Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A few things

First and foremost, I want to say congratulations to my sister Erin and the entire Campbell family and welcome Justin Michael Campbell into the clan. I look forward to being an important part of corrupting his youth, er...rather, being an important part of his growth. Congrats Campbell's! Second, and much less important, I have been trying to post stuff for a while but two things have stopped me. First, my little brain only has so many asinine observations (that I can put into words) about Mexico. The other is that this is the worst website since yourethemannowdog.com. So, sorry about the delay and if anyone is thinking of starting a blog, do NOT use this website, I think it has taken about 5 years off my life.

Wilfredo & Friends

There is this show here called “La Academia” and it is basically a mix of “American Idol” and “Big Brother.” They select the people who are going to be in “the academy” on a selection show, which was beyond hilarious. A couple weeks back they had this season premiere and Lolita and I watched it as the contestants were called forward out of a group where the “director” of the academy talked to them for a while as the contestant cried uncontrollably. Seriously, they were ALL crying, some of them so much they were hyperventilating with mascara running down their faces and leaning on each other for support. Not only that, but by looking at the group I was sure that each of them has probably spent a combined year of their life looking at their reflection in the mirror. There was enough hair gel on that stage to supply an entire city of sixth graders. So after they were called up, the director would talk about their strengths and weaknesses for a while followed by a long dramatic silence and the director would say, “Estas en La Academia,” (“You are in the academy”) to which about 92% of the people collapsed to the floor as if they had just been sniped. I’m not making this up, I think all but two of them didn’t fall weeping to the floor when they were selected, you’d think they got a bonus from the network for how fast they could make their legs go out from under themselves and how many times they could pound the floor with their fists. After the first couple went down faster than John Edwards political career, Lolita and I were laughing hysterically and I tried to think of a joke about it to share with her but it I wasn’t sure exactly what to say or how to say it so it came out as, “They like the floor.” That made both of us laugh even more and I am sure she liked that more than any witty comment I might have been able to interject. Actually, I did too. It started to get ridiculous as you count down how long until they fell to the floor and after a while I wasn’t sure if I was watching a reality show or an old tape of try-outs for the opening scene “Saving Private Ryan.” So, after they selected the most emotionally instable 20-something people in all of Mexico, guess what they do with them…make them all live in the same house! Oh, and film every minute of it, naturally. That’s about where the show is now, these people are all living in a house together and on Sundays they have a live show where they sing and get voted off. The Sunday show is live and the other days when they are in the house together air the day after they happen. I realized why I like this show and I will explain. Like I said, it is a combination of “American Idol” and “Big Brother.” I have never liked “American Idol” because I figure I don’t want to watch people sing songs, that usually aren’t very good, worse than the original version. Honestly, I’m not sure why anyone does, but it’s a popular show so who knows. In “La Academia,” that problem is solved; I don’t know any of the songs or their original versions, so everything is new to me and it doesn’t really matter how good or bad they are. Also, seeing as I have never wasted my time watching “Big Brother” I’m not sure if I would like it or not, but I assume that I wouldn’t because I simply don’t care about other people’s problems. (“Big Brother” is a show where they put a bunch of people in a house that they can’t leave and make them live together and do tasks while drama ensues and then they get voted off, based on what, I don’t know. I know it seems strange that I know so much about a show I have never seen, but just because I have never seen it doesn’t mean I haven’t seen countless promos during CBS sporting events. Hey, Greg Gumble, it’s been about 7 years now and I have yet to watch an episode, please, no more.) “La Academia” remedies this for me by being in rapid Spanish which is hard to understand, having crazy activities like a dude wearing a mask while crying (I was watching that episode at a restaurant with no sound which I decided made it even better; I had NO idea what was going on) as well as having a jewel of a person named Wilfredo. One of my favorite parts is that on the weekday shows in the house all the participants have to wear a single colored shirt with their name written in black caps across the chest. I’m thinking about getting a green STEPHEN shirt soon. Anyways, Wilfredo’s shirt says, “WILFREDO” on it and he is a decent singer, but somehow apparently went through his entire life never having talked to anyone of the opposite sex before. He is especially awkward and has this hilarious, high pitched, nervous laugh that he brings out whenever a girl says something and which they showed a montage of once that almost floored me. On today’s show after he sang, they had a bit on his sick grandpa that was so overly dramatic even Bob Costas would be proud. At the end of it, they had his grandpa say that he was OK and wished him good luck. It went back to Wilfredo who was crying uncontrollably (whenever someone on the show starts getting watery eyed, Lolita starts yelling “No Llorando! No Llorando!”—[No crying! No crying!] at the TV) and then the director asked him if he had anything he wanted to say to his grandpa if he is watching. After a little silence, with tears in his eyes Wilfredo yells (seriously, he yelled) “LE AMO ABUELO!... LE AMO ABUELO!” (“I love you grandpa”). Immediately Lolita yelled even louder out of shock and embarrassment for him and I don’t think the two of us have laughed harder since I’ve been here. (She later referred back to it as the “Explocion de sentimiento” –“Explosion of feeling”) The director holding the microphone and the entire audience had absolutely no idea how to react (remember, Sundays are live) so there was an awkward silence with Wilfredo left looking straight at the camera; you could see it all—him coming down from his high and realizing what he had just done and realizing he was the cause of the awkward silence that we were all so painfully in the middle of. The initial shock wore off and the audience picked their jaws up off the ground and started clapping and cheering for him. He didn’t get voted off, actually, I’m not sure who did; I left after Wilfredo made his exit telling Lolita I needed to do my homework. Instead, I wrote this. You’re welcome.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read All About It...

