Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dream 11/2/2009

I'm in Washington, D.C. I have gotten a job with some people. I am with said people on the way to the office. We arrive. It is in a huge building. The building is office building. We find the office. Everything is greey and silver and metallic and modern. We are four. We are mixed between girls and boys. The numbers don't matter.

It is my first day so I am to create a name project. The project has nothing to do with the aims of the business. It is extraneous. I am to use glue and wire to build and display my name. The wire turns into string midway through the project. I am all over the floor with my materials. A girl that works there is also on the floor. We are flirting and it is working. I would rather have sex with her than finish my name project. She would rather me have sex than finish my name project. Consequently, my name project is taking way too long. I finally finish. I have misspelled my name. I have to fix it. As I fix it, I hope nobody notices the errors I have made.

I speak with a lady at a desk. I get the feeling she is the boss. She tells me that before we move on, I should fix the name of a coworker whose name was incorrectly displayed. I find that it is quite a bit more difficult than all that. It seems nobody agrees how to actually spell her name. She is actually a real coworker from my life. From an old job.

The lady behind the counter transitions into Hulk Hogan's wife or daughter. It doesn't matter which. The office transitions into the Hogan home. It isn't actually what I remember their home looking like, but it's their home. I spend a lot of time here. The girl from the office for whom sex was an option is here at the house. She looks different, but it is her.

The house is made up of the following memorable elements. Long, stadium-like, concrete ramps, a massive, concrete parking lot, a twenty-foot wall around the thing, some sort of central room (possibly a kitchen or living room), and an old clubhouse. The clubhouse felt like it must have been something from my past, though it looked different than anything I remember. It had deteriorated. It was musky and moldy. No children wanted to play in it.

Hulk Hogan's son, hereafter HHS, had taken it over. He looked older than Hulk. HHS was doing dark, devilish things in it. At times, I would be running down the ramp and the son would roll things after me to try and knock me down. He wore a Jason mask, or an old hockey goalie mask (see Terry Sawchuck). It soon became evident that he had some nasty business he was involved in. He wanted to earn credit to sell things to the underworld. I imagine he had no money. I assume this because of what he did to Hulk Hogan, his father.

I was standing on the ramp. Hulk Hogan was standing below me. HHS, above me and to my left. HHS looked much older than his father now. His father was still quite large. His hair, both cranial and facial, had become purple. He looked somewhat cartoony. There was a showdown on the ramp. It involved mostly screaming. After a fit of hollering, it was clear HHS had won the duel. From Hulk's body came an unbelievably and enveloping white light. From this white light spilled some type of coin. The coin was the capital for the underworld business. I got the shit out of there.

I was in the bed of a truck on the way to a party. My fellow bedmates were screaming. They were really excited about the party. We arrived. It was daytime. The party was to be held inside and outside. There would be booze, a grill for food, and informal sporting. The partygoers were actual friends of mine. I'll not name any names, although they did act appropriately.

I remained outside while the majority of my truck entered the house to begin raging. I felt that this isolated me. My isolation, however, was comfortable. The weather was nice. I found a bunch of unwanted potatoes on the ground. I also found a nine-iron golf club, unmanned. I decided to use them both. My plan was to rocket the potatoes into the neighborhood. I assumed they would explode on contact. They would cause no harm.

I then became conscious of the possibility that a potato might not explode so easily. It might just rocket at a home. A flying potato would surely shatter a neighbor's window. I turned to find more reasonable targets. I found, to my surprise, a group of small golf flags stuck in the lawn. They were near the grill, which was also left without supervision. I prepared my first shot.

From behind me came screetching down the road another truck. It looked like it held bandits. They were all hooting and hollering about something. As they got closer, I could hear they were screaming their plans upon arrival. They planned to beat someone up. I imagined that they were talking about a friend who they were going to play with. I didn't feel any threat, either personally or vicariously.

The truck came to a halt. The bandits popped out in all directions. They ran to the party room, hereafter PR. The PR was next to the golf flags. It had just materialized. It was a PR from Embassy Skate Center. I actually worked in Embassy Skate Center, cleaning the PRs. The PR was about 12 by 20 feet and the walls were dominated by tall windows. You could basically see what was happening at any one moment in the PR. When the bandits rushed the PR, there were already things going on. These things included talking and drinking. Nobody had paid much attention to any other activities, though presumably there were some.

It was clear soon that the bandits hadn't lied about their violent intentions. As it turned out, there was one person whom they wished to pummel. The initial rush caused a fair amount of chaos in the PR. A girl, seemingly uninvolved previously, took a huge swing at the group. Her swing showed no regard for who she might hit. Who she hit I do not know.

Within about thirty three seconds, the mob was dispersed. The bandits, for the most part, had left the PR. They became as uninvolved as I. The involved reduced to two young men. It was clear that the two had some history that they wished to resolve, though said history was never made clear to me. Neither one of them had shirts. Both wore board shorts. Both wore flip-flops. One wore glasses. He was the one with long hair, hereafter LH. I did not recognize either one.

LH was clearly the superior gladiator. He stuck with jabs. He weakened with body shots. He finished with hooks and uppercuts. His knee made an appearance. With the arrival of his knee came the arrival of the other kid's blood. The match was decided within a few moments. It had been a resounding victory for LH.

The other kid was being interviewed. I had camera lens view of the thing. He didn't look as bad as before. He wore glasses. On his head rested a backwards cap, hereafter BC. Somehow he was still cocky. The cameraman told BC to check his teeth for loose ones. BC replied that they all felt fine. He seemed to think that having been overwhelmed by a group meant that his relative bludgeoning wasn't a loss. I seemed to think differently. I felt bad at first when he was attacked, I really didn't feel anything during the one-on-one, and I wanted him to really get it during the interview.

The whole dream, though mostly the party scene, had a strong lemon flavor and tone.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Paulo Freire Poem

I found this incredible poem in Freire's book Daring To Dream: Toward a Pedagogy of the Unfinished, published by Paradigm Publishers in 2007

"Some time after his arrival
the foreigner said to the men in the valley
one dusking afternoon:
Thus far I have spoken to you only
of the songs of birds and
of the tenderness of the dawns.
It was necessary to undertake with you some
fundamental learning:
to feel out the uncertainty of tomorrow,
living out the negation of myself,
through a work that is not our own.
Only so, speaking to you would be a form of
speaking with you.
Now I can tell you:
We do not believe in those who proclaim
that our weakness is a gift from the Gods,
that it is in us as the fragrance in the flowers
or the dew in the mornings.
Our weakness is not the ornament
of our bitter lives.
We do not believe in those who state,
in hypocritical intonation,
that life is really like this
-a few having so much,
millions having nothing.
Our weakness is not a virtue.
Let us pretend, however, that we do believe
in their discourse.
It is important that not a gesture of ours
reveal our true intention.
It is important that they leave happy in their lie,
certain that we are things of their own.
We need time
to prepare our own discourse
that will shake up the mountains and valleys,
rivers and oceans
and that will leave them stunned and fearful.
Our different discourse
-our action-word-will be spoken
by our whole bodies:
our hands, our feet, our reflections.
All within us speak
a life-bearing language
-even the instruments that
our hands will use,
when, in communion, we
shall transform our weakness
into our strength.
Poor us, however, if we cease to speak
simply because they can no longer lie.
Therefore, I tell you:
Our liberation discourse
Is not the medicine for a passing illness.
If we go silent as the present lies quiet down,
new lies will appear,
in the name of our liberation.
Our different discourse
-our action-word-
As a true discourse
will be made and remade;
it never is or will have been,
because it will always be being.
Our different discourse
-our action-word-
must be a permanent one."

-Paulo Freire
April 1971

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Quote

"There is no tolerance without respect, no respect without knowledge."

Dream 9/31/2009

I climb stacks of records. Public records. All the way to the sun. The higher I get and the closer to the sun, the older the records become. The earliest are when humans started to ask what the sun was.
I'm terribly sunburned. I am really close to the sun. I have given my life to the quest of conquering the records of our species' past. I am really sunburned.
I take some photos of the sun. No one has ever taken such amazing photos of the sun. This holds true even in the face of their bad quality. It's the context. Get it?
Riley is on a balcony on the other side of the sun. I don't know what planet or body he is on. It doesn't matter. He takkes pictures of me. The flash hurts my eyes. This is funny becuase I am really close to the sun.
I make it down from the stack of records.
I stay at Hostal Residencial Sucre. I actually stayed there in Quito, Ecuador, for over a month.
At the hostal, someone steals my camera. It is called the Little Blue Camera That Will. I yell. I yell becuase they've stolen the photos of the sun. The same photos that would have changed the course of the world.

Dream 9/15/2009

Friend, Chris, hereafter CL, shows part of a movie. It is the opening scene of the film. We are a group of 19 or 20. Most of us know the movie. I don't. It is late evening. Dusk. We are in a beautiful spot. Earlier, Kate and I tried to decide where to place the hammock. The scene is some really powerful speech. During the thing, I lay on the ground. Someone is talking. I miss the words in the speech. The talking ruined the speech. Later in the film, there is a little spaceship. The little spaceship is in a descent. It smashes the ground. Little dudes get out via ejection. They fly into a ravine. It is explained that they died really violent deaths. CL explains this as a desire to canonize and martyrize them. This wouldn't, naturally, be as effective if they survived for a time, were happy again, maybe even successful at fixing their little ship and escapping. At the end of the explanation, the movie is stopped. I comment that I would like to see it again sometime. A feller throws us all Snickers candies. For some reason, we're all really close. I really love all these people.

Notes of Race to the Top Program

Part of American Recovery/Reinvestment Act of 2009 (referred to as the State Incentive Grant Fund).
$4.3 Billion for competitive grants to states
4 "Assurance" areas:
-Implementing standards/assessments
-Improving teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in teacher distribution
-Improving collection of and use of data
-Supporting struggling schools
50% of funding must go to LEAs
-Absolute Priority-comprehensive approach to the 4 areas aforementioned
-Proposed Priority-emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
-Invitational Priority-expansion and adaptation of statewide longitudinal data systems
-Invitational Priority-coordination and vertical alignment
-Invitational Priority-school level conditions for reform and innovation
There cannot be barriers linking student achievement to teacher effectiveness
Provide alternative certification path (including "Significantly limit the amount of coursework required or have options to test-out courses;)
Compensating and promoting (809)
Effective teacher-means a teacher whose students achieve acceptable rates (say at least one grade level growth in one academic year) of student growth

Find America COMPETES Act

Dream 9/3/2009

Listening to De Contrabando by Jenni Rivera. I am with Raquel Welch, hereafter RW. My friend Justin is with me and RW. We are fighting ghostly horsed warriors.

