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

lunes, 30 de junio de 2008

License to kill

6th entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
June 30th

1294 Jews are expelled from Berne Switzerland, has everyone been so kind and gentle?
1559 Henri II has a freak accident predicted by Nostradamus
June 30, 1559, at the Place des Vosges in Paris, during a match to celebrate the Peace Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis with his longtime enemies, the Habsburgs of Austria and to celebrate the marriage of his por not yet nubile daughter Elizabeth of Valois to the monstruous King Philip II of Spain, King Henri was mortally wounded by the lance of Gabriel Montgomery, captain of the King's Scottish Guard. The lance pierced his temple like a skewer for a macabre kebab and, despite the efforts of royal surgeon Ambroise Paré, he died on July 10, 1559[ with a massive infection to his head. Henri was buried in a tomb in Saint Denis Basilica. Prior to his death, Queen Catherine de Medici had limited access to his bedside and denied his mistress (Diane de Poitiers) access to him, even though he repeatedly asked for her. Following his death, Catherine sent de Poitiers into exile, where she was to live in comfort on her own properties until her death.

Brawls. History is full of them. Dysfunctional families cause not only headlines on the local newspapers but also go down in history for the changes they provoked. Happy people have no history, someone said. I don`t agree. And stories can be as happy or unhappy as you want them to be. Depends on perspectives. What can be utter disgrace for one person may be heaven for another. Just depends what you want. Abraham Lincoln, the best statesman that the United States ever produced, used to say that you are as happy as you want to be. Each one has his own parameter for happiness. Total happiness doesn`t exist. Or it is so fleeting that you may be having lots of it and not be realizing it exists. I remember when I read D .H. Lawrence`s famous novel Lady Chatterley`s Lover. Connie doesn’t realize how happy Mellors has made her until one day she just looks at the guy and thinks, ”Im happy because he is there.” Happiness doesn`t hit like a thunderbolt, sending everyone flying.It is the slow change of colors from the first moment the sun announces its arrival in the middle of twilight until he finally erupts full force from the horizon. and covers the earth with its rays as far as he can go at he moment. The rest of the globe will always be dark until the sun starts his glorious march across the sky, the chariot that Phaeton could not control.
Was Henri II of Valois ever happy? First as a hostage to the Spaniards, then getting married to an ugly fat sack of Italian coins who was Catherine de Medici. He found the love of his life outside his cold marriage bed, Diane de Poitiers. Some centuries later Benjamin Franklin would say that where there was marriage without love there would be love without marriage. Barely the truth, mind you. It happens more often than you imagine. Maybe those Jews who got expelled from Switzerland could have told you about, because they were experts in arranged marriages. One of my students used to ask me,”Colonel, how does the body know that it is married, so it won`t desire anyone else but the spouse?” That was one of the most difficult questions I ever had to answer. Oh no, I would rather give you all the details about all the good kings named Henry in history, or ask me to explain some theorems in math despite the fact that I am olympically stupid for numbers. Desire and marriage are directly but oppositely proportional. Even though sir Isaac Newton was wise enough to never marry and probably died a virgin surrounded by his hairy cats and memories of his long chat with Tsar Peter the Great while Newton was England`s master of the MInt, he would understand what I am saying,
Maybe that is why when I wrote the short story A Female for Techulca, I began the tale with my own quote, ”Marriage is the cheque with two signatures which the procedure of cashing it at the bank of life ends up showing it was void.” My spouse got a bee in his bonnet back then. How dare I,a female whose duty was to bow her head and accept any dictation from him, write such a barbarous statement. The worst thing is that I have seen my own quote on several websites throughout Internet, giving me credit for it. At least ask them to give you credit with your married name growled he. Owning the woman he owns the brain, wow. It makes sense: men sometimes have to establish ownership over a woman with brains so as to make up for the fact that they lack one on their own. The truth always gets ahead, even if angry spouses threaten you for being a bigmouth. The same man who affirms that his nasty Pitbull bitch can bark all night letting no one in four blocks around the house sleep is the same one who says ladies don`t move in bed(but this quote from Queen Victoria is funny because she did move enough in bed with her Albert, enough to produce 9 kids),That same man says ladies cannot express anything without their spouse`s seal of approval.
Embittered? No, people. I am aware that marriages like my parents` were made in heaven. They were like perennial sweethearts and they even died together on that awful plane crash in Honduras in 1989. marriages like this one is what make people believe that such union as matrimony is a bed of roses, and I agree with them. But roses also have big fat thorns. The Czech poet Rainier Maria Rilke(I always wonder why he wrote in German, maybe he had a little nostalgie de la boue, or longing for the mud) said that in marriage each spouse appoints the other the guardian of his solitude. True. There is no bigger solitude than the one you feel while lying in a bed with someone who never communicates with you. In this case Rilke probably meant that guardian was a synonym of jailer. Poor guy. Even though he said such a beautiful sentence he didn`t deserve to die of leukemia. Thanks to poets like him people continue getting leg-shackled and living to lament it. Just because pigeons mate for life doesn`t mean we have their same capacity. Remember animals like pigeons were, according to Genesis, created before Yahwe had the awful idea to make us humans.
Marriage will continue to exist every time one finds a way to self punishment. The wounds inflicted in matrimony are sometimes more festering and painful than those from the battlefield.