I am currently in the middle of very interesting, funny, irritating, and unbelievable saga. I’ll try to explain, but first some background information is needed. In the mornings we have classes at the Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro or UAQ (pronounced more ore less like “walk”) and in the afternoons we have classes at a school called IUSI (I used to know what that stood for) which is referred to by everyone as “la escuela de Gabi.” Gabi is the resident director of our program and she also runs the IUSI. She is in charge of setting up where we live, making sure everyone is alright, planning our weekend trips and countless other logistics. The other day after morning classes at the UAQ, Gabi was there and I thought, “Huh, I wonder why Gabi is here” because she is usually at her school not the UAQ. Everyone was hanging out talking when she pulled me aside and told me she needed to talk to me. She told me that the director (dean maybe?) of the Faculdad de Lengus y Letras or FLL (the department of the UAQ that we go to) wanted to talk to her and me in her office. She also said that she never hears from her about her students and that she sounded very serious. Gabi asked her if it was about my bag that had been stolen in Sierra Gorda and the FLL lady said she didn’t want to discuss it on the phone and that it was best if she brought me into her office. Gabi then asked me if there was anything that she should know. Even though Gabi is more of a director and organizer than a disciplinarian, she still heads up the one-women committee that decides if your ass gets sent back to the states if you do something wrong. After I cleaned the pee out of my pants I told her no, I couldn’t think of anything. I could tell she believed me and wasn’t trying to accuse me or trap me or anything, but still I was a bit nervous. Tiffany—our student assistant leader person who was in the program a couple years ago—Gabi and I walked over to the office. I felt like I was walking to the gallows, and, to hide my nervousness I said to Tiffany, “I feel like I’m going to the principle’s office in 7th grade all over again.” After I said it I realized that wasn’t even a joke, that’s exactly how I felt, I was completely expecting Mr. Shea and Ms. Gritzmacher to walk out of that office and say, “Ok, we’re ready for you now, Stephen.” I’m not kidding, I would have bet on it. Well, that didn’t happen, actually, for a long time nothing at all happened. We stood outside of this lady’s office for about an hour while she was in there with someone else. This certainly didn’t calm our nerves. Tiffany and Gabi were both nervous because they didn’t know what was going on and didn’t want me to be in trouble and I was nervous because I was going over everyday in my mind that I have been here trying to think of what I might have done wrong. I spent (no joke) about a minute and a half to two minutes trying to figure out whether or not I had accidentally killed an endangered species. (“I don’t think I did, did I? I killed that cockroach the other day in my bathroom but that’s not an endangered species or anything, it was just a cockroach. Maybe it was a special kind of cockroach that I’ve never heard of and is facing extinction… Oh, no…Crap!… But wait, how would she know about that? There’s no way, right? Who did I tell about that?