...of graduate school.
I actually did it.
Wow, has this been an exhausting 10 weeks.
I feel like I'm rejoining the world again.
...of graduate school.
I actually did it.
Wow, has this been an exhausting 10 weeks.
I feel like I'm rejoining the world again.
I didn't believe it could happen until this morning when I woke up and the radio was still saying that Obama won.
He is not wealthy
His name is "funny"
His race calls into question our entire racial system of black vs white and we have never dealt well with racial ambiguity
His campaign was grassroots
He has ideals.
He is intelligent and speaks to people intelligently
For all these reasons, I thought, "I want him to win but I don't think he will win."
But I donated anyway, and knocked on some doors and drove to my state to vote.
I guess enough people did that too.
Yesterday I asked my professor in my class on Immigration, "It seems like we have always had an underclass, a group of people to be exploitable and expendable labor. It was Irish indentured servants, then black slaves, then the Chinese, then Filipinos and Mexicans, and now Mexicans and Central Americans. Is there any alternative to this system? It seems like once one group gains rights, another group is pushed down to take their place."
He told me that this system is inevitable, that decreasing birth rates of the upwardly mobile and higher expectations of wages and working conditions makes an underclass of people who have no options but to accept work that is back-breaking and ill-paid.
I think this is true, but I also think that if we stop at that analysis, the world will never get better. If the poor shall always be with us, then I want there to be most well-fed, least beaten poor people ever in the history of the world.
I want trade agreements that foster better working conditions, I want growers and factories to be held accountable for how they treat their meanest laborer, I want the children of the poor to have the best possible school system ever.
I want to stop basing our foreign policy on wealth-accumulation and power.
Yesterday's election reminded me that every step forward is predicated on a thousand steps before it. Would there be a President Elect Obama without a Sojourner Truth? Without a Frederick Douglass? Without the Grimké sisters, William Lloyd Garrision, without a Susan B. Anthony? With a Lucretia Mott or a Rosa Parks or a Dr. King? Without a Saul Alinsky, an Emma Tenayuca or Chavez ? Without the Haymarket Riots, or Selma, Stonewall or Brown vs. Board of Education or Loving vs.Virginia, Mendez vs. Westminister? Without the the hundreds and hundreds of people whose names don't get into history books, or television programs? Every one of those people and movements were imperfect and incomplete, but everyone one of them contributed.
I hope that there are better things in the future, that we haven't yet imagined, that are built on events like today's election.
I love you all! I really do! And I think of you all! In Portland, Illinois and Palestine and my B-town friends whom have not seen very much in the past few weeks...
All is going well. I am currently in North Carolina with my partner's family, it is the first Christmas that we have spent together and his family has been very warm and sweet to me.
Graduate applications are winding to a close, it has been more stressful and time consuming then I ever thought, but it is almost finished. Soon I will stop growling and subsisting on caffeine and sugar and have a social life again.
Went to my friends' Colin and Leah's wedding last weekend and it was lovely. Then I went the Daniel's end of the year party and had a wonderful melty momment when several people in a row told me that they were happy they had met me this year....And I realized that although it has been an very changing and growing and occaisonally nervewracking 12 months, I am very blessed and lucky to have the community I have, even when all my peeps are not in my time zone.
Love and joy come to you and to you your waffles too!
Now I am going downstairs for some serious ping-pong training sessions. Apparently sections of Ben's family have a competitive streak. And the Newcomers are not without a sense of honor.
Got back on Monday, since then have spent blissful hours with my sweetie, hanging with friends, drinking Soma coffee and eating Thai food and.....looking for gainful employment. Trying especially to find something that will not make me lose my will to live or wear a ridiculous uniform if at all possible.
But even if nothing of the sort is available...I'm home! Yay!
Been battling my own inner panic as the craziness of the first week of classes and job uncertainity abounds...but been getting wonderful support from home and from my wonderful new roomates.
Lilia took me to a club, I haven't done any actual clubbing...always wondered what they were like. Report: Just like a high school dance but wih people wearing less clothes and drinking more. Which is not to say it was bad. I actually liked high school dances. Man oh man though, way to feel underdressed and dowdy, go to a Mexican club. All the girls were totally in battle gear...gold heels and glittery eyes and perfume that entered the room a half an hour before they did. With the lights and the funky underwater feel, it was like drowning in Vogue.
I aslo got the whole experience of standing outside with my friends, waiting to see if the bouncer thought we were cute enough to enter...apparently we were not for the first club, but we got waved into the second.
