Communication is the key to success, they why is it so hard sometimes? It’s a rusty skeleton key. Say what you are feeling and you will feel better. Tell them what you want or you are never going to get it. Ask, and you shall receive. Listen to your heart, but more importantly listen closely to what others are saying, you are not the center of the universe.

Kindness is sharing time and being compassionate, spreading more than just your legs, scattering radical love and positivity. Be open with your emotions, feeling is important, even the deepest hurt is temporary.

There is a love waiting for you, this unrequited veil will pass in the night without much notice. But remember, even the highest high is also temporary. Hold the good times close. Make art about them. Keep them in your heart for those cloudy days of old age.

Be an active listener by being patient and attentive. Look them in the eyes. Stop texting your arguments and actually have them.

Take action. Get in the car. Go to Mardi Gras. Kiss the girl. Kiss her in the rain, kiss her in the tent as it’s about to blow away, kiss her in the car, kiss her on the forehead, kiss every crevice of her, and even kiss her eyes while she sleeps warm next to you.

She fills the hole in your heart that normally would take years of therapy to mend. Never forget the moment you stood there and saw oblivion in each others’ embrace.

Life is fucked up. Death is always knocking. I am not afraid of it, not really. I am more afraid of the debt collectors that won’t stop calling my parents house and the junkies who need $5 for a buzz that will never satisfy them.

I want to live and change the world, I want to be known, I want to be remembered. I want to be more than just a Facebook account. Living in a closet screaming in silence is not the way to exist. Working in a cubicle day in and out in the town you were born is cruel and unusual punishment for a job well done. I want to feel like a new born baby, taking on the day as if it’s the first time I saw light.

Love is a unparalleled high. Drugs can be an escape from our own bitter realities. I am scared to try DMT, aka the death molecule, an intense psychedelic, because that feeling is the best feeling in the world. You earn it after a long life. It is your reward for dying with conviction.

Feeling the death molecule early by way of some drug scientist’s experiment seems sketchy. I don’t want to feel death. I want to feel life!

We are all dying, inching closer to the end with each lovely breath. We have no idea what’s next, even if you believe in more or nothing, it’s all uncertain. All that is completely certain is this moment. Breathe in and out, make sure to smile. I want to live on that rooftop with my lover and overlook our vivid dreams of sunsets and waterfalls.

This moment is fragile, so many variables are keeping it afloat. I really do not know what I want.

It’s baffling to think that I have lived for 31 years in the darkness of my own wants and needs. I guess I never really took much time to consider what I require to succeed.

WHAT THE FUCK DO I WANT? All of my needs are met and material bullshit does not matter. I do know what is important to me: my family, my friends, my cats, the earth, food not bombs, art, and freedom!

My roots dig deep but perhaps one day I will find new soil to plant them in. I will never know if I don’t explore it. I know I can change. Becoming vegan and caring more about community service, solidarity for all causes, recycling, composting, using non aerosols, and giving up glitter and bottled water is just the start. I met a human that makes me better and aim to love her the best I can, with openness and honesty.

I have never been to counseling, but know a lot of humans who swear by it. It would feel incredible to have someone listen and give educated advice.

I bottle things up and run away from all hurt, repress and push away anything that causes my happy heart pain. One foot solid on the ground, anchored, unwavering. Meanwhile the rest of me is a balloon that has lost its string, floating toward oblivion, only to end up in the ocean strangling a fish that hasn’t been born yet. It’s bizarre to be so grounded and so lost at the same time.

I can’t be consumed by the what ifs if I never try. You don’t know how to live unless you go for it. Try all the things, take the leap, scream into the endless cavern of life. The echo is you from a moment ago and you are not alone.

All I have ever wanted was love, but I don’t know how to do it. I don’t really know what makes me happy until it is happening.

For me it was always easy to think about polyamory as a single person. Jealousy and fear are all internalized bullshit. I know that the only way to move past it all is unwavering communication.

The butterflies haven’t been in my belly for years. I think age consumed them. The love I feel now is better, it flutters with truth and understanding, it is a feeling of safety and admiration.

Nobody has ever told me that they appreciate me. I appreciate being appreciated.

Real love is consent and constant. It is wanting to work on things when one is feeling off, it is changing the path to make your lover feel more safe and free in your arms. Love is not a prison or a cage for your heart.

Free Love? I certainly won’t pay for it. I have been alone for so long that it feels strange to work on a relationship. I am feeling this wave of change. Slowly creeping monsoon of repair and washing away regret.

It is easy to look back at the corpse of a relationship and see what went wrong. You can pinpoint the moments where you could have stepped up, you could have taken a stand and stood up for them or given some extra care.

I remember laughing at someone I once loved when they told me a deep truth, they were vulnerable and real and I didn’t know how to handle it. I could have hugged them and let them know it was okay. Instead I left a wall between us.

Each experience has brought me to here and now, it made me ready for what’s to come. I have learned to talk more. Adventure beyond all wonder and belief, a love with passion that will last forever, starts with communication.

Now that wall has come down, brick by brick, falling rubble of yesterday’s tears. I want to relinquish all fear and stop being paranoid of abandonment. I am enough, I am worth it.

Self hate and emotional deprivation is tragic. Self destruction runs deep when you grow up fat, but honestly we probably all feel that way. It doesn’t matter what you look like, there will always be someone you think is prettier, skinner, younger, smarter, and more worth it. That’s a lie, that’s society dividing us. We are better than our misdirection.

I want to open up. I want to cut through my emotional blockage with a machete. Years of filth won’t get clean overnight, I need emotional renovation.

This time it’s worth it. I have learned from past heartache. Finally I am chosen! Let’s stay together and make it work this time.

I need to say what’s on my mind. If I communicate it will be okay. Take the stitches out of my lips and the duck tape off of my ears.

It’s time to open up. It’s time to feel and evolve. I need to talk with my parents, my lover, my friends, my roommates, my co-workers, and the people I meet in everyday life.

You should do it too! Take this chance to clear the cobwebs out of your mouth. Once you speak up it is addicting.

People tell me things they would not tell anyone else, not their mom, not even their therapist or childhood best friend. I get bro status instantly when most girls would not. Guys hear that I like girls too (I like all humans) and assume that I want to hear about all the dirties of their sex life instantly. I’m not mad, always looking for artistic inspiration.

This is what brings us to the topic of erotic asphyxiation. A guy was telling me how he was fucking a girl half his age and she liked to be choked.

Another guy told me about the first girl that ever asked him to choke her and how it felt powerful. One time they were in the act and he was choking her and her eyes rolled back into her head. Her body went limp. He then slapped her awake. She said “Thank you for bringing me back,” then he continued fucking her.

What the fuck? This disturbed me. Who would want that? Choke out a young girl, thats not making love, thats some carnal strange right there. She asked for it, he said. She wanted it. She was looking for a little pain, a little pause in time and oxygen deprivation.

