Thursday, October 25, 2007

A moral holiday in Mexico with an American woman




My intention this week is to do a series on "American Woman", the politically correct term for that bitch-goddess of songs by The Guess Who and Lenny Kravitz.

But I'm lazy today and will give you an already finished account of a holiday in Mexico.

To be in Mexico was to be in the thirties, right down to the way things must have been during the Great Depression. The 30 per cent unemployment; the art deco furniture, the complicated plumbing, the styles of life, the camposino coming back to town for the weekend, getting drunk, thrown in in jail, bailed out by his relatives; the upper-class Mexican, like the depression land baron, whiling away his life in a cloud of hash smoke and a fantasy of sexual possibilities.

And I was in the thick of it, here in Guadalajara where Valerie and I had gone on a sort of honeymoon to celebrate the test and maintenance of our love. Mexico in the thirties for sure. The medium priced hotel was exactly l933, the room with its imitation Persian rug, worn and ochre-coloured; the saggy but well made bed, the wallpaper busy with its charging cavalry of bold flowers, the clinical-style high intensity bed lamps in clusters of three, the tin plaque on the wall, an advertisement of Jugo de Naranha, orange juice with a l930's Gatsby couple sampling that great drink.

Mexico was very much in the thirties, perhaps because its real industrial and political revolution began there, along with a construction and stylistic boom, an effort to catch up with the civilized world. The revolution had been half-successful with the nationalization of the major utilities and railroads. Still, foreigners continued to invest pennies in Mexico to get their investment back in dollars.

But there was a spiritual dividend in Mexico, something that any Gringo worth his sould could recognize after some time in the country. The sun, the landscape gave you a visual orientation; the rarified air opened up your soul to intimations, veritable visions that the poets of the middle ages considered routine and the poets of today consider pure madness. Mexico puts you into a spirit of high renaissance. If you are a painter you begin, after a few months, painting like you'd never painted before. The same for a writer. And even more so for the lover. Mexico could be lightning-quick and there was a word for it in Spanish, RELAMPAGO. Lightning. And I had been looking for magic light itself over my quasi-New England town of Newmarket, Ontario.

Mexico. I was in love, and was beginning to perceive the world in love's newfound clarity.
Mexico seems to have a chronic shortage of men. When a woman loves you, she will do anything for you and ultimately, you for her for to be loved, deeply loved, is to be enchanted, and lying on that hotel bed, I was deeply enchanted, there among the cheap furniture, the landscape prints on the walls and the stunning girl with the hypnotic eyes and the high cheekbones.

Mexico, Mexico. How many foreigners miss the revelations of this fascinating land after first finding in sex the ultimate high.
Yet it was much more than sex with Valerie and me. It was a rebirth for both of us, myself realizing that I was not at all washed up physically, that I was gathering strength instead of losing it; there was something in North American life that made nances of men and shrews of women; perhaps it was the increasingly abstract and fine work that was demanded of the highest skilled workers and even of the lowliest, for all good work requires artistic ability, even laying out a garden, and there is no such thing as a ditch digger any more, no such thing as the iceman and even the garbage man has to operate sensitive and complicated equipment.
A new start, a new way. And I owed so much of it to Valerie. What had happened over those ten hard years back there? Had I been asleep? Who had I been, really: how had I missed so much of life?

My wife Loren hardly seemed real to me now. She was somewhere in the past. I'd kept a portrait of my two children in up on my Spanish colonial dresser in my Americanized apartment. They looked so heartbreakingly beautiful, their in their full fair colour in front of a green-painted backyard swing, with flowers and trees, lilacs all around. Sweet Michelle, a pixie of only four and son David, exquisitely featured (it seemed to me), seven. Their large eyes stared at me almost accusingly. I had always turned the picture face down when Valerie was in the bedroom. Fading away, my past life.

That night I had a dream of Loren, lying on her side, nude in all her compact womanhood, resting easily on her right elbow and forearm, one fine redhead's breast spilling almost voluptuously toward the crook of her right arm, the other straight out to follow the contours of a body that was soft, wide-hipped and lush. She was femininity itself , my wife, my home base. Like Venus bathing, she lay on the bank of a river but the river kept ever widening, and I seemed in the dream to be swimming ever farther away from her. I had no thought of swimming back to the bank where she lay.

