i did it. by golly. (nanowrimo, we’re square.)

30 November 2011 § Leave a comment

I hit fifty thousand words just a few hours before the deadline for NaNoWriMo 2011, and I did it writing about drinking gin and tonic in the English countryside.

I never named my main character. I knew I forgot something.

Anyway, my speech. ahem.

thank you Universidad Veritas for putting up with my hogging the public computers, the shitty imac you have in the office instead of the beautiful workstations you’ve got ProTools and every Adobe program ever made on. those I used at night, because I don’t have my own computer to write my novel on. But now the novel’s done, and after a month, it’s finally time to start doing my homework again. Which would be a really great idea, because I have four presentations and two 10-page papers due in the next week. I’ve been neglecting my friends and my non-friends with the same amount of disregard, and while I’m not proud of it, I did finish, and you can have me back again. Sometimes.

Thank you Nicaragua for giving me a break from writing and putting me 6,000 words behind, which I had to rush to catch up on despite the many beers in my way of doing so. To Eli and everyone else I’ve stood up to write instead, I’m sorry and thanks for your patience. I’m done now, and I can go sleep now. Maybe I’ll even come up with a summary for my novel so I don’t rattle off the disconnected plot in backwards jokes and album references trying to explain what it’s about. I don’t know what it’s about. But it’s something. And I did that something. For me.

 

Time to find a new project. But! homework first.

oh yes, and this, to make the thing official.

p.s. 50,000 words takes up 97 pages in ms word.

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finding peace.

29 November 2011 § 3 Comments

So the other day, I found Cristo Rey, supposedly a neighborhood of San José even the police don’t go near, mixed with the locals and ended up losing my stuff to a group of crack dealers, some of them as young as 15. It is an experience I don’t need to live again, but I’m glad to have the story.

The old man ripped my backpack from my hands. I fought for it, only briefly because of the movement I heard to my right, and the hill whose climb would lead me to safety was to my left. I booked it.

In my backpack was

1. a metal water bottle. I love these because of how durable and light they are, and that I can write in sharpie on them and it fades eventually to make room for a new favorite phrase, word, or rhyme.

2. a copy of Live for a Living by Buddy Wakefield, a poet I saw earlier this year and whose material I have been minorly obsessed with since, and tried to emulate in my own performances in order to find that fringe of vulnerability I’ve been looking for for years. Oh yeah, the copy was signed, with a poem and a handshake from the author once cold spring night in Alaska. He might be proud to have his material in such a farway place. Next time I see him, I’ll have to tell him the story about how his poetry was lost.

3. a 40-page long letter to one of my favorite people in the world, Fazeela Jiwa, written on coffee paper (which looks really cool, and is an excellent writing surface). I was planning on sending the letter off that day.

4. a sound recorder, gifted me by Carmel, a sometimes-travel buddy and poetess extraordinaire, with which I caught the atmosphere of New York subway stations and their lovingly tragic musicians in the middle of rush hour. It was my dreamcatcher, my sampler, my last way to keep sounds to myself.

5. a blackberry cell phone, gifted by my friend Tony, on which I learned to text with a touch keyboard and had the highest score on wordmole ever. occasionally, I’d even use it to communicate.

5. a camera. Canon SX 120 something or other. I’ve been taking photos and video this entire trip with it, for about four months now, and had more than 100 gigs of digital memories saved on…

6. a terabyte external hard drive, which contained the entirety of my digital existence; all of my photos from the last two and a half years of travel and home in Alaska, videos, all of my typed writing from the last seven or eight years, and countless albums from bands who never seemed to exist outside my little world of music and wonder.

These things were my travel companions. These things. Things. I was tied to them, I required them for the keeping of memories, for storage so as to go through them later and sort them out and make sure that I did this or that. They were my proof of existence to the modernized, facebooking world where everyone shares everything and the only privacy we have left are the looks we give ourselves in the bathroom mirror. I depended on them, and for a couple of days, I was crushed, between fits of laughter for my loss.

hue puta.

and it’s done. They’re gone, and I’m still breathing. Feeling. Fucking hell am I feeling more. Everything around me. My nerves are at peace, taking in my surroundings, the buildings and the rain and the glintorange clouds they call sunset on the far side of the mountains. I’m full of humility and fear of what comes next and I wonder if I’m ready to face it, knowing me and my penchant for ‘adventure.’ I’m at peace, or getting there, and learning how to get along in a world where batteries do not power my day, where that hesitation to pull out the camera to be That Camera Guy no longer pulls at me in moments of intense culture clash and earthquakes. I can’t play with light, or keep the sounds I hear and love. My monologues will be to myself, or the scenery, or the block I’m walking on. 

