Preface/Postscript to Love & Other Madness


You may have noticed that I no longer use this blog as my sounding board. 

It began as a place for me to sound off about the weirdness in my life.

My marriage  was failing, and my step-daughter Maya  had just undergone treatment for a brain tumor. I felt that I still loved my wife Linda, but she had become almost impossible to live with since her daughter had been diagnosed with the tumor. I say this now, but at the time, I simply couldn’t understand her coldness to me. She was depressed, of course, about Maya’s illness, and feared she was going to die. Even after Maya was operated on, experienced the hell of chemotherapy, and then had been through radiation treatments, Linda continued to be depressed and refused counseling. She believed that Maya would die. She drove me and Maya crazy with her obsession with that, despite the fact that Maya had survived and was found to be free of cancer. Her cancer had been an extremely rare brain tumor, one that had not spread to other parts of her body, and Maya’s blood and spinal fluid were free of any cancer cells. In short, there was every reason for optimism, but Linda would not let her fear go.

I learned, through the experience, that I loved Maya fiercely. I had lived with her about 13 years as she grew from girl  to woman,  and I had been shocked and scared as well that we would lose her. It was this possibility that Maya would die that hit me over the head with the fact that I loved her dearly. I hadn’t thought about it before. It was new to me that, (1.) I loved someone else besides my wife, and (2.) it was an unconditional love for another human being, and (3. ) she might die, and (4.) I didn’t want her to die. After she began treatment, I relaxed.  It looked as though she would survive. I felt something new: joy, joy that she would survive. I had been so depressed at the prospect that Maya could die, that the idea that she would not die came as the purest feeling of happiness I’d ever experienced. Up until that epiphany, I had never known such a feeling existed in reality.

In fact, I had been unhappy. Life with Linda had become difficult. Her negativity, her constant put downs, and her coldness were not new. She had been that way all along, and I simply didn’t care. I loved her, so I made excuses for her abusive behavior and her lack of human warmth and kindness to me. I was making do. During sex with her I felt closest to her, but sex was not something she cared much for. It was as though she allowed me to have sex as her duty as a wife. It was not something important to her. I had known passion with other women in the past. I loved Linda passionately, I felt, but she did not, could not, respond in kind. Such is life. I became accustomed to that, but I felt trapped. I wanted more from life. I was willing to accept that Linda gave me all she could, and my love for her was enough. Sometimes I felt that I deserved no better than that.

However, one day, when Linda roughly pushed me away when I touched her, I made a decision, a decision based on years of being pushed away, without explanation or gentleness: I was no longer going to stay committed to monogamy. This was the one relationship I’d had where I had actually felt monogamous. I hadn’t wanted other women. Other women were pretty, but not sexually attractive to me. My life before this marriage had been one in which I was always seeing or meeting women I felt physically attracted to. Being in love with Linda, I found her to be the only woman I wanted to be with. Now, I was tired of longing for her and being rejected over and over. I could have tolerated little or no sex if she had been respectful of me, of my opinions, my feelings, my hobbies. She was not. If she had given me any comfort at all during Maya’s illness, I’d have been happy. If she would have touched me sometimes, with a caress, or hug, or a warm kiss, I’d have stayed happy. But, there was none of that. I’d begun to feel as though I existed in her life only to provide entertainment, and pay the bills.

Having made this decision that I was open to other women, I began to notice the women at work, and notice that I could be attracted to other women than Linda. I spoke with a woman who worked in the department office, and found her appealing. Her accent and manner reminded me a bit of my brother Pat’s Texas wife, who he is now divorced from. She was very pretty. I lightly flirted with her, but she didn’t appear to be interested, although she was single and quite friendly. One day, at an office Xmas party, I was introduced to a young woman who worked part-time in the department: Karen.

Karen and I hit it off right away, discovering that we had an unusual but strong affection for a science fiction TV show,  Babylon 5. Trekkies didn’t seem to like it much, and although we had both been interested in Star Trek at one time, we had both been much more fascinated with the Babylon 5 universe created by J. Michael Straczynski. Karen pointed out articles and blogs by Straczynski, which showed that his politics and beliefs heavily influenced the show, and that those politics and beliefs were the same ones held by Karen and myself. This was beyond belief to me at first. I’d had never met anyone like her.

Over time we discovered a mutual admiration for certain science fiction authors, of the characterization in Marvel Comics, of Japanese Anime, and a love of peace, and justice. I came to believe Karen was like a soul mate to me, trite as that phrase is now. I fell in love with her. I desired her intensely. I lusted for her. She is quite sexy. Two major problems: (1.) I was married, and (2.) I was much older than her. At first, I was not that interested in Karen except as a friend; she was just too young. Over time, I decided, self indulgently, that I didn’t care about her age. She was in her middle 20’s and quite old enough for me after all. I found that, although I felt I still loved my wife, I wanted Karen. I loved her too. Initially I wanted both women; something very selfish, and very impossible. Karen made it clear she wasn’t like that. She would never be a married man’s lover. (In theory, since we rarely talked about anything personal). In fact she did not want to know anything about my wife, or hear me speak of her at all. I wondered about that; in my delirium, I thought it meant she was jealous of my married life, perhaps of my wife. I hoped it meant she cared for me. However, she never wanted to meet except  for lunch. Lunches with Karen became very exciting for me.