We three board a plane. The plane has had it's head cut off. That is to say, it is a drop-top. It is short and stubby. The plane flies to the battlefield. We land on a cliff. The ass of the plane is hanging off.

In the plane and on the battlefield we conduct battle with the Mother Ship, hereafter MS. We defeat the MS.

Dream 8/31/2009

We're playing a video game. It starts off killing dinosaurs. I am Lil' Wayne.

In another part of the game, we have to find and kill an old man. Neil, for some reason, is going to be the killer. He stabs the old man int he midst of some Mexicans. It doesn't work.

He then puts a bag over the man's head. It doesn't work.

Consumer Comfort

Think about how comfortable we are made as consumers. Think about restaurants, street signs, advertisements, storefront signs, business descriptions. Think about this in comparison to how you felt in Ecuador, strolling the streets of Quito Viejo, searching for a locale that served vegetarian foods. Pretty incredible.

Dream 8/21/2009

I'm listening to a fatso lady on CNN interview.
I'm playing with games on my laptop.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dream 8/17/2009

My roommate Riley's alarm, in "real life," is going off. The sound is a repeated bing, somewhere in between the sound a bell makes and the sound a honk makes. As this is happening, I am dreaming.

I am purchasing a new car using either a computer or an iPhone application. I choose the car, and decide to see what kind of price I'll be offered. I hit the "Calculate" button to see the final cost of the vehicle that I have just customized. As I do so, it starts adding costs like taxes, titles, and licenses. Each time it adds a cost, the alarm goes, "bing."

The alarm must have binged about a hundred times, because there ended up being a couple of thousand dollars of overcosts. The final price of the car- $218, 534.

Dream 8/10/2009

Playing soccer with kids.

Bully kid=keeper.

I have to pay the lady money from working at the snack bar. I have change.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dream 12/7/2009

I am involved in some real heavy shit. Deeply involved. I remember being on the top story of a parking garage. It`s open to the sky. It is nighttime.

I am being chased by a guy. He seems to be part monster as well as man.

I jump into a dodge van, grey. The keys are inside the ignition. I`ve only to start the thing to make it go vroom, vroom. It is the van of some sort of federal office. Dark grey. Shifter is the one with the big ball at the end.

I put the rhino into gear. The gear I choose is Reverse, represented by a capital "R" with a circle around it. I am zooming down the streets that make up the levels of the parking garage. At the front gate, I (the car) is recognized and the guard opens for me to exit. I blaze down the road.

I arrive at a large, monolithic building. Inside the first door, I discover a hallway. It looks like a depressing office building. I find Sterling, my brother, and tell him about all the deep shit that I`ve found myself in Federal shit. I`m up for Federal Grand Theft, Robbery, lots of money somehow, stealing an airplane, resisting and/or avoiding arrest, etc...laundry list.

I tell him that I just wanted to show people that there are those out there struggling to survive, though I know I`m not one of those people.

Sterling tells me to run. Why not? You can`t be holed up in a cell for the rest of your life. Follow me.

We pass by his wife, Kathryn. She is sitting on a table sorting through documents. She is doing her job. She says hello to me and blows Sterling a kiss with utmost class and reserve. We arrive at a cubicle amongst hundreds in a large office. My mom is sitting on the other side of the desk. Also there is a girl I used to date.

I start telling Mom about the shit I`m in. The speech sounds the same as it did with Sterling just moments earlier. There is part of me that is really proud of having sacrificed so much just to prove a point of injustice.

Dream 11/7/2009

There is a juice restaurant up the road. They only want me to get juice from there. I am having trouble finding the place. I am confused as to what part of town the juice restaurant is in. They keep giving me directions.

Dream 10/7/2009

(These couple of days I was sick. I don`t know exactly what it was, but I had some flu-like symptoms. I think this added to the visceral nature of the dreams. They really were powerful, and generally unlikeable. Very lucid.)

I`m walking into the market. I need a bus ticket to Otavalo, Ecuador. The market is 2-Dimensional. I am 3-Dimensional. The only thing I can buy is bunches of herbs, of fresh spices. Then I have to sell them. I finally figure out the dimensions problem. By sleeping sideways, I am able to interact on their dimension.

Then, I realize I can`t sleep well because my blankets only speak Spanish. Evidently, I do not speak well enough to manage with a Spanish speaking blanket.

Dream 9/7/2009

There is a guy that lives in our backyard on Sir Philip. (I actually used to live on Sir Philip street. It is in San Antonio. The "dream" backyard looks as did the "real" backyard.) I know that the man is some sort of "tribal man." For some reason, I keep thinking the word "tribal" describes the man. His forehead is quite massive. His features make me think of the word, "neanderthal."

My mom and I watch the man scale 100 meters up a tree, without use of ropes. It is impressive.

He meets me and my mom at the garage. He wants to say hello to her. He thinks that to do so he must kiss her on the lips. He is confused by customs. Mom calmly says, "No, like this," and offers her hand to shake.

I am walking along Joe Ben`s funeral. (Joe Ben is a character in Ken Kesey`s novel, Sometimes A Great Notion. In the book, Joe Ben dies drowning while stuck under a log. He and his family, the Stampers, are loggers in Oregon. Great book.)

At the funeral are hundreds of people. They are mostly chatting. I am meeting all of the characters from the aforementioned novel. I don`t, at the time, know exactly who they are. I just know they are from the novel.

I am walking along a row of restaurants. I want papas fritas. Papas fritas are french fries in a different language. None of the restaurants are offering papas fritas, or french fries.

Enter the US Embassy in Quito. (I have actually, in "real life," entered the US Embassy in Quito.) I tell the people that I`m to stay there until I receive my passport. The clerk tells me something has come up in the report. I know the report, although there was no such thing in "real life." He says it`s come up that for a time years back, I was drinking a lot of beers. He also says it looks like I didn`t have a job for about a year and a half. I tell him this: "No shit, it`s called college, and I was teaching full time."

A female clerk send me upstairs. I`m to have surgery to complete my eligibility for a new passport. The surgery will be on my leg.

I am with my big brother Sterling. (I actaully have a big brother Sterling.) We are, in total, a group of 15 to 20. The majority of the group is made of soccer and hockey teammates of his, that is, Sterling`s. The group plays ultimate frisbee at some sort of sports park.

I head to the parking lot to toss the ball with one fella. It is shaped and colored like a baseball. It bounces in the following pattern: first bounce, high-arched, thin parabola, gliding slowly. Second bounce, very low-arched, long stride, zooming past. Repeat. There is a little kid with his sister there. The little snot is 8 years old. His little snotty sister is 5. They are getting in our business. The little snot is telling me that we are doing it wrong. "You`re not supposed to use your hands," the little shit says. He thinks we want to be playing fùtbol.

"Go to hell," I finally tell the little shit. "Get the fuck out of here if you don`t wanna play baseball."

The little snotty shit`s mom goes bananas. She says she is gonna get me booted from the place. I tell her I don`t believe in hell, so the statements don`t really mean anything grave. This doesn`t appease the bananas mom.

She, indeed, kicks me out. On the way out, I pass a large beer hall. I look for my brother, Sterling, or any of his friends. I see a long, lanky friend of Sterling`s. He tells me that most of the fellas have already gone home.

Dream 7/7/2009

I am in a deserted town. Most people are dead. I find a restaurant. I sit and tell of the cabrón from the bus. (There really was a cabròn from the bus. He was drunk and during the night was either trying to get fresh, grabbing my thigh, or he was intending, feebly, to rob me. I told him I`d kill him.)

Across from me at the table sits Molly Ringwold. She has aged naturally but it is clear who she is. In the dream, I had just seen 16 Candles on the bus. (I haven`t ever seen 16 Candles in `real life.´)

Someone at the table asks if she has ever seen 16 Candles. She says that she was in the movie. Of course.

Shit, the person says, Molly Ringwold lives in our town!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

He Has a Hemingway of Giving it to You Straight

So, I have been reading Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway. It´s his book that combines descriptions of bullfights, bullfighters, bulls, really nice Hemingway honesty and assholishness. Towards the end of the book (just before the 40 some odd pages glossary) is somewhat of a stream of memories, each condensed to less than a full sentence, which, all together as a list, remind him of some of the better years of bullfighting in Spain. After this, which is really lovely in its own right comes the following words. I got what I got from it, which was quite a lot. You can interpret for yourself.

Keep in mind, I´m awaiting my departure from Ecuador tonight, after an incredibly beautiful and empowering 5 months here.

"I know things change now and I do not care. It´s been all changed for me. Let it all change. We´ll all be gone before it´s changed too much and if no eluge comes when we are gone it still will rain in summer in the north and hawks will nest in the Catedral at Santiago and in La Granja, where we practised with the cape on the long gravelled paths between the shadows; it makes no difference if the fountains play or not. We will never ride back from Toledo in the dark, washing the dust out with Fundador, nor will there be that week of what happened in the night in that July in Madrid. We´ve seen it all go and we´ll watch it all go agian. The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after. Let those who want to save the world if you can get to see it clear and as a whole. Then any that you make will represent the whole if it´s made truly. The thing to do is work and learn to make it."

Death in the Afternoon

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Two Negatives Making a Positive

I step off the Metrobus about 4 days ago. Within 5 steps, I feel something tap my left arm, where some people have biceps. I glance over and recognize what has happened. A bird has shit on my shirt. The bird shit is comprised of two forms of matter, that I can see, at least. The first is solid. The second is liquid. The solid is, from what I can tell, the shell or skin of a small berry or fruit. They solid pieces are a dark purple color, almost black. The liquid is, from what I can tell, just bird shit. Later in the day, after having flicked the solids from my shirt, the liquid remains. It looks like disappearing ink that just won´t disappear.

