Tras haber creado mi anterior blog cecilmundo varias personas, muchos de ellos mis alumnos, me sugirieron que creara una secciòn dentro de cecilmundo para publicar mis obras de docencia de idiomas. Dado que la cantidad de documentos de explicaciones, ejercicios y exàmenes de inglès son muy numerosos porque tengo màs de 30 años del ejercicio de la docencia, preferì estrenar blog con mis alumnos a como ellos realmente merecen. En este blog planetcecil no solo iràn mis documentos didàcticos de inglès, sino tambièn la producciòn literaria de varios alumnos que se destacan en las letras. Tambièn darè oportunidad a aquellos que tienen excelentes obras pero que no han logrado publicarlas ya que en mi paìs Nicaragua todo se mueve por la marrana polìtica, y si una no pertenece a determinado partido no verà jamàs publicado su opus. Tambièn tenemos la desgracia de contar con seudoeditores quienes al no conocer verdaderamente de literatura se convierten en mercenarios de la imprenta solo para llenarse ellos mismo de dinero y fama a costillas de los escritores. Todos aquellos que deseen participar en este blog, denlo de antemano por suyo. Aunque lleve mi nombre en un arranque de egolatrìa, yo soy sencillamente vuestra servidora.Cecilia

Las alas de la educación

Las alas de la educación
La educación es un viaje sin final.

La lección de física

La lección de física
Casi aprendida

domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2008


77th entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates which occurred on November 30:
538 St Gregory of Tours chronicler/bishop,always sweating oil1466 Andrea Doria Genoese statesman/admiral, too bad his namesake ship had such a tragic end
1667 Jonathan Swift England, satirist (Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal),only he could have imagined the Lilliputians
1835 Samuel Langhorne Clemens [Mark Twain], author (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn) ,top cat lover1863 Andres Bonifacio leader of 1896 Philippine revolt against Spain …finally someone wide awake
1874 Sir Winston Churchill (C) British PM (1940-45, 1951-55, Nobel 1953),my darling Bulldog,I care not if he knew about German torpedoes and thus Lusitania sank, I love him,I worship him
Deaths which occurred on November 30:
30 -BC- Cleopatra Egyptian queen commits suicide,the most envied woman because she was so superior to men 1016 Edmund II Ironsides, King of the Saxons (1016), dies at 27,poor guy,what if he had lived longer
1900 Oscar Wilde Irish author, dies in Paris, with a goblet of champagne in his hand


I`m a historian. I feel more than a kissing cousin to god, who I am sorry to report,doesn`t exist for me. I hear my agitated spouse nattering about how wonderful it is to be a lawyer or a medic and my fleas dance around in my fur. I was born to be a historian,and I would never be anything else,dearest reader. I love ancient gossip, Herodotus is my model, Churchill my idol and my memory , to the awe of everybody including you, is photographic. Today was chosen to celebrate us freaks who according to dirty politicians should be on a leash simply because in 1874 a big rambunctious redheaded baby almost killed American doyenne Jenny Jerome while making his dèbut in this valley of tears…Winston Churchill- Born with a golden spoon in his mouth at Blenheim, Winston was destined to be a supergenius, the saviour of England during WWII(that is why I call him the British Bulldog,and I have to admit his heavy jowls in old age also help for the choice of name), adored by so many and hated by others like my daughter, who wants to barf noisily at the mere mention of his name. My dad had the enormous privilege of meeting him shortly before Operation Overlord(D-Day,the greatest amphibian military operation in history) and even puffed on the same cigar as The Churchill. Even if my father would have died upon the shores of Normndie, he would have died in peace after having met Churchill,Eisenhower and Patton. I turn green with envy. Churchill. Single malt scotch, cat hairs, Rose of Herzegovina cigars and ink: the male aroma of Churchill. I inhale and I have him near me, this man I never met for real. My role model, my inspiration., my bowl of laughter.Normally I don`t like white men, but Churchill is god. Envied by so many, because he won a Nobel Prize for Literature for his History of the English-speaking Peoples, Gabriel garcìa Màrquez snarled that he had won that award because the Swedish Academy couldn`t by any means stretch truth so much as to give him the award for Peace.
I have loved Winston since my dad mentioned him in a bedtime story when I was a little girl. I imagined him getting spanked as a young soldier in Africa, during the Boer War, when he got jailed. Writing his first articles, with his mom being his first critic and accomplice. He could never be without a pen and a cat nearby, same as I. How could I avoid falling in love with his exhuberance,his joie de vivre, his capacity to withstand even the worst things and get back on his feet? Was he really aware of the dangers of the German torpedoes when the Lusitania was coming back to Europe in 1916, with the Spanish pianist Enrique Granados and his wife aboard? Were some people right to call him a criminal who was fit to be judged for those lost lives? My daughter still bears a grudge over that, or maybe it is simple, elementary misplaced jealousy.
Winston and I also share that galloping passion for cats.He had so many of them, including the rosy Rosalie who once shat into his top hat and then he poured the excrement on his balding pate when he put the hat back on, having everybody laugh at him. Jock waited for him at the steps of the house and dined with him. Once he went into a cellar after the Germans bombarded London, and he rescued in his hat three kittens and their frightened mom. That is the Winston I love, with a big heart and a baby`s smile. The same Winston who had to be restricted by the king so he wouldn`t hop into one of the ships and go off into Normandie on D Day. Even at his age ,he was able to defend England as the best of medieval knights. No more men are built like him, Winston belongs to another epoch. I hoped to find one like him for myself and failed miserably, but my dreams cannot be censored even by a wedding band and Winston continues to be my great intellectual turn-on.
Winston gave us an example on how to get things into perspective when writing history. Through his pet student Danielle Rocher, who was my teacher in college, I ñearned that no idol misses having clay feet and noticing such a detail doesn`t make you any less a historian. When I started publishing short articles on different personalities and topics, placing them in a scarcely read pseudo-elite little newspaper, I left no head standing on shoulders, and I had to be ready to survive all the attacks from people who couldn `t understand iconoclasts and people like me, who love to call things by their own name and no euphemisms. I wonder what Winston would have done now in the age of internet. Would he have more blogs than those I have?
Winston guides my every step although I never had the great honor of having him puff his cigar in my face. Today, on Historian`s Day, I have felt his presence like a gentle cloud descending like a Jewish shawl over my shoulders. At age 49, I realize that the best choice I made in my life was to become a historian.

miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2008


Entry 76 to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates which occurred on November 25:
1845 Born in Portugal Jose Marìa Eca de Queiroz on the wrong side of the blanket(his parents weren`t yet married),author of Cousin Basil and TheCrime of Father Amaru.
1970 Kimitakè Hiraoke,more known under his pen name of Yukio Mishima,great Japanese novelist and show off, commits sepukku in public before lunch in Tokyo.He almost got a Nobel prize,was the author of Patriotism,Sea of Fertility and Confessions of a Mask
Born on November 26th
1607 John Harvard England, clergyman/scholar, major benefactor to Harvard University (library & half his estate), tried hard but Robert de Sorbonne did a better job in France
1912 Eugene Ionesco France, dramatist (Rhinoceros, The Bald Soprano),considered the father of modern theatre of the absurd
Deaths which occurred on November 26:
1883 Sojourner Truth abolitionist, women's rights advocate, dies, even Lincoln admired her so much1939 James Naismith Basketball inventor, dies, that was a shot he couldn`t avoid1970 B O Davis Sr 1st black general, dies at 93 in Chicago, it was about time a black had been in charge of troops1973 Albert DiSalvo Boston strangler, stabbed, so die those who slay


