That's what my birth certificate & the calendar say, anyway.
Do I look 40? Well, the gray hairs on my goatee are becoming more widespread, but still look a bit out of place with the remnants of the acne which appeared on my puberty, and apparently became so infatuated with my face that it decided never to leave.
Do I feel 40? That's a tricky question. Physically I'm not in the greatest of fitness, but neither are scores of men & women younger than me. That's not age, that's sedentarism.
I haven't yet suffered of a heart attack *knocks on wood* but I on the other hand already suffer from a form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, so rare it's like winning the lottery but backwards, because it sucks.
How about mentally? That's a big resounding 'No.' It's probably not something to brag about, because it might just be a result of my deep immaturity --Wot, you tellin' me I can't watch Spongebob Squarepants no more? GTFO!
I remember how back in the 90's discussing the so-called Peter Pan Complex was all the rage on the radio & TV talk shows. Now perhaps it's not that interesting because EVERYBODY is suffering it. There's a reason why the biggest-grossing movies made in Hollywood are based on comics, and the video-game industry is now even bigger than Hollywood.
Mid-life crisis in the 80's was about buying a sports convertible & hair inserts. Perhaps mid-life crisis in 2013 is now resolved with a Spartan armor replica & a pair of Oculus Rift.
The thing is, it doesn't feel like I'm about to experience a mid-life crisis. Oh sure, it's inevitable to look back & make an assessment of one's accomplishments, and there's definitely a lot of things I would have liked to have achieved by now. Professionally I'm nowhere near as where I'd like to have been when I was in my early 30's. Financially… let's just change the subject.
Which brings us to the final item on the checklist: My emotional state.
If I make an honest evaluation of my general mood, I'm forced to conclude that I feel happier than how I felt 10 years ago.
Back in those days things didn't look too good for me, and for that a little anecdote is in order: Back in my mid-twenties, I had somehow managed to land a job in one of the biggest architectural firms in Mexico --maybe even the world (Srsly)-- and I felt like Leo on Titanic, the king of the world starting a promising career with the right foot. If I played my cards right, the sky was the limit!
I lasted approximately 7 months on that job.
During the whole time I felt a continuous sense of disappointment over the fact that my suggestions & ideas were not only unnoticed --they were unwelcome. "We already have 2 dreamers in this studio," they once told me, referring to the founder of the firm & his son, who would eventually take over when the time came. "Your job is to bring their dreams into fruition."
That. Pissed. Me. Off.
Furthermore, I was expected to perform the most menial of tasks with a big smile on my face, to show how grateful I was that I was given the opportunity to apply my college diploma, from one of the top schools in my country… by faxing letters & using the copy machine.
So I was eventually shown the door. It wasn't the first time, you know. Already I knew I had a problem with authority & a very strong temper which forced me not to stay quiet, when I was given an order I considered nonsensical or just plain stupid. On my first job after college I quit & walked out of a pending assignment in protest. On my second job I was fired, thus beginning a routine in which I either walked out of a job or was kicked out. A routine that still persisted after I was fired from what I considered to have been my ticket to stardom, here at the world-famous architecture firm.
My one chance in life to show what I was capable of, and I blew it. I'm sure you all can imagine what that does to your self-esteem.
Later in life I realized that depression ran deep in my family, with both my father & my oldest sister suffering from it, but back then I didn't know that. My sister offered me to take me to see a psychiatrist, who after a looong session with me prescribed some anti-depressants. But since I didn't have a medical insurance, the fact that I couldn't afford to buy the anti-depressants made me more depressed! So I decided to stop taking them (a rather lucky outcome in retrospect of what I now know of these type of medication.)
In sum, the black dog was continually biting me on the shins. I would often spend the weekends doing nothing except sleeping, for sleep was the only thing disconnecting me from my dreadful existence. I would roll on the bed & observe the gradual attenuation of light passing through my window curtains, wondering about what hour it was, thought not really caring.
As I look back, now that I'm known as the Red Pill Junkie, I feel compelled to plagiarize Morpheus & conclude I was feeling the pain from that splinter on my head which torments so many of us in the Fortean community. But the splinter wasn't driving me mad; it was driving me suicidal.
