Chapter 19: the Do’s and Dont’s of Spain

<The neighbors are probably thinking, “That perpetually half-naked man who lives 10 feet opposite our apartment finally figured out how to use the curtains”> thought Huckleberry, as he sipped on a strange concoction of juices and licors. Strange, primarily, because it tasted good; this grapefruit-pineapple juice based punch might be the most dangerous thing since Added-Sugar.

Further, he questioned, <What takes precedence? the ‘ signifying Do-Not or the ‘ signifying that a stand alone abstraction of a word, which is also an abstraction, is in the plural? Do we write Don’ts or Dont’s or Don’t’s while shifting our tight asses around to get a comfier view of the marvellous plasticity with which the English language rolls off the palate?>

So many questions in this strange world.

<Do’s – Don’t pay up front, pay just before you leave. It rubs everyone the wrong way if you ask to pay right away. Between that and the lack of tips, shouldn’t be too hard to get a hang of this.> October, 2009

<Dont’s – Do bring your own toilet paper to new environments.> December, 2009

<Don’ts – Don’t worry about Do’s and Don’ts. You’re in Spain, you didn’t come here to tightly double-loop-tie your shoe laces, kiddo. That sort of codified living is just a thing of fashion, anyhow.Take it easy. There are great, forceful, persuasive, perceptibly unshakeable patterns – but there are no rules. Better write that down before I get distracted by the sunset.> September, 2013

<Only believing in two choices, unless efficiency is paramount, is a waste of time. Much better to figure out how you’ll be happy and execute the desire mercilessly. On that note, I’ve begun to wonder if birds have a concept of what it’s like to fall, powerless, from the hieghts of ecstatic flight. The only time I see birds fall is when they die, or the crash of panes paralyzes them into a graceless drop to the obscurities of cognizance. Birds make us look like cowards, and insects make us look feeble and lazy; that is to say – I think all of this was, just what I needed.> May, 2014

<Teaching lessons to these kids has been fantastic. They keep reminding me how full of ourselves we are, as adults. People can be selfish. Kids can be selfish when they want to have fun, because fun is fun.  Adults think things like power and possession are fun. Kids are wacky and often beyond control. Adults are crazy and dangerous.>

<My right eye seems blinder than ever, all the plus signs and crosses before me look like giant floating minus symbols. Sometimes I can feel my left brain starving for visual stimulus.>

Curtains breathe cooly next to the desk and the sound of any city whatsoever comes in waves and rushes of automobiles on dimlit pavement. Like a good movie that’s simply gone on too long, all seems inert – goaless, destinationless, motivationless. These are those necessaries, the ones we must express to equilize the narrative and naturalize sincerity, to sober the quivering quill of enthusiastic consumers before their lust becomes something viral. These are the moments when the wheel of fate stops to imperceivably head toward the next rotation but no one can tell in which way, there are no certain predictions to be made.

The sun has added stagnation to the equation. How? When conversation classes aren’t mandatory, no one shows up. Six classes straight, one student. Normally the classes are small, 5-8 students on average; but, six hours of no-shows instigates obligated tedium.

Today was better, two classes with two students each.

<Do’s – Do give them your best attention. Surprisingly, the best part of this year has been the teaching. For those who come seeking help to improve, give them your best.>

<Dont’s – Don’t make any hasty decisions; but, this one’s been hanging on me for a couple months, and now that I’ve felt it out well enough – sometimes in the darkness of distraction and othertimes in the clarity of open attention – oddly, the risk I’ll take is rejection. Rather, rejecting. Turning down. Really, deep down, I know that I won’t be happy coming back here for a second year. Time to let the cards fall.>

Huck had been placed in Jaén, a great place and assuredly a fantastic experience would have awaited him there. However, it’s time to move on to the next part of this pilgrimage. On the crest of this wave-like 25th year, the path forward is clear.

Turning down a secure, sure-fire, concrete job placement is difficult. Rejecting a job in a foreign country is rough; but, getting ready to lay down the next hand of cards, well – that feels rather good.

<I can’t say I’m coming “home” for good, though I’ll be stopping by for a while. Anyhow, what I was, and what that world I left behind was are both – undoubtedly – whole new beings by now. Given how I don’t really, really feel like I want that position – I offer it up to someone else will make better use of it, do a better job, and fulfill a healthier mutually beneficial relationship with that crazy southern city, Jaén.>

Sometimes decision making is easy. Sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes choosing the decision is easy, but executing it is difficult. There are all sorts of interesting combinations and dismantling’s that can spring from there. This Do Turn Down and Don’t Come Back was fairly long, difficult, but the outcome was fairly obvious.