domingo, 29 de junio de 2008

On Teacher`s Day

5th entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
To Sir-Or Madam-with Love
These guys came into this valley of tears called world on June 29th:

1858 George Washington Goethals, engineer (built Panama Canal without the mosquitoes` help and taught us a lesson in tenacity and endurance, of course backed up by the fabulous Teddy Roosevelt who was a walking university in boots)
1900 Antoine Saint-Exupery ,France, aviator/writer (Wind, Sand & Stars, The Little Prince).He was bound to disappear into the horizon in 1944, teaching us all to never take anyone for granted.

1941 Ignace Paderewski Polish statesman and pianist, died in NY at 80, teaching us that pianists should stick to their keyboard and not blather nonsense in politics

On the other hand

1955 Emmanuel Mongalo y Rubio, Nicaraguan teacher and patriot, left his classroom to defend the sovereignty of Nicaragua fighting against the filibusters(mericans,of course,are you surprised?) Mongalo had been born on June 21st,1834 and the battle took place on June 29th,1955. The Americans were ousted by this brave man when he set the house where they were lodged on fire. Mongalo taught us to be patriots not only in theory but in practice. He would die on February 1st,1872,but we would always remember him as a teacher and hero on June 29th,when we celebrate Teacher`s Day in Nicaragua.

