Jan 25, 2020

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO: Reality just takes some getting used to (still) - Chapter 29

Image may contain: Leonardo Ricardo, smiling, indoor and food

Will I adjust?  Will I accept realtity? Will I ever be calm in the face of "things" that are both inside my ability to "change" and/or accept completely "things" outside of my power to do anything about?

My whole life I have been a "privileged" white person.  Or, at least I did have privileges because I was/am male and a member of the "White"  race.  I am English-American. 

 I didn't/don't  think  much about my "privilege" because almost all of my life I have known I was also a despised "minority" by many. No matter the color of my skin.  Being loathed and despised for  "being Gay" didn't feel like a privilege.  It felt more like shame as I strived/strive to be a whole, and fully integrated, part of the human race.   I make/made a path to follow which included what I thought, and mostly think, was/is wholesome,  enjoyable and personally expressive way to live  my not-so-underground life.  I have always wanted, and have been,  part of everyday society and not only have I lived/worked among isolated and privileged groups but also I have lived/worked in more modest surroundings. I have lived/worked in several different cultures and I still live in one that is different than that of my origin.  Many people live/work in cultures different than their own, do you?

I drank alcohol, I always liked it.  I liked it when I was a child stealing sips of beer as my father did gardening on Saturdays in our back yard.  I helped him do the yard work but each time he disappeared around a corner I joined in by enjoying his cold beer.  He never knew, nobody did and I still love cold beer but haven't had one since 1978.  December 13, 1978. I moved away from active alcoholism.  I couldn't stop drinking but I reached/screamed out for help and my addiction was lifted. I received support from a group of anonymous drinkers like me who wanted to stop drinking. 


 Alcoholism is not a skin color and it is not a "privilege" that many people survive. An  alcoholic like me likes to think drinking "sets one free" to be the unique person he, or she,  was meant to be. 

It worked inside of the me for years.

 I thought it worked even as it dimmed/harmed 
 my ability to be the authentic me.  I was afraid to be me and the alcohol helped me feel fearless, no more coward in me.  Alcohol gave me a sense of well-being that I always lacked as I stumbled my way through other peoples ideas of  morality and who I thought, they thought, I must be.

It didn't work.

 I would need to find a self-accepting/natural way to be me and stop beliving the lies about me and people like me. I had believed the fear and demeaning words that some people spew out about me and people like me.  There was no avoiding reality if I wanted to have a full life, the life I had received, if I didn't accept my  right to be me and pursue happiness and integrity.

 Being me does not include having less  consideration for you but you ought to  stop with the blind injustice/bigotry and falsehoods and all-out resentments directed todward LGBTI people and others.  The age of blind/ignorant  hatred/fear of the " other" must end.  There is no place left to hide as truth emerges and the slandering of others dies along with one-sided privileges that must fade and blend into everyones everyday life.

To be continued

Leonardo Ricardo
Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Central America

May 27, 2019

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 28: Sleepy morning, all is well

Another good morning from the foot of the Fuego volcano.   It's a sunny a peaceful morning in Scatepequez and I am expecting guests for lunch.  Today I will make a "cobblike salad" for the three ladies who will be joining us around one o'clock...maybe a nice dessert too, I will have to buy that as my baking skills are NONE!   At this time of year almost all the "second" home owners leave to spend time stateside.  They  mostly have other homes in places like Maine, Oregon and Lake Michigan and want to enjoy there family and friends there...one friend departs for a cozy cabin at a lake in Canada each year...nice.  All will return to us about Thanksgiving time.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Jennifer Fisher, people smiling, people sitting

Last week my niece, Jennifer Fisher, came for a one week visit.  It was far too short a time but we managed to get some travel in and went up to the "Quiche" and visited, Nebaj,  San Gaspar Chejul and Acul.  I love going up to the highlands of Guatemala.  It is so peaceful and lush and friendly up there and we enjoyed two nights at Hacienda San Antonio  at Acul...we did lots of shopping inroute at Chichicastenango too as well as buying handwoven fabrics and ceramics at every stop along the way. Our ceramics are all handmade, fired and then painted (a polyurethane finished added for waterproofing)

I am a little sleepy today. Jennifer left last Thursday morning and we took her to the airport in Guatemala City around four thirty a.m. (had to beat the morning traffic rush).  Friday I had a dental appointment, almost my last one in a series, and I was extra sleepy afterward...I slept the week-end away and only awoke to watch YouTube documentaries...I enjoy historical drama (real or not so much). 

