Friday, December 30, 2005

Public Repentance

I want to publicly repent for something I said last night to my dear wife, Kathleen, about her son, my stepson. It was cruel, cruel, cruel and I can't take it back. I could blame the brandy but I won't. I'm just a bastard and sometimes my remarks can be more cutting than a chain saw.

You always hurt the one you love, especially cooped up in Mexico for months with no respite. I have never spent as much extended time with any one person as I have with Kathleen; I think she is the only one who could put up with me. She's certainly the only one I could live with in close quarters every day and still smile at her face in the morning and be grateful for her sweet company. After six years I'm still desperately in love with her.

Propinquity can sometimes be a curse, however, and we don't take enough breaks from each other, ending up in a rut wondering what to do each day. But this is no excuse for the cruelty of Craig. I was trained by a master, my father, and I can't seem to entirely escape his training, especially when my judgment is impaired by demon rum, just as his often was. Now my poor darling's eyes are swollen and she wants nothing to do with me, for which I don't blame her.

I was evil, I was cruel, I was careless, I repent. I trust she will forgive me but I doubt that will be soon. Each wound we inflict on each other runs the risk of diminishing the love and trust we bear a little more, something I dread more than death. Her love is the greatest gift I have received in this life and I spit in its face last night. I don't deserve Kathleen.

"Pray for us sinners at the hour of our death."

In grief and repentance,


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Great New Year Sayings!

Some are stolen, some are original. The challenge is to cite the stolen.

I haven't given up on fame; fame has given up on me.

Katie phone Holmes.

Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

The problem with this world is that there's too much me to go around.

Some people are so dumb I wouldn't tie my horse to them.

There are worse ways to get through a war than a quart of scotch a day.

Give me liberty or maybe I could trade it for increased security, invasion of privacy, and a pointless war?

Surgery kept me young, but alas, drugs aged me.

San Miguel, home of hip hip fractures, the largest outdoor mental asylum in the world: where half the people are on drugs and the other half should be on medications.

Just because I strangled my mother doesn't make me a bad guy.

The Ramones were great unti they went punk.

The only way to insult a pig is to eat it.

A good day is when you pull the sheet off your own face.

Lick Ass and Eat Crow are not Indian tribes but the surest way to corporate promotion.

The chief source of human conflict is that each of us expects others to be like ourselves and judge them accordingly, as in: "Why aren't you writing a fucking blog?"

Distracted from distraction by distraction.

For once, then, something.

It ain't over until the fat lady gets off you and you get paid.

A rut's just a grave with the ends kicked out.

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts then every day would be Christmas.

Let's keep the '$' in "$Mas!

The mantra of the uncommitted: "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual."

Better a eggs without bacon than a soldier without an -ism.

OJ: squeezed until innocent. .

Michael Jackson, also innocent, should be credited with expanding the concept of a petting zoo.

To a blind men we all look alike, to a deaf man we all sound alike; an aardvark does not notice us because we are not ants.

Alzheimer's? Fughedaboutit.

In the bad movie we call life I drink to keep other people out of focus.

If I were rich we wouldn't be doing this.

You catch more flies with heroin than honey.

Zippers for the impatient, buttons for the shy.

Every bee-bee gun should come with a dead sparrow.

Celebrity deprivation will be the new disease of the century.

Jews don't control Hollywood, their lawyers do.

To be saggy, bald and fat does not necessarily mean you're a baby-boomer, though the odds are good--if you're wearing diapers you might still be a WWII veteran! Too bad the generation that saved a continent could not save __________.

If you love something let it go; if it comes back, humiliate it.

All the wisdom for today,

C.E. Chaffin

p.s. "Give Dobey the Jaguar."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Ravings from Mexico

It´s that time of year again, as opposed to that time of month, which affects fertile females under forty-five, roughly, and I do mean roughly-- though the implantation and successful pregnancy of a sixty-something Italian lady not long back did stretch the stretch marks of my nugatory obstetrics. Nugatory. Like that word? Amend your nescience and anoint it as your vocabulary word for the day, O idiot blogees!