I am what my teachers made me, used to say Emperor Frederick II the Great of Prussia, and he tenderly adored his flute teacher. Well, I am not going to lay the blame on my teachers for all the foibles and quirks I may have now as a teaching matron. My first class that I ever taught was way back in the seventies, when I was a teenager and my dad decided it was time for my mom to get her high school degree. My grandmother was a lovely woman, but she believed that ladies had not much use for education, which is strange because she was very well read. When my mom failed her freshman year at high school, her mother decided to hire a French chef to educate her. She learned her trade so quickly she soon had her own catering business and was financially independent.
But she f hadn` t finished high school. She got married, became a mother,and no high school degree. Then she began participating in several gastronomic events throughout Central America and Mexico, and one of the requirements was for the participants to have a high school diploma. My dad got the best teachers to tutor my mom with the help of the Minister of Education. Antonio Mora Rostràn. She would have no commencement ceremony, no toga, no ring nor uniform. The English teacher was a very nice American fellow from Boston, Ken Grainger. I already spoke perfect English so I was assigned to help her with English. It was difficult tutoring my own mother. She was there, bodily, but her mind was always wandering to her catering business, I would try my best,and then every time she made a mistake she would hit me. Nevertheless I fell in love with teaching.
There is something magical, wonderful and addictive in the act of passing knowledge from one person to another. It is like nurturing a baby in your belly, like a pregnant woman does.
There were teachers that I never forgot. Although I wasn`t happy at the school itself where I went, I did find some good professors. My Spanish was solidly built by a dark and sultry lady, Mrs Carmen Cajina. She taught me to love Rubèn Darìo`s poetry. I was insolent, rowdy and opinionated, and she enjoyed being with me. She is still alive and every time I see her, my heart turns bright and soft.
James Martin was an American who taught English at school. Stern, efficient and scholarly, it was said this guy never gave an A. When he finally gave me a hundred as a grade, I spent the whole night looking at the graded paper. Years later, when I taught English at the same school and I produced my first books, I told him he was a co-author because he taught me how to write. I know that thanks to my pranks, Mr. Martin got a good amount of gray hairs.
I knew I was destined to become a teacher when one of my professors at college in France asked me to visit a very haughty and rich duke, who was a widower and had two adolescent girls who had been expelled from several posh schools. The girls had already gotten rid of 20 tutors before me, and they were very ready to dismiss me on the first day. But they didn`t count on their pets` opinion. As soon as I arrived at the enormous overdecorated home, four enormous Dobermann dogs came to greet me. They were ready to bite.My heart froze,so I froze my body and let them sniff and smell and paw me. They seemed to like what they saw. After they finished perusing me, an enormous overfed Angora cat majestically approached me, sniffed and then made a whole turn around me.I was accepted. The cat had dictaminated that I was a morsel fit to be hers. The two teenagers came out from behind a curtain and greeted me warmly, saying that if her pets thought I was okay there was no reason to have an argument about it with the animals. We sat down for our first lesson. I was barely a few years older than the girls, but they learned to respect, obey and then love me. I tutored them for 3 years , and when I was about to return with my degrees to Nicaragua they begged me in tears to stay in France. The motherless little duchesses had found someone to love. We still keep in touch now that they are married, mothers of several rowdy kids, and they still keep begging me to return so I can help them with their hyperkinetic children.
During my almost 32 years of teaching. I have discovered that many students don’t care how much you know, but they start smiling when they know how much you care for them. Many young boys have become the son I never had the chance to bear. Ricardo Lòpez(who used to hang from the fan or scream into my mobile phone Whatssssssssup, leaving me nearly deaf),Johnny Murillo Echegoyen(who once got an average of 104 but the nasty school where I was working didn`t allow me to put it on his grades), the incomparable Korean Jung Yun An, who was as gifted and smart as medieval bard Guillaume D`Aquitaine, the peerlessly beautiful Carlos Martinez Meyerbeer who still calls me Mother after so many years since he graduated in 2001, the ambitious and very hard-working Magda Suarez(who is now working in Spain and still calls me mama), lovely and pragmatic Jorge Luis Padilla, who is still getting tutored by me in English grammar…the list is endless. It includes the rector and vice rectress of a private university, a top cardiologist who also speaks perfect French and the craziest army officer I have had the pleasure to have around.
I wonder what would my music teacher, Salvador Cardenal, think of my teaching method. Unorthodox, yet efficient, and with lots of wit. Would my piano teacher Julio Max Blanco still agree that the ox cannot whistle like a songbird? What about Ian Heathstone Armstrong, my stern Vritish grammar teacher, who would deny me a hundred if I had misplaced a comma? Stll alive, Ian is now a respectable peer of the realm and spends half his time in England and the other half in France. He also taught my own Uncle Silvio, who decided to become a grammarian in his fifties, just after I came back from France and I left his nest partially empty. No matter if we leave the classroom, the teacher will always be with us for the rest of our lives, whether we want it or not. Life itself is a wonderful teacher, and it approaches you through kismet to people who will not only learn with you but teach you many things that don`t appear in textbooks. In that sense, half Palestinian half Nicaraguan Anwar Hassan-master journalist-will always be in my heart, as well as fat and pragmatic Emigdio Suàrez, who wasn`t only a boss but a great cicerone. Bèla Bartok, Hungarian composer, used to say that teachers were created by god so that parents could have a small break. Ditta Pasztòry`s parents sure got a break when this 16-year ol teacher married Bèla,who was her mentor,and became his second wife. Not only did Bèla bartòk take charge of Ditta`s life and studies, but also the redheaded Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi, who went as far as to drop his soutane and establish himself with his trumpetist Cecilia, a former student.
King Stefan Cel Mare of Moldavia also had a crush on his music teacher, who was 14 years his senior and surely taught him more than how to handle a musical instrument. When she went back to Russia the handsome patriot was off colour for weeks. Students, students. What would we do without them? On days when I don`t teach something is missing.
Life teaches you that an empty classroom means an empty heart for the teacher. Have you ever sen the old flick To Sir with Love, with the wonderful Sidney Poitier as the teacher? Would it make you laugh to know that every time Lulu sang the theme To Sir with Love, I break into goosebumps and have to wrestle with my feelings so I don`t start getting tears? Nobody who has ever failed with me-and they are so few that I have fingers left over from one hand- would believe that. If you are to become a teacher, never expect to serve only the hours you are paid for. The teacher is the apostle of learning society. Let the phone ring at anytime and you are there ,at the service of your students. Otherwise, find another job-and you and your students will be better off.
I cannot close this entry without remembering that life through your friends gives you the gentlest teachers you may have. I learmed through my best friend Oscar Cortez that I should never judge anyone until I have walked a mile in his or her shoes. I learned through my history student and co-webmaster Augusto Gòmez not to postpone saying how much you love someone until it is too late. They are both gone now, living in my memory. I learned through my associate Adolfo that you don`t have to be so old to be so wise, and he also started out as my diligent English student.
Life can be your best teacher but you must know how to listen to the subliminal messages she sends.
I look forward to learning more from friends and life and my own students, because a diploma is only the license for you to continue the learning process. Life`s little lessons come in chips, people, from the way you get an advice from someone who is your soulmate although you have only just met him, to the books that lie in your shelf waiting to be touched and told “get up and go” like Jesus is supposed to have said to the legendary Lazarus. You simply put all the chips together, in plainclothes or as a person in military uniform, and they meld together and make the big difference.