The next day, I´m wearing the same shit shirt. I´ve done nothing to address the non-disappearing ink. At this point, I´m still without money and I think being able to say that I´m literally covered in shit might help with the relateable part of my story...the empathy winner. I step off the Metrobus again. You see, the shitty day provided me with no concrete assistance, so I´m back to take another shot. After about 7 steps off of the Metrobus, the rain comes. I have slick sandals on, which is not to say fashionable. They prefer to treat water like it´s cousin, ice, when they meet on the sidewalks. The dirt on my feet has turned to mud. I am slip sliding away, while I jog to find a place to have a beer and some foodstuffs. I arrive at an Indian restaurant, having been craving Indian food for weeks, and realize something wonderful. The non-disappearing ink has disappeared. My assumption is that the water has washed the liquid bird shit off of my shirt sleeve.

For this, I can vouch that, in some cases, two negatives really do make a positive. Actually, it´s more like a neutral, but we´ll use our imaginations.

Dream 1/7/2009

We are a group. I am with friends. I don´t know who these people are as soon as I wake up. They are, for me in waking life, strangers. We are swimming in a natural swimming hole. We are having fun diving off of rocks. We are naked. Each one of us has a partner. Still, though, we are currently having fun as a group of friends.

I get the feeling that we are being watched. We move to the man made swimming pool. It looks like a resort that I´ve never been to.

In a flower pot which also doubles as a lamp, I find a camera lens. The lens has a red light on it. This tells me it is on and working. This means someone has been watching us swim in the resort pool. Somehow, I immediately know who it is that has been watching. It is the old, somewhat grumpy guy that lived at Shady Oaks Apartments. Shady Oaks Apartments is a real apartment complex located in Austin, Texas. I really lived there. The aforementioned Grump also lived there.

There is some sort of investigation that flashes across my field of vision. I see that he is into young girls. Young for me right now means 14 and 15. Specifically, he likes girls with strange haircuts. I see several examples of the weirdness that gets him off.

We plan to meet with the Grump to settle the score. We want to settle it once and for all, which is to say forever. When we approach him, he shoots the girl who is my partner. She is my girlfriend. I am her boyfriend. I know this. His bullets hit my girlfriend in three places. One place is the forehead. Another place is the right shoulder. The final place hit is the gullet. My girlfriend, with her three bullet wounds, falls to the asphalt. She is bleeding some, but less than you might think. She is still in her bikini from the swimming. It is blue. The blue is in the middle of north carolina tar heels blue and detroit pistons blue. It is similar to detroit lions blue.

A few minutes later the girlfriend says she feels fine. The bleeding from her bullet holes has stopped. We share stories that we´ve encountered which tell of people having survived bullet wounds to the forehead. We decide that she still may die. We decide that for what may or may not be the last moments of her life, we should have sex. She reminds me to be gentle, because she still might die.

Cultural Conservation as a Natural Act

This morning when I woke in the lovely Hostal Residencial Sucre, in Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador, I was pleased to hear from the adjacent Plaza San Francisco live music. I made my way down to the thing to check it out. I listen to a few songs, and then comes the dancing. I soon see colorful costumes and a large mix of people who comprise the audience. This makes me happy.

As I watch the various dances, performed by various indigenous groups, each representing a piece of the way of life of said groups. Some represented the tradition of neighbors helping neighbors build their homes, one at a time. Another represented the cycle of growing and harvesting choclo, maiz, corn. A third was an effigy to an herb used in traditional healing practices.

I enjoy these dances, and I enjoy the music. I feel more like I am in Ecuador than any other time when I hear the Andean flutes and see the brilliant costumes. I have been known to get teary at these performances, because I really meditate on how lucky I am to be spending time in Ecuador.

During the performance dedicated to the herb, a young boy of about five entered the "dance floor," as defined by the arrangement of the audience, a square of probably 8 meters by 8 meters. The boy, who we later found out was named Mateo, was a lovely little man with a long black pony tail and fairly dark complexion, and he arrived on the scene and began stomping along with the music. His steps were perfect. As intently as our eyes were stuck to the little guagua, so were his on the female dancers who were praising the Pachamama. He was so interested and so enamored with the steps of the dancers and with the music. Throughout the duration of the song, probably 8 minutes, Mateo stomped around the perimeter of the square, displaying not only skill in keeping the beat, but, more importantly, displaying pride in himself and his fellow dancers.

At one point, an older lady in the front row of the audience tried to grab Mateo. He escaped. On his next lap, she tried again, this time coaxing him to exit by putting a fifty-cent piece in his tiny palm. Mateo, not yet interested in finance, immediately threw the silver coin and continued his triumphant strut. At this point, I had a laugh, as did most of the crowd. As some of you might know, laughing and crying are actually quite close cousins, and I found myself unable to control the waterworks, so to speak.

It was such a wonderful thing to see. The crowd, the pride of the dancers, the pride and interest of little Mateito in his countrywomen and their traditions, his rejection of money in the face of cultural solidarity. Perhaps I´m reading very deeply into something that, as we know, could have been childish sponteneity. But I don´t care. It was wonderful and profound for me.

Cultural conservation, executed as naturally as I´ve ever seen. What a world?

Dream 29/6/2009

I am on some sort of farm. The farm exists in the nation of Holland. Batiste´s mother is here. I am not alone. I am with Batiste and Chris. We are getting ready to leave the place to travel.

As we walk along the farm to Batiste´s mother´s house, we ask for the flag. We ask for it with energy, and we ask for it repeatedly. Like this. "The flag, the flag, the flag, etc..."

A group of hundreds of people respond to our request. All of a sudden, a stripe of orange is raised up above the people´s heads. It covers one third of the people´s heads. Next, a stripe of white is raised, parallel and flush with the orange stripe. The orange stripe is exactly as thick as the white stripe. After white comes blue. It is a light blue. In Spanish, it would be celeste. Celeste is similar to sky blue.

Because we saw "the flag," we each get a small flag of our own. We are able to choose from flags all across the world. The flags are about the size of a postal stamp. Not one of us chooses Holland for our free flag. I choose Ecuador.

People are showing me their animals. They have animals on leashes. They use the leashes to keep control of the animals while they walk them. The animals are the following: pumas, lions, jaguars, etc...Walking their animals, the people are very proud. I have the red ass because I don´t think said animals should be domesticated in this manner.

The place is a village for people who do artesania. Artesania means artisan craftwork. This usually means bracelets and necklaces made out of string with wax on it.

Attraction Manifests Itself In the Darndest Ways.

So, I´m sitting in a restaurant in Loja. There is a girl that is so attractive here, I am nearly getting a boner. I am not dwelling in perversion, nor am I fantasizing about anything. Just noticing her beauty, my attraction needs a way to manifest itself. My body seems to think a boner is an option.

Being Filthy

I´m filthy. I have scabby sores on my legs which originated over a month ago as simple horsefly bites on Rhiannon farm. My Leatherman knife cut my finger (while attempting to open a bottle of wine in a hostal that outlaws booze). My feet are black and brown with Loja city grime. I am peeling. My hair is still full of sand. A black ball-point pen burst in my slacks´ pocket. I got shit on by a bird while drawing Iglesia San Francisco. There´s a spot from Patate on the leg of my slacks. I haven´t been in Patate in three months. Deoderant doesn´t work.

I really don´t feel bad about it. I really looked forward to a hot shower upon arrival in Loja from the beach. I have yet to follow through in over 72 hours in Loja. In an entire day of eating, drawing, walking, I wasn´t able to make it to the lavanderia to wash my clothes, cause I don´t give a shit.

I´m wondering what this means. What is it that keeps me comfortable, even more comfortable, a bit grimy? Is there some sort of ideological thing that it stems from? Am I just downright lazy? If there is an ideological underpinning, and I get a job wherein I have no choice but to bathe often, will I be violating something important to me? Think on that.

Church Crowd Loja, Ecuador

I´m sitting at the Plaza San Francisco, in the provincial capital of Loja, Ecuador. It´s a fairly nice Plaza, complete with a church, also called San Francisco.

As I sit, I´m thinking about what a Cuencan city guide said about mendigos, or beggars. I posted the quote, but it basically blames the beggars for their woes, and explains that they taint Cuenca with their country ways.

Outside the church, in the evening, I hear some sort of Mass going on inside. Outside have gathered the following three types of people:

1) vendors (of candles, milagros, paintings, jewelry, crucifixes, etc...)
2) mendigos (legless, old, crawling, filthy, sad, destroyed, etc...)
3) artists (I´m drawing the church with a bottle of wine in my bag)

Anyway, it kills me to think that anyone, much less an entire city, would have such a terrible attitude seemingly devoid of empathy such as that which was displayed in the brochure. For crying out loud, the fucking lady has no legs, she´s crawling around on the floor with shoes on her hands. Crippled or not, a buck is a totally different thing for me than for her.

PS. I forgot. There´s a fourth group present here this evening:

4) the PDAers (making out, groping, entangled, in love, in lust, both, nice).

Bunny Wailer and Seeing Everything in Ecuador

There´s a story told about Bunny Wailer that I have always found interesting. I relate to it in a way I think about my being in Ecuador, specifically that my being here is coming to an least for this visit.

Bunny Wailer was one of the three original members of Bob Marley´s music group, The Wailing Wailers, later The Wailers, and finally Bob Marley and the Wailers. Bunny Wailer was said to have metaphysical powers, and stories have been told about his ability to put curses on people.

Evidently, a record company stooge suggested to Bunny that the group name their second or third album The Greatest Hits of The Wailers. Bunny replied that if, indeed, the album should be called The Greatest Hits, then said stooge would never again hear anything better. He died within weeks.

The other day, as I planned the last few weeks of my trip here, I was pondering what I wanted to see. Obviously, in a country so diverse and beautiful, I am realistic in knowing I´ll miss a great deal. I decided that trying to rush through the last bit here, trying to see as much as possible is, in a way, telling the universe that I don´t plan on coming back soon, or even at all.