During those days a good week was one in which I would only think about doing something stupid to myself once or twice, whereas a bad day was one in which the thoughts kept buzzing around my head like blow flies --"I'm a loser" "I'm a failure" "I've wasted my life" "I let down my parents" "The world would be better off without me."
That's when, due to a chain of events I can only describe as serendipitous, I found my way to The Grail. And then for reasons I still can't explain, Greg invited me to be part of the TDG news admins --more unbelievable still is that I accepted, despite my instinctual aversion to failure.
One of the best decisions I've made.
So now that you know the story, I hope you don't deem it too melodramatic when I claim that becoming a Grailer probably saved my life. It helped me realize there was a splinter in my head and the means to extract it & toss it to the garbage can once & for all.
It saved my life because it gave it a purpose.
During the last 8 years that I've been part of this community, I've seen my circle of online comrades grow exponentially. It also opened for me opportunities I wouldn't have dreamed of 10 years ago: the chance to be a producer of content instead of a mere consumer. One of the great joys I've received lately is whenever I'm interacting on other forums & someone lets me know how much they enjoyed the column I write for Mysterious Universe; or the people who approached me last year during Paradigm Symposium and asked ME for an autograph(!). The fact that there's someone on the other side of the world who think it's worth their while to spend 10 or 15 minutes of their day, reading something I wrote is... well, beyond my writing abilities to describe.
Yes, the black dog is still there, roaming at my door step. Yes, my bank account is still laughably lean & I still need to obey nonsensical orders in order to pay the bills.
But my short tenure as the Red Pill Junkie has given me a sense of balance. A knowledge that there will always be things in our life aiming to take us down, but only if we let them. As the old Zen saying goes: Pain is inevitable, but Suffering is optional.
Meanwhile I know there's still oodles of things to explore on the web, and scores of people to discuss them with. The journey has become the destination, and for the first time in my life I can say that I'm content, but not as much as I know I'll be in the future.
So the calendar says I'm 40 years old. Meh.
What matters to me is that I'm an 8-year-old Gralien.
(Mexico city, October 4th 2013)
PS: Personal jetpacks, flying cars & cities on the Moon, all these I can very well live without. But where Science has totally failed me is this: The fact that now when I'm supposed to worry about such things, THIS is still the standard procedure for a prostate exam --Srsly XXIst century?
Where the hell is Elon Musk when you bloody need him?!!
For my latest installment at the Intrepid Blog, I pay tribute to the UFOlogical influences of my favorite music band in this --and any other-- planet: Café Tacuba.
For my latest contribution in the Intrepid blog, I decided to make a little homage to Philip Coppens, by making another homage to a little French cartoon I used to watch as a kid, which helped setting me on my path to become a red pill junkie --Giorgio Tsoukalos' hairdo ain't got nothing on the Maestro's beard ;)
I want to discuss something I've been keeping on the back of my head for a while:
In light of the recent revelations brought to our attention by Edward Snowden, does it mean we should re-evaluate our conception of Bob Lazar?
Possibly the most shocking thing we were forced to wrap our heads around, when we learned the NSA was actively snooping inside our mailbox, was the fact that they were hiring 20-something High-school dropouts for that job. Is the trend of hiring expendable individuals who are not the cream of the top extend to other sensible projects... like black-ops engineering positions inside Area 51?
The thing that made most people doubt Lazar's claims was his educational curriculum. But maybe the fact that he lied about his degrees is the reason why they decided to hire him in the 1st place.
But here's the kicker: 24 years later Lazar is alive & well, living a quiet life running his company United Nuclear --which even has the US government as client!-- whereas Snowden has turned into the most wanted man in the world. Does that mean Lazar was left alone because he unawarely performed the task he was entrusted to --i.e. spreading disinformation about reverse-engineered alien tech?
A day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison, Bradley Manning announced his decision to live the rest of his life as a woman. Henceforth he asks to now be addressed as Chelsea Manning.
Taking the issue of whether Manning's internal struggle to coming to terms with he/her sexuality, and what role this had in the decision to disclose secret documents through Wikileaks, the Fortean gamer in me detects some interesting Twilight Language here...
The name Chelsea reminds me of Chell, the female character in the videogame series Portal. In the games, Chell is trapped in a weird maze-like prison/laboratory —notice how she wears an orange jumpsuit, similar to the clothes of Guantanamo prisoners— while being at the mercy of GlaDOS, a power-crazed A.I.
