No More Mistakes

Yesterday, I posted a rather silly comment on Facebook, ruing the fact that I was robbed of my Mexican heritage by having been born an Anglo. My “silly” comment, though, was based on my real admiration for and appreciation of all positive aspects Mexican culture. But after I posted my silly comment, I began to wonder whether there may be Swinburns in Mexico (aside from my brother) who were born and grew up there. These potential Swinburns, I reasoned, would have absorbed the Mexican culture naturally, regardless of their skin tone or ancestry. I planned to explore more about this on waking this morning. Before I thought long about looking, I stumbled upon a Swinburn who was born and grew up in Lobatse, Botswana. She is a Black woman whose name is Mmaselema Swinburn. Judging from her photos, she is somewhere between her late fifties and her mid-sixties. I have been unable to determine, yet, whether Swinburn is her maiden name; I’m still looking (the only other Swinburns on her friends list or on friends’ lists are:

  • a very young (late teens?) White girl;
  • an adult male (who may be in his forties?);
  • Patiko Swinburn (from Botswana but now in London, England), a Black woman (I think) but not sure which person in the photo is Patiko. Patiko’s list of friends on Facebook includes:
  • Charmaine Swinburn, a White woman in England.
  • Also on Patiko’s FB site was an image that shows Patiko (either the mother or one of two girls), all of whom are in the loving arms of a White man.
  • Justin Swinburn, details unknown except that he is from Sandton, Gauteng, South Africa

During my search, I’ve discovered that Mmaselma’s extensive friends list represents a rainbow of people from all over; mostly Africa, but I came across one in Indonesia.

As I considered this surname journey, I also remembered that I have a Facebook friend, Annette Swinburn, who ostensibly was born in Leipzig, Germany but grew up in Chile (or was it Argentina?). On FB, she shows her current city as Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.   Her first language is Spanish, but I believe she is fluent in English and she may be fluent in German; she worked for Red Bull at one time, I think, and may still. But her last post was from Bolivia in April 2016; that worries me.

I found plenty of other Annette Swinburns, mostly in England (England is absolutely lousy with Swinburns—they’re everywhere). One, who lives somewhere near Canterbury, posted a review (no longer visible, apparently) about Sundowners Gay Bar. Another one (or the same Annette Swinburn) was named HR Consultant of the year in 2007, where she represented Deloitte. And yet another (or the same one) received an award or recognition of some kind in connection with her discernment about a specific wine; it may have been a South African wine.

Mmaselema, I can tell from her posts, is fluent in English; it may be her native tongue. Oh, my, have I gone off the rails again? I was hoping to learn that I have Black blood-relatives from my ancestral home in Botswana, but it’s beginning to look like that’s not my ancestral home. Although I do not know for sure.  But wouldn’t it be spectacular if there were a way to demonstrate, without any room for error, that everyone on Earth is a blend of African, Asian, Anglo, etc., etc., etc.? Wouldn’t it be great to be forced to acknowledge that, ultimately, we’re all the same, regardless of skin color, country of origin, or language?

I may attempt to send a message to Mmaselema through Facebook; she might ignore it or she might be delighted by it. Who knows? It’ s worth a shot. Maybe. But I’m worried that her last post was in 2018. I hope they’ve just lost interest in Facebook.


I slept long and hard last night, though I awoke at least four times during the night. Each time, I uttered something loud and long before deciding it was too early to get up. I was asleep again in a heartbeat. Before arising in earnest, though, I had a long, meandering dream in which I was a returning student at the University of Texas in Austin. The environment looked very different; the campus had grown enormously, covering several thousand acres. The dream seemed to have begun at the tail end of a lecture of some kind, held in an enormous auditorium. Though I was in the audience, I also was to teach a class and I needed to find the dorm in which I was to be housed. I also needed to find my student mailbox; I told someone I had failed to locate my mailbox the year before. No one could tell me exactly how to get to the student mailboxes. But the professor from the lecture spoke to me about cleaning up pools of water into which trash and used equipment had been thrown; that had to be done before I searched for the mailboxes. The search involved stopping in several coffee-shop-type places, where dogs roamed freely. Each dog had a tattoo on its belly and I think I was to view and record each tattoo. Finally, at some point, I thought I was in close proximity to the UT tower and the Co-op (the latter which may or may not exist any longer). But as I looked up, I could see that the tower was far, far away. And then someone told me the student mailboxes were located about twenty blocks east of the tower. And then I awoke and tried to determine whether the night had ended. It had, almost.

