This will be used in : Gracias a la Vida Que Now She’s Calling Me Papi: cuentos sobre journeys from Nueva Canción thru Reggaetón ©a.i.lamar
“During dinner, after we considered our blessings and gave thanks to our mami, , for the nourishment she provided, sometimes we would join hands and sing the intro [to] La Muralla (1969) by Chilean group, Quilapayún: Para hacer esta muralla, Tráiganme todas las manos Los negros, sus manos negras Los blancos, sus blancas manos…” (Lamar & Guzmán, 2019, p. 99).
I love waking up to el alba entrando por la ventana abrazandome. I live a privileged life. Let me explain today backwards:
I drove down curly, at-times poory paved roads (that lead off cliffs), around bears, turkeys, and people wandering in groups (who prob didn’t get the #staythefuckHomememo like me 😉 ) nearly 30mins to apologize for being a jerk and overpay for the pocket knife gifted to me.
Before that, I watched the latest “Superstore” as I smoked and ate grilled asparagus, onions, almonds beets, and garlic octopus, with my special mashed potato. A can of guanabana nectar accompanied my brunner (desalmena?) and for dessert, I had today-made mora jam on toast.
Before that, I found the first pocket knife with the cheese.
Before that, I considered that it is MIRACULOUS that I am alive. Most of my family reminds me of this. My relationships have not changed due to el Covid19. You in my life? You all in my life already. I feel equipped with my physical and mental abilities but then again sometimes when I get in my impulsive modes, I just let the wind blow.
soy aire sobre el mar
Yo perreo sola
Before that, I saw how Tennessee is vigilant. But of course. The virus. Lest we forget…. damn but I drove way out here to be fuckin harmonious. What a fuckin asshole I am sometimes. I’m wearing gloves, a mask, I work from home already anyway (I make garbage money but I survive), my family and community got my back…. so I decide to park at another “illegal” spot (every goddamn entrance into the Great Smokies is blocked. I know this but I’m annoying stubborn). I stop at water thinking of the time I did Black Water rafting within Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia in 2014. A few pictures was not enough – I am my papi’s daughter; we take a shitton of photos with every medium we have (I have over a dozen cameras and still have undeveloped Black and Whites in my luggage). I fuckin decide to get closer to the rocky waters and drop my keys! Pero, coño! This is some Stephen King’s IT story right here, WHAT THE FUCK?! How fuckin scary. I could try to enter the cement tube by half stepping onto the rocks (about 6′ down), which do not look safe at all. I’m 100% alone in this moment. I do not know if my $3 thrift store boots have enough grip to even stand unpushed by the racing water. Am I strong enough? Am I flexible enough to even maneuver into the cement cylinder? Can I reach the keys? where the fuck are my spare keys? Do I fuckin fit? I’m in the 160s! By the time cops showed up (2 in an SUV each) to examine my car… as they got closer, speaking into their wahtevershoulderwalkies as they looked at my tag, I shouted towards them for help. I did not need their help but for damn sure didn’t want them near my reekin car… by the time they asked themselves if there was a hanger, perhaps, in their cars or something similar to help. I ran back and got on my knees and used a twig to fetch my keys. Not lying – totally scary that my pocket knife was blade-out and the (yt) cops were hovering over me. I looked at their guns and grabbed the wet keys-blade-toolset quickly so they’d look away. The thought that they could make it look like a scuffle and dump my brown body right there without any fuss in town was center in my mind for a bit.
What the actual fuck if I didn’t grab my keys?!
Just before this, I drove back to the gas station (the charge on my card did not read “BP”) to see if I dropped or left the knife I just bought there. The kindest folxs did not holler or nothin. The one person said, “remember I told you about the person who bought like 60$ worth of stuff and got the knife?” I tried not to make any claims in my mind about how they said this…. The “owner” or “manager” (perhaps?) listened for a minute and then said well, we can give you another one since you really need one.
Before that, I showered and did some groceries (spent way too much) and made some mora (my fav fruit) jam.
Before that, I stopped to jump a fence to see some more of Pachamama near an abandoned jail, apts, whoknows.
I feel so very grateful for my life. I am willing and able to feel full of life. These magical moments sing to me.
“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written.” (Sacks)
Before that, I left my temp home, contemplating how dangerous just moving around and through these mountains can be – very steep, narrow turns, hidden cliffs, fallen rocks, fallen tree trunks, all the wilderness that stands to drop me if I make the wrong or abrupt turn.
Before that, I traveled aimlessly looking for a spot that wasn’t blocked so I could leave my car and explore.
