Christmas Reading.

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Have you ever read Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”? I have. On multiple occasions. In fact, it might be the oldest book i own, i think i bought it maybe 17, 18 years ago and i used to read it every year. It’s a great story. It encapsulates what the feeling should be. Being mean towards those that have less than you do! Well, I joke.

Actually, Dickens was influenced by the poor conditions given to children that laboured in some places that he visited. Actually, his sister-in-law wrote that:

(Dickens) intended to open its readers’ hearts towards those struggling to survive on the lower rungs of the economic ladder and to encourage practical benevolence, but also to warn of the terrible danger to society created by the toleration of widespread ignorance and actual want among the poor“.

Which is like, the best reason to write a book about a selfish old bastard that, instead of spreading the love (AKA money),  becomes self-absorbed and recluse. Of course, karma strikes. And the magic of the book begins. It is amazing. I read it year after year, always like it was my first time. I love it.

I actually don’t own the book anymore. I gave it to a special someone as a token of appreciation for what they had taught me. So i no longer own this specific book. I might buy a different edition but i was too attached to that one. Can’t think of a better book during Christmas. It became part of me during the holidays.

It was just one of my Christmas traditions. Some got lost along the way as my Christmas adulation levels dropped. But i’m on my way to old me, Christmas-wise.

The story always resonated with me. Ever since i was a small boy, Christmas has been this magical thing. You probably read how serious Christmas presents were to me (no shame, i had a decease!) and with time it became less and less important. They call it getting mature but i’m probably still childish throughout the year and become semi-responsible during Christmas. So, the opposite of a normal person. But who gives a fuck cares, right?

I care about people, generally speaking. But i guess that during this period, i get more sensitive towards their needs. I think i am supposed to. And Dickens, with his writing, year after year, created this hopefulness in me that i can only feel during this time of year. The book is not my favorite of all time, that’s reserved for another classic but it is the one that takes me back, the one that helps me overcome any sadness during this period.

Get one, read it. Enjoy it fully as i have done many years. Who knows, it may change you as well.

His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.” – C. Dickens

Santiago Roque

White Christmas.

There is one thing i miss about Christmas that i don’t get to have here: snow. It just doesn’t snow where i live. Either you get to have snow or live by the beach. That’s how it works around here. So, that white Christmas feeling that sets the mood? Yeah, we don’t have that around here. But i used to.

The first snowy Christmas i had, i was blown away. This is what i was missing all those years, a white Christmas. Now, the song made sense:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white”

Once you go white, its pure delight!

It is true. Once you get to experience a white Christmas, everything else doesn’t quite cut it for you. I’m not a big fan of snow, i’ll be honest. But come Christmas time, fuck yeah, i like me some snow. And i don’t get to have that anymore. I try to explain this to people but unless you’ve been through it, you don’t get it. It’s like make-up for your surroundings. Like, the streets get more charming and the semi-stripped trees get cozier and you get to watch everything get more and more christmas-y when it snows. Unless it snows in January, then it is just depressing. Only accepted during Christmas time, though. It’s like Christmas decorations, great during the holidays but once January comes, it’s just depressing to look at. You just have to time it well. December snow storm? Sure, why not. January whiteness? Nah, don’t think so. 

But where i live now, that’s not even a concern. It just doesn’t snow. Period. You want windy, chilly, rainy? Yeah, we got that. But not snowy. And i miss that. It isn’t something crucial to make my Christmas any better but it would make it more special.

I once fell and almost broke in half because of the snow and ice. It gets slippery as fuck. That’s something that people don’t really expect when it snows. You walk down a block and you get to see at least 2 people going down. Guaranteed! Swooosh and down they go. Oh, white Christmas anyone? Yeah? You going down, though. I think it is a fair trade. A fall here and there now and then seems a reasonable price to pay if you get to feel extra christmas-y during this period. 

So, just putting it out there for anyone interested: snow is acceptable as a Christmas gift. Don’t ask me how, that’s on you. But i sure miss me some snow during the holidays.