My other goodbyes led up to this one. I had to say goodbye to a lot before I could say goodbye to what I thought was me: a collection of unshared recordings – twenty countries of memories and stories I sought to keep for me alone. Someone had to yank them away.

And twenty countries later, it’s time to start traveling, for real.

thanksgiving (or, bienvenidos a costa rica, pendejo)

27 November 2011 § 1 Comment

I’m a traveler. It had to happen eventually.

My sense of adventure clashes with my gutsense, and sometimes I make decisions that in retrospect probably weren’t the best. Yesterday, I did that, and I paid for it. Thanksgiving dinner was in a couple of hours (two days late, but in Costa Rica, who cares), and I had some time to kill. I went walking around San Jose on a graffiti mission. I wanted more pictures, I wanted to find more work. And I did.

Later, I stood at the bottom of a steep hill, at the dead end of a dirty street. It faded into the trees, but the view over everything south of San Jose was spectacular. I was having a moment when someone asked me in Spanish if I was lost. (mistake number one:) No, no, I’m just exploring. I walked up to the group of guys standing outside a shanty house (which wasn’t really suspect because there are so many here), and they asked me a few questions – what are you looking for, where are you from, do you smoke marihuana. My language skills in this part of the world are nothing to be proud of, but I have enough to get by, and this is how I learn – find people who don’t speak my language, so I can stumble over theirs.

One of them pulled out a joint the size of a sharpie marker. “You found the favela, mi amigo.” He laughed the sort of laugh bullies laugh when they’ve decided they’re going to crush you into a peanut. We talked about weed and Alaska and they asked me if I wanted to buy any. I told them I didn’t have any money, which was the truth, but maybe later, I said, trying to stay peaceful. There were three of them at first, but their number grew by about one per minute.

One of them was covered in symmetrical gashes and scars all the way up his arms and on his neck. A fresh gash across the bridge of his nose bled black. He wore a red shirt and a pony tail. Some of the cuts were green with infection. Later, when they demanded that I lift my shirt to check if I was wearing a wire for the policia, he demonstrated what they were saying by lifting his own shirt. I saw virtually no original skin on his torso. It looked like a tortoise shell, both in pattern and texture. His scardecorated body distracted me from what they were saying. Which at the time was really fucking important.

One of them took a phone call, and I said I had to go. Nos vemos, mae. I got about fifty feet up the hill before one of them called to me. I turned around, against my better judgment. This is where cultural communication gets complicated: the tico gesture for “come here,” or “come back” greatly resembles the one people where I come from use for “go away” or “keep going.” The problem was that I knew the tico gesture, and ignoring my screamingunscarred gut, I went back down the hill.

A very large and angry looking man showed up and with him, a few crackheads whose eyes seemed to be bottomless pits. They looked right through me to their next high, which the large man held out in my face in a sack of little white pills. Quieres?

They asked who I was. My name, what I did. Where I was from. Did I have a camera. Where was the recorder. Are you wearing a wire. Let’s see some identification.

I pulled my wallet from my pocket and handed the kindest of them my university ID. It seemed the least valuable and the most applicable. I told them I was studying here. I refused to understand their suspicion, and when the large man said something, I all but ignored him. The dude was not cool. They demanded I opened my bag. Bolsa, he said, gesturing with his hands the unmistakable movement required to open the backpack I had just closed after showing them photographs of graffiti in their neighborhood, abierto. I told them I wasn’t giving them anything, but I would open my bag if it would make them happy. One of them rifled through it, shook my water bottle and put it to his ear. He seemed satisfied.

What happened between that moment and when the large man grabbed at my backpack, I don’t remember exactly. I fought for my bag, just once pulling it away from him. The great amount of lard that was his stomach jiggled and shook. The guy was in a panic and I heard feet shuffling. They were seven or eight now, plus or minus the crackheads. When the large man reached into the back of his pants for who-knows-what, I decided to give up the fight for my bag and start the one for my life. I booked it up the hill, looking back only once. What I saw was not inspiration to stop running.

===

Six years ago, about three in the morning, Hallandale Beach, Florida: Hey man, you got a quarter?