The videos were wonderfully trippy and bizarre, all the MTV stuff mixed with all this current Latin American and Spanish stuff I hadn't see and then these random 80's videos from Mexico...wow. There was this great old school Paulina Rubio one where the entire plot seems to be her taking down the whole world with her sky high heels. At one point she actually knocks down a janitor, apparently he was evil.
Today I was invited by one of my fellow teachers to go out with some folks from work...he said that it was a very "fresa" (preppy, rich) club but he could get me in because he "knows a German." Which just sounds like the beginning of sketch comedy joke...
Since I've decided to go home in April instead of August for various reasons I'm cranking up the intensity of my Spanish immersion. I have met Americans who have lived in Mexico for 10 years and still speak very broken Spanish and Americans who have been here for 6 months and speak very good Spanish...So quality over quantity is my goal...I'm trying to make almost all of my interpersonal interactions in Spanish.
I sound like an old fogey saying this, but with iPods and DVD players and all that it's really easy to stay in an English, not that I've been doing that purposely, but I have found it hard to integrate here, the basic unit of socializing for Mexico (in general) is the family, so if you have no family here, it's hard to get beyond superficial relationships. But my new roomies are really nice and are excited to show me around Guadalajara so I think some of the isolation of the last two months will change.
I've also started having random conversations with clerks at stores, I make up random errands to go on and talk a little to clerks in each store, most (especially the obviously bored ones) seem enthusiastic. today I learned how to say, "small cake" "membership" and "measure."
I watched part of a telenovela with my roomie today, so I also learned how to say, "You bitch!" "I'm engaged" and "suicide." And I am puzzling over whether Isabel Maria Teresa Alicia Fernanda Paulina Liliana Inez is pregnant with the priest's brother-in-law's child or was just having a really bad day. I will watch to next week to find out.
So I got in to Guadalajara late last night and have spent most of the day unpacking and exploring my new neighborhood. It's so nice being able to walk to my essential places aka grocery store, work, movies. And will actually save me some pesos (There is a mythological reduced bus fare for students in Guadalajara, everyone talked about it vaguely, but no one, including International Student Affairs, students, teachers, policemen or the tourist office knew where how to access said reduced fare. As far as I could make out, it required going downtown, to a government office, the location and name and actual existence of which were hazy, and talking to "a guy" who would give you a set of tickets in exchange for an unspecified amount of money. You could then show these tickets to the bus drivers and they would let you on the bus, provided you have your student ID, your driver's license, looked like a student, had a few textbooks on you, and had your birth certificate, a blood test and your mother standing behind you swearing to the Virgin of Zapopan that she did in fact give birth to you on the date specified on your ID)
I've been reading too much Bill Bryson.
Anyhow, I'm feeling a bit blue, have several people at home I'm missing and going to through withdrawal of not seeing. And it's all foreign again. Which is okay, but I just got used to being all competent and now I need to readjust my head again.
On the upside, my Spanish has definitely improved, I am sure of that, and I had an adventure in the supermarket that did not involve me confusing a clerk or taking pictures of bread.
I'm missing my friends and my sweetie a lot, I know it will get easier, but the first few days are hard, particularly with no work to distract me yet. So if anyone (dramatic snuffe) is reading this (small violins) I would really appreciate an email or comments (sigh)
So after a wonderful couple of weeks I'm getting ready to pack my bags for Mexico again. In the words of the Evil Duke of Moulin Rouge, it's a little funny, this feeling inside. I'm excited for more foreign adventure and language learning and teaching, but I'm beginning to have the semblance of a community here and it is very hard to leave that. And being away, though interesting, can be very lonely. And there is this great guy in my life with whom things keep getting better and better...so that's hard and makes me mopey too.
but it has been a good vacation overall,
I got to go to the fabulous Knightridge party in my Bollywood queen costume, which always makes me happy, as life does not present me with nearly enough opportunities to wear a salwar kameez. I got to hang out with lots of interesting folk and try raspberry beer for the first time and inadvertently reveal that I know all the words to "Baby Got Back." I spent New's Day on the couch, watching the A&E production of "The Adventures of Horatio Hornblower," from which I have concluded that a)Ioan Grufford is a very, very pretty man b) Horatio's sole battle strategy seems to be "I will attack Napoleon Bonaparte's troops impulsively, armed with no more than my sculpted cheekbones and British accent! And in doing so, will surely save the day!"
Ah well, onward for King and country. And pretty Welsh boys.