…”) Finally, we get called into her office. At this point it is just Gabi and I because Tiffany had to take off midway through the arduous wait. I shake the lady’s hand and smile and was reminded of an anecdote that my professor of Italian Renaissance art told us once in class about how the last thing someone did before being executed during the Renaissance in Italy was to tip the executioner. That’s what I felt like I was doing when I smiled and shook her hand, but she seemed nice enough so I figured she would at least make it quick and that hopefully she wasn’t a cockroach preservationist. Well, in turns out that I didn’t do anything wrong (that they know of) and in fact it was good news—kind of. Phew. The FLL lady said that she got a call from a woman named Margarita who had news of my missing bag from the Sierra Gorda. Margarita was in a group of retired women from Mexico City that took a trip to the Sierra Gorda and was there the same time as us (Gabi said she saw them). Another lady, I believe named Rosa, saw my bag and thinking it was Margarita’s because she is a photographer, showed it to her. Margarita, being the saint that she is, looked through it saw my wallet with my UAQ I.D. card and told Rosa that it wasn’t hers. Well, Rosa didn’t seem to care—she took it anyways. Margarita, being the saint that she is, went online, looked up the UAQ, called around until she found the FLL lady who called Gabi and then there we were, the four of us on a conference call in the principle’s office. The three of them did the talking, as it is nearly impossible not only to understand three Mexican women speaking rapidly in Spanish into a speakerphone but also finding a millisecond to interject; I couldn’t have said anything even if I wanted to or knew how. After the call was over, Gabi translated it into Stephen for me (neither English nor Spanish nor Spanglish, basically really slow Spanish with simple words, hand gestures, and clarification that I understand after every third sentence.) This is what happened: Margarita, being the saint that she is, saw on the bus that Rosa, being the old hag that she is, had taken my bag and she asked her for it so she could give it back since she saw my ID and would find a way to get it to me. Rosa refused and, get this, told her that she wants a reward for it! What!?! A reward? It’s not like she found it and was a Good Samaritan and deserves something for her effort (that role goes to St. Margarita), she stole it! That’s not a reward, that’s ransom! I want proof of life! Gabi, the FLL lady, and I thought the whole thing was kind of funny and Gabi half jokingly smiled and uttered, “Bienvenido a Mexico” (Welcome to Mexico). Since that day Gabi has talked to St. Margarita again who got Rosa’s phone number and address. Gabi called her on Friday and left a message and that’s the last I’ve heard. I’m fairly optimistic about the whole thing having both Margarita and Gabi on my side; I heard some people in our group say the other day that they think Gabi could solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. I told Lolita about it and she got a kick out of it laughing loudly at the idea of the whole thing and then essentially sent bad karma Rosa’s way. (I’m not exactly sure what she was trying to do but it was hilarious). So that’s where it all stands right now: my bag is in Mexico City with some old retired lady who wants me to pay her a sum of money to get it back. I’m picturing my bag being guarded by two armed guards with rifles in a dark warehouse while a clock ticks down like on “24” and the screen splits between me and Rosa, and the bag, and Margarita. Rosa better be careful or I’m going to have to tap into my inner Jack Bauer.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Surrealism

