Video Stalking

– Karen at the Espresso Cafe –

Seems I’ve become a stalker.  Initially, it was Karen who established the unbroken routine of our lunches together.  Then, she changed her mind, although I probably had something to do with it.

It’s funny that I said this was over.  It’s over for her, of course, but she stays in my head, even though I’ll never see her again, except at a distance.

April10, 2009 12:27 pm:

Sounded like you would be busy today, but do let me know when you’re free for lunch. I always enjoy your company.

April 10, 2009 12:49 pm: I will probably be busy through may

April 10 2009 3:04 pm: I’m available other days, meals, times, and places. 🙂

—-(no reply)—————————.

June 19, 2009 8:14 am: Do you have time today for lunch with an old friend?

June 19, 2009  11:40 am: don’t know.  It all depends on when my boss gets out of her meeting.  We are short staffed this week.

June 19, 2009 11:48 am: OK. Let me know.  I’ll wait. 🙂

June 19, 2009 12:44 pm: Don’t wait.  I could be any time from now to 1:30.

June 19, 2009 12:49 pm: I don’t mind. I’m busy here. I’ll eat later if I don’t hear from you.

—-(no reply)—————————.

June 26, 2009 11:49 am: Got time today?

—-(no reply)—————————.

That’s it! Between the job stress and the union stress, coupled with no word from Karen, no replies to my email, I decide to retire early. Fuck it all.  I can’t take anymore.

July 3, 2009  8:39 am (sent to her non-work, Hotmail account, which she may not have opened or read at all):

Hi Karen.  I sure miss those Friday lunches, something I looked forward to every week.  I always enjoyed them.  I loved the way we liked so many of the same things. Sharing videos or books was really fun.  I’ve never actually known anyone quite like you, with your preoccupations and obsessions with Babylon 5, Straczynski, and all the anime and manga stories – things I’ve enjoyed for years by myself.  I loved hearing about your Halloween preparations, or your nieces and nephew.  Loved the way you spoke of them, and enjoyed spending time with them. You have that quality of being able to relate to children, and they like you too.  I liked you immediately, and just was amazed to find out how interesting you really were, and how much I liked listening to you.  Do you know those Fridays, one hour a week, was the most time I spent with anyone else besides my ex wife? Ha ha.  I’m such a  dork.

When my marriage was crumbling, you were a bright spot in the world for me.  Of course, I should never, never have done what I did, which was fall in love with you.  The one really good thing about getting divorced was that then I thought we might be able to spend more time doing things like movies, or even, wonder of wonders, dating. Ha ha.  Sorry.  I told myself how stupid it was; beat myself up over and over for thinking and feeling that way.  I just couldn’t stop.  You became an obsessive, compulsive infatuation with me. Dreams and fantasies.  Sigh. Thought about romance, then living together, then marriage, and children.  All the while I knew it was impossible, but I couldn’t stop.  There were such highs in that fantasy, romantic and erotic, and such lows when I couldn’t be with you.  You made it clear that such thoughts were inappropriate, I know. Compliments were inappropriate; asking you out would be, in your words, “Like a date,” and of course that “inappropriate” idea must have horrified you from the way you said it.  Just as well we didn’t spend even more time together: I’d have just gotten worse, if that’s possible, so, thanks for that.
Why am I writing you ask?  Hard to say.  It took me a while to climb out of that obsession with you.  One day I looked in the mirror long and hard and realized how old I actually looked from your perspective.  I had never been bothered by growing old before, until I realized that being my age meant I couldn’t just meet someone, fall in love, and be with them if they were younger, especially way younger.  I had honestly never thought of that before I met you.  Suddenly I hated being old.
Well, going back to why I’m writing: I have gotten over the obsession. I don’t know how; it just stopped one day.  Took me years.  Ha ha.  It’s hard to believe I could have been such an idiot now.  Again, I apologize for the inappropriate remarks, attention, flowers, last year’s X-mas card with the money.  It’s finally over for me.
I still like you of course, always did, always will.   It seems you have little need for me anymore, and that’s OK.  You have a whole life to live yet.
I like living alone now.  I’ve gotten used to it.  I’m much more withdrawn now, even misanthropic, not wanting much interaction with people anymore. (how emo) I’ve resigned as President of the union. I’m leaving UNM in the fall; Halloween is my last day.  I am trying to find a reason for living.  I practice guitar, go for hikes in the mountains, play chess, read a lot.  I got some medication for depression, and combined with a little counseling, I think I might be coming out of this emo fog.