33 comments:

eric1313 said...

And that is a story for the ages.

You're starting to sound like me! Only better. That was some exquisite writing, Ivan.

Much better than writing about the grand old American damsel south of the border, South of No North, as Bukowski would say.

Reach down farther south and feel a little bit of the heat Mexica has to offer?

Her casa su casa.

eric1313 said...

Seriously. I wish I wrote this.

That's why I keep writing as much as I can, wherever I can. My potential will not be reached by itself on the shelf.

I could see a flame haired goddess next to me as I read it, and I want it--the passion-goddess and the story writing ability.

ivan@cretivewriting.ca said...

Why thank you, Eric.

Research seems to have done it for this particular episode.
Oh lord. The apprencice had to go down the well.
I know from your comments that you are a good researcher.
Old New Guinean expression: Softly, softly, catchee monkey!

Shesawriter said...

My man, Ivan, you do have a way words.

American Woman is one of my favorite songs, btw.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Tanya.
Over here in Toronto, Randy Bachman got a call from Lenny Kravitz. Said Randy, formerly of "Guess Who", Well, it looks like Lenny wants to do one of our songs.
"After Lenny made it into another hit," we discovered we had a new friend."

Ivan

Anonymous said...

So You Think You've Got a Film-Worthy Book or Script. Wicked Witch of Publishing Sees 10 Films and 20+ Shorts at the Hamptons International Film Festival and Begs to Differ.


Lynne W. Scanlon
http://www.thepublishingcontrarian.com

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm longing for my youth and for that "I don't have a care in the world" attitude.

And don't get me started on red heads.

http://www.creativewriring.ca said...

JR,

For the past while, I have been mourning the passing of my youth, wich seems, what with all the walking, running, smoking, drinking--seems like only last year.
I think it's all in our jeans. :)

Ivan

eric1313 said...

Sounds like you did some great researching down there in the land of love, tequila, sunshine and cholera.

Ha! Garcia Marquez has nothing on you. You're the Ukrainian Odysseus, goddesses can't resist that.

Sirens beware.

Danny Tagalog said...

Hi Ivan,

Onwards with the accolades I'm afraid - it's very beautiful to read and took me away from the mundane work surrounding me today. Funnily enough though, after reading it, I suddenly became aware of my wife singing softly and very sweetly, bringing home to me how fortunate I am in this particular chapter. Your story momentarily altered my perceptions; ta very mooch as the Mancunians say.

And also 'ta very mooch' for visiting my raggledy taggledy blog. Most honoured for the reasons Eric has touched upon.

BUT!!! 'hotch-potch' is right! Though 'hodge podge' is more common, Nietszche even used 'hotchpotch' (without the hyphen, mind...)

http://nietzsche.thefreelibrary.com/Thus-Spake-Zarathustra/41-1#hotchpotch

"We also know too little, and are bad learners: so we are obliged to lie.

And which of us poets hath not adulterated his wine? Many a poisonous *hotchpotch* hath evolved in our cellars: many an indescribable thing hath there been done.

And because we know little, therefore are we pleased from the heart with the poor in spirit, especially when they are young women!"

All the best Ivan - looking forward to the day I can skulk around your domain even more...!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric,

Silver-tongued devil!

Thank you.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Danny,

Also Sprach Zarathustra:
"If it ain't 'hodge-podge', it ain't American.

Danny Tagalog said...

Aha! I think I've got you!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Danny,

We multiculturals at first strive for absolute lignuistic precision in our adopted cultures.
I certainly notice this in our George Jonas, a transplanted Hungarian who works for the Toronto SUN. He has been in Canada for fifty years yet some of his columns (which I find quite fascinating and rich)-- seem like translations from the Hungarian or Austrian. This is certainly true, of say, Henry Kissinger.
Henry Kissinger's brother, on the other hand, has no accent, speaks plain American,almost folksy.

My email friend, Gerard Jones, who has finally published a book and an audiobook (after 50,000 rejections [sic]) says it takes a long time to get folksy.

North American literature tends towards the folksy and you only need to read the grand old lady writers like Carson McCullers or Willa Cather to get this sense of the land, the people it and how they speak.
Seem I myself have had to go through a lot of editor-teachers in order to get "folksy."