I knew what was coming. Six or seven guys, all about my age, walked toward me along the Dixie highway, and I knew that my skin was the wrong color to be in that neighborhood, even during the day, unless it was in a car coming through at forty-five. My backpack, full of books and a laptop, got heavier when they got closer.

Nah, I don’t have —

One of them, who was then behind me, clocked me in the head and I fell down. My backpack protected me from their kicks, just enough. I yelled at them. What the fuck did I do to you? For some reason, I thought a fair judgment could only be made by me that night. They stopped for a second, and I got up and ran north. They chased me down, pushed me onto the cracked concrete, and a few of them began kicking me again. I don’t remember how long it went on, but I remember that 1) they didn’t answer my questions, and 2) a white car passed, going forty-five or so. Fast. One of them yelled “cop!” or “car!” (I couldn’t make out which), and they all ran south, leaving me bruised and bleeding on the sidewalk.

The car had, of course, not stopped. I got up and kept walking. I remember writing on my hand that I’d been jumped, and later, after wandering around Hollywood for a couple of hours thinking it was Jupiter, where I lived, 80 miles away) and eventually I asked someone in Walgreens where the train was. She sent me to familiar ground and my original destination, the Hollywood Tri-Rail station. I looked at the schedule. The first three trains were canceled. It was Thanksgiving morning.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday for me. If I’m alive at the end of it, I have something to be thankful for.

how to find out who your friends are, pt. 1: make a mistake

23 November 2011 § Leave a comment

Last night I walked home from Universidad Veritas with every intention of returning after I’d eaten a bit of dinner and thought some more on my NaNoWriMo novel. It’s getting to be a strain, and right now I’m five thousand words behind because I didn’t write all weekend.

I have a good excuse though, and the dog didn’t eat my hard drive. I went to Nicaragua with Eli, which has been in the plans for months, since we arrived actually, and three days in Grenada and touring Masaya and Catarina paid us life in spades: we were pulled out of a taxi in Masaya during el Torovenado, in which dancers dress in traditional, self-made costumes depicting whomever they’d like to ridicule (politicians, death, negative people (represented by vultures)), complete with mascaras, masks, so we’re not supposed to know that the six-and-a-half foot tall woman is actually just a very large man in an elegant dress. Our driver, Mario, made a comment later, about some very pretty-looking, swaggered guys at the desfiles (parade) in Catarina – ” son mujeres falsos.” It was fitting enough.

Some things are funnier when they’re lost in translation. Humility, for example, because a person might not have the vocabulary to be polite. Let them have it, and don’t take it personally.

On my way home last night, I ran into my tico friends at el Chainis, the white restaurant and bar that doesn’t look like a restaurant or a bar until you walk in – and even then, the blank walls make it seem like you’re in the back kitchen of a large restaurant, complete with uncomfortable lawn chairs to give it some ambience. I had to apologize to Jose and Dennis because we’d planned to go to Playa Hermosa on Monday to go surfing. I had been in Nicaragua, or at least on my way back, on Monday, and my cell phone didn’t work outside of Costa Rica, so I couldn’t call him. It was fine; they hadn’t been able to go anyway.

The apology turned into taking turns buying beers for each other, which is one of the great gestures of friendship of the world (or so I’ve come to learn), and soon the group of us, five in total, made the ardous two-minute walk back to my house so we could play some music. Mel and I talk about metal whenever we’re around one another, because it’s an easy ground to meet on, because we both love it more or less (though I figured out this morning that I have become the enigmatic metalhead who loves the underground but no longer dresses the part, so when I mention a band like Xasthur, Belphegor, Finntroll, or Carcass, it’s comng from a relatively cleancut, ocassionally well-dressed guy who probably looks like he listens to Fiona Apple and Jack Johnson on his iPod while working out at the gym (they’re good too, but please, no plastic workouts for me). So it’s kind of strange. But that’s okay, because we’re an odd group of storied miscreants and respectable professionals who gather on sidewalks to drink and talk about politics and supposedly justified cultural profiling in languages we’re mediocre in, at best. 

I had left my backpack on the outside bar at the Chainis, and I realized this about twenty minutes after the small gathering at my house began. I booked it back to the bar, a thirty second run away, and of course the bag was gone. Middle of the night in San Jose, a place where it’s well advised to not walk alone after six p.m., and there I am getting all comfortable in my surroundings.