It's hard not to see the sinister computer with the deceptively reassuring female voice, as a symbol of the current trending in digital surveilance —the likes of which whistleblowers like Manning have been warning us about.
When you imagine a world without boundaries,
A world free of secrets & the lies enforced by authorities,
A world where your thoughts can transcend the limits space & time,
and any other illusory border,
When you can even imagine transcending the boundaries of gender itself,
THAT is when you start thinking in portals.
Well, it finally happened. You Gringos have been rooting for the Zombie Apocallypse so hard, that it looks like it's finally here! Unfortunately for me, it seems Mexico is to become ground zero for the rising of the un-dead.
What's even worse, these zombies are not just going to take over the world --first they're gonna take over our governments.
Mexican news are reporting that in the town of San Agustín Amatengo (Oaxaca) Lenin Carballido, a man who was declared dead in 2010, has just won the elections for mayor. That the dead leave their graves to vote is nothing new around here, but to my knowledge this is the first time a ghoul is to govern over the living!
But perhaps I'm getting carried away by paranoia: Turns out Carballido faked his own death in order to avoid apprehension, after being accused of participating in the gang-rape of a woman in 2004. When the authorities learned of his supposed death due to a diabetic coma, the charges were dropped.
I think I liked him more as a zombie, don't you agree?
Then again, if he really happens to be the vector of the zombie virus, I don't think we have much to worry about; when surrounded with Mexican politicians, any zombie looking for brains is guaranteed to starve.
For my latest contribution on the Intrepid blog, I decided to perform a little gedankenexperiment --'thought experiment' in German, Einstein's preferred method of work-- with everyone's favorite crashed saucer case.
For the 4th installment of The Grimerica Show, my Canuck Compadres Darren & Graham have a very special treat: Dr. Stanley Krippner, a veritable legend in the field of parapsychology & shamanic studies, who has recently co-authored The Voice of Rolling Thunder: A Medicine Man's Wisdom for Walking the Red Road [Amazon US & UK].
Rolling Thunder, as some of you may know --& I have to confess I didn't know anything about him until I listened to Stanley on Christopher Ryan's Tangentially Speaking-- was a fascinating character; a Native American shaman who didn't shy away from sharing his wisdom with the Western world, which also included mingling with some of the most important figures of the 60's & 70's counter-culture movement, including The Grateful Dead & Bob Dylan. If there can be such a thing as a rockstar shaman, I think he got as close to it than anyone else.
Oh yeah, and during the 1st hour I joined the boys to discuss some of the latest news making the rounds on the net, including --what else?-- the NSA surveilance programs. Isn't it nice that we now have a right to be paranoid?
Today is the 4th anniversary of the fire at the ABC nursing home, which claimed the lives of 49 children. I wrote about it 3 years ago, in the post The ABC's of Impunity.
4 years later, and the parents are still claiming justice for their lost children.
4 years later, and no one resigned over this tragedy.
4 years later, and none of the higher-ups involved has ever put a foot on jail --in fact, many of them continued advancing their political career. That's Mexico for you.
Oh sure, two mid-level officials were apprehended. The system demanded the inevitable scape goat. But the maneuver was of little comfort for the fathers & mothers who saw their lives torn forever, on that infamous day.
As if 4 years were enough to heal such a scar.
Image: BURNED by Pete Marovich
As promised, the Grimerica Show podcast featuring yours truly has been uploaded, making this my 1st official podcast interview ever!
As such, a word of caution: even though my friends Darren & Graham were wonderful, and I spent many hours chatting with them last year at the Paradigm Symposium, I couldn't help feeling a bit nervous. I'm fully convinced that speaking a given language involves a more complex mental process than the mere act of reading and/or hearing it, and even though I'm pleased with how my writing skills have improved over the years, I cannot say the same about my conversational prowess --more than a few times my tongue got locked during the middle of a sentence, and I ended up repeating 'you know' more than I would want to.
(I've also never been too crazy about the tone of a voice, but what can you do?)
Having said that, I do think we 3 managed to keep the conversation interesting. And since I'm gonna become a semi-regular contributor in future shows, I hope such deficiencies will be polished with enough practice :)
The next episode will feature my Cosmic Compadre Micah Hanks a.k.a. The Mouth from the South --you just know it's gonna a be a must-hear ;)