We Don't Belong Here

A Romantic Comedy
by
Maiah Ocando & Gabriel Torrelles

Chapter 4: Mercury in retrograde

By Gabriel Torrelles on Thursday April 12th, 2018



It’s been a month since the last time Maiah & Gabriel heard from Hollywood, and each of them has managed to deal with the delayed contract in their own strange way.

Buy tickets for #NoSéDimeTourCDMX here.

Art by Maiah Ocando

Thirty-four days, ten hours and six minutes. That’s how long it’s been since Lisa H. wrote for the last time. Maiah wakes up every morning to check her phone in hopes of finding a new email, but when she opens her eyes she only finds me in the dark looking at my cell phone with empty eyes. She doesn’t even have to ask me. She knows the answer is no.

But everything’s fine. Each of us has managed to deal with the delayed contract in our own way.

Maiah, for example, has found solace in an unexpected place.

English 101 and her vicious teacher continue to shoot her with bullets of anguish, but she discovered that there is a way to protect herself from this kryptonite every time she is in acting class.

Everything that usually paralyzes her when she is questioned without warning or asked to stand in the middle of the room to guess the correct preposition of a sentence, suddenly loses its effect when she plays scenes from Ibsen or Tennessee Williams, and when she finishes, her teacher and classmates get up from their seats and passionately applaud her.

Because, yes, it turns out Maiah is a great actress.

This is a surprise to her, because she has always believed that she is a good-for-nothing gal, but not to me.

To me, she will always be the tiny girl capable of doing whatever she wants, and the more unprecedented and challenging, the better.

“We are a conditional verb in gerund.”

I know, it doesn’t make any sense. The fact that she is anxious to death every time she has to speak English and at the same time she is the best actress in her class is inexplicable. However, it is not a matter of comprehension, but of belief.

Believing in something even if it is absurd and impossible, or allowing thirty-four days, ten hours and six minutes without receiving a crappy email consume the last bit of your sanity.

In that sense, at least, we are safe.

It’s a whole different story for me.

I haven’t found out that I have some hidden talent, I still have two months of unpaid rent and a lot of money owed to us in Venezuela, where I still can’t get an answer from the thousand emails I send every day trying to collect.

Even so, I have also developed my own method for making the decision not to jump into moving cars every day.

In my darkest hours, even when I’m overdrawn by $200 or $300 by making an obviously illegal cash back in the supermarket, or when an asshole in a Caracas office makes excuses over the phone to justify that he hasn’t completed our payment, that’s just when Mia Astral horoscopes come to the rescue.

Don’t you dare judge me.

You don’t know what it means to be unable to do anything but wait.

Every day is exactly the same. The sun rises and sets, and in the middle, with no answer, no calls or anything, I’m losing my mind without having the slightest fucking idea of the outcome.

We are a conditional verb in gerund.

Of course I would like to have more tangible things to lean on. I would like to have concrete answers to all my essential questions. I would also like to have a mathematical theorem to correctly anticipate the inaccuracy of patience as you calculate the length of a hypotenuse, or to be able to go to church, kneel before the statue of someone I have never seen, and have a ghost whisper in my ear revealing the exact day in which Hollywood will remember that we exist and finally email us.

But none of it works, either in practice or in theory, and since I have nothing real to hold on to, I have no choice but to make it up.

You have God and I have a prophet from Maracaibo.


HOROSCOPE FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 16TH TO 23RD.

Virgo (solar/ascendant): Mercury was in Pisces on the first of February but has retrograded back to Aquarius and is just entering Pisces again, where he began to retrograde. You and your mind were going over the same points over and over again, but in the end, Mercury is moving on to new degrees, you are moving on to new ground and old issues are behind you, not without having an important conversation with another one this week. The boom comes in April (….) If you have time entertaining a fantasy in your head, imagining how someone undresses you or how someone hires you giving you the chance of a lifetime, there you go. When we yearn for something with every cell in our body vibrating in invitation, impressive things happen.