Two homeless guys who frequent the corner (they’re twins, I think. and both speak in mumbled madness) were cozied up in the corner where the guys and I had been standing, so of course I asked them where my bag was. I didn’t want to make a scene or assume, but I did try to be a little sharp in case they had indeed taken it. (It is Amazing how proficient one’s language skills become when they absolutely must be used). they insisted they hadn’t, and moved around their carbboard-laden stuff to demonstrate they didn’t have it. After a reasonable search, I believed them. I asked around, to the people who were still near the bar, I asked Bruce, the owner of el Chainis, who thinks that a yellow awning does a restaurant make. Nothing.

The guys and I reconvened. They called my phone, which is always on a very low volume setting, so even a thief wouldn’t have heard it unless he was looking at the phone when it rang. They interviewed everyone I’d talked to, in much better Spanish than mine, and while I was at the house cursing myself for losing yet another notebook and shotgunning a beer, they prowled the small neighborhood for answers.

Eventually, the woman who lives next to the bar came out to see what all the noise was about. They asked her in passing if she’d seen my bag. They pointed at me. I was in the process of accepting that it was gone. Again. Fourth time this year. I saw her, walked across the circle we’d created around her and asked, as best I could, if she’d seen it, that I was an idiot and left it here earlier. She smiled at me, reached behind her door, and right when all my hope was gone, she showed us all my pathetic looking backpack, complete with sharpied-out REI logos and elastic string wrapped on the outside for who-knows-what.

After the initial thank yous and muchisima graciases, the invitation for her to party with us, et. al., we went back to the house, accomplished, relieved, and I had the distinct feeling that something very important had just happened. These guys have no obligation to me; I am a temporary US American, studying in their country just long enough to get a taste of their culture, and then go home to my comfort zone, where I can buy things I don’t need and sit on my expensive couch and watch TV until my eyes melt into KFC-scented pus onto the carpet (oh, how I miss a soft carpeted floor!).

I would argue that such is not me, but what reason have I, especially after that ridiculous presentation on social identity theory I’d done earlier for Joaquin’s class, to think they’d have any higher an opinion of me? (What started as an overview on a chapter about Social Identity, Intergroup Attribution, and social biases turned into a preachy rant about how to eliminate prejudices by doing this and that. I felt like no one was listening, so I resorted to my empassioned idealism, which usually makes some impression in private conversation, if not for its logic then for its naivete, and the class responded, trying to keep up, or trying to make sense of what I was saying, or something. A simple Thank You ended the humiliation (and sheer exhilaration of speaking my mind in front of a group of people), and I bowed out of the classsroom with unprecedented swiftness.)

Jose made sure with me later on, after a few more beers and a liquor that tasted more like licorice than even Jaegermeister, that I knew that it was my own mistake that caused the mess earlier. I knew it, and freely admitted it. Jose has a way of philosophizing in English with a limited vocabulary and obvious insecurity about not knowing the words he’s looking for which is endearing and frustrating at the same time. I’d like to match him idea for idea, but I have the same problems with my Spanish (except, of course, if I think you took my backpack).

My mistake, yes. And they went far out of their way, determined to repair it, to help me out. Friends like that, at least in my narrow slice of twenty-five years on earth, are rare.

just hit restart.

14 November 2011 § Leave a comment

Today I hit the Restart button on my morning.

Sometimes I hear people say they wish they could do that, like in a video game, when everything is going wrong, and you just aren’t in your groove, so you hit start, scroll down one, and restart the level with a fresh chance, but more perspective than before. You know what not to do. Don’t run into the giant monster who’s trying to kill you. Don’t go left; go right instead. Answer your phone. Better yet, just be nicer this time around.

The only reason I didn’t smoke this morning was that I already felt dragged across the road. I ignored my alarm’s good intent to wake me up at 6 to go running. I slept for another hour and a half, and it all went downhill from there. By the time I got to school, and then to a computer, an old iMac (or here in Costa Rica, eMAc) with featured, even in their day, the worst keyboards in the history of computers (Apple didn’t get the keyboard right until the Macbook Pro: flat, simple keys, solid keyboard. No bullshit makes for more efficient typing. I love those. These, not so much.

