Sunday, December 28, 2014

Marital Mirage

A divorce is inconvenient.

My ex-wife has her merits. She can also be maddening. I have equal amounts of my own disorders.
She has textbook intimacy issues that I don't bother to pretend I can understand because, well, who in their right mind isn't cautiously detached from both their medial and lateral strong, associations or acquaintances? Who doesn't have intimacy issues?

However, I can only take her standoffishness and detachments for so long. I am a flower giver. I am a voluntary kiss giver. I offer spontaneous hugs. I am a lunkhead.

Here's the pattern. I let too much slide for too long then I blow. A major WMD explosion 500 mile an hour incinerating, gusting psychotic explosions.

If you've seen me blow, you could say easily ascertain that I am deranged. I exhibit delusional behaviors. I become verbally abusive and impiously profane. The God I don't believe in even gets hectored by me with questions like, "Why me?"

But mine is a slow burn and generally because I take wife's shit on the chin for weeks on end without calling her out on her nonstop passive aggressiveness. I let it build and build and build then kablooey! 

Because she's passive aggressive and because I never call her on her bullshit, my torrential verbal f-bomb blitzkriegs seem to come out of nowhere.

Example--if I've one day misplaced my keys, then those misplaced keys become emblematic of my ludicrous reality.

She can stay cool, remains calms, says "you've only misplaced your keys! Calm down! Only a lunatic would lose self control over misplaced keys."

She takes no responsibility for her uncontrollable stealthy enmity and sees me as the maniac I've become, capable of going on and on with a string of abhorrent spewing which came about for no apparent reason --a tantrum that can generally last about an hour -- a long hour that causes cats to run and hide and dogs up and down the block to howl.

Then I deflate. I always follow my carnage with an intense guilt and remorse.

So, anyway, she couldn't have children, so she settled for her house in America, her US citizenship: she's certified to teach yoga.

She's evolved into a classic northern California liberated woman who teaches 6 -8 yoga classes a week. 

I have outlived my usefulness -- there exists now only symbiosis. She tends to the house (fair enough, it's an investment), she overseas my cats despite threatening to dump them in shelter every time we communicate (which is less and less as time goes by).

And she doesn't like our middle/quasi working class neighborhood. Not too far away is Folsom, where they cook their banana nut bread with honey, three times a day. She has "Namaste" in her Email signatures (to everyone but me)

Now. She wants to sell the house and buy a rustic condo with a lake and mountain view in Folsom.

That pretty much leaves me stranded overseas to pay a mortgage on a house I will never live in. Pay property taxes on a property I will never own. Pay a car note for a car that I will never drive.
Ex-wife loathes me because she doesn't have a mountain view and it's my fault she's stranded in America now with her lifelong dream of having a blue US Passport.

I am not the first North American man who lost his ass and got duped into a marriage because an Asian type wanted the blue passport.

Cats come and go, but so do kittens. And so it goes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Taxi Driver Meets Death Wish

Anomaly detection -- a Lahorite Pakistani taxi driver who, instead of having prayer beads or a Quranic verse danging from his rear view mirror, had an air freshener, not only shaped like a Christmas tree but with a US flag on it. Acknowledging Christmas (hell even acknowledging St. Valentine's Day) is a jail-able, lash-able offense followed by deportation (unless you're a white guy)

Don't get me started on displaying old glory.

Ballsy motherfucker.

Crepe Crap Out

I went out this morning to brunch with Dr. Carlos but his esposa de sangre caliente did not accompany us which gave us an opportunity to discuss the key to a successful relationship -- husbandly resignation or, in Spanish, maridos tímidas (in Italian American -- no balls).

He's has perfected the art. He's been married once and he's been married for 27 years. I am a daft, slow learner. I've practically collected a wedding ring for each finger on my left hand in that amount of time.

We went to a French restaurant specifically to have their renowned breakfast crêpes. But the Pinoy waiter, in his Filipino accented, high-pitched voice, said, "Sorry, sir, but we are out of crêpes."