Thirty-four days, ten hours and six minutes after Lisa H. last wrote, common sense indicates that evidently ABC changed their mind and everything that was promised to happen would never actually happen, but Mía Astral assures us that it is only the stars being mischievous and that we just have to be patient and wait a few more days. That’s why I cling to that ridiculous idea with all my might, because it’s my only hope.

Listen to Chapter 3 here.

“Where’s my contract?” Maiah asks.

“According to the stars, it could arrive tomorrow,” I answer.

Maiah looks at me, puzzled, but mostly embarrassed.

“Why do the stars say it could come tomorrow?” she’ s humoring me.

“Because it’s a full moon in Virgo. The answer to the big news we’ve been waiting for since January is expected tomorrow,” I tell her seriously.

Maiah burst out laughing. For her, astrology, like any other belief system that has no scientific explanation, is sheer stupidity.

The way she sees it, it’s just me saying anything crazy just to make her laugh.

But the truth is, I’ve never been more serious.

II

The problem with inertia is that it dynamites the illusion of having options. After a while doing the same thing in the same place, everything that seemed interesting and innovative ends up being as deadly boring as it really is.

Dreadfulness manifests itself in great things and this is how even theoretically perfect things, like a city or the love of your life, suddenly stop having things to offer you.

However, it is the little everyday things that really make you desperate.

Right now, for example, our biggest dilemma is where the hell we’re going to eat.

We are on the same corner where we always meet every time we leave college every day. It’s the same sharp winter Chicago experiences nine of the twelve months of the year. We’re surrounded by a dozen restaurants with all kinds of foods imaginable, but we don’t get to any of them, because wherever we look, we know we’ve eaten at least ten times there.

Maiah can’t eat at Chipotle again without feeling like she’ll wind up hurling and there isn’t a sandwich at Subway that doesn’t taste like we’ve tasted them all. The same place of Mediterranean food that we used to eat relentlessly at noon with pleasure, is now nothing but salt and fat and plastic, and even the delicious chocolate cookies that she loved eating so much in the middle of the afternoon disgust her.

We are starving and freezing to death, but we still cannot agree on where to go to eat.

And it’s not that it’s a decision that depends solely on being as pragmatic as possible. It is not that we have the chance to be demanding when it comes to choosing between the alternatives. The truth is that of all the daily grind we are forced to do, the most terrible thing is figuring out how to beat the system every day so we can get money to eat. The problem is, of course, that the money we get is only enough for one fast-food meal a day, and what little, if any, is left, is used to buy some groceries so we have at least a slice of bread and feta cheese to eat before leaving the house.

Fat-free feta cheese, though.

“We are a joke that doesn’t really tell anything, that doesn’t move forward, that doesn’t go anywhere. “

It’s the paradox of the American dietary dream. You’re hungry all the time, but you’re also permanently tired. You can stretch your pennies to buy groceries you’ll never have time to cook, or you can buy a giant pizza for half the price so you can get on your living room floor with your mouth full of sauce, cheese, and guilt, and watch the season finale of The Bachelor.

So we’re today, like yesterday, discussing where we’re going to eat. And today, just like yesterday and the day before yesterday and every day of the last few weeks, we will end up fighting.

“Chipotle?””.

“No, I don’t want it”.

“Pizza?”

” Too heavy.”

“Tacos?”

“We’ve eaten an awful lot.”

“Subway?”

” I don’t feel like it.”

” Burger?”

” I felt sick yesterday.”

“Goddamn it! So what do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know, you tell me.”

“Chipotle.”

“No, I don’t want to.”

And so, over and over again.

We are a joke that doesn’t really tell anything, that doesn’t move forward, that doesn’t go anywhere.

“Did you eat?

“No.”

“Do we eat?”

“Okay.”

“What do we eat?”

“I don’t know.”

“Have we been paid already?”

“Not yet.”

“They wrote again about the rent.”

“I have to get some money.”