Santiago Roque

 

 

 

 

A Christmas tale.

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I am not a great Christmas shopper. In fact, i’m not a great shopper, generally. I like to give presents, i just hate that i have to buy them. It is too tiresome. Getting to choose something for that specific someone. I hate when i just give generic gifts. Like a perfume, a sweatshirt, a scarf, you know, that type of gift. I like to give something that people will in fact appreciate fully. So i hate to go through that. But i do like to walk around during Christmas shopping just observing people, just feeling this irregular dose of generosity in the air. It feels good! Good for them, i say!

But i’ve grown the past years. I am wise (AH!) enough to plan ahead. I take my time with gifts, although, if i’m being honest, my best gifts come to me unplanned, when in need! But still, i plan things now. People deserve my best when gifting them. I want them to know i took my time with it. And i’ve started to not mind at all. It’s all part of the season, i get my jolly-ness on and, off i go!

But there was this running gag, if you will, for years where i waited till the last day to make my Christmas shopping. It was my tradition! Everyone knew about this, some thought it funny, others irresponsible. Either way, i did it for many years. But, in case late Christmas shopping wasn’t enough, i had this tradition with friends where we used to get together on the 24th and just get our booze on. You know, like, pre-game it before Christmas Eve. That was fun!

So now, not only do i have to run around buying late Christmas gifts, i get to do it mildly drunk. Which, if you haven’t done it, is great fun! You end up spending more than you expected, sure, but you have fun. Well, i did at least. I bought some stupid gifts, i’ll tell you that but man, when time came to open them, it always gave that laugh! I am all about that if you know me the least.

One of the last Christmas we spended with our grandmother, she was already showing some early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s, which ended up being what ultimately took her. But anyway, i tell you this because you’re supposed to make life easier for them. So (mildly) drunk me, at 18:00 on Christmas Eve, enters an electronics shop and gets asked if he needs help. Well, i do. I tell them i’ve got to buy a late Christmas gift. For my grandmother. So we got to talk a while and i end up buying a gift. I was stoked! I was sure noone had thought about this.

Fast forward to opening the gifts and i’m the Santa Claus for the night. This is a tradition that fell upon me and i’m happy to go along. Keep in mind that i’ve been drinking since 14.00 with a slight stop between shopping. Let’s say that i am a happy Santa at the moment. So i am distributing gifts left and right, we’re having a great time and i’m keeping that gift i got to my grandmother for last. We make a big thing of it. So i go and say, grandma, i bought this amazing gift with the help of my friend over at the electronics shop. As soon as i say that, my parents turn to me like, WTF? Electronics? Really?! And i go like, fuck yeah, really! It’s drunk Santa, i can do shit if i want to. So my grandma has this look on her face, this “where is my gift?” look on her. I look around, everyone has a similar look. Like, “what gift did he bought from an electronics shop for a slightly demented old lady?” look. And so i give her this box. All wrapped up nicely.

She opens and it’s a phone. A cellular phone! I bought my Alzheimer’s infested grandmother a cellular phone for Christmas. Even drunk me was surprised even though i bought it. The look on her face was priceless, a mix of genuine surprise and confusion as most people with the same disease look like. She was thrilled, everyone was kind of mesmerized by the gift. The result of drunk Christmas shopping had everyone laughing, my grandmother included, though a little bit clueless about why. But she loved it. She gave me this huge kiss like “thank you for this, im not too crazy yet to have one of those”. She never did use it but as people say, is the thought that counts. I miss her.

Drunk me bought the best gifts under pressure on Christmas Eve.

Santiago Roque

The itch.

Oh, it’s Christmas time! The time to be golly wholly jolly and get them presents for the whole family. Except that one aunt. But we’ll get there in time. I love christmas, i really do. In fact, i think it should be longer. But with christmas time, comes the truth aswell. You see, i wasn’t always this great person you see (or read). No, Lord Baby Jesus, i wasn’t. I was flawed.

