I have fallen in love with page 150 of Dew on the Thorn by Jovita Gonzáles1. It’s a chapter entitled The New Leader and it’s about the second Fernando of the Olivares family, born 1871. He is a half gringo and a half Mexican.

Fernando grew up, and realizing when very young that he had American blood, felt very different from the rest of the boys. He had a feeling of resentment against his heritage that made him feel he was an outcast among his friends. Doña Ramona’s teachings […] made him feel that he could never have anything in common with his American grandfather. (p. 150)

Gotta love the reverse mestizaje in play. The reverse crossborder where it is the gringo in us that yearns to crossover.

Beautiful.

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1 González, Jovita. Dew on the Thorn. Ed. José Limón. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1997.

The authority of Tío Esteban, the new mail carrier, in “a forlorn-looking two wheeled vehicle” is an interesting passage. There is a palpable break. A sign that the Usted and borderlines of the Spanish language have ceased to permeate the everyday life of the community. It no longer applies as a rule. We must heed obidience to a new language code. As a mail carrier, a US postman, Tío Esteban has switched language masters’ (p.107)

In the backdrop of the early 1900’s in Dew on the Thorn by Jovita Gonzáles1 technological advances are no threat to the lifestyles of the ranchers who are in no hurry to catch up with the ever changing landscape nor is it rejected either. two wheel vehicles and trains are viewed with the eye of distant curiosity as if seeing an odd object. This product of the mind is not rejected by racial lines, indeed, we are curious no matter whence it cometh from. As always, and as most history insists in telling to our deaf ears. Technology is accepted far more than the gringo is or ever will be. So reading Chapter IX The Cupid of the Brush Country is quite interesting. These two phenomena: the ranchers still trying to live a lifestyle of old, ever refusing to let go of their glorious past, and the imminent change and the mechanical knowhow of the Yankees advance, flow in opposite directions yet together posit a mystery.

All this is reminiscent of Don Quijote who insists in living a long lost time in a present that has surpassed him beyond recognition.

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1 González, Jovita. Dew on the Thorn. Ed. José Limón. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1997.

In Dew on the Thorn by Jovita Gonzáles1 the color of races play a significant role, gringos have blue eyes and servants are dark. Yet more interesting is the fact that the Caste system plays a role in the late 1800’s as is evident that society revolves around the color of the skin. Add to this the fact within the narrative that these Mexicans of the late 1800’s in Lower Texas had never seen a negro in their midst and you got yourself a decent cocktail to churn out all kinds of speculations.

But what bothers me the most in Jovita’s narrative is that her main Mexican characters are not considered to be Americans. This binomial bothers me. They Americans and We, Mexicans. I don’t know, I just can’t seem to place myself in that narrative.

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1 González, Jovita. Dew on the Thorn. Ed. José Limón. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1997.

In Dew on the Thorn by Jovita Gonzáles1, the Anglo plays a rather significant roll not because we are not familiar with the eternal binomial in Chicano narrative between gringos and Chicanos but because it is an early ground we have walked upon before. Jovita is a predecessor of Aztlán geography and topology. It is a common ingredient in Chicano narrative to see the gringo in the distant. Way before we begin to deal with the gringo we have began to see Them. Jovita does this well. It details the aproximation of the inevitable, that is, the gringo in our midst. Then we deal with it. We can see this same technique in Ana Castillo’s novel So Far from God: The Peacock raiser encroaches in the consciousness unannounced. We have only heard of them and then we see them to lastly seek them.

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1 González, Jovita. Dew on the Thorn. Ed. José Limón. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1997.

I have come to realize that Chicano narrative has fitted quite nicely into American folklore because it is a vision. Chicanos in general all share a vision of what it was and what it might become. That is why Aztlán although despised by most Anglo loving philes can accept the fact that we exist. Even though they use the most lethal and potent weapon against us, Ridicule, they recognize something familiar in Aztlán: it is a vision.

I went to a festival in my small town Sweden were I in turn came under the influences of the spirits. Everybody knows everybody here. Now, am not trying to excuse the fact I behaved inappropriately at the festival, although I haven’t even described this inappropriateness it goes to show how weird this whole charade is. My inappropriateness was the fact that I was drunk and that I am a high school teacher here in Small town Sweden.  I suppose were I to live in a large town this angst would not kill me as much as it does today. But there you have it that the angst has been eating the vowels of my guts since that day.