If you’ve read the entries in this blog, you know that things got worse and worse for me. Linda and I divorced. I briefly hoped that an obstacle to at least dating Karen was gone, but no, Karen told me that even going to a movie together (Silver Surfer) that we had both planned to see was like a date, and a date was inappropriate. After that, our relationship (we had been eating lunch together every Friday for about four years) deteriorated. She was more and more often busy, and just didn’t have time for me as often anymore. Our lunches became rare and awkward, and pretty much stopped. Between Karen and my divorce from Linda, I was often sad, and becoming more depressed by the day. My job no longer gave me any satisfaction, and I wanted out. The divorce had resulted in my loss of the house I had jointly owned, and all the money and time I had put into it. I had previously sold my own house, paying off debts Linda and I had accumulated, so I didn’t think I could retire, as I had no money left to buy another house of my own. I had been close to paying off the house Linda and I owned, but she got the house and I got to keep my pension. After two years, and giving it a lot of  thought, I said: “Fuck it,” and I retired anyway.

I didn’t see my ex-wife again for four years, and I never saw Karen again. I came to understand that Karen may well have been a substitute Linda, for one thing, in that I hoped to have my feelings for Linda reciprocated from Karen. I may have simply transferred my feelings for Linda over to Karen. But, there is an odder possibility that I spent much thought upon. Since Karen was just slightly older than my step-daughter Maya, and initially there was the possibility that Maya could die, perhaps I unconsciously began to substitute Karen for Maya? What that said about my feelings for Maya troubled me, but I came to believe that I wanted Karen more than anyone in the world, that I would die for her, that I would do anything for her, and she was all I ever wanted in the world anymore. It was, I believe, a psychological illness. I was loony tunes, out of my head (well, trapped in my head to be accurate). I no longer had any anchor to reality. Impossible things seemed possible, and the possible seemed false and unreal. I spiraled into a deep depression, and I really did want to die. There just didn’t seem to be any reason to live any more.

It took some time, some brief counseling, and a bit of antidepressant, but I lost all interest in Karen; I can no longer believe I was ever interested in her. It shocks me to think I thought I loved her. I loved my ex-wife Linda, and still do. I love my step-daughter Maya. Nothing else ever mattered; nothing else matters now. I have tried dating, but without success. A woman I used to hike with was very nice to me, but the relationship never went anywhere, and appears to have died out. I was initially extremely lonely and often horny, but all that seems to have faded away now.  I do not find most women attractive. Recently I found myself interested in another young woman, a model I took photographs of,  but that was brief, stupid and doomed to failure, for the same reasons my relationship with Karen was never going to go anywhere.

I once wrote, in the short story, The Boy Who Rode His Bicycle Into Manhood, that I spent the rest of my life simply walking the ditches around my neighborhood, reflecting on my life, and never interacting in any meaningful way with another human being ever again. It seems that pessimistic and depressing ending of my story is actually coming true! That is my life now, although it is not as depressing as I thought then. It just is.

What prompted this sudden return to this blog? I went to a salsa concert the other night. I was enjoying the music, and watching the dancers, and then Linda walked in. A friend of hers recently moved here and they share our old house, so they came together. I think they both saw me, but neither acknowledged it. They looked in my direction when I was the only one in that direction (up on the balcony above their heads).  I was shocked to see Linda, and that she looked really good to me. I considered going over to where the two sat down, and asking Linda, or her friend, who I had been friendly with, to dance. But then I saw Linda dancing with someone, and having a great time. It reminded me of how much we loved salsa dancing and how often we went: usually once a week, but sometimes twice a week, and for most of the 14 years that we had been together. It wasn’t unusual for Linda to dance with other men at the club we went to. Most were friends she had danced with before meeting me, and other times she just liked to dance with the experts. That’s the way things are in these salsa clubs and dances. Even if people come with a date, everyone dances with everyone else. A man usually asks a woman’s date or husband for permission first, and after a few times it is understood without asking.

So, I was not jealous seeing Linda dance with another man the other night. It was a feeling of sadness, terrible sadness, that I was no longer part of her life, that I could never dance with her again. My feelings so overwhelmed me that I stayed rooted to one spot for an hour. Then, I considered jumping off the balcony. Obviously I didn’t. I never asked anyone to dance, never went over to Linda and her friend to say hello. I just listened to the music, watched the other dancers, and drank three beers. I am not part of Linda’s life and can never be again. We could not live together anymore anyway, but my desire for her is no less, after four long years of sobriety, soliloquy, and solitariness. Oh, well. That is most certainly the way life can turn out. I had a good run. I stay busy these days, hiking in the mountains, reading, watching old movies, and helping make wine at a local winery. All of it distracts me from my sadness for brief amounts of time, so I’m optimistic that I will actually find happiness in just living again. I used to want passion in my life; now, I would just like a reason to live. Love & Other Madness was a small slice of my life, a time when I slipped the bounds of reality and dared to dream of greater happiness and passion. In so doing, I lost everything I cared about. I make the motions now, do things, talk with people, get some exercise. It’s real.

Thujone Dream


Dreamt this morning that I was in a room with two women.  We were all sitting on hard-backed chairs.  We were waiting for something. We also had to sleep. One woman nodded off, while I was talking to the other.  The two of us were flirting.  All three of us were sitting very close, so I grabbed the sleeping woman to keep her from slumping off the chair, while I continued my conversation with the other woman.  We couldn’t leave our chairs.  I got sleepy myself.  My arms were around the sleeping woman anyway, so I leaned my head on her shoulder, and dozed off.  Oddly, I had a similar dream several nights ago, in which I was in a crowded movie theater, sitting next to two women. In that case, I couldn’t see all of the movie screen, so I was leaning over close to one of the women in order to see more of the screen.  It was uncomfortable, so I rested my head on her shoulder; she didn’t mind.