Who do we blame when someone literally flushes himself down the toilet? Commits suicide, buys the farm with his own money. It`s funny that we are always ready to criticize, swashling around the mud of our western principles, Christian based hypocrisy, saying it was a sin against god, god who has so many crimes to his name because many people wreak havoc on his behalf. Yukio Mishima did it on November 25th,while so many housewives, including his own spouse, prepared lunch unaware of what was going to happen..I am so familiarized with suicide, people. Not because I have ever made an aim at it, nor do I think I will ever plan it for myself. Not for me, folks,no my cup of tea. My poor mom had enough trouble getting me into this world, almost dying herself in the effort, for me to waste her endeavours by doing myself in. I try to get into the slightly yellowish hue of Yukio Mishimàs alabaster skin that fit his muscles like a silken glove. I was a pre-teenager when I saw his head separated from the body, with a hachimaki around his forehead, on the cover of a famous magazine,with some blood under the head. My dad showed it to me,and my mom screamed. She said he was a barbarian showing that to the little girl. Did I ever had childhood?Was I really a kid when I saw that? Good questions I make,dearest reader,while I wonder if not seeing you would be pallid excuse for anyone to ask me to think seriously about disenboweling myself or poking my head into the gas oven my kitchen doesn`t have. Not Sylvia Plath, frustrated wife of poet ted Hughes, not Anne Sexton, either. Shit, I am not even a poet to merit the gas from my oven!
I guess I had a crush on Yukio Mishima from the first day I read his short story Patriotism. I was about 8, always precocious,always poking my nose beyond my age. I started collecting his pictures,specially those where he is working out at the gym to convert what he considered his slender body as ugly. My dad had approved my reading his works,and soon managed to get them all translated into French or English. Food for his literary genius in embryo. So what a shock when Yukio, in his last protest against the occidentalization of his beloved Japan, decided to go with some of his beloved soldiers of the Tatenokai(his private army)and take over General Mashita`s bunker just outside Tokyo to make his last grand show. Of course his gay lover and student was there, and would follow him to death. There is one illogical,insane nucleus of my inner brain that understands him. I have many things in common with him, the love of a good show, the narcissism. Hey wait, get your glasses back on and don`t glare at me like that.I haven`t said I will follow his footsteps, I am not issuing a departure ticket out of this filthy world the way he did. But I guess I know what was rolling through his head when he went there,read a speech while the soldiers booed or cheered,and then got down to his fundoshi,took out the sword and finally his lover decapitated him. November 25th. In Nicaragua, we honor that date with the absurd name of Day Against Wife Battering and violence against women. Just the name lets us know we have a sickly absurd society in which we women are abused,verbally,physically or psychologically. We get llosened teeth, passwords stolen in the name of family stability and marital fidelity, our webcams are shattered, our salaries gobbled by a man who doesn`t love the workingwoman who works hard for the money so you better treat her well as Donna Summer once sang. What would Yukio Mishima have said of the existence of such a day in a country where woman hitting is more of a national sport than gossiping, baseball, bastard-production and boxing. Would Eugene Ionesco laugh and say that when he created the theatre of the absurd he meant it only onstage and not offstage,in the small black cameras of our households?
But let`s get back to Mishima and suicidal people. Japan, where seppuku is an accepted form of leaving this world after your honor has been sullied, never got over this suicide.
Mishima left everyone shaking in his shoes. It left me so too. How often do you blame yourself when someone does himself in?Shizue,Yukio`s overabsorbent mother who was always his best accomplice, laid all the blame at the widow`s door.She never liked her daughter-in-law.Welcome to the family Yoko, I know lots about this,my lady. When my best friend Oscar Cortez did himself in Hemingway-style(bullet in the head)I blamed his wife too. That couldn`t take away the pain,the anguish,the loss. It was Yukio`s suicide again, although I never sang to Yukio or loved him as a close friend. My Oscar departed in July 1996,and still less than one year later, while I was the blazer-clad,stocking-footed flamboyant spokeswoman for the Ruben Darìo National Theatre, I chose to pull Yukio out of my closet and clean up his skeleton. That is why I wrote the short story Kim The Samurai Angel while I was so olympically unhappy as the spokeswoman of the maximum temple of culture ion Nicaragua. This story was brought upon by several consecutive nightmares, in which Yukio, wearing only his fundoshi and smiling sweetly, would walk into my kitchen to ask me for a dish of breaded shrimp I was cooking. He would eat and then ask me,please,pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease kitten,a short story for me,you said you loved me,prooooooove it. So I wrote Kim during my office hours, feeling I was ripping off my people because I was a public servant but I was using time paid from the taxes my people got bitten off to write.Crime.Fraud. But Kim was written this way, and the same day I ended it, Yukio came back to eat more imaginary shrimp and thank me. I have seen him again in my dreams, inevitably, but never with the intensity of those days in 1997. Three months later I would quit that awful fake job and feel free. Kim had been written in captivity.
As I have been aging, I feel I understand Yukio MIshimàs sense of alienation better.
The perspective is totally different ,but the comprehension is there. I have come to share many characteristics with him ,like the love I feel for photography, the sense of giving a good public face, not so the homosexuality nor the inclination for suicide. My literary production has grown more open-minded, and now I am not afraid of broaching any subject in my short stories or here in my own non fiction scrapbook. I somehow understand why Yoko was never enough for him, through a wry smile I acknowledge that. I wish I weren`t an atheist, so I could invent a heaven or hell where Yukio and my best friend Oscar discuss their suicides from a philosophical perspective. But it is just fantasy. One place you surely go to after death is the cemetery. Yukio was reduced to ashes. I want the same, so I can be thrown over my beloved San Juan River. Yukio and I also share an absurd sense of patriotism that irks you beyond measure, but I cannot extricate it like I cannot live without my almost useless pancreas.
The 49 year old matron I am now is still vexed over the blow Yukio gave me as a child when he did himself in. The responsible, dutiful housewife I was when my best friend shot himself in 1996 got herself another punch that still hurts. When someone you love decides its better to go off rather than live with a shadow of the time you can give him or her, it is time to think. I don`t mean the cheap drama of a manipulator who tries to scare you by punching a pen into his wrist ifn front of a webcam so that you feel forced to do what he wants, too much Egyptian soap opera without reaching the greatness only Om Khaltoum could sing in her songs. I mean the real emptiness, the body no longer harbouring that warmth you so loved. No dear reader, there is no pain like that. I hope you never feel it. When someone chooses to flush himself down the toilet of life, we realize something is awfully rotten in the sewages of this society,and we may carry this guilt like a weighted sack for the rest of our lives, even if we learn from the experience.

domingo, 16 de noviembre de 2008

Never as well served as by own hand

75th entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook for Nov.15 and 16
Birthdates which occurred on November 15:
1397 Nicholas V pope (1447-55); ended schism, founded Vatican Library , was a very useful priest1708 William Pitt the Elder (Whig) UK PM (1756-61, 66-68) `Great Commoner' , great with or without wig1738 Sir William Herschel astronomer (discovered Uranus), you do more than get torticolis from star gazing 1815 John Banvard NYC, painted world's largest painting (3 mile canvas)thank heavens Picasso never dreamt of inflicting similar torture on us
1887 Georgia O'Keeffe Sun Prairie WI, painter (Cow's Skull), nice flowers, although they look like something else
1891 Erwin Rommel German field marshall (WW II-African campaign),poor guy,sweating so much in El Alamein on an upset stomach,and at the end Hitler ordered him to drink poison.Poorly does the devil pay to those who serve him well.
Deaths which occurred on November 15:1280 Albertus Magnus German scholar, dies at 87, after many mistakes 1630 Johann Kepler German astronomer, dies at 58, his neck still hurting
1958 Tyrone Power actor, dies of a heart attack at 44,but not in Errol Flynn`s arms!1963 Fritz Reiner conductor (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), dies at 74, very good baton 1978 Margaret Mead anthropologist, dies in NY at 76
1984 Baby Fae who received a baboon's heart, dies at California medical center

1492 In Spain, 6 Jews & 5 Conversos are accused of using black magic, of course horny Isabella was delighted because that gave her where to draw money from to finance her Columbus`voyages1660 1st kosher butcher (Asser Levy) licensed in NewYork City then (New Amsterdam)
1889 Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, deposed; republic proclaimed,after he gave the golden rule to free the slaves
1939 Nazis begin mass murder of Warsaw Jews, first draft of what they would do later on
Birthdates which occurred on November 16:
42 -BC- Tiberius Cesar 2nd Roman emperor (14-37 AD) , he was on his seat when Jesus was sent to the cross, poor pervert1766 Rodolphe Kreutzer France, composer/virtuoso violinist (Paris Conservatory) he had his way with the bow1873 W(illiam) C(hristopher) Handy Alabama, jazz star (St Louis Blues),only he could sound like that
Deaths which occurred on November 16:
1885 Louis Riel French rebel who fought against Canada, executed at 41,poor chap didn`t live to tell1960 Clark Gable dies at 59.leaving piles of females like me crying over him
On this day...
1532 Pizarro seizes Incan emperor Atahualpa after victory at Cajamarca,locks him up,shows him how to play chess and ends up having a crush on him before having him executed1676 1st colonial prison organized, Nantucket, Massachusetts, good clink for not so good gents
1908 Arturo Tuscanini begins conducting NY's Metropolitan Opera, to everyone`s delight