I realize now why it bothers me so much. It is the whole saving face sort of business. Keeping up with appearances. Since everybody knows everybody you are supposed to cultivate a small amount of decent decorum because in essence, in small town Sweden this is basically all one has before itself.

This industrial small town has its positions in society all locked in to certain peeps and basically climbing the ladder is not so much as really standing in line and waiting for the position to befall you accordingly.

Now I know am not going to live here forever, so I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but there you have it, am still adapting to the country and passing through this process of feeling angst has been one of the most grueling processes I have undergone in my stay in Sweden.

Writer’s note: Written July 05 2010

I now know Spring is here.

Arachnid traces whirl outside my window.

The multilayer colored string plays its tune.

This silent music rings hollow.

I see but the wind play yet its vibrations fall in deaf ears.

Yet I delight so
in
the colors
the sun strikes
on its silk.

How I wish I could hear it sound.

Hopefully it will not be long from now that I can retake my writing.

It has been a long time since I really wrote.

It’s not until this morning that my preoccupation with writing was what was being a hurdle of sorts in my writing. I worried about being a writer and that sucked loads of energy which is badly needed elsewhere. Like in writing. I worry too much. My stupid dream of becoming a writer has been a sort of hindrance to this date. I will not nourish that stupid dream again. I want to pound the keyword with my thoughts. I want to write no matter what crap comes nor who cares whether it is worth saving or not, I just want to write and create.

Easier said than done of course.

I met this guy at work who had suffered a heart attack at least a year or two ago. He was a lot more plump and filled in his face then when I first caught eye of him which then I thought he was too skinny in his upper cranial self then the rest of his corporal self. This encounter would not be of any relevance at all where it not that I was distraught by the whole affair brought upon no less by the enthusiasm I showed when I saw him. I waved in earnest when I saw him. Yet I failed in all earnest to relate to his arterial problems as soon as we understood we had to bring upon the subject of the fact of the reason of his job absence. His heart beating could not be heart felt at all. The whole idea of us discussing his existential being revolved around the idea that he was at work with a bad heart and well how hard it was to work heartbroken and at work.

It is always a source of amusement to me how good language always flourishes like a spring meadow just in these sort of nick of time instances in the most inappropriate of times. I mean, I could of have come up with all the possible heart idioms and sayings when the amicable rapport was most ripe. I fought my own self and containment was mum.

I listened intently to his heart condition and how it limited his work, his hopes and the limitations of his hopes and what he wanted to do but could not do and minus here and plus there it all added up to the fact that I was talking to the guy at work so it kind of rounded up quite nicely and all for all intents and purposes it was great to have him back in an odd kind of Swedish way. To be frank I could not even muster a take it easy for the fear of insult. I never had so much to say and stood still as much as today.

I wanted to go away as fast I could from the whole situation and I suppose the clinical explanation coming out of his mouth noticed this and pretended, as I pretended, to cajole a good intention gone awry into continuing the peace for the sake of not ruining the friendly encounter. Yet I was interested in hearing him out but I was not ready for a bitter reality that is present in those that suffer the ailments my coworker undergoes. I was and was not rather. I am of the lot that argues that things or that what is right is right is a spouse of legitimacy for all kinds of excuses that authorize the spoken word and its freedom to be. Yet here I was not ready to allow this principle to abound it its most momentous glory.

Go figure.

There are like a million things going on in my life. Worst yet my immigrant status in Sweden isn’t helping at all. The way I compare and contrast makes the lens I view the Swedish landscape with rather dirty, lopsided and at best old and worn out outlooks. Yet by my own standards, I have come a long way and am ready for the next step, dios mediante.

I am moving out of the small village I live in. Good riddance to small town mentality I say. I am American after all, I migrate, I must move on, it’s in my genes, say what you will, but I do carry the blood of my northamericans. 10 years amongst the people of the town and all I have to show for it is a few salutations by way of courtesy. This is infuriatingly a disappointment with great consequences. Yet for the same token rewarding in many ways. By moving on I am showing an upward mobility they have not seen in years. Off course, I write this with a small grain of sarcasm.