The Road not taken

Fourth entry for the Colonel`s scrapbook
These guys were born on a day like today
1491 Henry VIII of England (1509-47), Don't lose your head over him, although he was much handsomer than Jonathan Rhys Myers
1712 Jean Jacques Rousseau ,France, social contractor (Confessions), but he said that if he did it once he was was experimenting but if he repeated he was a pervert
1867 Luigi Pirandello, Italy, writer (6 Characters-Nobel 1934), imagine winning a Nobel Prize just because the Swedish academy wanted to drop the award in La Bella Italia
But also
1914 Archduke Francis Ferdinand & wife Sofia of Austria assassinated (setting fire to the powderkeg of Europe to begin the War to end all Wars…can you believe that craziness?)World War I began due to a wrong turn and the patriotism of Gavrilo Princip, who anyways was going to die because he had TB or god knows what other dangerous viruses floating in his bloodstream.
The same striptease I perform for myself every night before the keyboard. Off go my jungle boots and my feet breathe at last. Pants off, shirt off, into my Jewish shawl. Hair goes up into a topknot like royal kitten Marie in the Aristocats. Chevalier or Piaf? Vivaldi or Bob Marley? Praetorius or Ravi Shankar? The music wafts out the speakers. Why must there always be two options? Why choose? Why must we only take one of each thing that the tree of opportunity gives us? Which takes me today to a poem I read when I was a preadolescent with the man I least expected to become my favourite teacher. Mr. James Martin introduced me to a poem by American bard Robert Lee Frost.Yes, you are right. The Road not Taken. Could it be anything else? Not to say that he didn`t write more things that are so lovely that they should be declared holy. It was a rainy afternoon and the weather wasn`t as sweltering as some days before. All the class had groaned when the teacher said we were going to the page where the poem was. I was delighted. I should have known,I must have had an omen that this masterpiece of American literature would dictate the course of my life. As if a the black camel of death-as Turks love to say-had passed over my grave, a silent tear rolled down from my poor unperceptibly discoloured right eye and splashed on my book. The teacher saw I was moved and gave me the first smile I remember coming from him. He was so stern, and that would be the first of so many smiles I garnered from this scholarly man. You must remember this from your school days. It was written in 1915,after the uncouth heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne made the big blunder of going to Serbia with the wife that his uncle Franz Josef I hated so much. Surely Francis Ferdinand had taken the wrong turn-as usual- almost a year before Robert Frost had his light bulb on to create this poem.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

-I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

You must suppose I learned it by heart, exactly as I was to learn our own Ruben Darìo `s Caupolicàn sonnet or Clancy of the Overflow by the Australian Bush Bard Andrew Barton The Banjo Paterson. I even learned the whole damn Beowulf in order to please James Martin, and to paraphrase Mick Jagger`s song Hard Woman to please in a male version, he was a hard man to please. But getting an A from his hand was like having god kiss away the pain from your tired feet.

What a difference made by a road that I took…! Long after I have become a teacher, when life has given me the best lessons that not even money could buy, I still wonder when I look at the tree of destiny. I teach grammar, but life has taught me to spell words I hate pronouncing except when I am alone. My choice has taken me to war, almost dying in childbirth, not clinging fast enough onto my parents as to have avoided their death in a plane crash on their trip towards death. I decided to go into battle looking for the raw red bleeding caress of a nosferatu, but life chose to let me survive with enough energy and determination so as to never regret having been on the battlefield. The road I took never let me stay with the Eiffel Tower, but it plunged me head-first into the most beautiful river in the world –the San Juan-to become one with him like a perfect marriage.(They do exist, but a man is almost never the other half.) It has been such a love affair that I guess my heart is as clear blue as the San Juan River`s flow.
Choices, choices. Why was it so easy for King Henry VIII Tudor to choose one thing at a time and then behead the lady, well he beheaded only two, repudiated one, and drove to an early death two others. Quite a record. Some men could envy him, especially when they try to conquer and be ladykillers, throwing temper tantrums that no one understands, least of all, tolerates. Nevertheless we choose, because it takes two to tango and have someone as scintillating as my daughter. I have to recognize the fact that I would have never made her alone. Parthnogenesis, no way. Not a choice. And Holy Ghosts are now démodé, in the same category as Silvio Rodrìguez`s Blue Unicorn or Grendel in Beowulf.
I have to choose, as Gavrilo Princip did. It was either go down in history as a patriot so in love with Serbia that he gave his life…or die slowly puking out his lungs like Molière did in times of Louis XIV.I understand him. I am a patriot too, and the chap had style.
Who wouldn`t give his nuts for a nation, a kingdom? Remember Willy Wallace, the real one who was almost 7 feet tall, not Corgiish-looking and bigoted Mel Gibson, screaming FREEEEEEEEDOM while his balls were being severed? Nobody resists a patriot.
That is the most loving yet scary choice.
Choices sometimes are taken by others for you. I remember a song by this Spanish band which already disbanded, Mecano. To resist 15 thousand charms, takes a lot of sensibility.(Resistir quince mil encantos y no sè si sere sensato), in their hit It is So difficult to forget you. It was 1986 or so and I still loved playing god(or I guess I still do but it is too crass to confess I want to make choices for others). I learned the song and sang it when the soldiers couldn`t hear me. How do I say no when someone knocks at the door that shouldn`t exist anymore? Could Luigi Pirandello resist taking the Nobel Prize in his hands even when he knew that it should have been for Gabriele D Ànnunzio? Could Jean Jacques Rousseau have denied himself the joy to write his Social Contract? Come on, people, give me a break. Do you have any choice when someone puts you to speak to the hand? Walk away perhaps and berate yourself for having been so kind to such a knave?
I choose to stay up late writing for you. My bed calls me, the broken back still longs for bed. Even though it be cold, or full of cat`s hair on the pillow. I imagine you opening your mail. Give me a smile when you see my address. I have earned it a bit, don`t you think? It has been a question of choice, but this colonel, unlike Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez`s in his early novel, should have someone who writes to her, or to write to.