“Still nothing about the contract?”

“It comes this week, Mia Astral said so.”

However, not only is it our ability to choose a place to eat that is collapsing. Inertia is spreading like cancer in all other aspects of our lives, reaching out even to places where we thought we felt safe.

In Maiah’s case, her English teacher has found new and more infamous methods of public humiliation and embarrassment.

To the irritating grammatical puzzle that will forever confuse everyone who was born speaking Spanish and who will never understand the unpredictable rules of using prepositions, is now added the useless gringo effort of forcing people to write essays using prefabricated formats as weak as the houses that are always swept away by hurricanes.

Maiah doesn’t understand the point of writing up perfectly constructed arguments if what you’re advocating doesn’t even make sense.

From her desk at the end of the classroom, she finds it baffling to see how flimsy the ideas that come out of the mouths of the average American students are. She watches them stand up and read their compositions with pride, and she watches her teacher point out merely a couple of formal details, but he never points out that what they are saying is a rhetorical nonsense in which nothing of what they propose can be confirmed.

While one of these kids reads his useless dissertations on cloud cuckooland, Maiah rereads her own essay and finds that she may not know if she has to write in, on or at, but that what she is saying – a reflection on the role of the immigrant woman in a system where everything is taken – is at least important to someone.

She listens to them and cannot picture herself there for another four years, learning to bullshit with arguments; not that we are not taught the same in our own countries -where anyone capable of constructing a phrase with over two words becomes a leader and a messiah – but where at least no one has the power to potentially start a nuclear war to send us all to hell.

Listen to Chapter 2 here.

She is there and the repetition and apathy of being trapped in what seems to be an endless day gives her a glimpse of the invisible fiber of the future leaders of the world, saying stupid things that sound dangerously convincing, and wonders what would happen if this country, the most powerful in the world, were to elect one of these morons as president.

And just as it’s her turn to read, class is over. The teacher stares at her, frustrated at not being able to force her to participate.

Maiah rises triumphant.

Not today, Satan.

Not today.

III

Sitting in an empty room on the other side of the university, I feel like I’ve gone completely mad.

I’m convinced that the reason we haven’t heard from Los Angeles is because there is a conspiracy hell-bent on watching me fail.

Everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by enemies.

The problem is, mine aren’t like yours.

Mine are famous.

It’s absolutely everyone who has what I don’t have.

Last night when I was at Walmart buying a $1 box of gum to make cash back and get $60, I saw several of them on the covers of all the magazines that are on display for you to see while you’re in line to pay.

If it were up to me, I’d stab them all to death.

It’s not because they did anything to me. It’s because I know that as long as they’re there I’ll never be able to be there.

After plunging my credit down to the ground once again, I walked home thinking that there will always be someone bigger.

And I’m tired of it.

Tired of this endless sword fight with a geographical circumstance.

“If the existence of God were proven by tossing a coin, if you win, you win it all, and if you lose, you lose nothing.”

If after I was born in Block 1 of El Silencio I got here, when the hell am I going to stop fighting?

Maiah insists that I exaggerate, but I know I don’t.

People who have everything don’t want you to have anything.

If I’m not careful, these people from India who took the elevator with me last night would throw me out the window in a heartbeat.

The people they talk about at TMZ when I come back to our apartment with all three $20 bills rolled up, they don’t want anyone else to be famous.

In the end, it’s like the movie I used to watch on Sundays on TV where there was a secret ancestral war between immortal beings.

There can only be one.

Everyone who might want the same thing I did was left behind.

They have to watch news about Maiah everywhere as I watched other people’s news and repeated to myself that whatever it took, one day it would be me they would have to talk about.

They can’t imagine there’s a contract with ABC waiting.

But like I told you, I’m tired.

Listen to Chapter 1 here.

No matter how many people I get out of the way. They’re like cockroaches. There’s always more and more of them showing up.

This morning when I walked to college, Maiah told me about the monologue she was supposed to perform today and I was silent all the way.