They say you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but at this time of year, there being no flies to darken my blog, I take the liberty of insulting my absent audience, the same kind of audience the Pope afforded me.

Chinga bells, chinga bells, chinga all the way!

(Best sung in a Mexican bar where the patrons are spoiling for a fight from cheap tequila.)

I do want to wish all you who are not reading this a very Merry Christmas and say to those who are,¨"Get a life!"

And no, I will not take the Christ out of Christmas just as I won´t take the spike out of egg nog nor the Shrike out of Hyperion (by Dan Simmons) Great book, btw, for a late Christmas gift; for non-fiction I always recommend Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, though this may be a bad time of year to market the notion, being concerned with nativity and all, but remember "In my beginning is my end" which adorns the container of Eliot´s ashes at East Coker, and was also the motto of Mary Queen of Scots, though I wonder if it´s just about sitting down to dinner.

We´re having a nice repast of smoked turkey tonight with our Mexican hosts, in whose rooms we´ve now stayed for over four months. (Yes, Virginia, we are paying customers.) Luckily I left my guitars and desktop computer with them else there would be more to recover from the dastardly maid who is extorting us for the rest of our stuff, still unreturned, her fat ass still not in jail--but it shall be, O it shall be, if my name isn't the Gringo Grinch!

Carlos, the dueno of the posada, is a very intelligent man who likes to torture Jehovah´s Witnesses and Mormons. After he twisted the Witnesses he now innocently asks his Mormon instructors how there could be steel, cows and horses in Mexico before the Conquistadores, as their holy book recounts. I think they reassure him that this land, second only to Egypt in archeology, just needs a few more lucky digs to prove the theory of the lost tribe of Nehi, who instead of promoting soda supposedly crossed Asia and the Pacific to make those cool pyramids.

Still, how can you not like Mormons? There´s over a million here in Mexico and more official temples than anywhere else but the US. They even admit now that their founder had faults, perhaps why he was taken out of jail and lynched, in part for sleeping with his follower's wives. The revolution may eat its children, but I guess that David Koresh gene has some survival value after all.

Funny how the rules never apply to the prophets. Even Mohammed changed the rules in the Koran, where he made an exception for himself in order to marry his daughter-in-law, a practice he had formerly forbidden. The Koran is even more boring than the Book of Mormon, btw, so I recommend neither for your Christmas reading list.

I wander far afield where no angels sing inside my head. Which reminds me of Aldous Huxley´s wonderful essay, "Wordsworth in the Tropics," where he rightly asserts that if Wordsworth had grown up in the Congo he would not have honored the benevolent God of the English countryside, rather bloodthirsty demons as did Mr. Kurtz.

"Mr Kurtz, he not dead. He live on in delusion of Iraq. He live on in Mormon missionary zeal."

Again, how can you not like Mormons, whose skinny ties always remind me of David Byrne of The Talking Heads? That short-sleeve-white-shirt-skinny-black-tie look "could never die while you´re near me." One Mexican convert here was quoted in the paper as saying that he first followed Mormon missionaries around because he was so impressed by their ties, which in this climate certainly qualifies as a miracle. How The Book of Mormon can explain horses is another question, but hey, when did faith depend upon facts? That only applies to historical religions like Christianity (sadly not to Neoconservatism).

Hey, I better lay off the Mormons here before the ghost of Joseph Smith lays on my wife. Wonder if he still has the golden plates or just a bridge? Dental work is cheaper down here, you know.

So again, for Christmas, another gift item is a ticket to Mexico for dental work. Mexicans have clever hands and make good dentists; just don't ask them to think diagnostically or they´ll make up a reason to save face. ¨"Yes, it was a chupacabra´s bite that ultimately deformed your wisdom teeth." I'm not kidding about this, as any of you who certainly did no read my link below to ¨"Dead-End Thinking" don´t know. If you say to someome in Mexico, "Yesterday I saw a green pterodactyl," they will receive the news as if you mentioned the weather. Everything here is simply believed. Which reminds me of a conversation I had with one of the lawyers I fired, though not for her faith.

