Notes from the Surf

Which way the weather comes from
Why the weatherman always seems to be pushing in the same direction.

Burglary Suspect Ducks Into Wal-Mart, Disappears
Good tip for the next time you're chased by the secret police or ninjas.

The price of health care around the world
Are we getting what we pay for?

Spreading the wealth around
Income growth during first Bush term: Richest 1% of population gets $4,200,000 more per household. 90% of population gets $304 more per household.

Honduras: Employers force employees to join pro-coup marches
...employers then order them to work an extra day to make up for lost time.

War Crimes?
"There were 300 of us in my container. By the time we arrived in Sheberghan, only ten of us were alive." "...they shot into the containers [to make air holes]. Blood came pouring out." ...American commanders advised him to "get rid of them [the bodies] before satellite pictures could be taken." More from The New York Times, The Convoy of Death, Physicians for Human Rights, and their video.

Afghans turn to Taliban in fear of own police
If this is what democracy looks like, I think you're doing it wrong.

South Korea: KCTU Statement on General Strike
"If media is controlled by large conglomerates and capital, then there is no hope for democracy in... South Korea."

The Vestas Occupation
The last wind-farm turbine makers in the UK have assumed control of their company. Police prevent supporters from giving them food, forcing supporters to get creative.

Honduras: Father speaks of his dead son before being arrested
Obed Murillo’s father, David Murillo, described his son as a person who was “self-educated in the principles of social rights... He never compromised his principles... His death, his leaving us, hurts me deeply, but I am proud that he did not die while committing a crime or out of drunkenness, but because he fought against repression.”


Writing the date, I remember an old joke :

Q:" Why is 10 afraid of 7 ?"

A:" 'Cause 7 8 9 !"

I found an old book, today, in the attic. So old, that its letters were unreadable.

There, on the first page, yellow, like the burnt wax of 1000 candles, lay tar-black the following date :


Numbers being the same, I could read but the year.

I went downstairs and asked mum what's the deal with it.

And then, all afternoon I found out a story from an ancient time, locked away in my genes, raging to pierce the shell .

I was raised by my grandparents, along with my cousin.

40 miles from the city lay a hidden place near the mountains, where the noise and the perverted decay of civilsation didn't reach 20 years ago.

Now all that is gone. Like breadcrumbs blown sfwitly away by the breeze.

My Great-Grand Mother. The Book was hers.

I remember her so clearly, for she died at 93 years, that makes me a 4th grader at the time.

The story begins in the summer of 1905 anno Domini. That year, in the family of the wealthiest man of the community, Mariya Felicia, youngest of three siblings saw the first light.

Being blessed by odds to be the youngest, she was allowed to do anything. She even had access to education, which was uncommon for women at that time, thus making her worth 10 times her value.

And she was both beautiful and proud.

Mum stands up, heads towards the library, leaving me with her words : She was exactly like you...

I light up a smoke, and lose myself among the blue sky made from clouds of tobacco.

Returning with an old, violet velvety covered photo album, she points towards her portrait.

A black and white time stamp, with Time's claws dug in heart of the paper.

Young woman with black hair, tangled in cascades, flowing on her snow shoulders. Same eyes - bewithcing - with their deep fountains of darkness, lit her figure, like stars pinned in the sky.

Foamy lace ruffles highlighting her skin. Though, her skin tone was of most virginal white. Mine's way darker...But that's a secret of gene pools.

Apart from that, yesterday's me was looking at today's rememberrance of myself.

Vanity was her sin - for who would bear living next to such a creature?! Men of all conditions and classes dreamt of her, many came to ask her hand, few remained unhumilliated.

She was waiting.

For what?

Nobody knows.

Though, differently from wine, women don't tend to become of better taste with age.

She was 23, still a maiden, thus making her forever doomed to be a "Mrs".

O, tempora! Oh, mores! Those were the days when by 20, an unmarried woman was doomed for loneliness of a lifetime.

She couldn't fight with her parents, and agreed upon settling with a commoner.

Great-grandfather, who sadly, I didn't get the chance to know...

Having lost just one battle, but not the war, she had her ways of getting back at Life, for not letting her live the way she'd dreamed...

Now that I know these things, I understand. She understands me, my mother, for whilst recalling history, question marks about my behaviour seemed clearer to her - like the dew on trembling morning water-lillies.

Now that I know, I hold her picture once more, and another riddle, unravells...

For some time now I have intended to come back and write here.

