did you really want to have kids?

Bisco: Angel? are you there? where did you go?

Angel: I never left.

Bisco: ahhh. ok. did you really want to have kids?

Angel: I don’t have children.

Bisco: oh. then you don’t get it.

Angel: what don’t I get?

Bisco: if folks really want kids or not?

Or more to the point, did I? here’s the thing that you don’t know. I had a sister—Maria Rosa but she died. She was sick from a child since only three years old. She was deformed by her illness but it made her more regal, more beautiful in an uncomfortable way. She suffered horribly. She was four years older than me. She exalted in her life despite her suffering. She was not easy or perfect but rather funny, sarcastic, with an ironic wit and almost always terribly mischievous.  She tortured me every day and at the same time we were best friends. I could never win. She could always play the “sick” card and our parents would defer to her. Her immune system would attack if she was angry or sad so all of us—there were four—-had to watch out or we would literally make her sick, make her hurt, make her suffer.

And it was horrible to see, her suffering. She swelled up and turned red and her whole body screamed for days. It was bad to see for a child. But it was our family, it was reality. Later I was too stupid to NOT make a baby. Just too stupid. Every time my first daughter got sick—which was like every day—I got terribly afraid and sad. It was like I was watching Maria all over again except this time she was my child. Do you have kids? Isn’t it just the worst thing of all when they’re sick and little and they can’t understand and no matter what, you can’t explain it…you just can’t. Right? Angel?

Angel: I don’t have kids.

Bisco: yes you do, yes you do…

Angel: OK. I see what you mean. I get “it”.

Bisco: really? thank you because I feel like I was doomed from the start. So afraid to see suffering. So sad. But if you feel the same maybe I’m ok too?

Angel: don’t use me to justify your inadequacy as a father.

Bisco: ouch.

Angel: sorry.

Bisco: no. you’re right. I just wanted to tell somebody. I love having kids—I just hate being a poor excuse for a father. and i hate when they’re hurt. just can’t take it. to all you moms and dads out there who lost kids or suffer their pain—i get it. really. and i admire you all! stay strong. you never know!

 

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fault-finding is the kiss of death for spiritual life.

to tell the truth, Angel, I was born a critic. if you check my astrological chart it says: “critic”. i love to criticize everything and everyone and always have since i can remember. later i became acquainted with the Vaisnavas—practitioners of the yoga of bhakti, or devotional service to Radha Krsna. they emphasize, as did Jesus, that finding fault in others is a surefire way to destroy your spiritual center. or as they say, the devotional plant is a fragile variety and especially at first is prone to attacks by the weeds of ego, selfishness, criticizing others, greed, lust and the infinite rest of my vices.

but particularly finding fault in others is linked to the very thing that keeps us bound to the mortal coil: the false ego or ahankara. the propensity to “lord it over others” ( from Srila Prabhupada). this desire—to be over you—for me to be over  you, to dominate you, have my way, win the argument, no matter how petty or pathetic, is apparently intrinsic to each of us, jivas (jiva-atma), living entities. and this deepest of all propensities that holds us in the snare of Maya shows up in my urge to criticize you, look for the fault, worry about it, make it my business to “fix” you—all this rather than look at my own shit.

Bisco means “cross-eyed”. could even say myopic. or blind to a degree. blind to the constant desire to lord it over others and call that “relationship”. cross eyed when it comes to looking at my own shit. 

ok. i’m being a bit brutal here or at least it feels that way. but honestly, i’ve seen others auto-destruct. like— self immolate and i too have done the same—completely fry my faith and grounding with the simplest acts of cruelty or shaming or finding fault in others. boom. i’m a crisp. so fast.

so i JUST (*i hate that word “just”. what does it mean anyway? am i conveying “only” meaning somehow there is zero static in my message? or how about there is something fundamentally “just”—as in justice, in my stance?) thought i’d publish that even when i tried to put the most loving and well intentioned friends and family together to make something beautiful—that finding fault in others—and the ensuing fights and hurtfulness and shame was dramatic, radical to watch and be a part of. i know i could say more. no need to.

Angel? are you there?

when 2=20 and 20=2.

Why do i receive criticism as a “20” and complements as a “2”? why? because i just can’t handle the truth, accurately.

First, i want to ask how did i get this system, this internal criteria that so severely judges me?

from my father more than anyone else. he was hard.

he gave me a 2 for a job well done(20). he gave me a 20…never.

and mom? well she said, “that’s nice honey” and went right back to what she was doing.

and why not? can you imagine how many times i went to her each day seeking approval? for like nothing?

“look at me mommy! look at me!”

mom: “that’s nice dear. do another one.”

Bisco: “but this one is great! check it out!”

mom: “that’s sooo nice dear! do another one!”

i never gave up. never. “but look at THIS one!”

mom: “yes dear. that’s NICE”!

nice. i got to “nice”. and she LOVED me! imagine what i was like for everyone else. the world’s tiniest narcissist equipped with the world’s biggest mouth. i had the answers for everything all the time and even if i didn’t i spoke out anyway. and everybody said: “shhh!” please! be quiet! please shut up. please! 

but i never did. that’s probably why i’m here now—writing.

Angel: that’s nice honey

Bisco: ##%^^)*((U^&##*

Angel: that’s a 2

Bisco: please!

Angel: ok…2 1/2.

Bisco: you’re merciless.

Angel: i’m not Isabella. ask her if you want fatuous misdirected complements worth 20 points when you don’t deserve it.

Bisco: Angel thank you for being honest.

Angel: do i have a choice? how can i lie?

Bisco: you can’t.