This is not the message I want to send to the universe. For that, I´ll not rush. You can´t make me.

On International Cuisine

Sitting in A Lo Mero Mero Mexican Restaurant in Loja, Ecuador. ´How unbelievably sad, I´m thinking, that no matter where you are in the world, you have to do without another place´s incredible food, right?´

Wrong, somewhat. Learn to cook the food, grow the ingredients, practice the methods, make it happen. What a joy the internet is to have so readily available?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Letter to American Express

So, I received money through a wire transfer from American Express. Finally.

The lady at Ecuadorian Tours, an AMEX affiliate, asked that I write a report explaining basically that they did nothing wrong. I have a hard time excusing ignorance, but I think the responsibility to communicate is that of the huge company. The following is the report.

" July 2, 2009

American Express
P.O. Box 981540
El Paso,TX 79998-1540

My name is Jay Cameron Allen, and I have been an AMEX card holder for about seven years in total, since sometime in 2002. My father holds several accounts and has been a loyal customer for over 25 years. I am writing to express my displeasure at the way a recent issue, or number of issues, in fact, was handled by various departments within your company. I will tell the tale in sequential order, as I think doing so will highlight and clarify my reasons for having become frustrated.

On Saturday, the 27th of June, I was staying in a hostel in the small town of Vilcabamba, Ecuador on vacation. As I was out, my entire backpack was stolen, which included, amongst other personal items, a laptop computer, an HD video camera, my passport, three credit cards, including my personal Green Card, and cash.

The next morning, the 28th, I was quick to cancel all the cards, and was given some quick advice as to how to address my problem of being left with literally no cash whatsoever. Luckily, I was with some travelling friends of mine, who were saintly enough to lend me what they could afford. Rest assured, however, on a backpacker’s budget, extra cash is scant if existent at all. The money they lent me was sufficient to travel to the nation’s capital, Quito, a few days later after dealing with the police.

On Tuesday the 30th, I entered the office of Ecuadorian Tours, located here in Quito at Avenida Amazonas and Jorge Washington. They are a travel agency with the power to issue replacement American Express cards to those who have lost theirs or have had theirs stolen. The process began at Ecuadorian Tours in the early afternoon.

After four hours or so, many spent on the phone with either my father in Texas or with American Express, we still have not received the authorization needed from American Express to issue the replacement card. The details told were many, however the main issue was that American Express continued to claim that a fax had been sent to authorize a replacement card, while I, sitting next to a quiet fax machine, knew that the reality was otherwise.

We spoke with various departments during this time, including the emergency services department, the CRUSH department, and various others. After over five hours of inaction, filled rather with conflicting stories from all sides, an email was received that authorized the issuance of said card.

The card was issued. To the best of their knowledge, Ecuadorian Tours explained to me the possibilities that the card offered. It was explained to me that the card can be used at ATMs of the Banco de Guayaquil, a local bank here in Ecuador. Sure enough, as I approach the Banco de Guayaquil ATM, I am comforted to see the American Express logo amongst the logos present. The card is thereafter rejected as invalid. I walk to another ATM. The card is again rejected as invalid. The office of Ecuadorian Tours is now closed, as it seems is the door of opportunity for me to pay for food or lodging. For you see, this is now three days after having been robbed, and getting sustenance has become a serious issue.

The next morning, I receive an email from my father. Without money, I have been unable to directly contact either my bank or American Express. He informs me that he has been told by American Express that the card is unrecognizable by ATMs because it has yet to be linked with my bank account in the United States. I, therefore, simply need to call American Express and link the two, so that the money will be taken out against my checking account with Bank of America.

To do this, I must find a place to use the telephone. I head directly to the US Embassy here in Quito, located at Eloy Alfaro and Avigiras. The plan is to deal with my stolen passport, as well as plead for assistance on a financial front. Before the Embassy opens its services to citizens, I walk a few blocks down the road, armed with what I believe to be a defunct American Express card and a few cents in my pockets. I aim to find a place where I can buy a piece of bread or two. As luck would have it, I spot a Domino’s Pizza, and decide that it can’t hurt to try the card there. As I expected, the multiple swipes on the card produce nothing. I suggest to the gentleman that he might try by manually typing the number of the card in. He does. It runs perfectly. I eat, finally. I now assume that the problem is the magnetic stripe.

Back at the Embassy, I discover that they are unable to assist me directly with cash, which I understand. They are able, however, to allow me use of the telephone so that I can complete the task aforementioned.

After another two hours or so, I complete the necessary link between the replacement card that I have been issued and my Bank of America checking account. To do so, I provide my bank account number and routing number for my bank located in San Antonio, Texas. At the end of this activity, I am asked to give the American Express representative a four-digit number that I will not forget. This will serve as my pin number. I understand, at the end of this conversation very clearly, that the pin will be good for a one-time withdrawal, within seven days of its issuance. The maximum withdrawal is five hundred dollars US. We are very clear about this. We are also very clear that this withdrawal can be completed at a Banco de Guayaquil, which as I said earlier, is the only bank of the area to have a direct link with American Express.

After speaking with Bank of America for another number of hours, I head to a Banco de Guayaquil near the hostel on whose floor I`m currently sleeping for a dollar a night, borrowed money. For you see, I have enough confidence in what I´ve been told that I want to be near a place to lock up the loads of cash I`m on the verge of receiving, finally.

The first ATM, as luck would have it, is out of order. The second ATM, around the corner, claims that the card, again is invalid. I go back to the first location to speak with a teller at Banco de Guayaquil, located in Quito Viejo on Bolivar near Garcia Moreno. The teller answers that, even though the magnetic strip will not work, they are not able to do a withdrawal on an American Express card. She directs me to the central location in Quito, at Rio Amazonas and Colòn.

I arrive to the bank at about 17:30, nervous that the offices will surely be closed. Luckily, however, I am able to enter and express my problem. I am told that with some form of identification, at this point my Certificado de Visaciòn from the Ecuadorian Embassy in Houston, I am able to make the emergency withdrawal of up to five hundred dollars US. I am, naturally, overjoyed. After waiting in the lobby for nearly an hour, the guard announces that the national system has died for the day, and that we`re to come back in the morning.

As I head home, I decide to try and coax vendors to use the same method which worked at the Domino`s Pizza restaurant earlier in the day. I am unable to do so. Many seem confused as to what restrictions and options they have being an American Express business. Some told me that it is impossible to manually type in the American Express card number, others that they had no way of communicating with American Express, and others that simply acted as though they were making an effort, which they clearly weren´t. Even the supermarket claimed that they were only able to enter manually card numbers for Visa and Mastercard, excluding only American Express.

This morning, the morning of the 2nd of July, I head back to the Banco de Guayaquil, again filled with the confidence that was incessantly offered me by American Express representatives across the gamut of positions, offices, and departments. As my number is called, I make sure all my documents are in order, and I, with confidence, request the one-time, emergency withdrawal that I have been promised countless times. I am greeted with confusion at first, then denial by the manager. He tells me that the Banco de Guayaquil has no power to give money by any means other than the ATM. He apologizes when I remind him that this literally means whether I sleep in a public park or not and whether, when I finally do get to sleep, my stomach will, again, be devoid of a true meal.

Being that I am still unable to make telephone calls, including collect calls, I return to Ecuadorian Tours to sort out the problem with the magnetic strip on the card. As I arrive, I realize that there is nothing this office, with the information that they have been given, can do about the situation. Luckily, they are willing to offer their phone for a time, so that I can attempt to sort the situation out directly with American Express.

I climb various trees through the American Express departments, which I am used to by now. Before long, I am given some information that, frankly, takes me for a complete shock. I am told that, paraphrasing the magnetic strip on the replacement cards is not functional, rather is put there to make it look like a real American Express card. I am also told that emergency cards have a five day period in which they cannot be used and that I should never have received the one-time, emergency pin number which had been given me the previous day.

Finally, luckily, I am connected to a young lady named Crystal ________. After hearing, nay, truly listening to my story, and having recognized my name and the case from earlier in the week, Crystal decides that she will do what she can to help me. She helps me to clear up the discrepancies that still matter at this point (though dozens still exist in my understanding, or lack thereof, of the process and the system). She decides that we will circumvent the Banco de Guayaquil altogether and instead look for a location nearby that will accept my weak forms of identification and accept the transfer. Within the hour, Crystal has found, along with a Spanish-speaking colleague, a nearby bank that will do just that. She provides me with the proper information, and within thirty minutes of receiving it, I have claimed at the Banco Pro Credit a transfer for five hundred US dollars. Additionally, Crystal waives the twenty US dollar fee that generally comes with wiring of money.

At this point, I am going to move on with the rest of my trip. I lack less than two weeks here, and I am not the type of person to let things continue to affect my mood after the fact. Finally, I am able to say after the fact.

However, there are some take-away points that I would like to share as a loyal customer, coming from a family of long-time, extremely loyal customers. In general, to quote a movie, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”

This failure to communicate exists at all levels. This failure to communicate manifests itself, ultimately, in the suffering and emotional taxation of a customer. However, more importantly, something that only Ms. __________ seems to realize, is that said suffering and emotional taxation is affecting a human being. This failure to communicate has also caused my personal loss in any faith I had in American Express to truly be where they are needed in a time of true emergency. I almost question how American Express, both as a company as well as on and individual level, would define “an emergency situation.” I can tell you that if I am in an emergency such as this, a five-day waiting period is not sufficient.

There is a communication problem between American Express and the foreign entities bearing their name. Both the Banco de Guayaquil and Ecuadorian Tours are proudly sporting your logo emblazoned on their letterheads, advertisements, and storefronts. However, the fact is that there is a general, though simultaneously profound, confusion as to what the connection between the two entities is. I wholeheartedly deny that any malice was at play with my situation, robbery omitted. However, malicious or otherwise, the damage is still done.

For their part, Banco de Guayaquil seems utterly confused as to what they offer given the relationship they have with American Express.

For their part, Ecuadorian Tours seems utterly confused as to what they offer given their relationship they have with American Express.