viernes, 27 de junio de 2008

I sought for a name for my dream

Third entry for The Colonel`s Scrapbook
June 27th

Were born two kings of France:
1462 Louis XII (the Just) king of France (1498-1515) Never the Just, he forced his daughter Claude to marry a rake, Francis I

.1550 Charles IX king of France (1560-74)boy was he useless!
Born 1880 Helen Keller blind-deaf author/lecturer, despite her handicap she had more sense than many
1844 Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, and his brother Hyrum were lynched by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, resulting in part from the community's moral outrage at Smith's recent authorization of polygamous Mormon marriages. Boy was he a lecher.

Violent day in history today, as I sit here before my keyboard, and I think I would love to write lines like Charlotte Bronte in Jayne Eyre, saying that last night I dreamt I was going back to Manderley. No. Last night I dreamt I was in combat. Not for French King Charles XII who should have never set foot in Italy to try to make such a ridicule. Again. You know every time my mind has a spook show. Two nightmares per night, no matter if I eat a whole dinner or just pick at my meal. Upcoming, next, in the Sci-Fi channel from the colonel`s wicked, jaded and perverted head, the two best horror flicks that her past have produced. Liked Apocalypse Now with Marlon Brando? Yes, well this is better. Mix one part Stephen King, another with Clive Barker, throw in Edgard Allan Poe`s mustache, season with a bit of moonshine and shake well. Don `t forget a dash of Jewish seasoning, kosher by the way, with Ira Levin. For a crunchy topping, pour in all the nuts belonging to this woman`s war traumas, ghosts in her attic, skeletons in her closet. Serve chilled. Last night I didn`t dream anything rosy, yet I find myself saving each detail, every image, every piece of sensation still caught in my inner eyelids, as a bit of yolk stuck onto an eggshell.
I was in Vietnam. This time I looked for my father, who as a war veteran from World War II should have been there. Somehow he wasn`t. Why?It was his duty. He never frowned when I went into combat. Or on mission. He would stay there on the porch, watching the jeep leave, the jeep which would take his most valued treasure away from him. He would dismiss me with a cheerful smile, yet his hand was over his heart. The other hand was raised, as the branch from a tree. I knew the meaning of this. We both loved the poetry of the Nicaraguan poet Joaquin Pasos, specially when he wrote,”you must raise your hand, I want to take with me a memory of you as a cheerful tree.”
I knew what came after I had disappeared from his sight. He would rush to my room, grab the plexiglass image of Vercingètorix-the most beloved freedom fighter of France, the guy who still being a teenager almost defeated Julius Caesar and whose memory puts even Joan of Arc to shame- and light a candle inside the figure. That would guarantee this tender atheist that his kid would come back from the sweet abyss, from the brink of death, safe, maybe missing one piece, shrapneled, broken, shot, bleeding, but still alive. I always came back for him. But in this dream I didn`t see my father. I was godless in this nightmare.
Have you ever been shot? It is not what it is cracked up to be. No instant vortex of pain. 1984 saw me shot by a 22 caliber bullet that entered my left knee through its fatty tissue in the back part. It was like a snap. Yes , don`t look at me like that!It didn`t hurt. Only minutes later, already ensconced in the helicopter, did I notice anything. A rhythmic geyser of blood came out from behind my knee, and I was shown by a comrade what was happening. I am sure you have all seen in the Cartoon Network when Jerry runs off a cliff being chased by Tom. It isn`t until the mouse looks down at the abyss that he realizes he is gravitating on thin air. And smack, he falls headfirst into the gaping space. That was what happened to me in 1984.I was astounded to see my own blood and couldn`t find tears to cry. I understood why Celtic women were more feared than men. We have a bigger threshold for pain. My best friend was on the helicopter, and he took off his bandanna to use it as a tourniquet around my gushing knee wound. It would hold until I got taken to the military hospital in Managua, in a noisy ambulance, as soon as we landed.
In my dream last night I had been shot. I was there, wearing a strange hat and camouflage. On the wet grass. Nobody was paying attention to me. I tried to get up and saw in the distance a man coming towards me. He had long dark hair, thick eyebrows and a halo of light around his forehead. I will not insult your intelligence by saying he had sprouted wings. I am not writing slapstick. I had the eerie feeling I had seen him elsewhere. He knelt by my side. I was convinced that if he laid a hand on me the bleeding would stop. He wasn`t Vietnamese. He had a Semitic appearance.
