Friday, June 30, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Maybe I should call the ACLU.

This afternoon, Jaisen and I went to the mall to go shopping at this Spanish store called ZARA that Jaisen totally loves, but there are only, like, 3 of in the U.S. or something.

So I'm sitting there waiting on Jaisen while he tries on every goddamn piece of clothing in the entire store, and the sales guy starts totally chatting me up.

He was super cute and spoke very good english, and wanted to know everything about me, and actually wanted to hang out with me tonight, and was all asking me where I would be going, and at what time and for how long, etc. etc. I was quite flattered, and actually sort of looking forward to the prospect of possibly hanging out with him, even though I leave in 2 days (!!). So then he asks me how old I am, and when I tell him 29, he starts laughing, and tells me he can't hang out with me because I'm too old. I ask how old he is, and he says 19. Then he tells me I should tell people I'm no older than 21, because they would believe me, and that no one will hang out with me if I tell them I'm 29. And he's serious. Then he's all, "Sorry, man, I can't do it. You're just too old." and he goes back to folding clothes. And he's still giggling.

I hope his car catches on fire on the way home, and his whole body is horribly disfigured and he has to go through life with a burned-off face.



Then on the way home we decide to stop for dinner since we were at the mall for, like, 6 days, and Jaisen tells me a story about being on the elevator with one of the Baylor assholes last week. Apparently Baylor was just looking at Jaisen and then said, "You look nice today. Is your roommate rubbing off on you?"

Jaisen said he didn't really know what the guy was implying, so he just sort of shrugged, and then Baylor asked, "Do you let him watch you get dressed?"

How fucking weird and creepy is that???

Jaisen told me he said that he refused to answer such idiotic questions. And these questions came from the one that I recently found out wants to be a therapist. That really hurts my feelings. Apparently he used to want to be a doctor, but he drinks too much and his grades are too bad. So he's settling for psychiatry.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mexico lindo y querido



One of the students from St. Edwards, as her volunteer job while she's been here, has been giving tours at the absolutely gorgeous history museum here in Monterrey. We went there on our second day here, and just sort of walked through it ourselves, but today we went had Estella give us a guided tour of the place. I was very impressed. She's in the Master's program at St. Eds, in Liberal Arts or something I think, but with an emphasis on history. She really knew her stuff, and I feel like I really learned a lot. The Aztecs and Mayans both are fascinating cultures I really want to learn more about. Even though the Mayans, when they captured people in battle, would often skin them alive and place their bodies (still alive, but skinless) on the steps to the temple for people to step on. They didn't live very long, obviously, but yeesh. What a way to go.

When we got back, I went with some people to the La Michoacana ice cream stand on the corner just off campus and bought my usual liquido, which is basically a smoothie, with fresh fruit, yogurt, and ice. It's magnificent, and only $1.50. On the way back, we ran into our professor on the street who bought us each a rose from a vendor.

Even though I've had my fill of many Americans here, and I'm totally over my class, I'll be very sad to leave. I was filled with an overwhelming nostalgia this evening walking back, drinking my liquido and carrying my rose, and hanging out with my new friends here. I'll miss just hanging out, always finding someplace new to go, and things to learn. Talking to someone new almost every day (most of which have really been incredible; I don't mean to give you the wrong idea about the people here). We also had our last St. Eds class tonight, where we had to go around and tell a little about any perceptions we've had changed, what our true feelings about Mexico are, or have been. I will miss it. I can't wait to come back, to explore more of interior Mexico, to keep learning the language, the customs, traditions, to keep meeting amazing and generous and helpful people. I started fantasizing today about meeting some nice Mexican boy with deep roots here, with whom I could return again and again. I know that sounds corny, but I was. And I'd love it.

I will miss Mexico.

A John Waters movie?


This story, about a gang of drug-addicted, transvestite thieves terrorizing trendy shops on New Orleans' Magazine Street, was too weird to pass up.

It's gotten so bad that the storeowners have created their own "watchdog" system to alert each other when any one of them sees the gang coming.

Robyn Lewis, owner of Dark Charm fashion and accessories for women, represents the first line of defense for the Magazine Street shop owners. She is the first to see them come strutting in their pumps down St. Andrew Street, the bewigged pack of thieves who have plagued the Lower Garden District since May.

Like an SOS flare, Lewis grabs her emergency phone list and starts calling.

“They’re coming,” she warns Eric Ogle a salesman at Vegas, a block down Magazine Street. Ogle, who was terrorized by the brazen crew two months earlier, alerts neighboring Winky’s where manager Kendra Bonga braces for the onslaught.

Soon every shop owner in the 2000 block of Magazine Street has been alerted.

Sarah Celino at Trashy Diva eyes the door, ready to flip the lock at the first sight of the ringleader’s pink jumpsuit and fluorescent red wig.


The shopowners have complained to the police, but obviously the NOPD has more important things to worry about at this point. However, it's not all as funny as it might seem. Aside from a lot of lost merchandise, they sometimes get violent.

The transvestites, Ogle said, appear to be drug-addicted and fearless in their lust for designer shoes, jackets and jewelry.

“The city’s not functioning the way it was and I’m sure a lot of them were getting some kind of government aid, which they probably aren’t getting any more so they’re incredibly desperate,” Ogle said.

And sometimes violent.

When Lewis co-owned Trashy Diva, they attacked one of her partners in the French Quarter location, throwing her to the ground and tossing a heavy mannequin on top of her.

“They’re kind of confused because they think they’re women so they don’t mind hitting women, but they’re dudes. If you get hit by one it’s like getting hit by a du
de. ...

(via Towleroad)

Monday, June 26, 2006

No Jungian analysis required

This afternoon, while "accidentally" falling asleep for 2 hours while I was supposed to be doing homework, I had a very strange dream. I dreamt I was at some crazy movie theater that was also a restaurant, and had screens on every wall, so that no matter how or where you sat at your table, you'd have a good view of a screen. I was there alone, and I was watching some new edition of a Friday the 13th movie. It opened with a young, female character in some kind of mental hospital, whose face was permanently stained yellow, stemming from the fact that the only thing she would eat was pages out of magazines, and somehow, the pigment from the ink had stained her skin, but it was a bright yellow. She was also missing a nose, and had very stringy hair, presumably from not getting any nutrition. But she was sweet and had a gentle demeanor, and smiled a lot, even though she didn't talk. You could tell straight away that Jason was going to be stalking the inhabitants of said hospital, and that this Bright Young Thing was going to be the thankless heroine.

Anyway, at some point I left my table to go do something, I can't remember what, and got lost in the darkness. When I got back to whatever table I thought I was sitting at, there were a bunch of really obnoxious jocks sitting there, and I started freaking out because I had also had my professor's laptop with me, and they claimed they didn't have it, even though I knew they did, but what could I do?

When I woke up I was starving, so I walked outside and got 2 hot dogs wrapped in bacon from the street vendor. And they were delicious. I do love Mexico.

I've had my professor's laptop in my room almost this entire time, since mine died; he was nice enough to let me use it. On the downside, it means I haven't been able to look at any porn for 5 weeks. But on the plus side, I haven't been able to look at any porn for 5 weeks. Which is fine. I'm privy to a Naked Man Show at least twice daily in my dorm room.

