Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bonne St. Jean!!

Okay, I have to be honest here, St. Jean - a.k.a. "Quebec Day" - was last week.  And Canada Day (July 1st) is actually the secondary holiday.  As I mentioned before, Canada Day in Montreal is better known as moving day.  I think this has something to do with the fact that many Quebequois are separatists.  They want to separate from Canada.  This is a source of entertainment for me.  

Where have I been?  Why haven't I written?  These are very good questions.  I continue to be unemployed and homeless.  But for whatever reason, this is easier to sustain in Asia.  Now that I'm back in North America, my status seems a bit untenable.  Some might even say "irresponsible."  Who could have predicted this?

Yes, with food prices somewhat higher than my 20 rupee bag of veggies, I'm feeling the pressure.  Sometime in the preceeding weeks I had a fabulous job interview at a language school downtown.  But without a proper work permit, I am relegated to the underworld of Black Work.  Here I'm just a dirty immigrant.  Speak French to me and watch me stare blankly.  Happily for me, the Quebequois are not hateful peoples.

I would complain more, but it's not my style.  In some way, I appreciate being the dirty immigrant with no papers.  Keeps me humble.  And keeps me appreciating the kindness of others.  And let me assure you, my friends here have been extraordinary; letting me sleep on their pull-out, feeding me, letting me use their bicycles and not complaining about the pile of crap that has taken over one corner of their tiny living room.  You know you're with a tolerant group of folks when everyone seems to have a story about the friend who came for a week and stayed eight months.  Not that I plan to do this, mind you, just that in my hometown that "friend" would have been kicked out by week three. 

Just being here gives me the opportunity to view my country through yet another lens.  People here are subject to the same immutable forces of corporate greed and government control, but, well, it's somehow different.  The cosmopolitan nature of this city provides a level of awareness and acceptance that allows someone like me to be/say/think whatever I want without shocking or offending those around me.  Maybe this is freedom?

Just yesterday I was chatting with a DC transplant about the differences between Our Nation's Fine Capital City and Montreal.  We agreed that while most district peoples are well-travelled (i.e. having personal experience of five or six foreign countries), the people here seem to exist on another plane entirely.  Not only have they visited numerous foreign countries, they have lived and worked in them, have family all over the world and speak five or six languages.  Seems fairly normal to hear someone mention an upcoming trip to India or Jordan or Egypt in casual conversation.  Without the follow-up question "why?"

So my awareness is slowly increasing as well.  My neighbor Conrad has taught me much about unions, the history of black peoples in the US, the 9/11 conspiracy and in general why America is such a fascinating country.  

Speaking of 9/11 conspiracies, I have already become bored with the topic.  I no longer need to discuss whether it was an inside job (it was), I'm more interested in supporting efforts to properly investigate it.  I watched a film called "Zeitgeist" (go to videos on Google and search it) and learned that all of the major wars have been orchestrated.  That is, provoked by business interests and bankers looking for Profits.  As far as I'm concerned, 9/11 is just the latest in a string of these.  No, what I'm fearing now is the tracking chip that lives in my shiny new passport.  I can't get far enough away from it.  Even if I take it down to the bank for storage, it still identifies what city I'm in.

Something else really creepy?  As part of my ongoing sociological studies, I went to Montreal's one and only casino the other night.  One hundred percent implemented by The Government, I was immediately transfixed by a youngish woman simultaneously operating two slot machines.  She was just sitting there pressing the "maximum bet" buttons over and over, inserting a ticket for hundreds of dollars in credits when she ran out.  We wandered up to the third floor where we found roulette tables, video surveillance cameras (looking like ominous black eyeballs on the ceiling), and "pit bulls," people who stand there watching the dealers like hawks.  I wanted to take pictures but I'm sure they would have had me surrounded in seconds.  