If I’m honest, there’s not a single clue that we can achieve more.

Ambition and lies have short legs.

And then there is an unexpected void that can only be filled with hatred.

I just sat in the classroom reluctantly.

Today’s class is about John Carpenter’s “They Live”.

The main character of the film finds that the ruling class are monsters who hide their appearance to manipulate people into spending money, reproducing and accepting the status quo through subliminal messages sent to us using the mass media.

It’s funny.

Suddenly I feel like the movie is about me.

I can imagine leading the resistance and stripping the demiurges that everyone but me has spent their lives idolizing.

If only they’d let me be there.

I would lead them to a world of prosperity where you can be anything you want in life.

There would be no Kardashians, no religions, no football.

Nothing but Maiah, Maiah, and Maiah all day long.

As I am lost in that thought, I don’t even notice that the class is over.

Classroom 306 is empty and I am all by myself wondering if perhaps all this, this university, this city, this life, is nothing more than a trap they have laid for us to keep trying, even though we will never really get there.


HOROSCOPE FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 24TH TO 30TH.

Virgo (solar/ascendant): The event of the week is the New Moon in Aries, the first New Moon of the zodiacal year and whose energy is of beginnings and kickoffs. But what you’re about to “kickoff” is not new. In fact, it’s been coming in since the beginning of the year. You may be discouraged or feel that nothing moves, that (aha!) once again you need excitement, movement… Something!


Having faith in this is like being one of those nutty folks who believe in God.

I remembered the argument of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal who claims that the existence of God is nothing more than a matter of chance, a gamble.

We can never really know if there is a God, but it is rational to bet that there is.

The reason is that even if the probability of God’s existence was extremely slim, it would be compensated for by the great reward to be obtained, which would be “eternal life”.

If the existence of God were proven by tossing a coin, if you win, you win it all, and if you lose, you lose nothing.

I also remembered another philosophical approach called the principle of parsimony, better known as Ockham’s razor.

It argues that the simplest explanation is probably the right one.

The reason we haven’t heard from Hollywood yet is that all my invisible enemies are behind a conspiracy.

Or maybe it’s just that I’ve lost my mind.

IV

“I thought I was happy, but I never was. No, only merry. And you have been so kind to me. But our house has been nothing but a play-room. Here I have been your doll wife, just as at home I used to be papa’s doll child. And the children in their turn have been my dolls. I thought it was fun when you played with me, just as the children did when I played with them. That has been our marriage. These is some truth in what you said, exaggerated and overstrained though it be, when you said I was unfit to educate the children, that it’s a problem beyond me, and there’s another to be solved first. I must try to educate myself. You are not the man to help me in that. I must set about it alone. And that is why I am now leaving you. I must stand quite alone to know myself and my surroundings; I cannot stay with you. Tomorrow I shall go home. I mean, to what was my home. It will be easier for me to find some opening there.”

She finishes and her hands and lips tremble.

She gazes at a fixed point at the end of the room and waits silently.

After a few seconds the teacher begins to clap her hands and the other nine people in the room join her.

Maiah sits down after what was her performance of Nora in “A Doll’s House”.

“Are you sure you’re from Venezuela?” Naïla asks mockingly.

A post shared by Maiah Ocando (@maiahocando) on

“Dork,” Maiah replies, surprised that her strong accent from Paraguaná disappeared completely while standing in front of her classmates, playing a tired woman hurt by a man who never knew if he really loved her, or the idea of her.

“It is normal for actors to become so deeply transformed in their characters that accents and mannerisms they don’t have in their daily lives suddenly appear, and they are difficult to control,” explains Professor Kathryn, writing down what we will later discover is an A+.

However, Maiah is not completely satisfied. The night before, when she rehearsed it in front of me, she had been able to cry.

Today, however, she just teared up for a second.

Let’s understand the seriousness of this matter.

