Friday, July 30, 2004

JULY 2004

"We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore
good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and
loathed." (BB p69)

Our sex instinct and our impulse to self destruct are in league with one
another. Who can doubt that these two must burn as one fire in order to
experience (during the act) complete worldly detachment. The first one is
nothing without the second. The first one anoints us and tickles us with
fugacious atonement. The second one can not only be desecrating but
downright suicidal when left to its own (sometimes rotating sometimes
rubbery) devices.

Aspirations to separate the latter from the former sets limits. Even an
attempt to moderate self destructive supersensuality can nullify that most
transmundane peak experience of peak experiences.

"Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it.
We must be willing to make amends where we have done harm, provided that
we do not bring about still more harm in so doing. In other words, we
treat sex as we would any other problem.

Trust me on this one. It's a tough call.

7/29/2004EditTwo Interns?
"Half measures availed us nothing." (BB)

Mindfulness may come to us, but we might not find application for it. Its
value is seldom considered. External circumstances and obligations,
complicit with instincts and sentiments, keep us from using mindfulness to
suffuse our pasts with beauty. We want to give new meaning to our old
ideas. The patterns of the past create this phenomenon of a desire to
change it. Yet we are who were are because of the patterns which have
brought about being mindful of change.

Here is where we stand at the turning point. We seek to be mindful a
consciousness willing to forget and let go. But instead of pressing on,
the turning point takes on another meaning. It becomes the point where we
literally begin to turn as in "pirouette", body and soul fiercely eager to
fully grasp our tales.

We need willingness. A willingness to surrender our wills. Find the will
then give it up. Turn it over. Hand it in. Redeem it like a pistol in a
guns for toys program.

You can see the dilemma we're in. We are endowed as individuals with a
gluttonous need to feed the fires of isolation with the staples of
companionship. Once this is accomplished, we hunger to be alone.
Accordingly, mindfulness is awareness minus thought.

answer: Pair a' Docs

When we see we stand to lose that which we value the most, we hit bottom.
Bottom isn't always pushing a grocery cart and sleeping under a bridge.

Along the way we ignore the real symptoms--resentments, screwy

Or cheating at Latin anagrams ignoring correct spelling and stems.

7/28/2004EditEvolv'd dialer in La:

IP cloaking works on Who is, but can still be read on others including
3rd trace route. Drop me a line and I'll help you trouble shoot. (Sooner
than later, I'm running out of annagrams)
7/27/2004Edita dalin lover loved evil ale and ran livid (twice)

I don't think I've ever been to Plano, Texas.
7/27/2004EditDire? Vain? Love All

Zaytuni's fourth day on the road to Step Four.

He had only come as far as this in the past. It's called Step 3:
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as
we understood Him."

15 years ago, He would go to meetings wiped out on herb and those rooms
were like ashrams . He would listen to the old timers and get the same
sort of "Wow" He would get if he would stayed at home and watched Nova on

He had known others who had come to this third step completely pissed and
in that state asked for help from Something/Anything that transcended him
or herself and got it.

That his first "wows" in the room were embellished by his switched
addiction at least for him wasn’t antithetical; however, if in the rooms
where the primary purpose is only likker or pills or cocaine or ginch, he
wouldn't mention how he first drifted into his understanding of Him
because even in that state, He kept coming back and it ruined his
drinking. One multi-war head hang-over has since been able to ply me with
enough remorse to urge me to find a room in some church basement somewhere
just to announce, "I’m back and I'm just hear to listen."

It does not go against traditions in the program of AA or NA or Al Anons
or Sex Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters A., the whoevers or whatevers
Anonymous if people got together as a separate group to better understand
Him if they all understood Him to be, say, Elvis Presley or Haile
Selassie, so long as they didn't publicly refer to themselves as an AA, NA
or whatever A. group.

The simplest path for him to Him doesn't lead him to a Him whom can be
drawn or painted as an entity with either testicles, a vagina, or
depending on the God's mood both.

He had no words which can describe this "Him". And He am not the first to
back off and simplify this lack of understanding by calling "Him" an
Unknowable Mystery. We baffling, powerful and cunning linguists, shouldn't
get hung up on the pronoun.

Zaytuni (then) is not endorsed by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics
Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Al Anon, or his own fledgling one-stop
flopping, Arsholes Anonymous but he can, according to traditions written
by Bill W. and parroted by the other groups, tell you that he is a member
of this wonderful fellowship so long as he protects (or in this case)
tries to amend his dubious anonymity.

