Monday, December 30, 2013

Punta Cana to Ponce, Puerto Rico

Christmas day in Punta Cana

The loom of Mayagüez in the distance is enough. A fine mist of stars falling silently across the southern Caribbean.
The half moon materializes frighteningly, like an alien spaceship suspended not three feet above the horizon. The control room lit up, the pilot somewhere in the orange glow, unimaginable. Poised for liftoff--rising gently, inscrutable, lost to us.
     An hour after dawn, the edge of the island, jagged hills, too steep to imagine climbing, pummeled cliffs. The mesmerizing luck of arrival.
To the mall

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Punta Cana

Samaná to Punta Cana

We're now in a marina in Punta Cana, probably til Christmas eve--the island has a strong grip, maybe recognizing our ambivalence at leaving. This place is determined to change us--has changed us, recognizes that we have been changed by it. The experience makes me think again of the myth of Persephone--once she had eaten the pomegranate seeds of the underworld, she was bound to that place always. This is like a sunlit underworld in some ways, never quite free, I think, of the history, of the metaphysics, if that's the right word, imposed by Columbus. I have come to feel haunted by a shadow-like Columbus, always at the edges of vision. The shades of the Taíno--and the bitter blood, the fierce vitality, of the slave revolutionaries. I have a Haitian vèvè of the crossroads, bought at Jazzfest years ago, hanging in a place of honor. Legba must be acknowledged properly--I think he is watching over us, I think he is laughing to himself a little, at what we are learning--at what we still have to learn.

Samaná to Punta Cana: First loose tooth

Tallulah is thrilled by her first loose tooth--she's never quite believed in Santa Claus, but the tooth fairy seems mysteriously real after leaving a quarter under her pillow.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Watching the grandma with her fanny pack hacking the bones from the meat with a machete like a scimitar, it seems clear that she is one of those who have accepted the role of attending death. She goes about it matter of factly. She cuts a chicken in half, its legs splayed. A man comes in, dressed in pale camouflage—gray and white, that would blend in with a pebbled beach—he sits on a stool behind her and drinks white rum out of the bottle. Like spirits accepting their due—the drops of white rum, the money accepted with bloodstained hands. I wonder why I never noticed before that the world of spirits was so immediate—so material. They are made of flesh and blood themselves. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Los Haitises national park

Old-growth mangroves
Impersonating the lady baboon who had a pet kitten
In the current--leaving the Cueva de la Linea, covered with Taíno petroglyphs. The Taíno were maybe not ready for us to leave this island. Seemed like they called us back, untenderly, seemed like they stopped us with a slap, like a fierce Zen teacher, stalking enlightened behind us. 
The park was spooky in the dusk, dark caves and oddly friendly officials who asked us if we had any rum or rice, cooked--cocinao--to give them, and when Adam said, "No, estamos muertos," they said, "Well, do you want some?" Back across the bay in the dark, climbing the steep waves.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Luperón to Samaná

Hand steering, exhausted with rainbow. Twenty-four hours after leaving Luperón with no autopilot. Goodbyes said via facebook, last pesos given to the motorcycle driver who brought me to the dock with the groceries, thinking, next stop Puerto Rico. Thinking, America by any other name--yeah. Which is so wrongly nostalgic but it somehow can't, in the blooming seasickness, be helped. Maybe we'll hang the big flag off the dinghy davits.
Engine not getting enough fuel, a haze of missed sleep over the bright morning entering Samaná Bay. American ex-slaves came here after the Civil War, and maybe they came by this route, rough rounding the corner and seeing the palm trees and green slopes of their new home, uncharted freedom, not even a road leading from the capital.
The lagartijo that T carried through three grocery stores and an ice cream place.
A performance space on the cay.
El mar

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Taking leave

The scorn that erupts suddenly for the details of a particular life. Where the day before, the second before, compassion lay. The upwelling of a sorrow that feels thick, undigested. Exhilarating beauty that softens the edges, the beauty and melancholy of what is. The unplumbed depths of the ordinary. The new—half forgotten—sense of freedom. Simply walking away—leave behind the rules of one place and they cease to exist. Looking out at the horizon, a fine, infinite emptiness of human rules and logic. But that place left behind, all the places left behind, do live on inside us. Once we have partaken of them. And yet. The horizon whipped with wind, deep blue. A sprung trap line.'