Personne est si bien servie que par sa propre main, say the French,in a great truth as big and oily as the whole universe. Nobody is as well served as by his own hand,why do the French always manage to nab the truth,pin words on it and make it as real as nothing in the virtual world can be? Then the final shot, the coup de grace, came when James martin, wise as only a handful of Americans have ever had the luxury of being, smacked a book by Ralph Waldo Emerson into my seventh-grader hand with a Cheshire cat grin and said,”This was written for people like you.” I open the Emerson book and James wafts out of it like a welcome genie,the book being Alaeddin`s Lamp. Teachers like him we all wish to have but only a few of us are lucky enough to be chosen in order for such an honor to be bestowed upon us. I imagine him now, his silky hair almost completely white, wearing thick glasses and perhaps a cane for elegance more than for anything else, because no matter how hard he tries I get the feeling james martin can never be old. A few weeks ago, being an underestimated, underpaid teacher with a writing course destined for people who hope to fulfil their American Dream of studying in USA,unaware it can be the first episode of a truly continental nightmare, I fought against laziness, indifference, mediocrity and impunctuality to get them in front of a PC that probably belonged more in a museum of cybernetics than in a language center computer lab, and I smacked them with an Emersonian website so they could at least brush the myriad plumes of the quetzal of self-reliance. Somehow I had the impression I was blowing some gunpowder on plain vultures, but the effort was to be taken into account. At least by me. It brought me to this question: why aren`t we self-reliant? Why must we be surrounded by creeping jennies, poison ivy trying to consume our breaths, thirsty anacondas reading to suck us whole into their turmoiled stomachs? Arms promising love hold us like lianas from a tropical jungle tree, we get smothered, choked,.asphyxia blues us up. Help me, I am dying in the arms of love! Is it excuse enough?
No people. Nobody can be smothered by love, and if it smothers it isn`t love but a monster. The thing from the black lagoon, a school of rabid piranhas, a bloodsucking bat. Noooooooooo, get off me. Too many things that are nasty are executed in the sacred name of god or love, which for many is the same but not quite equal, as the Cuban troubadour Silvio Rodrìguez says in one of his songs. No, Russian legend has the hut of the Babayaga on chicken`s feet chasing all prey, but no, I can`t belong, I cannot be asphyxiated, my lungs need their air. As Rod Mckuen said,”I only own myself but all of me is mine.”
Let me tell you one little story. I have been born and have lived in a very narrow-minded little country of the Third World where religion,particularly the Catholic faith, has been an octopus over people`s opinions. It hasn`t been strong enough to wipe out squalor ,promiscuity,bastards or any other forms resulting from disorderly living or loose morals, but it suffocates enough to make people gossipy,opinionated and very hypocritical. So when my dad dropped into my lap the book titled The Crime of Father Amaru, by the great Portuguese novelist Josè Marìa Eca de Queiroz(by the way a communist,atheist and a bastard born ahead of his parents`wedding), many people said he was perverting me. The wretched love story between the handsome and young priest Amaro and the mealy-mouthed, sexually repressed Amelia has the saddest of endings, when Amelia is forced by her pseudoreligious lover into aborting the baby they so hornily made. When I finished reading the book, I could understand Amaro`s point of view. Selfish as only men can be(perhaps because they don’t give birth), Amaro forces the village girlie to be butchered by a quack and she dies as her lifeblood spills over where she so much enjoyed weeks before. But sorry, I understand Amaro. Why be saddled by something you didn`t sk for? It`s true, he could have avoided the whole thing by wearing a Trojan.But he didn`t. And the world is full of women who give all of us bad names by their beggar attitude,marry me, hold me,keep me,support me,give me.
Self reliance is a forbidden word for them, clinging vines who turn silken ribbons into iron chains. No self-respecting macho Cromagnon Australopithecus Neanderthal will ALLOW his lady to work, but when she asks for something over the budget he will howl like a shot wolf.
Recently I was observing the human circus in the internet, and an Italian chap with nice beard, blue eyes and the foulest mouth I have ever cyber met was announcing that he wanted a female(not a woman, mind you) and he was a dominator and whoever opened his webcam and legs to him had to know how to obey blindly. For him self reliance was only conjugated in the male form, and woe to the woman who ever dared challenge that absolute truth written with seminal ink from an upright male penis(hopefully upright).A true piece to be remitted to any anthropological museum, too bad he is loose on the cyber waves and doing so much damage to weak minds and pliant bodies that he should be shackled into Alcatraz(reopened for his benefit, because now it is a museum).
Self reliance has been the only way out for men and women since the world has been so called. Knowing that everything you do will be for your benefit and that of others is a dish that can only be so relished. Knowing that you own your inner space is a great feeling,specially when you realize how many people are deprived of their right to privacy in the sweetish name of love. Many husbands and wives believe they have ownership over the consort, and that kills love, if ever there was such feeling, in the name of togetherness or so called fidelity. When compliments become obligatory, and presence is required the way a drill sergeant calls his soldiers, self-reliance becomes a scratching dog trying to rid itself of all those ticks and fleas.
One of the reasons why I love cats so much is because they have their own sense of independence, never toadies or brown- nosers, never slaves to humans, never there as a doormat but as your peer. You cannot get 20 cats to pull a snow sled but the servile dog does it, poor chap with no sense of self-esteem. A dog may be kicked by you and you can get him back at your feet again. I wouldn`t recommend you do that with a cat, well not with anyone or anything.
Being self-reliant doesn`t mean you will turn your back on those who may need your help, but the fact is that by being self-reliant you can improve whatever help you may give. My associate on the historyarte website, Adolfo, often repeats that by helping the weak he never learns to be strong. I tend to agree with him, as 49 years of life in this crazy valley of tears that is the world has shown me. No use coming back for more when a door is slammed shut in your face, you have your own resources to seek for whatever you were looking for elsewhere, preferably where a bit of self-reliance and consciousness of how to interact with others exist. Nobody or nothing is indispensable in life but life itself to continue living. Usually we Nicaraguans, those of us who are self-reliant and do do homework in groups in order to be failed as a bunch, say that when a door slams shut a big garage door is waiting for you, gaping wide open, elsewhere. So no use crying over spilled milk if it was destined to land on the floor anyways.

viernes, 14 de noviembre de 2008

at the edge of the glucometer

74th entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates which occurred on November 14:
1765 Robert Fulton built 1st commercial steamboat (or 0819), and went on steam ahead1776 Henri Dutrochet discovered & named process of osmosis, hard working chap1779 Adam Gottlob Oehlenschlager Denmark, poet (National Poet 1849),still Hans Christian ndersen is better known for his little Mermaid1840 Claude Monet France, impressionist (Water Lilies),I would die for any of his paintings
1889 Jawaharlal Nehru 1st Indian PM (1947-64),the real father of India without having to pose naked with young girls to prove he was impotent 1896 Mamie Doud Eisenhower 1st lady, poor woman, having to tolerate Ike`s philandering and cavorting with his Irish born lady chauffer
1900 Aaron Copland Brooklyn, composer (Billy the Kid, Appalachian Spring).Jewish,excellent and with the awfullest teeth I have ever seen on anyone
1927 Narciso Yepes, Lorca Spain, guitarist (Orquesta Nacionale 1947)great interpreter,good Composer too

Deaths which occurred on November 14:
565 Justinian Roman emperor, dies at 82,still m,issing his ex circus girl turned empress Theo,whom he adored so much and who really ruled for him
1935 Hussein ibn Talal I king of Jordan (1953- )a good king

1851 Moby Dick by Hermann Melville was published, a novel I have always cherished so much
1959 Kilauea's most spectacular eruption (in Hawaii)what a blast!
1921 insulin is discovered as a resource for the treatment of diabetes,yessssssss,thanks Best,McLeod, for saving my life even before I was born and became diabetic

