Archive for November, 2011

Patricia and I are passing our time in Bangkok Thailand, one day threading seamlessly into the next. We float between   worlds  while we perfect the tricks that will help us conjure our tomorrow. We are in the process of  disentangling ourselves from the past, prying ourselves away from a deeply satisfying drudgery that surely would have killed us before our time.

The hand of fate and a whisper of good fortune built this new flying machine that we now call home. Every day  we  practice  becoming  invisible, to excuse ourselves once and for all from this ersatz substitute for luck. I’ve waited a long time for Tennessee Williams to have an influence on my life. I was raised by wolves and deceptive phantasms with no appreciation for the arts of the mind. Patricia and I are on a journey, pushing ourselves past hope and dreams into attempting the impossible  and risking failure. In the end, there’s nothing else, thanks Tennessee, it’s clear to me now.

prisoners of the sun

Posted: November 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

I began writing a new novel, a thriller this time. I wrote the first draft months ago and carried it with me halfway around the world until the mood to begin writing this story struck me . The story at this stage  resembles  a group of excited and cooperative children. The chapters eagerly jostle one another while waiting to be dressed and marched out onto the stage. The story line is intriguing, primordial evil, redemption, perdition, reluctant heroics, accidents of history,  mothers milk issues for me. The process of creating a novel world brings new energy to the work.

The weather over Bangkok has become a dense grey inversion zone of slow settling grit . Our worship worthy but fickle breeze has abandoned us, leaving us  wilted and feeling  confused and rejected,  like a jilted lover who awakens to find an empty bed just when everything had seemed to be going perfectly.

The outside world of embroiling streets and matchstick sunshine is an entity that we negotiate with considered care and loyal trepidation. We’ve become night people, like Nosferatu, we venture out only in the cool evening after  the sun has gone and  birdsong has been replaced by squeaky bats, buzzing insects and  the fresh squeals from the unrestrained children  and other  prisoners of the sun. Conversely, the stultifying heat has engendered a good environment to write. It’s Saturday, same as any other day, the chapters roll playfully off my finger tips, happy  in the shade.

from rat race to snails pace

Posted: November 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Don’t follow me, I’m lost. I could be on the road to nowhere. This could be the path to perdition. I could be waiting for Godot, I don’t know, I don’t care. I’m here, I’m free, there’s nothing more important than that at this particular juncture. I’m living to the beat of a demanding drum. I wake at dawn, I write until the sun  makes room for me to lie down on the balcony for some zebra work and spend  a while with my coffee and banana bread muffins. I listen to the radio in Thai, so I can’t find out whats happening in the world around me, then go to the pool until its time for lunch, by then its too hot to be outside anymore and I come inside to practice my writing.

I turned 57 today, charming. I have a closet full of experiences that I can’t use and a sackful of memories I don’t want and it’s too hot to sleep. I started a new novel this morning, I’ve been lugging around a twenty pound manuscript 480 pages long that needs a haircut. I’m giving myself a birthday present of bleak hours spent on top of a keyboard that sticks and an ass that groans after long hours in the chair. There are days when I lose myself into the story so much that I forget to get up at all and end the day like a senior crippled with scoliosis I get so arthritic and hunched over. Happy birthday I woke up with this in my head. Keeping up with my muse is a damned rat race.

Holiday, its a wonderful thing to say

Hope that someday, it will last forever

Paradise, sounds so nice

A midnight flight to never never

You’ve felt the sand between your toes

Cleared your mind and shed your clothes

Somewhere there’s a sunset  waiting

9 to 5 isn’t working for me

Payday doesn’t bring me pleasure

Chances are that I won’t make it through the night

I  might grow wings and fly away

You’ve felt the sand between your toes

Cleared your mind and shed your clothes

Somewhere there’s a sunset  waiting

I’ve got a tan line that needs erasing

You’re drinking beer, I’ve ordered  Mai Tai’s all around

If I drink too many I’ll be heading out the door

Paradise is just a flight away

I’ve moved a little closer to the airport

Don’t tempt me babe or I’ll be gone

The ties that bind are not that strong

I’ve felt the sand between my toes

I cleared my mind and shed my clothes

So take your Friday nights, oblivion and all

I’ll walk home in my new flip flops and sarong

And dream about the place where I belong

Holiday, its a wonderful thing to say

I hope that someday it will be forever.

tickets to paradise

Posted: November 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Running through my bill paying cycle this morning I was struck at how technological progress has made traveling for extended periods of time such a practical no brainer. Here I was Skyping  my son thousands of miles away and high grading which bills and other pieces of mail he should scan and email to my current location in Bangkok and that I would later deal with online. I was  reminiscent of the early days of travel when leaving to travel around the world meant months of dropping entirely off the grid, out of sight and disappearing from any contact or communication whatsoever with and with whomever you were leaving behind.You literally had to leave everything aside as if you were planning your funeral.