In this morning’s dream, however, I didn’t just doze off.  I woke up to find the woman I’d been flirting with naked, on her hands and knees next to me in bed.  I felt the smooth contours of her body and was aroused.  (As if the sight of her naked wouldn’t have been enough!)  I clasped my entire hand over her vulva, slipping  a finger, then two, into her.  She opened like a flower and I suddenly realized that I had my clothes on: heavy jeans and a t-shirt.  I had to get those jeans off.  They were tight, and I had to really work to get them off.  Fortunately, my erection hung in there.  I mounted the woman then, not bothering with foreplay.  I left my shirt on.  My underwear hung off one leg.  I plunged deeply into her, as her vagina was now very wet.  It felt wonderful, better than the fabled bliss of nirvana.  I moved slowly, enjoying the sensation, reveling gloriously.  Of course, then I woke up, no surprise, with an erection.

Maybe I should have a shot of absinthe before bed every night.

NO MORE ILLUSIONS PLEASE


Love is many things
or nothing

Love stinks
Love sucks
Unrequited love
is worst of all

I get confused

If I’m sexually attracted
I fall in love
greedily, needily
If I like someone
I love the company
If I am lonely
I love desperately

There are so many ways
to love
so many ways for love
to end

Which is real
which illusion?
Is love real
or just a myth?

We pretend we know
it feels like it’s so
How can it be real
if it ends?

If it ends
Did it
ever
really exist?

Perhaps
perhaps all I
really want
is
a lover sometimes
a friend sometimes
a companion
sometimes

and that’s all?

Perhaps
perhaps
perhaps

Perhaps I
don’t need
love
at all.

Sex, guns and Peru, Part 3


I had not heard of Machu Picchu before coming to Peru.  MacLaine If I had read Shirley MacLaine’s 1983 book, Out On a Limb, popular at the time, I would have known that she was among many others who traveled to Peru hoping for a spiritual experience in Maccu Picchu.  She even claimed to have encountered an alien presence there that was trying to persuade Earthlings of the need for spirituality.  Very popular place.  I wasn’t aware of any of that at the time, but Elsie’s sister asked me why I wasn’t going to Maccu Picchu.  Well, to begin with, even after I found out about it, I didn’t have enough money.  It turned out that train travel was severely restricted because of the fighting in Peru, and I wouldn’t be able to take the train, which I could have afforded.  So, I called my companion from the flight down there.  I told him I was ready to sell the gun.  0.38 He showed up the same day and brought me a padlock. He said to put it on the gun to prevent it from being used.  He told me he had a friend in P.I.P., the Peruvian Intelligence Police, who might buy it.   A couple days later, he was back with $200.  I gave him the gun.  Somehow, I hadn’t imagined it ending up in the hands of some Peruvian-style FBI, but so it goes. I had just gotten double what I paid for the little RPG 0.38 from Florida.

Of course, to fly to, and feed and board two people at Machu Picchu, I needed more money than that.  I had received a credit card not long before I left, and had only used it as a second form of ID for checks in the US.  Driver’s licenses had been forged so much they were no longer enough of an ID at many places I tried to write checks.  That is beside the point of course.  Fact is, I had a credit card with enough of a line of credit to fly two people from Lima to Cuzco.  I decided I had to take Elsie with me, after how nicely I was being treated by her family.   My new plan was to take a bus to some towns near Cuzco while I was there.  Unfortunately, I found the bus terminal in Cuzco also closed by the military.  The town I most wanted to see, Paucartambo, with its exceptionally white houses and beautiful blue balconies, was too close to the fighting anyway.

First, however, Elsie and I needed a place to stay.  There were fancy, high-priced tourist hotels, but I’d been advised to look for a penseon,  a bed & breakfast in Peru.  We indeed got a room with a single bed, and breakfast in the morning so we could eat before exploring.  I did not have sex with Elsie. She wanted to know why.  I told her I didn’t want to risk getting her pregnant.  She said she would be willing to get a diaphragm, if I understood her correctly. diaphram Next morning, however, we boarded the train that would take us up the mountain to Machu Picchu.  It took half the day.  Elsie was very happy.  She chatted with the other tourists, who were mostly Peruvians and Germans, and a few Japanese.  We were served yerba mate, as a stimulant to brace us for the high altitude.  People often pass out up there.   There were many stops along the way, and, in fact, the train took a route created with many switchbacks, so it seemed we were forever just going back and forth.  Indian women would rush aboard at every short stop, selling trinkets and odd meatless tamales, and then hop off again.  An interesting character got on at one quick stop.  He was dressed in a very colorful poncho, with the odd-looking, to me, wool hat, with the tassel-like thing on top.  PeruIndian He stayed with us, and sang songs.  Most of the people in our car joined in.  I went along as much as I could fake it.  Later, as the singing died down, I asked Elsie what the songs were about.  She told me the the man was with the guerrillas, and the songs were about fighting and getting rid of the Peruvian government.  It was so odd.  The rich Peruvian tourists on board had been the most boisterous of anyone, and they had been smiling broadly while singing about revolution!  Yet, all I had heard since arriving was how terrible the guerrillas were.   A curious place, Peru.  Ha!  The President of the country was named Fernando Belaunde Terry.  Names are given differently in Peru, because Terry was the last name of his mother, an Englishwoman.  He was very pro-American, which was something the guerrillas hated.  They were, after all, Maoist inspired.  My name is Terry, so I often wondered about the looks I’d get from people whom Elsie introduced me to.  Did they think I was related?  Terry was otherwise not a common name in Peru, and since it was my middle name, I could see how people could suspect a connection.  cap Perhaps that was fortunate, since I wore a blue Mao cap, popular then in the US,  that I had oddly just bought and  brought with me, and wore all over Peru, no one ever questioned me, not even the ubiquitous soldiers with their machine guns, but it was always a possibility.  I’ve never been very bright.