I will write another chapter when I am feeling a little more alert.  As usual I am glad to be sharing my life with you, now and before now, from Guatemala with love.

Un gran abrazo from my a very restorative nap, my bed, Hotel Chalet, Chichicastenango,

Image may contain: one or more people, people sleeping, bedroom and indoor

Leonardo aka Leonard

to be continued:

Sep 24, 2018

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 27: Our side of the " Fuego" volcano, is safe and we are thankful and bursting with the joy of life! The traditions continue with gratitude and celebration!

Good morning from the foot of the Volcan de Fuego, Sacatepequez, Guatemala.  It's a gorgeous morning in Guatemala and the citizens of my little town are preparing for "Michaelmas" or in my town it is the "Patronal"  2018 celebration for Saint Michael the Archangel

'It's MICHAELMAS SAN MIGUEL DUEÑAS, festivities all week including dancing on the MAIN PLAZA  in front of the parish church of San Miguel the Archangel RIGHT THIS MINUTE...non-stop Marimba bands, food, refreshments and more! Priase to our PATRON, San Miguel the Archangel! Es MICHAELMAS SAN MIGUEL DUEÑAS, festividades toda la semana incluyendo baile en la PLAZA PRINCIPAL frente a la iglesia parroquial de San Miguel el Arcángel ESTE MINUTO ... ¡bandas de Marimba sin parar, comida, refrescos y mucho más! Priase a nuestro PATRON, San Miguel el Arcángel!'

The many events/traditions in the pueblo where I live for over a decade are most often spiritual, festive, all-inclusive and very happy (except for the Good Friday procession when everyone is robed in black and band plays funeral dirges behind a crucified Jesus ) .

The celebration of San Miguel the Archangel will go on all of this week.  There are BIG WEEKEND PLANS: rodeos (2+), parades, our Queen crowned, fireworks (daily), marimba groups playing and dancers dancing in the parque/plaza central  (in front of the parish church and the municipal palace).   Daily Mass. 

There are vendors and games and every street is loaded with families and friends gathering, chatting, singing and laughing...it's a grand time of the year as San Miguel the Archangel travels from home to home each  night for "entradas".  These "entradas" are nightly parties, hosted in private homes, with tamales and a fruit punch served  to the guests. There is a canopy that reaches on to the street for all well-wishers to feel welcome even with overflow crowds.  The hosts and guests capture the REVERENT and FUN intention of each citizen to honor and admire the medium size carved image of our personal "patron" . The statue of our patron saint will eventually  make way, in procession, to a special place at the high altar before September 29th, his very special Saints Day.

We invite you visit our studio/sala for our latest "art tour".  Our team of artistas, Leonardo, Henry and Francisco welcome you to enjoy the video above as we add to the celebration. 

Please join our friend Estela Vazquez on one her regularly scheduled Artists' Studios tour and meet us: 

Artists´ Studios Tour
Antigua Guatemala

Horray and Ole'

St. Michael the Archangel, our hero
San Miguel Dueñas, Sacatepequez
Central America

Find me on facebook too:
Leonardo Ricardo
(Leonard Clark Beardsley)

Video by Henry Leonardo Minas Veliz

to be continued

Jul 14, 2018

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 26: My intentions remain "good" - vamos a ver!

Good evening.  It's about ten thirty at night at the foot of the Volcan de Fuego, Sacatepequez, Guatemala.  It's Saturday night and I can hear a few people out on the street celebrating.  Young voices laughing and talking and screaming friendly shouts at one another.  I am in my room.  I just watched several YouTube choices.  Not bad, not sad, and one was even romantic with a happy ending. Puts me in the mood...a good mood. 