Apparently there's a big rave on Friday night in San Pedro, which is the super-duper rich part of town. Not that that means anything; I'm sure it'll still be super-sleazy, but we're all planning on having it be our last big blow-out before we all leave. Especially since every bar is closed the entire weekend for the election on Sunday. I'm not sure what closing the bars has to do with presidential elections, but that's how they do things here. I haven't been to a rave in, like, at least 9 years. Hmmm....

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Manos Limpias

I hate to say it, but I'm kind of over it all. Maybe it's just because there's only a week left, and now I'm getting anxious to get home, and if I actually had another 3 months or something, I'd feel differently, but that's not the case. After the initial honeymoon phase, I've decided that at least half the people here are total fucking retards and have no standards for anything. I sit outside and talk to people and can actually feel my brain being affected with atrophy. Mine and Jaisen's new favorite game to play in our room is to sit and talk about how dumb everybody is. At least he's fine and I still get along with him. We're getting along fabulously in fact, and dare I say, I'm going to miss him.

Anyway, Parking (the club last night) was really fun, and we ran into some other people there from school (not total fucking retards)that also just happened to randomly go there last night, so that was cool. The music was painfully loud, but good, and Pepe (the weird, but nice, Spanish guy, and yes, his name is actually Pepe) bought a bottle of tequila and kept feeding me shots. After the third one, the bass was actually starting to make my stomach quiver, and the lights being totally frantic and trippy, I got a little disoriented. It was a very strange sensation. Jaisen kept telling me to "hook it up" with somebody all night. He volunteered to "take one for the team" and sleep on a couch in the TV lounge if I brought somebody home, but there was no one brought home. Deneise also kept encouraging me to "go dance with somebody, have a good time!" Do I really seem that pathetic? Methinks not, but we all had fun. And I danced a lot.

This afternoon a bunch of us went downtown to see the Felipe Calderon. He's the conservative party's presidential candidate. I was so not in the mood to go, but we sort of had to. Our professor gave us a big lecture about how this was such an historic event, and we had to go. We got there at 6:30, and by 9, the fucker still hadn't shown up, and if I had to listen to his aides, or whatever, try to fire up the crowd and start yet another chant for one more fucking minute, I was gonna kill somebody. So I quietly slipped out and took a cab back home. It's not like I was gonna understand anything he was saying anyway. It was an interesting crowd, though. A lot more kids and families it seemed like than at the Obrador rally. Which could have also had to do with the fact that it was a Saturday and not a weekday. There were also quite a few older people, and as my professor noted, "everybody here is about 4 shades lighter than at the Obrador rally." Subtle shifts in skin tones seem to be a big deal here, and what a lot of racism is based around. I guess we all have to hate somebody, so if we're all the same race, we'll figure out something to be wrong with everybody else. So, there you go. Obrador had better t-shirts and flags too.

I am so exhausted. I had a really hard time going to sleep last night despite being totally dead on my feet. Hopefully I'll get a good night's sleep tonight. And this time next week I'll be on a bus home.

Oh, and my goose, or duck, or whatever she is, had her little goosey babies this week. They're cutest little, tiniest, fluffiest, yellowest things you ever saw. 4 of them have already died, but the others seem to be doing all right. And the other baby duckies born a few weeks ago are getting so big already! They just grow up so fast.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Stars & Bars

One of the big things we've been doing in our St. Eds "class" is our teacher has been teaching us traditional mariachi songs. In Spanish, of course. We're not so great, but he plays guitar, and we have lyric sheets and we practice singing. It's fun. So today we put our vocal cords (chords?) to good use and went and serenaded the old ladies that run the Conchi's taco stand right outside our dorm. They're very sweet ladies, and our professor calls the owner his mother. Which is cute. So today we went to sing 3 songs to them that we've been practicing, and they loved it. They sang along with us, and afterwards they gave us all strawberry ice cream.

I love this taco stand. For some reason I didn't really start eating there until last week, but now I eat lunch there almost every day. You can get a huge plate of chicken fajitas, with vegetables, guacamole and refried beans for $3.50. It's a total bargain, and you get a lot of food.

It looks like now I'm going to be coming back the night of the 2nd, and arriving back in Austin on Sunday morning, the 3rd. I'll be glad to be back by the 4th of July to have a BBQ and watch fireworks. It'll be a good welcome back. I have very mixed feelings about it. My time here has flown by, and it seems like only a week or so ago that I arrived. I'm glad it's that way, though, and not the other way around. I'll be so happy to have my own bed back, and all of my stuff, and to be able to see my friends that I've missed desperately, and I've missed my kitty cat. But I'll also be sad to leave this place. Monterrey is not horribly exciting, but it's grown on me in an endearing way, and I'm really going to miss some of the people. Luckily the people I'll miss the most go to St. Edwards, so I'll be able to see them again. And hopefully frequently. If nothing else, I've gained a couple of really great new friends out of this experience.

So, in honor of it being my last weekend, a big group of us are going out, and I'm actually going to go with them. Deneise got a scoop on some apparently really hot gay club downtown called Parking that's supposed to be cool. They have 3 different areas: one for techno music, one for pop music, and a rooftop "chill out lounge." So that might be fun. We're gonna go check it out. And luckily Jaisen's going, so if I want to bow out early, I'm sure he won't take much convincing to share a cab back with me. I'll let you know how it goes.

The only thing left here in Monterrey that I really want to do is go to the Planetarium. I'm going to do that either Saturday or Sunday night with my professor and whoever else wants to go. I love planetariums and got really excited when I found out Monterrey had one. Then I need to pick up a few souveneirs, and I'm off.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chipinque

Last night my class went to Chipinque National Park, on the north side of the Sierras, just south of the city. The park was very nice and we had dinner up there in the hotel, which was a bit overpriced, and not amazing food (as one would expect), but it got my belly full and I was happy.

The road getting up there was amazing, and the views of the mountains and city were absolutely stunning. Not to mention, it felt about 20 degrees cooler up there than in the city, so that was also quite a welcome respite. Here are some pictures, which will never do it justice, but here they are anyway.





Terry, my professor, on the trampoline.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

2 more wretched pictures of me (but I'm posting them anyway)

Top: Jacque, Sandra, Marie (one of the McAllen girls). Bottom: Me, Deneise, Charles.

At the Hamburger stand that's constantly playing Billy Joel. The guy sitting to my left is Jaisen.

Wal-Mart's unexpected benefits

I don't think I've ever been more proud of my little area of the country before now. Today the New York Times has a really great story about the impact Wal-Mart is having on the religious makeup of Northwest Arkansas, specifically on the number of Jews arriving in the area, the opening of a new synagogue in Bentonville, and Bentonville's actual embracing of that diversity rather than fighting it.

Recruited from around the country as workers for Wal-Mart or one of its suppliers, hundreds of which have opened offices near the retailer's headquarters here, a growing number of Jewish families have become increasingly vocal proponents of religious neutrality in the county. They have asked school principals to rename Christmas vacation as winter break (many have) and lobbied the mayor's office to put a menorah on the town square (it did).

Wal-Mart has transformed small towns across America, but perhaps its greatest impact has been on Bentonville, where the migration of executives from cities like New York, Boston and Atlanta has turned this sedate rural community into a teeming mini-metropolis populated by Hindus, Muslims and Jews.