Peru 007 Peru 008

Machu Picchu impressed the hell out of me.  I had never known anything about it, so the huge stone blocks used in walls and bridges, cut so perfectly and laid without any mortar, were eye popping.  I marveled at the shapes and “sacrificial altars” and the Solar Clock, and the Temple of the Three Windows, amid all the houses that still stood.  I had lain block myself for a couple years, so I knew about the foundation requirements under the block walls, and the need for reinforcing bars (rebar) and perfectly mixed mortar for the climate.  Yet, these people had built really impressive structures without any of that.

The views from the mountain top were breathtaking, really, notwithstanding the 8000 feet above sea level.  I’m not sure why people thought it so high as to cause respiratory and heart problems, since I lived a mile high myself, and ridden my bicycle to the local mountaintop at 10,679 feet.  But anyway, we had a great view of the river just below us. The train had stopped at the base of the peak, and we had then boarded vans that took us up the narrow path at frightening speed to the top. Peru 009 From there I could still see the pylons of the old Incan bridge that withstand the river’s current to this day, without anything holding the stones together.   I was high though, like being stoned or drunk.  I had heard of such wonders before, but not expected to see them.  I was damn happy to be visiting such a  place.  I ran through the ruins of the old Incan village. Peru 005 One small building had been restored with wooden cross beams and a thatch roof, and it looked readily inhabitable.  I wished I could have slept in it.  Elsie seemed to enjoy herself too.  Elsie001 That’s her among the ruins.  Sadly, I was not able to stay the night.  There is a hotel there, but reservations were made even then months in advance.  The train had to leave around dinnertime, because it had to go all the way back down to Cusco, that excruciating four-hour trip to cover five miles.  Well, traveling with Elsie made it all worthwhile; she was ever smiling and full of energy.  I depended on her a lot.  As we approached Cusco, the train slowed down to a crawl and I was able to look into all the shop windows of the big market along the tracks.  In one room, all by themselves, stacked high on a single table, were huge clear plastic bags of white powder.  I had heard that cocaine was a big money maker for the government there, but I never expected to see so much all at once, and so openly.  Of course, I could be mistaken.  It could have been some other sacks of white powder stacked on a table by themselves in a bare room, but who knows?

Elsie and I were tired by then and headed back to the penseon.  The owner found us something to eat leftover from breakfast, but only because we had left so early for the train that we had missed breakfast.  Those huge meatless corn tamales on the train were not very satisfying.

Next day, after a little touring around Cusco, Elsie and I went to  the local clinic.  She seemed enthusiastic about being able to have sex without getting pregnant, and I wasn’t going to insist we just use condoms, because that didn’t always work either, and like most men, I hated them.  Very selfish of me, and really inconsiderate to allow my host to do such a thing in order to have sex with me.  Really, I didn’t want to get too involved with her, so I had postponed the sex in this manner.  At the clinic Elsie explained what she wanted and went into a room adjoining the waiting room with the smiling doctor.  Later, he showed up at the door, and the first thing he did was stare at me.  The look showed surprise and, I felt, censure.  His smile was gone.  It occurred to me that he had found her hymen intact and may have wondered how we had sex if Elsie had mentioned that, or why I hadn’t broken the hymen myself.  I suddenly felt shamed.  Elsie was in some pain when she came out, so we just slept together again, cuddled in our small bed.  The next night however, was it.  Elsie was not going to postpone this sex anymore, and we finally had real sexual intercourse, the kind with the penetration and ejaculation and all that moaning and heavy breathing.  It was OK, but I didn’t want to do it again.  It just didn’t feel right.  Elsie was pretty upset when I didn’t want to do it again the next night, and that was understandable.

We continued our wanderings around Cusco.  I noticed a pile of adobe bricks drying in the hazy sunlight, and then saw them used in a  multi-story building, something rarely done in the Southwestern US  Peru 006 Peru 010 where I lived.

I found a colectivo to take us to Pisac, and the driver drove us up a long and winding road where we could look down on some Inca ruins there.  It was a long trip on a bumpy road, but I was glad to be able to see something else since we couldn’t travel in the region.  Soon enough, it was time to return to Lima.  I was out of money, and now in debt too.  I needed to get back to the US, back to Albuquerque.  Just before I had left for Peru, I’d met a really great woman, who I moved in with when I returned, and later married.  I called her from Cusco.  I told Elsie I needed to call home, but she listened in from what I thought was some distance away, and suspected it was a girlfriend.  I told her, yes, there was someone I was seeing there.  She wasn’t happy about that.   However, at that moment, I knew I wanted to get back.  I hadn’t known Irene very long, but I was anxious to see her again.  This, of course, had a lot to do with my lack of interest in Elsie as more than a friend.  The trip home was quiet.  I wondered what she was going to tell her parents.  I found out that, not only is Machu Picchu a popular tourist destination, but, in Peru, it’s a honeymoon spot, much like Niagara Falls is in the US.