"My parents are Christian," she explained with some trepidation.

"And you?" I asked.

"Oh no!" she exclaimed. "I´m Catholic. Those poor Christians only get Jesus while we have Mary and the angels and all the saints."

Hard to argue with the advantage of a spiritual smorgasbord. Mexican Catholicism truly skirts polytheistic idolatry, but then in the U.S. we have opinion polls, so what´s the difference?

Having said all I want to say and then some, I hope this Christmas note leaves you in fine spirits, or if a teetotaler, perhaps with a contact high. Wish you could smell my breath through the internet ether.

"I do, I do, I do believe in Christ! Just not in flying monkeys!"

Thine as ever,

Dr. Chaffin

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Wandering Mind Approaches Christmas

A wandering mind is a terrible thing to put shoes on.

Yesterday I found myself brushing my teeth while sitting on the throne. Never multi-tasked that one before. Which reminds me when I was peeing at MacDonald's once while drinking coke from a straw. The symmetry astounded me.

I hate to be disappointed, so here's a short Christmas list:

For George Bush, a wife smarter than he.

For Dick Cheney, a lesbian daughter who gives him some undeserved credence with the left.

For John Ashcroft, Tommy Chong sent to prison for an obscure, ten-year old law never tried before.

For carpetbagger Hillary Clinton, a new shift to biblical values.

For John Kerry, a bunch of murky medals.

For Andy Rooney, abstention from Botox.

For Conan O'Brien and Lyle Lovett, big hair.

For Bill Frist, the hochmut to think himself a neurospychiatrist, expert in Schiavotology, instead of the lowly heart surgeon he is.

For Americans, to continue freely giving away the rights their forefathers bled for in exchange for an empty promise of security against a foe who can never be stopped.

For all young female celebrities: lots of preggie talk.

For aging female celebrities: more Botox.

For Brad Pitt: bad hair.

For all Hollywood: bad hair, known in LA as the "urban survivor" look.

For the Simpsons: that Maggie never talks.

For Paul McCartney: no hit song.

For eminent domain: more strip malls.

For Rachel and Jacob, red hair; for Keturah, determination; for Sarah, more starring roles in theater.

For Howard and Elisa, lots of money!

For Dobey, lots of indecision and obsession and good people skills.

For Chris, exquisite taste.

For Elvis and Gidget, long hair.

I'll stop there and take a breath, seeing as how I went from celebrities to immediate family.

But I think all the Christmas wishes above will surely be granted.

Now about my blood pressure: the doctor treating me here, who cannot be myself as my insurance company rules (even if I am the only competent doctor in San Miguel), has me on a beta-blocker and a diuretic--with some success--and my mood seems to have notched up a bit since BP control has been better. Then beta blockers do make me sleep more and worry less, though they have also induced depression in the past. Then I have my trusty Lamictal. And my appetite has been outstanding. Despite this my jeans still fit by sliding under my pot belly. I don't wear a belt because my lumbar spine hurts too much, so my fashion is to tie a scarf between two loops of my pants to tighten the waist beneath the spare tire.

Face it, ladies and germs; as we age it's not the weight, it's the gravity and the sagging skin. Anyone seen Jack LaLane lately? Not even the original juice man can escape. And trust me, as a doctor, I have rarely seen a young women with flawless skin from head to toe--always some blemish or secret pocket of seborrhea or cellulite.

C'mon, people, give up on People and Hollywood and all the stick-figure nonsense ideal of health. Feel good, look good. Quality not marketability. (Then I have two brothers in advertising for which such advice must be anathema.)

And how am I doing? As if you care! I'm burned out on writing about Eliot; must re-group before the final issue of Melic. I consult with patients here out of the goodness of my heart, but never knew before that an 80-yr-old wheelchair-bound by Myasthenia Gravis would have a mind flexible enough to make psychotherapy and hypnosis worth doing.