And then there's this segment, with a quote from a guy who is actually my mom's boss, and one of her friends:

Christians throughout Benton County are slowly learning the complexities of Jewish life. Gary Compton, the superintendent of schools in Bentonville and a member of a Methodist church in town, has learned not to schedule PTA meetings the night before Jewish holidays, which begin at sundown, and has encouraged the high school choir to incorporate Jewish songs into a largely Christian lineup.

"We need to get better at some things," he said. "You just don't go from being noninclusive to being inclusive overnight."


It doesn't seem like a big deal to a lot of people, I'm sure, but after spending 19 years of my life in this area of the country, and feeling like I was drowning for about 15 of those years, reading articles like this is actually really exciting.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cat Pooping

Ya'll, seriously, I haven't laughed this hard in I don't know how long. Especially just sitting all by myself. Seriously. Watch it.

Or maybe it's just me. But the ending almost made me fall out of my chair.

(via You Can't Make It Up.)

AMLO

Obrador in Monterrey yesterday.

A bunch of us went down to a Lopez Obrador rally in the Macroplaza yesterday afternoon. If you recall, Obrador is the very leftist mayor of Mexico City who is currently running for president of Mexico. His main competitor is the Vicente Fox protege Felipe Calderon, who is the conservative. I'm certainly no scholar of Mexican politics, but since arriving here in Mexico, it's been interesting to try to learn as much about it as possible. The election is July 2nd, and the two candidates are pretty much neck in neck at the moment.

Monterrey is very conservative, and Obrador won't take it. In fact, for a city of almost 4 million, the turnout yesterday was pretty small. The picture above looks very crowded, but it's a little deceiving. But the supporters that were there were quite enthusiastic, and the proceedings were lively and exciting. Again, I didn't really understand most of the speech, but it was greeted with desperate enthusiasm, frequently being interrupted by the crowd chanting "OB-RA-DOR! OB-RA-DOR!", waving flags and banners, pumping their fists in the air, and shaking noisemakers. It was hot as blazes yesterday and we had to stand in the direct sun for over 3 hours. The crowd was intense (since we got up close to get good photos and I was shooting video) but polite. AFterwards, however, I had a horrible headache, I was dehydrated, and I don't think my feet have ever been so sore. But I'm very glad I went.

Since Obrador is liberal, and wants to give pensions to retired people and the disabled, raise minimum wage, and subsidize several industries, he's not so popular among Mexico's wealthy (hence his non-popularity in Monterrey, the richest city in Mexico). If you look closely at the picture, you can also see a bunch of flags with the letters PT on them, which is the Socialist party of Mexico, who is one of Obrador's biggest supporters.

In doing some research this morning, I came across this article talking specifically about the Tec (the school where I am right now), and why so many of its privileged kids are supporting Obrador for president. They basically chalk it up to a matter of economics, and figure that if the economy of Mexico is strengthened, and people stop leaving the country in such great numbers, then on a whole, that's better for everybody. That's a grossly simplified way of explaining it, but that's essentially it.

Nearly 40 percent of the student audience supported AMLO, surpassing the percentage that kept him atop national polls for a year. That's hard to reckon. Tec de Monterrey is no liberal arts school, where students concoct touchy-feely theories and consider utopian scenarios. It's a technological institute, where students think in nuts and bolts -- and computer chips -- and bet their futures on a Mexico that is practical, modern and internationally competitive.

Voting for AMLO, the candidate of an alliance of left-leaning minor parties whose campaign platform of 50 promises includes eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy, implementing universal old-age pensions, reversing privatization of the oil industry and renegotiating provisions of NAFTA, would not seem to best serve the personal interests of these students. "To me, voting for AMLO is a question of patriotism," said Aline Jara, 19, an information-systems marketing major, when she arrived at the podium. "I ask myself if I really love my country, my people, or if I only care about myself."


That seems to me a message a lot of American conservatives could also take to heart.

When we were returning from the rally yesterday, my professor, me, and another St. Eds student got on the elevator to go upstairs. My professor was carrying a giant PRD flag, the other student and I had AMLO t-shirts they were giving away for free. A Mexican student from here at the TEC also got on with us and was eyeing us suspiciously as we were going up.

"Where have you been?" he asked us.

"We went down the Obrador rally in the Macroplaza this afternoon," my professor answered enthusiastically, smiling, his round cheeks sunburned.

The student narrowed his eyes slightly and the most minute smirk appeared on his face.

"You support Obrador?" he asked.

My professor smiled again.

"Well," he said, "we just want to go see everybody. Get the education. Calderon is speaking on Saturday and we're going to go see him too."

The student nodded, unconvinced, and he continued to look at my professor susupiciously. Finally he shook his head ever so subtlely and looked away. We reached our floor.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The new Becks?

It's funny that someone actually made this. But of course I watched it. So hot. Especially with blood running down his face.

Going Down

About 5 'o clock yesterday afternoon, the power in our dorm went out, just as I had gotten onto the elevator. Right inbetween the 5th and 6th floors, as I was riding along smoothly, the whole elevator suddenly jerked violently, so hard that it actually knocked me over, and all the lights went out. Then nothing.

My first thought was thought it had fallen, but of course I realized after about 1 second that that wasn't the case. So I picked myself up and found the alarm button, which had a very light ring of light around it, and began pushing it. The sound was awful and annoying even me, so I stopped and considered what to do next.

I tried to pry the interior doors open, but they would only open about an inch and a half, but enough to let in a shaft of light from the exterior doors, and to comfort me that I wouldn't run out of oxygen if I was stuck in there for hours.

Next, of course, I tried to pry open the exterior doors, but of course they wouldn't budge, but I could hear people outside, on the 6th floor. I could discern from their talking that all the power had gone out, so I started banging on the exterior doors until I got someone's attention. It was a very nice girl from Arizona named Shannon, and she went and got a guard.

"¿Hablas espaƱol bien?" he shouts at me through the door.
"No," I reply. "Lo siento."

We all laugh. So we find a translator who says that the guard has called the elevator man to come open it up for me, but he won't be here for about 15 minutes. Fine. I can wait 15 minutes. Honestly, at this point, my greatest concern was what I was going to do if I had to go to the bathroom. I'd just eaten 7 tacos and drank a soda. Yeah, I know, gross.

In the meantime, Shannon, and gradually, more and more of her friends, come to the door to talk to me through it and keep me company while I wait. Then, from 2 floors up, my professor starts hollering down the elevator shaft at me. About 40 minutes has gone by, the elevator man has finally arrived, but they can't get onto the 6th floor from the stairwell, because the door is locked to keep the boys out, and no one has a fucking key. You've gotta be kidding me. Aside from being stupid, isn't that like, the biggest fire hazard ever? And they can't find anyone who has a key???

My professor tells me to hold tight, they're working on it. Another few minutes go by, and he yells back down at me again that the elevator man is going to be jumping on top of the elevator and it's going to rock, so don't panic. Eh?

All this time, all I can think about is the Six Feet Under episode where all the people are trapped in the elevator, and they pry the door open and start crawling out, but just as one man is crawling through the narrow little space, the electricity comes back on, the elevator starts moving again, and it chops him in half. I don't want to get chopped in half.