Sex, guns and Peru, Part 2


Once I got settled in my room, I called my pen pal Elsie.  I was anxious to meet her.  We’d talked about a lot of things, over the space of about two years.  We’d exchanged pictures.  I had no idea what to expect.  Traveling to another country to meet someone I only knew by mail was certainly a new experience for me.   I had called Elsie to tell her I was coming, and I recognized her voice when I called her house.  She wanted to come meet me, so I waited for her.  She was indeed pretty when she showed up, but taller and, well, larger than the pictures had led me to believe.  I’m 5′ 8″ myself, and even my younger brothers are taller than me, but my sisters, and most women I’d gone to school with were a little shorter.  Elsie was certainly happy to see me.  We talked awhile and walked around Lima.  I bought my first churro there, those long doughy pastries extruded through a star-shaped opening, and deep fried, then rolled in sugar and cinnamon.  Really tasty.  When we got back to my room,  Elsie told me I should come stay at her parent’s house.  I was surprised at that.  I had really expected to visit her while I was in Peru, but not live together.  Elsie said her parents had suggested it.   I stayed the night where I was, and found her house in the morning.  It is a  three-story place in a suburb of Lima. lima_suburbs There is grass on many lawns, but some have a car parked on concrete behind locked gates.  Her house reminded me of the last place my parents had moved to, the place I’d left when I was 18.  This one, however, has hardwood floors throughout, a beautiful dining-room table and chairs, fully modern kitchen, and many rooms throughout.  There is even a small room on the first floor that had been turned into a bedroom for me.  The family consisted of Elsie, her parents, her brother, who was actually a step-brother, and a sister and brother-in-law.   They had two Indio servants who lived on the third floor; they washed laundry in deep sinks on the roof, and hung it to dry there too.

Everyone was very friendly and welcomed me into their home.  I had taken a “conversational Spanish” course, and did my best to communicate with everyone in Spanish.  Elsie knew some English, so she helped me out when I couldn’t find the right words.  I didn’t talk much, because I knew very, very little Spanish.

My first hint that I was in a different country was when we all had coffee in the morning.  There was a pot of coffee in the refrigerator.  Small amounts were poured into a cup, and the cup was filled with hot water. I have since learned that such a drink is often called an Americano, but I never heard the term in Peru.  Coffee there was brewed very strong in anticipation of being diluted in this manner.  It was somehow much less bitter.

Peru 001 Lima is a grey city.  A type of fish there gives off an oil that gets picked up with moisture from the ocean and often blankets the city, which seemed to always have a permanent cloud cover.  Many of the old buildings appeared as gray as downtown East Coast city buildings in the US.   Perhaps that is why so many arts and crafts in Lima are so brightly colorful.  Elsie was free to spend time showing me around Lima, so we went out every day sightseeing, at markets, and plazas, and eating ceviche (pronounced “say-vee-chay”), a seafood cocktail.  This differs somewhat from the Mexican version most people in the US are familiar with. cevichePeruano I think they use that oily fish in it. That was an interesting experience.  Soon after eating some I became sick with flu-like symptoms, and everyone understood – I was then cautioned not to eat the ceviche there.  Too late.  I felt as sick as a  jungle dog, but I recovered very quickly.

I learned to convert my dollars into sols, and there were vendors everywhere selling lottery tickets and changing money.  Turns out Elsie’s father worked for a bank, and recommended I only use banks, but sometimes the exchange rate was better on the street. Meanwhile, Elsie and I were spending every day, and into evening, with each other.  We watched the movie Police Academy. It was subtitled in Spanish with the English soundtrack volume turned down, but loud enough I could make out most of it.  We saw a new play, a funny and very popular musical comedy one evening.  Elsie translated enough of it so I could understand it.  It was about relationships, and very sexy, with some nudity. The music was great, and I was able to buy a 45 recording to take home with me.  Elsie and I got around the city really well, day and night,  in buses or colectivos, those ubiquitous taxi-cab like cars of all shapes and sizes.   One day I bought a warm Coke in a small sidewalk store, but there was no ice to be had.  No one kept sodas refrigerated either.  Warm coke is OK, but odd.  I learned to drink Inca Kola instead, a bright yellow carbonated Peruvian drink, made with Hierba Luisa, or Lemon Verbana. Inca_Kola It reminded me of Juicyfruit gum.  We went to a downtown nightclub and danced to US-style rock ‘n’ roll and pop tunes, sung in Spanish, although Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 was broadcast over every radio  I heard on every city bus and colectivo I took while I was there.  I had worn a jacket to the nightclub, and made the mistake of putting my passport in it and leaving it on my chair as we danced.  I had to carry the passport with me, because the military was in control of  the city, and could stop people anytime to see their ID.  Without it, I could have been arrested.  There were automatic-weapon-armed soldiers near every bank and major business. The Shining Path guerrillas often attacked banks in Lima.  While I was there they knocked out power to the city one day.  As it was, someone lifted my passport while Elsie and I danced one long set.  I told the club manager, and we searched the area, and even the bathroom, just in case it had been dropped.  No chance.  That screwed up my plans to travel around Peru by train.  I needed that passport, or I couldn’t leave the city.  I applied at the embassy. I was allowed to bypass the long line that snaked around the entire block because I was a US citizen, but it was still going to take 4 or 5 days.  Elsie and I found things to do.  She took me to the central plaza in Lima, to the old cathedral there. Peru 002 All of the old clergy there had been buried in the catacombs below the main floor.  There are rooms full of skulls and bones laid out in circles.  Room after room was full of bones, some as full skeletons, but usually piles and piles of bones, some arraigned, some just piled up, from centuries of following this practice, from over 50,000 people.  Of course, many of the wealthy also paid to be buried in the church.  Elsie freaked the hell of of me when we left.  As we were going home in a colectivo, she pulled out part of a rib bone!  She had snatched it as a present for me, a souvenir to take home.  I thanked her, but I really didn’t know what to do with it.  Since we went right back to her house, and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, I kept it.  It worried me what might happen back in the US when Customs came across that!  Peru 003