(Hey, I’m back. I’ve been somewhat busy recently and haven’t put anything up in a while. Here are three things that I have written in the past few weeks that I didn’t post partially because I didn’t have the internet when I wrote them or I didn’t have my computer when I had the internet and partially because I don’t think they’re very good or all that interesting. Oh well, here they are. I suggest reading them in the order they were posted [bottom to top]. Enjoy.)



We went to the Sierra Gorda this weekend which ended up being a strangely bittersweet experience. First of all, we were told it was really hot there as it was the jungles region of Mexico and to expect in the upper 90’s or above. Well that never happened, actually it rained most of the time. The first day not so much, but the others definitely. The first day and night we stayed in Jalpan which was a cool little town but not much different from others we had passed through. We enjoyed ourselves nonetheless in part because of a karaoke bar we found, invaded, and conquered (Two words: Air Supply). The next day we traveled around the area and went to a mission and a waterfall that we “swam” in. By swam, I mean we stood next to it or underneath it and got reamed by it. It was a pretty nice little spot. That night we went to Xilitla and checked into an awesome hotel that was built into the jungle and owned by the nicest old couple and their dog Chucho. Even though he kind of smelled bad, he was an awesome dog. On Monday we went to a surrealist garden made by the British artist, Edward James. I guess he was this rich British guy who went to Mexico to build a crazy garden and smoke a lot of peyote. It showed. A guy who had been on the program before described it as “walking around in a Salvador Dali painting.” That was about right, although I thought I was more in a Dr. Seuss book than anywhere else. It was a ridiculous place with stairs that lead to nowhere, nonsensical buildings, waterfalls, and not a single handrail. (You would think safety would be a priority for someone who was constantly so high, but apparently Mr. James felt handrails and other safety devices didn’t fit into the aesthetics of his surrealist garden.) Throughout the day I took about 13,4726 pictures, (it was impossible not to) only to have my camera bag equipped with my wallet and iPod stolen when I went swimming in the river and waterfalls. Yeah, so that sucked. I didn’t know this when I was swimming so I was able to enjoy that to the fullest, especially when a friend of mine looked at me with the look of confusion turned to epiphany—like he just figured out a difficult math problem—and said, “Dude, we’re jumping off of waterfalls in a surrealist garden in the Mexican jungle!” Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated for the reality to set in. Certainly afterwards the camera bag/wallet/iPod disaster was weighing on mind, but I kept reminding myself that I got to jump off of waterfalls in a surrealist garden in the Mexican jungle in order to keep my spirits up. For the most part, it worked. The reason we were able to take such a long trip this weekend is because it was the Mexican Independence Day. In every town square in Mexico at 11PM there is the “Grito.” Literally, it means “Yell” and comes from when Miguel Hidalgo yelled “Viva Mexico!” in Guanajuato signifying the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. After a while of contemplating whether we wanted to go to the Xilitla grito in the pouring rain or watch the Mexico City one with the president on TV, my friend Jessica and I decided to go and meet up with the few people of our group who had already left. (We were late because there was football on TV and not only football but American football, and not only American football but Monday Night Football, and not only Monday Night Football but two good teams—the Eagles and Cowboys—and a great game, and not only that but we were getting the English telecast. Oh, how I have missed you football; life just isn’t the same without you. I spent a significant portion of the night making hypothetical bets—since my money was all stolen—with the husband of one of my professors. I think I lost all of them.) Anyways, we walked through this monsoon not dressed for rain (since we packed for 90-100 degree heat) and right as we got there as the grito was beginning the rain stopped. The grito lasted about ten minutes, people yelled “Viva Mexico!” really loudly, they rang a ton of bells, and then just as the final word was being spoken the rain (“rain” isn’t the right word, this was more like a “dumping” of water) started up again. It was crazy, it took one ten-minute break the entire evening and happened to be for the entirety of the grito and that was it. Surreal was the word of the weekend. After taking refuge under an awning we were all discussing how we couldn’t believe the break in the climate and trying to figure out what to do when the aforementioned Jessica got a phone call from someone and judging from her end of it, it wasn’t good news. She told us that it was her roommate from Oregon who is studying abroad through the University in Moreila, a town about two or three hours west of Queretaro and a place we are visiting in November, and that a bomb went off during the fireworks after the grito. She was apparently just fifty or so feet away from the explosion and saw some pretty horrible things. Once again, it seemed surreal to go from a feeling of disbelief in the weather to one of disbelief that our friend’s friend just witnessed a bombing in a town which is not much different than or very far from the one we were in or have been living in for the past month. I quickly forgot about my camera bag. Strangely, there was nothing about it on any of the news channels (they cover the grito like it’s the New Year with cameras in every major city in Mexico) and we wondered if it was a fireworks malfunction or what had really happened. The next morning I got the internet to work in the hotel lobby and read that they think two grenades went off and that three were dead and fifty or more injured. As I write this, the last I heard the death toll was up to nine. I’m telling you, it was a surreal weekend.