To make a long story short, the elevator man basically manually inches me up until I'm level with the 6th floor (well at least there will be no crawling or getting chopped in half), with some kind of contraption inside the elevator shaft that you have to have a key to use. So now I'm level with the 6th floor, but there's still the matter of no one being able to get the stairwell door open to come in and unlock the elevator doors, which is also something only the elevator man can do. Great.

Eventually, someone gets a key to the 6th floor door, and the elevator man comes and opens up the elevator, and I'm greeted by about 12 girls all standing around the elevator applauding. Suddenly I'm a hero for being stuck in an elevator for an hour.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I can move, move, move any mountain

I ended up getting to the mountain about 8 am. The cab driver there totally ripped me off, but there wasn't much I could do about it, as we had agreed upon the price before he took me. Unfortunately, however, having no idea how far or near it actually was, I had no way to tell if he was overcharging me. I suspected he was, once I got there, but paid him our agreed upon price. On the way back home I didn't get a price beforehand and just let the meter run, to test my theory, and the ride back was less than half the price of the ride there. So I was right. I'm learning a thing or two here about how things work.

But the mountain was amazing. I lucked out by having an incredibly hazy, breezy, overcast morning, which didn't do much for the views of the city, but did a lot for not having a scorching Mexican sun beating down on me the whole time.

I got about halfway up in just over an hour, actually, and stopped to rest on a huge concrete structure left over from when they tried to build a lift up the side of the mountain about 20 years ago. Apparently it was engineered very poorly, didn't work so well, and a few people even died on it somehow, so it was abandoned. That's where most people stop, and there were even a couple of vendors up there selling food. How in God's name they get their shit up there, I have no clue. There's really no way up except to climb, so I'm guessing it must be incredibly lucrative for them to go through that. So I rested for about 30 minutes, ate some fruit, drank a bunch of water, and took some pictures of some pollution. I considered going back at that point, but I really wanted to push myself. My legs were burning and felt like jelly, and now, about 2 hours after the fact, the muscles in my butt are fucking killing me, as are my thighs. And my legs still feel like rubber bands.

But I pressed on. I passed a huge, tin crucifix that had been constructed by somebody or other, and it was absolutely one of the most garish things I've ever seen. I should have snapped a picture of it, but I didn't. I kept climbing, and the terrain deceptively starts to even out a bit. I stopped by the side to pee in the trees. And then I turned a corner, and behold, I hadn't seen anything yet. There's a huge radio tower on the top of the mountain that's pretty much the pinnacle, and that's where I wanted to go, but after I turned that corner, the path suddenly inclined about another 10 or 15 degrees, and I threw in the towel. The mountain kicked my ass. I theoretically could have kept going, for a brief bit, but the thought of having to walk all the way back down is what eventually stopped me. Had there been a helicopter waiting to whisk me back to my dorm room at the top, I totally would have kept on. But there wasn't, and it's good that I saved some energy, because the steep incline, and the slippery rocks, were hell on the descent. I actually busted my ass a couple of times, and turned my ankle slightly once, but no real damage was done, aside from a bruised ego.

Anyway, I arrived back safely, took a very long, very hot shower (I swear, I've never sweat so much in my entire life; I was absolutely drenched, and it wasn't even hot or sunny), made some breakfast (my second one of the day), and tried to rest a bit. When I told my professor where I got, he said that was farther than anybody's gotten in the last 3 years. So I was satisfied with that.

I have a feeling I'm going to sleep very well tonight.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

It doesn't matter if you're black or white

I swear to God, the more people I get to know, the more I cherish my friends and am thankful for them. I don't know what I did to deserve such an extraordinary adopted family, but I must have been very, very good in my past life.

Why does everyone always have to end up being such a fucking disappointment? Why do so many people view the world through such a prism of stereotypes and ignorance? And worse, so many people are so willing to admit that they see things in such a black and white way because it "makes things a lot easier." Is this just a product of age? Does this hark back to my post about wisdom and growing older? I know that at some level, in order to solidify your own opinions about things, you have to take some things at face value and accept them as you see them, and not as they actually are, but hopefully it's something most people grow out of. And some people never do. And some people only get worse about it as they grow older.

I'm in a really bad mood tonight. And I'm exhausted and for the first time since I got here, I want to come home. I just need to go to bed.

Tomorrow I'm going to climb this mountain at 7 am by myself. We'll see how far I get.

Der Cerro de la Silla, what do you have in store for me?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Adelante

In relation to Meredith's blog entry the other day, I have another question to sort of add to it.

If, as she says, the search for relief from your suffering is ultimately what relieves it, and not, so to speak, a specific cure, can the same thing be said for wisdom? If there is no cure for your suffering and hopelessness, except to search for the cure, then is it also the ultimate in wisdom to finally admit that you know nothing? Can it be that the older you get, and supposedly the smarter you get, that ultimately you have to face up to the fact that you're a complete idiot? That you know nothing? That the black & white rules you lived by in your youth are now completely meaningless to you?

Is wisdom actually the subtraction of knowledge? Or pseudo-knowledge? The young think they know it all. They think they've got it all figured out. Maybe no one over the age of 22 should be allowed to be put into any position of importance whatsoever. Maybe the older we get, if we're truly honest with ourselves, the less we actually know. But we can only admit this because we know it to be true, which is its own sort of wisdom. So really, the accumulation of wisdom through age is really just an acknowledgement that life and people are just too complex and confounding to comprehend or decipher in any meaningful way.

We impart meaning to things because we have to. It is simply too painful to admit that maybe, just maybe, that relationship you were in that lasted for a year, or 2 years, or 8 years, and ultimately ended, in the end, meant absolutely nothing. For example. We can sit back and say, "Well, I certainly learned a lot from that," but what if what you learned isn't helpful? What if what you learned about yourself, or about the other person, or about people in general (is an "understanding" of collective behavior wisdom, or just a smoke-screen to keep from having to admit that people are just idiots and cowards?), is just terrifying and hopeless? What if what you learned is that when you fall in love you hate the person that you become? Does that mean your heart should close up shop because it's hopeless, or does it mean that you just fall for the wrong people, or does it mean you just haven't discovered exactly what it is yet that's compatible with that whiny, clingy, insecure, subserviant but demanding and terrified child inside of you?

Great. So you have to suffer through tortorous relationship after tortorous relationship just to figure that out, and the person who will supposedly fit with those pieces of you eventually (or not) comes along, and that person then renders all previous relationships totally meaningless. Yes? No?

If the giving up of hope is what leads to contentment, is the giving up on any kind of true wisdom what also leads to enlightenment? Is the giving up of any expectations what brings you happiness? What the hell is happiness? Beats the shit out of me. Does it just mean you don't want things to change? Does it mean you don't feel like throwing yourself in front of a bus every day? Does it mean that you feel ecstatic joy every minute of the day? I guess Happiness, like Love, is too abstract to have a satisfiable definition. Do you just know it when you feel it?

I feel like once I finally decided to stop trying to figure it all out is when I achieved some sort of peace. When I finally decided to throw up my hands and say, "To hell with it, I'm done, I can no longer analyze, critique, or take apart this or that or whatever," is when I finally could let it go. Which came first? The letting go or the resignation?

I just drank about six glasses of incredibly cheap vodka in my friend Greg's room with him and Princeton. We listened to Harry Nilson and a bunch of other shit. I put on a Mexican wrestling mask and took off my shirt and ran around the room growling and howling while Greg took pictures. It was pretty funny.

