Clemence Smiled.

The dramatics of final farewells no longer hold uncertainty.  What should not be said is left unsaid, what needs to be done is done, actions linger more than words and awkwardness is avoided.  The feeling is not pleasant but there is a sense of liberation as well as comfort when I get back from the airport, turn the key,  go in, put some music on, and sit on the sofa; satisfied  that my apartment is once again my own.

This time there was something different, and it had to do with conversations I had with Clemence.  In a sense, they were not conversations; it was one long conversation with different chapters and acts interrupted by walks, eating, sleeping, sex, motorcycle rides and movie watching but always returning to itself and continuing. Sometimes with better insight, sometimes with  exasperation.

Her words have stayed. I found them when I came back and felt the weight of unanswered questions.   We knew we would not have much time together.  We knew we had to drive everything hard into the ground and burn it all up. Crash it. Break it.  So that is what we did.

Clemence was different. I am still in touch with Barbora, as well as with Ilse, even if it is  in an odd “so, are you still alive?” sort of way, and of course with Helena we have a promise that will be kept.  With Clemence no postcards will be sent, no Facebook searches or invites to be carried out, no polite happy birthdays needed or expected. She is gone.

She was not fast, nor slow; her mind moved like that of older women I’ve known, with the unavoidable weight of unadorned certainty.  When she made a comment she did not expect approval or dissent, she expected an answer on which to build and move forward.   Sometimes it got too intense, so we would have sex to shut each other up and stop having to think. it was good sex.

She smoked.  She did so calmly or nervously, depending on her mood, always apologetically like most young smokers do now; not having known a time when smoking was not frowned upon.   Clemence, smoking in bed, said to me, “you have sex to avoid forming an emotional bond with women, you treat your body and ours as objects”.

I let her smoke in bed because I can remember how good it felt, and because it was like if we were a couple in an old movie.  I let her inhale and then said, “yes, I treat bodies as objects, however precious, that’s what they are, but apart from being afraid of emotional bonding I like sex because it feels good”.   “You’re a sex addict”. “Do you think so?”. “I am sure”.

The words linger and the question of the part sex plays in my life remains.  I do not agree with Clemence.  I do not use sex to avoid emotional bonds with women, if I did that, I wouldn’t write or think about them. I like women. I enjoy being with them and getting to know them, and after having sex I discover great things.  I learn about their lives and past, their families and past loves, their heartbreaks and of their courage and victories.   I admire women.  Having sex with them is the one true way I have found to express this to them.

Have I lied, cajoled, tricked and gone out of my way to get a woman into bed? Yes, or course. Unless one is in love, and unless that love is reciprocated, I know of no other way to go do it.   Do I regret this? No.  Has it been consensual? Yes. Has it been the result of responsible and informed mutual consent with prior agreement of stipulated limitations and expectations in a rational adult way? No.   Am I an emotionally immature selfish asshole unwilling to compromise beyond my limited capacity for empathy and sharing? Probably, but I try to be self conscious of this and not let it get out of hand.

I told Clemence that I had a blog.  This blog. The Aradic Sismic.  That the header had a painting of a woman that was smoking.  “Ah. It is destiny maybe then? Destiny knew we would meet. That is nice. What do you write about on this blog?”   “Thoughts and pieces of my life I don’t want to forget”.

I told her that it had surprised me to find the amount of bloggers who were writers in different stages of development, all learning and writing, developing what they call “their craft”.   I told her of a blogger called Matt Williams who wrote interesting stuff and had commented once that I could write about the things that have happened in my life, and how, some days ago I commented on a post of his declaring that since I was not a writer myself my opinion should be taken as that of a layman, but that from that day on the idea of learning to write in a more methodical manner had began to grow in me.

“So you want to become a writer?”

“Yes.”

“It’s very hard to be a good one.”

“I don’t think I really want to be a good one, I suspect that takes talent I don’t have, I just want to be a real one, whatever that means”.

“Then you will need to make sacrifices and commitments, yes?”

“Yes.”

“And you may need a strong woman too.”

“I like strong women.”

“In English?”

“Probably in Spanish, I don’t trust my English to do what I want.”

“I wish you luck. If I ever see a book with your name as author, I will buy it, I promise”.

“Ok.”, I smiled.  Clemence can barely speak Spanish.

“Let’s watch a movie”.

“Which one?”

“Hanna. I like her. She’s brave.”

“I like you. You’re brave.”

She smiled.

On riding through the continent and things that happen.