Happy endings. I hope they are true for me and for you too and also for the young people celebrating Saturday night on the street (there are two Cantinas in my neighborhood) where I live.  I think I grew up with Happy Ending movies and real life good intentions at my house.  I just now was reminded of my parents and the intention on their part for everything to be happy, healthy, warm/well-appointed as they indulged in All-American dreaming in their/my home.  Somehow we lived in a bubble of "good intentions".  I may have mentioned before,  I love "good intentions", even if they turn out to be a little different than I thought/meant them to be. I can learn a lot from my intentions (especially the ones that I think are especially honorable...and, I often do) after I have executed them. Gotta keep a close eye on reality and personal responsibility in the aftermath of my intentions.

Here I find myself growing older (more older) in a very small town in Guatemala.  How could this be that I have made Guatemala my home?  There are only a couple of other "Norteamericanos" living in this village and I rarely see them although I consider them friends.  The rest of my connections with "Americanos" are with wealthier folks (mostly) who have lovely second homes in Antigua.  Antigua, Guatemala is about a half hour from here by car.  Antigua is a treasure of a historic place with dozens of Spanish Colonial ruins to explore and enjoy.  Antigua is a rather fabulous place with good restaurants and fine hotels...it even becomes a "wonder" in our world during Holy Week each year.  I like visiting my friends and I enjoy having them visit here.  Often I have casual lunches or larger parties in my sala/studio/home.

I like living in San Miguel Dueñas.  I have lived here over a decade although Orlando, Florida is my actual residence.  I know something that you should know.  The Guatemalan people are extremely kind and well mannered.  Even after terrible incidents at the U.S. border with some deaths and child seperation  from their parents and the vicious treatment by ICE officials...still, always/siempre, Guatemalans are friendly and respectful to me.  Good character abounds all around me.  I feel sickened by Donald Trump and his bigotry.  

Entonces, here I am.  Another weekend alone with my three dogs.  The Dog Ladies; Honey, Dulce, Lu Lu, and, yo, Leonardo. We keep a keen eye on one another even as we nap, eat, run up and down the stairs to the kitchen and garden and dream those somewhat fitful dreams that dogs dream so well.   I am having them too as I get older.  Sometimes I wake up in the night and I remember *things* that I wish I had done better (or not at all)..and then I think of how fortunate I really am.  I have been loved, I have been brave, I have been sad, I have followed my creative path...a bit daunting sometimes to do. I have been rewarded with loving friends (and challenged by a few mean/opportunist people and a couple of thieves too). I have learned to avoid *difficult* people and/or not keep trying to make them healthier...or, even make them see my point of view...whew!  They have their own lessons to learn regarding "intentions", ready or not?  

I learned something recently that I did not know before now: I love a very large group of people, both now and before now...I love them better now.  It doesn't seem to matter as to when I loved them...love is rewarding to me even when the "beloved" are dead. It also surprises me that I feel love so deeply...is this what age brings?  More feelings of love?  Love reveals itself even in my "flores and fuego" Maya inspired art work?

As I paint paintings in the art studio each day I share lots of memories in my mind (and sometimes with my associates) that entertain me and allow me to be grateful for life and all of you (and some of the thems too).  

Soon I will be 75 years old..it's quite an adventure and my intentions remain good I believe...we will see how they work out. 

Gracias a Dios and gracias for you in my life,  

Leonardo Ricardo aka Leonard Richard
Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Central America

to be continued

Feb 22, 2018

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - CHAPTER 25: My innermost sorting machine, change/can-not-change, begins to operate at dawn shortly after the dog kiss wakes me up.

"Lu Lu" Gonzalez

I wake up early in the morning, sunrise, for many years now.  I hate getting out of my warm cozy bed.  I have a new dog, Lu Lu, who licks my face about five thirty a.m.   I prefer to think a dog kiss is "glad to see you this morning kiss"  instead of the "lets eat" kiss.  

Reality just takes some getting used to.

One of the cool things about DENIAL: Denial is multi-purpose.  If one is good at denial, and I am, it can be used in almost every situation.  Customizing my life to suit my preferences in thinking/believing is a little risky however.  Sometimes the annoying truth still nags in the back of my mind and will not allow me to linger in the delights of a more preferred reality.  On the other hand, I am quite good at facing the stark reality and its 
"startling" discoveries by accepting the hard/cold facts. I have learned "clarity" by living with "situations" where I am powerless to act/fix them. I can not always offer up solutions. Imagine! I don't even want to try very hard  when "surrender" is the wisest choice. I know real from faux (mostly).  Life keeps presenting new dilemmas and challenges and I keep wanting to retire from thinking/doing anything other than to keep a narrow focus on REAL things I can do something about.  Some extra unpleasant things "I can change" but many I can not change...that's the hard part of becoming more "rightsized"

"Dulce ska Ms.White" and "Lu Lu"

My innermost sorting machine, change/can-not-change, begins to operate at dawn shortly after the dog kiss wakes me up. 