I pecked away at my novel, a full three or four thousand words behind where I should be to finish by the 30th of November, and my characters were in Singapore, doing who knows what with who knows who. People walked by me, said hello, or asked to borrow my phone. An ex-roommate stopped by, and told me how good the food was at his new place. That my performance last Friday was awesome. A girl swhowed up and they dispersed. I felt like shit, so I walked home, and while crossing the somewhat busy road between the school and my host family’s house, I had the vague notion to step in front of one of the very fast moving buses. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Instead of getting a headchange when I got home, I told myself to run instead. That I could eat a little later, when I felt better. That spending the rest of the day in a haze would be a bad idea, especially considering the paper due tonight that I hadn’t yet started on (it’s a work in progress now). I lost my Spanish notebook (and the base information for said paper with it) this past weekend, which was dense, to say the least. Over before I’d realized it had begun. It attempted to murder my throat, and I’m fighting off sickness with water and oranges. Without the oranges.

Run. Run. Run. Get photos of the new graffiti under the bridge. Don’t fall in the manhole. Don’t Make sure to not kick the homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk. Don’t get hit by a bus. My morning improved dramatically with a shower and a walk back to school. Someone invited me out daydrinking. Earlier, I might have. I hope your day gets better, though.

Do your homework, Sean. Get out of here. Finish your novel, work on your Spanish, and start on another piece. You’ll need it soon. Coffeeshops and slams await your sense of purpose, and there’s a studio out there that needs your skills at pushing faders. Go.

on good and evil.

10 November 2011 § 1 Comment

On one of my rare ventures into the blogging world, I found something interesting: http://livingthekingdom.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/just-some-thoughts-about-suffering-life-and-the-meaning-of-evil-and-good

Here’s a quote from it:

Good is to empty ourselves from preconceived ideas, bias, religion, discrimination, and other traits that we use to maintain selfish, rigid lifestyles. This is the first step.  The second step is to then reach out and put the other’s needs as equal as our own.  Good is to perceive others as equal, no matter how different.  Good is to forgive, volunteer, share, sacrifice, and accept others, always in joy and not expecting a reward. Good is simply everything that truly unites us.  This is the same as the definition of Love.

If Good is to empty ourselves of all the (presumably negative) experiences that we use to maintain “selfish, rigid lifestyles,” are we not emptying ourselves of the things that made us who we are? Are these not  the things which led us to think that _____ is evil, or ____ is good?

And is it also good to perceive others as our equals, when they in fact may not be? And If, perhaps, someone’s definition of Good differs from the one above, are they still Good, if they follow their own definition of it?

Many people get caught up in the moral good for the greatest result, without regard for self. To a certain extent, that is how we build families and communities that work together with love, and because I think we can agree that this is a good thing, it works for them.

However, we are self-centered beings (meaning that our core interests are in our own well-being and survival), and if we pay attention to our own needs and wants (the fundamental need to eat, or the want to maintain a healthy relationship, for example), we are better for it. We feel better about ourselves, and the positive energy we exude from that feeling of self-satisfaction, the fulfilment of our desires, such as to write a novel in thirty days, radiates in what we do for others. It can make us more understanding, sympathetic, and supportive of others’ struggles and tribulations.

And so it cannot be such a terrible thing to be “self-ish” in that we strive to meet our own needs (for we must!) before looking out for the welfare of others – for if we are not prepared, or have no experience of the negative things in life, how can we understand each other’s suffering, or communicate solutions effectively, if we have no definition, no reference point?

While I disagree that it is Evil to think about our own needs before someone else’s (for some needs, plans, and wants are simpler and more humble than others), because if I am not doing exactly what I should be doing, what my body and spirit and mind say I should be doing, I cannot be that angel for others, who brings with me a selfless desire to help and support (which, makes some people feel better, therefore meeting a “selfish” desire), then they cannot fully benefit from everything I have contribute to the world (i.e. them). Likewise, If they are not being and doing who and what they should be – that is, meeting their needs and desires to contribute _____ to the world – I cannot fully be me, because they are taking something away from what they could contribute to the world we both live in (i.e. me), and could be taking away one of these experiences which I could learn from and use to form my definition of what is good, and what is evil.

My apologies for the longwinded reply. The world isn’t such an evil place, though, Noel. People may not speak your language, but that doesn’t mean they’re not listening.

everyone, stand still (and clean up after yourselves).