Schmorgusboard

Things I spend in inordinate amount of time thinking about as I Frogger the streets of Queretaro:

The movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford is the EXACT opposite of the O.J. Simpson saga. Go over that movie in your head with that in mind. You will laugh, I promise. (I know what your thinking, could I have more dated references than the O.J. Simpson trial and a movie with Harrison Ford from the early 90’s? Actually, yes. If you think about it, between Luis Pasteur and Amerigo Vespucci this is by far the most topical issue I have covered).

I miss football. Badly. Yeah, of course I miss my family and friends and Taco Bell (I’ll let you pick the order) but I really miss football. Prediction: In a month or two I will use this space to write: “I miss basketball. Badly.”

Does Stephen Hawking slur his speech when he’s drunk? It’s an interesting discussion to have with yourself, trust me. After much deliberation on this topic (about a day and a half) I decided that Stephen Hawking is much to smart to let himself become as stupid as a drunk. Still, you (I) have to wonder what he would be like…

I saw a music video at a restaurant with Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg and all I could think about was, who has a better life, Snoop Dogg or Justin Timberlake? There’s way too much here to even elaborate. I could write a book on this. Right now, it’s a tie.

It was Michael Jackson’s 50th birthday the other day. I wonder if he went to Chuck-E-Cheese’s or Bullwinkle’s.


On another note, we are going to Sierra Gorda this weekend, which is supposedly this really cool place in the jungle area where this British surrealist artist, Edward James, built a Surrealist garden. I have only heard good things about it and one guy from the last group described it as “walking around in a Salvador Dali painting.” Needless to say, I’m excited.