I cannot help but put the onus on the entity, of the three, that I know and trust best, to be the leader in clarification of policy, as well as any changes thereof. That entity, as you might have guessed, is American Express. I do not fault the thousands of agencies around the world who have connections with American Express for the lack of communication.

Simply put, I trust you. I have trusted you since I became a cardholder, and likely before that day, as I listened to my father claim the faith he had in your company. I have, in the last week, lost a great deal of that trust. I do not think there is anything that can be said nor done that could ameliorate that damage.

I only ask, for those that experience similar situations in the future, that you take responsibility of leading the discourse on policy. The small businesses around the world that so proudly sport your logo have a right and a responsibility to understand what they can and cannot offer as an affiliate. Because I trust you, much like those who follow me in dealing with such unfortunate circumstances trust you, I implore you to take the lead in solving the problems of misunderstanding, conflicting information, and overall lack of empathy that exist, both within American Express and beyond.

Please, if you have any questions or comments for me, contact me by email. Until the 15th of July, I will be enjoying the little time I have left here in Ecuador, so I expect you will understand if the any reply does not arrive with utmost hastiness.

In addition, I would like to further and more explicitly recognize that Crystal ________, of the hundreds of representatives I spoke with, was the singular person to show empathy towards my plight, as well as to allow that empathy to manifest itself into solutions. Real solutions. This is what I expect from a company such as American Express. Please do not allow future problems to prove me overzealous in my expectations.


Cameron Allen
Card Member since 2002"

The nice moments from yesterday.

So, as I told a good friend of mine, I felt as if every corner I turned yesterday, I was struck in the testacles. However, the straightaways provided some good old Ecuadorian tales. Here are two of the highlights from yesterday. After thinking about them for sometime, I think yesterday was really a great day.

First, on the Metrobus (don`t know which route, too many to remember), I noticed a little kid, about 8, who was with his mama. He was sitting in the window seat and she in the aisle. I noticed him looking out the window, with more interest and intrigue than the entire bus combined. He still seemed so excited about what was going on, and the possibliities that the streets held for his peepers. It was really a wonderful thing to see. One of those times, as a teacher, when you realize that that`s your job: to preserve the feeling of inquiry and interest that that scruffy little nincompoop was demonstrating.

At one point, he saw something worthy of pointing out, and turned to his mama to share what he`d discovered. As tenderly as I`ve ever seen before, in a way he had probably done a thousand times, he noticed his mama with her eyes closed, and slowly drew his hand back so as not to disturb her. The way he did it was almost angelic, as you could tell how much he cared for his mother. At the same time, there was a sense of disappointment, for this thing he noticed outside of the window, to him, was of terrible importance. I was thinking that if I ever become a parent, or even as a teacher, I don`t ever want to miss moments such as this.

The second one is a little bit lighter.

I´m walking along the wall of the massive Centro Cultural Metropolitano, headed to the front door to check out the free exhibit on display. Having already seen a nice photo exhibit and a Marc Chagall exhibit based on the Odyssey, I had hopes of at least something quite different. I`m maybe not the biggest Chagall fan, but that doesn`t matter now, does it?

As I`m walking along, I see a puppy dog. In all likelihood, the rusty bugger is a street dog, whose general interests range from yesterday`s meat scrappings to that other dog´s ass...maybe twice. It doesn`t take long to realize that said pup is really focused on something which appears to be just inside the side door of the Centro. I`m thinking that a guard has bought himself a lunch, perhaps rice and a meat (national meal). Perhaps there is a child in the door, taunting the pupperoni with pepperoni pizza. Possibly a gutter punk is waving his mangy dreadlocks around to keep the dog so attentive.

As I arrive, I`m utterly surprised at what I discover. The pup is neither pining for pollo, praying for pizza, or deadlocked on dreadlock. The pup stands and peers into the windows of the library, simply watching people read. The pup just wants to know how to read. Or maybe he knows, and he simply needs to replace his library card, which might have been stolen. I felt much like the pup today, just needing a replacement card that would get me what I needed. Only what I was standing at attention for was exactly what interested the pup none, which was a nice plate of rice and beans, maybe with a little salad on the side.

As soon as I returned home to the Hostal Residencial Sucre, I did that pup right in the only way I knew how. I sank my teeth into a book for an entire evening, realizing all that I still had available to me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fairly long day in Quito after being robbed.

This is an email that I sent my parents about today. I was robbed on Saturday night of my entire backpack. Computer, camera, cash, credit cards, passport, pens, all of it.

Temporally, this is out of order. There is more that has happened in the last week. Still, here´s the day.

"So, I just made it back home. Here{s the odyssey.

I take the metrobus (.25$) to the last station north at about 9:15 AM. From the map I think I´m only a few blocks, maybe a kilo away from the embassy. I walk and I walk and I walk. I continually ask passersby (which are scant along the way) if I+ve arrived yet. Each one says really far, really far, bus this bus that. I decide to walk, knowing that by the time I arrive at the Embassy, I´ll look like something the cat dragged in. Ends up being probably about 5 or 6 kilos, and I definately looked haggard and wan.

Arrival is nice, though I´m early and have to wait. In the meantime, I walk down the hill to find a panaderia, thinking bread is probably the thing to, filling, and pretty damn good in fact. Of course, any damn European will bitch and moan about it, waah, the bread in (fill in European country) is so much better. Yada yada yada.

On the way down the hill, I spot a Domino´s Pizza. Fuck it, what can it hurt. By now I´ve decided that the magnetic strip is bullshit, which is backed by the multiple attempts made by the pizza man. Finally, I suggest that he type in the numbers, which he does without problem. He types in the 15 digits, and voila, we´ve got pizza. In fact, we´ve a small salad and bread sticks without the cheese. But you get the point. Okay, so we´re on board. We simply need to request from vendors that they type in the numbers, and we´re in business.

As I eat, which probably wasn´t a pretty sight to see, I´m thinking about the interesting circumstance of my poverty. Most places I cannot even enter, for there is no way in the world they would serve me. These are the small, hole in the wall places with the best Ecuadorian food. Rather, I have to look for the biggest, most heartless, most corporatized, and generally most expensive spots to enter. After miles and miles of road traveling, I´m looking more like I belong in the hole in the wall. Which is where i wanna be in the first damn place.

I head back to Embassy row and am happy to find that I´m third in line (some things went great today). After a few minutes waiting, inside and out, I talk with a nice lady at window 11. I explain the situation, aided by the detail of a sweaty brow, with convincing passion (I imagine). I also try to hide the fact that I´ve just minutes before stuffed my gut with bread and salad, and a free sprite to boot (burps aplenty).

She says that the Embassy is no longer able to provide citizens directly with money. I tell her that I´m pretty close to being able to draw from my AMEX, if I could only use the phone (puppy dog eyes). She connects me and we go through the BofA tree, which I´m convinced rivals that of the family tree of the human race.

Finally, we get to the right lady, and she asks for two small pieces of information. Bank account number and routing number. Lady, I lie, my checkbook was stolen along with everything else. Especially the routing number. She puts me to another lady. Lady two has a little more pep in her step and is game for some investigative work. I resist the urge to call her dick, realizing that her being willing to help might be more fragile than my sanity, which at this point is a chandelier, or perhaps a lovely piece of china, devoid of any food or solutions of course.

Finally, we discover the bank´s routing number. Funny enough, I remember the bank and opening my account, lo these many years ago, because I remember how stupid my dreadlocks (I guess they deserve that name) looked in the picture. Little did I know, nearly ten years later I would still be showing that picture to friends and neighbors.

With this information, we complete the transaction. Done. The card will give me money. I decide that, even if the magnetic strip is junk, I will simply enter the bank for a withdrawal. Ha, winner. Just as I´m thinking this, the nice lady comes back into the room, on the other side of the window, of course. She´s had a nice 30 minute break. We were friends until, when I proclaimed my lack of faith in anyone mentioned above, she responded, "It´ll work. It´s gonna work." I should have gotten her address, just in case it didn´t.

Second order of business, and second hour in the Embassy, I attack the Bank of America debit card issue. I´m trying to get an emergency card or emergency cash, of which you can choose one, sent via DHL or FedEx. We climb the tree again, and finally get issues resolved. At last communication, I´ve chosen to have an emergency debit card sent to me at a DHL office here in Quito. It should, if things go right (ha), arrive on Friday. That would give me instant cash from any cash machine, for a pretty charge of $5 bucks. This is going well.

Finally, the Passport. The office is closed tomorrow and the rest of the week until Monday, in observance of some sort of important date. Who the hell knows these days, anyway? I will arrive on Monday, with necessary documents in hand, photos, police report, etc...and we´ll commence the emergency passport application process. This process can be done in minutes, which means days. Hopefully before the 15th. I got the feeling from the people I spoke with that it wont be a problem to get at least the emergency thing by the 15th. By this point, however, the feeling I get from people is probably about as valuable as the proverbial fart into a windstorm.

Embassy done.

I take a cab, fat and sassy, to the last stop on the line, Rio Coca. The dollar and a half kills me, but a few cents less than the hike did on the way up. Worth it, at the time. From the station, I head back, fatter and sassier, planning to stroll victoriously to the Banco de Guayaquil to get me some dinero. I have decided to do this close to the Hostal so that I´m not carrying half a thousand big ones. By the way, the AMEX withdrawal is a one-time thing. From a buck to five hundred, once. Only once. Guess that settles it.

The ATM at BdeG says, "Sorry, I´m a fucker. Come back in a few minutes, and I´ll tell you the same...but don´t you wanna see for yourself." I go across the street, thinking the largest hurdles have been cleared, and purchase a bottle of water and a 20 cent granadilla (a really nice fruit, similar to passion fruit). I return to the fucker, and he repeats his mantra. I walk down the street to another BdeG. He tells me, "Your card is a shit. It doesn´t care if you eat or if you sleep in the street. It wants me to say ´fuck you.´" Wow, quite direct. Not beating around the bush.

I return to the first BdeG, thinking I´ll just go through the line to fix the problem. Easy, piece of cake stuff, no? No. They can´t make withdrawals on AMEX cards at this branch. "Colón y Reina Victoria."