Before that, I drove through town blaring Bad Bunny and stopped at a gas station to see if they had any kind of weapons… mostly just wanted a big knife. I knew the beige one was more discreet but the person suggested the red and I liked the black blade. I thought back to a bamboo forest rock climbing camping trip I took with some French folxs a few hours from Shanghai back in 2013 in which I used a small similar blade to help make a bonfire dinner.
Antes tú me picheabas
Ahora yo picheo
Antes tú no querías
Ahora yo no quiero (pero pero, no)
Before that, my ICAN sent me the new Bad Bunny and it totally set the mood for my life right now. I do well alone. it gets lonely and for sure I miss physical affection – truly want a tender partner someday…. but I am a rock, I am an island…. I sometimes feel guilty but songs like Yo Perreo Sola remind me that my arts/ivism often become gifts to my loved ones so if they just let me push them away for a bit, we all win in the end. So, I did not even want to waste time Googling: “Are toys safe from la Corona?” Bad Bunny dice lo que pienso con movimiento sucio como me gusta a mi. The song turns me on deliciously! I had to act! On this life trajectory I’ve traveled from te crees hombre to pareces pata to tomboy to androgynous to Paranoid Android to gender bender to gender fluid… whatever yall wanna call it. I was in my zone today.
Before all this I was revising – I HAVE BEEN REVISING MY DISS PROPOSAL FOR 2 YEARS NOW (I dare you to talk to me about equity):
“Growing up I often saw los mayores singing or reading to our plants as they watered or fertilized them. They’ve taught me songs, chants, stories and rituals for mourning plants when they don’t blossom or if they die. Our mayores explain that all living beings are sentient and that life flourishes best through being fed Pachamama’s fruits and the stories and songs she gives us. These are the saberes passed down from our ancestors. We believe that art in various forms adds extra sustenance to the natural development of living sentient beings. These worldviews of my Afro Indigenous family first helped me conceptualize thriving.
Western science is catching up to the knowledges shared by my ancestors. Across many disciplines, there is now empirical data that shows how oral communication between living beings inspires extraordinary growth in a multitude of ways. Research by the Royal Horticultural Society (2019) concluded that talking to plants encourages faster and successful growth (Richard Alleyne, 2009). Medical researchers (East et al., 2010) have shown how reflecting on storytelling may develop resilience in people. Specifically, music has shown to have a positive impact on the physical and physiological conditions of living organisms (Ramekar, et al., 2016). Beethoven’s (1801) “Moonlight Sonata,” in one study, was played to rice plants and proved to support quicker growth in rice plants and they blossomed to bloom earlier (Lee et al., 2008). Similarly, a curious study by the Bern University of the Arts (2018) in Switzerland hypothesized that exposing semi-hard cheeses to different types of music during the maturing process would cause different sensory properties to develop in the cheeses. Balibouse and Mantovani (2019) of Huff Post reported that in the fall of 2018, Beat Wampfler, a longtime cheese enthusiast, worked with researchers to create an experiment titled “Cheese in Surround Sound;” nine 22-pound wheels of “Emmental cheese” were assorted in nine separate wooden crates and were played various types of sound waves and songs, including Vril’s “UV,” Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and “Jazz (We’ve Got)” from Hip-Hop legend A Tribe Called Quest, measured against a control cheese wheel which was not played music. Swiss chefs, politicians, and artists in the study concurred that the cheeses which “listened” to Hip Hop were sweeter than other control cheese and other semi-hard cheeses, which were exposed to different types of music and were tested in terms of their sensory properties (Balibouse & Mantovani, 2018). Is human vitality, like cheese, not just in need of art, but transformed by what is related through song and story? The late neurologist Oliver Sacks (2008) explained:
Music brings us together in song and dance, in ritual and play. It inspires and consoles us. It is a way to pass down traditions from generation to generation … Humans are uniquely able to produce and enjoy music—very few other animals can do so. But not only is music one of the fundamental ways we bond with each other, it literally shapes our brains (retrieved from https://www.oprah.com/omagazine/).
His research showed the positive effects of musical therapy on people with aphasia, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Alzhemer’s and other dementias (Sacks, 2007). The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019) published research that provided evidence that music enhanced connectivity (implicated in sensory and higher-order cognitive functions) in some altered parts of preterm infant brains (Lordier et al., p. 12103). Another study showed how music instruction gives consistent benefits for spatiotemporal reasoning skills in youth (Črnčec, et al., 2006). While music has been studied extensively to determine its impact on the growth of living organisms, my dissertation seeks to explore whether storytelling with another art form – tattoos – affects youth in similarly positive ways.”