I need to study but instead I'm going to sleep.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

2 Totally Random Pictures

Deneise and me in the wagon last weekend. This was after most of it, but before the second flat tire and the bonfire. Nevertheless, we were fairly appalled that anyone would take a picture of us.
My goose, with her eggs. Incidentally, there are now 10 more little tiny, yellow, fuzzy ducklings that I visit in the mornings. They like to run in a circle and cheep a lot. I love them.

Holy shit! (Literally)

This is soooo worth 5 minutes of your day. And from Fox News, no less.

It's Fred Phelps' daughter being interviewed and the news anchor completely loses it. Awesome.

(via Towleroad)

Southern Esteem

Last night I had dinner with Brock, the Cute Fayetteville Boy. We've been hanging out some, and he's been opening up a lot. He's pretty shy and quiet, but he's super nice and pretty interesting. He came to Mexico, primarily, he told me last night, to try to determine his stance on globalization, and whether or not international business is something he really wants to do. So he's interning in the offices of a factory every day.

He asked me in the midst of our conversation if I'd met any of the kids here from Yale. There's a fairly sizable group of them. I said I'd met one of the girls the other night, but couldn't remember her name. When I asked him why, he said it was because he wanted to see if they were all as smart as they were supposed to be, since none of them were taking any classes, and they were all interning as well all summer.

Which reinforced an interesting thing I've noticed down here. There are kids here from all over the United States, and a couple of other countries, from both private and public schools, Ivy League and state. And the kids that go to the public or state schools seem to have nothing but contempt for the all the Ivy Leaguers. It seems to be a pretty common thread. Everyone badmouths the kids from Yale and Princeton, and I have to say, the rich, Ivy League kids also seem to live up to their reputations to some degree.

I met a kid from Princeton last week and we talked some. Totally openly gay, friendly, whatever. So he invites me to go to the pool with his friends from NYU. Which I do, and everything is fine, until we start talking about where we're from. Well, Princeton Guy is from Texas, but because he goes to fucking Princeton, he thinks he's got it all figured out, and when I told them I was from Arkansas, he totally freaked. He started talking about how shitty Arkansas is, and how everyone from there is an idiot, and on and on. And he wouldn't shut up. So I asked him if he'd ever even been there, or met anyone from there, and he said no. But he was all, "I've been all over the south: Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas is by far the worst." Even though he'd never been there. So one of his NYU friends piped in and was all, "Well, it can't be all bad, if Bill Clinton is from there." Great.

I know I have somewhat of a personal bias against people that went to private, northeast liberal arts colleges, due to personal experience (ahem!), but I've had a hard time determining whether or not it was my own insecurity, or whether I actually had a point. And being down here is making me think less and less that it's just me. But instead of making me angry, which I guess it should have done, or maybe it shouldn't have, my conversation with Princeton just really hurt my feelings. I felt attacked and judged by this person that had met me for a total of less than an hour, and admittedly a little embarassed as well. His friends were just sitting there looking at me, as if what he was saying was the most reasonable, common thing for anyone to say to someone else.

There have also been several discussions down here about North vs. South, some of which have been fairly heated. I didn't realize college kids these days thought so much about this stuff. Jaisen even started a Facebook club last year called, "Southern Esteem: Superiority over Yankee Effontery" up at Carnegie Mellon, and it has, like, a million members.

It all just seems a bit silly to me, and I wonder if maybe a lot of it has to do with the political scene, and all the red state-blue state bullshit that everyone was so big on a couple of years ago. But having said that, I feel it as well. I totally buy into the stereotypes, and the first time I met the Princeton kids, or the Yale kids, I immediately formed an opinion about them, without even talking to them. Even the NYU kids I find incredibly standoffish and sort of quietly pretentious. But that could be their guilt by association, since they're always with Princeton, or maybe it's just my imagination.

Anyway. I don't have any great profound insight into any of this, it's just something that I've noticed, and frankly, has made me feel a little better about my own insecurities. At least I'm not the only one.

After talking about the Yale kids last night, Brock said, "I got into a couple of those schools, but decided not to go. I figured I'd just do too many drugs and would probably never fit it with anyone there. I think most people only go to Ivy League schools to try to make themselves feel really smart, and they're the insecure ones, not us."

I'm not sure if I entirely agree with this, but I think maybe he has a point. Obviously, a diploma from Princeton is going to be more impressive than a diploma from Hendrix, but ultimately, does it really make that much difference? I suppose it probably does, but if you're going to Princeton, or Yale, or Harvard, or wherever, most likely you're already somewhat in the "in" crowd to begin with. Maybe I should try to spend more time with the Yalies and see what they're all about. I might learn a thing or two. Or unlearn a thing or two.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Don't they know it's the end of the world?

Last night, after the dustiest, and probably hottest, soccer game I've ever played, with the St. Eds crew, a bunch of us decided to stay in, order pizza from Domino's down the street, and watch a movie in the theater downstairs. We ended up watching Girl, Interrupted, which, I have to admit, I really liked.

I think I've always had a bias against that movie for 2 very particular reasons: a) it stars Angelina Jolie, whom I find so disgusting and hideous and....just, Angelina Jolie, that looking at her makes me want to stab my eyeballs, and b) one of the girls I lived with when I first moved to Austin was this girl, Brandi, who was totally obsessed with the book. She was just about the most melodramatic, self-absorbed, pseudo-lesbian I ever met. And of course we were great friends at first, until she started being too melodramatic for even me. And then she took off after our lease was up, owing us all a bunch of money, and nobody ever heard from her again.

But I kept an open mind and found the film completely engrossing and sort of fascinating, and even very emotional. But mostly it just made me want to read the book. It also featured two of my favorite songs ever, which are "How to fight loneliness," by Wilco, and "The end of the world," this obscure country song from the 60's sung by some woman named Skeeter something-or-other, and doing my research just now, discovered that it was actually written by a woman from Little Rock, Arkansas. Anyway, it has the most insipid, pathetic, woe-is-me lyrics ever, which of course is why I've always loved it.

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world
Cause you don't love me anymore?

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
It happened when you said goodbye.


And on and on.

Today I was supposed to go back to the school with the autistic and disabled kids, but it got cancelled, so I laid out by the pool for 2 hours, then went to the gym for the first time since I've been here. Which is also where I caught the video for the LL Cool J/J.Lo joint, which I kind of liked. But why does it sound just like "Funky Cold Medina?"

Saturday, June 10, 2006

If I have to hear that "My Humps" song one more fucking time, somebody's gonna pay!

The Macroplaza at night.

Last night a whole bunch of us went down to the Barrio club area to go out. I've only been out once, pretty much, at night, the whole time I've been here, and after last night I remember why.

We all went to this club that charged a 150 peso cover ($15), but had an open bar. As I'm not really drinking much anymore, this wasn't really a bargain for me, but I went anyway. I had one beer the whole night. I had also gone down to his room and invited Fayetteville Boy along with us, but he then took off by himself as soon as we got downtown. Oh well.

So we go to the club, which plays mostly
Reggaeton, which, I have to say, I'm not a big fan of. But the crowd is nuts for it, and everybody basically gets plastered out of their skulls. It was fun for awhile, but after about 2 and a half hours, and especially since I'm not drinking, I started getting really bored and tired.