I am also at a crucial crux in my career tinged, by the way, with Swedish angst. I can no longer keep my identity intact and must give leeway to local pressure to accommodate the new and allow the old to breathe yet. With this I mean that I must not allow my constant desire for approval to stand in the way of the local custom of avoiding bragging. I must push forward without bringing about too much attention.

I am rather astounded at the very little desire for upward mobility in society in these parts of the neck of my woods. Remember I am in the land of the infidels, In Partibus Infidelium, I am in terra non sancta, this should not be happening. Protestantism here is not at all related to the one we find in the US. In the US we are inculcated that we are destined for things. Manifest Destiny best describes this idea of destiny in all of us of Northamerican breed. But here in Sweden there is a complacency and a sense of place that defies the very fabric of my soul. This I contend with in the everyday.

The demons are hard to keep at bay, I ask myself, when are people in the Swedish Highlands going to take my intelligence seriously? The very mentality they posses is rather ethnocentric. They are culturally encapsulated. They see not beyond their own tip of their noses. How does one beat that?

As I recalled earlier, in my Swedish blog, people here are prone to brag but theirs is rather complementary, that is, they do it to cause an effect on others. They do it because they want to hike up a notch or two their status if only briefly.

I fight many voices in my head but there is not anything unusual there. For the most part my silence allows for volumes to speak. In fact, I seem to have been applying a sort of Taoism of which I had no idea of until recently. I say this because I recently downloaded an audio lecture by Herbert Allen Giles. This has worked to my advantage really. I mostly keep quiet and only throw questions at my opponents to disrupt the rut. I desist and hesitate to engage in any serious discussion because of my Swedish. While I certainly have made strides in the language according to my own accord I am far from being a fluent user of the language. I only succeed at best with 70% in actual real situations where the milieu presents itself optimal for said activities. This bothers me quite much indeed, but I push forward either ways and try and ignore the hinders that culture and language has to distinguish those from the local fauna and those that are not. I consider myself very much like the main character in John Banville’s novel titled Copernicus. What knowledge I posses that is going to change the destiny of humanity I have not an inkling about nor know I have it in any fashion at all.

Other everyday ailments and seemingly unimportant by their place in this text, are my nocturne expeditions to the realm of dreams. There is a change afoot. This segment is beyond the cultural debris I just dumped. Really. This is more transcendental in more ways that I can perhaps even myself imagine. This concerns my ill and poorly managed spiritual life. I scour if only, do to the nature of my astrological sign, the bare surface of the things at stake. I suppose it is to my ens credit that we Gemini engage in this nonchalant attitude for the importance that draw us to them. We experience more but perhaps ignore more as well. Yet I was touched rather deeply recently. The reasons this experience is more important than others is a mystery to me. I guess I am fragile now. I have never cared as much as I do now. I guess that that was the importance or lesson of my ‘dream’. I put it in quotes because I have had these dreams before. You see, I suffer from what the scientific community calls Nocturnal Paralysis or parasomnia. The so-called nonobjective bandwagon known as paranormal activity has a say in my experience as well. They call it etheric. I need to get in touch my the astral aspects of my existence. Normally I am just rather afraid to deal with this sort of phenomena in as much as I am afraid to deal with my inteligence due to the color of my skin or my race.

This is very odd because I have always fought the white. Though I am myself somewhat white if you will.

Am finally losing it.

I really thought I could keep up with the charade my persona displays in the everyday here in the Swedish Highlands. This charade, this coraza or core that shields me from the rest of society is slowly showing signs of fractures, small fissures here and there that allow the Stranger outside in. Not by my own devices but by the force of the everyday. Think of Superman. Just a little piece of cryptonite is enough to cripple him. I walk on cryptonite now. I am strong away from home but I have been away so long now that somehow I am becoming more Swedish than I am willing to admit. I don’t really like it nor am I specially interested in not becoming one.

I have learned to manipulate all the social codes to pass off as a Swede. I won’t list the unfathomable antics one has to go through to more or less show signs of ‘integration’ or ‘assimilation’, it suffices to say that I defer with no great effort to these social conducts in order to be left alone. When I manipulate these codes I have a goal, in this case, the goal is to keep at bay Swedes. But not entirely for the purposes above mentioned but also as well for disguise purposes. This is not something that I do with a conscious intention to acquire for the sake of profesionalization; in fact, it isn’t as of recent that I notice that I do these antics with intended effects. Before it was mere curiosity. I observed my position in society and the reactions the Swedes reciprocated with and then observed at large to see if my initial observations were indeed true.