I am a diabetic.Type 2 fortunately. It would have been easy for me to be born with type I diabetes,which ruins your life from childhood because your pancreas simply doen`t work at all. It runs in the family, my maternal grandmother had it. Sooner or later, my genes were going to act up and it sure helped that I was a candy addict in my teens, a wageless assistant chef for my mom, and I have always had a sweet tooth. Diabetes Day. A world day. To celebrate some very smart guys found the relationship between insulin and the well being of those with diabetes. The news about this discovery was given on a day like today back in 1921. The day itself was introduced in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the alarming rise in diabetes around the world. It all began in the decade of the 20s in the xxth century.
It wasn`t easy at first.At Toronto General Hospital, 14-year-old Canadian Leonard Thompson became the first person to receive an insulin injection as treatment for diabetes. Diabetes had been recognized as a distinct medical condition for more than 3,000 years, but its exact cause was a mystery until the 20th century. By the early 1920s, many researchers strongly suspected that diabetes was caused by a malfunction in the digestive system related to the pancreas gland, a small organ that sits on top of the liver. At that time, the only way to treat the fatal disease was through a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar, and high in fat and protein. Instead of dying shortly after diagnosis, this diet allowed diabetics to live--for about a year, at the most.
A breakthrough came at the University of Toronto in the summer of 1921, when Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully isolated insulin from canine test subjects, produced diabetic symptoms in the animals, and then began a program of insulin injections that returned the dogs to normalcy. On November 14, the discovery was announced to the world.
Two months later, with the support of J.J.R. MacLeod of the University of Toronto, the two scientists began preparations for an insulin treatment of a human subject. Enlisting the aid of biochemist J.B. Collip, they were able to extract a reasonably pure formula of insulin from the pancreas of cattle from slaughterhouses and used it to treat Leonard Thompson. The diabetic teenager improved dramatically, and the University of Toronto immediately gave pharmaceutical companies license to produce insulin, free of royalties. By 1923, insulin had become widely available, saving countless lives around the world, and Banting and Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Countless figures of history were diabetics, beginning with the beautiful yet treacherous Greek general Alcibiades, who always knew that his glucose was high after he pissed,for the ants would gather around the wet spot he had left on the ground. Along would come others, like the Empress Theodora of Byzantium,beloved consort of Justinian who died a day like today. Wu Chao,empress of China,almost lost a leg to diabetes and King Louis XIVth,the glorious Sun King, would hide behind curtains when he was eating sweets that his doctor Fagon had prohibited him to devour. Even in his privileged mind, British writer HG Wells couldn`t imagine a cure to his disease, even though he was the dad of modern science fiction. But diabetes didn`t stop Ernest Hemingway from consuming huge quantities of booze, and he often levelled off his high glucose by playing with his cats. I tend to think that the possession of cats does help diabetics, because cats take stress away and many times diabetics get lots of stress and their glucose goes up.
Even though I knew sooner or later I would become a diabetic because it follows hereditary patterns, I wasn`t quite ready when the diagnosis came on January 31st,2003 for me. The world fell at my feet. I had a count of 235,when the normal level is between 75 and 110 when you haven`t eaten in the morning and between 75 and 120 one hour after you have eaten. I would need a glucometer to measure my level every morning and that meant pricking myself. Welcome pain, daily routine. Goodbye desserts. Why didn`t anybody tell me about neuropathies?Those are pains,shooting pains in your legs, your toes go numb. When the sugar –loaded bloodstream passes by the myelin surface of your nerves, it acts like sandpaper and wears off the insulating myelin away, so it is like having peeled up cables that bristle at contact. This causes something like electroshocks and these in turn produce pain ,itching, tingling,stinging or burning sensations. Sometimes these pains are so great your muscles grow weak and flabby and you may have that extremity impaired for walking. Diabetes sweeps away whatever lifestyle you had before,and turns your world upside down. I was hitched onto insulin shots to begin with and get balanced. Months later Milagros, the best doctor in the world and now one of my best friends, unhooked me from insulin and gave me pills:glibenclamide and metformin. I still take them every day of my life.
I would be a liar, dearest reader, if I said I don’t eat sugar anymore. I have no more painful neuropathies, but I get up to pee up to 3 times per night, stay away from Cocacola, and watch as others gobble the desserts I make. Nothing more painful for a cook to be unable to eat her own desserts. What diabetes does to your libido is a sad story and the bad news is that gentlemen who were satyrs may end up being perfectly impotent. Depression is another common side effect,but in my case I have been prone to optimism instead. That got me out of a wheelchair and would not allow me to ever feel sorry for myself, even when a flabby, horny and bitchy ministress of social security called me a “lovely garbage sack of bones to be forever useless.” I refused to feel self compassion when my husband went out with his friends all day on August 1st and July 19th-holidays in my country-to booze and whore his way dry while I was in bed at home, accompanied by my cats and my daughter.
I don’t suffer from the typical diabetic`s bad temper. Many people use this malady as a simple excuse for being rude to others. No way.
Today, I have celebrated my World Diabetes Day by staying safely out of danger,optimistic and healthy. Why not?In another century I wouldn`t have lasted even for this day.

martes, 11 de noviembre de 2008

Armistice Day

73rd entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates which occurred on November 11:
1050 Henry IV Holy Roman emperor (1036-1106), how Holy was he really?1636 Yen Jo-chu Chinese scholar of Ch'ing dynasty m a real thinking man if ever there was one
1744 Abigail Smith Adams 2nd 1st lady, that was one writing lady as wife of John Adams 1748 Charles IV king of Spain (1788-1808), good for nothing, syphyllitic idiot who couldn`t even rule,spawned a freak on a leash like Charles II
1771 Ephraim McDowell surgeon (pioneered abdominal surgery) ouch ouch and more ouch1821 Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Russia, novelist (Crime & Punishment.Karamazovi Brothers),the advocate for the poor and oppressed,sublime epileptic,former army lieutenant and foot fetishist
1883 Ernest Ansermet Vevey Switzerland, conductor (Ruilles de Printemps) ,best ballet orchestra conductor although he looked like a dancing circus bear1885 George S Patton general "Old Blood & Guts", great general, great slapper and too bad USA had no more use for him after WWII so faked an accident to get him out of the way1896 Charles "Lucky" Luciano Sicily, NYC Mafia gangster, a man to reckon with
1911 King Hussein of Jordan,lovely king,sweet man, met him in Paris and he won my heart with his simplicity
1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr author (Slaughterhouse Five, Sirens of Titan), God bless you without rosewater
Deaths which occurred on November 11:
1831 Nat Turner former slave, led a violent insurrection, hanged in VA, so end all freedom fighters
1811 Cartagena Colombia declares independence from Spain ,good,was about time!1860 1st Jewish wedding in Buenos Aires Argentina, did they live happily ever after?
1918 Armistice Day-WW I ends (at 11 AM on Western Front) ,signed in Paris, and thus it is all War Veterans`Day ever since1921 President Harding dedicates Tomb of Unknown Soldier, little did old Warrùn as his awful wife called him, know that death was ready to gnaw at his heart pretty soon, and not while having Nan Britton in his arms in the closet of the Oval Office


Today, ever since the armistice that put an end to World war I was signed in Paris in 1918, is War veterans`Day. All over the world, all of us who have been in one or another war, celebrate the fact that we are still alive-whether in one piece or missing many- and we grieve and honor the fallen ones. It is funny how sentimental people can get about their war veterans in civilized countries like France. Many of them diet for months so they can get again into their old uniforms. But in countries like mine, we are viewed as garbage or freaks on a leash, the people who deal with social insecurity,excuse me,security hates us, want us to be dead. Sometimes there is a small ceremony so we try to suck in our bellies to look good in the old uniform, parade around like preening roosters showing off our medals. But the scars, outward or inner like in my case, pinpoint us as those who returned from the great Beyond, from the Sweet Abyss as Silvio Rodrìguez sings in his song, and we will have sequels for the rest of our lives. Take my dad, for example, veteran of World War II, with so many condecorations that he looked like a ligh5ted and walking Christmas Tree, he had a tic that made his left elbow shake imperceptibly when under extreme stress. He sported his tattoo made by the Nazis, on the inner part of his left elbow, and in the number was the exact day of my birth, engraved into his skin in 1944 when he had no inkling I would be born to his supreme delight. Later on, when I was born, he would say he was fated to have me, and a radiant sunshine smile would make his visage even handsomer. As war veteran he had so many stories to tell, he was never embittered nor shaky. He said he was so thankful to have survived, and he even had the tender soul to risk everything in order to save his German friend Hans Schneider, the officer from the Hitlerian Youth, who had hidden him in the kitchen and saved him from starving, being sodomized again or even sent to get baked. He managed to get Hans across Germany after the Russians freed the Auschwitz prisoners by saying it was a deaf and dumb peasant who couldn’t speak either, hauled him to Normandie, sheltered him and gave him his last name to add to the one he had. My Uncle Hans Levallois Schneider is still well and alive inParis, a true French citizen now, because the war vet my dad was at age 25 gave him the gift of life again.
If life were a competition, I could never race against my dad`s war record. I am a veteran of the war between two Nicaraguan factions, the Sandinistas and the counterrevolutionaries who did not want a totalitarian state to get established. To be honest, I side with neither.I can never approve brother fighting against brother. I was just a war correspondent, escorting and translating for the journalists from world networks who came to find out what was going on here. I was on the warfront since 1983,shortly after I returned from France with my degrees, and was drafted into the army. I was there when we made the big blunder of stepping into Honduras from Teotecacinte, shot on the left knee during conflict in Jalapa, fell off a chopper in La Penca in 1985, where one year later I would be shrapnelled. I saw things I had never believed possible on the battlefield, and cried my own tears of blood too. I was in and out of the hospital so often that I almost considered it my bedroom away from home. Broken column, snake-bitten feet, shattered wrists, shrapnels and a bullet almost converted me into a Bionic woman. I am still looking for any male of the species who has as many war injuries as I do and still feels the urgent need to laugh when the circumstances under which it all happened are mentioned. That is when I realize that the Celts were right to include the women in the battlefield, just like the Zulus. Wise rulers also count on women to reinforce their armies, dumb ones try to shun us away. We are used to blood…remember that menstruation inures us to blood. Few men can be as bold as colonels like Pampata of the Zulus or Manuela Saenz, the liberator of the Libertador Bolìvar.
As a war veteran, I am grateful to live for having loved me so much that she couldn`t bear to let me go from her. I consume with relish all war movies, and the traumas are well hidden under a picture perfect smile. For the rest of my life my shrink said, shortly before dying himself aided by his own stepdaughter in one of the most scandalous crimes of Nicaragua, I will have my two nightmares per night, in full colour, with music and special effects. Out of these nightmares have come some of my best short stories in the genre of horror, and produced fame and money for me. If life gave me lemons, I sure have made good lemonade too.
The fact that I am a war veteran has changed my perspective of life, and also my ideas on the supposed weakness of women. I will never meet a male-unless I go to the thousand times heroic nation of Vietnam-who can even dream of matching my record of war injuries and still look the way I do in pictures, or indirectly, smack in front of anyone. I have a retarded aging process. In fact I lament that my body sports no outward scars.I would be proud to wear those medals of the flesh. My numerous fractures are well covered by satiny sallow skin that refuses to wrinkle. This old lion still loves to pose and seduce the camera, vain witch that I am, a shameless narcissist as you, dearest reader, so well know. Never for me the drab , graceless servant like uniform for office worn by bureaucrats of the army. Only camouflage or the virginal white of a corvette captain. I earned it. Yet now in my forties, I have never felt more at ease than when wearing my long flowered Jewish dresses with their shawls.
Being a veteran is like sailing against the wind in countries like mine, where we are not the semi gods that veterans are in France or England. The worst of all ios that if I were given a choice, to be reborn again, I would still go through all my war experiences again. The feeling of having kisses death`s bony hand and lived to tell about it is a thrill that not a single drug in the word can give you. The pride is the size of a lion`s shadow at dusk. Nothing can ever come close to it. One day, hopefully no war veterans will exist,but only because war may have died forever. Difficult but possible. Just a dream but dreams and hope are the last thing we lose.