Said good night to Elsie one late night when we got back.  We weren’t doing anything on all these day trips, no romance, no kissing, holding hands or anything.  I was just enjoying having her show me around.  We were having a good time.  Just as I was about to drop off to sleep I heard light footsteps on the spiral staircase outside my door.  Elsie came in and got right into bed with me!  I was a little freaked out, what with her parents and siblings right upstairs.  She was kissing me, and we were naked really quick and one thing led to another and I was suddenly sticking my penis into her.  However, it was unlike any sexual encounter I’d ever had.  Elsie, apparently, was a virgin.  She had one hell of a solid hymen.  I pushed, but I couldn’t get in, especially as quiet as we were trying to be, and I had never encountered a hymen before.   I thought I was doing something wrong; and I sure as  hell didn’t want to hurt her.  I oddly thought maybe some women’s vaginae must be arraigned differently, because I just couldn’t slip into her.  As gently as I could, I sort of pushed alongside it and ejaculated without ever really being deep into her vagina at all.  Had to be the weirdest sexual experience I ever had.

It wasn’t the last time we had sex.  We were headed to Machu Picchu on our own.

Sex dream. Smuggling in Peru, Part 1


Weird dream about sex again.  I was visiting a woman in another country and was staying with her family (which I once did in Peru).  In this dream, it wasn’t that same woman, but she was young.  In Peru, the woman I visited turned out to be a virgin, but that’s another story.  In my dream, I was really interested romantically in this woman.  We had not had sex, or made out, but now was the time.  We ended up on a couch or bed and were wrapped around each other kissing.  Her blouse came open and I put my hands on her boobs, which were round and smooth. Her nipples were erect.  I was turned on, on, on!  I opened her shorts and put my hand on her mound, and as I did so, she said: “I like to touch myself there.”  I began fingering her.  Her cunt got juicy.  Talk about being turned on!  My penis was trying to break out of my pants, so I set it free,  I was working on getting her pants off when her two sisters came into the room.  They noticed us, but seemed uninterested in what we were doing, and went about whatever it was they were doing, chatting with each other.  I was suddenly watching myself!  I saw myself stand up, with a rock-hard erection, and people were walking around the room while I stood there.  I looked at myself and noticed the penis was very pale, and pointy, not like my own.  Weirder and weirder.  Then, her father came into the room!   He was also not shocked, but did speak to me.  He was speaking a language I didn’t understand, but smiling and gesturing to the young woman and me.  He stopped, pointed once more at the young woman, and said, in English, “Do you want to marry me?”  From this I understood he wanted to know if I wanted to marry his daughter, so I said yes. “Then ask her,” he said, pointing again at her.  I opened my mouth to ask, but starting remembering who I was and how I had been ready to do anything, go anywhere at one point recently, and then remembered that I have not felt any emotions lately, no passion for life or people.  I thought about how I probably shouldn’t get married, given my state of mind, and then there was a distraction, which I commented on, and we all seemed to be talking about something else.  I was still pondering the marriage question when I woke up.

peru.lima.jauja In my real life, in 1984, I had traveled to Peru to visit a pen-pal.  We had been writing for some time; she invited me to visit.  I had just lost my job.  It seemed the perfect time to travel, except I had no money.  The bank I used was the same one used by my employer, a printed circuit board manufacturer, and I had free checking there through some reciprocal agreement between my employers and the bank.  The company did a lot of work for airlines, NASA, and US weapons programs.   I told the loan officer I wanted money to travel to Peru.  He asked me how much I needed.  I asked for $800, since I knew the airfare was about $700.   I really didn’t want to get too much in debt.  I had a little money left in my checking account, so as I was at the airport waiting to board the plane, I called the bank and asked if I could get some more money.  The limit on money machine withdrawals was $100/day.  They asked me for my account number, which I somehow managed to remember, and they OK’d the increased amount.   I grabbed the extra money from the machine and boarded the plane for LA International Airport.  I had packed my 0.38 special.  The Sendero Luminoso, or “Shining Path” Maoist rebels were fighting a guerrilla war all over Peru, so I wanted the comfort a gun could give me.  shiningpath Then again, I was supportive of rebellions and guerrilla warfare at the time, so I thought I could even offer my gun to them if I ran into them on the long train ride I’d planned.   I had noticed a sign at check-in that said all firearms must be declared, so I did.  The counter person seemed shocked, but explained the procedure:  I had to put it in my checked luggage, of course, and put the gun in one bag, and the bullets in another.  Then they attached a special warning ticket to my bag and sent it on down the conveyor belt to be loaded onto the plane.  I didn’t give it much thought until later.   In LA, there was a problem with my ticket. The flight was announced, but the man at the check-in counter wouldn’t give me my boarding pass.  I waited and waited, until it was near the time for the plane to takeoff, when he suddenly called me over and gave me my pass.  I ran down the moving walkways and up the indoor ramp to the plane.  There were two men flanking the door.  They stopped me, and I nervously told them the plane was going to take off.  They said to relax, that it wasn’t going to take off yet.  Then they questioned me about how much money I was carrying.  I told them I had three hundred dollars.  They asked me why I was going to Peru, and I told them about Elsie, my friend I was going to visit.  They seemed satisfied with that, and handed my passport and wallet back and waved me on to the plane.   I was directed to the only empty seats, just behind a partition.  I had noticed that everyone else had plenty of leg room, but I wasn’t going to be able to stretch out.  It was going to be the longest flight I’d ever taken.  I heard someone say that I must have been the person they were waiting for.   Resignedly, I waited for the plane to move.  It was already past time for departure.  There was one empty seat next to me.  I was glad, because that meant I might stretch out that way.  Just then a man ran onto the plane and sat down next to me.  Shit.  Oh, well.