Like I said, I did not begin to do this consciously. I simply observed a pattern. A recurrent event is hard not to notice and I wrote down these incidents in my daily life. To give an example, I recall quite easily how Swedes initially saw in me some sort of foreignness and when addressing me spoke English. But then, after a few months stay Swedes began addressing me in Swedish. This amazed me very much me, taking pride in my identity and all, felt quite offended at this new view the Swede had of me. Not that they did not see I was a foreigner but that somehow I radiated a swedishness unbeknownst to me. Another one is corporal. Swedish people detest the way Americans walk. That is, of course, in Sweden, am sure they have nothing against this body behavior in US proper. Eitherways, I, for all intents and purposes, am an American in that respect. I walk straight and very much goal minded or determined if you will. The Swedes though won’t cut me slack for this. They pointed out very early in my arrival that I was somehow being ‘cocky’. So I learned to walk relaxed and began to observe, not intentionally but on the background so to speak and adequately adapted or acquired this behavior to achieve a purpose. So these days I normally walk with my head bent downwards and stare at the ground I walk. This seems to be acceptable to Swedes. Because as of yet I’ve not received recrimination for it and find that most Swedes themselves partake int his odd sort of sauntering. At most people ask me if am ok or they somehow go about making assumptions that am deep in thought. Which brings me to the last observation, like I said there isn’t much space to spare. I am rather silent. Silence in Sweden isn’t a problem as it would be in the US. It is very much accepted as a social conduct. So I am rather quiet to achieve this adaptation Swedes seek in me, in other words, I do this to achieve a goal. That goal being to appease Swedish demands on me to comport myself as Swedes do.

The problem is that these behaviors are putting a strain on my already fragmented identity. Slowly but surely am displaying loads of Swedish behavior that it is unacceptable to my own standards.

’nuff said there.

When I was living in California during the 80’s and 90’s I never felt like an immigrant. I feared the migra and the ghost of deportation haunted me 24/7 no questions asked. But I never felt like an immigrant. I could never relate, for example, to real immigrants, those that traveled land, sea and air to get to California. They were a world apart. Specially Mexicans who were from Mexico’s deepest south, boy, were they ever immigrants. Like a new dimension sucked them into my time capsule. Either way’s I was at home whether I had legal papers or not. And am just darn sure there were loads like me back then.

Here in Sweden am an immigrant and to be totally up front with you I still don’t have the slightest inkling what in heaven’s tarnation that means, this is true, really. But I can’t escape it, people see it in me and hence end up in their warped sense of a vortex that includes the nasty blackhole of feeling like an immigrant. Every now and then I may have an outburst about my condition of being an immigrant because society is steered by those conditions and not my conditions, O Captain my Captain is neigh here. But for the most part, and I do mean the most part, I live oblivious to the fact that am an immigrant and I live in Sweden, period.

And I think I don’t tend to live my life hating every nook and cranny of Sweden and consider myself well adapted to this society with a few minors discomforts here and there. I certainly don’t go around spewing my complaints down my breath every waking second of the day. Yet there are some and these some, boy do they ever eat, shit and sleep I hate this place their waking 24 hours being. God, I can’t stand it when another immigrant comes to me looking for solace or a sympathetic ear to pour down every darn ache and pain that ails their soul for being in Sweden.

I plow the clouds
undust the cumulus
Santa Ana winds breeze by.

It is march
idle and restless.
Evidence is aftersought.

I gather intentions
pack them tightly.
Pursue wild dreams.

This wandering I
so easily scared
Is a wannabe Heron.

This Heron seeks
yearround
habitats.

Yet you instrument
death
at dawn.

Like an old
tune
in Spring.

A cacophony
slicing
scythe.

New year
meant nothing.
This Aries dusk.

I.-

The eagle landed
on a cactus
back yonder.

II.-

Butterflies flew
driven
by Santana Winds.

III.-

Yes, I remember
Satanta.
Like a late autumn.

IV.-

Immobile
I stare,
this waft embraces.

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