Hate to bare my soul like this; I never wanted to make you uncomfortable around me. Since we don’t work together, it’s rare to run into you, and you’re too busy, or uninterested in having lunch anymore, so I thought I might as well get this off my chest.

Again, I stress this: I am over the infatuation.  I would like to resume Friday lunches, or some other day, if that’s better for you.  I really, honestly, like you, and I won’t mention any of this ever again if you’d prefer not to talk about my insanity.
I’ve been reading lots of interesting comics and novels lately, and getting into some old movies. It’d be nice to share again. Discuss books, movies, politics. It’d be great to exchange books and movies again.
I totally understand that you would be freaked out by these admissions, so I understand if I don’t hear from you.  I don’t even know if you’ll read this.  I just felt I had to write it, and couldn’t wait until Halloween to put it in the mail as I planned.
Your friend

—-(no reply)—————————.

August 3, 2009:

I see Karen at work, while I am waiting at this cafe.  She is heading for the glass door entrance.  In the corner of my eye I happen to notice her reaching for the door handle.  I hope she will say hello when she comes in.  She never comes in.  I turn around to look for her, but there is no sign of her.  There is no place else she could have been going.  She has just avoided me.

August 5, 2009:

Karen does it again.  I have gotten coffee and am heading into my building with a coworker who was also getting coffee.  I am talking as I enter the door, and don’t notice Karen at first.  I see someone to the side, and as I turn to look, it is Karen, just finishing an about face.  She was heading for coffee at her usual time. She saw me and turned away before she might have had to acknowledge my presence.  I have no doubt now that she is purposely avoiding me.  I will never bother her again.

October 9, 2009:

Two months, but I’m suddenly thinking intensely about Karen again, although I know how crazy it is, how depressing, how horribly, terribly bad it is for me to think about her.   I forward to her an email that has been sent out to everyone I do business with announcing my retirement party.  I wait two weeks, and then –

October 23, 2009 8:07 am:

Lunch today? I know you’re busy, but next week is my last, and I’d expect you to be even more busy next week with Halloween.

—-(no reply)—————————.

October 29, 2009:

My retirement party at work.  It is a two-hour affair, from 3 pm to 5 pm.  Long enough for Karen to make even a brief appearance, even to say good-bye to an old coworker.  Although nearly everyone I’ve ever known at work shows up, and the room is crowded with well wishers, Karen does not show.  She does not even send an email. One day of work left, so, on –

October 30, 2009 12:35 pm:

My last day. One more lunch?

October 30, 2009 2:20 pm:

Was at a potluck/staff meeting today just got back, and now have to do my document run.

October 30, 2009 4:57 pm:

Been pretty busy myself.  Working late today too.  You know, you are the one person I will miss more than anyone around here.  You brightened up my last few years.  Thanks.  If you’re ever in the mood, I’ll meet you for lunch whenever you have time, or after work someday for a drink or dinner?  Well, anyway, I guess you wouldn’t want to do that.  So, Have a frightfully good Halloween, and really great Birthday, and a wonderful Xmas.  I enjoyed those lunches one hell of a lot. Enjoyed meeting and knowing you.  I really hope life treats you well. I wish you the best possible life.  I care about you a lot, and I will never forget you.

—-(no reply)—————————.

November 20, 2009 12:36 am:

Good morning. Care to meet for lunch today? Is the Med II cafeteria still open ’till 1:30 on Fridays? Anytime is good for me.

—-(no reply)—————————.

January 8, 2010:

I find new photos on the Halloween website that Karen has uploaded from October 31 and November 1, 2009.  The link takes me to Photobucket.  I download pictures of her from Halloween, made up as a Zombie at work, and photos of her at work on Dia de los Muertos in a skeleton/sugar skull costume. I click on a box that will notify me when she uploads new photos.  I have forgotten that Karen will be notified that I am “following” her on Photobucket.  I add the images to my Oct 9, 2009 post.

January 10, 2010:

I receive a message from Photobucket that Karen has uploaded new photos.  Thinking that perhaps she has uploaded them especially for me to see, I click on the link that takes me to her photos.  Even after I log myself in, I am asked for a password to view her photos.  I am blocked.  Her account is now suddenly private.  It is a clear message from Karen.  She wants nothing more to do with me.  She doesn’t even want me to look at her photos.  I remove the check from the box that asks Photobucket to notify me of new photos.  Thinking that Karen thinks of me as a stalker now, I remove her email addresses from my email address book, and I delete all photos of her from my computer.  She exists now only in these terse old emails, my memory and this blog. I will never be able to have contact with her again.  She will never reply to any email again.