He would just look at me and smile, as if he had found something strange and precious.
In my dream I wasn `t feeling anything like being a precious objet d`art. Covered with my own blood, I must have been like something my cats dragged in from the rain. Sorry-looking, maybe even hideous. I stretched out my bony hand and felt as if I had touched the most priceless silk, but it was only the skin of his forearm. I still keep the sensation of living satin on the tips of my fingers, the power of his muscles beneath the skin. The vibrant live energy of a living thing. All around me, there were mutilated bodies, bleeding and moaning soldiers, pieces of weapons. An incredible surge of well being and happiness coursed through my veins. The man only smiled again and let me touch his forearm. Just by being there, with him kneeling next to me I felt safe. Nothing was going to harm me. My bleeding had stopped, and the pain was going away. I was getting up in my dream when a blast of napalm scorched the air over our heads. The mirage, or man, or whatever it was, disappeared slowly, like hot air moving during a heat wave. A sudden surge of emptiness overcame my former feeling of happiness. I had been wounded on the palm of my left hand. Only a small pink scar remained where the bullet had gone through sinew and bone.
But my shirt was now wet with my own blood. My left breast was bleeding, and a sturdy gold medal was pinned upon my shirt. The pin of the medal pierced my left breast. It was a sense of dèja vu. In the eighties I had been condecorated and the army general, who had almost useless hands due to a detonation years before he even dreamed of wielding so much power, had been so proud of me when he was giving me the medal that he had not realized he had stuck it firmly to my shirt and skin underneath. I had not even budged, even when the blood streamed in a slow trickle into my shirt and everyone was watching during the ceremony. Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius would have been proud of me. Perhaps whatever I was back then, the spark of life that now made me be onlyme and nobody else, had been with him in his Marcomannic Wars. I had patiently and smilingly waited until the general finished condecorating officers, and the marching band went away with its loud march called El Danto(The Boar),when I finally allowed myself to faint. I crumbled to the ground and the same guy who had lent his bandanna to make a tourniquet for me when I was shot, picked me up from the floor and took me to his office, where he unstuck the medal and sent someone flying to get merthiolate, peroxide and all that was necessary. I can still see the small faint scar on my left breast. Imperceptible to anyone except to myself. Time might be a real doctor curing all wrongs and pains, or at least trying to heal wounds that may or not fester again. Nobody can accuse time of malpractice.
What would have happened if the man I saw in my dreams had been there when my breast was pierced by metallic honour? Would he have only placed his silken hand over the wound and made it heal instantly? How long would it take his hand to heal me? Is it healing that I need and the nightmare was just a warning signal?
I think about Bayard, sieur du Terrail, who was destined to be the chivalrous epitome of the gallant knight. How would he have reacted to skirmishes in Vietnam? If I only had a time machine to dig him up from the Renaissance, when he thought he was really serving France to go with his king to the Italian campaign! Was it the shadow of Bayard, wearing black like an angel fedayeen, or a hazy samurai… the man who came to heal me in the nightmare? I always ask too many questions. That has exasperated all the men in my life-brothers, husband, stepson, students, chums- except my dad with his faith in Vercingètorix, knowing that I would always find the path back to his arms. That is why I always keep coming back. Someone, somehow, somewhere must have a candle lit inside the plexiglass figure of his faith, never letting me go too deeply into the dark crevices of my shell-shocked brain, or into the turquoise waters of the San Juan River or Cosiguina Lagoon I so adore.
Only one thing. No matter what, even if I don`t say your name, let the fire extinguish itself..Keep your candle alight, whomever you are and I say this because I cannot give you a public name. I will always be coming back for more. whether in real life or in my nightmares untilo I can make a dream be forced into becoming true.

jueves, 26 de junio de 2008

There must be an angel

On the 26th day of June finally the people of Madagascar finally became independent from France,1960.Their last queen Ranavalona III had died in exile in Algeria after the French had deposed her. Libertè, egalitè and fraternitè? Please don`t tickle me-
In 1483 Richard III usurps the English throne, nephews died in the Tower of London.So do tyrants reign.