While there isn't at this point in time a tradition stating we take
special care to guard anonymity at the level of the Internet (to date it
simply reads at the level of press, radio, film and television) He can
plea bargain to get off on a technicality for having broken my anonmyity
on this infernal machine.

Having said that:

Zaytuni shares his unendorsed understanding of Him by linking a program of
serenity which was founded a millenium and a half ago when a rich Indian
kid gave it all up and sat under a tree until he had peace of mind to this
other strikingly similar program which was founded on June 10, 1935 when a
New York drunk pestered an Akron drunk into a having a cup of coffee with
him to avoid going back to his hotel where happy hour was in full swing.

Zaytuni (then) is not endorsed by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics
Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Al Anon, or his own fledgling one-stop
flopping, Arsholes Anonymous but he can, according to traditions written
by Bill W. and parroted by the other groups, tell you that he is a member
of this wonderful fellowship so long as he protects (or in this case)
tries to
amend his dubious anonymity.

While there isn't at this point in time a tradition stating we take
special care to guard anonymity at the level of the Internet (to date it
simply reads at the level of press, radio, film and television) I can plea
bargain to get off on a technicality for having broken my anonmyity on
this infernal machine.

Having said that:

Zaytuni shares his unendorsed understanding of Him by linking a program of
serenity which was founded a millenium and a half ago when a rich Indian
kid gave it all up and sat under a tree until he had peace of mind to this
other strikingly similar program which was founded on June 10, 1935 when a
New York drunk pestered an Akron drunk into a having a cup of coffee with
him to avoid going back to his hotel where happy hour was in full swing.

"May I examine my mind in all actions and as soon as a negative state
since it endangers myself and others, may I firmly face and avert it."
LOJONG: Eight Verses for Training the Mind.
Offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"Here are the steps we took: 10) Continued to take personal inventory and
when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."
Big Book of Alcoholic's Anonymous

"When someone whom I have helped or in whom I have placed great hope
harms me with great injustice, may I see that one as a sacred friend." (DL

"When a person offended us we said to ourselves, 'This is a sick man. How
can I be helpful to him?'" (BB ibid)

"When I see beings of a negative disposition or those oppressed by
negativity or pain, may I, as if finding a treasure, consider them
precious, for they are rarely met." (DL ibid)

“practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity . .
.as intensive work with other(s). . . .There may come a time when I am
only able to preserve my immunity through my work with the newcomer."

7/25/2004EditOver Ill Evil Dad

naïve lover did all

Outside it is morning, a new day on paper.

He’s lived this stretch from darkness to light before, walking the floors,
from TV to computer chat rooms, observing the night life of cats.

So, he’s flushed the pills--prescribed or otherwise. Emptied the bottle
into the sink.

Tonight, he itches, and he has to calculate my way through simple

It's called a slip. He like that. "A slip." less than "a stumble", not
even suggesting a trip, falling ass over elbow headlong onto the pavement
taking down with you close to a hundred people--family, friends, lovers,
sons and daughters of lovers, in-laws, colleagues and sworn enemies. These
people are injured beyond amends.

He’s just had a slip, that's all. A bit of a false step, une petite faux

The definition of a slip is nearly antonymous of how his slips can be
defined: a firey plunge from 40,000 feet, leaving in his wake a maelstrom
of debris, populating the sky with flaming bits of flesh and bones which
are scattered widely over desert sands, slim pickings for the hungriest
desert lark.

This slip is replayed over and over like those twin towers crashing to the
flashed like sequenced lightning from one Democrats and Republicans
convention year to the next.

Has it really been four years since my first summer in Saudi? Has it
really been four years since the Kirsk sank? since my first Russian
slumber party? since He asked my sister to introduce me to a penpal with a
sense of humor?

He wonder what ever happened to her and her sense of humor?

Whatever happened to British Heian or Herish Tony? To all the Natashas?
What ever happened to Gene K. from El Paso? Or that skinny woman in
Lafayete who would meet a man in a chat room in the morning and screw him
the same night? To that Zydeco band He briefly hit the road with, playing
to a wild crowd of young, lawyerly types in Atlanta on Mardi Gras night?

My "slips" wind up begging every man's least favorite morning-after
question: Hey, which one of you girls nicked my wedding ring?

But now He know Julia. And He'm beginning to hone in on how she feels
about being used as an excuse to work in faculties where they work hardly.

In J.s (award-winning) first screenplay, a Faustian farce, the child of
the devil asks the devil:

"How come you never stood up to paternal responsibilities?!" and says,
"Y’know, He suffered from acute emotional and psychological distress due
to lack of closure."

The devil tries to defend himself, "your mother knew my work comes first!
She agreed to personally see to your upbringing!"