Since she started acting classes all her scenes have been a success. The same reaction of astonishment always, with Naïla, the girl from the small republic of Gabon, who is the only friend she has made in college and who always makes exactly the same little joke about the way in which Maiah manages to magically get rid of her unmistakable accent, clapping her hands.

And most importantly, every time she has to, she cries.

But this time she was unable to, and that means that the metastasis that has gradually ruined our whole life during this endless wait could be reaching the only place where we must avoid it at all costs.

Set off the alarms, because this is a tragedy.

Let me sum up in three words the only thing you need to know to understand the context.

Maiah doesn’t cry.

It doesn’t matter that Bambi desperately cries out to his dead mother while it snows. It doesn’t matter that Simba tries to wake Mufasa after he falls off the cliff. It doesn’t matter if Will Smith gets the job he’s going to break out of poverty with.

If you turn on the light, you can see me crying.

Not Maiah.

Nothing.

She is dead inside.

So, having found in acting the trigger to release the feelings that she keeps crammed into her immutable five feet is not only extremely important, but the best and perhaps the only valuable thing that college has given her.

Acting makes her happy, and ironically, it makes her cry.

It’s a fucking miracle.

Maiah takes refuge from her fear of English in old theatre books and I take refuge in her.

It doesn’t matter that we don’t have a dime.

I can spend my whole life watching her talk about how much she enjoys acting.

It’s fascinating.

If I manufactured a lie to make her happy, it would have to be this big, because it’s the only thing in nine years that’s made her believe in herself blindly.

“We are studying Stanislavski,” she tells me as we reluctantly eat the 700 pounds of rice that you are served at Chipotle and which is so abundant that we can both eat from the same plate. “I have to choose a method and I don’t know if I like his so much.”

“Pick mine,” I joke. “I’m a method actor.”

“You are just a fool,” she snickers.

She loves acting so much she forgets it’s in English.

That’s the trick, that she forgets about it.

I will stand in all my classes and say anything crazy and I am sure that half of them think I am talking like a caveman on purpose and the other half think that whatever I am saying is too profound for them to understand.

I don’t care, I’m an asshole in any language.

Maiah, however, is perfect when she acts.

Or at least she was until today, when she was unable to cry.

 

“If only we knew that in a few years even the most idiotic person has learned that by paying a pile of thousands of dollars anyone can have millions of views.” 

Time’s up and Maiah leaves the classroom to go to her last class of the day. Maiah walks down the hallway on the 6th floor with her head down. She’s convinced she’s lost all her powers.

On the other side of college, I feel this disturbance in the force and this awakens me from my lethargy in the solitude of classroom 306.

I run upstairs again ready to fight all the dragons that come out of herself to eat her alive. I step out between the damn people who are always in the way and when I get to the sixth floor, I turn around and there she is.

Maiah is surrounded.

“Oh my God! I know her! She’s famous!” says one of the girls next to her.

When I set out to save her, I come to a realization.

One of her classmates got on YouTube this morning, like every morning, and before whatever video she was looking for, she had found her selling a car in a pre-roll from the commercial we shot a few weeks ago in San Diego, just before we met with ABC.

In the classroom the news spreads like wildfire.

“Look, look, it’s the retard who can’t speak English.”

(This is how Maiah remembers it).

“Look, look, Maiah is a superhero… in the morning she comes to class with us and at night… She’s famous!”

(This is how I say it happened, and I’m the one telling the fucking story).

All of her classmates search for the video and grab people who walk by the classroom and show them the video.

Our college is full of strange Americans, because these Americans, like most Americans who have been slowly filling this country, have Hispanic parents.

Oh, marketing!

If only we knew that in a few years even the most idiotic person has learned that by paying a pile of thousands of dollars anyone can have millions of views.

It would spare us a great deal of trouble.

In the future, we’ll miss moments as naive as this one, when it’s still possible to be surprised that someone who goes to class with you suddenly appears on the screen of your phone.

“She’s famous!!!! I watched all the other videos from her channel and she’s amazing!!!! You all have to watch it too!”