Angel: why?

Bisco: because you’re Angel.

Angel: that’s nice honey.

Bisco: callate. (shut up)

Angel: i should shut up? and what about you?

Bisco: fine. see you later.

Angel: (like the old grunyon guera)..”no you won’t!” (laughing Angel leaves his rooftop perch for another day, another dollar.)

Bisco: how do you feel Angel? do you receive a 20 for a 20? from your lover? your mom? your dad?

Too late. Angel had already left the building. 

Isabella speaks

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Bisco: (oh no) what? i don’t think so…

Isabella: guapo (handsome)

Bisco: hijole, hermosa, sweetie, what’s up?

Isabella: just thought it was time I showed up and joined you.

Bisco: yeah sure. Angel?

Angel: she’s the whole point.

Bisco: oh. really?

Isabella: calmate carino. (take it easy dear)

Bisco: calmate tu! (you take it easy!) (starts singing from the Eagles “Take it easy”)..” take it easy, take it easy…don’t let the sound of your own wheels, drive you crazy…lighten up while you still can…)

Isabella: que? que dices? (what are you saying?)

Bisco: nada.

Isabella: mire mi amor, quiero saber si quieres acompanarme hoy al bar por la musica? (you want to come with me tonight to a bar and listen to music?)

Bisco: si, por supuesto…pero…hoy? (yes of course, but…today?)

Isabella: si amor..hoy. esta bien o tienes algo necesitas hacer? (yes love, its ok or you have something to do?)

Bisco: no, no its just that its so…sudden. i mean. i mean…if i had a little notice (like a written invitation a week in advance, ok a month) then for sure but hoy? pues…tal vez…podemos ver como sentimos luego? ( well…maybe…but can we see how we feel later?)

Isabella: osh hombre porque necesitas hacer broncas o ebstacalos cuando tengo que irme a bailar? (jeez man, why do you make problems and obstacles when i need to go and dance?)

Bisco: sorry. ok. you’re right we should go. let’s go hear Migrana y To-kaio at Cafe Diezmo a la 6:30.

Isabella: orale! ya estas. ( yay! ok i’m with you.)

Bisco: but….first can we have sex? like now?

Isabella: ah Bisco entonces estamos tarde y no vamos a la ciudad? (so…then we’re not going to the city?)

Bisco: Angel can you come? do you want to go?

Angel: sure

Bisco: then i’ll stay and you two go on ahead…without me…just leave me here all alone…waiting for Isabella to come home from dancing in bars…

Isabella: this is not fair! come Bisco! i want to dance with you mi amor.

Bisco: allright. if you insist. keeps singing…”standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, its quite a strange sight to see…a girl my lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me”..

Isabella: que? quien? (what? who?)

Bisco: nada

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Angel asks: why are strangers easier for me to like?

Bisco: because we don’t know them yet.

Angel: and they don’t know us either.

Bisco: exactly. with intimacy comes knowledge, recognition, ego and strife.

Angel: why?

Bisco: because the more you get to know me, the more data you have on my incongruence. the more data you have, the more times you see me tripped up by my own false ego, selfishness, and desires. the more you see me apologize, the more you see me recant and try and wriggle out of stuff. its just how it works. over time you can see me more accurately and with enough time and information, surely you will grow tired of me.

Angel: and me too. i feel the same. like there’s no defense against realization. the more you realize about me, the more i stink.

Bisco: me too. so what to do? accept? accept each other?

Angel: yeah well on Tuesday i accept but on Monday i wanted to run.

Bisco: me too. we’re almost the same. we want “everything” to be ok all the time and its not. never. or if it seems so, its just for a moment. so just for a moment we feel love, relief, connection…and a few moments later we feel selfish, ashamed, and want to be alone.

Angel: especially when you catch me being an asshole.

Bisco: especially. but we want hope. we want to do better. but how? the more we see the more we fear. are you afraid Angel?

 

memories of Braja

A camioneta delivering vegetables or government subsidy programs drives by blaring horns intensely and the throbbing bass of Ranchero music—banda, accordion—so loud. how could the driver stand it? he’s deaf. that explains it.

but i love the sound. it reminds me of India. In the early morning twilight vapor rising from the river Yamuna, Vrindavana awakens to screaming peacocks and shouting Hindi vendors selling yelling a chaos of merchandise through a cacophony of loudspeakers. The toasted nut smell of burning firewood and cow dung carbon melts together in the morning mist as temples incense smoke cascades upwards in billowing clouds pushed to heaven on the wings of silver sounds beating from a thousand bells ringing simultaneously the arrival of mangala-arati, the morning mass of the Vaisnava devotees.

But here is the Rio Laja, not the Yamuna. The mystic yogis have a siddhi that allows them to enter the water of one river and exit the water of another river, but on the other side of the world or even universe. This would be a welcome trick these days. to be able to enter the Rio Laja and make a quick trip to Mother Yamuna, totally avoiding airports and air-travel. To arrive with Kartika Autumn in full flow of nectarean pastimes. to wake up to the cold air and smell the burning firewood and walk, my head covered by my chaddar, chanting, passing other early morning pilgrims on their way: “Radhe Radhe!” “Radhe Shyama!” “Jai Radhe!”

the vapor rises here in the madrugada, rises in elegant poise from the sleeping Rio Laja. She is a dormant river, almost dead from destruction of habitat and exploitation. But still she breaths out her sweet morning breath and all the desert plants and flowers, infinite in both their persistence and variety, bathe in this blessing of water quenching their dusty thirst that only a cold night on the high mesa can convey. they are drinking. Tienen sed.