Happy New Year! From the Penitentiary into the Afterlife

Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was the most boring day of the year.  From the time I woke up untiil late in the afternoon, everybody in the family except my mother did nothing but wait to eat dinner. We killed time by cracking nuts and chewing on them. There was nothing on television except endless parades and sports.  Everything was closed, so we had to stay home, waiting to eat  And after all that food was scarfed, we were sleepy and our stomachs ached.

But Thanksgiving in Seattle was a high time compared to New Year’s Eve in Lima.  Since the party did not begin until midnight and usually went on for three or four hours at the least,  the day was wasted in trying to get some sleep in order to be able to stay awake for the party. And unless one was accustomed to daytime naps, actual sleep was a difficult, if not, impossible, acquisition.

I spent most of the morning putting together an album of the most popular songs I had written and recorded in 2019, selecting them  month by month according to the number of plays and downloads they received.  Then I argued about movies and politics on facebook  while drawing up a list of my ten favorites movie of the year.  This was easy, as I simply dashed off the titles of all those I could remember.  Usually I stop watching a movie after the first reel if there is nothing in it of any promise.  And much of what I do manage to stick with until the end only keeps me engaged as a distraction to the thoughts that keep me awake at nght.

So here are the ten, in no particular order, and recalled with little critical thought

  1. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  2. Destroyer
  3. Whered You Go Bernadette?
  4. Judy
  5. Blinded by the Light
  6. Midsommer
  7. Knives Out
  8. The Art of Self Defense
  9.  Red Joan
  10.  Zeroville

The afternoon offered less absorbing distraction.  The garden was filled with kids splashing in the pool.  I kept an intermittant eye on Estrella, although her grandmother hovered over and around her for most of the day.  I noodled on the guitar and posted some links to the complementary albums.  Although I received several dozen likes, nobody bothered to listen to any of the songs. 

I eat a lot of snacks during the day.  Not crummy snacks, but paltry things like fried egg sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. mangos and bananas, some yoghurt, and three cups of coffee.  My customary meal is a concoction of eggplant, onion, garlic, mushrooms and asparagus mixed into spaghetti with huancaina sauce. So I made two plates worth because Kelly was hungry too.

Twice a day I prepare a warm drink of blended quinoa for Estrella, which is served in a bottle with a straw and has been christened Papa Tittie.  I wake up before seven each morning and wake her up with it, and then give her another bottle before bedtime.  As she feeds, she selects and watches YouTube videos.   I also feed her two meals a day, which are usually centered on a piece of chicken, sometimes fish or pig or beef, poorly prepared by Bertha, our maid and cook. As a vegetarian, it makes me sick to see her eat such crap, but this kind of diet didnt do me any harm as a child, and it wont be long before she can determine for herself what kind of food she decides upon for her nourishment. She likes ice cream and yoghurt, fruits and vegetables, as well as chocolate and other candies. When she dislikes something, she spits it out.  She used to spot it out on the floor, voicing an extreme yuck, but little by little she is becoming compliant with discreetly spitting the offending foods into an alternate dish.

I made several attempts to get Estrella to take a nap, but she was too energetic and did not anticipate the all night party to come, so I frittered away much of the afternoon watching the movies Jackson County Jail and  Court Vic.  She finally went to bed  with Kelly at seven and I killed the next four hours downloading music videos from YouTube by Janis Ian and Dido as well as a 1968 New Years party from Paris that featured sets by The Who, The Troggs, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Joe Cocker.

At last the Midnight Hour was nearing, and I helped carry the piles of party accessories to the second flloor while Estrella slept until the last minute, and was cranky from that moment until she was handed a plastic baseball bat with which to batter the candy-filled pinata half an hour later, after the adults had delivered their ofen over emotional toasts to the new year and the ones they loved and the ones they missed and the ones they  loved and missed or didnt miss but used these occasions to affect a deep and tragic emotional connection to absent friends and family.

Once the party itself was underway, the gloom of inactivity lifted and the feeling of joy and togetherness filled the lively room,  Eating and dancing and laughing, the next three hours passed quickly and pleasantly as my mind wandered, anticipating the changes in the coming new year.  Kelly has been promoted to co ordinator of all the mental health centers in Northern Lima, and so we will finally be able to move out of the family house and begin a family of threem escaping the interference of overbearing grandparents and the intrusiveness of household help.  I cannot stand the presence of maids hvering around me as I try to live and work.  I can clean up after myself and cook for myself without someone following me around all day with a broom and a sauce and a saucepan.  It has been a difficult three years in a sometimes chaotic and oppresive environment, but we shall shortly be creating our own environment for ourselves.  And with this to look forward to, I welcome the New Year, as I fall asleep watching the National Theatre production of Medea.

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