Let me tell something you don’t know: I am an ex-addict. That’s right. I’ve struggled with temptation. I’ve fallen victim of the dark necessity, i’ve felt the relentless grip of vice. Up until i was 8 years old! Maybe 9.

I was sitting in my room and I felt it. A sort of itch, just enough to make you uncomfortable. I heard my parents arriving from shopping and I open my rooms door and take a peek at the hall. I see them carrying bags, groceries bags and I see it. I see what’s giving me the itch, what’s making me uncomfortable. I yell to my mom:

“Hey mom? Mom? MOM ?!?”

“What, what?” she goes. “what day is it today, mom?” Looking puzzled, she says “the 16th?” “ I asked you a fucking question, Mother. Don’t guess, what day is it today?” “ the 16th of December! Jesus!” 

(In this scenario, as an 8-year-old kid, i use foul language with my mom)

“Mom, is that Christmas wrapping paper that I see in the bags?” “yes” “what the fuck mom, you know about my condition! We’re like 48 days away from Christmas and you bring that shit into the house?” My math was off by a few days. You see, I was a Christmas gift junkie. The first of my kind, I was the Alois Alzheimer, the Lou Gehrig of the Christmas Syndrome. The mere sight of wrapping paper gave me the itch, let alone the wrapped gift! I was cursed with the unholy desire of Christmas presents. 

I’d become feverish with the sight of Christmas gifts. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t do shit. It got worse with the Christmas tree surrounded with gifts. My mom would have to cover my head with cold towels and shit so that I could be at ease. But I wasn’t and used to beg her to let me just have a sneak peek:

“Mom, just a peek. I don’t need to see the whole thing, just need a quick fix, please” and she’d be like “no son, though it out, you can do it, I have faith in you and God too” “There is no god Mother, get yo’ facts together woman. I swear, if you don’t let me get a peek of that perfectly wrapped rectangular box, imma gonna lose my mind up in this shit. Don’t tempt me lady. I’ll rob your fucking jewels so that i can buy a set of LEGO’S. I’ll fucking do it” And she’d be like “It’s all okay, that’s just the need talking” ” Yeah, ma, i NEED to ! I keep saying it, i NEED to. Jeez, i thought you were only partially deaf. You got problems!”

And this would last like all the way up until the 24th when i started to relax. The itch would be gone and i would be fine. I knew the presents were a-coming. And everyone would be teasing me ’cause i couldn’t handle my shit. I HAD A PROBLEM YOU FUCKS ! And there was always this aunt of mine that would go “you know, someday you will see that the magic is in giving, not receiving.” “Hey Auntie, i don’t know what excuse my uncle is giving you if you aint getting any but keep the knowledge to your fucking self, please.” It was tough kicking the habit but by age 10 i was a new man. I could handle my shit. I was cured.

Every year, i mean, every single year ever since, there isn’t a christmas where someone doesn’t go like “Hey remember when this guy used to get all feverish and shit because mom wouldn’t let him open his presents before christmas? Ah ah.” And they all act like i had no CGS, Christmas Gift Syndrome for those unacquainted with it. I look at them and just go ” Fuck all of you”, except my sister who was way too young to remember it. But the rest, and with particular emphasis to my aunt, that kept saying that magic shit about giving instead of receiving, fuck you. Not because you weren’t right, but because you were being an asshole.

Now i feel all christmas-y and shit. Nice.

Santiago Roque

Highs and lows.

This type of post it’s usually written when the year is coming to a close but i’m in favour of dedicating December to Christmas and Christmas only. So, November will have to suffice to summarize the highs and lows of 2018 in the life of Santiago Roque.