There was much more to the dream, but it was mixed up in ways that I cannot explain and I think parts of it were repeated several times. Dreams confuse me; one day I think they consist of unrelated snippets of experience that have absolutely no “meaning” and the next I believe they represent unresolved issues that, though hard to comprehend, might be vital in understanding one’s emotional dilemmas. And another day I may have a completely different perspective. Bizarre is the word I think I used early this morning to describe last night’s dream.


Yesterday, I visited a medical dispensary and bought some very expensive goods that presumably will ease my troubled muscles and nerves and tendons and the mind to which they are all connected. We shall see. At least the goods will bring an unearned smile to my face and will drag laughter from my throat. I also went to a favorite Tex-Mex restaurant and had a nice meal of tacos de lengua and tacos de barbacoa. It was the restaurant’s environment and the meal it served to me that prompted yesterday’s silliness and longing for my Mexican heritage.


I could spend all day today being utterly, completely, thoroughly lazy. But I have to make a bunch of phone calls on behalf of my church, informing members of an upcoming vote and urging them to vote, preferably in favor of the proposal (to fund a completely new website, built by professionals to present the site structure a team of members collectively decided on). I rather loathe making phone calls on behalf of the church, mostly because I generally do not like talking on the phone. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, phone conversation can last hours, but seem like only minutes. Especially, though, I find telephone sales calls unappealing. And I suppose that’s how I view these church calls. They’re necessary, but only because we cannot be sure members would read or understand our message if sent by email or text, my preferred modes of communication.

Today, I’d rather have a friend over to sit and chat all day. Someone whose mere presence would be enough, but with whom conversations and mindless chatter might be perfectly comfortable. Hmm. I guess face-to-face communication is my real preference; COVID has almost made me forget that’s an option.


Feeling distant and discarded this morning. Disconnected, I guess, is more descriptive. That is not to say I feel either sad or depressed; it’s more that I feel unnecessary. How does one “feel” unnecessary? Hell if I know. It’s just the best descriptive word I can think of. Even though I’ve written about ancestry, human connectedness, and strange dreams, none of that feels relevant right now. I am just going through the motions of human irrelevancy. But. of course I do not think humans are irrelevant; we just think we’re more relevant than we really are. If a friendship or love life or sense of self comes apart in a thousand tiny, splintered, impossible-to-repair pieces, we can just ricochet off the walls of the life that confines and tortures us until we find a spot on that wall lathered with adhesives. Those little spots capture us, once again, permitting us to pretend everything is as it should be. As if “should” has any basis in reality or relevance. We’re adept at making mistakes about who and why we are. We rarely give a thought that the planet on which we live could be erased, almost in the blink of an eye, from the memory of the ever-expanding universe.

No More Mistakes

The sun shrunk into a black dwarf overnight,
its surface—once a cauldron of molten time—
cool to the touch, unimpressed by the
passing of irrelevant moments and planets.

Somewhere, the sun’s twin will take the cue,
it, too, drenching its healing heat and light
with darkness and ice so cold even electrons
and neutrons cower, deathly still, in corners.

Mother Nature, that leering beast born of
misunderstanding and mindless fury,
witnesses with cool detachment the rupture
of the fabric of a thousand galaxies.

Father Time, Mother’s doddering companion,
watches the cloth as it tears, aware
of the meaning of this monstrous mayhem:
there will be no more minutes, no more mistakes.

And in light of all that, is it a mistake to think about the possibility of a multi-cultural heritage as something meaningful? So what if we’re forced to acknowledge that we’re all the same? Why is it relevant that, regardless of skin color, country of origin, or language, we’re all part of the human race when, at any moment, the sun could shrink, leaving us to turn into instant icicles?

Once again, I fell asleep at the keyboard, the pinky of my left hand pressing on the “z” key and creating a lengthy expression of a symbol for sleep. So many zees.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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Please talk to me about what I've written. I get lonely when I'm the only one saying anything.

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