I bruise easily so I never really wanted to try it. But one time I was hooking up with someone and they were definitely dominant, and knew what they were doing. Their expert hands knew the exact pressure point to hit to cut off oxygen without hurting me. It felt like a whip. I needed to tap out, it was too intense, and not in a sexual way.

Erotic asphyxiation or breath play is when you intentionally restrict the flow of oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal. The term autoerotic asphyxiation is used when the act is done by a person to themselves.

Gasper is used to describe a person participating in this fetish. Author George Shuman describes the effect as such, “When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it induces a lucid, semi-hallucinogenic state called hypoxia. Combined with orgasm, the rush is said to be no less powerful than cocaine, and highly addictive.”

When death occurs during auto-erotic asphyxiation often the families will “clean up” the scene and make it not seem sexual, but like suicide. If a partner is involved it can be classified as murder even if there was consent. Thats crazy!

Back to my conversation with the dirt ball. He also added “of course the girls are always younger” as if it would be gross to sleep with a woman his age or older. The other guy stated that he liked older women. I wonder if it was because he wanted to sleep with me.

Daddy complex- so many older men fetishize young girls, like the only creatures capable of sex are young fertile girls. It is absolutely disgusting how children are sexualized by the media for consumption by the scummy old men who rule the world. Goes the other way too when younger people are looking for sexual “guidance” perhaps to make up for a lack of actual parents in their life. A whole generation is being raised by the internet and are incapable of healthy relationships because of this.

Mommy complex- while most men seek out younger women they also take advantage of older women to do things like their cooking and laundry. For the most part they want to be treated like babies and also fuck babies.

Some people also put themselves into the mom role. I definitely do this. This is still problem, but a little less creepy. I will never have children pop out of my body but I will have an influence on younger people. I will help others grow with my wisdom and resources.

I love to feed people, I love having people in my home and cooking them a vegan feast. I will go without to fill someone else’s belly. I care about others in that ever loving maternal way.

For me, I feel funny if someone is much younger than me. When on dating sites/apps I usually swipe away from even 21-22 year olds because I know they are in a much different place than my 30 year old ass.

Do I fuck them to feel young? Is it like Elizabeth Báthory bathing in their blood? Ageism is rampant in porn and the sex industry. Age is a fetish too: nubile lolita vs dried up spinster, youth vs experience, it’s all what you are looking for.

Burlesque is so appealing because there no age restrictions. All bodies are beautiful and inspiring vessels. Everyone is fucking sexy! Old and fuckable are not oxymorons!

I love that people like to tell me the gory details, knowing that not many other people would be as impressed by their filth. I love being the one who knows the thing you can’t tell anyone else. I don’t get grossed out. I do disgusting shit everyday. We all do.

How do you react when you know dirt about someone your friend is thinking of dating though… like they start describing a random tinder hookup that they are falling in love with… same physical description, kinda average, kinda whatever… same job… wait he started what?… awww fuck that’s the guy that ____ to my friend when she was _____ and you think that maybe he _____ to you but you want to justify what happened.

Like staying with a phone company that sucks just to get an angry but loyal customer discount. You asked me if I ever stole anything from anyone.

We ate brunch, vegan tofu hash with a pita, strong coffee with almond milk, you had a bloody mary, we both hate olives. You very loudly told me about all of your sexplotations and adventures spanning the course of continents.

A man sat in earshot pretending to read. I forgot his name but we definitely knew each other. I did not make eye contact.

Hopefully our explicit conversation inspires him to make art. Us talking dirty on the patio of a cafe on a fall morning makes Buffalo that much more sexy. That kind of girl lives there, artists having conversations about art, sex, traveling, ridding ourselves of negative energy, and bonding over coffee and early morning alcohol that’s ok because it’s in tomato juice like a meal.

Talking about choking, fucking outside, and so much more. Things were said that would make anyone gasp. I know he had to read those pages over. We acknowledged each other as he left, he said he didn’t want to interrupt our conversation. You are welcome sir.

“Don’t break me heart or I’ll break your heart shaped glasses”

Marilyn Manson (probably off of his lamest album to date)

I feel like a little girl on most days, riding around on my trike with ringlets in my hair. A friend of mine gave me a pair of heart shaped pink glasses and my life has changed. I won’t take them off.

They are pink chakra glasses, supposed to evoke love and positive energy. Everything has been better to me since I put them on my face. The universe smiles in my direction.

Pink is the vibrant and lovely color of passion, universal love, everything is more beautiful through a pink lens. Pink smooths it all over, it calms, soothes, and relaxes the mind.

When the pink Chakra is blocked, we experience anxiety, self defeat, lack of strength, and cloudiness. Pink awakens me like a wish at 11:11. I have always been the stereotypical girl attracted to pink.

cat and cow loveI went into the woods and forgot what day it was, I cut myself off from technology and responsibility. There is no need for a cellphone out there. There is no need for a cellphone in here.

I want to throw a party where everyone puts their stupid smart phones in a box and keeps them away the entire night. People will actually speak to each other.

When I went to the Dave Chapelle stand up show the other day they had a strict no cell phone policy and even locked people’s phones in little sealed bags if they brought them into the venue. I thought that was an awesome idea, people will pay attention to the show and not distract others with the glow of their phone, the temptation of false gods, the safe little internest.

Technology literally bit my nipple just now.

 

 

“I don’t know whether to say I’m sorry or you’re welcome”
– Juicy Lucy, my roommate and creative soul sister.

The answer is both. Seconds before my vivacious roomie leaned in to give me a hug, I was lying on the couch writing this very blog on my laptop, as she leaned in the laptop closed, (mind you I am not wearing a bra) directly on my nipple, pinching it shut.

So funny, yet so painful, what are the chances of that happening? One of those moments that I want to remember when writing the lesbian stoner comedy that is my life. Every experience is just another scene in the movie.

summer loveI needed that pinch to let me know I was actually awake. I’ve had a strange few days. There is an old man who lives across the street from me, always says hi from his swing as I trike by. Yesterday he called me over, asked me if I wanted a coffee table that he didn’t want to put at the curb, and then told me that his sister died.

He was very sweet, obviously just wanted some conversation and a smile. It was a perfect sunny day, I shared that I recently lost my grandma and I think of her every time it’s sunny.

He then mentioned that his sister’s favorite color was purple and that a beautiful dark purple tulip sprouted, it was beautiful, it was her! The purple chakra means spirituality, connected to the other realm.

The day before my friend called me. She had found a woodpecker in distress. It took its last gasp, stared her in the eyes, and died in her hands.

She told me that I was the first person that she called without thinking. Her fiancé agreed that I was the one they needed to call.

How have I become the person that people need to see when they are sad or in trouble? I think of the person I call when I am in that position and my first responder is always my amazing dad. If I am anything like him that makes me so proud.

happy cat

Even though I am an optimist, I don’t feel that inspiring most days. I’m covered in two day old glitter crust, dandruff, and pizza crumbs, some call me a beautiful creature, but I honestly think I am a little gross.

