In loving memory of my dear friend Chris Al-Aswad, 1979-2010

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” – Jack Kerouac

I knew something was wrong when I realized that the Escape into Life website hadn’t been updated since last Friday. Escape into life was Chris’ life and for it to stop was as if some Fate’s clock hands had stopped as well.

I met Chris on Twitter, he was one of my first twitter followers. I don’t know how we happened to become friends. I guess true friendships are like that. He had an easy way to connect with people on the Internet. He got impressed with a post I made long time ago about Tolstoy and the three most important things in life. He always praised me for my way of writing in English, for which I warmly thank him, as I’ve never been very comfortable writing in a foreign language. I can only say that this feeling was not only mutual; I’m a huge fan of his work, of his poems and essays. I told him that sometimes I needed to read his writings twice or thrice to reveal the whole depth of them, to “get them”, to which he replied: “well, that’s good because that’s how they’re meant to be read, or anything that is crafted well”.


I also told him that he shouldn’t have pulled out of the internet his early writings (i.e. The Novel of Life, Lethe in Vegas, and Family in Decline), that he was making the job of his biographers extremely difficult. I told him, half-jokingly, that I was planning to make an anthology of his work. He only laughed. Chris had a joyful, infectious laugh. I felt I could talk with him of both the lightest and the gravest of issues.


He wanted to be famous, to be recognized for his work. I wish he could have seen how many people love him and admire him. I told him once –when he was discouraged his blog entries were getting only a few comments: “for each reader posting a comment, there are five more nodding their heads in agreement”. Let this be a lesson for us all: when you appreciate someone’s work let the artist know.

"I suggest breathing, maybe taking a break with me on the pier, we’ll sit and listen to the waves crash”

Chris was extraordinary at this. He would look avidly for talent in others and encourage them to grow artistically. He was impressed that I “draw, photograph, write, read. You do it all!” –but kept recommending me “to focus on just a few, so you can explore them more deeply and spiritually”. He made me the great honor of including a link to my tumblr site in his Blog of Innocence, of liking and reblogging some of my tumblr posts, to include me on his list of photographers and Fans of Escape into Life. But the list I was the proudest to be included in is his Blog of innocence friends.

There are many things I could say about Chris, but only one that really matters:
He was my friend.


All photos and drawing in this post (c)2008-2010 @lau_merritt


There is no time

There is no time to think during the day, only to react.
There are deadlines to meet, obligations to fulfill,
many voices to listen to, to respond to,
the voice of the bus ticket controller, of the distraught friend.

Then the night comes and everything becomes quiet,
And a small voice becomes audible, an inner voice that speaks
of witty comebacks to the day aggravations that always come too late,
of broken, forgotten dreams,
of useless plans for the future and far too many regrets.

Until a certain numbness comes with the fatigue
And you go to sleep, unable to think anymore,
And it starts all over again the next day.

The companion apple

The green apple joins the fetish collection along Ganesha and the orange witch

Someone gave me an apple last week. A green one. I decided I should eat it at some point and left it in my office. Next day I came into my office I saw it and realized I’ve forgot totally about the apple. I came to the conclusion that I was not going to eat it at the office, because somehow the work environment is not favorable for me to eat apples. So I decided to put it in my purse and take it with me back home, where surely I’ll be more in the mood of eating it.

When I was home I saw the apple in my purse and convinced myself that it was not the moment to eat it. So I decided to leave it in my purse to take it back to the office, where surely I’d be hungry at some moment or the other, and then the apple will be there, ready for me to eat it.

Now it’s time to go back home, my work day has finished. I go to my locker, grab my purse and what do I see? My green companion apple, there she is, ready for when I’m ready to eat it. You can see that, even if she’s strong, the travels back and forth in my purse have taken their toll in her smooth surface.

I should really eat it before it goes back to the office, but now the thing has grown into me. It’s like a good-health fetish: “I’m being very health-conscious, see how I have my apple prepared for when I have a little hunger”.

It would be just easier to come to terms with the fact that I don’t like green apples. And then I could let her go, thank her for the good moments we’ve spent together the last couple of days and go on with my life.

And just for the record, I have some chocolates that have been with me since way back, they live in my desk drawer. They don’t go bad, they’ve just become hard and dry, like a bitter old lady. They’re chocolate mummies. Those are my junk-food fetishes, to remind me that I could eat them if I wanted to.

And you, do you have any food companion?

2007 resolutions

This year I’ll:

  • stop worrying so much
  • remember I have only a limited influence on events
  • focus on my own actions and choices
  • let others live their own lives
  • have fun

What about you?

Living the moment

I read in J. Lepelletier’s book on personal development* the tale of L. Tolstoi: “Three questions”. Lepelletier mentions it as an important example of living the moment.

In summary, Tolstoi reminds us that the most important time is now, the most important task is the one at hand and the most important person is the one in front of you. I can’t agree more with this.

Read the rest of this entry »

Three questions

Three questions
by Leo Tolstoi*

IT once occurred to a certain king, that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid, and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake. Read the rest of this entry »