Outside my bedroom window, on a outside inner-patio-garden-corridor, I grow plants. Beautiful/healthy plants of many varieties.  I am not a gardener but I have been helped over the years by talented people with green thumbs/talent. The view from my bed is that of a huge number of potted plants on several levels surrounding the large Virgin of Guadalupe statue I purchased from a door-to-door salesman over ten years ago.  Only in Latin America can one buy a Virgin of Guadalupe statue from someone who comes to your front door selling them.  How could I not be compelled to buy one?  I try and keep a long burning candle glowing all the time in front my my statue.  It's a way of remembering others (and myself) who are struggling sometimes when facing truth.  That inability to "change" the things I/we can often requires outside intervention (and trusted confidants/friends)....I abandon myself to the light of each new day as I petition the Virgin of Guadalupe and the powerful forces of Maya inspired spirituality...I am surrounded by powers greater than myself.

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonard Clark Beardsley
Sacatepequez, Guatemala 

to be continued


Oct 29, 2017

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part 24: "A Gift For and From the Heart"

(photo, Francisco Pereira)
(photo, Henry Leonardo Minas Veliz)

I returned from a two week visit  to see my dear, long time friend, Kelsie Reed.  I met Kelsie over two decades ago in Antigua, Guatemala.  She was married during that time to a terrific, well liked, all-around fun guy, and they were a popular pair of "Norteamericnos" new in town and country.  Hospitable, friendly and fun!  These past two weeks we chatted much about Guatemala..and our individual thoughts/feelings on our lives and "Guatemala" days.  My thoughts tonight, the night of my return from Florida, are filled with happy and with moments of sad...real, and very deep, feelings that for the first time in my life I understood because of Guatemala.
I had been visiting, sometimes living and one-person-loving in Guatemala since the early 1980's (I was dazzled by the the lore, the color, the passion, the powerful secretlike force in the place. I didn't even realize there was a ghastly, and deadly, Civil War going on. There were hundreds of thousands who died during those years and I had no idea why I was one of the few visitors.  The Hotels were almost empty.  Few travelers. Few guests.  

 I thought Guatemala was only friendly and cautious and those military "check points" seemed prudent and wise. Many Military Police and Civilian Guard groups stopped me for "passport checks" in my rental car. They were pleasant and sent me along. I drove, windows open sucking in the gorgeous, one-of-a-kind living/breathing grandness of the "Land of Eternal Spring". I was smitten by a kind of deeply rooted love that was something stronger than anything physical that I had known before anywhere (I am well traveled).

My message tonight is that I love Guatemala more and more.  I lost my dearest and deeply loved partner-friend here...he was a younger, kind and loving person and he was an innocent who was murdered. No reason/killer found. I left, then returned for retirement at age 62.  He is always with me and especially each November First.  My grief didn't go away. I returned because my love, my heart, my art and my Soul live here among the Maya, their descendants, and many other friends too.  I am here among the Volcanos and religious celebrations and processions because they embrace me.  I am welcome here. Celebrations fill the streets with incense, flutes singing, drums beating, brass bands playing (sometimes hello to Santos/as and follow and sometimes I join in the Funeral/followers walking behind the shoulder carried coffin)....The celebrations and traditions are breathtaking and spell binding in my town.  Some other early mornings, at Maya ruins, I hear faint chants. I feel presence of the unknowable...it is deep here, so deep even the lakes sometimes don't know how deep they are. Volcano-love is real too.  I know, as I love the Fuego Volcano. It's active and many volcanos I feel kinship with...they are alive. Odd?  Not to me. Not any more. Guatemala grows everything and everyone deep down from inside of itself, inside the ground...sometimes we bloom and sometimes we wilt and sometimes we suddenly erupt...every moment is real.

