Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My New Year's Resolutions... uhh, sort of

WHEN I WAS five, numero uno on my list of New Year’s Resolutions was, “Find Huckleberry Finn.” My grandma Lola Tinay, a grade school principal, apparently deeply concerned about the development of my mental growth, had to step in and correct me, “My child, seeking make-believe characters are not resolutions. What about, `I’ll water Lola’s roses at 7 every morning, as I’m always told’ or `I will not complain anymore each time Lola asks me to recite the Rosary with her at 6 in the evening’?” To please her, I had to secretly draft two versions of my ten top new year’s resolutions that time... Well, of course, I showed her the version that I was sure, she’d readily approve of. But, you guess it right, I stuck to my “Huck Finn” version – because I knew right there and then that I really meant to pursue those “sweet lunacies,” one way or the other, whatever happens.
So forty years and cross-continental odysseys hence – I’d like to announce to one and all that I valiantly, mercilessly, successfully remained the same. A stubborn, crazy bundle of a dreaming frog still desperately wanting to be a prince, after all these years. More significantly, I’m quite pretty much on target as ever, geared at my life’s resolutions, AKA “rock journeys and sublime madnesses.”
So when Huck declared, “Let’s light out for the territory,” I knew right at that wonderful moment that I was all set to embark on a magnificent journey. Problem was – there was no Mississippi River in the Philippines’ Cordillera Mountains where I grew up. No incessantly flowing, abiding thoroughfares to an ultra-adventurous, super-impertinent raft (pretty much like what homeboys Huck&Tom rode on). Instead, there were, what I called, Creeks of the Macabre and Rivers of the Bizarre – dead tributaries that rendered virtual dumpsites for mining silt. Cyanide wasteland, death valleys. [But that’s another subject for another column piece.]wwwAh, okay! What really comprise my 2006 New Year’s Resolutions? I sincerely, honestly listed seven of them—not necessarily in order.

[1] I will be more entrepreneurial than quixotic.
“Quixotic” is such a Word, right? It’s like Heavy Stuff, you know what I mean? But, as my PBR-drinking soul sistah puts it, “Quick-freakin’-zotick? It’s all bullshit, that’s what it is!” Well, it could mean many cutesy cerebral crap other than “financially-sound,” “economically-viable” or something that consistently pays the bills. This year, I feel I won’t be able to assure myself three packs of shrimp-flavored ramen noodles each day anymore, lest I think dollar-smarter… or, entrepreneurial!
Okay, now, of course you know what “entrepreneurial” means. I don’t like to spew nasty words in the mold of “business-like, professional, practical” so deal with the word, okay? ENTREPRENEURIAL. It sounds French, isn’t it so? Thing is, I can easily rattle off 115 names of acquaintances of mine at this juncture, all wanting to be “entrepreneurial” this year. ALL of them—boldly pronounced, neurotically professed, and hysterically promised themselves and the entire universe that 2006 will be their Money Year! Oh yeah…
As for me, I don’t mean “money,” really—I just want to remind souls and spirits around me that, “Hey, at least you might wanna pay half of my phonebill, after all—we spent four hours and 17.8 minutes every Friday of my spring time aftermidnights listening to your sob stories, when all you wanted from me is to dogsit your compulsive-impulsive chihuahua so you could check out what’s going on at Club Hairspray till dawn. I just realized it’s my damn cellphone!” Or, this year, you certainly wouldn’t expect me to respond to a lovely muse with, “Ah, you had me at hello… okay, just buy me dinner at East Buffet, that’s okay. I can do your laundry this weekend.” I don’t know, this is hard for me, I still don’t like to talk money… but me and Marta The Nicer Osbourne are simply running out of Blue Sky raindance “sublimity gigs” to help pay for basic office operational/administrative bills, so…

