For Mom. Who reminded me I come from a people who know how to shove.
Before you read and listen:
The Northern Alberta fires are still raging. If you want to help—CASH IS KING. It gets people all the other stuff they need (and evacuees don’t have a place to put stuff anyway). If you have friends and family who are directly affected—or know that family or friends of friends are directly affected—put cash or gift cards directly into their hands. Now.
Otherwise—give to the Red Cross. If you’re in Calgary, please consider visiting the Pop-Up Bake Sale Fundraiser for Fort McMurray organized by Sunnyside and Hillhurst kids on SATURDAY, MAY 7, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kensington Road and 11th Street N.W. (between Pages Book Store and Peacock Boutique). 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross Alberta Fires emergency fund.
For other ways to help from Calgary specifically, here is a list of “How To Help Fort McMurray” resources curated by the CBC. It includes Facebook groups that will connect you directly with evacuees looking for housing, clothing etc.
You can also donate to the Red Cross just by texting:
Our government is matching all donated funds. Text “REDCROSS” to 30333 to automatically donate $5; “REDCROSS” to 45678 to donate $10. Visit MobileGiving or the Red Cross Alberta Fires Emergency Appeal for more information.
Thank you. And now, your listening postcard…
…and its written version:
On the weekends, half the Cuban men who have a car are flat on their backs under it or bent in a J over its engine, finding ways of making it go. Half of the men who don’t have cars are doing the same thing, at the side of their brothers, uncles, or friends.
All the other men—and women and children—are crammed onto the bus.
Not a bus.
This bus I am trying to get onto myself, with three children who don’t know how to shove.
Every time we get on—and we do get on every time—it feels like a major miracle.
The first time we attempt to get off the bus, we have this conversation:
Jane: “The plan is—if you ever don’t get off the bus with us, get off at the next stop and WAIT there. I will be running in your direction as quickly as I can.”
Flora: “Shouldn’t I run to meet you?”
Jane: “No, god, no. Suppose the bus turns and you don’t? Stay at the stop. I will find you.”
The third time we ride the bus:
Ender: “I miss Daddy. And I miss Maggie.” (That’s our piddly Boston Terrier.) “But what I really miss is our car.”
The twenty-fourth (or so ) time we ride the bus:
Cinder: “You know what my favourite thing about being back home will be?”
Flora: “Flushing toilet paper down the toilet after you wipe your ass?”
Cinder: “No. That will be my second favourite thing. My first favourite thing will be not riding the bus.”
Jane: “Really? Cause I rather like it.”
They don’t believe me. Do you?
Listen. This is what you see on a bus in Havana:
He’s carrying a flat of 30 eggs, and yes,
he’s going to do it, he is going to get on that bus
–how else will he get home?
Permiso, and bodies surge, squish, make room.
“Those eggs won’t survive,” says my son
and I see us, covered in yolks, head to toe
–but they survive, they must, he bought them
and he is going to get them home, he is.
We won’t get on. I don’t see how, there are
too many people and you’re so little, no,
we’re going to get squished and die—Nino!
someone yells, the sea of people parts, and
we flow onto the bus—I count heads, yes,
all three children made it, no thank you,
I don’t need a seat—oh, for the little one,
yes thank you, can I hold your bag, gracias.
It looks like a date, and he is so in love with her
and she with him, hands dancing around
each other’s bodies, faces, tangled in her hair
–he makes sure she does not fall when
the curves and sudden stops come, and she
leans into him much more often than she needs to
but now, she’s getting off here, Ciao, no kiss
–could they have just been strangers?
But what I will remember the most, I think… is this:
Ender, bored, exhausted, sinking onto the floor of a filthy Havana bus… and poking his fingers into the holes of Flora and Cinder’s crocs.
Cinder: “Can you make him stop?”
Jane: “At least he’s not touching other people’s feet.”
Ender: “Can I?”
This is the part where I usually beg for money.
This week, instead of asking you to donate to the Postcards from Cuba project, I’m asking you to make a small donation to the Red Cross to support the people affected by the on-going wildfires in Northern Alberta. Our government is matching all donated funds. Text “REDCROSS” to 30333 to automatically donate $5; “REDCROSS” to 45678 to donate $10. Visit MobileGiving or the Red Cross Alberta Fires Emergency Appeal for more information.
If you’re in Calgary, please consider visiting the Pop-Up Bake Sale Fundraiser for Fort McMurray organized by Sunnyside and Hillhurst kids on SATURDAY, MAY 7, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kensington Road and 11th Street N.W. (between Pages Book Store and Peacock Boutique). 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross Alberta Fires emergency fund.
I was in Cuba before Obama. And I want to tell you all about it… in pictures… in words… through sound:
So, I introduce the project, and then…
…I shower you with pictures:
PfC: I haven’t found a post office yet… (image)
PfC: what are you looking at? (image)
PfC: Acuario Nacional de Cuba (image)
PfC: zombie Fiat (image)
PfC: sharp edges & powerlines (image)
Then (drum roll, please) release the first listening postcard:
PfC: blame it on Hemingway (post + photographs + podcast)
It’s not really about Hemingway, but you know, #hemingway is a good hashtag.
Next I show you:
& then I teach you some
PfC: Cuban math (post + photographs + podcast) & I also pick up / get picked up by a 25 year old Cuban boy. Seriously. Check it out, and then check out
PfC: this is also Havana (image)
& find out why I’m going to hell:
PfC: Necropolis (images + riffs)
after which you can watch how the entire country of Cuba is trying to prevent me from buying eggs:
PfC: egg hunt (post + photographs + podcast)
then try to figure out what this photo’s all about:
PfC: the view from here (image)
& then pray for me. Just pray:
PfC: we will survive (post + photographs + podcast)
Thank you. Now come with me to a beach. No, not that kind of the beach. The kind of beach that isn’t kept pristine for tourists:
PfC: but you’re not going to make us swim there, are you? (image)
& now you’ve got to meet Jack Gilbert, and understand what having children (in Cuba, anywhere) really means:
PfC: and she asks, is being childless good for a poet (post + photographs + podcast)
Now, have a look at a haunted house:
PfC: haunted house (image)
& then cringe as I explain to Flora the relationship between poverty and crime:
PfC: but is it safe? (post + photographs + podcast)
Then meditate on this photo
PfC: through bent bars (image)
& listen to me try to buy matches:
PfC: matches (post + totally unrelated photographs + podcast)
then take on a hustler:
PfC: get out of my dreams get into my car & pay me 2.5X the going rate pls (images + riff)
& then fall in love:
PfC: Lazaro’s farm (post + photographs + podcast)
and then decompress with:
Now get ready to get all political and cultural with:
PfC: flora, fauna + waiting (post+ images + podcast)
& now you’re all caught up. Until next week…
NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook
LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:
Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.