As we traveled, I enjoyed the flight.  The food was amazing on Varig Airlines, a Brazilian flight I’d found that was cheapest.   We had warm towels to wash our hands, and linen napkins and appetizers and drinks.  It was the best restaurant I had ever been to!  My fellow traveler was chatty, and ended up asking me a question that led me to volunteer that I was packing a gun.  He also seemed surprised, but I told him it was in my checked bag, and I explained why I’d brought it, and the procedure I’d had to follow to bring it.  He had told me he was not just a businessman, but also a smuggler.  He said he often smuggled electronics into Peru inside of washing machines that he imported, and that no one ever checked inside of those.  I was impressed.   Of course, much later on, I realized he had been leading me on, pumping me for details, and hoping to make me trust him.   I did trust him, but I had nothing else to tell him.  As we neared Peru, he told me that my bags would most likely be searched at customs, and that it was illegal to smuggle arms into Peru.  I was horrified.  I imagined they’d find the gun and arrest me.  I thought I’d end up in a Peruvian jail, with no way to ever get home.  I didn’t know what else to do, so I queued up with everyone else in line.  They weren’t doing very thorough examinations of each bag, so I began to relax, hopeful that they wouldn’t notice the gun or the bullets.  My seatmate from the plane was ahead of me, and they asked him what he had, and poked through his clothes.  It was my turn!

I pushed my bags toward the custom inspector, but he just patted them and waved me on.  I looked at him, but he gestured emphatically for me to move along.   Whew!  My new buddy was waiting for me, and offered to share a taxi.  I asked him where I could stay, and said he knew of an area frequented by American tourists.  He dropped me off there, but before leaving asked if I might sell the gun and gave me his number.  I thought it might be a good idea, because I was suddenly worried about getting back into the USA with it.  He said he had a friend who might be interested.  Later on, I found out that washing machines were a rarity in Peru, even in the suburbs of Lima, and there were no laundromats at all, but I didn’t know then just how odd my traveling companion’s story had been.

Into the Trees Across the River


It’s funny that no matter how hard I try, how sure I am that I am through with my limerence, my unrequited love of a woman 30 years younger, I seem to circle around it.  I happened to see Karen the other day, down the end of the hallway from me, as she walked along an intersecting hallway.  I’d have shouted a Hi Karen! if I’d been alone, but I was in a conversation with someone, and he was talking to me at that moment. So, I simply waved to Karen, a little bit enthusiastically.  Karen saw me and waved back.  For a few moments I stared at the spot where she had been.  I was practically mesmerized.  Since I was still being spoken to, and I hate to be rude, I jerked my attention back.  The guy speaking to me noticed, and a questioning look came over him briefly, but he never stopped talking.  Later, I remembered that it was Friday, the day that Karen and I always used to have lunch, the only day she would meet me.  We never said we would not meet anymore, but it is obvious enough we will not.  So it goes, as I’ve said before.  I have no idea if she read the email I sent her, or if it just disappeared into the void with other junk mail.  Well, that Karen sighting was no big deal, although I was surprised at my reaction to seeing her, after basically having said my good-bye four months before I leave, before the time comes when there will never be another chance encounter, when she will be lost to me forever. She was never within my reach anyway.

across the river So, this weekend I have been taking it easy. Last weekend’s mountain hike fucked my feet up.  I have a bruise in the center of each heel, probably from walking across so many rockfalls along the trails, and all the other sharp rocks I couldn’t avoid, in a sea of them.  My toes, squeezed too tightly in my simple boots, were sore and raw.  No hiking in the mountains for me this weekend.  Next weekend I will head to Horseshoe Lake

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Horseshoe Lake at elevation 11,750 ft.

in the Pecos wilderness area of New Mexico.  It is another 11-mile hike.  I took my other boots in and had them stretched in the toes, so they won’t pinch so badly as last weekend.  I also bought some heel cushions, just in case.   I have looked into buying a new pair of boots, but the 4E width I need was not in stock, and the salesman seemed to think I should get an H width anyway, but he would have to special order them.  I don’t know how they will fit the rest of my foot.  Well, good shoes are important, especially if  one walks a lot or hikes in the mountains at 10,000 feet.  These hikes just keep getting tougher, so I’d better get some tough shoes.