What I am trying to say is not that I am not capable of being there for someone, but rather why would they ever choose me to begin with? I am irresponsible with my own heart and expectations. I am not even there for myself.

I am trying though, baby steps. It has been six months since I ate meat or talked to a sort of ex love of mine. I made a decision to make my life better by cutting out the things that made me sad. I can’t bear to hurt animals or relish in the despair of unrequited love.

pink glassesI want to see the positive aspects of this incredible world we live in. I want to be there for people, a safe place to go when you are in need.

You can sleep in my hammock or take solace in my hugs. I think that these pink glasses have given me that extra boost of energy to share with everyone I know. I genuinely love everyone and look at things from an unrealistically positive light.

You can’t see flaws through rose tinted glasses. Look to the pleasant parts of life, take it in, breathe in the sunshine and feel good about life in this moment. Get yourself some pink glasses and open your mind.

P.S. Rose tinted glasses are also excellent at hiding those pesky “tired” stoner eyes, paranoia free is the way to be. Fashion for your health.

Everybody struggles with their identity. Step back and stop trying to be anything but authentic to find meaning in life. Be yourself and use your own unique set of skills to make this world a more sustainable place.

I am inspired daily by my friends’ strength. Everyday on Facebook (where the struggle is real) and in actual real life I have friends who are open about their HIV positive status, about being Transgender, or on the Autism spectrum, or recently broken free from abuse (from a person or an addiction), anything that can cast an unjust judgement should be set on the table with a proper place setting.

My life is full of humans who celebrate their beautiful and diverse humanity! Skinny or fat, black or white, red head or bald, gender fluidity, diversity and pride in your culture is the fruit of life. It is only society and the expectations of the patriarchy that ever told us differently.

Vanity masks insecurity. I hide behind my perfect teeth and Marilyn locks. Selfies instead of being selfless. Curse of the bleach blond material girl. That dark comes creeping in. Courtney Love, Madonna, and Debbie Harry are my style goddesses because they didn’t care.

There is a point where letting your roots hang out is sexy, it reminds you of who you are a little bit. I have been hiding behind blonde hair my entire life. I was born with it, I loved it, I identified with it. Then my hair started getting darker and I wasn’t having it! I highlighted at first and then went right for full throttle bleach blonde and haven’t turned back since.

I literally freak out if I dye it too much of another color. Its just like how I identify with being fat. I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t a large blonde woman anymore. Buxom blonde is me, I cannot be a thin brunette.

What is a poser? People are entitled to change their mind, and sometimes in the beginning of that change they are  going to be considered posers. It’s like when I was a teenager and I decided that I really did like punk music, I wanted pink hair, a plaid skirt, and combat boots. I knew that it couldn’t come from Hot Topic or I would be shunned. I also knew that I wasn’t about that dirty blonde Gap t-shirt Old Navy denim white Nike kind of life anymore either.

Eventually I found out that it didn’t matter what you wore as long as it was yours. It is not cool to completely appropriate ANY culture that is not yours just for the sake of fashion. Of course it is cool to learn about other people’s perspectives and earn the chance to be part of their traditions, learn why they are there and respect their significance.

Be yourself, don’t ever try and be something you are not, but DO constantly re-invent yourself! Don’t ever feel trapped by who people think you are or what they expect you to be like.

My style is a mixture of 1950s housewife, 1980s teenager, and a crazy high school art teacher that is covered in cat hair. But sometimes I prefer to be a man. I like my Zubaz and American Pride gear, I like my unlatching Tevas with dirty knee high tube socks, I could go undercover at a Donald Trump rally and nobody would know the difference, satirically blasting David Alan Coe from a boombox.

american man
All I need is a dirty blonde lace front mullet wig with a matching mustache. That’s next level, with a little investment he will be believable even. I would no longer be just a girl in a wig,

I often wonder what I would look like if I was just left to my own devices and not brought up in the society that told me I had to be a girl because I was born with a vagina and not a penis. It’s not like my parents bought in though, I could have had GI Joes if I wanted them, I just really did love Barbies. I liked to dress them up and make them bang, didn’t everyone do that?

I went on fishing trips and had season tickets to the Buffalo Bills, always in places normally designated for just the boys. I took after my amazing grandma, her name was Fred (Mary Freda). Non gendered names are the best.

gay unicorns
Everyone is a sparkling  unicorn. We all need to get connected on this idea. If everyone treasured every life we would have no hate or war, no murder or conflict.

Take the time to curl your hair and use the sugar scrub, paint your toe nails neon pink. My toes aren’t mean for those with a foot fetish, you cannot suck on these toes.

My legs are hairy and covered in scales. I have always tried to compensate for my insecurities by making something else way more extravagant. If my hair and makeup is fancy and I have on a pretty dress nobody will notice how flawed the rest of me is.

I need to wake up and realize that there are NO flaws. I am ok being naked on stage or posing for art students but scared of being photographed nude because of my skin, the weight doesn’t bother me as much as the skin condition,

Disease is not beautiful. But in the last two days I have met two beautiful women who have the same stupid auto immune skin disease as I do. I didn’t judge their skin issues and they didn’t judge mine.

My life is as important as my cat’s life, or the life of a new born baby, or a 98 year old man, or a cow waiting to be slaughtered. Every being is perfect and worth it. There is no life that matters more than another life, we all are equal and beautiful.

“Wow you are 29?! You look so much younger than that!”

I am going to start with this: I am not one of those assholes who thinks 30 is old. The year between 29 and 30 is like a year long existential power hour. There are however some social taboos that start becoming very real once you are out of your 20s.

I don’t have a burning desire for children so I’m not mad about my ticking biological clock or rapidly rotting eggs, but it’s definitely my mother’s scare tactic for me to lose weight and find a “good man.” I do all I can to take care of myself and my cats, I couldn’t imagine taking care of a husband and kids, no bueno.

A lot of my friends are living that life though, the fetuses and shiny diamond rings of Facebook are piling up in my feed. My best friend has a beautiful daughter, she is all the kid I need in my life. I want to spoil and nurture her, help teach her the ways of the world. I love when she says Auntie Catherine, it is the cutest thing ever to hear a tiny person who is learning language say your name so distinctly.

I went to a place called Lilydale, a community of psychics and mediums, and two different psychics told me that my grandmother was with me and that she was telling me that there was a baby in my life that I needed to have an influence on and spend more time with. Even from beyond the grave, grandmas give advice to live by.

There are several types of little old lady out there that I strive to become. The cute little granny is my favorite. Easter and Dyngus day always make me think of my little Polish grandmother. I think that all of the little Polish grandmas who have passed should be allowed to rise from the dead at Easter time. Little sweet zombie babushka-wearing darlings armed with a coil of kielbosa, pierogis, and a half melted butter lamb.

butter lamb mac and cheese

I am definitely the woman who wants to feed everyone when they come over. I will throw together an elaborate meal for surprise guests in an instant, it’s a gift. I love sharing food with people and cooking, being a sweet lil old lady is a life goal of mine.