As my insurance company knows, in these charitable endeavors, it is my sitting limit of two hours that trumps my employability as a physician, except as a courtier lying on a velvet couch. "Peel me a grape, Principal Financial." This is why I have to write fast during my alloted two hours, as I just wrote this in fifteen minutes. I can write a decent sonnet in fifteen minutes. I bless my verbally talented parents!

Deceased, I hope they read this, though I'm told the dead are a tough audience except here in Mexico where they are party animals. "Folded into a single party," as Eliot wrote.

Any Hortonhearsahoo, Merry CHRISTmas! (I did that for Hillary) to all my blogees!

CE aka Dr. Diego

p.s. My poetry is quoted in a new antropology text for bipolar culture being published by Princeton Press. Can fame be far away? Harummph!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Plethora of Exciting Links!

First, some nuts and bolts. I've changed the settings here so you shouldn't have to create your own blog to post a comment. Also there is a verification requirement to type a few letters in order to prevent spam.

Now back to Mexico. Some of you may not know that I've written a number of cross-cultural columns on this magical land for various journals. Here are some links. I tried to make them click-on links in this blog format with no success, so if your computer is like mine you'll have to go to all that work of copying and pasting the sites in--apologies in extremus!

"Escape from LA"

"Yes We Have No Bananas"

"Dead-End Thinking"

"Borges on Basketball"
(one of the best things I've written)

"The Doctor and Dysentery"

"From the Land of Burros but No Asses"
(Probably the funniest, written by my alter ego, Dweebler Cramden, "The Gigolosaurus.") Here's an excerpt:

"Now for Mexican women, most of whom are mestizos of mixed Indian and Spanish descent. It’s a sad, sad fact, but Mexico should be known as the land of flat asses. Pancake keisters. Nalgas de tortillas!

The more Indian blood in a woman here, the more likely it is that properly heated, her posterior could iron my dress shirts without leaving a single crease. Most mujeras are built squarely and carry weight in their bellies and limbs without an extra ounce to donate to that great hemisphere of feminine supremacy, as typified by Serena Williams, whose marvelous plum adorns the American sports pages. I don’t know if she’s an athlete in bed, and though a little anorexic, I’d take her if she’d have me, though we might require a few extra pillows.

I have several theories to explain the tortilla butt of the average Mexican woman. Chief among them is the fact that I have yet to see, much less sit upon, a cushiony chair or couch since coming here.

I had some new publications to promote, but this blogging software stole it away. Besides I've already inundated you above with over 10,000 words of links, but I promise, with a blog-back guarantee, that if you read all of them you will laugh out loud at least three times.

Hostage in Kafka's Mexico,


Friday, December 09, 2005

I Grow Old

And how should I presume? And how should I begin?

"I grow old, I grow old,
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

Actually I only wear jeans. My good clothes are being held for ransom by our former maid, as any of you know who've troubled to read this saga. But age, age, yes--these last two years have aged me precipitously. I have developed high blood pressure. When we got back to Mexico last December with only a liter of gas and five pesos, my pressure was 190/110. As BP meds are over-the-counter here, I have tried Cardizem and Zestril with varied success, but I know I need to stop drinking altogether as that is my highest factor. When I give up drinking the only drug left to me will be caffeine. Thus I'll end up like all my Nordic relatives in Minnesota, who invariably ask for coffee at cocktail hour. Our own Chaffin family tradition is to get "half in the bag" at cocktail hour and then decide whether to exercise the "full bag" option later, which our father frequently did. To find him early in the morning curled up in a fetal position always seemed so strange--that such a large and loud man could look so much like an infant. But "The child is the father to the man."

The newest delay in our court case was explained to me yesterday: The civil judge did not know what felony to charge, so he passed the case on to the criminal judge, who increased the felony charge to "extortion," which carries a mandatory prison sentence. Now we wait for the maize-grinding wheels of justice to slouch toward Bethlehem. And as good Christians, Kathleen suggested we visit Maria in prison, if we stay that long.

I did give up drinking for five years around age 40. In looking back I don't think my life was any better or worse, though my health was. And I was definitely less social during that time.