The child of the devil goes on, "Y’know, if you didn’t work so much, maybe
you’d know more about my home life. Like He’m adopted cuz my mom’s been in
a coma since He was born."

Ay Carumba. He doesn’t need a Googled translation from God on this one.

But "be that as it may" my flights of fantasy wouldn't have imagined this
latest position in a job a step up from all my others, in a dream locale,

In the devil's defense, he did drive for four days to spend three hours
with her with her on a Sunday morning. He wanted to see her school, the
street where she takes her piano lessons, the ice cream shop and mini-mall
where she and her friends play in moments which she will remember as the
best years of her life.

He'll try to make amends.

Time to "Spring into Action Against Those Seasonal Allergies." Zaytuni has
to run.

7/25/2004Edit"That the man who is making the approach has had ...

"That the man who is making the approach has had
the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he
is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at
the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer,
that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing
whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that
there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to
please, no lectures to be endured these are the conditions. . ."

7/23/2004EditThere Must Be Some Way Out of Here

In the early nineties, before the grungy suicide of grudging corporate
lackey, Kurt Cobain, I went on my first trek abroad, flying down to
Honduras, spending only one night in the city, in a hotel room with bed,
shower, and toilet

There were four of us who'd signed onto this two week trip through the
Honduran rain forest. We were to travel on foot, on rafts assembled from
balsa trees, and by dug-out canoe.

It was and remains the most primitive and memorable trek I've ever taken.

Before the trip, while still in the US, I tried to envision what it would
be like to spend time among people who had no cognition of American pop
culture. I expected I'd return from the jungle with a Margaret Mead-like
understanding of me and my people after observing the day-to-day routines
of a faraway culture purified of references to 60s TV, Tom Robbins novels,
film noir homages and year end "best of" lists.

The night before we set out from Tegucigalpa, our guide came to our room
to show us the route on terrain maps and to give us a safety briefing. At
one point in the briefing he said, "We won't have to worry about
landmines. Last year the UN paid Mequito Indians to go out and find most
of them, paying them fifty US for each mine."

"Most of them?"

At the no-return point of the trip, that point where if one of us had
become ill or seriously injured we would have been fugged because the
nearest village with a ramshackle clinic was at least a three day hike
backtracking, I thought I'd made it out of range of Coca Cola and Prozac
when I saw a group of kids coming towards us on the foot path. One of them
wore a Bart Simpson t-shirt that said, "Don't have a cow, man!"

I guess Bart had made his way there by way of missionaries.

I've just finished read Chan'ad Bahraini's report on the hip hop scene on
the island.

At first it might be easy to say that hip hop in Bahrain or throughout the
region exists here by way of ex-pat English speaking schools or by the
electronic missionary--the satellite dish, and that it is only a
knock-off. But how or why it sprung up here is unimportant. Whether or not
it has a legitimate reason to be acknowledged for its aesthetic begs the
question; otherwise, it would be only a knock-off, like Taiwanese boy

Can Gulf Arab youth justifiably put on their curricula vitarum experiences
which are relative to the brurva's back in the US of Areous? For instance,
is there a need for "keepin' it real"?

Well, for one, if you don't keep it real and you diss the wrong jigga, you
could easily have a K round splatter your brown ass all over Sheikh Isa

The Crips and the Bloods have their own warehoused in San Quentin. The
Khaliji Shebab have theirs in Gitmo and Al Gharib where the chucks have
put many of them there for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Is there a reason for these boys to feel that the best opportunities are
reserved only for those who have a lock on prosperity? and that the best
they can hope for is driving a cab and recommending which hotels have the
best hookers when their fathers had the opportunity to work in offices?

Hip Hop is not rap. It isn't only about turn tables, fashion statements
and sound systems. There a little more to it than that.

The seeds of feast or famine are sprouting throughout my extreme
post-adolescent years. I am never overheard. I am never asked to "speak

I am always heard. Sometimes I am heard through the walls of houses next
to wherever it is I am presently calling home.

In recent months I have been somewhat involved with yet another
insignificant other and this one has accused me of being stoic and of
lacking passion.

She doesn't understand the clean and sober thing. Or the trying to stay
clean and sober thing.

These are difficult times, trying times. Foreign land is becoming harder
and harder to run to. For someone who has cultivated his trail of years
with geographical remedies, and especially for someone whose earlier years
and later years are indistinguishable one from the other, it is no wonder
why I am not in a euphoric, trance-like state of rapture over my latest
job offer.

