estoy vivo, sano reletivamente, y listo. Es tiempo para algo mas grande.

Within the first ten minutes of chatting with a stranger they ask how long I have been living in Mexico. The question doesn’t fail to come up in conversation and when I tell them only two years I always get the same look. They say I speak well meaning without a terrible accent and are curious how that could be.

I spend a lot of time speaking Spanish because there are so many people I meet and interact with on a daily basis who speak nothing besides Spanish. The point is that yes, I moved to Mexico two years ago and in that time I learned Spanish. And with better understanding and familiarity with the language I use it more and more. I speak to meet new people or teach oboe, sort out my immigration papers or order from a restaurant. To give advise and later receive constructive critizism. To say thank you. To complain.  

I get the feeling that I really want something more or at the least something is missing in my life. I can’t say what it is exactly, but I know that it is important. It could be a huge change or maybe several smaller and related, but none the less important decisions.

I wonder what would make me leave Mexico and change completely the life I have here. Then, I ask myself what is it that I really want to do with my life. I’m not sure which question holds more significance but, I do know that the road that will take me to where I want to be will not be an easy one and just like everybody else I am afraid to fail.

Right now I am happy, excited, tired and at times completely exhausted. I’m alive, reasonably healthy and sure as shit I’m ready. It’s time for something big.

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Foosball

Ok. I’ve decided that what I don’t like about American football are all the rules. It’s supposed to be a man’s sport. Full of tough guys; but, it seems to me that all they do is complain and use technicalities as winning strategies. Soccer can sometimes end with a score of 0-0, but they do play to the wire. Meanwhile, in football if you have the lead the rules allow you to spend the last two minutes on your knee and still win the game. And, when you don’t like what the paid referees have to say about a play call your fearless leader has permission to emphatically toss a red scarf on the field in disapproval. Then, everyone has to wait, sometimes as long as 10 minutes, (Budweiser and Geico line their pockets with advertisements) while the referees huddle around a television screen for a group spell-checking.

I used to love football because I equated it to war. The wide receiver can’t catch the football if the quarterback isn’t able to throw it, which means the offensive line has to protect him and all of this is achieved if and only if the coach has the insight to call the correct play. Everyone works together for the same goal which is to score a touchdown rather than one person posting up a defender and hitting a turn around jump shot like the Kobe show. But; unlike war, which has no rules, football is loaded with them, and more and more get added to the game every year. Sometimes it seems like even the commentators themselves are confused by the rules.

Ok, so I know that I’m hating on football, but honestly, what is more upsetting and deflating than witnessing an amazing RB score an 80 yard running touchdown just to be told that his buddy held a guy by the arm back at the 50 yard line so he’ll have to try again? So many rules it’s no wonder people like Plaxico Burress shoot themselves in the leg out of sheer frustration. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but then again I haven’t even mentioned that all these guys are wearing tights.

What bothers me is that I don’t know why I liked football so much before, yet now have become so bored by it. There can only be two reasons either I am getting old or football is changing. I’ll let both the fans and critics decide. Are you ready for some football?

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Luck be a Suiza tonight.

Some time has passed since the last time I wrote. I’ve tried to set my feelings, thoughts and reflections on life into text and words since November, but have arrived fruitless on my many attempts. I wanted to write about all the wonderful music we have played in my orchestra. Tchaikovsky symphonies and tone poems. Mendelssohn’s violin concerto. I tried to write about my family and my friends here in Culiacan as well as those who live all around the US whom I see much less frequently than I would like. Often I would think to write about the grief one experiences after the loss of a loved one. The loneliness of living in a foreign country. After several months of writer’s block I even started a post about what it’s like to watch a fledgling banana plant grow day by day. How each new twisted green leaf reaches straight out of the last finally to fall, billowing to a side in a perfect spiral pattern. I thought to write about how in the intense heat of Culiacan nobody notices the subtle first cooling summer rain, because everyone is sheltered inside with their air-conditioners running. I almost wrote about adopting my first dog after having lived with and loved cats most of my life. About working harder than ever for auditions and not winning. About divorce. About love.

I’m sure I could have chosen any of those topics for this post, but instead I want to write about a feeling we all get when we realize in an instant that we have no control over some things. It is this feeling of absolute and total helplessness that turns us on our heads and reminds us that we are only human. This sensation has the power to take our world as we know it and change it, even if so very slightly. When I watched my six month old puppy Suiza cross the road and nearly get killed by a car yesterday I experienced that feeling of utter helplessness. When her little face came running towards me after the incident I knew she was lucky, but it was my fault she had been put in that situation. As it happened there was nothing I could do to help her. I couldn’t yell to her or to the driver. I couldn’t run to her. I just stood there and thought about all the mistakes I had made to allow for my poor innocent dog to end up underneath a deadly motor vehicle.

I called her name and told her to come to me before I realized where she was. When she heard the tone of my voice she knew she better make haste since she was down the block and across the street. There’s hardly ever much traffic on these cobblestone back roads, but my dog on this day joyfully danced from the sidewalk to the street right in front of a moving pick-up truck. It happened so fast I nor her nor the driver even knew what was happening. The wheels of the car must have missed her by centimeters as she tumbled and rolled like a rag-doll beneath the undercarriage. As the back bumper finally passed over her head, releasing her from her brief incarceration it was as though she had been spit from an electric cloths drying machine loaded with shoes to heavy to keep the door closed. She came running to me whimpering in pain and confusion limping slightly and shaking with adrenaline.

As it happened I had no time to react to anything. There was nothing I could say or do to change what was happening. I was powerless against fate and so I waited. The two second scene seemed like it lasted ten minutes and every nanosecond waiting in horror for the death blow. It never came. In fact, besides a split lip and a bruised shoulder my dog suffered no lasting physical injuries.

Right now Suiza is lying contently under my chair. She is a happy and healthy puppy who wants only few things besides food and dog treats and those are love and affection and never leaving my side. She spent the afternoon at the veterinarian’s office and showed no signs of serious injury.

Of course, all of the blame lies on me for not being a more responsible pet owner and I understand that I am lucky that I get another chance to change that. Often times it is through our mistakes that we learn our greatest lessons. I will never forget what it felt like to be so helpless.

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Sayles

The reality of this situation is that my loss is no greater than that of anyone else. Everyone who knew him will miss him equally and those who never had the pleasure of knowing him will miss him without knowing it. The world has lost a gentle soul, a happy man and a wonderful friend. Through the hardest times he kept positive and strong. He smiled and laughed and loved always. He loved music and being with his friends. Meeting new people, driving and reading. Traveling and photography. He loved to have a good time.

As tears stream down my face I am flooded with memories. They are all good ones.

Tonight our friend, our brother rests in peace. I know that he is still smiling. I know he loves us all. 🙂

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