Mexico City Meets San Rafael? San Francisco CA?

It’s amazing to me how my day, the day that I had planned, can change in the blink of an eye.  When I awoke this morning, I had no idea I’d be writing about strangers I haven’t even met.  To you.  Readers and writers all, we’re open to new experiences.  We have to be.

Travel and travelers are a rich and tasty source of stories and poetry, surprising delights in all the five senses.  It’s always been that way, for travelers and writers everywhere.  I know it certainly rocks my boat.

Today I bring to you an opportunity to meet someone new, to learn something new. Perhaps, gain a new perspective about my world.   Perhaps about yourself.

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I’ve been part of an international travelers organization for many years.

https://www.couchsurfing.org/

Because of this partnership, my life has changed in more ways than I ever imagined.  In 2013, I spent a spring week, sleeping evenings in a small home outside Paris, thanks to the generosity of a couchsurfer I met online.  A quaint place with windows overlooking a quiet little road, a brief and leisurely train ride from the City, a walk meandering through the Farmer’s Market and in and around several little shops along the road, through a public park full of children laughing, flowers blooming, trees of green and the aroma of French pastries on my tongue.

IMG_0077 (1)I spent a week in Morocco.  We walked through the hot sun during the day, into the shaded and cool medina full of music, food and trained snakes at night.  After which we traveled over the High Atlas Peak Mountains in a rickety bus to visit 3 days in the Berber desert in Mimoune’s family home.  Mimoune’s family communicated with me through Mimoune, the one English speaking family member to translate for all of us.  By the end of my visit, having savored fresh bread baked daily in a clay, fruit and vegetables that grow on their spring fed and irrigated land, they invited me to stay and be a special guest in Mimoune’s sister’s wedding.  Sweet Moroccan tea lingers on my lips.

In Coventry, I learned all about Snooker and ‘Bowls’.  I sipped tea each morning from 100_4177dainty china cups and wandered along the countryside with my friend Tim who had visited  Napa years before.

Yucatan Eco Resort

Yucatan Eco Resort

In the Yucatan, I net Carmen’s young daughter, stayed in their beautiful home, armed myself with travel tips for the best local places to visit, to eat and linger and I learned that folks who need care can go to the medical clinic in the evening, after work, any working day.

In Belgium, along the Meuse River, I was treated to Belgian waffles and thousand of beers in one place, not to mention new friends who have now come to visit me here in U.S. bringing with them even more of that delicious Belgium chocolate.

Belgian Breakfast

Belgian Breakfast

None of what I experience when I travel with couchsurfers can be found in a guide book.

I received a message this morning and am hoping someone out there might see an opportunity to help out a couple of folks from Mexico City.  I don’t have a space to do so right now.  Life for me is people, travel, writing, sharing, fun, helping.  So I thought I’d pass this along. If you want to know more, please contact me.

From Rick Schmidt in Mexico City:
Here’s my situation: my wife will be studying at Dominican University for the month of December … she’s got room/board provided by the school. I will accompany her but need a room for a month. We tried airbnb and craigslist but no luck: either too expensive or too far away from San Rafael. I don’t need anything fancy, but need safe place to park car. I am quiet, clean and interesting conversationalist … having travelled to many parts of the world all my life, including the recent 12 years of attending conferences; my host would not regret having met me, I’m sure. If you have friends, acquaintances or just a suggestion, I would be very appreciative. We live in Mexico City and have enjoyed hosting CSers a few times in the past ten years. We have references and are homeowners ourselves so we know how to treat our environment. Thank you so much for any suggestion. Cheers….Rick Schmidt, Ana Cazares
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Are You Voting?

Vote?

Vote?

Plutocracy: Government by the wealthy; a country or society governed in this way.

Democracy: System of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

The plutocrats continue to dangle the carrot in front of us as we minions queue up to the polls. After billions earned off us have been spent to make sure ‘their’ guy wins. Wow. Yes, I do believe it’s us and them. And we’re losing. Look around.

For years, I was knee deep in politics, campaigning, believing it all. Seriously into it. For years, I didn’t vote. NOT because I was apathetic, not because I was a loser. Because I believe the game is over. This season is done. Not many marks to make on the ballot.

I’m not proud to vote. I’m not happy to vote. It’s a flashjob. I’m proud and happy to live to write about it. Thanks to our democracy, not to the plutocracy.

Carlin Vote

I Am Not a Genre

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with labels. I think I’m not alone in this.

Either I’ve been boxed in by others, or I’ve boxed myself into this label or that. I’ve been guilty of boxing others as well. Inevitably, at just the right time, if luck has it, the labels slide off into the muck and mire of true life.   And when we are lucky, we get to choose our own silky ribbons instead of another unforgiving box.

“What genre do you write?” asks a writer when we meet for a glass of wine.

“Uh, well, I write fiction, poetry. Non-fiction. Sometimes, memoir, sometimes flash fiction, I’ve written a bit of creative non-fiction, some travel stuff. Once in a while, for kids,” I reply, pretty sure I haven’t supplied the politically correct answer.

“What about you?” I ask my new acquaintance.

“Oh, I write fantasy,” she answers.

Fantasy? Fiction? Is fiction fantasy? Fantasy is fiction? We‘re all making up stories.

Stories are one thing. People are another.

Conclusion. I am not a genre.

Define genre. A noun.

‘New Oxford American Dictionary’ at my fingertips: a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style or subject matter.

There are numerous synonym citations at www.thesaurus.com:

style               sort                species

category            

kind                variety

In www.dictionary.com: a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like: the genre of epic poetry.

My favorite, seen here at www.urbandictionarycom: an

unnecessary 

label attached to music, movies,novels, etc. giving way to discrimination, stereotypes, and prejudice.

While I was reading and thinking and writing and pondering, a friend called asking me to pick up and bring to her the pain medication she’d forgotten at home that she desperately desired. Yes, I know I’m labeling her as a friend. Let’s not get too carried away here. She couldn’t leave work; she was in a lot of pain.

I’m in the car, sitting at a stoplight, looking around.   A truck heading into the intersection to my right catches my eye. Big dark maroon truck. I don’t know if it was a Dodge, or a Ford, or a Chevy. One word printed on the sides and the back screamed right at me:

D E F I N E

It was a sign. A sign, I tell you.  How often have you seen something like that and not known it was a sign?

You may not know that I’ve been blogging off and on for years, may not have seen much of it. I don’t have millions of followers. Yet. Some of my older pieces I’m not really happy with any longer. Typical of most writers.

During the past few years, I’ve created and followed my own internal blogging labels. Genre labels. One page for poetry. This site for essay. This one for non-fiction. That one for travel stories.

Ad infinitum.

Ad nauseum.

So, loyal readers, soon, I pretty much won’t be doing that. I’ll be here.  In one place.   www.writerpaints.wordpress.com. If I change my mind later, I’ll let you know.  If you want the addresses of the pages that have come before, just ask.  I’ll be happy to pass them along.

My intention is to review the old posts on the other pages. The ones I don’t outright delete,

I’ll retrieve  and

dress them

update ‘em

redraft and/or revise

and

perhaps…

include them here.

I feel better already.

Oeuvre and out.

WriterPaints

WriterPaints