I have been hired to set up and run a writing lab at an university
affiliate in the region whose mentor school is Ivy League. The terms of
the contract are as economically rewarding as a Saudi job--without having
to live in Saudi. Plus I'm back on track with those great three week
breaks between fall and spring semesters and those two months off with pay
in the summer.

I know instictively that this is not too shabby for someone who narrowly
escaped a lynch mob in a culturally bankrupted southern city this time
last year. But getting one's life back on track in the case of a person
whose life has been subjected to as many self-inflicted derailment jokes
as Amtrack reference will allow, good news like this is not news.

Still--you there at Delgado in New Orleans who regularly comes to this
site through your Lycos mail link, would you please get in touch. I have a
few questions about writing labs.

And I haven't forgotten the three hundred dollars I owe you and your

And you who comes to this site through Cox Baton Rouge (aka Internet
protocol number 68-225-106-124) drop me a line.

7/20/2004EditNo Woman No Cry

Confident now that he had experienced all manners of being there and
while there, doing that which he sensed was not in context with the locals
hard and fast rules, he'd come to a place in his life when his common
sense had finally decided to follow advice; this came as a program of
suggested living according to a dozen principles which were probably not
unique to most others.

One such suggestion advised that he should surrender the necessity of
habit. Another suggestion took the position that he would no longer have
to be his concern.

These principles had a surprising, contradictory effect on his unfocused
perceptions of who he was supposed to be, that is, this surrender of his
will did not make him feel as though he had somehow stopped short on his
journey towards total manhood. These principles offered to him what he'd
always admired in those fabled few, good men.

Despite accepting that the lifelong process of quality living would now
depend on taking these suggestions under serious advisement, there were
some things that still didn't blow past him. For instance, lately, both
day and night, he couldn't set aside a question. It had caused him to lose

Who in Baton Rouge, rather, who in the hell would bother to waste their
time reading his crap?

Whoever they were, he had no doubt that he probably owed them money and
that this was probably the simplest answer to his disturbing question.

7/18/2004Edit"Come down off your cross, we could all use the wood."

(Tom Waits)

I am adjusting to the phenomenon of life by degrees. Today I indulged in
an early morning bowl of Mueslix. Three days ago this artless luxury would
have been an abstraction, a bowl of higher-fiber, low-fat surreal. This
tailspin from the pearly gates must resemble the same feeling a man of
conscience has coming home from his first day of work at a slaughterhouse.

I have tried these metaphorical circumnavigations of the globe from pole
to pole for nearly my entire life, but each time I have failed to discover
a principal axis; the laws of planetary orbits have always been beyond my
ability to comprehend. And after each escapade, the cat ran away
(figuratively speaking)."

This morning I got "the call" from one of the four universities in the
Gulf which had either made me an offer or where I thought the interview
went well enough that I expected one. After I hung up the phone, I
immediately loosened the rope from around my neck and stepped down from
the chair where I'd been standing, trying to gather up the good sense to
kick it out from under my feet.

The ending for all of us is never in doubt. The mystery of course is the
mystery of eternity.

For me the greater mystery is that despite knowing the first one with
total certainty while we have very good reasons to invalidate the other,
most of us still endeavor to stabilize our worlds with the knowledge that
there just might be celestial Personal Planner after all.

I wish I'd known that the last time I left the country to have my visa

7/16/2004EditFault Lines

In a conversation class last Tuesday night, Khalid gave a presentation
on Freud. He's just earned his BS in psychology at Kuwait University and
is preparing to take the GRE in order to get into the University of

He's soft spoken, polite, gentle, and full of good humor and curiosity. He
is also not the only titleholder of these traits among many Kuwaitis in
his age group. It is lamentable to imagine that one day soon he will
make it to the campus in Indiana only to find out in the time that it
takes a corn-fed son of the great Midwest to call him a "camel jockey"
that Khalid will sense that all along he'd been nursing a dream about
studying in his fool's paradise.

In his presentation, he talked about the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego.
While I jotted down some notes on his pronunciation and syntax, my own ego
began to lament dreams-that-came true fool's paradises, all these places
where I'd found what I was looking for-- noise, people, confusion,
crumbling infrastructures and places where a wallet fat with
multi-colored denominations in the thousands and hundred thousands (yet
only exchageable for a little US pocket change) could be invested in
low-cost, algorithms demanded by my id and encouraged by my bush league,
sycophantic ego.

Last week, forces set into motion once again my lifelong hankering for
bi-polar trailblazing in Bahrain. My id had its basic needs met thanks
to a prescription for Reductil, a reality and an appetite suppressant.

My ego on the other hand, was reluctant to comply with my Id-iotic's
ill-intended suprression of belief.