I love you Guatemala and as a loved friend of mine would say:  

"a gift given and received from the heart"

Leonard Clark Beardsley

Leonardo Ricardo
San Miguel Dueñas
Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Central America

Jul 22, 2017

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part 23: "I had no idea there was so much of me/others to see."

"So Many Feelings"
Leonardo Ricardo
July 2017
I keep wondering about all the feelings I have.  I have so many.  

Does one get enhanced feelings with more age?  Who knows?  Not me, but it seems like I have more of them, or I feel them more than ever before.  How do you keep count? Sometimes they wear me out!

I have a friend who I chat with regularly on the telephone.  A friend who lives in Guatemala but not near me.  We are "Norte Americanos"  both.  My friend has a PHD and is very wise in many real life "experienced" ways.  She has experienced many BIG challenges, met them and remembers much of the journey that may come to an end in Guatemala one day.

We agree that life is a one way *trip* and the inner and outer scenery changes/changed greatly along the way...all the time there are changes and mostly in a very mind-expanding, and/or mind-boggling way.

We are NOT among those who stay with their/our own tribe...mostly.  We are one way travelers with individual seat assignments, plans, hopes and ideas varied regarding our past and our personal destinies. We are singles and one of a kinds. We agree, we were/are willing to go for the ride, strive to do our part to survive, and to keep going on the creative, and even not so creative, journey. We are willing to "accept" the many things we can not now, or before now, change. We both know how to say "no."  We don't admire "denial" or pretend.  Each of the "we" are a strong force in our own lives (and sometimes other peoples lives too).

For me this is a renewed but even more clear awareness...personal awareness grabs me, shakes me and says something like "stay, stay with ME again today, feel the real, don't be afraid"...being in the *real* brings me to exactly who I am at this moment in time (my time and your time/all time). Few diversions from the "truth" are allowed by me.  Leap!

I had no idea there was so much of me/others to see...I like being present.  

Leonardo Ricardo aka Leonard Clark Beardsley

San Miguel Dueñas, Sacatepequez

(it's a beautiful/sunny day today)

Feb 20, 2017

BREAKING THANKFULNESS - Chapter 22: " I find it thrilling to discover that I have just awakened from what seemed a very long and less than cheerfilled sleep." Len

EARLIER CHAPTER: "I ran/run in life! Ready (again)! Fearless/afraid, hardworking/feckless, steaming/rolling/drolling but mostly clammouring for, and hoping for, more life-filled delights in/around/for me, me, me...this particular story has been about me."

HERE I GO AGAIN:  I am now 73+ years old and living into 2017 just fine...well, mostly.  Do you want to read this?  Hear this?  No matter, I will tell you anyway:  I've had another break-through.  It is true. I have not quite passed from my youth, my midlife crisis and into my viejo-hood...at least, not in my mind I have not.  I find it thrilling to discover that I have just awakened from what seemed a very long and less than cheerfilled sleep.  I think I've drifed away from the deepest part of me for well over a decade.  Who knew?  Not me.  Not me until a couple of weeks ago when I discovered every kind of passion lurking inside of my "being" and my body and my soul.  

My renewed passion for living and loving came as a shock to me.  Afterall, I am 73+ and I wasn't expecting to leap into the starting blocks of newness again. I didn't know I was going to leap out of bed, consider a proper diet and be extra enthusiastic about life again!  I will soon be going to the GYM again (where I spent much of my earlier life trying to be attractive for other people).  This time, I realize the gym results are for ME

I went for a long walk to sort things out on Sunday.  It was a gorgeous day for me to stroll around alone in my little town.  "Hola Don Gringo" they greeted me! After about an hour I came to the tiny park at the entrance to San Miguel Dueñas (center of the universe as many know it to be, including me)...the extra fascinating thing about this pointed park (a road splits at its beginnings) is that the big statue of San Miguel the Archangel is held up high into the sky by huge/painted cement hands...not your everyday kinda display of greatness and the holy...but here he is...our patron, our pal is being "glad-handed"...heavenly!

I think I have always been graced/blessed/touched/whatevered with an extra keen ability to sore high up into the sky without moving...I have always, since childhood, thought of God as everything and everyone around me...first my God loves me when I drink cold water on a hot day.  A very big high for me. Then God smothers me with joy when a dog passes my way...I am gifted by the divine with every zesty emotion that includes wanting to make love to the volcanos I see around me (there are three, what kind of love would that be?). I love loving people too.