So around 1 we finally leave and decide to go find another club, which ends up being this awful little dungeon called Libido, where you literally have to climb through this tiny aluminum door to get in. Once inside, it goes way back, but it's very narrow, completely packed, about 4,000 degrees, and everyone is smoking. And they're playing awful, awful music. Most places here seem to be fairly obsessed with American pop music. You can't really go anywhere, whether it's a restaurant, clothing store, gas station, anywhere, without hearing Avril, Madonna, the Black-Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson. And Placebo. They're fucking huge here. Except for most of the nightclubs, which play mostly reggaeton and a sprinkling of Amercian hip-hop, like 50 Cent. Which this club was playing.

So everyone heads to the bar, grabs a drink and hits the packed dance floor. I'm totally over it by now, but in serious doubt of my abilities to take a cab back to the Tec by myself, so I decide to wait it out. Being with a huge group of 19, 20-year-olds who are all fucking totally wasted, having a great time, dancing, making out with each other, not wanting to go home until dawn, etc. etc., I have to say, made me feel more alone than I think I ever have in my entire life. So I finally find a table in the back and sit there and chain smoke, basically, and don't drink. It was absolutely fucking miserable.

Finally Deneise and this guy Charlie come and rescue me, and we leave, and for about 15 minutes half-heartedly search for the gay clubs (which Deneise wants to do; all I want to do is go home and go to bed) until about 3:15, when we finally get a cab home.

This morning Deneise and I met up for breakfast at VIPS, then went with the other Girls down to the Macroplaza to do some sight-seeing and shopping at this huge, outdoor mall down there, with everything from upscale clothing stores, to little kiosks with handmade items. It's very eclectic. We also found ourselves smack in the middle of a protest rally, apparently by a group of blue-collar factory workers and such that are supporting Lopez Obrador for president. He's the current mayor of Mexico City, and a member of the PRD liberal party of Mexico. He's extraordinarily popular in Mexico City, but not so much in Monterrey. Monterrey is apparently one of the most conservative cities in Mexico, both politically and socially, and most people here aren't going for him. To give you an idea of its conservative tendencies, the mayor that took over in Monterrey in 96 or 97, apparently shut down all of the gay bars, which I discovered doing my research. A few have reopened under different names since then, but most haven't, from what I understand. So that was interesting. I'm becoming pretty fascinated with Latin American politics and really want to start learning more. That's one reason I love hanging out with my professor so much, because he's just one giant, walking history lesson all the time. He has 2 PHD's in it and definitely leans more to the liberal/socialist side politically (he was very impressed when Patricia Mercado mentioned "the gays" in the debate the other night, and how Mexico belongs to everybody. She's a very marginal candidate, and very liberal, but she certainly won't matter in the real race) but goes to great lengths to make sure we understand all sides when he's explaining things.

As a funny side note to that, I've met a few native Mexicans here who have basically told me that Austin has a reputation down here for being a giant, liberal, southern-U.S. gay paradise, and just being this wild, crazy place of partying and debauchery and homos everywhere. Which I think is very funny and interesting. I've mostly told them they're sort of half right, but not really, but that definitely according to Texas standards (and Monterrey's), I can see how people might think that.

I'm definitely staying in tonight, except for a small gathering at the aforementioned Charlie's apartment around 10:30. Everyone's going back to the Barrio after that, but not me. I'm actually going to go to mass in the morning with my professor. I feel like I should experience that while I'm here. I'm looking forward to it. My professor also organized a St. Edwards picnic and (voluntary) soccer game for tomorrow afternoon, since we've all kind of scattered in different directions since we got here. He wants us to be sure and bond as a group, even as we make other friends. So we're gonna cook out and just hang out in the park, which should be really nice. I'm looking forward to that.

I can't believe my stint here is almost halfway over already.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Fag Stag

Jaisen has been going to this Salsa class 4 nights a week, and last week, he met a girl there that plays flute in the Monterrey symphony. So the other night he suggested that we should go see the symphony, which we had tentatively planned on doing last night. Anyway, turns out it was pretty costly, so we scrapped our symphony plan and decided to go see a ballet being performed on campus instead. For only 50 pesos ($5). I was disappointed, as it's been years since I've been to a symphony performance. I used to go all the time when I was a kid to hear my mom play, which of course at the time I hated, but I appreciate so much now.

But yesterday afternoon I'm in my room reading, and Jaisen walks in and throws down 2 tickets to the symphony on my bed. Turns out his little salsa partner hooked us up with some complimentary tickets. So last night we went and it was wonderful. They were incredible. The first half was 2 Mozart pieces, about 15 minutes each, and the second half was a 54 minute Mahler piece. I adore Mahler; he writes some of the most exquisite cello parts I've ever heard, and last night's symphony featured them prominently throughout. There were 4 movements, and the third movement was incredibly sad. I leaned forward in my seat and totally forgot where I was for a bit, and just got completely caught up in it. It's been a really long time since that's happened to me.

We had also planned on going out to the gay bars after the symphony, but we didn't get back to the dorm until almost 11, and we both have class today, and I have a test, so we scrapped the gay bars. Perhaps this weekend we'll go. Jaisen is the only person I've ever heard actually use the term fag stag in reference to himself, or use the term at all. I was impressed.

On another note, I'm kind of hating my Spanish class. It's incredibly difficult, and the teacher seems fairly disinterested most of the time. She did finally separate the Baylor boys yesterday and make them sit apart from each other, thank God. But she just assigns tons of homework every night, and a lot of it feels kind of over my head, and I get really frustrated with it. I have a tendency in these kinds of situations to feel really put out, and just say "fuck it, I'm not gonna bother," but I can't really do that here. I need to start doing my homework with other people I guess, so we can figure it out together. The main consolation I have at this point is that it's a pass/fail class, and I won't actually get a grade, so it won't affect my GPA at all, which takes some of the pressure off. But it's disappointing that it's frustrating my efforts to simply learn Spanish as well. I need to figure out how to rise above it. All of this really makes me miss my St. Eds spanish teacher. She was phenomenal, and really made it fun and exciting to learn, and she had a great sense of humor, whereas my teacher now feels like she's doing it for community service or something. It's very disappointing.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My Mexican (Mis)Adventure

There's a group in Monterrey called Bungee Adventures that's basically a tour guide group for like, "extreme" outdoor activities. They have a deal through the Tec to take groups of students to do stuff for a highly discounted rate. Which is what the waterfall/hiking/spelunking tour I went on yesterday was.

Suffice to say they're quite unorganized, and pretty much nothing went as planned yesterday. We were supposed to return back to school at 7 pm, and we got back at 4 am. But not before being left on the side of a mountain at 1 in the morning for almost 2 hours. By the tour guides and the truck driver.

Though I don't regret going in the slightest, if I'd actually known what I was signing up for yesterday, I probably never would have done it. We were whipped, beaten, starved, submerged in freezing water in pitch-black caves a mile underground, and left on top of a mountain in nothing but wet swimming suits in 60 degree weather. At 1 am. So we built a fire and huddled together for warmth, our filthy, damp towels wrapped around us as a slight barrier against the wind.