I have kept delaying, because I have too much else to do, because I have nothing to write about, and because of so many other reasons.

Today I decided: I will just start writing. Daylogs to begin with, until my brain remembers how to construct sentences and the words start flowing freely again.

I suppose the impetus for this was a letter I just received. I have just come back (mentally, emotionally and physically shattered after 19-hour days on the go) from retreat with my year 12 class. Translation for non-australians, this is the end of high school (“college” for us) before they go on to the workplace or university. They are mostly 18 years old.

I’ve been with these kids since they were in year 7. It’ll be six years by the time they leave, 12 weeks from now. Some of them I’ve taught every year of their high school and college lives, some I’ve never taught and never to my knowledge spoken to. But most of them I know reasonably well, some very well. Some I still can’t stand, many I care deeply about, some I could be friends with were it not for the fact that I’m their teacher.

At retreat, we all decorated large envelopes with our name and whatever else we felt moved to draw on them, and stuck them to the wall of our main meeting space. Over the three days we could put notes in people’s envelopes – affirmations, acknowledgements, wishes for the future etc. It was incredibly draining – trying to write notes for all the kids I’d had contact with. In the end I wrote reasonably personal notes for all the students that are “mine” now – my pastoral class (“home room”) and my biology class…as well as for the other 20 or so that I have come to know well. For all the others with whom I had had some contact, I left a little note: “The principal was right. We do love you more than you will ever know”.

The notes back from my students were moving. Some thanked me for things that I’d never really thought about – one was so grateful that I’d taken some interest in her dancing, when other staff had dismissed it as being a bit silly. Some just thanked me for my years of teaching, some for other things. Most of the notes were on small notebook-sized pieces of paper (paper was at a premium) and brief, though sweet.

But one student wrote a page. He wrote for several other people that I know of (two other staff shared their letters from him with me, as did two students). This boy is intelligent, overwhelmingly articulate, beautifully self-confident and also reasonably humble. (It also helps that he looks and sounds like a blond version of sneff). Each of his letters showed a deep knowledge of the nature of the person he was writing to; each was individual and personal. His ability to find le mot juste was overwhelming. The phrase: “The group, here undersigned, thanks you for faithful, informal and surly compatriotism” resonated perfectly.

I was awed by his writing ability, when I myself am often so inarticulate when trying to express how I feel. I was hampered by being their teacher – unfortunately unable to really share my thoughts because “friendship” is the only right word, but one that I can’t use.

This morning I remembered that I, too, can write. I was hampered there by a natural reticence, but here I can let the words out.

So here I am, writing. I’ll hope to do so more often.

So life is a juxtaposition of people and places
And things that happen
And everyone we meet for some reason
Things we see and do
And can never take or give back
Everything true and none of it false
When you really get to the heart of it
Everything is always true

For other people it's different but for me it starts and ends at the office:

---- Them -- you have to go to Germany and Armenia and probably Italy, before November
---- Me -- great, wonderful. You know why people have heart attacks? To get out of shit like this.
---- Them -- please don't have a heart attack.
---- Me -- Sometimes I'm really tempted, you know?

Radio loud on the way home from work - Dave Matthews, sotto voce, at the start of "Time Bomb", I think of sometimes

"Relax." Then he sings a song.

Relax. In my book
If Lyle Lovett had become a plumber there would be no reason for country music.
Though some would argue he's not exactly "country". More "Texas".
Amazon lists him as "alternative country".
He's got this cello player that comes out in the middle of a song and does a classical solo.
And a black gospel backing group
And a modified mullet.
And Tonto saying, "Kiss my ass," to the Lone Ranger.

We were in the third row and when they played "Penguins" The blonde haired girl broke out in uncontrollable laughter over the lines

"I don't go for fancy clothes
Diamond rings.
I go for penguins
Oh lord, I go for penguins.
Penguins are so sensitive.
Penguins are so sensitive
To my needs..."

so much so that the rhythm guitar player kept looking over and grinning.
Maybe he hadn't been around people who had paid $120 a seat to see Lyle Lovett and his Large Band
And didn't really know the music at all
During the economic downturn when people are being bankrupted by medical bills
We are laughing at Lyle Lovett
In the cold Saratoga night

We will always have the penguins, the blonde haired girl and me

**And I will rise up.
Though I be a dead man...**

"Tomorrow we will play in Monterey, in an air conditioned theatre. Inside the way you're supposed to be in the summer," says Lyle about the fact it's 58 degrees F and dropping fast in the damp ocean breeze.