I have never actually been to a casino (except once when I stopped at the Golden Acorn Casino for gas) and can safely say that I have no desire to go back.  While I was clear from the beginning that I wanted no part in placing any actual bets, my friend insisted on taking out $5 worth of casino coins for the horse races: tiny mechanical horses running round and round a mechanical track.  Fascinated by the people screaming for certain horses to win (these are computer programs, people!!), I decided to investigate "the odds" by holding an informal interview with the guy that worked there.  While I distracted myself, my friend lost his first bet, and annoyed that I showed no interest whatsoever, put his remaining $3 on the worst horse combination.  Jackpot!  In roughly five minutes my friend won $875!  I wandered back to see buckets of quarters spilling from the machine and my friend shaking from the rush of adrenaline.  "Great!" I said supportively, "now let's get the h--- out of here."  We were so astounded by our luck that I walked out with my coffee cup in hand.

And, for all you people out there that so callously dismissed my Obama fervor, I'll concede that he is, after all, a Politician.  And Politicians are, by nature, sell-outs.  So now I'm back to my original assessment of the situation; that Obama guy is hot!

In conclusion, The Government runs the gaming, sells the alcohol, lies about war activities and puts tracking chips in out passports.  Should we make a list?

La la la, blah blah blah, there's nothing new under the sun and all that jazz.  I may be floating about aimlessly, dancing and drinking and generally not making Swamiji proud.  But the fat lady has not sung yet my friends.  And even if she sings tomorrow, well, the journey has been well worth it.

Signing out,

with love and appreciation

from the eternally, irrationally exuberant and optimistic

Lola Maria

PS: Things I forgot to mention: My French is improving in leaps and bounds (finally!), I'm navigating my permanent residency application (in French), I've got a new therapist starting tomorrow, I'm moving to the north end of the city (the only place I haven't lived yet) on the 11th, and I'm getting progressively more creeped out by my blahg.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lola Loves to do the Cha Cha Cha!

Not even a stubborn case of Giardia can keep Lola from dancing the night away! In yet another improbable twist of events, I just happened to meet the only Indian Salsa fanatic in all of Quebec with intricate knowledge of all the $1.50 Salsa lessons in downtown Montreal. I’ve since tried out the Salsa, Merengue, Cha Cha, Mambo, Swing and even the Valse (Waltz?) and I am definitely hooked! How is it anyway that I’m a 30 years old half-Mexican who can’t dance? It’s unsupportable!

Today I spent the afternoon on Skype ™ with The Swiss Contingent. We talked, laughed and cried for nearly three hours, all for FREE. And yesterday I finally reconnected with my cousins in Veracruz for at least an hour, again for free. This is the Age of the Internets, people, and it’s time to get on board!

In other news, taking out the trash can be dangerous when you live on the second floor. I know this because yesterday I rolled down the stairs while doing just that. Luckily, I have skill when it comes to rolling down steep inclines and I emerged without any broken parts. I can only conclude that God loves me and keeps me alive despite my best attempts to subvert his will.

One thing I’m discovering is that many people hereincluding meare fascinated by The United States of America. The fact that we Americans are poised to elect a black man, Barack Hussein Obama, as our next President is nothing less than revolutionary. But America is a revolutionary culture, a culture of vision and energy. Who else is brash enough to build a city of towering hotels and casinos in the middle of a hostile desert or a 3,000 km tunnel under the Atlantic for a vacuum propelled train? Americans are craaaazy in a lovably arrogant and unpredictable sort of way. And while I haven’t met anyone who actually wants to live there, the whole world is on the edge of their seats waiting to see what we’re gonna do next.

That’s not to say that America has a monopoly on crazy. Les Quebequois have their own special brand; July 1st is moving day…for everyone. That’s right. The powers that be in Quebec have inexplicably decided it was a good idea for everyone to move on the exact same day. Can you say logistical nightmare?

And yesterday I had the fortune (?) to meet some locally grown French Canadian Gangstas. I just happened to stop and ask some guys sitting at a sidewalk café how long it would take me to walk to Parc La Fontaine (a gorgeous park in the middle of the city). They told me it would be at least an hour and a half and suggested I join them instead. I did, and that’s when I noticed their outfits; huge gold-rimmed Gucci sunglasses, white button down shirts with short, rolled-up sleeves, the requisite gold chains, “skinny” jeans and, finally, plastic flip flops. I was not afraid of them and in factperhaps because I am from the LA areaforeign “gangstas” usually give me the giggles. All of them appeared to be in their twenties and said they worked with “contracts.” Uh-huh. Okay.