But we bonded. There were about 19 people on the trip. The only other St. Eds people besides me were The Girls, and nobody else really knew each other, but we all decided we'd seriously been through something together yesterday, and we joked about it being so traumatizing that it would just have to be our secret, our own internal grief about which we would never speak. But of course we all had a total fucking blast.

But it was all amazing. The waterfall, the cave, the weird, poor family that lived on top of the mountain that it takes 3 hours to get up. Which, incidentally, we were taken up in in one of those flatbed trucks, with the wooden planks going around the outside, like what they used to haul people off to concentration camps. There were 19 of us stuffed back there-for an almost 3 hour trip up the side of the Sierra Madres, on a rocky, curvy path usually no wider than the truck itself. It was absolutely the most horrifying thing I've ever been through. But not as horrifying as the realization that after we were finally done "adventuring," we all had to pile back into the back of this truck for the trip back down. It freezing cold. In the dark. After being wet, muddy and completely exhausted. And for "lunch," all they gave us was the equivalent of about a half-sandwich on some bullshit croissant thing, and cans of generic fruit soda. So we were all starving to death.

After lunch we did the Cave. Which was supposed to take 30 minutes, but really took 3 hours. We had wet suits, helmets and heavy-duty life vests. And about 5 flashlights to share among 20 people (2 of which burned out during the spelunking, by the way). We crawled and crawled through that giant pile of mud. We shimmied through jagged holes not much bigger than an air-conditioner vent. We submerged ourselves in water that couldn't have been more than 60 degrees, up to our chins, with the ceiling baring down on us in almost total blackness. I've probably never come closer to completely losing my shit than when I was in that water. It was so cold, my body just went into a sort of shock: everything went numb, I couldn't breathe, my heart was racing to keep my body warm. I started to panic, but managed to get control, because there was absolutely nothing to be done. You can't fucking go back once you're in there.

After the tire popped on the way back down the mountain (for the second time that day; it popped on the way up, too), and we had to stop, because there was no spare, and the tour guides and the driver all abandoned us up there to empty out the pickup the tour guides were driving and come back and pick us up (or something; no one really knew what they were doing), and after we built the bonfire, we starting talking about what we would most like to eat. The most common consensus was hot dogs or pizza.

I love everyone on this trip (Baylor frat boys excepted). Everyone is so nice, and inclusive, and curious, and open-minded. Smart, very literate. After all of this yesterday, on the way back, the multiple conversations I was hearing were about literature, one about agriculture, and one about Cuban politics. But mostly I just can't get over how nice everyone is. There are so many walks of life, backgrounds and personalities here. There's just no bullshit or pretense. It honestly gives me a lot of hope for the future of America. I'm not being hyperbolic; it truly does.

My roommate and I are getting along really well, too. He's taken to calling me Senor Poopy, for obvious reasons to anyone who knows me. The other night he told me all about going to a gay bathhouse in Pittsburgh with his gay friends because he was curious. Which led to a very long and graphic conversation about anal sex and enemas. He's really funny. He also always makes fun of my Spanish, because apparently I speak it with a very thick Southern accent that I don't normally have. Which must be hilarious; I can't imagine what I sound like.

Today I went to the mercado negro (black market) with my prof and some kids, and bought a real cute shirt for $12.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Insomnia

Monterrey is a very noisy city. My dorm room is on the eighth floor, and my window has a stunning view of the western side of the city and the mountains, even if I never get a sunset because there's too much pollution and the mountains get in the way. It also looks down upon a giant traffic circle in the front of the Tec. Jaisen and I always leave the bottom portion of the window open (it's divided horizontally), even though the air conditioner is always on. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because it keeps the room from getting stuffy, and the nights are always very cool. But I also like to think it's because it connects us to the city somehow, even if the city noise often keeps me awake. All night long I hear the roar of traffic in the circle and on the highway; the screech of tires on the asphalt; car horns constantly blaring; people yelling, music playing; the peacocks on campus honking incessantly. But the bottom of the window is also at my precise eye level if I'm lying flat in bed, on my stomach, and I can look out of the window, at the endless loop of traffic flowing past, and the line of headlights always coming down the mountain towards campus from the street on the opposite side of Av. Garza de Sada, which is the very busy street that runs north and south in front of campus.

Nothing I do tonight settles down my brain. It's the kind of night I have frequently in Austin, but usually dull with whisky or wine in order to sleep. But I'm not doing that here, not so much because I can't, because it is possible to sneak alcohol into the rooms (plenty of people do it), but because I've made the very conscious decision not to. These past two weeks, even though I've had a handful of drinks, have been the first time I've honestly felt totally sober and lucid in almost a year.

I went to a party tonight on the roof of an apartment complex about three blocks from campus. There are about 45 kids living there from Texas Tech (I had no idea), and I went with these two girls I met from McAllen, but who go to school in other places. They're both very nice and very funny. Whenever I'm with them, I laugh constantly. The party was lame, so we busted out early. They grabbed a cab to head down to the Barrio Antigua area for some nightclubbing, and I started walking home. It was about 12:30, and I was so close to campus I thought nothing of it. But on my way home, a big black truck full of Mexican boys drove by me not once, but twice (in totally opposite directions), yelling things out the window at me in Spanish and laughing hysterically. I have no idea what they were saying. They could have been yelling, "The weather is magnificent, I'm so happy to be alive," for all I know, but where I come from, when you're me (or a reasonable facsimile), and a big truck full of boys drives by you and they yell things out the window, it's never good. The first time I didn't think much of it, despite the fact that they slowed down next to me on a very busy street to yell, but the second time, when I had turned a corner and was heading totally away from the direction they had originally been traveling, and it happened again, my heart raced. I was only about a block from my dorm, but I was already scoping out escape routes and judging how quickly I could run in my Maddens if it became necessary.

I feel much more connected to this city than I did even two days ago. Something in me shifted when I woke up on Thursday morning. It was literally overnight. I can't say what, but I think it might have to do with all the shifts currently going on in my body and my emotions. I already feel changed, and after another 4 weeks or so, who knows how I'll return to Austin. Obviously, on a fundamental level I'll still be the same person, but being here in this capacity, and spending so much time alone, and truly being sober and quiet in that aloneness has already started opening up pathways in my brain I haven't been in touch with in years, and in some cases, ever. I can't say it's for the better or the worse, but I'm assuming for the better at this point. I should have been doing this nine months ago, but you live and you learn and you have to figure it out on your own time.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Very Expensive Cat Toy

If you haven't seen it already, before you die, you absolutely must go watch this! I insist.

(via You Can't Make It Up)

Good night.