Acadamia, of course, is a different thing. And you are in academia.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

p.s.:

I think Josie, in her blog, comes the closest to writing naturally and comfortably. It's almost as if you could hear her talking. And I have.

Danny Tagalog said...

P.S. I don't want to be tied to academia forever. I want to write something next year in a more 'humane' vein a la Josie, with feelings and real emotion, .... before the straitjacket shrink-fits around me. I have a horrible feeling of being hemmed in at the moment, but it won't last forever at least...

Josie said...

Thank you, Ivan. You know, I write as if I am talking to everyone, having a conversation. So that's how it comes across. I wish I could write like you folks, though. My gosh!

I'm a mess today. I have a broken rib and a code in my node.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,
Oh no. A bruised rib you can almost--well almost!--tolerate.
But a broken rib?
This is unacceptable. The pain.
And the extra filip of the cold, which makes breathing painful.

My Haitian witch doctor's skills are stymied. I presume you have gone to real physician.
Why are the gods conspiring to "get" Josie?
I am sorry to hear this, my friend.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Of course you meant "genes" ...

... didn't you?

... as in DNA?

... you can stop me any time now.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

JR,

Not sure it was Kenny Rogers, but I do recall the old country song, "O Lord, it's hard to be humble."

One lyric goes:

"Some folks migh think I'm egotistical
Lord I don't even know what that means.
But I look at myself in the mirror
And see the bulge in my jeans."

Josie said...

Ivan, yes, I work with respirologists, and my office is 20 feet away from the x-ray machines. *sigh* My rib is cracked. It's healing, though. Actually, the cold is okay, it takes my mind off the rib.

I have such a life. Heh.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Just don't hitchhike with your clothes off, claiming you were robbed.
(I mean, everything else has happened).

Josie said...

Just about...

Heh.

ivan@creativewiting.ca said...

Joe Bfstplk and his little black cloud.
Come from being just too busy, I think.Too little down time. Get accident-prone. I know I do.

eric1313 said...

Keep up the writing. I imagine a sunday post should be up in the morning.

The fickle American is always there to inspire you.

Of course, I bet there's always more Mexico stories to be told. The bottle can't possibly be empty on that subject.

Sienna said...

testing 248

Sienna said...

ah well, that got through, I've been banned and scanned from here Ivan, not sure what's been going on, now I'm through I'm happy, but think I might just go to bed

Good to be back but gotta get some sleep

Pam

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Morning, Eric,

Webhost here has been like the little compuslsive mole who keeps hitting rocks while burrowing totally without direction underneath overground obstacles.

Mgrffumph.
What a sore nose.
I have resubmitted a short work of mine which lady editors just didn't seem to like.
I finally gave it to a theatre director, a male, British guy.
Says my script needs work.
Me? God's chosen?
My script needs work?

So it isn't the editor ladies--my script "needs work"?
Can't sing that Kenny Rogers song any more--"Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble
"When you're perfect in every way."

Looks like there are imperfections here.

"My friends all drive Porsches
"I must make amends."

The mole is digging in little circles. It is becoming like a mouse thrapped by one ear.
There has to be a way out.
Did you ever hear a mole squeak?
Have you ever seen a moth bawl?

Ivan

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Pam,
Well, that's two Quarks back to comment on the current posting.

Don't know what's technically wrong with my site. It keeps kicking people off.
Ever since I switched to a cheaper domain, whose name is--you migh have guessed it--NamesPro, I have been having all sorts of gremlins here.
My techie will be in tomorrow.
Maybe he can make access to my site easier from overseas.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Michael Koerner once again. I hope everything is going well for you this month. The kids will be around on Wednesday to pick up their Halloween candy. ;-o)) Also, there are only 57 more shopping days until Christmas and 317 days until the 2008 Kelowna Reunion.

Thought for today:


Thought for today:

"I can choose. I can spend my day in bed enumerating all the difficulties that I have with the parts of my body that no longer work very well, or I can get up and give thanks to heaven for those parts that are still in working order.
Every day is a gift, and as long as I can open my eyes, I will focus on the new day, and all the happy memories that I have built up during my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw in later life what you have deposited along the way.

So, my advice to you is to deposit all the happiness you can in your bank account of memories."

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