One last note; I had the opportunity to watch the second half of the epic Lakers game the other night at my neighbor Conrad’s house. Conrad was thrilled to explain all about the technical strategy involved (uh-huh) while I had a moment of clarity about sports in general; specifically that they are the equivalent of male soap operas. Finally it’s all starting to make sense! Being the first basketball game that I’ve ever paid attention to I guess I was lucky to witness the Boston Celtics recover a 20+ point deficit in the third quarter to finish the game with a 6 point lead. I was struck by the fierceness of the showdown and the fact that it all amounted to an intense battle of intimidation. I've got to admit I am intrigued by the male species...

Looks like the longer I stay out of my own country, the more I learn about it. And the more I appreciate it. The universe works in mysterious ways indeed.

I love you every one,
a la prochaine!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thunderstorms, Toe Cramps, 9/11 Conspiracies and the Next Global Leader

I just can’t contain myself! Watching Mr. Obama deliver his message of truth is nothing less than electrifying. Yesterday he kicked off his general election campaign with a titillating speech in Raleigh, North Carolina. In my opinion (yes, I’m allowed to have one T), Mr. Obama is the leader we’ve all been waiting for and – thanks to God - has arrived just in time to lead our country into the Global Age! Everybody get on board!!

Barak Obama will be unstoppable in the age of the internets. I repeat, do not underestimate the power of the internets.

The weather here in Montreal is hot, sticky and today we’ve got serious rain. It’s reminiscent of Mexico and I’m loving every minute of it, frizzy afro and all. Last night I met my neighbor Conrad, a political junkie from Ottawa who got me all hyped up about the exciting events unfolding in the US of A. We realized that if the Bush Administration had not been so devastating, the country would never be ready to embrace a true leader Like Mr. Obama. We’re planning to attend a lecture called “9/11: Made in America?” sometime in late June.

As I write this, I realize that I would not be so comfortable expressing these views in my own country. Back home I have trouble fitting in, but here I’m special and unique, just like everyone else.

On the job front, it looks like I may have a gig painting houses, and Friday I will meet with some Africans who are looking for an American to do some fundraising for their humanitarian organization. There are not a lot of opportunities here for people who don’t speak French (shock!), so I’ve also managed to arrange a language exchange with some French guy who will listen to me read in French if I will listen to him tell me all about his trip to California. Gotta love Craigslist!

Until next time!


Monday, June 09, 2008

The Twisted Affair of Love and Pain Called Life

My trip home to California plunged me, once again, into the darkest recesses of my toxic mind. Feelings from my past—hurt and sadness, anger and frustration—resurfaced after long absence. I lost my inspiration and caved under the weight of painful family turmoil, sinking right back into the bleak despair I struggled with for so many years…

Needless to say, I am not proud of my failure to inspire myself or my family with the love and hope that flowed so abundantly during my stay in India.

Clearly my decent into darkness was God’s way of showing me that until I untangle the mess of anger and resentment hidden inside the lockbox of my past, I can never achieve lasting peace or satisfaction in any of my pursuits. In other words, it’s a sequential thing.

On The Lighter Side

During my visit home, I rediscovered the news junkie within and I’ve just one thing to say; Americans and the world have hope, ‘cause that Obama guy is kickin’ arse and taking names! Not a fan of Billary, I was relieved to see her lose the primary election on the eve of my departure…now we just gotta crush McSame in the general. And that my friends, is enough of that.

What's Next?

Ill-suited for a life in Southern California (no car, no health insurance, no inclination to shower daily…) but aware of a need for a home base in The West, I decided to establish myself in beautiful downtown Montreal.

For those of you with even less geographical skill than me, Montreal is situated in the east of Canada, in the province of Quebec. It’s my fourth visit (see entries from October 2005) and I still love this place. Not only is it incredibly beautiful but I have a growing network of amazing friends who have made every effort to welcome me and get me settled in. I’ve got a (free) place to stay for a couple of weeks, my very own beater bicycle, free access to the YMCA’s saltwater pool and – possibly – a job painting houses! It’s not the teaching gig I was hoping for, but manual labor is one of those things I simply must try at least once…

Stay tuned for much more!

Hugs and kisses,
A la prochaine,