As my neighbor would advise, "Brother, you must go with the flow." And that helped to muzzle my impulse to bitch, "How can a crêpe restaurant be out of freaking crêpes?"

The coffee did not come with refills because as we sat down, the first thing I ordered was coffee. It came ala carte. Had I ordered a meal first, it would have come with coffee and refills.

"Sorry sir, but refills only come with meals."

But, but, but -- I was bursting to remind him -- I am now going to order a meal!

Om. "Brother, you must go with the flow."
Om. "Brother, you must go with the flow."
Om. "Brother, you must go with the flow."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Talk the talk, and talk the talk and talk, talk, talk

I have this neighbor now not unlike a neighbor I had in China. A talker. A nice feller, don't get me wrong, but like my friend in Nanjing and like so many fifty-to-sixtyish men I know, they are now men who have flown their last sortie, earned their last trophy, played their farewell rooftop concert, summited their peaks and are now descending. 

They seem to me to be men who fear that at any moment they will be ambushed by oblivion. Whatever it is they have on their minds, knowing they have peaked, "sunt qui summam", now's the time to say it or forever put a sock in it.

He's around my age and brother (as he prefaces every freaking sentence) does he (like my colleague in China) have lots of stories to tell -- none that are interesting mind you. And like my friend in China, he tells me nothing I don't already know. Nothing that gets a laugh out of me. Nothing of interest, really.You could say he is garrulous, loquacious, eloquent in his verbal dexterity. Or you could say he is full of shit.

Why them and not me? I wonder. Why am I more of a listener -- or at least like to think I am?

The ex-pat life can be a lonely one. Loneliness is the trade in for fat tax-free pay checks and free housing. 

Is it that they're at a stage in life when they feel a toxic nostalgia and need to wax it? Are they rueful, affected by enormous regret? Do they just need to spill it all out in order to sleep easier?

Or maybe it is that a man at this age - nearing career's end -- knows he is fading, quickly becoming irrelevant.

It's all behind him. The best of everything. No more reckless, drunken, drug-fueled merriment, No more capricious lawless behavior. No more mind-blowing sex. 

So what's left? Talk There is a hunger it seems to get it all of out their systems while they can still recall the past and can articulate it, however fuzzy they are on the facts.

Me? I like conversation still. I like to volley ideas. And I like to think I have yet to have that one mind blowing sexual experience that will be beyond compare.
Let my epitaph read: Less Talk More Rock.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Honky in the Hood

From the small food store clerks from Kerala, to the dry cleaners from Lahore to Turks at the kebab shop, I get eye balled a lot, eyed out of curiosity perhaps and they all never hesitate to eventually ask, "Where from?" The adrenaline junky I am, I tell them (and they can tell their ski-masked friends for all I care) -- America!

Sometimes, they respond, "America. Good" Other times they say nothing and seem to be absorbing the subjective mental bitcoin, information as a commodity, a chip to be cashed in later should someone who happens by wants to know, hey I'll give you three fitty cent if you tell me where I can find an American.

The nearest other to a honky in hood is my neighbor, a larger-than-life presence from South Africa, a café au lait giant, who shaves his head and who likes to talk. And talk. And talk. Listen? Eh. He needs to work on it. At least he has a pleasant to listen to deep booming voice that comes with a hearty laugh, reminding me of Jeff Holder --you know, the "cola nut, uncola nut -ah ha ha" guy from those 70's 7-Up commercials? 

So within my own frame of reference, from my third floor apartment, two doors down from one big freaking mosque that thunders prayer calls at 3 AM, 4 AM, 5 AM, and several more times throughout the day, rattling windows and scaring neighborhood bin cats, I count just one Caucasoid -- me-- and my Dutch speaking neighbor from Johannesburg who has at least one chuck in the wood pile (something I'd never tell him lest he stomp on me like a cockroach).