Although by its nature, my ego must recognize that others have their wants
and needs, at the same time, it has its duty to give id what id wants.
Last week I and my id were in-flight to Bahrain. We were going to
interview for a position with a school and to momentarily secede from
intergration and form a confederacy of disunited states of delirium after
dark. Like a boiling asthenospheric plate, the seething id found a weak
place in the lithosphere of self which caused a major self quake along
the fault line running from pole-to-pole. In its wake it turned spirit,
hope and faith into rubble.

This natural disaster isn't a story with beginning or end. It occurs in
the middle of moments when I need to experience events which make it
unnecessary to look back or to look ahead.


When others are alone in a hotel room, they seem to exhilirate with
potential. The heart beatd with limitless secret desires.

When he first enters a hotel room, he doesn't feel the sense of ease and
renewal when the cold air washes over him e as the bellman turns on the
lights. As soon as he walks through the door. He always feels on edge and
that his life is constantly being recycled.

His hungers surface in those fifteen minutes while he troubleshoots the
remote, a’ sprawl in bed, a' wandering around the TV's mostly Arabic

He drifts in and out tuning in staticky memories which sound like 2 AM
road trip radio shows, remember vague things like lost summers in India,
Nepal, Rajasthan, Sri Lanka or even the Grand Canyon.

Alone in a his hotel room he rewinds tapes, slipping his hand down his
pants for a little tugging and a pullin' and he plays back in slow motion
he memorable moments like that one night with Cathy Mell and how in the
morning when they woke up before class they'd heard for the first time
Heart's Magic Man--a song he later learned to detest--while she and he
read passages from a book of quotes by Bertram Russell.

He recites to himself his rotuine:

After my laps in the pool, a shower and the mandatory club sandwich, just
as the sun set, those mercenary damsels of mercy swarmed up and down the
hall like apocalyptic locusts wearing thongs and heavy make-up.

In this case, oh young man, it will not be as memorable or as fun if you
don't negotiate a slumber party.

They= settled on a price--four companions for 35 dollars a piece.
Champagne appeared. One of the girls broke out some hash. They came to his
room and lit candles. Their nom d'hookers were westernized: Sara, Angie,
May and that one who could lose ten pounds, he'd forgotten he namer

In the candle-lit dark many of lips and tongues found other lips and
tongues, as one weary bone machine became entangled in their hearts of
darkness. Spirited, inharmonious gigglers scatterwauled youthful slumber
party noises for two hours in a Stravinsky-like high-pitched discord.

Like a man left to die in the desert sun by a dishonorable coyote, he went
where he thought he was expected to and he did what was expected of him.

Apparently most customers don't do much mouth work south of the equator,
and it's kind of a fetish for him, and it also allows him to believe that
out of the hundreds upon hundreds of others, perhaps because of this, he
may be remembered. "You know how it is, he tells a companion later at the
bar, If you bring candy to school, you have to bring enough for

Soon enough the howl of dawn blared from the mosque across the street cued
his compsnions to sort out their thongs and push-up bras while he rolled
over in bed and got a jump start on tasty, dreamy surrealism. He stretched
and his much coddled and abused achy " big boy", never had a chance to
release. "Yes," he thought," I had to bed down with a round lodged in the

Gentler temptresses delivered themselves to his burning bed and into his
dreams of impassioned restraint.


I made a Visa run to Bahrain.. I also interviewed with the head of the
arts and languages department.

The hotel was overflowing with Thai gals. I guess you could call what I
had was a slip--a major one at that. The Full Elvis. Mamasan gave me a
great deal on a clutter of giggly Thai girls. From pole to pole, right? It
was my reaction to having to work this summer when I really wanted to do
some work on Thai/Burmese border.

7/7/2004EditThe New and Improved Bahrain Run

Back in Bahrain this weekend, staying a few nights at the Gulf Gate Hotel
because I have an interview in the morning with the new director of the
arts and language program at the University of Bahrain.

My taxi driver wasted no time recommending "Good hotels with lovely

I declined his offer using my limited pidgin Arabic which is always
appreciated by locals because not only is it a hard language to learn but
any attempts by a Gharabi (westerner) who gives it the old college try
indicates that the white boy is not just here to earn a boatload of money,
then yallah imshi (go away quickly) The white boy is here to take part in
the culture and perhaps stay a long while. It indicates that it may have
been more than just fast money that has interested the foreigner.

Also, they generally chuckle when they hear my botched pronunciation and
my botchiered syntax.