How could this be?  How could my custom and fresh appreciation and lust for life be happening to me?  I am 73! I think I know. I have been stimulated by powers and people outside of me...I love to appreciate life and them deeply! I thought deep love had died away and been withdrawn from me.  No, I think it, love, will just be behaving differently...maybe. 

I accept my reality and I hope to live another ten years+ and paint with my heart, my delight with everything around me and with the help of my two associates. My studio is at the foot of the Fuego Volcano and we are active, the volcano and me.  Guatemala IS another land of the free...it has freed me. I have been called upon to express my love for life and appreciate the lives of others around me - more freely...I don't intend to miss the next part of whatever it is that I need to do or be.

Vamos a ver (not so secretly),

Thanks for being here, I love you,

Central America
February 20, 2017

Aug 22, 2016

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - MY 73rd BIRTHDAY - Part 21: " I have been flying through my lifetime. I have never wanted to miss any of the possibilities..."

In a few days it will be my birthday.  I will be 73 years old.  How could this happen to me?  How did I become a full-grown+ man so quickly?  "It just happens that way", they say. I got it, "they", like it or not, are often right about "normal" things. Everyday things like getting old.  Tantrum: stomp, snear, turn away...well, ok! 

I know what "getting older" means and it may not be the favorite part of my being human escapade. We will see, what we will see...verdad?  More, no doubt, will, and ought to be, revealed.  

I'm getting a glimpse of myself in the memory-mirror...my full length and lifesized "blog" one. It's a whole wall of mirror and a ceiling mirror too.  It's clear...the reflecting of the whole of my life mirror. I have defogged it and I am seeing a well focused glimpse of me. The "take a good look at my life" mirror. I think it must come just before the images start to fade around the edges.  Probably perfect timing...I'll tell you later (if I remember) when I look into the future of my real life mirror.

This is my first time as an admitted "old" person. I am inexperienced at telling this truth.  Like all the other "times" in my life I show up, I will try to figure new/old out. I pay attention to friends who do *it* well and I, then, will do what I can to enjoy older and survive myself. I am a survivor so far, I would like to continue for a decade longer (or two).

 As my Mom, Ardythe, the "lovely in every way" person, often said to me: "We shall see what we shall see, dear"..you see, my Mother still talks to me and I am almost 73.  Mom has gone elsewhere, but she remains close to me.  I still pay attention to what she tells me.  I am a good son.  You can ask her someday if you don't believe me.  She will vouch for my many attempts/efforts at seeking/improving my personal integrity.  Sometimes I do, and have done, better than other times.   

My Mother knows all (many Moms do).

I have been flying through my lifetime. I never want to miss any of the great possibilities. I could easily see the great fun/potential for fame/fortune around me. I always wanted my life, almost always, and in most every way, to be a dance, a party, a kiss/etc in the dark...a success, one more drink at The Top Of The Mark, a good report card and/or later, a HUGE raise (and a little praise)! A full-up life that was/is full of my desire to embrace it and accept it as my own, my own customized/pasturized (now, soberized), terms. I always wanted to kick the tires and have a go fast life. I got it. I've never wanted to run out of gas or be strangled to death with a silk scarf like Isadora Duncan...I only want the wind in my face as it blows through my hair...I most always roll the window down at any speed...with or without a car or not even 
going anywhere .. full stop!  

Things have often been much different than I thought they ought to be...amen. 

Most of my life I have been striving very hard to get everything packed and repackaged to fit into the life I imagined for me! I have pushed and shoved my life sometimes.  I have wanted everything  exciting and a free-to-be-me in life.  I have wanted life to keep laughing and kissing/hugging everyone/everywhere around me! 

A delicious life, in every way, for myself and others.

I ran/run in life! Ready (again)! Fearless/afraid, hardworking/feckless, steaming/rolling/drolling but mostly clammouring for, and hoping for, more lifefilled delights in/around/for me, me, me...this particular story has been about me.  

