Saturday, January 30, 2010

Looking Through the Eyes of a Stranger

My time in Honduras would be short lived for the summer of 2008. I was going back and forth between El Porvenir and Los Angeles. On the one hand, I loved the idea of a new identity, new setting, new beliefs. But I was deathly afraid of having to stay in the "pueblo" because of the lack of security and hatred felt our direction. I was the privileged American who so happens to have parents from Mexico. Constant target.

During my time in the States, of which I was without my better half, I focused my time to work, family, and friends. I worked at some garage accessory place as a customer service representative. It was quite uneventful. Every fifteen minute break, I would go on my cig break. When my hour break came, I would walk around the Chatsworth area with my medication and my food. I found it enjoyable and humorous that I would get a full break from my job and think about my life in Honduras. It was the time when I first read One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I absolutely loved it. I would see myself as the valiant and lonely Aureliano. As I approach my time to leave to Honduras again, I would think of when I would come back. At that moment, time was completely uncertain.

My time with my family was limited. With my family, the judgments come like air. We always yell, we always mock, we always call each other names as salutes. I have always been a perpetrator of this, constantly calling one of my cousins a "fag," but i never realize how ridiculous it was until someone pointed it out to me when I would call them names. I felt low and ashamed. Completely like a embarrassed. And that was why I chose to keep away. Avoid problems, insults, gossip. I feel bad, but it was the only way to stand it for the time I was there. I now miss my family greatly, but I could not stand the negativity. The great thing about my time was my nephew, whose face is a ball of sunshine.

I had a wonderful time with friends. Ana and Victor were my life savers. Every night we would go out and get stoned till we could no longer keep our eyes open. They would carry a lovely tool that would always work at hitting the spot. We would discuss things in our lives that were for those we trusted. "I remember the time the assholes at my high school..." Constantly opening doors into our own trust with other people. We were confined to that blue mustang with oue ideas, tragedies, dreams, and realities. They were also the only ones that felt my choice to go was a wise decision, and wished me good luck!

While I was living this life in the States, I was also traveling back to Honduras in an attempt to assuage my desires for Carlos. As soon as I would arrive, I would see him waiting for me at the terminal with his cousin waiting to give me a hug. I was thrilled to come back each time waiting to see how things were different. Prior to this trip, I had lived and been only in California, so this was quite exciting. We would return to the simple home where there was nothing but what we had brought with us. We would spend our time outside smokin and chillin, and inside playing video games. I couldn't help but think how life would be like for me if I was born in El Porvenir. I would stay home with my mother and learn how to cook and clean. When I would turn fifteen, I would be pregnant and ready for marriage. By the time I turned nineteen, I would have two children and be in the process of divorce. Life was much faster, but yet completely dull, simple and slow. More than half of the people had not left their homes, like myself until that point. How different could my life had been, but yet how frighteningly similar .

I remember looking at myself in the mirror at certain points wishing I would have a constant in my life. I didn't. I would return to Los Angeles crying until my eyes had no tears wishing that life were simple in Honduras and I was with Carlos, like in California. But things were not easy. Thing were changing. I didn't know myself and I didn't know what to expect anymore. I didn't know if i would always travel back and forth or if I was going to find something that would work. I was scared and lonely. My mind was in a haze and I didn't know how to feel or what to do except plan for my trip back to Honduras.

I am sure that was how Kerouac felt on his journey to Denver and San Francisco. One of my favorite points in the book is when he traveled through Des Moines, Iowa. He states, "I didn't know who I was---I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of the steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and the footsteps upstairs, and all of the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds." Being outside of your element in strange surroundings changes the way you view yourself. In a way it is as if the old self is completely changed. Your habits and routines change. Your life changes to the point of no return. What is left is trying to figure out who you are and what this new person is going to do from then on. All I knew was that I was heading for San Pedro Sula; Kerouac was heading for San Francisco.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones..."

"...the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like the fabulous yellow candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes, 'Awww!'"

So as I decided to leave California, my entire family thought I was going insane. But the insanity was only the beginning. My life has been about experience so far. I gave my best in school. I gave my best at work. I gave my best as a daughter, but deep down, my experience in California halted, so I decided to travel to the places that I learn from school. Some people know of my plan, A LOT don't, but I would love to travel the world and meet interesting people that have life figured out. Like Carlos Melgar.

Carlos Melgar was the my first reason for moving to Honduras. He is my partner, lover, best friend, companion, every fucking word to describe a pair of close people, we are. He is also inspiration. He chose one day to come back to Honduras and avoid the crap that immigration deals with. As he told me this monumental news, I was thinking, "He must be crazy...I'M IN!" Carlos was the factor that allowed me the possibility of seeing myself in another world. For Jack Kerouac, that person was his friend, Neal Cassidy.