lunes, 10 de noviembre de 2008


72d entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates which occurred on November 10:
1483 Martin Luther ,in Eisleben, Germany, founded Protestantism. But ended up married to an ex nun and a complete sot1668 Francois Couperin Paris France, composer/organist (Concerts Royaux) ,so admired by the Regent Philippe II of Orlèans

1683 George II king of England (1727-60), who hated his son so badly he said he wished “that ass`death”, a coomon situation in the dysfunctional Hnnoverian dynasty of England
1759 Frederich von Schiller in Germany, poet/lyricist (Ode to Joy), Beethoven`s Ninth Symphony catapulted him to world fame
Deaths which occurred on November 10:
1938 Kemal Ataturk ,1st President of Turkey, dies at 57 of cirrhosis, was a real forger of the nation,and an example of a statesman
1982 Leonid I Brezhnev Soviet 1st sect, dies of a heart attack at 75
On this day...
1674 Dutch formally cede New Netherlands (NY) to English, this will be the Dutch origin of New York 1775 US Marine Corps established by Congress, “the few the proud”, what a joke for an intervention force
1928 Hirohito with his four eyes,ugly scrawny figure and alligator`s mouth is enthroned as Emperor of Japan, one of the worse things to ever happen to Japan who would have to see him parade on a white horse and after World War II have to admit he went to the toilet like every mortal

India : Guru Nanak's Day-1st teacher of the Sikhs


Riots explode in the streets of Managua and other cities, while the Frente Sandinista-which has been the worse thing to ever happen to Nicaragua-tries again to make a fraud of the elections for mayors. A child was killed in fights between parties, and it seems like if we are destined only for havoc and despair. I wonder what kind of leader we have if he can even be called like that, and on a day like today I feel visited by one the memory of the man I have adored most in my whole life: Mustafà Kemal Ataturk, the gentleman who forged modern Turkey. I curl into a corner of my translator`s desk, a moment of solitude yet in the company of a gentle.clear eyed ghost with blond hair. Catalogued by ignorants as a dictator, he comes to me in the middle of a drowsy moment after I have lunched, the dessert I didn`t eat, dressed in jeans and accompanied by mu dauighter`s cat who recently died, a gentle figure asking me with a charming smile for this entry and a few cannelloni left over from lunch. IN my dreamy haze, he enters my kitchen and goes to the oven, and helps himself while my daughter`s cat entwines between his long legs and almost knocks him over. That is the reaction The Grey Wolf-as he was called by his troops- got from his followers. Even those of us who never had the inmense privilege of having a handshake with him. We are like curling cats at his feet. I don`t know if you have ever felt this,dearest reader, and least of all for a politician, because people in politics ignore that politics is the art of doing good for the community and they generally become disgusting fatsos who seek only their utmost satisfaction.
Not Ataturk. The fact that I have worshipped him is my dad`s fault,who had the knack of keeping me away from Brothers Grimm`s absurd fairy tales that so much damage cause on female minds, and his proclivity to read me as bedtime stories the biographies of great leaders or telling me in lurid details all his experiences as a soldier from the Allies during World War II. I was barely 4 years old when I heard his sobriquet Ataturk, father of all Turks, given to him after he started on a series of reforms that wouldn`t only glue the remaining pieces of the Ottoman Empire after World war I but also forge the modern republic that Turkey is. My dad would value top workers over anything in life, industriousness for him was an earthly godliness, and as such he valued people like France`s Philippe II of Orleans-the regent who held the kingdom together after Louis XIV`s death until his great grandson Louis XV grew up enough to be crowned. Ataturk was in his good books, and he often wondered what role the blond Turkish statesman would have taken if he had lived enough to see World War raging rampantly. My dad had been in 1937 in Turkey and seen the already ailing president at a weightlifting match and after having won a medal, had had the honor of getting a bear hug from Ataturk, who had been a devoted swimmer, chess player and a promoter of sports.
I understand many of Ataturk`s decisions because we share something in common more than our love for hard, honest work: the need for solitude. Perhaps that is why his marriage lasted only 3 years and there was no issue. Later on he would adopt 7 girls and one son, as he needed children around him. Many of his best hours were spent curled up with a book, or watching his animals come and go.he adored horses, as well as the famed Angora cats that have been a symbol of Turkish beauty. He wrote poems, too. He was a really privileged mind from whom we learn what a good habit of reading can do for us, something we so urgently need in my country. Those who read know that knowledge is power, and with power in your hands and knowing what rights assist you, nobody can swindle the results of an election. We need someone like him in Nicaragua, so that our ravaged and war-torn country can finally lift its forehead and proudly get to work.
Many years ago, I published an article on Ataturk`s life. As a historian, I knew how important he had been as a patriot,the forger of a new country, the liberator of women who had up until then just been receptacles of pleasure and brood mares only. It is now in that Indian Summer of my premenopause, while my lifeblood slowly trickles out of me, and I stare appalled at what political violence can do to us, that I get to understand Ataturk better. Now I see why many clocks in Turkey still fix their hands on 9:05 am. The hour he left this world only physically. I comprehend the hero worship that many Turks still have of this guy. If he was Muslim or a Jew-as has been speculated recently- I care not, because I have never been a bigot or superstitious. I love him for his perfection-Kemal- which was put upon him by his math teacher. I love him for his beauty-inside and outside-his elegance, his enlightment, his constant desire to always move forward and offer his best. The patriot I am still has an everlasting crush on him, the stateswoman in the making that lives on my left shoulder as a shadow admires him and has too much to learn from his example. Ataturk, contrary to his sobriquet of Kemal, wasn`t perfect as a man although perhaps this was what made him such a wise and sound ruler. He died at 57, still being a workaholic and an intellectual. He disappeared only physically. The results of his procedures, reforms and laws are still everywhere in his country. The respect and dmiration we feel for him is not limited for his countrymen, and now, in the middle of turmoil, between one translation and another, he has come to me in a dream to remind me that Bertholt Bretch, the German playwright, was right:”There are men who struggle for one day, and they are good. Other strive and fight for many weeks ,months or years, and they are wonderful. But there are those who struggle all their life.Those are the utmostly indispensable, the necessary ones.” Ataturk was definitely one of the greatest crown jewels of Lady History.

domingo, 9 de noviembre de 2008

Lautaro Toqui Mapuche

71st entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates which occurred on November 09:
1731 Benjamin Banneker Ellicott MD, black mathematician/surveyor (Wash DC) , in an era when the slavery-stained USA still thought “niggers” belonged nowhere near a pencil