Other highlight of this vacation, got to teach a bellydance workshop at the Rise, which was way cool and there's a possibility they may ask me back this summer, which would be incredibly fun.
feyangel and several others were kind enough to let me hang out at their game on Tuesday, because I am being seduced, and I mean that literally, to the gamer side. It was fun, I spent the rest of the week hunting for non-pointy heels to buy for work but I haven't been able to find any, I can't wait for this stupid utlra pointy toe thing to go out of fashion. I have small, wide feet that cry at the very sight of those shoes...and how the hell can anyone stand for more than 10 minutes in those toothpick heels? We hates them, precious.
Yeah, yeah, I know I've just given the ultimate non-denominational holiday greeting, but I just got back from a UU Christmas service and the older I get, the less I like the majority of Christmas acoutrements (sp?)
I just find most of the them pretty empty. Don't get me wrong, I'm having a wonderful Christmas, I'm here with my family and we're getting along, I've recconected with some friends and I have a lot to be thankful for...but that it partly becuase I've been avoiding plastic wreaths and department store Santas like the plague.
My mom and some of my aunties (non related older female friends who have been like aunts to me) had a ceremony the other night that we've been doing for a few years. We gathered at a house and ate food and exchanged small gifts, then sat together and lit candles and each of us said a something we were letting go of this year. Folks talked about people who have died, particular projects that didn't work out, books that weren't published. Then we blew out our candles and sat in the dark, silent. Then we talked about thing we wanted to step into or hold onto this year and we lit our candles.
Now, I'm not saying that this ritual is fundamentally better or right. But it really moved me because I felt like I finally understood while holidays in the winter can be so important and touching. In the winter, in a lot of the world, you spend a lot of time working and sitting in the dark (and freezing your ass off if you're from the Midwest) and you have to figure out how to create light and energy to keep going. And sometimes you can generate it yourself, and sometimes you have to get it from something bigger than yourself, be it community, the divine or a tradition.
Winter holidays are meaningful to me because I'm froma geographic place where it's dark and cold, for way longer than is necessary in my humble opinion, but I also see it as symbolic of surviving the dark times in one's life or in the community you live in.
So, sitting in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, holding my non-denominational candle with a bunch of people I loved and some I liked okay and some I really, really didn't want to see. I thought, the world is absolutely falling to pieces and it's always falling to pieces and there are people doing horrible things and the oceans may rise and swallow us up, Revelations-like and I still haven't wrapped my mother's gift but we're all here, singing in the dark because we feel this incredible need to and there's something beautiful and holy about that.
Well, I've spun off on a tangent again, but I guess my point is, when you strip down all the stupid decorations and consumerism and tacky christmas sweaters, it really is a pretty amazing time of year, despite all the crap.
Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too.
I realized tonight washing my face that I want to have dinner parties. I want to invite my friends and interesting aquaintances to my house and cook things for them and give them wine or the beverage of their choice and have good conversations and laugh a lot and possibly do cool table settings (like maybe dishes I've collected from around the world) and really fun yummy meals and potlucks.
I feel a little embarrassed saying this, like it's this very stodgy thing to want to do...but I think dinner parties have gotten a bad rap from vision of harried housewives with underpaid help obsessing over proper alignment of the dessert fork. My parents tend to have and go to really fun dinenr parties, where people laugh and drink and tell ridiculous stories and talk about serious things and funny things and just about everything. And while my mom does have me do the proper table setting for more formal ones around Christmas, it's really just about eating with your friends...essentially trying to recreate the awesome conversations my Earlham friends and I had in Saga...except we all have to bring food now and clean up cuz we're grownups.
I love eating and I love talking to people and I guess, if I'm to think about it analytically, dinner parties are all about community building. I think I learned more about the world and became the person I am by listening to my parents friends and "family of choice" talk than from anything else. If I have kids of my own, or even just kids in my life, I want to them to have a wacky family of blodd and non-blood relatives like I did. I want them to have people in their lives that are kind and interesting and passionate and slightly off kilter...because I want those people in my life too. This particular holiday season has got me thinking about family a lot and all of the different families we surround ourselves with and how powerful the need is to create a family around you. I've been reconnecting with a a lot of friends lately and seeing relatives and hanging out with fictive kin and my mom so I've been around a lot of family, which I've missed the past few months. So yeah, not to be too after school special like, but I'm having the realization, once again, that even though all my families drive me nuts a lot of the time, I really do love them (though some I find easier to love from a distance)