On my soundtrack of the mind, whenever I venture out for phone cards, Red Bull, bread, cheese and bananas, as I dodge six lanes of traffic coming off of and speeding towards a freeway ramp, this is the song I hear.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Blog Reboot

There's lots to do in Saudi Arabia. Besides waiting around to die - you can eat, wait for the odd holiday, eat, sleep, eat, sleep and now, I'm bringing back to life a blog that's been in a coma since my car accident a few years ago.

I'll nick a few things from Facebook to try to reboot the damn thing.

Hips and Hopes

The Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal have been mine to see on clearer days, all scratched off my bucket list. Angkor Wat. The base of Everest. The Grand Canyon and once, watching Donald Sutherland running to catch a flight in LAX. All done and done.

But last night, from a Saudi Arabian gulag compound, I finally got to scratch off the do-before-I-die list something I thought I'd only see in my dreams --the mother of all hula hoopers.

Gyrating hips are never a bad thing but there's more to it.

The Egyptians knew and know this. As you see the pyramids along the Nile, sailing past Cairo's silvery skyline on a dinner cruise, served up with your skewered lamb, deep fried fava bean felafel, fatayeer coated with thyme and cheese and spicy aubergines, you are entertained by both a belly dancer and a whirling dervish. 


The Turkic Semazen, the belly dancer and the hula hooper reveal to us the unknowable, that we are in sync with the earth in its rotation as its moon revolves around the it while the earth circles the sun; the sun spinning our island universe towards its unavoidable finality.

Spinning hips confirm our coexistence with the order of the eternal, the continual whirly gigging of the celestial empyrean. 

Buddhists know this. They walk clockwise around a temple, using their hands to spin iconic prayer wheels in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Tibetan men on mountainsides spin handheld prayer wheels. Muslim pilgrims go to Makkah to perform Hajj and circumambulation as they walk seven times around the Kaaba believed to have been built by Abraham. Jewish couples circle each other when they marry. Christians perform ritual prayer in a circle. Hindus believe we are born after we die, live then die again only to be reborn in a never ending cycle. 

We are more than clay. We are made of constantly revolving particles. Protons, cells. white cells pirouetting through our Chakras.

The hula hooper bears witness to the hands of an Architect, extolling the hands of Glory.

And you thought it was just for kids.

Give Peace Something, Anything

Ever had an experience when some song plays in the background, the perfect soundtrack for the moment? 

Happened to me tonight. 

Heading out for a bookstore, I flagged down a taxi and asked the driver in my pidgin Arabic to take me to “Maktaba Jarir fi shura Al Sary “(a bookstore on Sary street). We negotiated a fair price. I got in, sitting shotgun and found it a bit odd that John Lennon’s “Imagine” was playing. 

"Imagine there's no countries”

Usually the taxi drivers listen to Quran on the radio.If I drove a taxi in Saudi Arabia, I suppose I would also listen to prayers on a loop.

Within seconds, Lennon's soft piano chords and voice playing, he asked me the obligatory, “Where from?”. I braved it and told him America. He said, America! – America good, giving a thumbs up. Taliban, very bad. Very bad. 

He had a fair complexion, a fashionable, stubbly beard. I figured (correctly) that he was Tajik or Farsiwan– the second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan who originate from Iran, They're Muslims, but as far as the Taliban are concerned, the wrong flavor. Tajiks are Shia. 

"Nothing to kill or die for. "

We used a mixture of his broken English,my broken Arabic and the tiny, teensy bit of Farsi I know to chat. 

He told me that he had a brother living in Canada, with a Canadian passport and, inshallah, he hoped to join him soon. He worried about his family in Kabul, especially since Tajiks welcomed Americans and worked with them, many as translators, many filling the ranks of the army. He expected as soon as America goes, the Taliban will be back in charge and looking to settle scores

"And no religion too".

.My prayers, for what they’re worth, go out tonight to this young fellow, Isam, meaning the protector.

"Imagine all the people living life in peace"

And as I stepped out of the cab, I tipped him an extra 10 riyals, and the next song up –I kid you not – “What a Wonderful World”.