“We need a selfie”

“I’m taking a class with a famous girl!”

I don’t go any further. I stare from afar at Maiah who is uncomfortable, because she doesn’t know what to do when she is treated in the United States, even during that tiny moment, as if she were famous.

We are several feet apart and a lot of people are gathering like zombies around her to take pictures with her.

And I have a vision that this could happen forever.

It’s stupid, but I’m proud and also afraid.

People in this country are very odd. They make everything a personal achievement, even by association. I guess there’s no difference between them and me, who celebrate Maiah’s accomplishments as my own when I’m really just a good-for-nothing.

It must be an unusual thing to be really famous.

To live this ridiculously shallow life for a lifetime.

To stop being a person and become an ornamental item.

And above all, to have enough money to pay the rent.

V

On April 22, 2014, Maiah and I are two weeks away from the end of the semester. We’re on midterms, so now we just go to class to take exams or hand out papers.

We’re lying on the couch with the TV on. The programming at this time goes from one show to the next like a heavy wave that drags us into unbearable normality.

Commercials outlast shows.

We’ve got the remote between us, but neither of us can get it. It’s annoying for us. The imperceptible variations in the litany of the screen is the only thing that causes us any emotion.

At this time of the day there are commercials for loans, lawyers, insurance and medicine. They all look the same. It’s an endless parade of side effects on absurd images of old women sitting on a bench laughing alone while the narrator insistently repeats that you’re likely to feel suicidal when you take that medicine.

Maiah and I want to laugh, but we can’t anymore.

In Venezuela the check for what we are owed bounced because of a default signature.

That’s the third time it’s happened.

I started insulting the motherfucker who screwed up but the call was disconnected while I was yelling at him.

So we just watched TV while holding our phones.

We don’t really see our phones. We are just holding them, grasping it tightly, waiting for something.

Then both of our phones vibrate at the same time.

The old woman on the screen smiles as she watches her grandchildren play, while the narrator says she may feel swelling of her face, feet, ankles or lower legs, as well as difficulty breathing or swallowing, fever, sore throat, chills and other signs of infection.

We look each other in the eyes before looking down to our phones.

It’s almost noon in Chicago but it’s only 9:00 AM in Los Angeles.

“But we’ve never seen so many zeros together in all our lives.”

From: D.
Subject: Fwd: Maiah

This just in!… I haven’t had a chance to review this yet but wanted to forward it to you guys anyway. We have been back and forth with them for weeks so this may be the best that they can do – but let’s see.

B. and I are currently in Washington DC on vacation with our kids but we will look at this later when we return to our hotel.

The contract is a six-page document that describes in detail what their managers had explained to us as a “talent development deal”.

Basically, Maiah would be getting ready for the next year and a half to be the host or co-host of a talk show that would air Monday through Friday.

Every six months Maiah would receive a cash payment as an exclusive ABC talent. The first amount would be received at the time of entering into the contract. Her managers are outraged at the amount of money they offer compared to what they are demanding.

But we’ve never seen so many zeros together in all our lives.

At the end of that year and a half of preparation, Maiah would receive another payment to participate in a pilot. If the pilot was picked up, she’ d be hired by ABC for six years. Each year they would give her a raise on the money she would be earning each week.

Her managers are convinced that if they negotiate a little, they could get at least 30% more.

With that amount alone and no further negotiations, neither her mom nor mine would ever have any hardships.

We are told that they are going to try to improve the offer and they will come back with the final contract in a couple of days.

On April 25th we are in the elevator ready to go for lunch when both of our phones vibrate again at the same time.

From: D.
Subject: Fwd: Maiah

Here you go my friends – please sign and return to me!…. y felicidades!!!!

The FedEx where we go into is always closed, so we walk along following Google Maps to a hotel on Michigan Avenue where there seems to be one on the ground floor.

Printing the document costs about $7.

I ask the FedEx clerk for a pen because neither of us remembered to bring one.