1802 Elijah P Lovejoy American newspaper publisher/abolitionist, he certainly knew what he was doing! 1818 Ivan Turgenev Russia, novelist/poet/playwright (Fathers & Sons),one of the greatest literati of his time
1841 Edward VII king of England (1901-10),the playboy and glutton king
1928 Anne Sexton Newton MA, poet (Live or Die),the housewife poet,destined to do herself in by gas
1934 Carl Sagan NYC, astronomer/author/professor (Cosmos, Broca's Brain)one of a kind,definitely
Deaths which occurred on November 09:
1874 Israel Bak created 1st hebrew printing press, dies .Thank you Rae1952 Chaim Weizmann 1st President of Israel, dies at 57,certainly had ahard time1953 Abdul-Aziz ibn Sa'ud founder of Saudi Arabia, dies (born c 1880),one of the greatest satyrs of all time 1953 Dylan Thomas author-poet, dies in NY at 39,after having written many truths in verse
1970 Charles DeGaulle French President, dies at 79, he may have been a hero,but sure was a nasty dictator, no wonder the students hated him and revolted against his repression, nevertheless my dad named my darling ocelot after him
1991 Yves Montand actor, dies at 70 from a heart attack, after nearly causing multiple attacks in women due to his sexy crooning
On this day...
1526 Jews are expelled from Pressburg Hungary by Maria of Hapsburg, oh as usually happened
1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates after German defeat in WW I, and flees shaking with fear to Belgium dangling his useless arm
1927 Giant Panda discovered, China for eveyone`s delight
1938 "Kristallnacht" (Crystal Night)-Nazi stormtroopers attacked Jews, Night of Long Knives when the Nazis as usual were so kind to Jews


While everyone rushes around,brawls,screams and lets their political passions get vented, I quietly observe how absurd we humans are. Animals are wiser than us, dearest heart. Vut even though they are loaded with wisdom,they have to die someday. I don`t know why but the dateof November 9th has always been a deadly one for me, and I don`t know if it is the shadow of that night in1938 when in Germany, the Nazis decided to make an attempt at wiping out all vestige of Jewish knowledge,prosperity and life itself in what became known as Crystal Night or the Night of Long Knives. Businesses, libraries, homes, all invaded, ripped to shreds, life torn away from my people. In my personal life, November 9th has always meant a good deal of grief. After my parents died in a plane crash while trying to reach Miami in order to flee from a totalitarian government, the order for total confiscation of their properties, the brutl snatching of their full estate, was issued and carried out on a day like today. Although the president back then, Daniel Ortega, who is now in power again due to the ignorance of my people, proclaimed he was democratic,he sure fell in love with my parents` wealth and took all he could away. That is democracy Nicaraguan-style, or democrazy?
In 2002 my cat Niña Mary Shelley died after pining away for her mate Joseph II of Habsburg, who had died in April that year. I still believe we could have done more for her, but sometimes our veterinarians are worse than any quack you find along. She died on June 9th,2002. The emptiness after her death would be huge for me. She left behind her three female kittens which were her adoptive kids, and the one in charge of raising them properly was Pharaoh Evander Holyfield, a green eyed Egyptian cat who had been a gift from my husband`s friend Angelica in an effort to provide consolation and company for the bereaved Niña Mary Shelley after her mate died.
In 2005, on November 9th we had a worse cat-related experience. One of our neighbors was an ailurophobe and since she never managed to get my husband into her bed, hell hath no fury as that of a woman scorned. 12 of the more than 20 cats we had were poisoned by her while we were out shopping, and when we returned home there was some of them lying there, already dead, others in the process of having convulsions before the Black Camel of Death took them. I couldn`t stop crying for days, and we buried them in a nearby baseball field. Carrying all those dear furry little bodies to their grave was an experience that will forever live in my nightmares. We still had some survivors left, but the memory of those hairy little angels will be with me even after I die. Of course, telling the police about it would do no good at all, since we live in an uncivilized country where cat hating is a national sport due to the ignorance of my people. The wicked woman who poisoned them was said to be a “pillar of the Pentecostal church”. That is why I am convinced that excessive religious zeal is always a mask for the basest, most disgusting of people.
Today is November 9th, and cat death has knocked at my door again. While we lived in an ugly place called Lindavista, our next door neighbour was given a small,grey tabby kitten. Knowing that her dogs weren`t used to having cats around,she did a wise thing. She gave the little beast to my husband,and when my daughter returned from class the
Crush was instantly solidified. Scrawny, small and weak-looking, the kitten took an instant liking to two females in my family:the black Cocker Spaniel bitch Pompey,and my kid. My daughter would name him Lautaro after the greatest military strategist of the Araucano-Mapuche nation of Chile. Her dog would become his surrogate mother, being able to nurse him even though she was a virgin. Constant sucking at her teat by little Lautaro managed to get her producing milk, The rich milk produced by his new mother allowed him to grow strong, sturdy and playful.He became a hunky cat with a glossy coat, and his enormous green eyes gave him a look. Nobody would have believed him to have arrived so thin and emaciated. He became the constant companion of my daughter,waiting for her when she came home from the university. He was always there, supervising her while she did her homework. He even accepted her boyfriend with bonhomie, something my husband`s favourite cat-who had been born with my daughter acting as midwife-never did.
Lautaro never got sick, had a wonderful appetite and his looks got him admired by everyone who saw him. He grew up big,fat and sleek, completely devoted to his bitch mother. He nursed from her until the day he died,which was today. Our next-door neighbour called my husband over today in the morning. The cat had fallen into the traps of his two awful Pitbull terriers,and although Lautaro was in one piece with no holes poked into him,he had been badly smothered by them. The shamefaced dentist handed in the body to us and after identifying him, we gave him a decent burial, including the detail of crowning his grave with a broken indigenous pot(remember indigenous people used to bury their dead inside clay pots?) My daughter was shocked and sad. We all were. Lautaro wasn`t only our pet and master at he same time, but he taught us a very practical lesson by his special relationship with his mother the bitch.
He practiced tolerance and understanding to a point that only someone like Martin Luther King junior could have fully comprehended. We were all created equal for him, and as such, he dealt with us. He also taught us that it isn`t sharing the same bloodline what makes us family, but the understanding,love,caring and solidarity that binds beings. He never judged anyone,and was fair to all. Animals have such wisdom that if we imitated them a bit, we wouldn`t let ourselves be governed by base passions, idiotic prejudices and the eternal battle of the sexes, marriage wouldn`t have to be combat, working never a full invasion, simple life never an eternal struggle. I hope the lesson that this furry angel taught us in his brief passing through this world will not be forgotten, and we shall honor his dear memory by trying to improve ourselves as humans without having to step on other people`s heads to score futile points. Onto victory always, as Che Guevara said, my dearest Lautaro Toqui Lautaro!

sábado, 8 de noviembre de 2008

The parting at dusk

70 th entry for The Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates November 08:
1656 Sir Edmond Halley 1st to calculate comet's orbit (Halley's Comet),wore some of the funniest wigs in history
1883 Sir Arnold Bax London, Ireland, composer (Farewell My Youth, Cornish Rhapsody), how the English love to claim him
1900 Margaret Mitchell writer (Gone With the Wind), until she was gone under a taxi `s wheels who killed her
1864 Abraham Lincoln elected to his 2nd term as President, this time he didn’t enter the White House through the backyard
1978 Carlos Fonseca Amador, founder of Frente Sandinista of Nicaragua ,is killed in Zinica, suspected someone from inside the organization got him removed from the way