The Otherside of the Volcano leonardoricardosanto.blogspot.com
 blog entry chapters are all about me:

BUKAROO/ay bandido!
SAN JOSE/do you know the way?
DREAM DO-TOY/marched in!
DRY DOCKED/12-13-78! 
BIG FROG/little pond/s!
FLAMBOYAN GLEE/not the tree!
SUN VALLEY/art leaguers!
CUBANOS/Dons, joyas, y media de noches!
BEST/s - LAST/s?

 Each moment, each part, each joy, each person, is catching up with me!  I will be 73! I have outdistanced myself and sometimes I run/ran, slam/banged into a wall.   I rarely saw the "walls" coming.  I always hated them...climb over the walls or  jump the fence! That's my motto (fingers crossed). 

Getting "walled" in or out of life is not fun. During some of my younger years I opted for alternate thinking/drinking. I escaped the reality that was, or could have been, mine full-on.  Lost in my time, and  hazy as the drunk kissing of a stranger under the pier at Santa Barbara during a heavy rainstorm late at night..all night long - or, should you know about the under-overcoats affair? I was sober. I was Winterwandering during snowfalling on a brisk-late-night walk in Paris. The Eiffel Tower glowed in the dark and a unknown friend kept me extra warm.  
Yes, it was me. I was there. I was inside the overcoats and looking in and outside of myself.  The view was spectacular! 

My life likes to play pretend sometimes...but in a good way, a clear way and in a sane way I leap into the today...often it's like an Artist should/would/could and does way. 

Gracias, a Dios.

I cherish my life.  I am thankful for my life and for all of you, you and you! 

I love you, now and before now,  

(green is my favorite color, did you know?)

Leonard/Leonardo/Len/Ricardo/Leo and Lenny too! 

to be continued 

Jun 10, 2016

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part 20: " Don't tell anyone, I didn't tell a living soul how terrified I was of not being enough, or getting enough. Enough of anything desireable."

It's June of 2016 and I am sitting at my computer at the foot of Fuego Volcano in Scatepequez, Guatemala.  It's now "rainy season" and it has been raining off and on for a few days...good, my world is turning emerald green. I love green, green is my favorite color and I like the rain too...I pull the down comforter over my head and a couple of dogs are always at my feet.

This morning I am going into Antigua and rush around doing errands, lunch too and then, friends to greet. I am going to Florida next week for one week but my thoughts keep drifting back to the nineteen sixties and the many "Buying Trips"  I made to New York...all the "fun" and all the enthusiasm I have always felt for travel, for my work, for life, keeps on rolling along...now and before now, life keeps singing me its alluring song: "there is more to be and see"  (and should be/seen). Appetite, I have a great appetite for life.

I have always enhaled deeply on every moment, every adventure and discovery in my life. I've not wanted to miss one thing that has "warmly" touched/brushed by me, my little corner of the world and my part in it. I like almost everything (except bigotry, plain nonsense, exploitation and greed).  I am riveted to the small, good and bad, details of life everywhere. Sometimes pushing for the next part of life extra hard...wanting more, even craving more...always wanting the positive and better. There is my extra hard striving as to not  "feel" the very insecure nature inside of me that was (not much now) afraid I wouldn't get my share of whatever there was I must have.  Sometimes ignoring "difference" in real evidence that appeared before me. There was always the underlying doubt that I was not "good enough" to just be me, or "get enough" to please me and all of you.  All sorts of appetities in my life that now amuse me and shock me. 

I defied my own doubts about me, mostly.  I´ve ignored, or pretended, that LGBTI people were perceived differently than we were (or angrily overeacted when it was clear we were not). We were/are second class slimy monsters according to those who whispered vileness about us/around us (just loud enough for us to hear the slurs).  Liars! I was defiant and angry, albeit often secretly, but I often returned the favor of unkindness (secretly or not so much). I desperately sought to have more worth than I thought I was "worth" receiving. I eagerly forced my way through my teenage years and then into adulthood, and grew on my own terms (with kind help of others along the way).  There was no handbook of how "to be" for LGBTI people like me. I always, and instinctively, knew the world was wrong about people like us...I was right and the haters of LGBTI people are still wrong...sometimes deadly wrong. 