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Father-daughter day at the beauty salon


A work in progress. Or rather, a coalition of the willing.

Bienvenido, el maestro de español.
Snail experiments
Parent, incredulous: "Can you understand that?"
Child, disdainful: "It's just Spanish."
A gift from our friend Virginie, who has been teaching Tallulah about reading, writing, arithmetic, and French style.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


J: Today we want to talk about—um—it. Doing it.
A: [Laugh.] Just say what you mean.
J: But you know what I mean. So does everybody else.
A: [Shaking head.] OK. So we’ve known each other a long time.
J: Yeah—25 years or something!
A: And in all that time, you’d think—well, things would get a little boring.
J: Well—they have gotten kinda boring from time to time.
A: I wasn’t bored. I was just frustrated.
J: OK, frustrated. We can call it that.
[Gets up and goes behind the podium where an oversized bottle of beer is waiting. Uncaps the beer and takes a long drink.]
But people are probably wondering, you know, what’s our secret.
A: And we do have one.
J: Yep. Two. Robots.
A: You heard that right. Robots.
J: We've had the same fights, over and over. A million times! It’s gotten so that we don’t even need to have these fights anymore. They’re so yesterday! So...fifteen or twenty years ago!
A: That’s the downside of knowing each other so long. But with robots, that problem is over. Solved.
J: Yeah. The robots can have the fights now.
A: We just program the robots and let them slug it out. And we can go on having fun. Enjoying each other’s company! Just like married people are supposed to do.
J: Yeah, and so rarely actually do.
A: It’s like marriage can be one big failure. One big let-down. I see it from Tallulah’s perspective. Old people yammering in raised voices about something incomprehensible and repetitive. How stupid is that? Let’s move on. It’s the twenty-first century! Let robots feel the pain!
[They kiss.]
T: [Appears stage right, with the two robots.] Ew, gross—kissing! Can I kiss, too?
A: Here they are.
[The robots start arguing. A and J share the beer and root for their bot. They have remotes and occasionally aim them at the robots to mix up the battle.]
J: You can be as involved as you’d like. Usually we just turn them on when we feel the urge and hit auto, because who has the time?
A: [Describes the programming parameters, networking ability, open architecture, and logic parity in some detail.] So you see, nobody gets an obvious advantage. Meaning, it’s fair play!
J: Occasionally we learn something from the exchange, but mainly they’re just taking over a dull task. Leaving us available for more creative pursuits.
A: Welcome to the future.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The mountain across the street

We finally figured out how to get to the top. 
And foraged for sour oranges.
And played a fun game.
And posed. Forty-three years young, baby. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Late afternoon

I’m washing my hair in the shower, looking out the open window. On the other side of the avocado tree, the purple trumpet vine with birds sticking their narrow beaks into the unopened flowers—there’s a naked little boy on his second-story porch. He lives on the other side of the street above the betting parlor. He’s dancing to some music from the TV. (I can see the TV going in the other room.) Here we are, naked. Separated mostly by—air. The things that separate us from each other are so—literally—superficial. I imagine everybody down on street level. Like we’re actually all naked, walking around pretending we aren’t. 

It occurs to me that the self is like a pane of glass to clean so you can see through. Or a new color, or a flavor. Not an end in itself. Easy to let go of—to stop investing with substantive reality. The hard part is hanging onto it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bedtime reading

Why does she want me to read this to her? I don't know.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tallulah's sixth birthday

The first year that we've been in the same place for two consecutive birthdays. Maybe that means something, maybe not. We're probably reaching another fork in the road soon. In the meantime,  mellow days at the beach are good, and sitting on hilltops looking out at the horizon--"a dreamy feeling."

Rowing home

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Products we can't live without

The first in a series?

This blog is brought to you in part by Columbus Crackers. Taíno yucca bread, unchanged since the fifteenth century. Probably way before that, actually. Columbus himself wrote down the recipe! Great power food, for pennies.

iPad--bloody but unbowed. You can't fully appreciate these things until you really put them to the test.

Cheap beer. Available everywhere. It's awesome! What took us so long to figure that out?!