Back on the metro I go (.25$), headed to where I´ve just returned. I walk for a while and finally find the building, which I actually spotted up in the sky as I exited the Metro. Fancy, maybe the central Quito branch. That´s like Madison Avenue or something. At 5:45 PM, I enter the large bank, just happy that I´m allowed to enter. I speak with a lovely lady who agrees to ask the jefe if my Certificado de Visacion (the only identification I have at the moment) will be sufficient to make such a withdrawal. She returns with good news and a ticket with a waiting number.

Lovely, I´m thinking, this will give me time to reflect, relax, and write a little bit. Besides, the building is nicely air conditioned, which is welcome by me almost any time of the day. After about thirty minutes, the little guard walks around the group of us and proclaims that "the system is off...nationally. No more business today. See you all bright and bushy-tailed in the morning. Deal?"

I walk through the Mariscal, a very touristy spot, yet am unable to find a place that will accept AMEX. Well, there were a couple, but I didn´t really feel like going to Galapagos or buying a tent. Specifically, the Indian restaurant there didn´t accept cards. Crap. Back to the Metro I go (.25), not having enough to make it home by cab. I´m entering the lair of lions, which is to say thieves, who love to lurk on the Metro around dusk, catching people on their cross town sojourn, tired, defensless, unexpecting, white. I want to have a sign that proclaims that "Man, I ain´t got shit." But really.

We make it back. I´m likely aided by the combination of the following in looking more menacing than ever: my musk, my general but powerful and visible filth, my molester glasses, my beard, and the ever present sweat on my brow. No problems.

I decide to try a few more places, knowing now that the solution to all my problems is simply that the vendor type in the entire number of hte card and hit enter a bunch of times. I start at a place that sells rice, beans, fried plantains. Their "machine doesn´t work like that," they say. The next spot tries, but only about half of the numbers. He tells me it doesn´t work. The third place is down, but would literally cost me $20.00 for satisfaction. No dice. How about the supermarket?

No dice. It seems Ecuadorian vendors have a real fear of doing it the old fashion way, which is sort of an interesting thing to think about.

In the time I´ve written this email, which isn´t actually as long as you might think, Don Jose, the jefe of the hostal has, without telling me, cooked me dinner. He´s not much of a cook, but he has just presented me with a huge plate of white rice, topped with some fried egg omelet thing. This is one of those times, I believe, when you just eat the fucking thing. I´m continually impressed by the hearts of those around me who I´ve met. I can only think that maybe this proves I´ve had some positive effect on them.

So, as we stand, we´re getting full of food. We´ve got a trip to BdeG tomorrow morning to try and get the 500 out. I´ve printed a copy of my passport, so that should work better than the Certificado de Visacion. I´ve got about 4 liters of water, all of which I need after today. I also have a plum, two pears, and two tomatoes. So we´re set for the next few meals...though I´m waiting for the splurge.

By 10 o´clock tomorrow morning, I should have money in my pocket. I just hope that by 10:15, it´s still there."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dream 23/6/2009

I am in a shopping mall. I´m there with another person. I don´t remember that person. It doesn´t matter. The store which has caught our interest we have yet to enter. It has a white picket fence around it. The inside carpeting is some sort of golf green material, synthetic. There are large yellow flowers made of felt that adorn the ground. Also on the ground are large irregular, circular pieces of bright blue felt. These are supposed to represent water, as in lakes.

The store sells horses. The horses are full size, adult, living and breathing. I am somewhat disgusted by the fact that horses are on sale in such a manner. Yuck. My companion seems to think as I do about the ordeal.

There is a motto or a hymn of a product, store, something that I´m looking at. It´s on the back of a canister that is similar to the one that carries curry powder. A rectangular prism, "with soft rounded edges," (see The Mountaingoats). The motto is a modified version of the classic patriotic ditty, "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land." Instead of naming regions and places in the United States, however, it is referring to a Banana Republic and the resources thereof. I know it is talking about Ecuador. Evidently, it´s up for grabs. News to me.

I am working as an assistant to Rick Barnes. He is a homicide detective. We are questioning a kid in a case. The case is called "The Gabriel Case." The kid is shaggy-haired. He has a brown neck, either from sun or dirt. He is 19 years old. He could be a Tausch.

He is describing to Detective Barnes, hereafter DB, how he murdered the kid, whose name was Gabriel. I come into the room at the time he explains, very matter-of-factly, what he did with the body. "I squeezed it to get all the blood out, you know." I seem to know. It seems reasonable. He cut up the body into pieces. Rick wants to make some sort of measurement of length after hearing this piece of information. He requests a ruler from his desk outside the questioning room. The questioning room, incidentally, is a hallway about 20 feet long. Along the walls, facing the walls, are desks with walls on either side. The room is cramped.

I leave the room and find a ruler on DB´s desk. It is a meter stick or a yard stick. The thing comes apart in two pieces to make it more wieldy. It connects back together with long teeth that fit perfectly to make the thing whole. A cop sits at the corner of DB´s desk. He wears a blue cop shirt and dark blue pants. His uniform is complete with a reddish brown moustache.

The pig is clearly jealous of my involvement with DB. The pig should be investigating. Instead he sits and bes jealous of me, right there at the corner of DB´s homicide desk. "What does he need that for?" pig. "To measure the body," yours. I wink to show that I¨m having a real blast working with DB.

I come back into the room to deliver the ruler. As DB toys with the thing, presumably putting it back together, I notice the title of an editorial. The newspaper on which the title exists looks like a tabloid. It is really colorful. The fonts are large, imposing, and dynamic. The title says something about remembering Gabriel. "That´s yours," I ask. "Yep," says the Homicidal Tausch, hereafter HT.

I know without explanation that HT wrote the editorial. It was about how special Gabriel was. HT got it published either the day after the murder, or else two days following. Below the headline of the editorial is a line of three pictures. They´re arranged horizontally. On the left is HT, taken around the time of the murder. The middle photo is Gabriel. The photo on the right is another young man of similar age. Inconsequential.

As Rick and I leave the room, he says, "What a shame? Smart kid." I tell him that it is no big surprise that a smart kid might be capable, even more capable, of such a murder.

What interests me about this dream was my attitude towards HT. He didn´t seem to show much remorse, about as little anger as he displayed. If anything, he came off as confused, immature, and lost in all of this, as if the magnitude of his actions as well as the pending consequences (whatever they might turn out to be) hadn´t been duly understood as of yet.

I didn´t hate the kid, although I was disgusted by what he did. The two seemed mutually exclusive to me somehow. I felt empathy for HT. I wanted him to feel comfortable in his interview with DB. As I have seen and heard in interviews, Rick Barnes is a fairly calm person. This followed him into the dream. I wanted HT to know that we weren´t "out to get him," rather just to gather information.

Finally, I knew the kid was smart, and that this intelligence had probably cost him a great deal of suffering. For having dealt with this burden, I loved the kid.

Conversation on Goodreads

I´m on a website on which you can catalog your books. It´s called Goodreads. It´s free and nice. There are groups. In the groups are discussions. The following is a conversation about Classroom Management.

If only I could find people in real life that wanted to discuss things like this. Soon enough, my friends. Soon enough.

Barbara (made-up name):
Although I support the ideas discussed by Kohn, Dewey, Friere and the like, I don't know how applicable those ideas are if the teacher does not have good management skills.

Cameron (me):
For me, the ideas of those you mentioned, along with thoughts from Rousseau, Henry Giroux, bell hooks, for example, help in a very specific way; a way, unfortunately, that is not desired by many teachers. There are many teachers looking for manuals, complete with specific activities and management strategies for use in the classroom.

What Freire and the others do is provide a theoretical framework which can be internalized critically by the teacher. In having internalized an ideology that becomes personal, teachers are more easily able to be natural in their approach to management, and are also afforded the comfort in knowing that the decisions they make are in line with what they believe on a macrocosmic, theoretical level.

On the other hand, there are some that find specific methods that they enjoy, or that might work with one classroom, and they become enamored with said methods or activities. In doing so, they haven´t taken the step to realize why said method worked with that specific group of kiddos. What ends up happening, especially if teachers change grade levels, is that they are not equipped with a strong ideology of Management (which is what Freire and others offer), but rather a number (perhaps a few dozen) specific activities or methods that might only successfully apply to one group of kiddos, in one grade, and for one situation.

If you can develop the ideological framework, you´ll be able to critically investigate millions of ways to allow that ideology to manifest itself in good classroom management. This is because you believe in it, not because you expect it to produce results, but because you believe in the theoretical underpinnings thereof.

Jackson (made-up name):
Great post Cameron. I often wonder how teachers who have not spent time thinking about these big picture questions are able to sort through the drifting sea of specific rules and techniques offered by the many commentators in our field. How do they seperate the wheat from the chaff?

As Nel Noddings said, "How much more precious is a little humanity than all the rules in the world?"

Sucky Thing From Brochure of Cuenca

So, here in Loja, I found a brochure for Cuenca called Cuenca Chévere para Chiros, which loosely translates to "Cuenca Cheap and Cool."

It´s a nice brochure, for the most part, and mentions some stuff that I hadn´t learned in my month there, such as a place to get really nice herbal, medicinal juices, homemade for however many years. There is a section in which the brochure speaks of the people of Cuenca, aiming to describe the daily lives of Cuencans. Here is what the thing says about Beggars, first in Spanish and then in English (their translation):

Los Mendigos

Los medigos sentados en las veredas y escaleras de la ciudad paralizan a Cuenca. Ellos reflejan la siudad inerte, esto es, sin movimiento. Carecen de la prisa de los que gozan del estatus de ciudadanos.
La proliferación de mendigos, consecuencia de la migración de la gente del campo a la ciudad, ha alterado la visión de la indigencia. Haciéndola cotidiana, oculta el valor de la mirada denuncia, que el mendigo proyecta sobre el resto del cuerpo social.
En su continua lucha por ganarse la vida ellos deben hacerse cada vez más seductores en la calle, y este fenómeno es el que da espacio a la creación de personajes guardianes de las aceras, cada uno con su cara, su queja, su discurso, sus llagas, sus espacios y el impacto que proyecta en quienes los vemos al pasar.