[2] I will find myself a girlfriend.
I am VERY serious about this. I actually went to yahoo’s “Desperate Houseboys” chat rooms the other night, frantically fishing for romantic leads – “Hey, wazzup? I live in Asheville, where’re you from? Single or Sad?” (Sad means “Married,” okay? I guess, that line didn’t work—nobody wanted to chat with me.) So instead, I went to Myspace, Friendster, sonicbids, Craigslist, Nutslist, and then, I gallantly posted my “Look at me, I’m hot!” pic, spiced up with some of my Rod McKuen-by way of-Richard Marx love poems. Didn’t work – what I got were 25 “checkoutmycam” invites and a menacingly inquisitive email from a single mom with 5 kids based in Piedmont, South Dakota. (You don’t wanna know…)
Three consecutive New Years ago, my number one New Year Resolution was, “I will never fall in love again” or “I will never have a relationship again!” You see, until now – most of the time, I couldn’t really tell whether I initiated break-ups, or she wasn’t actually a girlfriend (she split with me the moment she discovered that we were dating, y’know), or I was simply unceremoniously dumped without me knowing about it.
Things seemed perfect from the get-go, I mean—I think I’m alright. How many guys you know who’d always cook dinner for his girl, massage her foot, give her gifts in all imaginable “anniversaries and first-times” within the duration of the relationship (like, first time we ate at Waffle House together, stuff like that)… I’m also a guy who immensely enjoys doing the laundry, taking out the garbage, washing dishes… I mean, I am a Kickass Housekeeper. And I also am a poet—but then, I think poets are starting to sound boring these days, eh? I don’t know, check me out – I think I am a super-romantic dude, some crazy but cool dude who’ll readily scribble a love note over mounds of snow outside my beloved’s window, and scream, “Hey, wanna have ice cream at Sweet Heaven?”
But, uh-huh, I am serious. I want a girlfriend this year! Big deal, huh? But, why? Oh well, I don’t know... Do you know? I don’t know anymore. All I know is – deep in the dead of night, my spirit cries out for my Muse, wherever she is. I just have to find someone that I could share my valued baked salmon on Viennese cheese over red wine and Diana Krall aftermidnights over recitations of Neruda’s “Veinte Poemas” over Erik Satie’s weinstein mopings. Mind you, it’s not because jammin’ astrologer Benjamin Bernstein showered me cool hints of awesome romantic moondances by the first half of 2006—it’s because I just want to fall in love again. Period.

[3] I will read more literature.
Right now, I am reading Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari.” I dug what he wrote about the freefalling beauty of taking off and not waiting for people anymore, picking up pesky phones while he cooks, sifting through junk emails – achingly, perpetually being nice. His seminal travelogue, “The Great Railway Bazaar” was easily one of my deepest influences. I’m also reading Robert Ferguson’s biography of Henry Miller, which will eventually lead me to two glorious women who kept me wide-awake past 2am at age 16 (Anais Nin and Erica Jong).
I’m also reading nine different cookbooks—but that don’t count. I browse through cookbooks, food magazines, and wildly consume hours and hours of Food Network TV shows – to keep my spirit consistently linked up with The Blue Sky God/dess’ edible blessings. There are a number of newer hardbounds that I plan to pore over and own but my financial situation at this moment prevents me from doing that so, I figured I’ll just maybe revisit old dudes (that kinda “messed up” my mind when I was younger) at the Pack Library. I’m talking about Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda, Alvin Toffler, Kurt Vonnegut, Rudyard Kipling, Li Po, TS Eliot, JD Salinger, Sylvia Plath etc etc etc – and yup, I’d like to “hang out” again with Huck & Tom and Mark Twain.
Reading doesn’t compete with my atrociously gluttonous film viewings though. Watching films is like writing or cooking to me, they had to be—otherwise I cease.

[4] I will find more time to commune with nature.
Well, I still don’t know where to spend moments to do just that. Salted catfish on campfires, lakeside musings, seaside walks, Saturday nights in the woods. With the right vibe and place, I know I will WRITE again, like I used to. (These days, I basically ramble—that isn’t writing at all.) I will dust the cobwebs of my unfinished novel, start painting (or even, just charcoal-sketching lizards at night), or maybe, I’d get the cosmic push again to waft my fingers over the piano’s breast and then, craft music one more time!
I haven’t really written anything sensible in the past two years or so. My novel, “Waiting for Winter” is still waiting for me, I haven’t written a poem that I really love in about two or three years since I scribbled my “Black Poem…” for a Beanstreets open mic three or four years ago. I haven’t painted in five years, I haven’t written a song or touched piano keys or a guitar’s fretboard in three years (despite having a piano and two acoustic guitars in my room)…
Nature converses with me like a Mother – she doesn’t care whether I’m lazy or just silly. She just stays there, tending to my needs—whether I like it or not. She only means good to me. To rephrase a line in the movie, “Road to Perdition” – “They asked me if she treated me good or bad, I just say she’s my Mom.”