I was obsessed with living and gaining on life.  I was self-obsessed and lacked much gratitude for gifts I had been given. This morning, at age 72, I know how fortunate and gifted I have always been. Gifted, as in with gifts, given to me in endless ways by my heritage, my parents, my family, my talents and coworkers and a lengthy lifetime of loved ones and dear friends...we laughed, we´ve cheered, we won/lost and we´ve sometimes cried and even died. Endless giftides, flowing in and out of my life. 

The younger me thought he needed to survive those who would shame and harm him. Some of his fear and "nerves" and self-loathing were based on reality...my reality as it really was but also how a few other people, friends and family, thought it was or thought how it ought be.  The authentic in me couldn't figure out how to "be" me...just be, me, comfortably. I didn't know about the business of growing into a emotionally secure human being who shared freely, loved others and participated mutually.  I drank to help me resist feelings of awkwardness and inferiority.   Don't tell anyone, I didn't tell a living soul how terrified I was of not being enough. Or getting enough, of anything desireable.  I sometimes prayed "God, help me!"

I remember something startling (sad-chilling) right now.  My travel work/pleasure adventures always included a desire for romantic encounters...enchanted, or not, encounters with handsome young men of my own age  (sometimes a little older).  My idea of healthy men were handsome, popular and filled with laughter and passion for life and me (lasting relationships I thought would be nice/right too).  The first decade of my New York "working-buying" visits I was in my twenties the whole time.  I was in good shape, attractive in a regular White young guy sort of way and wore fashionable clothes (I was a department store buyer with a 25% discount gold/executive discount card, heavily used).  I remained that way, and tried as hard as I could (including taking diet pills if I gained five-six+ pounds) to remain 150 lbs with a 30 inch waistline...I visited the dentist regularly...my smile was genuine and nice...fancy salon type hair cuts too and in and out of gyms, depending.  People usually liked me just as I was...but, if I especially liked THEM, I was not comfortable with being around them...I didn't want people I was attracted to, to know I liked them!  Even people I just wanted to be liked by socially!  Odd? I may have been mostly afraid of rejection, but, in my mind, today, I think I was mostly afraid they might like me, and then what?  What do I do? You see, I didn't like me and I certainly didn't want to keep entertaining you with my charming-funny, temporary/artificial, personality! Itimacy, of most any variety, stark sober, was not normal for me with people I admired.  I needed, and desired, a buffer, I needed relaxing...I needed the kind of nerve that one gets after a few drinks. Party with me!

Here's the catch: I always drank alcoholicly and smoked Marlboro Cigarettes (only at night) when I was out in the bars cruising or attending parties or meeting someone new...I had "habits" that would become addictive but I was never interested in marijuana or hard drugs. I was a child of sixties, but not a hippie. I was trying as hard as I could to be a more popular me (and "Dancing as fast as I can")...I wanted to be a more desireable version of ME.  That is exhausting and it wasn't about self improvement!  

Image result for Liquor Bottles,photos

Early in my 20's, I was a department store buyer. Salesmen/women took me out for lovely lunches and dinners. I always ordered a drink (or two, not three or I would get drunk).  Almost every night (later in the evening) I went out and met friends at various bars. I got drunk almost every night. I almost always, for years, was hung over at work (anywhere)...often I felt dread and almost dead inside but I pretended to be HAPPY/ALIVE so the world wouldn't know the real pain inside of me! I tried extra hard to succeed at work. I needed to succeed.

One trip to New York I was drinking heavily on the plane before landing at JFK.  I had a hotel reservation at a "nice",  not elegant, hotel on Park Avenue South...I was drunk when I got in the taxi cab and went to the hotel to check in.  Drank more in my room, changed my clothes and then had another taxi driver drive me all over New York.  A very lonely night on the town: Uptown, Downtown, Midtown, Eastside/Westside...everywhere! I was afraid to arrive at any destination because I didn't want anyone to SEE me as drunk as I was...as drunk as I needed to be to meet that "someone special" who, of course, could not possibly have been interested in a drunk like me! I knew it.  After a couple of hours I paid the cabbie and I went back up to my hotel room and looked down on the lights and people on Central Park South.  Selfpity: "I would like you to meet Leonard.  Len is in his twenties and he is Gay and alone tonight in New York City...you'd love him if you liked him...and, so would he."

To be continued