When you came back you were like an ethereal revenant,  so strange that people treated you with a special suspicion. We take a lot for granted these days,  for young people who have never known anything other than the current state of convenience, you should realize how good you have it.In the ‘old days’, in the 60’s and 70’s I wistfully remember as the ‘stone age’, there were no cell phones, no travel guides, no guest house dorms, no Skype, email, no internet, no tweets sms,  no no no none,  nada…on your own…can you imagine?

In those days I wrote letters and postcards, affixed lovely weird stamps, supervised the postmarks placement and this would take weeks and even months, if at all,  to arrive at your intended recipient. Phone calls from a long distance booth at a capital city post office at Christmas was the one time a year you could get in touch, communication was fantastically and prohibitively expensive for a budget traveler. Emergencies were dealt with by telegram and telex. We had Post Restante , the General Post Office and mail dumps in cooperating hotels in the hopes that your schedule worked out and travel plans got you where you wanted to go on time to pick up your dog-eared letters from home.

The world before the Lonely Planet and back packer phenom was a very different place. I liked the unique and spiritual  ‘adventure’ aspect of traveling back then, the world has become too predictable and homogeneous , less of a journey and more a ‘vacation’ for my old travelers bones. It used to be that getting to a place was so difficult that few would seek to venture out, now any bozo with a passport and freshly waxed  dreadlocks can play  at being a  traveler, when being a traveler used to be a calling. In my mind I am alone and naked on the pristine beaches where the beer bars now proliferate, the memories of an ancient routard won’t sell tickets to paradise.

 

oh hell yeah

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Patricia and I have laughed and loved in the face of conformity . When it came to choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea we’ve chosen to dive into the deep end  every time. This isn’t the first time we’ve thrown it all away and left feeling thankful  to escape the rat race,  knowing we were better off for making the leap into another unknown.  I grew up without any of the usual material or infrastructure  that is expected to be the corner-stone of a life . As I describe through most of my characters in the novels I write, my life has been lived by reconstructing a shambles into something else. As the old song goes, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”. Into this I dragged my wife Patricia, poor girl. In fact I’ve learned some interesting lessons, such as, “When you’re as lazy as I am, you have to be very organized”.

Both of us have had multiple careers, and thrown them away, preferring to live the way we do, without a care. We are ‘serial careerists’, it has become a game to play. I built a financial business but have chosen to become a novelist and so far produced five novels that sell to a degree and that makes me ‘ a serious author’, in artistic circles. Patricia was a teacher, then an engineer but now is a content producer of travel video’s. It’s a game that can only be played well and won if you don’t take the trappings more seriously than we do, not at all. It’s a mortal sin against the gods of freedom to get sucked too far down the rabbit hole of ‘responsibility’. Only you can define your personality. Trust me, your real estate or the kind of car you drive will not make you happier, prettier or more virile. Choices are the things you do, not the things you buy, any idiot can spend borrowed money.

I found over the years that everything comes down to personal choices, personal management and personal efficiency. This freedom game has a simple set of rules, you play it best if you play it smart. Do we have all the things that other people do, of course, we planned for that. Did we buy more than we could afford so that we completely lost our ability to make choices, no. You may retire with a million more than we have, but will you live long enough to enjoy it?

Life is so short and you’re going to be dead and forgotten for a very long time. So, we choose freedom , we can quit  when we want and leave to anywhere, any time we want, pack up and go,  and we have done so recently as is obvious by our choosing to move to Thailand. At the first opportunity we  asked ourselves if we wanted to move back to Asia and pursue our passions and remain passionate about being alive….The answer was “Oh hell yeah.”

Bangkokians don’t go out during the day if they can help it, it’s just too hot. No one entirely acclimates to this climate. You see Thai families wandering the malls, enjoying the free air con, doing inside things. Soccer fields, sport tracks, velodromes, parks and school yards are empty during the day. Living here you develop an entirely different relationship with the sun than do the people of the northern climes. There children jump out of bed to feel the warm sun on their eager faces, here it’s avoided at all costs. If you do go, you go with an umbrella to shade you, a mask or a coating of light reflecting paste on your face so as not to get burned.

In Bangkok, people prefer to go out at night and play in the moonlight. An hour after sundown the heat has dissipated and cool breezes lift people’s spirits back from the dead.You’ll see crowds of people eating outside, along the busy streets, out in the open, at restaurants that don’t exist during the day. I have learned to follow the lessons of the people I now call my neighbors and friends. I have my favorite things to keep me busy while the sun beats down outside. When I’m not writing, we swim, eat banana bread muffins and catch up with missed episodes of Battlestar Galactica on  SciFy cable. Life could be worse, we could be sweating and wondering how the locals put up with the heat.

the revenant sisyphus

Posted: November 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

What did you do today to make your life better than it was yesterday? Have you capitulated and decided that change is impossible? Do you keep coming back to that same point in your mind where everything becomes hopelessly mired in past experience ? Have you followed the path of Sisyphus and allowed your life to become an endless cycle of drudgery? The revenant within  seeks recognition and redemption by appearing in your dreams ,  hoping you’ll take him back into your heart. Perhaps you don’t recognize your spiritual aspirations in the mirror and this soul searching ruin-bagger is strange  because nothing about  you fits the image of what you’ve  allowed yourself to become.