I’ve been reading Ernest Hemingway’s Across the River and Into the Trees.  It is a fascinating book, centering around an old (50 years old, to be exact) army colonel who fought in Italy during the Second World War.  It moves along slowly, telling a story of the Colonel’s return to Italy, just as Hemingway himself did. There is a duck hunt, and war reminisces, and the interplay between the Colonel and his young driver.  I didn’t know anything about the story.  I had read several other of Hemingway’s novels and short stories, and I liked him.  I saw the book in a box of books to be given away.  I took it home to read.  This weekend I found out that the story contains a major subplot, in which the Colonel has met a young woman 31 years younger, and she is madly in love with him, as he with her. Renata_Babak_Kozlovsky He, however, is dying, in an age before heart transplants.  They both know this, but the Colonel and the Italian Countess spend as much time together as possible.  There are obstacles, in that he is divorced, and the Countess should not marry such a man, but that is just a convenient excuse.  The difference in ages is discussed often.  No one begrudges them their affection for each other.  They spend a lot of time kissing, passionately, in gondolas, in the street, and everywhere they are.  Their love is wonderful, perhaps because time is short.  The Colonel takes his pills every day, but still has his “twinges” of pain in his heart.  Love and hearts, they go together.   It is so funny to think that, at least in another lifetime, in a world far away, two people of such different ages could actually love each other, if only for a short time.  To be in love so deeply before one dies – that is surely a good thing, although not for the one left behind.  But the young woman is well aware of that, and accepts it as much as she can.  The two of them pretend at times that they will have five children. Sometimes they pretend to take a train into Kansas City, sometimes they fly into Albuquerque.  It is fantasy and love and wistfulness, and romance.  It is everything I wished I could have had with Karen, who is almost the same distance apart from me as Colonel Cantwell and Countess Renata.

I always thought I must be totally insane to love a woman 30 years younger, to desire her, to pursue her, to fantasize about living together, marriage, children, and warm bodies together on the couch or in bed.  Even though we never kissed, or dated.  She only wanted a friend, especially a safe one.  She thought she was safe with me, the old man.  What she didn’t know was that men are the same always, no matter what age.  Sex is always on our minds, and women can inspire us to great heights of desire and longing.  She is a very beautiful woman, notwithstanding the bad acne that marks her face once a month when her hormones change.  She sometimes covers it with makeup, but I can see it, and I still think she is very beautiful.  In the parts of this blog that I have hidden now,  I have written of my desire to kiss her face all over, to reassure her that such things do not matter.  One time, when the coffee barista called her beautiful, as he does all the women, she reacted strangely, saying she never thought of herself that way.  But she is.  She has a body men would kill to get close to, to hold, to wrap their arms around, and fuck all night.  She doesn’t seem to believe this, although she is 28 years old, soon to be 29.  I think she has a better idea of her appeal now, because she trusts the coffee barista, and she has seen the effect she has on me.  She is a beauty, intelligent and lively, just as Renata is in Hemingway’s novel.

But, of course, any woman a man is in love with is beautiful beyond comparison to any other.  Such was my ex-wife, who I loved constantly, even as she aged and her body bulged and sagged.  Her body excited the hell out of me whenever I saw her nude or touched her.  One time, she accompanied me to Santa Fe, where I was attending some union training.  When the day was over, we sat in the hotel bar, drinking our wine.  I also had a shot of Jamison’s Irish Whiskey, since it seemed like a vacation, a party, a celebration.  She had a couple martinis.  We had not been too loving for some time, and this seemed different.  We were having a good time.  We went to our room and immediately got out of our clothes.  I got into bed and waited for her to join me.  I had forgotten about the effect altitude has on alcohol absorption.  Santa Fe, at 7000 feet above sea level, is 2000 feet higher than we were used to.  We both passed out.   I woke up five, ten, or who knows how much later to feel her naked body against mine.  I was instantly aroused, hard as a steel rod, but she was asleep, out cold.  I thought about waking her, but she had gotten very angry before when I did that.  She often slept late on the weekend, which was the only time we ever had sex anymore, but I usually woke up early and horny.  I often waited for her to wake up, although sometimes when she did she got out of bed to pee, and left me thinking she’d return.  So, sometimes I waited as long as I could, two or three hours after I’d waken up, and then tired to gently arouse her.  It pissed her off  if she wasn’t already awake, so as I lay there that night in Santa Fe, with an enduring rock-hard penis next to my naked wife, I tried to go to sleep, to relax that pulsing muscle and just enjoy the comfort of naked flesh. But I could not.  I held her body and felt her breasts in my hand and her back and her ass and her hands, but she was out cold.   I never got to sleep.  It was an agony of sweet aroused discomfort.  In the morning, when she finally awoke, I tried to interest her in sex, but she said we had sex the night before.  She believed that since we were nude, we must have had sex.  That said a lot.  It meant that, as I’d often suspected, she sometimes passed out after the sex that capped a night of drinking with whatever else we were doing on a weekend night, and she often did not even remember having sex.  Sometimes she said she only had orgasms in her sleep, but I had felt her have them when she was awake.  Of course, since she had often been drinking before that, it now meant that she probably never even remembered some nights we had sex, only the sex in the morning, which was often hurried.  She always had something to do, and liked to have sex over with as soon as possible. However, on this particular morning in Santa Fe, away from home, she had nowhere to be, so she reluctantly agreed to sex.  I was exhausted however, having been awake the entire night, aroused and frustrated.  Now, there was just no life left in me.  I tried, but such a night-long period of continuous tumescence mushroom tumescence had tired the poor muscle out.  Although we had sex later times, the divorce come not much later after that.  I often wonder if that is how she remembers me now.  It was the most aroused I had been with her in years and I lost my chance to truly satisfy myself and surprise her with the passion I had not felt in some time.  Perhaps it would have made a difference, perhaps not.  I know that I rarely drink anymore, and then only socially, and only a single glass.  I still wake up with those hard-ons, but now there is no one in bed next to me anyway.

In Hemingways’ novel, the Colonel dies of a heart attack, after having said goodbye to the Countess, shot some ducks, and is leaving Italy.  I often feel that my life is essentially over.  I did have some love and good times.  That last love though, that long, difficult and wondrous period of exciting unrequited love, that would have been the very best time in all my life, if only it could have been more than fantasy, even for a short magical time.