In the Heart of Memory, Coincidental Reading, Photographic Moments, and The Vicious Deep

Dear Ms. Zoraida Cordova,

I realize you are probably in the last pages of the deadline you needed to complete for your latest writing project.   I appreciate the time you took to fly to Mexico to spend time with us at ASF, our students, our faculty, and so many others. I needed to share this with you – and hope you see how this was actually a catalyst because of your visit.

The reason I initially started this blog, to document whom I was when I came to Mexico and who I would be years later. I have discovered this has become a place where the important, seemingly (to me) life important A –ha’s occur that I need to have a place – that can seem more powerful than putting down into print, so I can remember how strongly I felt about that singular event as it happened.   Hence here is the place, and here is the thought –

(Bear with me, (not like the ASF Bears who we are, but my friends realize how one story is coupled with so many OTHER details along the way, amazing I have any friends at all,) yet halfway through this, I am expecting you to see absolute no connection to you at all, until you reach the end), but I promise, the details are necessary…

I woke up after collapsing Thursday – returning from school – and maybe made it by 6:00 PM – down, exhausted, not remembering anything. When I do this I have a bad habit of waking up in the middle of the night, which I did. Those who know me think I never sleep, but I HAD to write that last review, reaction, philosophical thought on the last show of FAME our school put on, which just happened to take me to 3:30 AM, posted it, and realized little time left for sleep, but in light of there being a all night lock in – Friday night, I should have planned better – yet I needed to organize my stash to take, so I did, and by the time I did THAT – 4:15 AM – so roughly, one hour of sleep starting Friday – not the best way to start preparing for a lock in – yet – have you ever had days where you’ve needed the sleep and it seems the exact opposite occurs?

I made it to school – suitcase filled with Atari games, (yep Atari) –my camera, supplies to help a fellow colleague with concessions, my clothes, and the taxi to school – arriving at 6:40 AM –perfect. I won’t go into the day – but crazy busy – but I made the decision to head home – come back early. Yet anther reminder during the day came of the books I had ordered written by Eric Smith and you, and I knew I had until Tuesday – but the clock was winding down in my mind of when I could go get it.

 I made it home, walked the dogs as you know, (I was lucky enough to meet with Eric Smith and you in El Pendula, in Roma Norte – I have to say, thank you AGAIN for taking out the time to meet me, I was trying to unwind, but as you know, I left around 5:00 and made it home, to get back into a taxi with the plans to make it to Blue Moon by 7:00 PM. I should have realized the traffic, on a Friday, to Observatorio – had other plans.

I pulled into ASF around 7:20 PM and thank GOODNESS- Blue Moon had NOT started. Just a word about Blue Moon – this once a year concert brings together a group of artists – that are simply so good – it defies explanation.   Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 8.25.03 PMThe setting is low light, intimate colors, I would rather attend this venue more than major concerts that I often would pay for – and this is why – this concert this Friday night – had amazing voices that spoke of friends that have disappeared from very special lives, sisters that lived through hard times and the voices sung by the Blue Moon artists, dedicated moments to those we have lost, and folk, rock, blues, jazz, and more that the artists put their heart into, to reach ours. It is SUCH in intimate setting, and once you see one Blue Moon, you realize, you will never miss another; it reaches your heart that deeply.

You can imagine this was a great Friday night so far, and of course this leads into the lock in. I could give you every detail, but I won’t – except this – the Atari I have not played since I was around, 10, making an old school high score list among everyone involved, Natalia, Jack, and Santiago, you are amazing at Kaboom! – being unveiled and played for the FIRST TIME this night was a pretty much cool thing for a lock in – add to that one of the best group of students I could ever be surrounded by all night,

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 7.42.09 PMlaughing all night and making an all night something to actually LOVE – even seeing the sun rise – all of this, all night, I am not sure how I managed to not fall asleep once, and yet, here I was, witnessing all night Atari Kaboom game marathons, laughing, and here came 7:00 AM Saturday. So far, 30 hours straight, and I even stayed to help another groups set up for a concession they were doing, I made it home by 10:00 AM – still kicking and awake – walked the dogs (ran the dogs) – and collapsed in bed with this one need – I NEEDED TO GET YOUR BOOKS I ORDERED BACK IN MARCH, before UPS closed at 2:30 PM, so I set my alarm for 12:45 – I was going to get your books NO MATTTER WHAT!

12:45 – I hear from what seemed a far off land, an alarm, I find my phone, grab it and contemplate trying to squeeze in going to the UPS store Monday after school, STILL BEFORE TUESDAY, and thought, it was too much of a chance after waiting for these books from D.C., to Mexico, and a month later, I needed to grab them no matter what. (Though the lack of sleep WAS an issue on hand). I dragged myself up, got the items for the UPS pickup, hiked three blocks to the Citio taxi, and just gave them the address in Narvarate for the UPS store. I realized my vision was kind of “fuzzy” and did attribute that to my lack of sleep of the 2-day period, but thought, I can do this!

I arrived at the UPS store, to me – ironic as this was the VERY UPS store I took my truck a few years ago for a friend who has murals in Mexico City, Jason Schell – what were the chances?) – I waited through several signed papers required, thinking, I am here and this is not going to happen, but it did. I had the book and I could almost sense your books inside – yet, I did not have the means to open the box right there on my way out of the UPS store, but I hugged it close.