I told him, Rahees Fondook (cheap hotel) No good. Fi (they have) too much
Natasha. Natasha mooshkeela kabeer.(Big Problem) Alroossyalth sadika tajya
Khulal eyla ana bab wayeed!

Too many Russians girlfriends come to my door and ring the door bell every
fifteen to thirty minutes between 10 PM and 4 AM. Plus the Saudi Arabian
Shebab (laddies) hang their holier-than-thou arrogance next to their
thobes in the closet for the weekend. They cross the causeway in denim and
silk shirts, carrying boom boxes and baseball caps worn in reverse. They
come to shoot pool, have a few beers then visit Natasha around my bedtime.

sonically The boom boxes boom everything from Egyptian hip hop to
Metallica. halls. All night long, the doors up and down the hall open and
slam shut following loud price haggling. A few years ago, I thought like
Gilgamesh and saw these nights in Bahrain as heaven on Earth. Bahrain as
an Edenic portal to immortality. But something happened. Something inside
of me has changed--as it's supposed to when a feller stands on the
threshold of fifty.

As we drove to the Golden Gate Hotel, I performed a little stand-up for my
taxi driver, first knocking on the dashboard three times then imitating
Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. "'Ello, darlink. I'm Natasha. You vant
me one hour, Feefty dinar." I don't believe he got the reference but he
understood the accent to be Russian hooker in spirit.

Nope-siree. No more two star brothels for me. I own four suits. Now, I pay
the extra 25 dollars to stay in a four star hotel room with clean sheets,
a small window overlooking a parking lot, nightclubs anmd other hotels and
of course a mosque. This is the life. In the bathroom there are water
glasses wrapped in sterilizing wax paper, many extra towels, an array of
small round soaps (impossible to open without finger nails) and many
shampoo packets. I have fifty channels on TV--of which at least five are
in English.

Still, despite this upgrade, my porter didn't hesitate to ask me on the
way to my room if I wanted a woman. Telling him I was seeing someone
wouldn't have made any sense.

The hotel's Cinderlosers weren't Russian. They were Thai. And I am on a
diet, so to speak. But slumber parties are always debatable. I fell asleep
about four.

7/5/2004EditGin and Chronic

There was nothing unique about us that week we spent in Hua Hin. Our
cycles of profusion and famine were habitually chronic.

In the early morning on the beach, I braided the red hair of this slender
woman while horses galloped in the sand.

All around us, the air, the sea, the barefoot steps on the boardwalk, the
chatter and laughter teased us into believing that maybe things could be
different or at least they could go back to the way they were or more
realistically, the way we thought they had been.

The previous evening, a gentle forgiving rain fell--more forgiving than we
had ever been to each other in the evevnings. Mornings were different.

In the morning, we hopped on a motorcycle and rode south along a coastal
highway for many miles and many hours while the damp sea air chilled our
bare arms and turned the liquidity of time into ice, freezing this us in
this moment forever; one of those moments that make the end of an affair
so agonizing in retrospect.

We everntually found the small mountain which had the cloistered cavern
with a natural cathedral ceiling. Inside the cave, directly beneath the
blue sky was a natural rock formation which looked close precisely like
the silent Gatama sitting in an eternal lotus position.

Down the winding path of this mountainside, a short distance from where
we'd left the motorcycle, a Thai family picnicked under a lean-to road
side cafe, sharing a bucket of dried shrimp. They offered us shrimp and
beer. She turned down the beer and asked for wine. The owner of the cafe
disappeared into the kitchen and came out with a gallon jug of rice wine.
It was one of our purest moments.

Later, close to sunset, we returned to our pier hotal where now, beneath
the floor boards, the tide lapped, waves crashed,wind whispered and
sighed. The sun set, we lit candles and made love.

Our window faced the sea. On the black horizon a long strand of emeralds
seemed to have been strung from one edge to the other of an unknown world.
They were shrimp boats and the lights helped to attract their catch.

We showered then dressed to attend an old colonial club style happy hour
in a lounge complete with mounted heads of game now endangered. She
sketched on napkins as we swallowed quickly--not sipped--gin and tonics,
taking them onto the verandah.

The verandah was surrounded by a topiary menagerie measuring many acres
squared. We walked beneath thirty foot elephants with their young, wove
around twenty foot crouching tigers and long green crocodiles and mammoth
snakes. We were Lilliputian sots stranded on Fantastic Planet.

But something happened. Something always happened. Provoking words. Or a
combative looks. Road weariness, exhaustion. Gin.

That night we slept with anger. She fell asleep before I did. I laid in
bed and softly moaned with each breath until she asked me to either stop
it or walk it off.