9 November 2011 § 2 Comments

Every time I sit down to do homework, study, open a beer, or go for a walk, the pesky NaNoWriMo voice says: you could be writing right now. Right now, you could be writing. Even when I AM writing, you could be writing more. Fucking hell. In two days there’s a school talent show, which to me is funny and exploitive and a kind of a cheap way to promote camaraderie among the international students at a small, private, and very expensive arts and design university where the local students all but completely ignore us. According to one professor, it’s because they’re as scared of their English as we are of our Spanish. I keep telling myself that when I walk up to a tico to say ¿que paso? It doesn’t happen very often.

That same professor brought us to the San Pedro Mall yesterday, for an exercise in observing non-verbal communication. You have permission to stare. I know you were raised in a culture where staring is bad, he says with his endearing broken English, but if you ever wanted to, here is your chance.

We were to observe how people interact, with eye contact, touch, personal space, gestures, fashion, and just about anything else that comes from a place other than the mouth. And anyone who knows anything (or who saw Hitch, or has ever read a book on assertion, pick-up, or social skills, etc. etc. etc.) knows that despite the massive importance and priority we place on language (spelling and grammar excluded, to be fair to facebook, twitter, and whatever quack invented text messaging) very little of what we communicate is what we actually say. It’s everything else that matters: body language, breathing, the number of times we interrupt someone.

I sat in the food court, despite the awful smell of fast, fried food, to watch people eat, and talk, and not eat, and not talk. And wipe their mouths. And occasionally kick each other between sips of root beer. I listened to quick Spanish and tried to pick up on phrases. I watched couples eat in silence, never once looking one another in the eye. Pigeons patrolled the floor for dropped fries, despite the somewhat indoor nature of the place. Children ran about, playing with strangers and asking questions. When their parents went to find a seat, they did not yell for their lost child. The kids knew where the food was, and went when they wanted to.

I saw only one leash on a human being yesterday, which is an unfortunate improvement from the states, where it seems parents who are unable to gain the respect of their children resort to cute monkeyface backpacks with four-foot-long canvas straps attached to them. Once, not too many years ago at a certain mall in South Florida (ahem, Palm Beach Gardens), I watched as a very fat person, whom I am still unsure as to whether it was a man or a woman but had long, greasy and curly hair nevertheless, yelled at their son, who was perhaps five years old (and attached to one said backpackleash), and when he didn’t listen, yanked on the leash so hard, the kid fell on his butt and slid across the tile floor to his parent’s feet.

Mortified by the smell of the food, I had to book it out of the food court after only ten minutes or so, but there was one interesting thing I noticed: no one, and I really mean no one, picked up their trash from the table, or that they had dropped on the floor, to throw it away. No one took their tray to the bin to clear it of leftover ketchup and salt and place it in a neat pile for some humble worker to collect later on. Nope. And right when I was like well, in the states, at least we tend to clean up after ourselves. even if not everyone, most people do, (Having working in cinemas for years, I should know reality better than that, but it’s generally true. outside of movie theatres.), one of my US American classmates, apparently hip to the tico way of doing things, got up from the spot where he’d been eating, left his tray and trash sitting on the table, and left.

On our way out of the mall, I asked Joaquin (my professor) why ticos never clean up after themselves. He said that it would be taking someone’s job away from them, and we wouldn’t want anyone to feel inadequate, would we? The guy has a wit I do not yet fully understand, and though I feel like he picks up on my sarcasm with ease, there are times when I can’t figure out whether he is searching for an English word, or saying something with as much Gary Larson cynicism as it sounds like. Whenever I assume one or the other, I’m wrong.

Anyway. San José is not a clean place. It’s a city where gasoline and oil pour into every third storm drain with alarming regularity, and where some storefronts are two-parking-space large trash bins, apparently because no one walks between the raised sidewalk and that side of the shop. Trash pick up in resedential neighborhoods is a race: every house has a metal basket (think of a very large picnic basket) on a post about as high as a mailbox would be in the States. Into these baskets go every bit of trash and garbage, in or out of plastic bags (and holy shit so much plastic gets used here!), free to fall onto the sidewalk and thus into oblivion because no garbage man in his right mind would bend over to pick up a piece of trash, per the requirements of his job. And apparently, neither would a resident of said neighborhood.

I have seldom felt so useless when I pick up a piece of garbage here to try to find a home for it, that I have picked up the very unfortunate habit of ignoring it altogether, to wait for someone else to pick it up, because it’s their job to do so. And we wouldn’t want anyone to feel inadequate, would we?

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