I am proud to own pink flamingos and valor sweatsuits. My everyday look is very reminiscent of a high school art teacher with a few marbles missing.

Then there are the crazy old hags, the spinsters who have a million cats and scare the neighborhood children. Get off my lawn! Frazzled grey hair and a house that looks like a delapatated witch mansion full of cracked porcelain dolls covered in dust. I don’t see that happening to me.

It’s weird to start feeling my age and notice how old you are in comparison to some things. I was dumpster diving with a group of 16 year olds the other day. I was literally corrupting the youth and never felt so good.

I am a late bloomer when it comes to a lot of things in life. I wanted to make sure my brain was fully formed before I fucked it up with drugs and partying. I already feel the scene shifting to people who are at least 5-7 years younger than me.

It is weird when you realize that you are the only one in the room that was even born in the 80s. When I check an ID at the bar and see 1993 I am like whoa you can drink.

I missed my 10 year high school reunion, I don’t know what I would have even done with that. I feel like half of them are married with kids, many divorced, a third are now out as gay, a handful have died, some are in jail, some are in their parents basement playing video games, and the rest are just floundering like me, not really successful but totally surviving. How does one measure success anyways?

I’m not even 30 and my knees hurt when I get up. Unexplainable pains in parts you didn’t know existed. Rickety crickety crackity bones, adding ibuprofen to my daily vitamins, knowing that it doesn’t get easier.

I know that now it is even more important for me to take care of my body. If I don’t change my attitude towards food and exercise its all going to start hurting a hell of a lot more.Easter with grandpa

I love who I am and it doesn’t matter what number my age is, I refuse to grow up. I still get amazed when people think I should be responsible for something.

Like when a young kid asks you to buy him booze. I love the rush of being asked for my id then get mad when I can’t find it and get the dreaded X’s even though I am clearly old enough.

I secretly love the idea of someone thinking I am under 21, how cute. I am not very good at adulting. I can’t even pay my damn bills on time, it’s like a totally irresponsible mental block.

I definitely don’t fully have my shit together, whatever that means. I remember thinking of 30 year olds as having “it” all figured out, yep no clue. Age is just a number babe, I will be that guy picking up young girls with my sweet ride outside of the high school. Different levels of maturity.

There are a lot of important life altering things that happen in your twenties to form who you are. I for one am excited for my dirty thirties. I am starting to feel “success” like when I do something people notice and respect it. This is the time when my generation takes over the torch, it is our time to fix the world, or at least do damage control.

We need change. What happened to serve and protect? Freddie never had a chance. Apocalypse plague of humanity drawing closer with every injustice to every name I can’t remember, because there are too many. You have the right to remain alive! Too many people are murdered by the people supposedly serving and protecting them.

This revolution will not be televised!

It will be caught with the camera of a dying cell phone by the thumb of child who knows no slavery, but is a slave to connection without being connected to the fact that folks are dying – for what? I sit on a floral covered futon in a room where the only discomfort is that the ceiling fan is making my feet cold and I am too lazy to pull the chord. I am typing on a iPhone that was new at Christmas, but is quickly becoming obsolete. I spent the morning smoking bongs and catching up on what’s happening outside my line of sight. I feel defeated.

Nepal. Baltimore. Places where fates were decided without remorse or recourse. An earthquake quickly drowned out by coverage of a race riot. A man dragged into a police van and then beaten until his spine was severed. Watching videos and reading both genius and fucking ignorant comments, reading the news through my Facebook feed, the Twitters of anyone who is anyone that Fox News can grab on to. Wonderbread reporters saying stupid things to people who are desperately trying to save their children and bring light to the hardships in a desperate America.

Foods not Bombs 2
Food Not Bombs is a peaceful protest against war.

It’s not as hard to talk about race through the safety of tapping of your finger on a little glass screen that has so much power. There is no answer I can provide to why humans judge other humans based on the color of their flesh or contents of their presentation. I know that I have been judged and made similar shameful judgements, but I also know that regardless of growing up in the poorest neighbourhood of one of the poorest cities in the country, I still made it to where I am now. I have not personally been the victim of Police brutality or the true ugly face of racism, but I unfortunately know how very real and present it is in our world.

I was once standing outside of the old Pink, a Buffalo dive bar in the hippest neighbourhood, and there was a man pan handling – not being too pushy, just normal. After several moments: a car pulled up and two police officers dragged him away from the bars patio area and threw him to the ground in front of a crowd of a summer Saturday night drinkers. When he was picked up from the cement one officer pretended to kick him and they all shared a sick smile. I stood there and did nothing. I held my Jack and Coke in one hand and cell phone in the other and said absolutely nothing. I was 21. Out of fear my lips were sealed. I didn’t want to get involved. I regret that everyday. Standing up for even one person is the most important thing one can do.

I am angry, but fighting violence with more violence is counterproductive. Peaceful protests, nonviolence, and using art as activism are the only true answers. There are people rioting for sports teams, the KKK and Nazis still exist. Hate mongers and cold blooded killers, gay bashers and wife beaters roam the streets. War is present in all societies. And the most popular children’s toys are always guns. Why are humans, as a whole, so aggressive? Video games and rap music? Heavy metal perhaps. Violent horror movies maybe. Children being raised by the internet? Unfaithful media? Who the fuck knows! Maybe it’s none of the above or a combination of all.

Foods not bombs 3
We feed people because we love them.

Sadly there are disconnected fronts, people fighting for the right thing in the wrong way. Looking for attention, not resolution. Do not stir the pot in someone else’s battle. Solidarity is important. Stand with and support, but do not fight for them – it’s not always your battle. Be educated. There is a group of rabble rousers in front of every city hall inciting a riot. These people are my friends. I agree with their heart and dedication, but when they jump in bull horns first, that leaves no time for tact.

There was a possibility of my cousin becoming a cop – it made me think. He is a good one with the right intentions. I would hope that the shitty crime filled world wouldn’t eat him up. We need more honorable humans in law enforcement.

I care about everyone, every person deserves love and respect and food and smiles. There is a lot that needs to be done and there is nothing you can do about it by simply being quiet! Incite a riot within yourself, bring peace by being peaceful, helpful, loving, and making your own discussions and decisions based on life and not what the media portrays.

The way a story is covered, paying attention to one insignificant part of the story, grabbing onto the juiciest bit of bullshit and shifting the entire tide – it makes me sick. Violence sells. The News is not Reality Television, just as reality Television ain’t real. None of it can be trusted, get your news by being present in the world you live in, be there when it’s happening and, when actually reading or watching other people’s representations of the world events, make sure to find every perspective and never ever trust the biggest headlines. Again: the revolution will not be televised.

