Monthly Archives: April 2012

Magical Realism

Yesterday I attended an all-afternoon party. It was one of those sit-at-one-table-for-the-whole-time affairs, and the conversation mostly centered on a group of individuals I’m sure I’ve never met… (although maybe I did at some point over the past 36 years)

But I am used to this, and am quite comfortable just sitting back and listening, drinking a little, eating too much, admiring the babies in attendance, and complimenting everything I can… (a typical Yucatecan party)

Then the conversation turned to darker topics: insecurity, corruption, the election, organized crime … (such things     never used to be issues, let alone ones that were talked about at family gatherings)

In Yucatan, we have been relatively safe from organized crime. Our “City of Peace” seemed to be immune from many of the ills that plague other parts of the country. There are lots of theories as to why this is the case, but after the stories I heard around that table, I began to fear that this could change at any time… (and I started to feel pretty panicked)

I am convinced that fear is eating away at our national backbone, and because we are so scared, we have accepted a serious decline in our quality of life. We have allowed many unsavory situations to become the norm because we think we have no choice… (how did we buy into this?)

I decided to divert the despair by reading through some of my favorite blogs. Usually MEXFILES offers a hard realistic look at Mexico’s current events, nonetheless I decided to see what the blog would be reporting today. Lo and behold, this post was just what I needed to see… (serendipity at work?)

It  ( http://mexfiles.net/2012/04/29/only-right/#comment-30750  ) spoke about an annual Quince Años that is held for disadvantaged young women in our nation’s capital. The smiles on the girls’ faces and the innocent enjoyment shining from their eyes melted my fear… (like a miracle?)

It is said that such “magic realism” occurs when phantasmagorical elements infuse the real world. As they are presented in a straightforward manner, (with pictures!) the “real” and the “fantastic” unite… (good will and positivism are the result)

I am not such a “Pollyanna” as to dare say that good works alone will “save” our country. But Mexicans (and internationals who live here) need to get out of the negativity that has them mired in fear of “what might happen.” It is time to get off our duffs, stop obsessing about our own concerns and work towards a more positive society.  It is also time to stop apologizing, and stick up for ourselves. We cannot allow this negative image to continue. Will everyone buy into this? Doubtful. But you’ll recognize the ones that have… (they’ll have smiles on their faces like the quicañeras)

Photo Credits: (images found on MEXFILES)

1 Zocalo. Photo by Eduardo Garrido/Reuters

2. Quinceñeras in front of flag: Photo by Alma Rodríguez/El Universal

3. At Museo Franz Meyer: Photo by Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

4.On the bus: Photo by Alma Rodríguez/El Universal

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Bob Dylan in Mexico City

We all have dreams, don’t we? Some of them come true… others remain unrequited fantasies. One of mine has always been to see Bob Dylan perform live. As I live in Mérida, Yucatán, México… it didn’t seem too likely that this would ever become a checked-off item on my personal bucket list. I couldn’t see the local booking agency managing to talk him into a gig at Siglo XXI or Estadio Kukulkan

But miracle of miracles…  I am headed to Mexico City to see Bob Dylan at the Pepsi Center on May 12th. When I learned about the upcoming concert, Jorge said, “You could go for your birthday…” I threw myself into his arms. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” was all I could say; then I called a friend who is also a Dylan fan from way back when and she and I are OK to go!

There’s no point playing like I’m cool… like I’m taking this in stride… I am over-the-top excited. I have searched every website on the web and have yet to find the playlist. I am hoping that Lay Lady Lay or Just Like a Woman will be included. I have  great m-e-m-o-r-i-e-s attached to those two, let me tell you. The icing on the cake would be to actually get backstage and meet Mr. Dylan. Yes (ever the optimist) I have sent in a request to the official website…Yes, I know it’s a super long shot… but why not try?

Obsessed about this as I am… I promise not to blog every day about the upcoming concert … but be sure you will hear all about it post-event. Are any other readers going?

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DOT . COM (IV)

Molly licked her lips… she had landed ‘the big one’ this time. Three weeks ago, the long leisurely lunch at “Las Mañanitas had been the prelude to an unexpectedly ‘delicious’ afternoon. She decided she’d handle Peter a bit differently than the other two. The payoff could wait… she deserved to enjoy herself a little.

His suntanned torso glistened with sweat as they headed up the trail behind the ski hills. He said he enjoyed nothing more than a good brisk hike on a clear afternoon. She had to agree. When they reached the entrance to the chairlifts, he suggested they sit off to one side and rest amongst the trees. He took his pack off and brought out two delicate acrylic wine flutes along with a bottle of Pinot Grigio in a thermal pack.