Came back after having left you guys somewhere in Chile. Something has changed. Maybe you’re loosing your narrative edge, maybe the pictures are starting to resemble hundreds of others taken before, maybe this travel log has grown too long and you need to stop posting. Maybe you’ve lost your wanderlust and are just going through the motions because the agenda has been set, I don’t know and never will; the images no longer surprise or inspire and the words come through but are stiff, burdened by the condescending tone so often found in upper middle class Americans. Maybe it’s time to just go back and start working on building a home of your own, bike traveling having fulfilled its purpose, or maybe, it’s time to put away the camera, trust your eyes and memory without the need to photograph, live the road without the need to document, just you two discovering yourselves, just you two and what the road may bring. Remember, the road can nurture or destroy that which we carry within us as we ride through those long unending hours into strange lands that will be forgotten. Hardship is out there to challenge you, but also hope and redemption from within, and sometimes, on lost and lonely roads, you’ll still find the old and jaded motorbike travelers who never returned, it’s always good to meet them. Thank you for letting me tag along, I’m off now. God bless and goodbye.

Breve Carta a Helena (Brief letter to Helena)

Te cuento que el asunto con Emily esta interesante… desde un punto de vista “humano” o fraternal, si prefieres; es una persona inteligente, aceptablemente alegre, más que límite creo que saludablemente histriónica, muy poco narcisa y en general amena, además de un tanto aburrida y predecible, es decir, una persona con quien cohabitar en un espacio, no solamente no implica conflicto, si no que tampoco nada que pueda considerarse emocionante. Ensucia poco, lo que utiliza lo lava, no hace tiradero y mantiene sus cosas dentro de su habitación, no madruga pero no se queda en la cama una vez que despierta; entra y sale del depto sin meter ruido. Como toda mujer tiene su genio pero este es de lo más llevadero, le gusta la naturaleza, ir trekking y actividades que sean “exciting but safe”… es casi como si fuese un chavo… y, triste o alegremente, compruebo que es desabrida, una maruchan sin el sobrecito de condimento. Increíble pero cierto: no me inspira nada que pueda ser considerado propiamente sexual. A pesar de ser una “activista radical” no hay pasión de mujer, y tal vez, es por eso que necesita una causa.

Así que pienso…. y, ¿si le intento mover la emoción? ¿habrá algún potencial injundioso y pasional en algún lugar? ¿será lesbiana en proceso de descubrimiento? Pero, es posible que nunca encuentre estás respuestas porqué ni siquiera me mueve lo suficiente como para ahondar y buscar.

Us the Talentless.

There are few things as undeniable and certain as talent.  I consider this especially true for those of us who lack it.

As I write this, on my player, a soft melodious voice sings a song by a group called The Mountain Goats.  It’s a cover version of the song called Woke Up New and it’s sung in a way in which I will never be able to sing anything.  It’s the first version I ever heard of the song so it has become the original version for me.  The song, sung the way she sings it, makes me both happy and sad at the same time, brings back memories of events and emotions, let’s me appreciate whom I’ve become and unjudgmentally remember who I was.

It doesn’t stop there.  This person who sings so beautifully also has a blog and on that blog you can take long looks at the pictures she takes or read her poems.

I have a Nikon D90 and I have a keyboard hooked up to a computer with full internet access, yet my pictures lack the life and thrill I find in her’s and no amount of staring at a blank screen has ever been able to pull forth a poem from within me.  Wait, I can remember now, yes I’ve written some poetry, incomplete and bad, soulless and distant from whatever emotions inspired them.   When I read her poetry I can feel something, distant and indefinable, something simple and true which touches that within me that can’t be put into words and at most must reach for the metaphorical approximation to be felt and exist, something that understands poetry but can’t explain it.

So, what do I do? I follow her blog, I take a look at the pictures, I occasionally click on “like” when I exceptionally like one and try to be unobtrusive about it by not leaving comments which would sound empty.   And, I write my stuff here and on some other places, sometimes anonymously as is the case, thankful for the internet and the www that has so considerately demonstrated to me my utter lack of talent and therefore saved me from the toil and hurt other generations had to go through to find out.

To close on a high note, what can I offer?  Well, for one, sincere appreciation for talent and beauty but also, and it may not be of use here, but I’m old fashioned when it comes to giving and keeping my word, I used to be the guy friends called when they were going to get in a fight and needed back up, and now I’m the guy they can call when a major problem hits them at 3:00 a.m. some random weekend.  I can get silently pissed beyond words when I get there;   but I’ll never leave you out on a limb.   Probably talk to you about a great song I just found, promise to forward it to you and start a monologue about talent.

John of Patmos – The author of the Apocalypse.

This man´s story would make a great story for a book.  Fascinating.

“In retrospect, we can see that he stood on the cusp of an enormous change. This movement, which attracted few Jews within two to three generations after the death of Jesus, was attracting floods of gentiles all over the empire, particularly in those other provinces. And these other people would flood the movement and create, in effect, a new religion. We now know that John would have been distressed to know that leaders of this movement would posthumously adopt him as a Christian himself, and put his book in what they then called the New Testament.”