Usually we bang into a Wall of China somewhere along our path from birth to grave. At times we aren’t even aware of it happening, and we question ourselves why things are the way the turn out to be. Often, life,or nature, or kismet, has a way of showing us that we are in the way of something that has been fated for us. We take so many things for granted in life, and we want to dominate that beautiful but indomitable steed that is destiny, we want to feel masters of something. I started this book by a fortunate accident, in the most unusual of circumstances. I wanted something epistolary, perhaps because I have been shaped by different diaries of famous people. I also admire the French general Pierre Choderlos de Laclos `masterpiece The Dangerous Liaisons, written in a superb epistolary style and that is the reason why Laclos is considered the father of modern psychological novel. The day this scrapbook was begun, everything seemed to be as airborne as myself. I conjured angels even though I was aware I was using a lion figment of my cat imagination, and there goes my phrase again. I needed a muse, I had one on hand, what for who knows because many times we remember the work but not who was the one who begot it on us. Creation tends to be such a selfish act. But nobody wants to be called selfish so we invent or compose the most saccharine motivations in order for things to contain the necessary element of romance, we know it sells so well…. Writing is such a very selfish act of creation, we alone struggle at the keyboard, while those who don`t understand the demanding and spoiled devils that inhabit our imagination, ask themselves how callous or evil we can be. Dinners get cold, phones ring around us, letters go unanswered. The gravitational pull is there. We cannot escape, we are moons dancing around the Earth of our ideas, and it is very complicated to explain all the time. Can we fall one day into our own Earth, splat ,the moon falling on top of a continent. Have you ever dreamt of moons all floating around heaven, in different stages of their transformation? I often have that dream. Well we are all those moons, at our different stages in life. So the big thing about having a muse can be, to put it flatly, something very optional. More or less happens like the hen who can lay an egg cackling with satisfaction because the rooster humped her, but the hens at the farms where they produce eggs at industrial level, they can go without the gentleman cock. Bluntly, sorry, but some writers work like that. The angel is optional, like the nuts in the brownies that anyways taste delicious with or without them.
To tell the truth, I hate having to say that. But one thing brings another dancing in, and
Suddenly I join Hèctor Berlioz with his last but not first impression of Henrietta Smithson, the woman for whom he wrote the Symphonie Fantastique. What didn`t he do to conquer her? Brush a star with his fingertips, sigh like zephyr had gotten into his lungs? So I am left teetering over the edge, peeking into the abyss where I thought a crystal blue lake existed, only to find it is a huge gaping hole that yawns indifference shadows into my eyes. It had to happen, you may say. Buckets of ice cold water do fall from balconies. On our backs, which is the worse thing that can happen. We scream, drenched in our own waters of disappointment. Ha, told you so, whispers a small minion on that top corner of our eyelid, swinging contentedly with a seemingly innocuous smile on the small silver swing of our reactions. Again, I remember the phrase the Viscount Valmont tells his desperate and lovesick Madame de Volanges in Laclos` masterpiece. It is beyond my control. It is beyond my control. It always hurts to hear that. But it awakens us to our realities. Sometimes it is about time that we come out from our cotton candy cumulus clouds full of empty rain. The jolt is fantastic. The first question comes out, WHY? We feel frustrated, like when a glass blower in Murano sees the bottle he `s working on popping off.
So I will resort to using a piece of logic from one of my favourite authors and rulers: Suleyman the Magnificent, the best the Ottoman dynasty ever produced. The muse always acts like a nanny, loving mother or wet nurse. She guides the baby the author is with his first paces, step by step. She kisses the hurt knee ok, holds your hand, gives you a nudge. Follows you, smiles so dazzlingly sometimes you think you are falling in love. The spark may be there. But she knows sooner or later you have to try your own engine.
See if it works. So one day, with a wistful expression on her face, she lets you go on your own. She may even administer a well needed slap on the ass, or on the face. You may cry for a while, but suddenly you discover your own two feet and your own motor is the one who is running your steady step. Blessed laws by Newton, holy inertia. You have gone on your own, nobody will stop you now. The transition may be painful. Sooner or later you will express your thanks, maybe not now. So the muse sees her kid walking away slowly, may wave, shed a subrepticious tear. It is the turning point in your life, a road not taken in your works, and may Robert Frost forgive me for overusing the title of his best-know poem. The hinge of circumstances has opened.
You go your way. The rest comes by itself, although the first steps out of the fearful wheelchair are faltering.
It is hard to let go, hard to say onto victory always as Che Guevara said. But all greetings bring the farewells inside. They are pregnant with possibilities of parting. We may weep, when nobody sees us because we are so proud. We make futile promises.
We know we will not fulfil them, but they help to oil the knot of a final goodbye that we want to convert into a see you later.
The hardest thing to do in life is to give the last kiss, shake hands and turn around to face the horizon and start walking, alone. Believe me it is hard, heart wrenching. But still we do it. We subreptitiously let out a diamond tear when Jerry packs his stuff into a bandanna, pokes a stick into the satchel, hangs it over his shoulder and says goodbye to Tom. We would rather be dead than admit that farewells are full of thorns. So we don`t look back…until maybe we are at a safe distance, when the memories overtake us, we give a last glimpse like Lot`s wife and our yearning becomes a pillar of salt inside our heart. Hasta la vista baby, said jokingly beefcake Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator II. Now I understand, and I still don`t want to chuckle. Saying thank you is necessary, even if the torn heart still bleeds inside.

jueves, 6 de noviembre de 2008

None but the Lonely Heart

69th entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates on November 06:
1558 Thomas Kyd English dramatist (Spanish Tragedy) , no kidding going on here1661 Charles II last Habsburg king of Spain (1665-1700),so deformed he couldn`t even have kids
1771 Alois Senefelder inventor (lithography)we owe him so much!
1814 Adolphe Sax Belgium, musician/inventor (saxophone) invented what people call the saxophone due to his instrument`s sensuous sound 1851 Charles H Dow co-founded Dow Jones/1st editor of Wall St Journal ,and since then his last name is synonymous to headaches1854 John Phillip Sousa Wash DC, march king (Stars & Stripes Forever,The March of all Animal Kingdom),the unique and melodious March King1860 Ignace Jan Paderewski Kurylowka Poland, composer/pianist/patriot,played like a politician, made politics like a prima donna pianist
Deaths which occurred on November 06:
1632 King Gustavus Aldophus of Sweden, dies in battle, left him there naked with his butt into the air,then his crybaby widow took his heart out and hung it over her bed
1893 Peter Ilitch Tchaikovsky of cholera,after having drunk a glass of unboiled water,greatest Russian composer,author of Swan Lake,The Nutcracker and his famous Diary in which he confessed his homosexuality,I adore him so much it almost hurts
1796 Empress Catherine II the Great of Russia dies while showering,hey she was hot but was not coupling with a horse as black male historian envy`s legend has it

1813 Chilpancingo congress declares Mexico independent of Spain,wow finally1844 Spain grants Dominican Rep independence,was about time
1917 Bolshevik revolution begins with the capture of the Winter Palace,yessssss,got the gobbling family that ruined Russia,can`t imagine how they would later become saints of the Russian Orthodox Church

I wouldn`t have chosen to die of cholera. Too painful,rather messy. How can someone who set us to sing,even a baby like I was sang his music,die in such a tasteless fashion? I have so many questions to ask him,dearest reader of every single day that I breathe, and I wish someone would gurantee me that there is a hell or a heaven or half sewn together purgatory,somewhere that I can look into to find him there, with his blue eyes, his elegant polar bear beard, and question him what was his formula for producing such seamless, flawless and such tear- jerking music. One might ask me,ma`am, you do produce tear-jerkers in this same Colonel`s Scrapbook, or your story about My TellTale Heart, what do you want more salty tears for?
I have loved Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky since I was a baby, or maybe in my mother`s belly I was already his fan. Still in my crib,before I learned to walk,I chilled everyone when at 7 months old,I sang the introduction to The Nutcracker. Everyone listening could distinguish it was The Nutcracker. Nothing else.
From that moment on Peter and I became fast friends. When I had the great luck of being owned by the most beautiful cat ion the world, my pet Torta, it would have been a sin not to introduce her to such heavenly music. So when my mother really wanted to quiet both of us nasty little vase-breaking beasts, she would place a stack of records containing Peter`s music on the record player. That was the end of our insolence. We would sit down on the old Austrian sofa made of simple polished wicker, and drool. We both learned Peter`s music by heart, maybe because it was aimed exactly at the heart.
Then,it was inevitable that the grey-eyed, pudgy little me who got sent to study ballet with our premier danseur Heriberto Mercado, would fall in love more steadily with Peter. He is the man to listen to when you study classical ballet. Dressed in my pale pink tutu,hair rolled up in a bun trying to imitate Anna Pavlova(we have such gall, when we are young kids), Peter was my great companion at the barre, He would sweep me into the air,correct my port de bras.
At age five I was the White Cat from the Cat in Boots pas de deux in the Sleeping Beauty,and I tried to look graceful, but I really looked like a pregnant Siberian tigress. An effort was made because my mom paid juicy sums to see her cub in ballet tights,so I was re-cast as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake,and try as I might
to look like a swan I was really a dancing stuffed turkey. I knew I was never going to be Nicaragua`s competition for Tamara Karsavina,or Mathilde Kschessinskaya.
But I found a way to keep Peter with me all my life,and I became musically trained. The piano wasn’t Chopin or Liszt for me, it was Tchaikovsky.So many years of playing his music, and then the thunderclap fell.
I was a student at the French Conservatory when we had to read everything about Peter. Everything meant also his Diary. Unexpurgated version. My ears burned and I turned red .Why hadn`t anybody bothered to prepare me for this? I have nothing against gays, dearest reader. I respect their way of life, it is a question of taste, not a malady. Reading his diary left me drained. I cried when nobody saw me. I couldn’t reject Peter out of prejudice, by judging what he did without his pants on. I would have to hate Alexander the Great, Leonardo Da Vinci and Louis XIVth younger brother. No way. How scared could Petr have been in a double morality society? He called his homosexuality Sensation X. His brother Modeste was one of his guys. So afraid of losing his job, of being seen in public with his guy.
The same society that a century before had seen Catherine the Great romping around with the ancestor of composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov…who was envious of Peter`s enormous success. Slowly I assimilated Petr`s homosexuality. He had given me too many intense moments of joy with his music for me to ever discriminate against him.
I can`t stop believing Peter committed suicide. He had just premiered his last symphony,Pathetique, and he had lost his great patroness Nadezhdavon Meck,who was alike a mother, patroness, platonic lover and confidante all wrapped into one nice package. Drinking unboiled water while cholera swept across Russia in a big epidemic was the unwisest thing a person could do. I wouldn `t have chosen to do myself in like that, if I had ever thought about such nonsense as killing myself.
Peter has always been a sort of bearded guardian angel for me,if angels would really exist. It is funny that Russià s greatest genius should have died the way he did. In reality,he was always the embodiment of his own beautiful song None but the Lonely Heart. So that is why I shall always remember him with my heart in my hand set out towards him.