[5] I will cook more.
For me, one of the best macho/cheesy lines in the movies was, “Don’t look at me, I’m only the cook!” (That’d be Steven Seagal in “Under Siege.”)
But seriously, I believe, cooking is like making love. You gotta be in an apt, fired-up, motivated mood before you do it… you have to know the secret spices and condiments without really calculating, measuring or pre-tasting them—it’s all basic instinct, and gut feel, and treated as “first time” all the time … you just dive in and explore—you don’t know when to stop, until you know you got the right blend that mutually tastes good. So you do it again.
No intellectualizing, no over-thinking. It’s all improvisation, creativity, sensitivity, spontaneity. Cooking is making love. Cooking is deep aesthetic/artistic passion, meditative, improvisational/spontaneous, even spiritual.
I learned to cook by intently, religiously watching my other grandmom, Lola Luz, prepared meals for our huge family, three or five times a day when I was a kid. For my grandma, life was all about cooking—best spices, freshest seafoods, healthiest meat, greenest vegetables… invented dish, exotic discoveries. Like art, you gotta be in the right, cool, appropriate vibe and demeanor before you begin to attack the mighty wok.
I’m like a magician when I assault the kitchen. I don’t usually follow recipes or cookbooks… I just look over them for inspiration and motivation, then I try to come up with many tricks. It’s such a trip! Sometimes I put awesome rock ‘n roll names to my dishes, ie “Misty Mountain Hop” (“jumping shrimp on vinegar wine and Thai chili”), “Purple Haze” (“boneless trout stuffed with green papaya, strawberry and chicken garnish and smashed with sake”), and “Time After Time” (any food that I had to repeat eating because I’m broke).
But I like to cook the traditional/kinda primitive way—you know, a-la “Iron Chef,” backyard firewood, lots of smoke. When I was in a band, I always imagined those fog machines like delicious clouds emanatimg from grilled clams and stuffed tilapias—as I pounded the skins (drums, y’know). Whenever I closed my eyes, that meant I was imagining food (not exactly my girlfriend… ah, now you know why I always get dumped).
Cooking in America could be messy though, if not scary. Many times, when I was living with my bro Alberto in the Jersey shore, I had the entire South NJ police force a-front my brother’s house, guns drawn. These retarded alarms kept on blaring each time smoke came out of the damned frying pan! So, one afternoon, I tried to cook at the back porch, instead. But then, Vince The Sicilian saw me and blurted, “Hey! What are you doin’? Didn’t your bro ban you from cooking? Man, did you measure that fire risin’ up your grill? You can’t let smoke come out of that stove, man! Stop that, otherwise I’ll call the National Guard, I’ll call the Corleones! You #@!*F<+j#!!!”
But this time, this year, I really have to cook. I just have to cook, period.

[6] I will call and email my family and relatives more.
Well, I still owe Bellsouth astronomical debt and I haven’t really recovered from my Sprint cell back account but that’s no excuse—I will communicate more with my family, although they’re scattered in Manila, Las Vegas, London, Dubai, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. That is, if I don’t mix up the time differences – considering that I’m always one day ahead or behind in my daily Eastern Seaboard sundial.
My family and relatives terribly miss me, I terribly miss them. I will not make them worried anymore. There are a whole lot of hazy, blurry areas that I need to clear up with them… No, the Traveling Bonfires isn’t an Appalachian wolf-worshipping cult; Yes, I am still heterosexual male; No, I also eat other food than ramen noodles and I also drink other beverage than PBR and 50-cent green tea; No, I haven’t gotten married! Yes, I still pray; No, I don’t have tattoes; No, I haven’t dyed my hair blonde; No, I didn’t change my name to Dragonfly; Yes, I will visit home soon; YES, I am still George Alfredo Pascua.

[7] I will have a more normal living condition/situation.
I can’t be normal, that is a fact—but at least, I will try my darndest best to be a bit predictable and logical this year. How is that? I’ll start wearing matching socks, keep a wallet to secure bills and my future GF’s pic (ha!), pick my phone up once in a while, minimize my crazy yarn hangings in my place/room, go to the Catholic church at least once a month, try not to hide tears, I will entertain more hangout buddies other than Marta The Nicer Osbourne, play more dance music other than “Samba Pa Ti” by Santana and the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” whenever I’m writing/working, laugh more… okay, I don’t know. I’ll just try to be more “normal” so people around me will not confuse or mistake me for some other strange, odd creature, this time out. I am okay, really.

So anyway, do you think those resolutions will make me a better, happier, less-poorer person this year? No one can tell. This start of year, I throw myself deep down a frenetic sea of madnesses, AKA projects and programs. One thing is sure — I am definitely a “new” Madman this year… but check it out, check us out. I do believe that this year—I may have a clue where to (finally!) find Huckleberry Finn! I saw him the other night right on the corner of Walnut and Carolina Lane, chowing down two slices of mozzarella Mellow Mushroom pizza…
I’m serious.


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6:51 PM  

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