“Wine?” asked Molly, “We still have to get back down…”

“But this is a special occasion…” Peter said as he rummaged around again in his pack and brought out a black velvet     pouch. He withdrew a two carat solitaire. “Marry me Molly. Make me the happiest man in the world.”

Caught off guard, she wondered if this could be the real thing. Had she found true love? Looking into his aqua eyes, she said, “Yes Peter, of course I’ll marry you!”

Her bridegroom reached for her, and wrapped in his arms she didn’t see him activate the tiny microphone that had been sewn into the seam of his day pack. She talked on and on about the wedding she wanted, the honeymoon and of course, the ‘Happy Ever After.’ The wine seemed to be loosening her tongue more than she’d ever allowed. He kept pouring more…

“I’ve never been married Molly. You’ve been widowed twice; can you tell me about your husbands?” He wondered if he’d gone too far when he saw the dark look cross her features. Her mouth turned down and her eyes narrowed. “Have another glass Darling, this is a day to be festive.” She drank up…

“My first husband had a heart condition and the second was a drug addict.”

Peter’s eyes glistened. “Why did you marry them?” he asked her.

She needed to be careful; the wine threatened to spill years of pent-up secrets. But she wanted to keep his trust and so she began an edited version of her ‘tormented life.’ Husband Number One’s health deteriorated before her eyes; Number Two had deceived her from the get-go. She had never dreamed he would debase himself as he did.

‘Now we’re getting somewhere,’ thought Peter. He continued to discretely pry details from her, and she kept drinking wine. “How did you stand it my Angel; two terrible marriages. I hope there was some compensation…”

“I suffered greatly; I felt relief when they passed on – especially the second one. But at least I inherited from both, and I have my jewelry.”

Peter knew he’d almost collected enough information to convict her. “Come on Molly, we’ve got to get back.” He needed to carry her almost all the way, but while draped across his shoulder, her incoherent mind verbalized still more details of her life with Lalo.

“He forced me to get the drugs for him. He threatened to hurt me if I didn’t. One night, I accidently left his bottle of “OxyContin”  on the bedside table… she shrugged and rolled her eyes: “I guess he took too much.”

“Did you try to revive him?” Peter asked.

“No I could see he was a gonner.” She told her fiancé she’d actually seen Lalo take his last ragged breath. “It was for the best. I put the pills away, and straightened up. Then I called his brother.”

Bingo! Peter lifted Molly into the car, and drove her to his home. Once inside he pried the ring from her finger and got   her into the shower. When she’d sobered up, he played the tape of her drunken confession. “I work for Mauricio, and unless you give me everything you own, I’m giving him this tape. The police will lock you up and you’ll never get out.”

Molly recognized the steel in his eyes; she saw the same thing in the mirror each and every morning. She had to think fast. “We’ll go to the bank in the morning.”

“No, no, no… a girl like you has a safe; take me to see it.” Peter whistled when she brought out the large attaché case filled with cash and jewels. There had to be $5,000,000 in there. Much more than he figured on… why get greedy? “I’m going to drive you home, but don’t you ever forget about the tape.

“Thank God,” thought Molly; she was down but not broke. There was still the bank safety deposit box.

She practically jumped from the car… “Never again!” she told him, “Never again will I let this happen!”

Ever cynical, Peter blew her a kiss: “Win some, lose some Sugar.” His Porsche tires spun on the gravel as he raced off. Once home again, he poured a large glass of single malt. He dialed Mauricio’s number. “I´m sorry,” Mr. Panadini… the resemblance was uncanny but the girl is not Monica.

“What about the drug she put in your drink?”

“It didn’t really happen like that; I have to confess I simply drank too much and my imagination got the better of me.” He spent a whole hour convincing the disappointed man that there would be no point in keeping up the chase. He hung up, poured another Scotch, walked to his computer and went on line… ‘Let’s see what we come across this evening?’

Six miles away, Monica-Molly settled into her bed with her HP on her lap. She booted up and typed: ‘Marry-Me-Dot-Com

Visuals: from Google Images

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DOT . COM (III)

“Are you absolutely sure?” asked the voice on the phone. “How long have you been searching the on-line dating sites in hopes of finding her?”