Race: it’s not something you can win by being the tortoise in a world of selfish and ignorant hares. Everyone is different and diversity is a spectacular gift that we all share. We all must accept each other’s differences and appreciate the beauty of being unique. Be the change you want to see in the world. Do not tolerate ignorance or hate. Be a good example for new generations. Do the best you can to fight the good fight in the name of peace, acceptance, freedom and above all else love.

The featured image is a painting by Cat, inspired by the events at Ferguson.

I will start this by saying I know I am lucky, loved, healthy, and have the world by a string. I wake up most days with a huge smile on my face, knowing that I can accomplish anything. I am young and my face is symmetrical. When I look at my life I see a whole lot of goodness and bliss. My family, friends, and cats are incredible and I even love all of my jobs. My glass is half full.

Then there are those rare days where the sun just refuses to shine. You feel suddenly old and ugly, flawed and hopeless – completely unlovable. The demons you try so hard to help others fight off creep into your own thoughts. Those stupid fucking bad days seem to be longer than every good one combined. Today I am having one of those god awful days. The glass is still half full, just now it’s full of shit.

I think it is partially due to the seasonal affective disorder: I crave sunshine. I need my long dresses, bare legs and feet, no underwear or bra, just long flowery flowing freedom. I’ve been aching, slightly1926223_10102348672233968_6553281700865224625_o sick for months. My skin is dry and awful. I just don’t feel sexy when it’s gloomy. There is a happiness solar panel on my head that needs to be charged ASAP.

 

I also think the forthcoming spring is a little intimidating. It makes me think of love in the air and people having picnics with their lovers in the park. I am single by choice, but I still miss the simple joy of waking up next to someone. Having kisses and a cup of coffee waiting for you when you wake up is lovely. If I truly wanted a lover, I know there are at least a few people waiting to be mine. Sadly it’s not that easy. We never love the ones who openly profess their undying love for us. It’s the ones who are hard to get, the ones who show distance, the ones who challenge us: those are the ones we really want.

I try not to dwell on the things that make me sad. I know that I do hold things inside and communicating my feelings is not my strong suite. I do a lot for others. I aim to be the person that you know will always have your back no matter what and be the voice of the voiceless and fight the good fight. I think everyone is good at the core. I root for the misguided; I forgive people without question; and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. In my quest to give others happiness, I often forget to leave some of that passion and happiness behind for myself.

I was really taken aback when comedian Robin Williams took his own life. He was someone who exuded confidence and caused so much laughter. Being funny doesn’t mean you are happy. It is unfortunately common for comedians to suffer from depression. It makes sense to me, people who are funny do it as a defense. I think about all of the celebrities who died before their time due to drug addiction or self affliction and it’s horribly sad. What’s the point of making it, if it’s so lonely at the top? Minds that create astounding beauty are also capable of making tragic darkness. You can accomplish all of your dreams and still feel emptiness, what’s left to strive for if you have everything?

10544369_10102348673366698_4596999301855934682_n

I am a performer. We make the world laugh instead of being the butt of jokes ourselves. I know that I have always laughed to hold back tears. You get really good at hiding the sadness and the rest of the world only sees the bright light you choose to exude. Mental illness runs in my family – I often wonder if I have multiple personalities that just get a chance to exist on stage, then they can’t haunt me in my everyday life.

When I am on stage the sad thoughts melt away, nothing hurts, I own the crowd’s attention, and I feel true success for the 3 minutes I am up there. I pour my dark thoughts into my art and it makes me more approachable and relatable. All the time girls tell me I inspire them, I am up there flaunting my imperfections. People think I really have my shit together, that is the furthest from the truth.

I’m doing my best to keep it together and keep on waking up with that smile forward. I will never stop trying to help others deal with this harsh cold world. It’s important to remember that even the happy people get sad sometimes. Nobody is immune to sadness, we just have to keep doing the best we can do to not let it consume our psyche. Never ever take people for granted. Love them fully, hug them often, use your gifts to empower others and remember to leave a little bit of love left for yourself.

Like most men of art in this au courant city, I feel an overwhelming urge to let my facial hair grow out as winter settles in. It’s a rather invigorating show of machismo, a throwback to the golden age of manhood, and a new dandy object to dote on—a velvety pet to stroke into regal submission. It keeps my face warm and it ensures brawn and I’m still keeping it brushed by New Year’s (I suggest a bore head brush, for best results).

But then, of course, the whole ordeal comes with a stack of pitiful worries as well. For one, soup will indeed be strained, as will my patience with every soup, coffee and over-easy egg sandwich gooping my mustachios in its ooze. Napkins are suddenly unrecognizable by the end of meals, and I’m catching myself licking hair, on my face, all the time.

What’s more, while some dames will go weak at the knees and pouty at the lips at the sight of a fine bristly face-scape (and some at the site of a not-so-fine one, too), quite a few more will wonder if a bearded man even has cheek bones and a jaw under there—or worse, they’ll assume he most obviously doesn’t. I do not like being thoughtlessly discarded, or ignored.

These (rather ridiculous) concerns—coupled with (even more ridiculous) the fact that I look like more and more of a shoo-in, with every quarter inch of dark growth, for some Homeland extra work—have me, almost every time, reaching vainly for the trimmer after a few months.

And so, this brave new year, newly single, dates scheduled, I most recently did just that. The beard will have me think myself into the dumbest of corners if I let it, and I’m most willing to buzz my way out of it if I do. I combed the cordless Philips through the shag and my face, chiseled real-life bones and all, emerged from under every stroke. And though I was a little sad about giving up (sadder about my reasons), and none too thrilled about the cold I’d be inflicting upon my cheeks, I was happy to retrieve the resplendence of that old visage of mine.

Then, I came to the moustache.

The moustache is a funny thing. As I trimmed away my best-to-date, sveltest Nation-of-Islam look, I narrowed in on the stache, and started to look more and more like a younger, fitter, fewer chinned, more dapper Juan Valdez, a Colombian bean wrangler for the new world. I looked like there are things I know—sensitive, mysterious, darkly things.

And so, as last year it was the Prince moustache, this year, wax out on a Thursday morning in January, I twisted at the very tips of my luxuriant manifest destiny. It twirled up and stayed, just so, on each side, and suddenly I looked like a million sleazy bucks, and felt like it.

In that moment, I wasn’t Tom Selleck, or even Roger Murtaugh; I was Dali, Bill the freakin’ Butcher—I was the goddamn Soup Nazi. By the time I left the house, I was a regular old first-grade hipster douche in my R.M. Williams Chelsea boots and selvedge jeans and 32 oz. dark navy pea coat, stache readied for any obscure reference, but I didn’t even give a care, because I felt and looked like greatness, and that fateful Thursday was the first day of the rest of my mustachioed life.

Everyone—on the bus, on the street, hustle to hustle—seemed to notice. A moustache that’s required some time and energy does not a frivolous gentleman make. I met smiles, I met wide eyes, I met nervous starers, and even the guy at Café Resonance was noticing.