Horse Therapy

I just got back from visiting the Centro de Rehabilitacion y Educacion de Infantiles with my professor. He wants us to start getting involved out in the community, and he had researched this place as a possible place for us to go help out. It's basically a school for developmentally disabled and retarded kids, run entirely by private funds, right in the center of Monterrey. So today he went to investigate, and it sounded interesting, so I thought I'd go along with him. Most of their kids they have in the morning (76!!), and then some in the afternoons, but it's much slower. Terry (my professor) and I got to actually help out in some of the therapy of this 12-year-old autistic boy who comes in there in the afternoons. They started him out on a horse, which they do everyday. He is led around, and as he's being led, he has to do mental exercises, like look at flashcards that we showed him, and after looking at 5 or 6, repeat back the order in which the objects on the cards were shown to him. And then he had different colored hula hoops we tossed at him, which he had to catch, and when he had caught them all, had to then place them on the different colored cones that we told him. Like, we would say, "Verde con azul," and he would have to drop the green hoop on the blue cone, etc. etc. You get the picture. So we did this stuff with him for about an hour. He was a really sweet kid, and only got upset once, at me, of course. I was walking next to the horse he was on, with a box of different colored pegs he had to put in a board to match a picture they'd just shown him (autistic people think in pictures, similarly to animals, actually; my professor was very impressed that I knew that), and I was supposed to hand him the amount and color of whatever peg he asked for, like cinqo amarillo (five yellows), and as you know, my Spanish isn't great, so I often couldn't understand what he wanted, and Terry and the therapist would forget to tell me what he was saying, so I wouldn't give him what he wanted, and he'd get mad. But all was well. It was really fun, actually. I guess I'm gonna start going back there next week in the afternoons for an hour or two. They told us to stop by anytime, but as a courtesy to them, I should figure out some kind of schedule. And talk other people into going with me.

After the kid was done with his therapy session, he went inside the school, and the therapist found out I was really scared of horses, so naturally, he made me get on it and ride around. I was very tense at first, and kept feeling like I was gonna fall off, but he kept telling me to relax, and eventually I did. Horse's heart rates are about the same as humans, and they give off a lot of heat, so there's all this theorizing that that's why humans bond so well with horses, because we sort of meld together, and it's very inherently relaxing. Which it was...once I relaxed. I haven't ridden a horse in probably close to 20 years, so it was nice to sort of get over that hurdle. My professor was joking on the drive back to campus that I got my own therapy. Which I guess I did.

So that's pretty much been my day. I think I'm going to switch out of my Spanish class at 11, into one that's at 9, mostly because the fucking Baylor frat boys are in my class, and I just really can't tolerate it much longer. They're so obnoxious, and it makes the class kind of chaotic, and the teacher won't do much about it, and it's really starting to piss me off. I didn't pay $3,000 to come to Mexico to get pissed off and intimidated by fucking asshole idiot jocks in class every morning. I just don't get it. Who are these people and where do they come from? I hope some horrible fate befalls each and every one of them to force them into some kind of humility.

Tomorrow I'm going here for the whole day, and I couldn't be more excited about it. But right now I'm going to grab some grub somewhere, and then go drinking with my professor and some 40-something-year-old friend of his. Should be interesting.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Muerte

So, after writing the last post I went to grab some breakfast and then go check on my ducks and my goose before class, which I've decided I'm going to go do every morning because it makes me feel good. I felt like the biggest dork this morning. The pond is surrounded by people, and I walk up and see my goose, sitting on her eggs, and this huge, involuntary smile crosses my face, I'm almost beaming. I love that goose. So I sit and look at her for a few minutes, then decide to go find my ducks and see how their morning's going. And lo and behold, the horror I see in front of me is one of the little ducklings floating dead in the pond. I was so sad, ya'll, I seriously almost cried. So I looked around for the mommy and remaining duckling, and found them strolling around, side by side, in the brush by the pond. I felt so bad for them, walking together in mourning. I hope they find solace in one another and that the remaining duckling makes it all right. No mommy duck should have to lose more than one duckling. And since there's only one left, it makes me think she probably lost more, because don't most fowl give birth to batches, or litters, or whatever they're called when they're ducks? Like, the goose has tons of eggs. I hope they all make it.

I ran into my professor, and my friend Christy from the last post, walking around together after my class, so I took them to the goose too, so they could see. Christy took a picture that she's supposed to email me, so if and when she does, I'll post it here so ya'll can see this amazing goose for yourselves. Christy tried to get a picture of the duckling, too, but it kept moving too much, so I don't know if any of them came out. But if so, you'll get one of those too.

I wonder if Ayn Rand would approve?

Yesterday a group of us went to the Museo Marco in downtown Monterrey, which is the contemporary art museum. They're currently having an exhibition on this amazing and apparently very famous architect named Ricardo Legorreta. His stuff is very blocky, but colorful and with a lot of interesting flourishes and tons of natural light. He has designed many buildings all over Latin America, but he's done a lot in Texas and California too, including the San Antonio library, which I think I'm gonna drive down to look at when I return to Austin.

The San Antonio Library

Some of his stuff looks vaguely sort of Soviet-style, too, especially some of his European and Korean works (go figure), but even those have a lot of personality. For anyone familiar with the San Jose Hotel in Austin, a lot of his stuff looks like that, even the houses. Which were absoutely phenomenal. My favorite part of the exhibition was all these little dioramas and models they had of a bunch of his buildings that you could look at. And most of them were missing roofs, and maybe only only had half-walls, so you could actually see what the floor plans and layouts were. I guess they were the actual architectural models that they used, because they were so detailed and vivid, and even had little plastic people inside them, so you could get a better idea of the scale. It was amazing.

Yesterday on campus, right outside these crazy buildings, , I discoverd a pond around them, which contains many water-fowl, including a duck with two tiny baby ducks, and a goose sitting on a large nest of eggs. I counted 12 eggs yesterday, when she would raise her little butt to pull some grass or twigs onto the nest and squawk quietly, but I might have missed some. Watching her sit there, guarding her eggs, in the middle of this busy campus, is somehow one of the most touching things I've ever seen. It's so sweet. I'm going to keep going back there every day to see if they've hatched. I can't wait. I don't know how long little geese incubate, but surely not more than another 5 weeks?

Also in that pond are the baby ducks. Holy God, you've never seen anything cute until you've seen these two tiny ducks swimming around in the water with their mommy. They could probably both fit in one of my hands and they're still all fluffy, like how kittens are when they're first born. They both swam away from their mom yesterday when she hopped up on the shore for something, and she totally freaked out! She started squawking and jumped back into the water, chasing them and yelling, until she caught up with them, and then swam between them, and was quiet and still. Amazing. I sat there for about 20 minutes and just watched them swim around. I probably could have sat there all day.

I've been playing racqetball in the evenings the last couple of days with my professor, and yesterday we played with this Polish guy we met down on the courts, who's lived in Mexico for several years. Another girl from St. Eds came with us yesterday too, and then we played doubles tennis. Or, we tried to. Christy and I weren't very good, but my professor and the Polish guy are. My professor, especially, just ran circles around us, and wore me and Christy out! I hope I have that much energy when I'm almost 70!

Anyway, after raquetball and tennis, Christy and I went and got tacos and beer at this place I like near campus (which, incidentally, Kurt, if you're reading this, played Avril Lavigne the entire time we were there). I like her a lot. She's really sweet and smart. After that, we met up with a bunch of the Tec people at our adopted bar we call the Blue Bar, because everything in it's blue, even the lighting. I don't think any of us know what the real name of it is. But while there last night I met this guy I've been sort of mildly crushing on since day 2 of this thing when I saw him in the lobby, but I hadn't spoken to him until last night. Turns out he's from Fayetteville, Arkansas and goes to Hendrix College in Conway! Totally cray. So we chatted for a bit, and that was nice. He's tall and skinny and nerdy looking. go figure. When I said I was leaving and walking back to campus, he was all, "Oh, I'll walk back with you." But I'm pretty sure he was just drunk and tired.