January 26, 2010

I see her on a web cam, and post the pictures above of her at our workplace coffee cart, where she goes for her iced mocha cappuccino with whipped cream, where I used to go for my simple Americano.  We used to drink those together sometimes after lunch.  Now, I can only ever see her again as a low-quality image on a web cam with a 2-second delay. Why do I even care?

Dreams of the Wine

There is a story by one of my favorite authors John D. MacDonald called Wine of the Dreamers, which has more to do with mind than wine.  However, I did dream last night, and I think it was because I had two glasses of wine.  I had made dinner for my stepdaughter Maya, spaghetti with browned Italian sausage mixed into a marinara sauce  with red chile.   There was bread too, and chilled water, and a sweet wine.  I had bought the sweet wine for Maya.  The food was great, and we had a great time talking all through dinner and a desert of strawberry ice cream.  It was probably because of Maya that I dreamed about her mother, the one I call the Dragon. 

In my dream that night, I visited the dragon, and there was nice talk and a sweetness in her voice that I don’t recall ever hearing.  It seemed we were to be friends again.  Maya was with me, and we all talked.  Something happened however, and the dragon was gone.  Maya and I had to find her.  Somehow we knew she was in a different house.  There was something about a note left saying she had to leave.

Maya and I made our way to another house where the Dragon was supposed to be, and sure enough, she opened the door to us.   I looked at her and recognized her face, but something wasn’t right.  She was too tall, and her face would not remain still.  As I watched, her face took on qualities of another face.  I realized I was seeing my first wife, Irene, the nice one.  But the face was neither one of them, the face was both of them together.  I could not understand it.  I felt a wave of sexual attraction to the woman, or women.  At the same time, there was fear.  There was an ugliness about the face I looked at.  It did not stay still, would not coalesce into either Irene or the Dragon, but had elements of both, switching around, morphing, swirling.  I stared at the face, feeling fear rise in me.  I was attracted and repulsed at the same time.  I moved towards the woman/women and woke up.

I should know better than to drink anymore.

Especially wine named Plum Loco.

Bicochitos and Beer

December 28, 2009

My blog had abandonment issues.  Ha!  I have not been posting lately.  I’m not sure why.  No compulsion to write I suppose. Having retired means several things:

1.) I no longer see Karen, even accidentally.  There is no possibility of ever seeing her accidentally or otherwise.  I sent her an email before I left my job; told her it was going to be my last Friday there.   She said: “Was at a potluck/staff meeting today just got back, and now have to do my document run.” Accepting that, I decided, three weeks later, to ask if she’d like to meet for lunch anyway.  I figured that, since she used to come in just to have lunch with me, before she got the job she has now, then perhaps I could do the same, and go there just to have lunch with her.  No response at all this time.

So, I’ve finally had to give up the fantasy for good.  I don’t understand why she responded to the previous email at all, if she was going to ignore me anyway.

2.) My life is pretty boring now.  I either get up early and laze around, drinking coffee and doing nothing, or I turn over and go back to sleep, getting up late, and then having coffee, making something to eat, and checking the mail.  Sometimes I have to run to the store, or to the Post Office when someone buys something from my, eBay, or Amazon accounts.  Most weekends, I will go hike in the mountains Saturday or Sunday.  Lately I do easier hikes.  Only hiked three hours yesterday, climbed up about 1650 feet; no danger, reasonable pace, no exhaustion. Donated blood today.

3.) No works means no tension, no stress. See #2 above.  I eat when I want, sleep when I want. I read, watch movies, or play games on Facebook.  Once in a while I still pick up the guitar. My life has little meaning without a purpose.  No more union meetings.  No worrying about other people’s problems, or the union, or the University job, or the University itself.

4.) I met someone new, much closer to my age.  We’ve hiked together. We’ve eaten sushi together.  We watched movies together.  No romance. No sex. Just friends, like Karen must have always expected me to be.  She invited me to her house for Thanksgiving. I met her mother. After her mother went home, we watched TV movies until late, and then I went home.  We made a batch of beer together one week later.  When it was time to bottle it on Dec. 20, we met at the brewery, had a great time bottling, and split up our beer.  She had been planning to make some more cookies but changed her mind.  I said I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies and had all the ingredients.  We dropped off my share of the beer at my house and picked up everything I had for the cookies.  Back at her house, we had eggnog with rum, and I made the cookies while eating some of her biscochitos.   I had just received an old Hitchcock mystery, so we watched that when the cookies were done, had some more eggnog, and then watched another old movie on her cable until we were falling asleep. No indication from her that she wanted me to stay.  It was really late, but she clearly expected me to go.  Gave me some biscochitos to go, and a present!  She had a present for me.  She said to put it under my tree.  Unknown to her, I had bought her a present.  It was/is under my tree.  She asked me if I wanted to go to her friend Kathy’s house on Christmas Eve.  So, I planned to open my present then, and give her the one I’d ordered and wrapped and put under my tree.  I was beginning to have some nice fantasies about her.  Wondered if we could go to my house after we left Kathy’s, since it is only blocks from my house.  Wondered what might happen.  She has such a pleasant voice when she calls me; she seems to like me, to want to talk to me.