The Beggars

The beggars seated on the paths and steps within the city paralyze Cuenca. They reflect a city that is inert, that is, without movement. They lack the haste that characterizes the other inhabitants of the city.
The proliferation of the beggars as a consequence of the migration of the peasants to the city, has distorted our vision of poverty, making us observe it as a daily phenomenon, lacking sensibility of the denouncing glance that the eyes of the beggars projects to the rest of society.
In their daily struggle to survive, they must become more seductive in the streets, generating a phenomenon which develops in the creation of a sort of guardians of the sidewalks, all of them with their particular look, their complaints, their speeches, their sores, their spaces, and the impact this creates on those who see them upon passing.

Wow, Cuenca. Pretty general and strong words, wouldn´t you say?

Ecuadorian Constitution 2008 Articles of Interest 71

Capitulo Séptimo
Derechos de la Naturaleza

Art. 71

La Naturaleza o Pacha Mama, donde se reproduce y realiza la vida, tiene derecho a que se respete integralmente sus existencia y el mantenamiento y renegacion de sus ciclos vitales, estructura, funciones y procesos evolutivos.

Toda persona, comunidad, pueblo or nacion podra exigir a la autoridad publica el cumplimiento de los derechos de la naturaleza.

Para aplicar e interpretar estos derechos se observaran los principios establecidos a la Constitucion, en lo que poseeda.

El Estado incentivara a las personas naturales y juridicas, y los colectiveos, para que protejan la naturaleza, y promovera el respeto a todos los elementos que forman un ecosistema.

Dream 22/6/2009

I had this dream while I was sleeping on an overnight bus from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Loja, Ecuador. I was by myself. My neighbor was a gorilla who was confused by the idea of personal space. He also ate chicken like a monster with no feelings.

I am on a cruise ship. I am on this ship with three buddies. They are not my "real" buddies in "real life." The three are Jews, which is to say they are Jewish. Each one is dolled up in a suit and a fluffy-middled party shirt. We´re watching TV on a couch in a room on the boat. We´re also playing video games.

On the couch, I fall in and out of sleep. My neck isn´t able to keep my huge head from falling (cabezón). Each time my huge melon falls, my neck is pained quite excrutiatingly. It hurts more than I want to know, but I still can´t control it.

I ask one of the Jews (a fat, freckled one with curly locks) to call the ship´s doctor. He does. The boat sways.

This, for all I know about them, was a lucid dream. In it, I´m trying to lift my damn noggin, but am, in the end, unable to hold the thing in place. I wake for the last time on the bus with a very sore neck, still neighboring the sweaty gorilla who hasn´t learned to share very well.

Dream 19/6/2009

I am at piso due. "Piso due" is what we called the all-you-care-to-eat cafeteria at our University. It is on the second floor. "Piso" means floor in Spanish. "Due" means two in Italian. I might have spelled that wrong.

I am choosing my ass off. Everything looks really appetizing. It looks appetizing in a specific kind of way. In the way that you know you will feel like shit after eating so much of it. This is part of the real world, as well. I know it is going to mess me up, but I want it regardless.

I am at an Ecuador fútbol match. I am there with my Mom and my Dad. We are sitting in the aisle on the steps. For some reason, we rise and start moving backwards up the steps. I assume during the dream that this is for a better view of the action. The steps are precariously steep and thin. Every so often, as we´re creeping up, I nearly fall. I get really pissed off when this happens. I don´t understand why we don´t just deal with the view we have and enjoy the game. Nearly falling isn´t the way I like to enjoy the game.

At one point I have about ten clear steps in front of me. The opposing team´s keeper on the field is quite close to our section of the stadium. He has a blue jersey on. The blue is the same as the feet of the blue-footed booby. The jersey´s sleaves are long, and the collar is black. I yell, "¡Hijo de puta!" at him, which means "Son of a bitch!" A cop with a long black jacket yells at me in Spanish. We argue and finally agree to something. Just then, another cop shows up. His uniform is different. I think about paramilitaries in Colombia.

The second pig is screaming about my initial transgression. I thought we were over it. He approaches me with his billy club in hand. He´s threatening me with it, so I grab it. In the struggle, which is weak, I get plunked on the nose with it. The blow is not forceful, though evidently enough for blood to be summoned. Summoned´s ass, it´s pouring. Cold, metallic blood rushes into my moustache and upper lip.

The crowd, naturally, has noticed the scuffle. I am glad that there is so much blood. I think every drop should make the pig feel more and more like the asshole I want to believe he is. Soon the blood has formed a small pool on the step in front of me. The pig´s overaggression is now palpable, beautiful, vibrant, lasting, primeval.

Finally, I step downstairs to get some food. I am assuming that I can clean myself with napkins at the food spot. On the walk, I am still relishing in the symbolism of my bloody honker. I regret not taking a photo of the injury. In "real life," I take photos of my injuries so that I can make a totally destroyed body collage someday.

Just as I´m thinking this, my real big brother, Sterling, shows up in the breezeway. He is armed with a digital camera. I think it is a Nikon D50. He takes a photo. He analyzes the photo. His eyes say he loves it. His laugh agrees.

I have an encounter with a feller from my high school. This feller, in "real life," wanted, with varying degrees of devotion, to beat me up. I made his mommy cry. In the dream, we exchange shoulder bumps. After that, we exchange words. Shortly, we come to a peaceful agreement to steer clear of one another. Fine. Fuck it. Move on.

I make it to the snack bar. I am no longer alone. My companion is a girl. I don´t remember her face or whether I know her or not. It doesn´t matter. I am looking at the menu, still covered in "blood." After a minute of looking, I see my reflection in the window that separates customers from workers at the snack bar. What I see quite surprises me. There is, indeed, a bit of blood that has seeped into my moustache. The vast majority of the substance that I´m feeling so proud about is actually snot. Thick, yellowish green, snotty mucous. Fuck. I look like an ass.

Neil, a friend in "real life," has a skating party. He is in a tuxedo. I like that. In the parking lot is a dog who wants to take a bite out of my meat. I punch the dog in the snout. It gets a clue.

Inside the rink there is no skating surface. Instead, the floor is occupied with workers. The workers are rotating the skating surface. From the looks of it, it will be days before they are done. I mingle amongst the few guests. I haven´t seen them since I returned from Ecuador. None of the key players are there. This has me somewhat bummed.

What a Sports Nut, Huh?

So, last night was the third game in the College World Series. Texas (the University I attended) was in the game against LSU. I had been following the run they were making, mostly thanks to my Pa, who was updating me about their progress. I´m not really a huge baseball fan, and in fact never attended a game in five years as a student. However, I think being so far away made this game and this possible championship take on an air of importance that quite surprised me.

After dinner last night, I ran around the streets of Loja, searching for an internet place that was open, fiending like a wino or a crackhead for another swig, another hit. My search proved fruitless, and I went to bed with sports on the brain. Each time I woke up in the night, I would think of the game, which had surely ended, and send hopes out into the darkness that the good guys had pulled it out.

This morning at about 7:15, I was unable to get back to sleep. I began thinking about why I was so consumed by the outcome of this game, so distant, and yet so magnetic. I began to think about the last few months, and the sporting events that I´d been involved with in one way or another. I came up with a list of the nicest sports moments so far of my time in Ecuador, and I thought I´d share. By the way, the Longhorns lost 11-4. I´m okay with that now. I can relax.

Top 8, from the bottom.

8. Orlando Magic sweep the LA Lakers to win NBA Championship. This didn´t really happen, which is why it drops to eighth position. If it really had happened, rest assured it would be higher on the list. I don´t like the Lakers. Sorry, Billy and Jack Nicholson.
7. Damion James stays for his senior season. Damion James plays forward for the UT basketball team. Since he arrived, I have like him as a player. He is very intense and powerful. Maybe in another year he´ll have harnessed that energy and become a little more smooth and skilled. I sort of expected this, so it wasn´t huge news.
6. US fútbol topples number 1 Spain. I really don´t care much for the US fútbol squad, never have. I´ve always, until recently, supported Mexico. However, I really dislike the Spanish team, and I don´t mind rooting for the good old USA against them. Huge win.
5. Texas takes LSU to a third game in the CWS. Although we weren´t able to close the deal, I think coming up 7 runs short of a seventh national championship is a pretty nice accomplishment. This is compounded by the fact that the season began shrouded in controversy with Augie Garrido´s DWI arrest before the start of the year.
4. Ecuador ties Brazil in Conmebol qualifiers. This would be higher, but for the number of chances Ecuador had versus those of Brazil. I think the final tally was like 11 shots to 2, 70-30% possession, both in favor of El Tri. In the end, Brazil took advantage of their scant chances with their storied precision, but we still came away with a big tie.
3. Deportiva Cuenca beats Boca Juniors. I was in Cuenca for this game, and found a coffee shop and bar to watch at. Unfortunately, my friends Dario and Ji didn´t make it out, but we just met Cuencans who were more than willing to share space with a gringo fan of Dep Cuenca. I loved the faces of the Boca fans walking all around town. Final tally, 2-0.
2. Comuna Rhiannon comes out of nowhere to challenge Malchingui Camioneta Coop. The farm on which I lived for a month was full of a mix of people. We were estadounidenses, British, Australian, Belgian, Colombian, Mexican, Austrian, and others...One thing we weren´t was a group of well oiled fútbol machines, which showed in the first match between these two powerhouses, which ended up somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-5. The second match, played on grass in Malchingui´s concrete stadium (capacity 5,000), was much closer, much to the surprise of all those in attendance, which, though it sometimes felt like it, wasn´t near capacity. After taking a lead early in the second half at 4-3 on the goals of the Mexican Pancho, Rhiannon lost a bit of steam along with the momentum, and allowed three more second half notches, unanswered. Final score, 6-4. Followed by choclo, beans, and beers with both teams at a local comedor. Really unbelievable experience, and fantastic sports moment.
1. Argentina offered clinic in Atahualpa by Ecuador. This was by far the best sporting experience of my time here, maybe of the last few years. Top five ever. Argentina comes in, feared, ominous, precise, heavily favored. Beautiful weather. Beers and falafel beforehand. Photos, interviews, chanting, etc...really a perfect atmosphere. Entering the stadium there is an electrical charge captivating the beings present. First half is slow, not many chances. Ecuador´s keeper makes a save on a PK, along with some other really clutch saves across the entire match. Second half, the rains came. This didn´t slow anyone, especially not the Ecuador selección. Pulled away with an amazing goal followed by a dinker that put the good guys up 2-0, which was too deep a hole for the Argentines to climb out of. The crowd ends the game with the chant, "Y llora, llora, llora Maradona." Beautiful.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dream 18/6/2009

I am at a hockey game. I´m am at the game on a date. With a girl. I am realizing that I don´t really like her that much. I certainly don´t dislike her, though she´s not my favorite. I am, however, attracted to this girl physically. The attraction, incidentally, is strong enough that I feel that I would like to have sex with her at some point.