<It’s funny, as a pedagogue – musically – it’s a great idea to have your students write a few essays under a 20 minute timeline each.

1. What are your ideals?

2. Why do you want to learn music?

3. What is your practice routine?

The second question is, in short, “What do you really want to do?” It’s an important one, Huck. Better get to being honest with yourself and do what you gotta do; and, you know better than anyone all the things that you gotta do.>

This was an important year, and time, and place, and event. It may, physically, have saved his life. Between last year’s diet disregarding, GRE study scheduling, late night musiking/drinking into break of dawn caffeine ingesting barista-ing, untimely grieving, and February to April lack of exercising Huck experienced a succession of sharp and clutching heart pains. One time, following a sharp pain in his chest, his left arm felt heavy except for a thread like sensation running through his flesh. Things had to change, immediately. A reset was necessary. Whatever world that was had to crumble, dissassemble and transform. The only one who can change our lives is ourself, but sometimes a change of setting can help that process weigh anchor.

<Can`t say my diet is anything healthy here – between the fried bar foods and the near non-stop drinking – but other things have changed, I’ve changed. Some steps forward, some steps forward while walking backwards. Recollecting. One great exhale.>

Summer, June of 2013

The doctor takes a blood sample. Huck is overwhelmed in every sense.

The doctor speaks, “Well, in numbers, you seem perfectly healthy. No blood disease, no cholesterol issues, no iron abnormalities, we confirmed that your clear of STD’s and the like. Your heart rate is a bit up though, and all the symptoms you’ve described reek of stress. What are your plans for the coming year?”

“I’ll be heading somewhere in Spain. They haven’t told me where exactly, but it will at least be somewhere.” Huck replied.

The physician laughs, “If that’s the case, sounds like you’ve already found the cure to your issue!” He pats Huck on the shoulder and says, “I want you to know, I will never – never – see a 24 year old in here who has a potential heart attack sitting around in their system; especially not someone as healthy as you. In the meantime, something that will help work the stress out of your system is regulated exercise, I can tell you that. I know that’s old news but – do me a favor and just do it. You have no excuses. All those people and activities that don’t really make you feel good, that don’t really fill you with happiness – take a break from them. Use that time for more important things, like your health.” His eyebrows raise, his chin hits his chest, and gives that Doctor look we all know so well. Raising his chin he continues, “In addition, getting over your friend’s suicide will take time. Give Time the time it needs to do what it does best.”

It had been a long meeting with the doctor this time, there were stories to tell. Funny how check ups measure our numbers, but a few good stories can give doctors a wealth of useful information.

Huckleberry got up to leave. “However,” the doctor went on, “just in case – I’m going to give you a mild prescription. If you feel like you’re starting to stir too much up here ( pointing to his head ) cut one of these tiny pills in half and ingest it. After about an hour or so you should feel a bit.. regulated. You don’t have to take them, but just for my own sanity I want you to have them in case they could be of help.”

<God, this guy knows how to break things soft to people. Basically, he’s telling me I don’t need to be medicated, but in good conscience he can’t let me leave here without prescribing me something.>

For the first time (and hopefully last) Huck was prescribed a pill of minor dosage to essentially turn down the voltage in his brain. Even though the prescription called for taking half a pill of a miniscule quantity, the idea of being medicated psychologically was new and foreign.

<I’ll go ahead and admit I’m too proud for this> Huck thought as he dumped the Prescribed Quantity Minus 2 down the toilet. <I think we all know I’d be just as well just getting back into my meditation routine.>

Do’s and Dont’s. There are so many, and so many will say one or the other. Ultimately, we are the only ones who make all the calls, only we call the shots – even if that means using our authority to defer/submit to/follow the voice of another. Buckling down, and calling his own tunes for this psycological jazz session, Huckleberry chose “Do” instead of “Don’t”, sat down beneath a tree and meditated solid and proud.

Everything turned around. Including the seasons. Nearly a year later, in May, the difference is astounding.

<Here’s to this new world, my friends.> he thinks, putting one foot in front of the other.








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s