The thing is, is not really easy to pick one or the other. 2018 was sort of, i don’t know, bland? The good parts were great, the bad ones were horrible. But since i’m all in about getting out the best of any situation, i suppose even the horrible nuances of 2018 were positive in the most skewed perspectives. I’ve always believed in balance, there is this part of me, no matter how small it is, that acknowledges this. So for every high, there should be a low. And the opposite as well. Generally speaking, that is how life has been for me. Whenever i find myself in this great high with life, a low follows. It isn’t something really disturbing or menacing, it is just life and its balance. I accept this as it is. I’ve had (and hopefully will continue to have) this amazing life. I’m really not one to complain. I’ve come to the conclusion that i am in fact “blessed” (as an atheist in training, this is confusing) to have what i have. Despite the lows that life has thrown at me, and counting the biggest loss anyone can have, i still maintain this as a truth. One loss gave me an incredible strength that i never thought was at my reach. Gave me this incredible connection with my brother and sister. Gave me the notion that having siblings is more than having company as a kid. It is having someone to understand you, someone who you can look at and not talk and yet, have a full conversation. Is having yourself divided in three equal parts because you can’t really function without the wellbeing of any of them. But mostly is having them, having your mirrored experience in 3rd person perspective.

  • LOWS

The loss of control. I fucked up and it caught up to me. This overwhelming sensation that everything around you is crashing hit me suddenly and it broke me. 2018 took a little bit of myself. I came face to face with my frailty, my faults and it took over me. Took a while to get back on my feet, to accept help and just be myself again. It is okay to be helped instead of helping sometimes. I needed this reality check. I’m no superman and got the message harshly.

The notion that sometimes you can’t do shit for the ones you care the most. The worst sensation of all is to see someone you love go through a traumatic experience and you can’t do shit to help. I lost believe because of that. This kind soul, the purest of all, going through the most excruciating, emotional and physical, pain is just a slap in the face of humanity. Twice now, i found myself wanting so bad to be me instead of them. It doesn’t work that way.

The acceptance that not everything goes according to plan. That’s right, forget everything you’ve planned, everything you thought you had controlled. You don’t. Life happens. And shit too.

  • HiGHS

The fight in others. I will never cease to be amazed by the strength that i witnessed this past year. I shouldn’t really be surprised, she takes after her mom. The struggle, pain, suffering paid off and today she is safer and healthier than she was in the beginning. She will tell you the fight is constant but she is prepared to go all the way. Any means necessary. I have two heroes now, two versions of the same spirit. I love her.

My better half. I am still dumbfounded that she loves me especially for who i am. It isn’t easy to deal with stupid all day long. But it is part of my charm and she does it gracefully. And most importantly, with a lot of patience. My father told me that as long as you keep your mouth shut in the right moments, you can be pretty stupid the rest of time. Solid advice.

(New) friendships. As i get older, the notion of everlasting friendships fades away. Life has a tendency to set people apart from each other. I’ve got a handful of friends that i’ve known for almost 30 years. Those i carry with me. There is this one specifically that holds a special place with me. We met through work but it feels like we’ve known each other forever. It is scary how much our life events look alike. She knows it but i’ll tell once more: i love her. For everything, for nothing, for just being her, for being my anything when i’m in need. But making new friends that have an impact in your life wasn’t something that i thought possible anymore. I’m grateful for it, though. All in all, i wouldn’t trade it for anything or change any aspect of it. It carried me some days, it still does. It made me happier than i ever thought. I’ll cherish it for as long as i’m allowed. In case it runs away from me, i might just chase it. That’s how much i care.

My fucking club won this year! Shit, i know people don’t really care about this, but fuck, it is an important event in my life! If you know me just a bit, you know how important it is to me. #azulebrancoéocoração💙

So, that was my 2018 up until today. Highs and lows, all mixed up. Always one to look forward for what comes next, 2019 should be fucking awesome!

Be happy. And Merry Christmas !

Santiago Roque

Ooh, i hate it!

I hate hospitals. I guess no one loves hospitals but i really, really hate hospitals. I don’t know if it is the colors or smell or people walking around in scrubs and knockoff crocs but I absolutely hate hospitals. I’m starting to hate the word itself. Hospitals, blarghh !

I found myself in one today. I became queasy as soon i stepped in. I don’t know, maybe it’s the people but something gets to me. I don’t feel like myself. Maybe the memories are to blame. Shit, just talking about it makes me uncomfortable!