In the Questions section:

“…they vindicate the old revolutionary slogan, the worse the better, as if the more chaos, suffering, disease and so on, well, it may seem bad, but it’s just the necessary last step before eternal bliss. Rather that combatting it let’s just hurry it along, have this great orgasm of destruction followed by an eternal peace. And as part of this divinely unfolding plan, leading to eternal happiness, there’s going to be an enormous amount of deaths of evil people, also a necessary step for the coming Utopia. “

On Dating.

I think both views are correct. It is not, I believe, a dichotomic issue. It’s not only up to every person to do what they feel is right, but to learn and trust her feelings through all the advise or opinions put forth. To make it even more interesting or distressing, one can change with experience and different types of dating and relationships develop in your life. I think you can stop seeing someone when it stops being “fun” but I’ve also found out that that’s when emotional meaningfulness comes forth and starts to grow, it is not the good times that make lasting bonds, it’s the difficult and sad times that consolidate our lives with that of others.

You can date to have fun, gain experience or try to know a person as profoundly as possible to finally just move on, or you can be on standby until whoever meets your expectations comes along, either way, it’s going to take a lot of effort to make things work once the initial jitters are over. Ultimately it’s one’s own capacity to love, live, forgive and contribute in creating a mutual life that will make the difference.

So, I would agree with you, Joan, there are people with whom it’s fun to date, others with whom you feel there could be more of a future (whatever that means to each of us) and others with whom it’s just about the sex and intensity. At the same time though, I agree with M. Kundera when he states that our lives are like musical scores, the more you advance on your own, the harder it will be to combine it harmoniously with that of another person.

At this point in my life I feel grateful towards all the women with whom my path has crossed, many of them have made me a better person and some of them stood by me even after I hurt them, teaching me things I never imagined about what it means to love.

Sobre Democracia

Hoy leí esto y pense lo siguiente:

Considero que al presente la inscripción al padrón electoral y la asistencia a votar en las elecciones han dejado de ser indicadores fidedignos de la madurez o salud democrática en Bolivia.   Es cierto que en un inicio la relevancia de acudir a votar estaba fuertemente ligada a la memoria de las dictaduras militares, siendo necesario que reafirmemos nuestro deseo y voluntad no regresar nunca a dichos escenarios, sin embargo, la amenaza de una dictadura militar ya no es un fantasma que haya que conjurar.

 Contrariamente a lo que se señala en el comentario, un factor de peso insoslayable en Bolivia es justamente el de la obligatoriedad de asistir a votar.   En los últimos años lo que mejoró en forma sorprendente es la eficiencia de los mecanismos coercitivos mediante los cuales el estado impone dicha obligatoriedad, cosa que no ocurría antes por falta de eficacia a la hora de identificar y sancionar a los omisos.  Actualmente, a diferencia de hace 10 años, el certificado electoral es requerido ampliamente tras las elecciones y la imposición de multas llega a ser draconiana.   Para tener un referente válido de la influencia de dicha situación tendremos que esperar a que el derecho deje de ser obligación o a que la multa sea simbólica.

 El interés en mantener esta obligatoriedad esta dada sobre todo por un aparato político disfuncional que debe de alguna manera dar un barniz de legitimidad a su existencia, y mientras la gente acuda a votar por candidatos que simplemente no convencen, ellos podrán mantener el presente sistema como válido aunque en la práctica veamos que los políticos distan mucho de ser competentes en el manejo del estado boliviano.

 Entre los pilares de la Democracia tenemos el derecho a elegir en forma informada y el derecho a ser representados por quienes fueron elegidos.   Lastimosamente, por limitaciones históricas contundentes, los bolivianos aun no somos capaces de reconocer y valorar la información como herramienta individual y social, dejándonos llevar más bien por retóricas caudillistas que distan de sostener algún tipo de viabilidad administrativa o económica en un país naufrago de políticas de estado sostenibles o relevantes.

 Así mismo, y en ámbito de la democracia, en La Paz no hay un día entre semana que no evidenciemos el fracaso de nuestro aparato democrático, fracaso puesto en evidencia por las marchas de protesta incesantes.  ¿Por qué marcha la gente en la calle? ¿Por qué marchan los indígenas del TIPNIS hacia La Paz? Simplemente porqué el presidente, los senadores, los diputados y los prefectos, no nos representan, no velan por nuestros intereses y no son capaces de lograr un vínculo duradero o transparente  con los movimientos sociales; fuimos engañados.   Entonces, esto no es una democracia, es una partidocracia que al convertirse en gobierno parasita al estado patrimonio de todos, haciendo lo que los parásitos hacen: encontrar la forma de perpetuarse en el poder para poder seguir usurpando la riqueza y seguridad a la cual acceden tras hacerse del poder.

 Llega el momento de dejar de medir la salud de nuestra democracia en términos de cuantos acudimos,  obligados o no,  a las urnas y en vez, ver cuan representativa, trasparente e influyente es la institucionalidad de la Democracia Boliviana.