Neal Cassidy was the man that convinced Kerouac to take his travels across the US, going to Denver as their first stop. Kerouac is not the adventurous type, but he is the type willing to be influenced by the adventurous type. As his approach to travel, Kerouac decides that he is going across country hitch-hiking to Denver from New York. In those times, this was considered the "Beat Generation," the future hippies of America that were first beginning to leave their parents' beliefs in search of something new, creative, interesting, and simply different. It was either debauchery, and cross country trips, or the white picket fence and the three kids. So the children of the 50's and 60's chose the former of the two because the latter seemed "sane". Kerouac chooses to head out for the "traveling season" with $100 in his pocket on this trip to Denver, and eventually to San Francisco, the mecca of the beat generation. While he is on this quest, he discovers "mad people" throughout with their own stories and ideas. I must say my trip has been similar in many ways.

As I left California, I had better luck with money ($1000) to get my trip going to Honduras, but the location was something that was simply not working. My trip began in the small town of El Porvenir, in the province of Cortez. If anyone does not understand what I mean by El Porvenir, imaging the burning of sugar cane and the closest groceries store 45 minutes away.

It was like a movie when we first arrived. The city-slickers moving into the small town where they are not desired. I was wearing my red and beige dress and high heels. Carlos was wearing a dark blue collared shirt, jeans and a brown blazer. Besides the setting, the mosquitoes were unbelievable. Our roommates were cool though. We have some pretty awesome geckos. Well we get to the house we are suppose to stay in, and I can only describe it as a basic home. I mean, we had a bed, a dresser, a refrigerator, a stove top cooker, and a sink. Our bathroom was a shower with cold water coming from a pipe, and the toilet. It wasn't so bad since it was non-stop sweat from the humidity. We would also need to conserve water for it was on for 2 hours a day then shut off for the rest of the day (some people only had it once a week!). On a good note, we had an air conditioner, but it was connected to the two-switch electrical outlets. When I cooked, I would need to turn off the television or the power would go off.

I have to say that it is extremely difficult to live this life everyday for the rest of your life. I lived it for about two months before we moved on to our next destination. It was fun at times because we literally had nothing to do, which gave us time to think about what we wanted to do. But at the same time, we did not have jobs, we were staying in unwelcomed territory, and I was simply way in over my head. Carlos was amazing. he took it the best way he could, looking at it from a positive stand point. He made friends with one of the guys there, and he would go cow herding and cut people's grass for experience. I have to say that for someone who was living in Hollywood, that is pretty amazing.

The character Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) was also way in over his head on his journey to Denver. Just like Carlos and I, Sal researched the routes to Denver planning on the best way to travel to his first destination, Chicago. As he states, "And on the road map was one long red line called Route 6, that led from the tip of cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada...I'll just stay on the 6 all this time." The unexpected events that follow are the reason for the awful travels that we choose to follow. Sal discusses, "Route 6 came over the river, wound around a traffic circle, and disappeared into the wilderness. Not only was there no traffic but the rain came down in buckets and I had no shelter." Both Kerouac and my travels took us to the middle of nowhere with overwhelmingly negative circumstances, completely off course from our plans; yet we experienced some amazing events at the same time that can't be learned or seen, but lived in order to understand it importance to you.

Both Kerouac and I were able to endure tough elements due to the fact that we are extremely interested the people who influence us to live our lives. The ones that are objective to your choices and who are probably living their honesty. I truly believe that Carlos is my Neal in that not only is he a mad genius, but also the inspiration needed to come to Honduras and start over in a place completely different from what he is, yet find positive qualities that allow you to grow and learn from life.

Thank you CJM.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Introduction to Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"

Jack Kerouac and I have many things in common.

Now, Jack Kerouac has accomplished more than I have, but we come from similar mindsets, so I will elaborate on my theory.

Brief introduction of the story epitomized by the New York Times:

"[The novel is] the most beautifully executed, the clearest and most important
utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago "beat"
and whose principle avatar he is."

He defined the 1950's with his definition of the the counter-culture brewing. The term "beat" refers to the times in which conventions changed, from music to sexual appetite to consumption of altering substances. These people were the first to experience something different than the "white picket fence marriage" philosophy and so it cause for uproar and fascination.

How does that relate to me?
I have come to the conclusion that in some shape I am a pioneer in my family and quite possibly be defining the new generation in choices and beliefs. Growing up in a Catholic Mexican family, there were many restrictions based on gender. As females, we were forced to come home at certain time, preferably before night time, to avoid having the "scarlet letter" attached to your forehead. The males were allowed to go clubbing until 4am on a Thursday night, and most of them were underage, breaking laws with their fake ID's. Now I have absolutely no problem with my cousins having a great time, but it was prison for us girls and as a person of reason, I began to ask simple questions about the actions taken toward us.

Another thing that was mandatory (and still is) was going to church on Sundays. We are STRONG Catholic believers, and we must follow the law of God and Jesus Christ. While all of this was going on in my home, many priests were being accused of child molestation, so I began to question my belief in the Catholic Church. As I began to question my infrastructure of the family, I begin to conduct my own experiments that would allow for further alternatives to my current life.