To give you an idea of how I've transitioned into old age, I was playing chess with a friend last night and we were comparing blood pressures with different machines. He's a 65-yr-old former dentist who claims his frequent use of herbal smoke keeps his pressure down; I told him he'd smoke it even if he didn't have a BP problem, but that he sure has a good excuse.

If I play chess and compare blood pressure with my friends, can shuffle board and feeding pigeons be far behind? Then diapers would be a convenience, as I wouldn't have to get up at night. When I stop drinking maybe I won't have to--at least for a while. And I, too, would someday like to terrorize shopping aisles with my souped-up electric wheelchair--my, those hot-rodding chairbound geezers are a public menace!

"Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season,"

Thine if you'll have me,


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dog Days

Nothing is more boring than waiting around in interminable uncertainty. On Dec. 11 we will have been here four months, when we only came for a week. We now have the best-connected lawyers in town and the case is in a judge's hands, but there is some question of exactly what felony our maid is guilty of, since the stuff is at her house. I should think kidnapping sufficient, but it's Mexico, and here, more than the U.S., one's home is one's castle.

I stay busy answering psychiatric needs of various folks, finishing my book on Eliot, editing the last issue of The Melic Review, singing in the choir and attending church, and playing some music here and there. "Bloom where you're planted" as they say. Trouble is, we're not planted. I don't know if I'll be here next week! This discourages me from extroverted behavior, though I know I must strive harder for involvement than I have.

Kathleen has been much more isolated. We go out to eat, usually once a day, and she sees acquaintances at our usual haunts but as you know, she can't use the phone, and her friends say "call me" unthinkingly. She had several good friends here at one time, but things change, people get into their own shit--wait, everyone's always into their own shit except for exceptional humans--and so it goes, Billy Pilgrim. Kathleen reads close to a book a day. And she is helping me edit my long essay on Four Quartets.

As for humor, our son, who sleeps in our van, was especially frisky this morning. I correctly surmised he'd been physically serviced the night before after a long draught. Although he attends church with us for reasons unknown, he is not a Christian, therefore fornication is no sin for him. But given my experience with church youth, avoiding fornication has long been deserted as a standard anyway.

Hell, I was a virgin when I got married the first time, and that was my worst marriage. But we shouldn't judge standards by results. It does, however, bug me that the only deacon at our church parades around town with his younger Mexican boyfriend, as the entire Anglican Communion, except for New Hampshire, is opposed to such shenanigans among the sacerdotal ranks. Nevertheless, when he serves me communion I don't scream "FAG!" God uses him like everyone else. It isn't any antipathy on my part, just the feeling that without standards there would be no religion, as there would be no need for forgiveness.

This philosophical tendency in myself and my writing is likely the reason I was a virgin when I got married. In high school I used to bore my dates with discussions of Goethe and Nietzsche instead of telling them how lovely their eyes were. Then I was a pizza-faced geek in any case, but as they say, sometimes even a blind pig finds an acorn.

So here we are, "suspended between pole and tropic," awaiting the slow wheels of Mexican justice to free Kathleen's beloved service dog, Kenyon. We are bored out of our minds, truly. Our apartment abuts a main bus line that turns our lungs into diesel bags. The menu at the posada is so limited we've begun to eat cup of noodles for relief. We buy cheap brandy and mix it with apple soda at night and fade into TV Land; unfortunately, only rarely do we get English captions, which tries Kathleen to no end. Just yesterday I found out our host has a DVD player. But I'm too bored to go to Blockbuster. Maybe I'll get the energy up tomorrow. Who knows?

Meanwhile, keep those cards and e-mails coming to

Anything new is great. My sister sent a hilariouis link to an e-bay sale of leather pants. Maybe I can find the link.

What do I have for e-bay? Nothing; our former maid has it all. May she burn in hell like an Aztec sacrifice that was burned before having its living heart excised. Then she's so fat, they'll probably need a machete and a wheelbarrow.

As a good Christian I don't actually mean the above, but I do have feelings. "Prick me, do I not bleed?" Damn straight. (Wish the deacon was, too.)

Your ever faithful literary doctor,

C. E. Chaffin

Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!