Maiah signs at the bottom of the last page and we send the scanned contract.

Then we sit in that pointless table in the middle of the hotel where no one around us suspects that two people there just changed their lives with just one piece of paper.

“Dreams do come true, I certify it,” Maiah says. “But it doesn’t happen overnight, and certainly not while you’re sleeping.”

I don’t know who laughed first, but we are both cackling.


HOROSCOPE FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 21ST TO 27TH.

Virgo (solar/ascendant): The Sun has entered Taurus and this is extremely favorable for you because Taurus, like you, is an earth sign. The sun in Taurus shines for 30 days on the area of your chart that refers to expansion, exposure, foreign, travel and legal matters. Choose one of these areas of your life in which you need to work and get results that will benefit you materially, and start working on it, as you will have the momentum and energy to achieve something that you had been trying to materialize for a long time. Of course, every year the sun reaches the Taurus sign at a certain point and these areas are lit up for you. But this year is not like others. The Sun comes to Taurus and we are in the middle of the Cardinal Cross that is pushing us through different areas of our lives to bring out and polish the best version of ourselves. For that reason, while many times before the entry of the Sun in Taurus made you flirt with the idea of going abroad, taking a trip, or opening a franchise in another city, this time you are really ready for the test and have enough energy and certainty to achieve it. Add to this the fact that your regent planet, which is Mercury, is also entering Taurus this week, and with the help of the Sun everything will become clear enough for you to know what steps you need to take, with whom, who can advise you and when is the best time to get started. They say that reality overcomes fiction, and now that you’re working on what you’ve always dreamed of, you’re going to realize that everything can be easier than you thought. And maybe not easy as just a piece of cake. Please, you’re a Virgo, you know that you have to work for everything. But things are much more aligned and will begin to happen much faster than you thought.


VI

Yesterday I started going again to the gym early. Maiah goes in the afternoons. I was finally able to pay the two months’ rent and all the overdue bills I owed. We paid the rent for Maiah’s family’s house and I sent my mom the money I always send her so she can pay her bills. The day after the contract was signed, the payment for the car commercial also came in and apparently the morons of the company that owed us money in Venezuela learned to actually sign.

I can’t think of a better gift in the fucking universe to celebrate our ninth anniversary.

While I’m on the climber, Maiah texts me:

“Now we have the contract, why should I whine and long?”

We set a date last night. June 30th we’re leaving Chicago.

We have two months to move our lives to California and get rid of everything else.

In my case, that includes about twenty extra pounds.

Maiah’s in Hollywood mode.

The last time we were there we were surprised to see that everyone was so very thin that it seemed like no one eats.

No more fast food, no more pizza, no more giant burgers.

“I’m making steamed vegetables: broccoli, carrots and beets. What time are you coming?” she asks me.

“Let me finish my cardio and then I’ll rush to see my ABC star.”

Maiah roars with laughter.

We only have a few days left before the end of the semester.

I’m top of my class in every course. I’m still confused about the subject’s concordance with the verb, but that doesn’t matter when you’re a genius.

I even receive an invitation to join a sort of secret society of outstanding university students to which presidents, famous businessmen and renowned academics have all belonged.

I read the brochure and it says that being there and still doing what I’m doing could take me to any Ivy League school.

I mean, I could fucking go to Harvard.

Of course you have to pay to officially join.

No. I’m going to Hollywood to succeed. Don’t waste my time.

It’s still funny.

I wonder what would happen if, instead of going to Los Angeles, I were to continue studying and finally finish at least one of the thousand programs that I have started and never finished.

I guess I’d become a respectable person and my mom would be proud of me. I could at least try. It might give me a chance to pretend to be someone decent. I could, I would, maybe, perhaps.

I’ve said it before. We are a conditional verb in gerund.

Maiah is also number one in her acting class.

They congratulate her in front of the whole classroom as she is the only one with a perfect score.

Now, English class is something else.