I used to sing along when Annie Lennox of the Eurhythmics sang the hit There Must Be an Angel that`s playing with my heart I always ended a up like a bundle of monkeys in one single bag emitting peals of laughter. My good old days when I moonlighted as a night DJ at the radio Station La Cachorra(The Lion Cub). During the day I was a serious, aloof army officer. At night my combat boots came off, bare feet on the refrigerated carpet of the radio cabin, jacket off, pants rolled up to the knee, a pitcher of ice cold tea or Coca cola there so I could sip slowly. Sometimes I was alone, others with the expert radio veteran Richard. Touch and Go, by Emerson Lake and Palmer, the Tarzan Boy by Baltimore. But Annie Lennox`s Angel would make me laugh. It wasn`t possible. The hard Marxist I was, unbelieving in love although engaged for a second time in my life(a good try, it ended in disaster because the guy was left waiting at the altar for a bride who refused to come), I laughed until her stomach hurt. So you get the picture ,right, folks? Angels, good story, sexless beauties who didn`t come into anyone`s heart to play with strings that don`t exist..Come on people, the heart is not my mother`s magic mandolin!
Many years later an Islamic buddy told me that if dogs live in a household angels stay out, only cats are the lighting rod for angels to hit and enter, as if ringing a doorbell to someone`s soul. But Marxists do not have souls. We believe in matter. Souls have nothing to do with us.
Yesterday I leaned over my laptop during flight and knocked somewhere. A little yellow light indicated an angel was coming out of the thunderstorm. Transparent, eerie, half unknown, half memorized from ages before, when I was not I and he was not himself, into the computer`s small silvery screen. Technology targeting a sprite. There he is. Joy spreads like an epidemic into my bloodstream. Worse than the cholera which killed Peter Ilitch Tchaikovsky after he worte his 6th Symphony.
My addictive adrenaline speeds up and beats its march. I am again in what I want to call a state of grace. A trance. An invasion of glee, that happiness only known to angels, takes over my skin. Can the others, drowsing during the trip, smell it like a dog scents fear? He`s there, so much there my pores open and my pupils dance like the Mevlevi dervishes that prayed for the sultan during the Ottoman empir`s time.
My body cells remember him from time before age was age and history was only a dream in a future bubble of gas. A crazy amalgam of light and shadow, half fedayeen and half air sprite. I don`t want to say incubus, it may stain the mirage, the delibab made of hair and bone and silky sinew that he is. Never like a male version of the Walkirie, not quite a psychopomp to accompany me across the Styx into deadly oblivion. But there. The sky is gray and gold, in a hue that I wish I had in a dress with a veil to wear over my tiger-streaked hair. There is a dry storm. The lighting flashes run over our chopper. Any one of these thunderbolts hits us and we are gone into pieces, the laughing atoms of Democritus of Abdera.
Angels that dive under your skin have their own language, people. Take my word for it.
They extricate confessions about sins you never knew you had lived through, they push you to the outer limits of joy then to drop you into the deepest and darkest pits of despair. Only to set you back on your feet again, and when you think you can walk straight again, they sweep in like a cloud of Australian bats just to carry you on a never-ending ride on a roller
coaster where being jubilant means the next second you might as well be in tears. Someone said I could even resist tear gas, and not cry. But no heart has ever dared to say no to them.
Getting back to Annie Lennox`s song about an angel playing with her heart, I try to understand what feeling she was trying to express. I hate understanding it now. I rebel. My feistiness comes afloat. I shall not be governed by something as this awful drive that lands me in an angel`s scintillating lap. Diriangèn`s wild blood churns in my veins, like when this chieftain refused to obey the Spaniards and after drinking some corn rum, preferred to set himself on fire rather than submit. Still on fire, he jumped off a cliff so that the Spaniards could not find his body and desecrate it, and legends say he became a grand jaguar after his death. I, his proud direct descendant, stretch my feet before me and gaze into the sky. The billowing clouds look so soft, like the eiderdown in which my mother would put me when I was a baby. Cumulus clouds. Why do I always remember these small scientific trivia when I am confused? Is it a way to keep a grip on solid, stark reality when my imagination wants to go skipping over froth and boulder, creating its own sea inside my body, wearing a fog hat made of smiles I never knew I had, melting down the heavy glaciers of my skeptic smirk, letting the pheromones out from their Alcatraz escape-proof clink?
I know I ask too many questions. I probably have the answers buried beneath layers of my bone marrow, or between my temples. I would probably say that I welcome a cingulotomy, the feared lobotomy that supposedly avoided unwelcome thoughts and violent attitudes.because being invaded by an angel may feel like the Allies coming full force into Normandie on D Day on June 6th,1944. I feel like Richard III`s nephews in the Tower. But I have touched the marchpane-smelling skin of an angel, even when atheists don`t believe in them. There must be an angel who`s playing with the heart I still don`t want to know anything about.