For instance, I know that when he said “I really dig your half-sleeve, too” he was, beyond his control, referring by omission to my whiskers, who loomed boldly without needing a mention, friscalating face wings soaring right into the westerly sun-drenched glory of that afternoon. And it felt lovely on my face, that sun: bones rekindled in the luminous vitamin, upper lip refracting, a solar panel to the smithy of my soul. It was a mixed metaphor kind of ecstasy, and no one could take it away from me.

In that moment, I would be a man with a moustache forever—outside of race, beyond time, everlastingly beeswax-ed. It lasted straight through Saturday. And it was good.

St-Henri’s been getting me snickering lately, and I’ll gander you might agree. Folks have been trying to refurbish its tenement-of-yore, slant-floored, jute-insulated grandeur for a while. The speed of it is starting to show.

I remember 5-buck two-egg breakfast down at Restaurant Place St-Henri, with its onion soup-soaked “home” fries and its greenish eggs. What a rich, cultured scene! And bottomless, hopefully unburnt coffee, too. I remember hitting it nearly every morning, even when strapped, and all the other budget-prone freelancers in the neighbourhood doing the same—our own little wordless congregation. You could always get a booth, except on welfare-check day.

It’s been closed for a while – two years come February – and then John’s 2.0 burned / was burned down this summer. And as much as I’d love to hit Miracle Pizza every morning for a salmonella gamble, this all leaves fewer Quebie options to live by. This all used to be so cheap. Casse-croûte or die, but cheap.

Enter, as such, Midi 6—a tasty, not so expensive, or organized, or Quebie, compromise. It’s Saturday, so I’m hitting the undrinkable dark roast full tilt, caution to the wind. Three creams. Sugar. More sugar. Two eggs over easy, sausage and a croissant and all the coffee I can get down—$6,61 all in before tip.

As for the scene, the gentrifiers within earshot are rattling on about the hypoallergenic way to go, spoon-blitzing their irreverent offspring with gulps of organic purees. I’m also getting an earful of some young Dollard-seeming brunchers on about 30-day money-back guarantees, vacation accrual, and loud-mouthed Shoulda Switched to Telus and I’ve Found My Calling in Compliance boasts.

Everyone seems proper weekend pleased, on a wailer of a time. I catalogue factory-frayed stylings and the sight of sweatpants in public—taking notes on telling Montrealer allophone brain farts like “bang for your dollar.” It’s a little, pointless game; it’s a slow, late morning.

sweatpantsAll of them are so happy with it all I gather that I’m probably the ridiculous one. That the neighbourhood’s just moving on past whatever we thought it was. Whatever some think it to be.

For instance, after breakfast and a block over at the artisanal coffee beanery, the one-gear Fattal-ites are thinking up that the “real yuppies” are actually infesting NDG; that St-Henri is still, essentially, as punk as scabies. The steam wands of their smithy shall micro-foam on in resistance, and 3$ rooibos is about integrity. They sure seem pleased enough.

Meanwhile, cramping my eavesdropping style is a wild-haired, middle-aged behemoth, waiting out a French press in progress, who is railing on at the sweet quipster barista: “open your damn eyes!” the seas are death, the lizard folk, NAFTA, FATCA, the Military Industrial Food Complex (check your Eisenhower, please), the porcine gene pool!!!

It’s like a live-cast of a Rabble article, or my Facebook feed on most days. Yet another sample of the neighbourhood, he finally breezes on out of the shop, but only after having made everyone a little shushed. “Take it easy,” he says, baby smooth. A collective sigh. We are convinced.

All the while, I’m trying to polish off the end of David Foster Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing” essay—honing in long enough, here and there, to guffaw joyously at the “semi-agoraphobe” in him. He’s covering the Luxury Cruise experience aboard the “Nadir” megaliner, but barely leaving his room, and bingeing on Cabin Service. Last I looked back down, he had At-Sea-Cable on again, on his fifth whack at Jurassic Park, really empathizing with the raptors, trying like hell to escape all the “bovine” cruiserdom.

I’m trying to give him my undivided, but, you know, here’s the multi-ply kerfuffle I fancied I’d go out and probe. Hard not to look up; hard not to fret, or giggle. All this just seems to keep gusting along Notre-Dame, some westerly swindle. “Maybe it’s just you,” I think, to myself. “Take it easy,” I repeat.

Then “OK, let’s make some money!” blares serendipitously from someone’s VAIO—turned down in a panic, for shame. I gander it must be an endeared omen, right? I mean, what’s not to laugh at, right?

National Geographic has a venture called The Genographic Project which, through genetic data gathering, is able to map out where each individual’s genetic background comes from. By participating you are able to see where your ancestors travelled from, and how you might have ended up where you are. What is so profoundly important about obtaining these results, is the fact that not a single human being can claim ownership to any land or country through birthright, simply because down the line their heritage reveals them as migratory elements containing multitude of different races and immigrants.

You, being born in this land, does not make you a native.

The language you speak just like the genes you have inherited come from thousands of years of evolution that was prompted by relocations, wars, invasions, and trades which tremendously influenced your modern tongue, as well as every single linguistic development in the world as it still does today. The French you speak is not pure. The English you speak is not pure. The Farsi you speak is not pure. They are mutants of long forgotten languages that were themselves mutated from other common ancestral languages.

Your mother tongue does not make you a native.

The Genographic Project has proved without any room for speculation that all human beings have migrated out of Africa, because we share a common gene that links us all to a tribe that resided there, and then we proceeded to migrate to all the corners of the world in search of better conditions. The linguistic experts have all agreed that all modern languages have a common ancestor which then branched out to create different dialects and ultimately different forms of languages which then through progress in travel got intertwined.

If you consider political and philosophical matters you will also come to the conclusion that throughout human history certain aspects of our needs and wants in terms of social justice and equality have always been shared. Discrimination has always been punished, and morality has always been rewarded. We tend to be compassionate toward one another’s suffering. We want equal opportunities. At every step in our history, no matter where we came from, no matter the colour or race, no matter the religious or political standings, we have managed to find answers and find a way to reduce injustice and tyranny, at times more successful than others; and yes many civilizations were lost due to idiocy and misplaced opportunistic hatred, however what was the root of these idiotic, racist, prejudiced behaviour was, is and always will be division.

genographic_projectYou and I are less different than we think.

Yes, I was born in Iran, and you might have been born in Israel, India, China, Germany, Canada, England, Scotland, France, Japan, Africa and so on, and thus look, sound and write different.  Does that sound like something acutely different, or considering that we share so much genetically and linguistically as well as intellectually and philosophically, all the rest are superficial nonsense?

You see we have started nitpicking and projecting differences between ourselves in order to justify our bigotries. We blame and label nationalities based on stereotypes. We blame religious minorities because we do not want to understand them. We blame headscarves, crosses, turbans, beards, sideburns, skinheads, tattoos. We are doing our best to be different, because we are scared of what might happen if one day we decide that these differences do not matter.