“It’s been over a year now Mauricio. I knew she’d look for a new way to meet her next victim, and an internet hook-up would provide the anonymous identity she requires. Remember that the detective from Cleveland is also anxious to question her about the suspicious death of one of his city’s wealthy older men.”

Peter continued, “Even though she’s slimmer and wears a different hairstyle, when I saw her picture, I recognized Monica from the videos and photographs you gave me. She calls herself Molly now.”

“Well I’d call her by an altogether different name! Stay on track Peter. I want my brother Lalo’s death to be avenged. I want her behind bars.

The Panadini brothers had always been close. Growing up poor, they’d had to hustle since boyhood and their determination to see the family safe from poverty had been all-consuming. Neither of them had married but the two men felt content knowing that they’d made a rousing success of their restaurant chain. Their twelve large bistros had a steady local clientele and tourists also flocked to the “Bella Vita” locations close to the ski hills.

The opening of a high-end tavern had been the beginning of the end. Lalo had told Mauricio, “We need a classy gal to manage the new place… someone who can handle the snooty tourists from upstate.” Both brothers looked ecstatic when Monica sashayed into their office and applied for the position.

Every day Mauricio asked himself how he had failed to see that his brother had fallen like a stone for the long-legged opportunist. Lalo married Monica and almost immediately, his health began to decline. She put who knows what kind of drugs into his food and drink until poor the besotted fool was a hopeless addict. He died of an overdose and of course, his wife inherited half of the family holdings. Mauricio gave Monica a lump settlement and “the grieving widow” quickly disappeared.

Two months after she had been long-gone, Mauricio put two and two together. He hired Peter, who tracked down Monica’s dealer and collected other incriminating evidence. They had a case now, but no perpetrator! The search began… “Don’t let her slip away,” the distraught man begged. “I dare not,” the private investigator told him, “I didn’t want to tell you but she shook something into my wine last night, if I don’t stay on my toes, I’ll also be lying six feet under.”

The next morning, as Molly stretched and twisted herself into a Yoga pretzel, the phone    rang. She jumped up to answer… she knew it would be last night’s sexy suitor. Peter Brown was a handsome man… maybe she’d hang onto him a little longer than the other two?

“Molly, I feel so stupid for falling asleep in my cups last night; how can I make it up to you?”

“No need to feel bad; it happens. But here’s an idea… why don’t I meet you for lunch and maybe a drive afterwards? “Las Mañanitas” is a favorite of mine.” She knew just where she’d take him afterwards… to the mountains. he’d be excited… and she’d let one thing need to the next.

“Where do you live Molly, I’ll pick you up.”

“Not necessary Peter, I have some errands in town. I’ll meet you at “Las Mañanitas” at 1:00 pm.

They both rang off, and Molly smiled in anticipation of the game about to unfold…  But Peter held the trump…she had no idea that he was a player too.

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DOT . COM (II)

He would be the third… “Third time’s a charm,” isn’t that what they say?

Molly sipped on a glass of water . In a few months time, the guy might not agree with that popular saying, but right now he sounded as excited as a boy with a new toy. “I really want to meet you,” he’d said. ‘Men are so predictable,’ she thought.

“I want to meet you too, but this is my first experience with on-line dating and I would feel more comfortable if we meet somewhere public,” she told her anxious admirer.

They arranged to meet the very next day at a well known restaurant by the harbor.          Immediately sparks flew from his blue eyes. Molly had never been at this restaurant before, but her date, Peter, seemed to be a regular patron.  This would be a mistake; she needed to isolate him from his world in order to bring him fully into hers. “It’s lovely here but so crowded. Why don’t we walk down the beach? I know a quiet oyster bar that I think you’d like.”

When their feet hit the sand, Molly bent over to remove her strappy sandals, and in the process gave Peter a fleeting glimpse of her well-shaped thighs. She suspected that from now on, her every wish would be his command.

Searching for something to say, Peter looked into Molly’s eyes… “The sunset will be gorgeous this evening.” She smiled and began walking.

Molly steered the conversation and soon had Peter talking on and on about his life as an airline executive. He’d traveled a lot and had become accustomed to an enviable life style. There was no ex-wife in the picture, and no kids. When he asked about her, she coyly told him that her life had been dull compared with his, but she so hoped this would soon change. He grinned and brushed his hand against hers.

‘Too soon for that,’ she knew and moved slightly away. He had to feel the thrill of the chase… “Look there’s the place I told you about; ´want to go inside?”