In the morning, when the shrimpers came in, they were welcomed back by
their families. She and I stood on the pier, held hands, drank coffee
while a young Thai girl played with a pet monkey on a leash.

There was nothing unique about us that week we spent in Hua Hin.

7/4/2004Editالأجنبيّ (People to Avoid)
It's the Fourth of July and back home they are putting out the flags and
breaking out the yellow ribbons. We are celebrating Independence Day,
Freedom Day--Liberation from Tyranny Day.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Middle East, the liberated are as confused as
the day is long and hot.

How do we even begin to explain to the grateful, liberated people of Iraq
the concept of "trailer park white trash"?

Paul Theroux reminds us in his book, "Fresh Air Fiend" that "The Arabic
(word for) 'foreigner' is ajnabi, and the root means something like
"people to avoid." Another word for foreigner is Al Gharib it literally
means, "The West". Al Gharbi means "Westerner", also something to be

Exceptions to these connotations are the obvious: unless they have
something that we need like the know-how to turn oil into unimaginable
wealth or unless they are Russian women who have reconciled their natural
sense of dignity with the necessities of single parenthood and have
relocated to a two-star hotel in Bahrain for the the next three months or
unless they bring to your door two large pizzas and a litre of Pepsi.
Someone has to collect the trash, sweep the streets, drive the taxis, deep
fry potato skins, teach subject verb agreement and provide bad sit coms
re-runs. Ajnabi can come in handy, sometimes,

What isn't the exception to the "assass" or root denotation of these
words--people to be avoided--are US hillbilly army reservists from dirt
poor mining towns, that is those inbreds with their vacuous Mongoloid,
eWest Virginny eyes and who were once stationed at, ironically, Al Gharib
prison or I suppose we can say, "The Westerners to be Avoided Prison"

I suggest that we begin showing on Iraqi satellite TV the movie
"Deliverance. I receive this station on Showtime and so far it seems to
have no other programming than a lot of movers and sheikhers talking (and
talking and talking). We might also include some thoughtful commentary on
the hillbilly fetish for buggery, juxtoposing images of real white trash
in their mobile habitats, like West Virginny's own cousin-humps-cousin
bred dominatrix and cigarette smoking ass-freak, Lynndie England
with scenes from the movie
, particular Ned Beatty's most challenging role. Of course we'd have to do
some sound editing: "Squeal like a *bleep*, squeal like a *bleep*" to
respect Islamic dietary laws.

7/3/2004Editهذا ليس مسألةً شخصيّةً . إنّه عن كسب المال .

"It's nothing personal. It's just business."

(Ciao Marlon!)

I sank down like dead weight in the leather chair of the lobby at the
Raddisson Hotel. I watched the gathering of men wearing dishdashas,
slumping in chairs around the lounge like bored teenagers, their legs
extended and knees spread wide, cell phones in one hand, prayers beads in
the other. All that was missing was a parrot, a ceiling fan going around
and around, and Sydney Greenstreet wearing a fez and clapping his hands to
have the tea boy bring his honored guest a hookah and a cup of Turkish
coffee. I didn't know if I was Humprhey Bogart or Peter Lorre.

Mohammed was Sydney Greenstreet. We shook hands and immediately didn't get
down to business. The lounge was dim and smelled of sandalwood incense.

First we talked at length about nothing, about the heat and air
conditioners, exercise and losing weight. About traffic and about

It was Mohammed's meeting so it was up to him to end the small talk and
get down to business.

"First, I like your idea about using computers for afterschool art
programs. But now I would like for you to think about developing programs
for businesses." He had the air of a Wazeer
issuing an e'lan or proclamation.

It has taken us a month to get to this point where he realizes I am not
buying into Inshallah promises of splitting profits only after I do all of
the work setting up classes and training instructors and where I realize
that there actually might be an opportunity to earn a nice second income
by patching together a few English for Business and Commerce courses.

More than this however I've enjoyed experiencing the process of
negotiation which has involved many delayed or canceled meetings on both
ends and Mafioso-like arbitration through suggestion and ambiguous
"Nothing personal. It's just business"

I drank my tea and in a voice that was somewhere between a whisper and a
mumble I said, "I can write course syllabus on my own time. This is no
problem. I enjoy it."
Translation: I'll plagiarize similar course descriptions from various web
sites and I won't charge you for my time.

He said, "Inshallah you will have them by Monday and I can begin promoting
the class."
Translation: "Please have them ready within the next two weeks and I will
start making the rounds at the diwaniyas using my wasta to get other
people to use their wasta to get contracts with ministries and

I came back with, "The syllabus is easy. But the class schedule is the
hard part."
--I expect to be paid once you have students signing up and you need a

He said, "The ministries have training department managers who control
huge budgets. A lot of outside training programs are awarded especially to
people they can trust."
--there will be kickbacks and under-the-table wheelings and dealings, but
if all goes well, you'll be sure to get yours.