We are scared to count ourselves as part of an all-embracing human race.

We are scared of being fully committed to making everyone’s life better, and not just our own. We want somebody to blame. I have a suspicion that we like our indirect democracy for the same reason; otherwise this form of governance is not viable. We want to elect someone to do the dirty job for us, because we do not want to be directly involved, and when things go awry we can blame someone else.

You send others into battle and rather be safe yourself, why? Why can’t you see that if someone is injured, humiliated, taken advantage of, or killed every single human being on this planet will be affected? Why can’t you see that you are not from this country or that, and are not just responsible for your own land and your own perceived kind, because you do not have a native land and kind of people? Why can’t you see that you are responsible to speak out against all the injustices of this world, and not participate in any system that aims to supress people, take away their right, or withhold their basic liberty? Because those people who might look and sound different are not different from you. You are not defined by your colour, nationality, language, religion, political views, job and so on; you are defined by something much more simple and profound: your humanity.

Wouldn’t be better to say out loud that you do not agree with prejudice, instead of hoping someone else does? Why would it matter if you alienate you mother, father, brother, sister, wife, family, community, or half of the world, if what you say and do shows that you are standing up to sources of division? Wouldn’t be better to lead by example? Because I promise you, things will only get better if people see you stand up and say I want fairness, integrity, honesty, inclusion and unity.

Lately they’re everywhere! From the moans coming off the T.V. show playing in your living room to flash mobs of the undead crawling down the streets of your city to the insatiable hordes tearing each other to pieces outside the plate glass windows of Walmart on Black Friday, Zombies are definitely invading.

Just a few months ago the Canadian parliament discussed the possibility of an imminent zombie epidemic. Pat Martin of the NDP stood on the floor of the house of commons and asked why emergency groups in Quebec were staging exercises. “I would like to salute today the CDC and the government of Quebec and the Center for Disease control [for] putting in place  measures to deal with the possibility of an invasion of zombies. I don’t need to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that a zombie invasion could easily turn into a  a continent wide pandemic,” he said. To which the foreign affairs minister replied “Canada will never become a safe have for zombies ever!”

I mean c’mon, zombies aren’t real…Right? Okay, so they found a fungus out there that is known to take over and eventually kill ants by sending spikes through their bodies. But that doesn’t mean anything. Right?

zombie_fungus

Nonetheless, I figure if I want to learn how to protect myself against Zombies in an apocalyptic situation then knowing how to escape a horde invading my apartment is really pertinent information. I’ll just type “zombie” here in the Google search bar and see what I come up with:

The Zed Word Blog

Not my personal favorite Zombie blog but for some reason it comes up on the first page for any walking dead search…so in terms of having excellent search engine optimization, they’ve obviously got it going on. They put a humorous twist on a terrifying subject and exploit the paranoia of living in constant fear of an impeding Zombie apocalypse.

The national geographic/ Zombie Fungus

Disaster or Blackout Emergency SuppliesRemember those ants I told you about about earlier? Well, here is a fascinating post from National Geographic that will turn your opinion of mother nature from nurturer to some kind of sick mad scientist.

Center for Disease Control/Zombie Outbreak

How do you get people’s attention about a topic they don’t really care about? You tell them to imagine they’re trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. The Center for Disease Control did just that. It turns out that preparing for a zombie apocalypse is similar to protecting yourself in an state of emergency.

Have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp.

Cracked/6 Sensible Things you Should Never Do in a Zombie Outbreak

Cracked shows that being sensible and logical might not be the correct thing to do during a zombie apocalypse. Sometimes being too nice might mean your downfall. the coming apocalypse, after all, is where the mad men reign.

Blog of the Dead

Prepared to be tested on your zombie knowledge. Blog of the dead is a fascinating little site that will train your mind to mentally prepare for the day of the returning dead.

What sets blog of the dead apart from other blog sites is the necessities poll; it’s really interesting reading what other people think is the most necessary thing for survival.

This blog also delves into the philosophical issues that zombie culture has in society. I also found this funny dinosaur comic that explains it all:

dino

 

Zombie Research Society

Sometimes, you have really important issues on your mind. Like whether a hatchet is better than a blow torch when having to confront zombies on a daily basis. Knowing how to use weaponry might be the difference of you having steak or becoming a steak.

The Zombie research society confronts the important post-apocalyptic issues that you will have to face, without the insidious optimistic  illusions about your hope for survival. The bleak pessimism of this site is refreshing.

 

I am going to tell you about The Chocolate Farmer, a documentary made by director Rohan Fernando, an award-winning director and cinematographer, a Sri Lankan native and Canadian immigrant, and produced by Annette Clarke thanks to the beloved treasure, the National Film Board of Canada.

It’s been circulating, sometimes jokingly, that the end of the world is near, and that it will happen by the conclusion of this year, 2012 in the Gregorian calendar.

This is apparently according to the Mayans.

I don’t find these kinds of statements funny. No one, in my belief, can know when the end of the world is. No one can even predict the time of their own death.

Then I meet, via documentary, Eladio Pop, a Mayan farmer from Belize. One of the most fascinating people I have ever heard speak. Interestingly, I watched this documentary the same night that Barbara Walter’s 10 Most Fascinating People aired. I mention this because Americans like to use the superlative ‘most,’ when it is an impossibility to know who the most anything is.

Back to Eladio. When you see this film, you see how he farms his beautiful jungle with the utmost care and love, and not a single drop of chemicals. When tourists visit his land, they ask him if he uses any pesticide. Eladio smiles and points to his little machete that he cuts shrubs with, “My only tool is this.”

In a pristine area of southern Belize, cacao farmer Eladio Pop manually works his plantation in the tradition of his Mayan ancestors: simply as a steward of the land. “When you abandon the land, the land gets sad and the roots dry out.” I immediately think of how this applies to a woman, or any person.

In The Chocolate Farmer, we see a year in the life of the Pop family, as they struggle to preserve their values in a world that is trying to change them.

Eladio is sad that his children do not participate in the care taking of his, and maybe one day, their land. He says that because they now go to school, they come home tired, and they have become lazy, and are uninterested in farming. Eladio says: “You study and graduate to then work for someone else. You become someone’s slave. I am a free man.” Eladio walks off into his jungle adorned by large trees that seem to circle their branches around him, enveloping him in a hug.

Eladio also points to the arrival of religion and churches in his area. “We were all one community. Now, people don’t want to work with each other because they are not part of the same parish.” Most of the conversations with Eladio take place when he is in the midst of his piece of rainforest. He looks like a happy child. “I don’t know why but I cannot believe in religion. This is my church,” he says as he points to the majestic trees that surround him.