A twenty-something waiter led Molly and Peter to a window table with a panoramic view of the sea. The breeze blew seductively and the candlelight flattered them both. Slow Bossa Nova serenaded from recessed speakers, adding an exotic allure.  Peter launched into a long anecdote about his travels through Brazil…

Molly gazed at him with eyes that said: I’m – fascinated – with – you.“Now, what shall we order?” she asked.

“Oysters of course,” said he. She waited for a few breaths… she suspected he’d add a come-on, and he did. “You know what they say about oysters?” he asked her.

Molly was ready. “Indeed I do,” she purred, “Soon we’ll see if it’s all true.” Peter grinned when she ordered half a dozen on the half shell.

He got up eventually to visit the rest room, and Molly slipped a little Percodan into his chilled Chablis. As she’d planned, after the walk back to the parking lot, Peter seemed more pooped than primed.

“I think maybe you overdid the wine,” said Molly. “Would you like me to drive you home? You can pick up your own car tomorrow.”

“You are as responsible as you are ravishing,” he slurred, “I feel so sleepy.” Molly got in behind the wheel and asked him where he lived. He gave her his address and directed her towards a luxurious looking villa up in the hills above the bay.

Delivering her date to his door, she saw that he got safely inside before she drove back down the winding roadway. ‘This is getting better and better…’ she thought.

Peter watched her ease away. His head pounded as he picked up the phone. “She’s definitely the one,” he said. “But the little temptress is in for a surprise… not all men are as predictable as she assumes.”

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DOT . COM

Often my pieces of short fiction surprise me… I have no idea where the ideas come from. Over the next few days, I am going to post installments of a story that I recently wrote.

DOT . COM

Before her debut in this new city, Molly had sweated as hard as a runner preparing for a marathon. She dieted and abstained from salt so that her belly felt tight, and her butt tucked. Her hair had been colored and cut at a top salon. She bought new clothes – not too racy but certainly not prim. Her manicured fingernails sported scarlet polish, and after the pedicure she asked for the same shade on her toenails.

It had been worth the expense and every effort endured. She faced the full length mirror and turned around so she could see herself from various angles. Molly knew she was hot.

As a final measure, she opted to have a studio portrait taken. When she told the photographer why she needed the picture, he suggested that she undo the two top buttons of her loosely woven dark sweater. She complied … after all he was a professional and knew about such things.

She felt ready. She provided all the information that the online profile sheet requested. She uploaded her photograph, paid the fee with her Mastercard… and pressed SUBMIT.

Two days later, she felt a rush when she saw her image and info prominently displayed on the site. Twenty minutes after that, the emails began arriving.

She pored over each one, studied the profiles and tried to glean a sense of the personality type. She decided that Letter Number 4’s sender was likely the type of man she was hunting for. Should she respond? Or should she see who else might write to her over the next few days. She didn’t want to waste time pursuing false leads.

The eleventh reply made her heart race… She stretched out on the chaise lounge so the sun could warm her whole body. Yes she’d definitely contact this one.

“The Internet is a marvelous tool,” Molly mused. “Imagine… ‘Marry-Me-Dot-Com’ has not only facilitated my next marriage, but also my next murder.”

To be continued…

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Boot Camp to Better Health

Some of you may remember that at about this time last year, I did a cleanse. For two weeks I ate only mega-healthy food. Well since then, my salt-loving, sweet-tooth, wine appreciating, carb-craving body has reverted back to all its bad habits.

The Cleanse was not easy, but the two weeks were very beneficial, and I know I should do it again. However, the mere thought of going through it alone is more than I can abide.

When my friend Valerie Pickles who owns “The Pickled Onion Restaurant” came to visit yesterday, we hit on a great idea. To make a long story short, Valerie and I want to put on a two week “retreat” at her place in Santa Elena. (Sorry fellas but because of space restrictions, this will be a “Ladies Only” event – if it goes well, maybe we’ll do one for guys in the future…)

We’ll start each morning with meditation and during the days we’ll fill our minds and exercise our bodies with all sorts of interesting and stimulating activities. Walking, yoga, water aerobics, painting, drawing, photography, and writing are a few of the ideas we’ve had… nothing is cast in stone just yet, and we would certainly like to hear from potential participants about what they’d like to do during our two week “boot camp to better health.”

We hope to have a group of 10. We’ll stay in Valerie’s guest rooms and will be “fed and watered” by her excellent staff. The dates we have in mind are Monday June 4th – Sunday June 17th

If you like the idea of joining us… let me know by leaving a comment. I will then e-mail you back with more info.

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