miércoles, 5 de noviembre de 2008


68th entry to the colonel`s Scrapbook
Birthdates November 05:
1849 Rui Benedetto Barbosa Brazil, statesman/jurist/essayist/civil liberties ,author of Pantanal,great novelist and environmentalist,said,”Man is the only creature on earth who eats when not hungry,drinks when not thirsty,that is why he is doomed”1885 Will Durant writer/historian (Story of Civilization) read his books,they are fun1887 Paul Wittgenstein Vienna Austria, left hand specialist pianist, he lost his right arm fighting in World War I,so Ravel wrote the Concerto for the Left Hand for him
1913 Vivien Leigh (Gone With Wind) unforgettable Scarlet OHara on the film Gone with the Wind,ended up cuckoo
1942 Art Garfunkel NYC, singer/actor (Sounds of Silence, Carnal Knowledge) better composer than actor1942 Elke Sommer Berlin Germany, actress (Oscar, 10 Little Indians),could never be as sexy as Brigitte Bardot
1989 Vladimir Horowitz pianist, dies at 85,one of the greatest interpreters of Chopin`s music,a Jew,of course
1872 Susan B Anthony fined $100 for trying to vote for Ulysses S Grant, she was one hell of a suffraggette 1875 Susan B Anthony arrested for attempting to vote, men could vote just because of their configuration,imagine


We all have a map of our chores, pains and duties we may neglect or comply with everyday. Things that hamper our liberty of movement. Obstacles,hindrances,the thorns of our own crown that we devise on our own or let our boss wield over our tired forehead. So there I was walking alone, in a flowered dress with which I look like a happy pregnant animal. In my bag,the placement tests for fifty soemthing cadets from a military academy, their immediate destiny in my iguana-fingered hands. I want under the shady road, my own road not taken but that somehow is entwined with your road, your path, parallel to mine,hoping we touch,right my reader. The sunshine has refused to follow the sun`s steps and it is 5 pm but the light still kisses my round cheek. I enter a pastry outlet at the end of the road that takes me usually to my job. My diabetic automatic pilot guides my hand so I unconsciously stay away from those tempting cream and fruit scones laden with powdered sugar, my eyes veer from that chocolate fudge cake that seems to yell at me in sensuous Edith Piaf voice,”Eat me.” So I end up sipping iced tea, with a cucumber sandwich on pumpernickel. My doctor would smile.
It`s funny,we women are almost never left alone to our own devices. Always, there will be a man to tell us what to do our to limit our civil liberties. Did youpunch your entry card dear? Did you report to husband that you will be late,give itinerary? Today I am alone, walking upon a shaded trail few people know.I choose what I will eat. How many times do I get my food chosen for? Starting by the house menu, do I really cook all those dips and vegetables I so love?
But I am not bitter.I eat slowly, and I make the shopping list for the supermarket. All the wants and whims of a household which by definition should be a home. Definitions are so messed up now. I walk, I stroll,I stride down the big boulevard that goes down to Plaza españa,where the supermarket is. Half a kilometre walk, no sweat. The late afternoon is evolving into a cool evening. Two of my friends pass by in their cars,stop,offer me a ride. Thanks but no thanks. I just want to walk. Only those of us who have been on a wheelchair know how delicious it is to walk again without walking aid or cane or braces. It is like nectar for the bones, soma for the feet. Diriangèn`s descendant walking without a care in her own fat and so many times broken body.
Hair blowing in the wind,satisfied only by the fact that she is alive. The feeling every beats must have at sunset, as if he or she has been just created, brand new.
Once in the supermarket,I am amazed at the gimmicks dirty capitalism will do to strip us of our money. Precooked potatoes in any capricious form, divorced from the nutritious value of that food Columbus took with him from our world. The vitamins are taken off,and perfumed garbage is given to us.No wonder that of 6 million Nicaraguans, 500 thousand of us are diabetics, some 750 thousands have high blood pressure and may I not believe the quantity that still are classified as dangerous cholesterolics. But if we look into their supermarket carts,we have the most logical of explanations.We dig iour own graves with our dentures or natural teeth, burrowing,gnawing into food insanity. We feel ashamed not to consume all those cold pies USA exports so that they will also give us all those diseases through our bad habits. If we don`t take something made in USA we feel poor,guilty,tacky. As if USA has ever had its own gastronomy.
But we think we have to buy the American lettuce,the arugula,because it is chic, when we produce better lettuce of that type in the mountains of our own Jinotega. How much forest has to be cleared for a lettuce patch?Are we killing our environment to stuff ourselves as pigs? Ruii B.barbosa`s words come to me again.
We prefer to pay for a lousy imported product even when ours is better. The curse of Malitzin,the Aztec beauty who preferred to be the mistress of Spaniard Hernàn Cortès and not the wife of an Aztec man. But my cart is brimming with national products.I will not buy Dos Pinos from Costa Rica, I refuse to feed those who want to snatch away MY San Juan River. When I go alone to the supermarket I can do this, but my daughter and husband have another way of seeing life. Each to his own folly. I am a very patriotic housewife, maybe that will be my downfall.
What a delight not to have someone along saying what to do next. I love being on my own,and I realize suddenly how seldom I am only with myself. Always watched, always at short length. Never too far from the camera. And now, as a common cilivian with no stars on my shoulders, I stroll through the aisles of this place wondering why we love to poison ourselves slowly through our treacherous taste buds. I feel like the cat who dreamt -while he was being spayed under anesthesia- that the moon is a ball of cheese where thousands of mice live, and he strolls taking a look around and wants to pick the best one to chase. Too bad the cat wakes up to find his nuts gone. I wake up just like the cat in the cheese moon full of mice, at the cashier when I realize all my money (my own nuts?)will be gone in a swish because now everything is so expensive. So when my daughter asks me how much something cost, I tell her not to be so mannerless as to curtail my appetite.
I walk out of the supermarket feeling fleeced but satisfied I had enough to cover the bill. Barely enough left for a luxury: taxi to go home. I climb in,knowing that a bus would have meant crushed eggs just ready to be fried into an omelette, spilled skim milk for my kid and broken spaghettis. Getting home 70 minutes afterwards, angry and all smashed up. I lean back on the soft seat of the brand new taxi. It smells clean. Sometimes you get into taxis and you get off smelling like anything, not all of it perfumed. Or the broken seat springs tear your clothes apart. The driver zooms silkily through the early evening traffic, barely missing a crowded bus, flying by a big Coca cola truck.
It is during rare moments like this outing I had today when I discover the true difference in meaning between solitude and loneliness.
No dictionary really can do that.
Solitude is voluntary,desire,wanted,chosen,longed for. You await it, you seek it. Like I did today after I talked to you,perhaps so I could be with you better. Solitude always has a voluntary shadow,one you carry,which you call. Loneliness is the lack of the desired person. It is bitter,gnawing like a furious rodent. It hurts and bleeds copiously ,like a hemophiliac patient after a fall. It strangles you.
Many an English teacher may say I have to be nuts to realize the difference between solitude and loneliness on a shopping spree. Definitions many times are uncharted territories, DMZs between both Koreas, twilight zones. No man`s land. Beyond delimited, clear borders Non demarcatory lines tend to confuse us, my dearest heart.
We feel out of step So our footfalls grow insecure.
But tonight the sun has been quite kind,as Elton John said in his hit Your Song, as I wrote this entry(not a song),and it is for people like you dearest reader and may Sir Elton John forgive me for using his lyrics, that keep this book turned on.