Stupid me. Just before I left her house the night after making beer and cookies, I tried to kiss her good-night.  She turned away, and my lips brushed her forehead.  Didn’t hear anything from her for days.  Finally called her, just to see what time we should meet and where on Christmas Eve.  She didn’t answer, so I left a message.  She returned my call next day; said she wasn’t going to her friend Kathy’s after all.  She said her mom wanted her to come by and help her cook a Christmas turkey and help her with other things.  I asked if she wanted to come by after that.  Interestingly, her mother lives just down the street from me.  This is the neighborhood she grew up in.   She said she didn’t think so, since she would have to go back to her mother’s house early in the morning to help her out some more.  She said she’d call me, let me know about getting together.

She never called.  I left her another message on Christmas day.  Wished her a Merry Christmas. Asked about getting together to open presents. No response.  Next day I left another phone message. I invited her to come by for her present; told her I didn’t want to open mine until she came by.  No response.  The weekend ended.  Today I sent her an email, asking her what’s up.  Told her I was still waiting for her to get her present before I opened mine. Apologized if my attempted kiss had offended her.  If she hadn’t taken offense, then I asked if she’d like to go dancing on New Year’s Eve.  We had previously talked about going Salsa dancing but haven’t done so yet.  No response.  Perhaps the 14-year difference is still too big of a gap for a relationship?

It’s not a tragedy, unlike Karen’s total disaffection for me – that hurt a lot, even more than my divorce.  I’m saddened, but not that much.  I do wish women could say what’s really on their minds.  I wish I knew what it was about me that made women want to break away clean, without even giving me a reason or ever wanting any further contact.  Ha! Women, it seems, are like life itself.  Things in life often happen for no reason at all.  Why should women be any different?


UPDATE: 12/29/09

Well, I heard something after all:

Sorry I have not been in touch (i.e. returning your phone calls).  Christmas was very hectic, trying to help my mom, etc.  In fact, I was so exhausted on xmas day that I didn’t stay out too late, I just went home.  I have just been laying low; I still feel exhausted and I have a sore throat – I feel like I’m coming down with something.  I might take a day off this week before New Year’s to rest.   I normally don’t do much for New Year’s Eve.  I just stay out of drunk drivers way.  My friend Gaby is coming out for the weekend from CO and I think we are just going to hang out at my place.   We will get together as soon as I feel better.

So, I opened the present she’d given me: 64 small chocolate bottles with various liquors, like Jack Daniels Old No. 7, Cutty Sark, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, etc.  The best looking thing is probably the Borghetti Caffe Espresso (31% alcohol).  What is so very odd, is that my old girlfriend, who introduced me to her, also gave me a Xmas present of 48 chocolate bottles in a little wooden crate: Jim Beam, Stoli’s, Remy Martin, and Grand Marnier. Very cool stuff, but now I have 112 of these things, and I don’t drink much anymore.  Perhaps my step-daughter can help me with these things.

What does death taste like?

The_Sweet_Taste_of_Death_by_JasonGoad art by

I wonder what death tastes like.  Does it taste like the blackened bits of carbon that burn forever on the sides of a cast-iron pan?

Does death taste like brown and yellow agglutinated crap served cold?

Perhaps death tastes of the rotting, putrefying meat of dead animals slaughtered for food served steaming hot?

It is often said that the stench of burning human corpses is sickeningly sweet.  Perhaps death brings an overwhelming flavor of sweetness with it?  Burning corpses layered with fatty oils, burning, smoking greasily, filling the air the nose the lungs the tongue with a cloying odor of blackened leather?

Is death sweet? The aroma of almonds, dead and broken, cut in bloodless slices, layered with caramelized sugar; does death taste like that? Or sweeter still, like the honey of billions of dead flowers?

Or could it be, could it taste like bitter astringent pee? the pee on her labia, like a sharp spice around the honey within?