This is really country music, apparently,
To play jazz with a Gospel group and sing

"If I had a boat
I'd sail out on the ocean
And if I had a pony
I'd ride him on my boat...
me upon my pony on my boat."

Which made me think of kids. It's a kid thing, to wish to ride your pony onto a boat.
So then me sentimental--a stressed out old sap--nerves frayed from weddings three days prior.
Shell shocked by the impact of the visiting ex's, and their accusing glares and my-life-was-ruined-head turns
then having to dance with your married daughter thinking -

I already did this once
She was just a little kid
Very small smiley criey blue eyed person thing
Head in the palm of my hand
Legs splayed on either side of my forearm
In one hand I held her dancing in the living room
To the vinyl music on the stereo
Stop crying till mommy comes home
No need to cry for I will slay lions
Bare handed and sharp toothed
Work to the bones for you

One day you will be married and I will be old
One day you will leave the same way I did
And everybody everywhere

**And I will rise up. Though I be a dead man.** Lyle's choir sang and me thinking - dear lord, when I was stoned last Thursday I thought it was the same as Alzheimer's. Just more of the distance that's already forming.

"You know, when I was a kid I thought you wrote this song for me," my wedding-dressed daughter says in my arms about Paul McCartney singing her name.

**And I will stand tall, until I meet my end.** I could knock on the door of many Gods. I could demand audience and they would speak to me.

"I did," I told her before I couldn't talk anymore.
"We'd like to invite the father of the bride to dance with his daughter."
"The Beatles stole it from me."

"Gina's worried you're going to try to ground her."

The younger sister's got her own car. She's got her own job. She lives in Santa Barbara. I could ground her about as easily as I could become Governor of California.

"Are you okay, now?" the bride says to me while we do that movement in embrace that seems like dancing to the people doing it and some kind of circular rhythmic walking to people watching. There is a story here about my eating some confection, fresh out of my freezer, that tasted of chemicals, and I found myself tripping through the rest of the day when I should have been doing errands. Everybody laughed. I sat around wondering about things most of the time. Like is this going to go away before I have to drive to the wedding tomorrow.

I ran errands anyway. Just like the 93-year old guy who drives into the farmer's market in Santa Monica killing 7 and maiming 12.

"Something wrong?" said the car wash lady who took my money when the stuff kicked in and I could barely count. I shook my head, wondering how I was going to drive off the lot, trying to remember which pedal was the clutch. What do the kids see in this? Is their reality so vivid they need to beat it into this real-time imagination? Oh, yeah. My friend Mark was there. He drove me home.

"Got your back, buddy," I remembered 200 times per second.

"She said she told you not to drive," my daughter says in my arms.

"She shouldn't poison her father," I say, forgetting the waltz.

"You shouldn't just eat random things," the bride says, sticking up for her miscreant college age sister.

"But it's my house."

"Well, okay." She says.

"You never did things like that. You were always a good kid."

"Daddy, I love you," she forgets she shouldn't say things like that when the camera guy is around. Too late.

**Though I be a dead man I will stand tall till I meet my end **

"He just spent the whole meeting yelling at us," says my chief technologist about the meeting I missed while dancing with my daughter. Because life gets in the way of work.

"I spent my whole night staring at the ceiling, imagining how I was going to confront him and probably lose my job," I say, because it's true

If I had a pony on a boat I'd sail into the ocean.

"Don't do that," says my technology guy.

"Don't eat stuff people put in your freezer," says my daughter.

"Weddings make me very sad, " says the blonde haired girl, nearly in a catatonic stupor.

"You have to tell them on Tuesday what we're doing - " says the sales guy. "Oh by the way, congrats on your daughter."


"You can make it at 7AM, right?"

"No problem, I'll just hit the road by 5."

"He tossed out the preso we worked on."

"The one we spent the week on?"

"Yeah, he wants another one, by Monday so he can see it before the Tuesday meeting."

"You know why people have heart attacks?" You know why I'm dizzy all the time and can't remember where my glasses are?

"I love you, Daddy," says my daughter "Relax," says Dave Matthews. "If I had a boat and a pony," says Lyle Lovett. "I will stand tall."

Though I be a dead man. After the drugs and the emotion wears off, it feels like waking up. All the time.

While waking up for hours I scribbled this to me - please don't forget
And write it the way it's supposed to be written

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