Or maybe it is just me. But fuck, i really hate it.

I got lost in one once. It all began when my girlfriend had this problem and we had to rush to the hospital. We had gone away for the week so we were out of town. We get to this local hospital, she has to do a bunch of exams and after what seemed like endless hours, they tell us she has to stay the night. Well, this is not fun, i think. So they take her to a room and i tag along. As we go up, we notice everything looks empty. I ask why. They tells us the hospital is being renovated so they moved most of the people to outside units. Only emergency cases are able to make use of that wing of the hospital.

So, okay. Seems legit. We get to the room, they prepare their shit and they tell me i have a few minutes with her but then i have to leave. They tell me to take the stairs and exit on the first floor. There should be a security guy to open the access door to the emergency room and from there i’m able to get out.

I don’t know where i got it wrong but i got fucking lost. And everything was dark and empty and i’ve seen my fair share of scary movies to guess that this isn’t looking great for me. I panic a little, maybe have a run just because. I get to this door and it’s locked. I look out the window, i feel like I could do this jump. But i don’t, i decide to take another turn. So I go down a floor, turn this way, that way and get to ground floor. I look around for the door and it’s locked. I’m a relaxed dude, i don’t lose my shit easily but i’m about to. How the fuck can’t i find an unlocked door? I get nervous, very nervous. I start to think i might spend the night here. I don’t even know how to get back to the room, that’s how lost i am! I walk around the floor till i get to another door. Locked! I just knock on it, hard in case someone close by can hear it. I see the window, take a peek and think “I’m gonna break this shit”. So now i’m thinking how to break a glass window. There is nothing around. I might just cry, i’m stuck! But then the fucking security guy doing rounds opens the fucking door and i have to explain myself and i’m good to go.

So yeah, i fucking hate hospitals.

Santiago Roque

All on her.

Her name was Elisabeth. Or Elizabeth. I don’t know how to spell it right but the first girl that dumped me and it mattered was her. Some people called her Liz, others Beth, i just called her Elisabeth/Elizabeth. I don’t know how 14 year old me ended up in a “relationship” with her but it lasted for 3, maybe 4 weeks. We went to an international school so we had people from everywhere there.  She was this cool girl, very british and slightly awkward. I never met her father but her mother was very nice too. I have no idea what they did but now i guess they were sort of diplomats or something similar.

She just broke it off one day. She just said it, pretty clear: “It’s over, okay? But it was so nice to know you, really”. And that was it. Not long after that, she was already with someone else. The part that crushed me wasn’t the fact that she broke up with me, no, that part i could handle. I don’t think i ever did like her like that anyway. But being traded for another person, well that got 14 year old me crushed. I was begining to feel like i was this hella cute, charming, all-around nice fellow. And that break-up almost broke me. I really felt betrayed, like we had something real between us and yet, i don’t think i really liked her. But just the same. She, along with a perfectly timed advise, was the starting point that mold me into becoming this laid back, confident, “don’t give a fuck” type of guy. The slight arrogance came with it.

The next year i started a new school so i lost track of her. Which is regretful because i wanted the new me to have a go at her. To break her a little bit to be honest. What can i say, i was resentful back then! Luckily for her and me too, i guess, i never saw her again. Somewhere, there is a girl that, unbeknownst to her, helped mold my personality when i was just a small boy by breaking up with me. It gave me the nerve that i lacked.

More people came, i had my break-ups but none mattered as much as that one. It was the last time sweet boy version of me had any interaction. I became someone else, thankfully. I guess, part of me was always supposed to be this laid back, no stress, arrogant to a point kind of guy. She just helped accelerate the process.

I’ve had bad break ups, good break ups. There was yelling, crying, laughing… I had someone break up with me because of my music preferences, go figure!

But that girl, that first one almost got me. So, if any of my bad break ups end up reading this, you should thank Elisabeth/Elizabeth for anything mean i might have said or done. It’s all on her, i tell you!

And maybe, just a little bit on me too!

Santiago Roque