Oh. Back to her. Her, she, the one who makes me long for death.  Her of the twisted mind and tortured soul like me, the one I longed to be with for these wasted years?  What of her? She is life itself, and smiles and joy and soft flesh and music and reading and video and laughter and companionship.  And death. She is death for me. To long for her is to long for death. O, to taste her would be joy!  Joy denied. Love denied. Laughter denied. Companionship denied. The sweet look in her eyes.  The poetry of her hands moving about in space, the hands I long to touch, to caress, to feel warm in my hands….  A_Day_Without_You___2nd_Phase_by_Beloved_Creature A Day Without You by Beloved-Creature

Zombie Karen If she were a real zombie, I’d rush to her, embrace her, kiss her, and die.

But it is death!  It is death to touch her, to want the untouchable.  It is death to taste her, death to want to smell her honey, taste it on the end of my thrusting tongue probing her sweetness, stirring our flesh into spasms of delight and ever more desire, fevered heat on every part of our skin, and all is sensing and touching and smelling and tasting without thought.   Sugar Skull: Dia de los Muertos Karen

And there is la petit mort also.  That is the death I would taste.

I should ‘a’ been a poet, but “comparisons are odious”

Between 400 and 450 years ago, Christopher Marlow wrote: Marlowe Statue


COME live with me, and be my love;
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dales and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies;
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair-lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy-buds,
With coral clasps and amber-studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherd-swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

Just as crazy as I.

Do you doubt it?

Look at the reply:

The nymph’s reply to the shepherd (like Karen’s response to me)

IF all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields:
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.

The gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,—
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

And so, you can see,

I am not alone in insanity,

my lovely lady

my lust, I can never satisfy.

tm 2009, 2010

Don’t care no more. No, no.

earth-no-more-1 (from the game: Earth No More by Recoil Games and 3d Realms)

“This poor fellow’s weary and confused. Probably doesn’t know what he’s taking about.”  That’s a line they use on the radio station I listen to. They use it all the time; I have no idea if they mean it to mean something, or if it just fits into their idea of being odd, hip, and different.  Generally I do like the music they play.  But, the description does seem to apply to myself.

I’ve given up on the anti-depressant.  The doctor who prescribed it didn’t really know what to expect.  The psychologist I consulted told me to give it six months.  Five months is long enough.  I can’t see it really doing much.  My ennui persists.  Directionless, purposeless, alienated and alone.  I’ve become very settled in my new persona.  I still pick at the guitar; told the teacher I’m ready for more lessons.  I still hike in the mountains; I’ve gotten better at the long hikes, not feeling so much pain, and recovering more quickly afterwards.  But, I will still retire from work in less than two months now.

I’ve initiated the paperwork, notified all that need to know.  I still can’t stand working there any more.  I can hardly stand being there when I am working.  Once the moving everything from one building to another and getting the new lab in place was over, my spurt of energy drained away.  There was a lot to do; working with an electrician to get a dedicated line of backup power, and having the place cleaned and painted.  Looks nice now.  It was a pit before the move. Managed to convince people to move all the old crappy stuff out and store it in an empty lab space.  Surplused out anything else.  It’s a nice place to work now, almost as nice as where I was, but smaller.  Now the department chairman wants to move another lab-full of equipment and supplies in with us.  It will make it cramped and hot and unbearable to work in, if we can even get it all to fit.  Makes me really glad I’m leaving.  Can’t leave fast enough.  On top of that I’m being forced to raise prices on the services I provide because the medical school Dean wants to use the little money he’s been giving us out of the tobacco settlement fund for other things.   I charge people a good rate for our services, but with any increase, we will lose business.  I’ve cut all the expenses to the bone already, gotten the cheapest supplies I can, and still the Dean wants “his” money.  Unfortunately, the researchers there expect DNA services to be available at a reasonable rate.  When business falls off next year, and the lab runs an even bigger deficit, the lab will be closed, and people will bitch and gripe and have to go out of state for DNA research services.  It will cost even more, and will make researchers think twice about bringing any more grants into the place, but, hey, what do I know?  I’m not a great, powerful Dean.  He gets to put up new buildings and claim credit for expanding the work of the University.  The work is teaching and research, but research is going to suffer.  He could care less.  Blames everything on the economy. I’m out of there soon.  I keep trying to make them see the importance of keeping the lab around.  I put a lot into it, and it will die now.

It is so similar to the failed marriage, the work on the old house.  I put a lot into those and now I’ve nothing to show for it. Nothing to show for my life at all.  A small pension.  Might be enough to survive on, but I had so much more in mind before.  “I don’t care no more,” Phil Collins sings on the radio.  “No more, no more, no more.”  “No, no.”

nwts War No More NoMoreCuts no-more-tears

Time to move on.

racing sofa

(Edd China’s motorized sofa, powered by a Mini 1300 cc engine)

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.

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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.