miércoles, 25 de junio de 2008


June 25th,2008
1876 Battle of LittleBig Horn
1950 rumblings for the Korean War
14:25 entry for today on the sideline

Beyond me the two French military advisors sleep and sweat.I mostly notice the pearls of moisture on their pale skin,and the smell that comes with that. Nothing seems to make sense. I lean back on the seat.The hum of my bat whirrs into my ears. Did Làzaro Spallanzanni, the Italian priest who discovered how bats fly, ever dream of helicopters back in his office at the University of Pavia? Would he have gotten airsick, something which I have never known? I write these lines knowing there will be instant publication for them. My reputation as a writer, although not as great as the one Antoine de Saint Exupèry had as the author of The Little Prince, will guarantee that everyone reads thim.The stars on the epaulets upon my former weightlifter`s shoulders are the certainty that they DO get published. Can many people say that?In my country? I reverently touch the keys of my laptop. Fit for a queen`s whim. How did I get that far? Was it ever meant?Kismet? Should I follow my fate.
The landscape beneath me is beautiful.I want to drop a tear into Cosiguinàs turquoise lagoon, now so peaceful and translucent. Fire came out of here in the XIXth century. The ashes spread to Yucatan peninsula and even Colombia. After the fire comes peace.Will it happen to me?Will everything just be blown out,leaving only embers that glow in the dark corner of my memory, burning a small yet painful hole into my brain? If this helicopter were to fall, kissed by the passionate mouth of gravity, would I live to tell anything more? Would I be remembered as a translator, a warrior,or a simple writer who didn`t tell the difference between mirages and reality?
Nobody knows where Antoine de Saint Exupèry went that day in 1944 when he took off to dive into the horizon. But I am not afraid. That is the reason I can write about my own pains,traumas,and jokes. Life has played so many pranks on me,and the best thing is to take them in stride and laugh.Democritus of Abdera,to whom we owe the concept of the atom, laughed all the time.He was probably a healthy chap, for laughter is the balm that cures everything. Remember when the Bee Gees hit the Billboard with their song "I Started a Joke"? That could be the story of my life.It left me with a broken foot, lots of laughter and marvelous short stories. I still keep joking about it. I was laughing all the time my ankle was getting cast.And can I say something?If I were to live it over again, if I died now and was reborn again as what I am,I would do it all over.Pain and all. Plus the tremulous, giddy and intoxicating feeling of knowing that I chose it all. No tears, nothing bitter. Will I tell my grandchildren when I finally have them?Probably.
The feeling of weightlesness is fantastic.Being airborne is like being in my mother`s warm womb. Yawning full of expectation, with the freedom only birds and bats know. Even my breath is light, like a yellow butterfly dipped in sunshine, or a bee`s wing dripping honey.All my bones seem full of angel foam. I curl up in my seat, take hold of the laptop and smile.Curiously I don`t want to cry. I just smile, and the other officers wonder what is going on in my head. I see the pilot in the cockpit, smiling tenuously. He loves to fly with me. I feel safe.I remember my cats at home,and I smile again. I can`t be angry at life when I am so full of it,a goblet up to the brim with the bubbles of existence. At 48 I feel younger than at 15.I know it doesn`tmake sense.How much sense does life make at so many feet of altitude? My lungs full of fresh air, the feeling of oppression relieved from my shoulders, I can say I am in a state of grace,even today when I remember that George Armstrong Custer was beaten at the Battle of Little Boghorn,getting what he rightfully deserved. I try to avoid thinking of the beginning of the Korean War, which has never been forgotten. It is funny that I should declare myself a pacifist while on military mission,with combat boots on my feet, and camouflage covering my woman`s body. This is my state of grace.Nobody,not strife ,nor lovesickness,nor anything can shake me out of it. May Allah, or the Shaddai,or Vishnu,or my father or Marx be blessed for it. Lake Xolotlàn appears as an alexandrite in oval shape. I see the runway. We are minutes away from Managua. I shut my laptop, but my mind keeps running.Time dissolves pain, and pain solves nothing. Only life solves itself.