I said, "Inshallah."

At this point, he clapped his hands, and twenty belly dancers presented
themselves, some fanned us with palm fronds, others fed us peeled grapes
while others shook their jangly plumply bellies.

7/2/2004EditScandals and Sandals

Throughout the day and into the night, in palatial homes, in diwaniya
tents, in restaurants and in new shiny cars, they never (ever) seem to
stop talking. They hold their mobile telephones to their ears even during
face-to-face conversations, constantly panning the rivers of their many
leisure hours for precious ingots of gossip.

They scrimp and save hearsay, investing in it their own richness of
imagination and contempt for others then pass it along as if it is the
truth revealed to them by none other then "He Is Who He Is" Himself.

Gossip here, similar to any close knit community like, say, a remote
farming village in Bhutan or on the dismal streets of Government and
Perkins Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a bloodlust sport.

7/2/2004EditGoogling around the world wide web last night, I s...

Googling around the world wide web last night, I saw an ad for an art
teacher at EBRATS, that bottom feeding charter school in Baton Rouge. I
hope this means TK has moved on. God be with her and hers.
7/1/2004EditIt seems to be one of the Kuwaiti customs that the...

It seems to be one of the Kuwaiti customs that the world will have to
adapt to--as long as Kuwaitis have more money than most of us.

A business appointment is often arranged not so much to meet at a
designated time and place, but to get the second party into the place so
that the first party can telephone to say, "I'm running late. I should be
there in 20 minutes." You go to the trouble of driving to meet the first
party, sometimes it takes an extra hour to get there in the traffic. So,
once you are in the waiting room, why not wait an additional twenty
minutes. Relax. have a cup of tea. Inshallah, the first party will step
off the elevator momentarily.

At the thirty minute mark, you receive another phone call and you may be
asked to wait another ten to fifteen minutes. Why not? You've come this
far and have invested 30 minutes in the wait. The secretary is pretty asnd
chatty. So you agree to stay put.

I don't. Not anymore. When told to wait 20 minutes, I reschedule. That's
called negotiating from a position of "I think your full of shit.".

6/30/2004EditDays Ablaze

The days blaze by, getting hotter, even the evenings are beginning to
glow. Throughout the city, construction never stops. There are sidewalks
to be jack hammered into rubble so new bricks, identical to the old
bricks, can be laid. Eerily, the workers manage to endure the heat. The
roads simmer and are out of focus on the horizon. SUVs and German cars
zoom from here to there, drivers chat on phones and shiver from the chill
of their air conditioners.

If I were to join a road crew, even for a day, a half a day and work as
hard as those men, you might as well measure me for a coffin.

How can they work in the heat, in standard issue road crew jump suits,
hard hats and orange safety vests? While they work, they chat, joke and
smile and return the greeting when pedestrians--who are dashing from their
frosty cars to frosty buildings--acknowledge them with "Salam Alaikum."

It's nearly 150 degrees Fahrenheit out there at noon. Still these brown
fellows haul heavy loads, dig and dig deeper holes and lift hundred pound
sacks of concrete.

They aren't big men. Where I come from, construction workers tend to be
burly--which means fat yet muscular, and they are paid as much in one day
as their Arabian Gulf counterparts earn in a month.

You wouldn't describe these guys as burly. They are skinny, pint sized and
wirey. They come from East Asian villages in Bangla Desh, Pakistan, Nepal
and India.

When they finish their work day, they don't knock off and head for the
road house for a few cold ones. And they don't hop in their pick-up trucks
and speed home to meat and potatoes. They pile into the back of a panel
truck which looks like a paddy wagon from a 1930s gangster movie, the door
is bolted from the outside, and they are driven back to their barracks.
They sleep in warehouses twenty or more to an open bay. They subsist on a
diet of rice, lentils and curry, maybe a couple of small pieces of
chicken. Some fresh fruit if they're lucky. Some of them have Fridays off.
Many grab buckets and rags and plant themselves in shopping mall parking
lots. They'll wash your car for three bucks.

Know how they do it? Know how they keep going, spending years and years
away from their families?
They have faith. Not go-to-church-every-other-Sunday faith or New Agey
bell, books and candles faith, but the real thing. Hindu or Muslim--they
quiet their minds with prayers. I wish I had their passion and devotion.

(I also wish I had their metabolism