A happy moment is when one of Eladio’s sons leaves his job at a resort in Belize. He leaves the sun, beach, alcoholic drinks, and tourists, to come back to his father’s farm to learn from him, and to inherit their craft. On a walk in their plantation, Eladio shows his son the secrets of their land, the land of their parents. “I use this for my stomach pain,” says Eladio to his son. Cutting another branch, Eladio shows his son how the branch contains water and lets water drops fall on his son’s face and into his mouth.

In The Chocolate Farmer, we see Eladio’s tenacity and confidence, and at the same time, his surrender to the times. As he is cutting open the beautiful cacao fruits, he works alongside ants carrying their own food. “I am scared,” says Eladio to the interviewer. Eladio says he is scared that every country today is acquiring bombs and that with one bomb, we are all gone. “But I continue to work till the end, just like them,” says Eladio as he looks at the ants. “They are my colleagues.”

Eladio is a dashing man whose age is a mystery. His hair is black and thick, his body lean and fit, and he seems light on his toes as he works hard in his plantation. He always smiles no matter what he is talking about. This is in no doubt attributable to his lifestyle as a free man.

It is indeed scary to think of the disappearance of one of the last known pure lands and lifestyles, where people cultivate, live, and eat in an unperturbed manner as they did centuries ago.

After seeing The Chocolate Farmer, I went from being annoyed at the so-called Mayan belief that the end of the world is in 2012, to seeing how this has truth, especially for the Mayans.

Puma Nava captures a poisonous yellow cobra for us stunned travellers.

Skin of a snake, lungs of a dolphin, and the eyes of an eagle. A man so bad ass you could write a whole list of Chuck Norris facts about him.

Puma Nava, 25, was born of the jungle and knows how to conquer it. His scars, like the two snake bites on his right hand that brought him within five minutes of his death stand as a reminder of the experiences he’s faced and survived.

Puma was my tour guide for the Pampas region along the Beni river in the Amazon basin. He is like no other human being I have ever encountered.

Pampas Region, Bolivia.

Picture a group of gringo tourists floating slowly along the Beni at nightfall, shining their flashlights and dorky headlamps towards the muddy shores for a glimpse of a nocturnal predator. They sit there hopelessly wagging their artificial lights and praying that they are not another group of tourists to get rejected by the mighty stubborn force of jungle wildlife. Then, unexpectedly the 35-foot ancient-looking wooden motorboat edges closer to the shore. Puma, it’s worthy captain, slowly with eyes fixed on the translucent brown muddy water steps out of the boat and into the water. In a smooth, but deadly attack he plunges his bare hands into the water and pulls out a medium-sized alligator by the neck, hauling it into the boat for the stunned tourists to touch and take photos with.

“Classic Puma,” said an English tourist with a cowboy hat.

Captured my first alligator via Puma. Photo by Inge de Graaf

Puma is a member of the primarily traditional hunter/gatherer indigenous tribe called the Tsimané who live in the Beni region of Bolivia. Their tribe has been subject to various anthropological studies over the last decade under the banner of “The Tsimané Health and Life History Project,” which looks into the effects of aging on this traditional population. The Project and the Tsimané made news in 2009 when a study uncovered that Tsimanés are generally exempt from diabetes and hypertension – a worthy discovery in the battle against these two mass killers. Instead, Tsimanés tend to be brought down by the infectious diseases that run rampant in their tropical homeland, which brings their life expectancy to just 42.

Not so for the Nava family, according to Puma. His shaman-healer grandfather allegedly lived to 105 without once attending an infirmary. Natural remedies found in their regional backyard have aided his family over the years.


Lounging on a branch in the Pampas, Puma recounted a story in which his father’s leg was crushed by a large tree. Broken and with the skin around his thigh completely torn off, Puma’s grandfather took bark from a nearby tree and made a skin graft out of it to cover the open wound.

One year later, his father could move his foot just the slightest. Two years later, he could walk. Three years on he was back to leading tours in the Beni region, just like his two sons Puma and Ariel would go on to do as their careers.

Tours are extremely popular in the Beni region. Experience-hungry tourists eager to see the wonders of the Amazon region tend to land in the town of Rurrenabaque and sign up with one of the many tour companies stationed there. Rurrenabaque is also home to Puma’s family.

Despite the influx of tourists from England, the United States and Canada, Puma cannot adequately speak English. “When you come to Bolivia, you speak Spanish,” said Puma in Spanish to a couple of girls from Holland. “If I go to Holland I will speak Dutch.”

“But, you don’t speak Dutch!” giggled the girls.

Puma may not speak Dutch or even English, but he happens to be fluent in one of the world’s newest conversational languages, which is officially spoken in only one tiny country – Hebrew.

After some Israeli-tourists made fun of Puma in Hebrew, Puma decided to become fluent in the Semitic-based language by learning on his own.

“He speaks perfect Hebrew,” said one rambunctious Israeli-tourist. “It’s unbelievable.”

Rurrenabaque and the Beni tours are especially popular among Israelis who tour South America after finishing their military service in the Israeli Defense Force. As a result, many tour guides like Puma and his brother choose to learn Hebrew instead of English in order to communicate with the Israelis.

Learning to communicate with the tourists is an extremely minimal criteria for Beni tour guides. Their greatest worry must be the dauntingly unpredictable rainforest.

Puma feeds a deadly caiman.

For the Pampas tour, Puma is expected to find anacondas, alligators, caimans, river dolphins, monkeys and maybe even a jaguar. The stakes are high for the illustrious recommendation in a blog, travel guide or even a suggestion to some friends interested in taking the trek.

In the morning of the second day of my Pampas tour, we trudged through the swampy Pampas in our knee-high boots staring at the shrubbery for a glimpse of a ferocious anaconda, cobra, or even a poisonous rattlesnake. Many tours don’t get to see snakes and we had no idea what to expect.

Suddenly, we heard a loud grunt and looked over to see Puma swinging a massive poisonous yellow cobra around, taming it with every blow to the ground. The cobra eventually submitted to our Steve Irwin-esque tour guide and was a friendly subject for pictures. Classic Puma.


Later in the trip, Puma whistled down a wild eagle to come eat a fresh pirinha that he caught, teased a deadly caiman with fresh catfish, toyed with troops of tiny monkeys, and introduced us to a number of river dolphins. Just another day at the office for a Beni tour guide.

While the spectacle for us humans is an absolute delight, adventure tours like these are not sustainable for the animal population. Swinging around a rare snake or choking an alligator is not exactly healthy for these animals. Plus, the tourists’ DEET insect repellant covered fingers are poisonous to the animals that they touch.

What the tours bring us is a rattling sense of human capability. No amount of schooling or training could adequately prepare Puma for his daily dangerous bouts with wildlife. It is this feeling that makes us question our sheltered and safe lives in the West and gives us the ever-illustrious culture shock that we crave.

For Puma, a father of two, even if the tourists leave and never come back to visit him, each tour brings adventure and puts a smile on his face.

Classic Puma.