I compare myself to Kerouac because I think that we both were just to minds that chose the alternate path in life that might make us happy. As the introduction to the book rightly puts it, "A rebellious group trying to look at the world in a way that gave it some [new] meaning . Trying to find values...that were valid." We as wanderers of the world are seeking that moment, that essence that will make us truly happy. Whether it would be changing yourself completely, or following your dreams, all it takes is a simple choice to change what has been given to you, and use that guidance to find something better. As I sit here in Roatan, watching television and writing my blog, I am happy to experience this and cannot wait to return home. The beauty, heartbreak, despair, love, lust that I have felt on my journey has been worth it, and for Kerouac, his journey led to his success.

Neal Cassidy was Kerouac's main influence for writing "On the Road." Ann Charters explains, "But he was most taken with the wildly exuberant letters written to him and Ginsberg by Neal Cassidy, particularly Cassidy's style of combining loose, rambling, sentences with meticulously detailed observations regarding his sexual exploits with various girlfriends in Denver." Not only was Cassidy his muse for writing his greatest novel, but Cassidy was also the instigator for Kerouac to go "on the road." He divided his story into the four journeys he took with Neal Cassidy throughout his life. As I sit here discussing the introduction to this novel, my instigator for traveling to a remote part of the world is my soul mate Carlos.

Carlos and I have an interesting relationship. We are best friends. We are lovers. We are soul mates. We like each other and enjoy each others company. What is most important is that we feed off each other's drive to succeed. We have our own passions, but we share the common goal of giving 100% effort in all tasks we take responsibility for, which includes our relationship. And so our main goal is to always succeed. The way that I feel about Carlos is more than just a companion on my road to find myself. He is my inspiration for the choices that I make in my life. When we first met, Carlos and I share similar out of control circumstances that led to potentially fatal outcomes. We chose for ourselves the chance at life instead of the common road traveled by the forsaken, and now we have empowered ourselves to dream the possibility of being a president and a justice of the Supreme Court. I hope we make it.

So how does this relate to Kerouac? Carlos is the main reason why I left California to travel through Honduras. I know some of you do not agree with the reason, but I am not asking. I am explaining the decision based on what I think was best for me. I chose to continue being with person because he would be the only one capable of enthralling my mind and exciting my life. This was Cassidy for Kerouac. As Charters explains, "Dean (Cassidy) was Sal's (Kerouac) brother, buddy, and "alter-ego," a larger-than-life projection of Kerouac's heightened expectation of what life could offer." Carlos epitomizes that feeling for me and is definitely credited as being my muse for my life.

Now I reach my final belief to conclude my theory.

Growing up, my first language was Spanish. I grew up learning English as my second language, and having to catch up with the rest of my peers because they had parents who went to college and spoke perfect English. It took me years to get rid of my Spanish accent, and I was constantly teased by white kids that only knew one language. I felt inferior to them and was sickened by that feeling because deep down I knew my English and Spanish was essential to my success. As I continued at UCLA, my voice changed to fit the mold that was expected, and through that my English developed into my first language. I learned that my identity need a combination of my Mexican heritage, but dominated by my knowledge of the English language.

Kerouac faced his own issues with language; "the riddle of how to assimilate his first and most spontaneous language, joual, into a colloquial, American prose style." As Kerouac wrote his book, he definition as a writer was based on his influential writer, Thomas Wolfe. For Kerouac to find his own voice, he needed to adapt his knowledge of his first language with the mastery of his second, English. There is a fine line between finding your identity as an American mainstream writer, or becoming an "ethnic" writer with a small focus group. There is also a fine line between respect as an individual or condescending view based on your language. This is a "double bind of psychology: if a writer (person) cannot find himself in his work (a minority background) he is lost; if he becomes an 'ethnic writer,' he is off on a tangent." As bilingual individuals both Kerouac and I dealt with the issue of finding our voice that is respected and represents all of us as people.

My journey through Honduras has been an experience to find myself, as Kerouac's was for "On the Road." What I hope to find from this journey and this book is that ability to express feelings that allow for an understanding of ourselves and each other.

*All quotes were taken from "On the Road" Introduction from Ann Charters. *

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 13, 2010 marks the first day of "The Travel Companion." Welcome and enjoy.

I actually have two travel companions: my fiancee and my books. Carlos and my collection of books have been traveling with me along Honduras in search of something. We each have our motives for leaving Los Angeles, but we also hope to return soon. In the meantime, we will live our life in Roatan. But let's not talk about Carlos, that can come at random times. My other travel companion, my books, are the focus of my new venture.

I have always wanted to discuss how books inspire me and others, but have not been able to do so. I speak to many people about my love of books, but for the most part, nobody is interested. Books seem completely outdated in this age of technology, but I find them even more enthralling. There is always an opportunity to join the Great War, experience the dust bowl in the Midwest, or live in the town of Macondo. Books provide the outlet to dream the dreams that are missing in this age of truth. As we become more aware of ourselves and our world, we have lost that ability to imagine.

I am not saying that technology is awful. On the contrary, I would not survive without technology. But I also love a little fantasy, so that is why I read my wonderful books.

So today I would like to share with you a point of view and attempt to provide the same feelings I feel when I read my favorite books. I plan to read a book each week and provide feedback, feelings, interpretations, random thoughts, and everything that can be incorporated into our book.

Welcome and enjoy.