I leave the game. I decide to leave through the ice. I do this in the middle of the game. As I cross the ice, I realize that I am wearing a referee jersey. Everyone-players, fans, referees, are screaming in anger at me. As I run, I decide to change my shirt. I want to avoid being mamed.

I realize now that I am in the parking lot. I don´t have another shirt in the car. I decide to put my referee jersey on inside-out. On the way back in, I find Daniel Armstrong. Daniel Armstrong is a real person with whom I grew up in San Antonio. I haven´t seen him in a while. Over a year. We head back to the stadium. We find an enterance that has been covered with plywood. We break through the plywood to get in.

I don´t know what happened to the sexy girl.

I´m now on a farm. There is a horse there. The horsey is black and beautiful. The majority of the sleek beast is covered by a thick, red blanket. The horse is standing on the side of a trailer. I know it is a trailer, though it resembles more of a traincar. A container, so to speak. The horse is standing on a thin pathway to the side of the train container. The beautiful steed must have hated me. It kept on jumping with its front legs high into the air.

I feel as though its incessant jumping presents a possible danger for that fucking horse who hates me so. Still, I tell a lady about my concern. I still love that faithless prick of a horsey. The lady responds with a scream. "He has to stay there!" she hollers. Her attitude, the main component of her words, is really scummy and negative. She has proven to be as faithless as that big ol´ steed.

"Fine. Fuck it," I say.

I am on the way into the house on the farm. In the first room, I see Stephan and Bri. Stephan and Bri exist, to the extent that I can claim the existence of anything. They were with me at the farm in Malchingui. They are my friends. Stephan has 3 to 4 stacked to-go containers. The containers are made of two parts. The bottom part is some sort of flimsy metal, likely aluminum. The top section is made of plastic. You might call it a lid or a top.

I ask Stephan what he is eating. By the way, he is eating with the speed and carelessness for detail as might a vacuum cleaner set about the same task. I ask what he consumes even though I see that it is some sort of soupy tomato stuff. Inside of the soupy mess are vegetables, unidentifiable. I look up at Bri, who sits across the table with no food. She is not paying attention. I laugh anyway. My laugh is supposed to say, "Well, he´s just too much, I tell ya." It´s meant to be an endearing, friendly comment.

It is true that I want the food Stephan eats. Though the vigor with which he attacks the comestibles tells me he´ll finish all that is put in front of his mug. I ask where the food came from. Stephan pauses for long enough to say that it is from (first name)´s. I know what the place is in the dream, though I don´t recall the (first name), nor do I think it exists outside of my dream.

I move to the kitchen. I head there to make my own damn food. I find two styrafoam containers. They look like they were made to, have at some point, or hopefully still do, contain food. One styrafoam container is brown. The other styrafoam container is white. I am excited, frankly, about the prospect of finding some food, ideally something unhealthy but filling.

In the first container, I find a full meal of food, untouched. It is some sort of burrito. Inside the burrito is potatoes, onions, rice. The whole ordeal seems to have been spiced with something that gives it all an orange hue. The color of it all makes the first food quite appetizing. The tortilla is red. To the side of the burrito is a pile of black beans. They are not extravagant, rather simple and appetizing. As I look more closely at the food, I notice that there is mold on parts of both portions. The mold is sparse and, given my appetite, unthreatening. Small, whitish, greenish balls. 100 of these balls would fill one grain of rice.

I decide to scrape the stuff off with a knife and eat anyway. I scrape just a bit. I realize soon that I´m probably simply displacing the stuff more than anything. Absolutely not accomplishing what I aim for with any semblance of success. I stop and move on.

In the second container, the white one, is a different story altogether. I find in the second half of a quesadilla. I know that it is from Chili´s Restaurant. Chili´s Restaurant is a real place that I visited frequently on hockey trips because teammates worked for the place in Austin. Knowing that the quesadilla is from Chili´s ensures that I don´t want it. Not to mention that it is full of cheese. The other half is basically a tortilla full of guacamole. I know that it is really old. Still, though, it has maintained its color quite surprisingly. This makes me nervous more than anything.

Next, Neil and I go into a soup restaurant. Neil is a real friend of mine. We have gone to eat together in what I´ll call real life over the last six years. The restaurant is in California. It is a hip place with a phonetically spelled name, something like "kwik." I remember it having a "Q."

Neil is telling me that he is thinking about getting a job there. (For the record, Neil is currently employed and recently received a raise. So there, dreamworld.) Before working there, naturally, Neil would like to sample the fare. We look a long time, and I think we´ve both decided what we want minutes before we actually make a move to further the process.

I am interested in all of the soups, though have absolutely no interest in actually ordering anything but one of the two vegetarian options. One is called "Hunter´s" something. I want that one. I step up to order, but the menu at the front is different. On this menu, the "Hunter´s" soup is a meaty soup. Very meaty. I´m somewhat nervous with the status of my meal. The lady at the counter isn´t comforting. She is concerned about the line that is building up behind me.

I am concerned about my soup, especially in relation to my morals.

The final component of the dream was something German. That was my key word to remember the portion of the dream. I remember nothing more than that; "German."

Dream 17/6/2009

This is partially a dream, but partially part of the waking world. I´d call it a lucid dream, for all I know. This is a dream that happened as I slept in a tent. I always have heavy dreams when I sleep in tents.

I have to lay in a certain position in order to satisfy the rules of some third party. I don´t know who the third party was, although I know that it was a man. I have a strong feeling he was a stranger.

Anytime I satisfy the rules of said strangerman, either a ribbon or a cylinder shows up. When I say shows up, I mean on a seperate plane, perhaps in a seperate universe or location within our universe. It doesn´t matter. This place, plane, universe, devoid of anything but the ribbons and cylinders. The cylinders are made up of patterns similar to those found on the ribbons. The patterns are simply parallel lines, of varying thickness and frequency.

Each cylinder appears with each open base parallel to what would be the ground. Each cylinder goes from some random point to another random point. The ribbons show up with the majority of the surface parallel to what would be the ground. At each end of each ribbon, the thing curves and heads straight down, towards what would be the ground. The amount of the ribbon that faces perpindicular to what would be the ground is less than half of the ribbon that is parallel.

The appearances, at first, seems totally existential and irrelevant. Soon, however, I realize that third party strangerman has a specific arrangement that he is going for. I begin to see a pattern formulating, which includes a weaving of the ribbons, with spaces being filled with cylinders.

I do not complete the pattern. Instead, I wake up sweating in a tent with sand all over my body. I am pissed that my sleep was such a job. I am pissed that I am sweating. I go to the hammock, which I still think had healing properties.

Dream 15/6/2009

I´m at Buffalo Exchange. I´m there with two girls. I know these girls, and have for a long time. I´ll not use their names. There are three other people who I don´t know. These three are a mix of girls and boys. We end up three and three. We lay on the floor in pairs. We´re naked. The pairs are one girl with one boy each. We lay one on top of the other, though not in any particular way. I´m asking if one of the girls I know is okay. Her hair has been cut crudely and she has either become deaf or mute.

We decide to celebrate. I fill a huge, green, plastic bucket with Trópico Secco. Trópico Secco is an aguardiente made in Ecuador. I throw in a little bit of cranberry juice. It´s not much, compared to the amount of Trópico.

We walk up Seidel. Seidel is a real street in San Antonio, Texas. I used to walk up the street all the time as a youth. I have the huge, green, plastic bucket full of booze. On the walk, I´m picked up by a car. The car is driven by the other girl who I know´s mom. We don´t speak. I sit on the back of the car. The car is more like a buggy. My foot rests on my Chaco sandal. None of the straps are around my foot. The Chaco sandal rests on the street, which is speeding below us. It´s not a problem.

We end up at a barbeque. The barbeque happens only a few blocks from the start of the journey. The barbeque is being put on by a lovely African American family. They are terribly nice and invite us to join the festivities. I stand by the side of a car which has brought a group of us to the barbeque. Michael and James from Rhiannon are there, amongst others. Of these are Dusten and others from the Family of Dudes.

I offer everyone the Trópico mixture in the huge, green, plastic bucket. James doesn´t want to share the hooch with the Patriarch of the Barbeque, hereafter PoB. Neither does Michael. I try to tell them that it is for everybody.

I walk back down Seidel to 2909 Sir Philip. 2909 Sir Philip is the address of a home I used to actually live in with my family. Ask my brother. As I arrive, I notice the PoB coming out from the backyard. He asks me if he can try the "lemonade vodka stuff." I tell him it´s still at his house, but just then Dusten makes the corner. He´s carrying the huge, green, plastic jug full of mixed Trópico and cranberry. PoB tries the sauce and says that he enjoys its flavor. I tell him to let us know the next time he has a barbeque, because I would like to join. He checks that I´m a vegetarian. He says, "We might still, next time." We´ve made friends.

We´re at a museum. Mom, Dad, Aunt Melody, others. The museum is full of small silver trinkets behind large cubes of glass. I think that they are "native," although I don´t know what I meant by that description. My Aunt Melody (who is really my aunt) tells me that there is a trinket of my Great Uncle, J.O. J.O. stands for John Oran, and he actually is my Great Uncle. His sister is Lois, my real Grandmother.

I walk over to see the thing. It is under another layer of trinkets. Dad can´t see the thing. He asks if we can leave because it´s dinner time and he has to work. He just wants to leave.