I found a taxi immediately not trusting my exhausted state, and showed him the address on my UPS box, and he seemed to understand. Yet, after passing Parque Hundido, I realized I was moving SOUTH and moving away from Roma Norte where I needed to go. Not to panic, I stopped the taxi and there was a Metro bus, so I just needed to take that the other way. Meanwhile, the presence of your books was burning me through the box. I crossed the street, added money to my Metrobus card, got on a barely-able-to-fit-metrobus- and got off two stops later realizing if I did not, I would be crowded in and not able to get off, and my energy was waning.

I started walking North from around 7 blocks south of the World Trade Center and thought, when I see an Eco Bici or a metrobus, I will grab it again but, in the meantime, I am finding out what is IN THIS BOX!- and over the course of the next five blocks, I managed to get through the tape of the UPS box, open the inside packages of each of your books, holding the wrapping and books alternating, and juggling them to find the first book in your series, and YES!   I did! I managed to start reading your first book around 4 blocks south of the World Trade Center – and this is the thing.

I “dived” in and realized, Tristan is a really cocky guy – he thinks alof of himself, kind of annoying honestly tahat someone thought so much of himself, or so it seems thus far.  As I read on, your description of the water – the beach –

I was that person that lived in Delaware later, after four years before playing the tourist that would wait in line for four hours for the beach, and four years later look at the visitors coming into the state wishing the tourists would GO AWAY. I felt this in the way Tristan complained about the people who go to the beach in everything not beach attire. The description of the water and the beach took me back to the winters, the summers, where I HAD to drive every day to the beach to just take in the salt and beach smell, it pulled me there. Finally, you took me to a day where I distinctly remember the tide grabbing me, sliding me back to the beach twisting upside down, raking my face across the stones of the bottom coming back in, and not knowing which way was up, and by the looks of the people who looked at me as I made my way back to the beach, to the Life Guard Station, (I thought my face felt a little scratched by the look of horror by those on the beach told me otherwise) – I pulled that single day out as soon as I started reading your book, your descriptions and how you wrote transported me there.

By this time I was almost to the Sears Movie Theatre – I had walked over 25 blocks so far and could not stop – your book had me that pulled in – immediately. I took a break every once in a while and noticed the young girl looking out at me over the 15% poster – the young girl in the next store, playing hide and go seek with the fish in an aquarium, I noticed details of this walk as I had picked up on so many details you provided to me your reader.

Something pulled to me, maybe it was the discussion we had about discovering from Eric Smith how BAD the Batman vs. Superman film was, but despite all the craziness that had happened thus far – I decided to see the Captain America Civil War film, – conveniently forgetting I was operating in the 40+ hour without sleep.  (By the way this film – YES – totally worth it wow!)

I dived into your book while waiting for the previews, and I have to say, the move – this was a great film – but as I came out – I realized, my wallet had disappeared – and this is a problem. No visa if I lost my wallet, no bankcard, no money – a lot of necessary items. I ran back into the theatre, looked at the items I dumped into the garbage, no wallet. Ran back to the seat and behold, my wallet and money plain day, stuck in the small space of the seat – unbelievable. I chalked this up as one of those crazy mindless acts that occur when you are so tired, you just don’t realize it.

With this good ending but sleep deprived one, I raced back home, took the dogs out again, and this – this is what I wanted you to know –

Do you believe in coincidental reading? MANY times, more than not, I have chosen a book and some element. thought, scene, or aspect of that book is occurring in my life at the VERY time I decided to take that book, I have no idea how that occurs, but, it has happened too many times to chalk up on coincidence.

When I fired up that Atari after 25-30 plus years, I was amazed – and even more so amazed at how much of my younger life I don’t think about of as much, and Saturday, in the wee hours, we stayed playing over 5 hours straight of Ka Boom on that amazingly preserved Atari system, I realized how much I loved that feeling again of reliving something so long ago, and doing so with students that were pretty amazing.

When I read the beginning of The Vicious Deep, within seconds you transported me back to so many moments that meant so much to me. I feel it was the same when you visited us this year for Authors Among Us, you weren’t just here in person, but you were here in experience –and we felt that. I saw this connection in these pages, that reminded me how I felt when I watched out FAME musical, witness an amazing lock in with students you’d love to be locked in with, a heart rendering Blue Moon of a magnitude that earthquakes probably couldn’t measure, and around ALL THE CRAZY HOURS OF NON SLEEP – 7:28 PM here and now way over the 48 + without – I am going into hibernation in 10 minutes, but not before telling you –

All this CRAZY activity circling around your book and the discovery of being transported back to those days I found out so much about myself before – before coming to Mexico City – I will always remember starting your book and having all this, and those memories occur. THAT is a powerful writing you come across, and I am grateful to having met you and realizing this. At the end of a CRAZY three past days in much-needed sleep, I love the fact that your writing can keep pushing me through the last few days with so much against me, and your pages giving me so much to overcome and celebrate all these great things to overcome them all.

It is amazing the amount of nonsleep your body can survive (in this case MY body)  and the memories that you reflect on with distinct, clear writing that opens those memories and experiences.  You writing does that and more.  Ms. Cordova, have a much deserved relaxing trip back to the states, and thank you for bringing back photographic memory of my life in so many ways – recalled from your first pages.

Sincerely,

A now hibernating Harry Brake

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About Harry Brake

Employee of ASF in Mexico City, Librarian, Media crazy! :)
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