In the nefarious 6th floor room, Maiah waits with the rest of her class to be called to the desk the teacher has placed outside to tell the students if they have passed the class or not.

They are called and they all come in celebrating. Maiah’s worried. The last few months she’s done the impossible and managed to get B and B+ on several papers, but the truth is she knows that her first assessments are going to fuck everything up.

When they call Maiah she doesn’t know how to sit down so as not to show how uncomfortable she is in that situation.

Her arch-enemy looks at her and looks back at the sheet of paper in his hands. He grabs a calculator and does some math. He’s silent for a few seconds. He takes off his glasses, looks up and says:

“You’re missing 0.5 points to pass.”

It really doesn’t matter if she doesn’t pass. The contract has been signed. ABC is her sponsor anyway to change her student visa to a work visa. What’s bothering her is that she won’t be able to redeem herself and, at the end of the day, kryptonite won.

Her professor sighs:

“I can appeal for you if you write your two best essays again with the corrections I have previously made to them.”

Maiah doesn’t understand anything. She doesn’t know if this guy is making fun of her, but she’s got to believe.

She runs downstairs to buy several lined sheets of paper and starts transcribing by hand the same stupid things she wrote before, but with revisions.

She finishes just before the teacher has to leave.

“It wouldn’t be fair to fail you. You have problems in basic English, because this is not your first language. Your sentences, the ideas you try to compose are complex and intelligent. I wouldn’t be able to do what you do if I tried to write in Spanish,” he tells her.

“Then… did I pass?” Maiah asks.

“Yes, you passed,” he says again.

Maiah gets up fast enough not to give him time to change his mind. And without being able to help it from the excitement, she raises both arms in celebration, holding the urge to squeal.

“Goodbye forever, college,” she thinks.

The teacher looks at her with his usual serious face, and in the end he laughs.

That night after spending the afternoon editing the episodes of the series that we were already paid for, we went for a walk.

It’s cold but different.

The buildings, the lights of the cars and the bridges are the same, but little by little it begins to stop feeling like home.

It starts raining and we take the bus. Both of our phones vibrate again at the same time.

From: D
Subject: Spoke to ABC earlier…

And they are really excited to start working with Maiah. In fact, they are planning to shoot a new test pilot with Tyra Banks (very private info, – so please do not share) and want to try and find a place to work Maiah into it .. YEAH!

They don’t have exact dates locked, but it would either be 5/27 or sometime between 6/4-6. Do you guys have any conflicts around either of these times? They told me that they would only be shooting for a day and that they’d obviously fly her out and take care of everything… sooooo exciting my friends!

They also asked me when you guys were planning on making the move out here because they have already identified a couple different dialect coaches that they think might work well with Maiah and would love to get started.

lmk…. gracias!

If this was a scene, Maiah would be crying.

But she can’ t.

Maiah doesn’t cry.

She just sits by the window and watches the rain fall, and that’s enough for me at least.


HOROSCOPE FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 12TH TO 18TH.

Virgo (solar/ascendant): This would not have been possible without the tensions from February to April, therefore, be grateful for the annoyances which have once again made you earn the certainty and realize that you are starting a new chapter in your life in which your plans will have a tendency to flow seamlessly, so long as you have learned the cardinal lesson of being a leader in your life and not a follower waiting for “things to happen on their own.”


We Don’t Belong Here is a book, it’s a series, and it’s also neither of those two things. Everything I will tell in each episode really happened. Sometimes they will be stories of how we managed to fuck the world even when we believed all was lost, other times they will be things that we never wanted to share until now. I think that if many people read it and comment it and share it, we can make it become a real book, or maybe, if I cross my fingers hard enough and still dream of impossibles, a TV series. For now, we just want to be honest in times when everything on the Internet is a big fat lie. These are our failures, our ups and downs, and also some of our victories. This is our recount that we have had a lot of bad times. And that despite everything, here we are, never giving ourselves up, and in my case, writing the story of my favorite person and the love of my life.

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