Guanajuato

This weekend we went to Guanajuato, which is one of my favorite places that I have been to. It is about a two and half/ three hour bus ride from Queretaro and I am not sure that I can describe the amazingness of it in words so I will just try to describe a one really cool thing that happened. (Microsoft Word is telling me that “amazingness” isn’t a word. I don’t care, I’m sticking with it.) We stayed in a nice hostel that was really close to the main plaza and all the cool happenings. And, after a long day of going to the house that Diego Rivera was born in which is now a museum of his stuff, taking a tram to the top of the hill over looking the city, and watching Mexico beat Jamaica 3-0 in a World Cup Qualifier match, we went on the roof of our hostel and watched the sunset and drank some beers. After a while a few of us decided to head out for some food only to find thousands of people walking the streets of this relatively small city center. It wasn’t a holiday or a parade or anything, that’s just what it’s like there on a Saturday night: people hanging out at restaurants, or on balconies, or people hanging out in the plaza, people slowly walking the streets, etc. The streets were packed with people; it was great. Anyways, on our way to food, we got distracted by a band of minstrels playing music for people on the steps of this really sweet Neo-classical theater they have there. (I guess in October they have a Cervantes festival that’s really popular. There are statues and paintings of Cervantes, Don Quixote, and Sancho sprinkled throughout the town. It’s like Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival except in Spanish not English, and in Guanajuato, Mexico not Ashland, Oregon and it’s Cervantes not Shakespeare. Yeah, so except for those minor details it’s just like Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival.) So these minstrels are playing for all these people on the steps and they are dressed in full 16th century garb looking like extras from a Mexican rendition of a Robin Hood movie and we are only there for about half a song until…they became wandering minstrels! They addressed the audience after a song and told us to follow, which of course we did. It was great; we wandered the streets of Guanajuato in a big pack of people following a bunch of guys wearing tights as they played “De Colores.” Having heard us speak English, a guy in the pack asks us where we are from and I tell him and then I ask him the same. (It’s weird, some people here will hear us speaking English and want to practice their English with us but we want to practice our Spanish with them and feel that it is polite to speak to someone in Spanish if you can. So this gentleman asked me questions in English and I responded and asked him questions in Spanish. Even though we were both insulting each other’s languages mightily, it was quite an interesting conversation linguistically.) He told me he was from there in Guanajuato and to that I asked him where these traveling minstrels might be going, assuming he would know. At the time we were on these steps that lead to a road that goes to a spot to over look the city. The man looked at me slightly confused and said, “I don’t know. Up.” The point of all this is that not even the locals knew where they were going. (And it was mostly locals, or at least Mexicans in the group, despite there being quite a few Americans in the town during the day.) People just followed them around for the hell of it, never really knowing where they were going. I loved it. I heard later that you’re supposed to give them $10 and they give you drinks and you can follow them around to different restaurants in the town. I suppose these guys worked for the restaurants and people were supposed to drop off the pack and go to eat along the way as new people join. We didn’t know this so eventually our hunger got the best of us and we left behind our traveling minstrels in pursuit of food and free restrooms—we only accomplished half of those goals and returned to the hostel for the other. In all it was a great time, how dare Microsoft Word tell me “amazingness” isn’t a word!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What?


http://view.break.com/567077 - Watch more free videos

Hey, I'm all for saving the trees and the environment and everything, but seriously? Who are these people? Where do they come from?

Friday, September 5, 2008

AmeriGO!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Amerigo Vespucci recently. Even more so than usual, because, believe it or not, I think about Amerigo Vespucci quite a bit. Actually, since about fourth grade. I’m sure it’s not healthy. I don’t remember exactly what grade it was (I think it was fourth), but I remember the textbook and I can picture the page of the book from whatever grade it was that has been the catalyst for my fascination with Amerigo. (We’re on a first name basis). Anyways, a day or two after I wrote my bit about Luis Pasteur I couldn’t sleep after realizing the biggest exception to everything I had written: Amerigo Vespucci! This guy has two of the seven continents named after him, no one else has any, and no one knows who the hell he was! I think about this all the time: this guy needed Christopher Columbus’ PR guy. The textbook I referred to had multiple pages on Christopher Columbus, claiming he was the first person to ever think the world was round (suuuuure), and one sentence on poor ol’ Amerigo. Something like, “Italian Amerigo Vespucci was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean and the new continents took on his name.” That’s it! I’m not making this up; he has two continents and one sentence! How is this fair? I bet poor ol’ Amerigo does 360s in his grave every time they close government buildings and refuse to deliver mail for the schmuk Christopher Columbus. The worst thing about it is that he was the first one smart enough to realize that these new continents weren’t Asia. Not only did that Columbus fool think he was in India or something, he wasn’t even the first European to land in the Americas, Leif Ericson was. In reality, all Christopher Columbus did was spread a bunch of diseases to the natives. Jerk. I can honestly remember learning about Amerigo and other stuff that you don’t really need to know unless you’re trying to sound smarter than you actually are at a dinner party (or on your blog). (Why is it that I can remember not only who Amerigo Vespucci, Vasco da Gama, and Bartholomew Diaz were but also their nautical achievements and what countries they sailed for from fourth grade yet I continue to mix up the names of two guys in my group who I have seen everyday for the last three weeks?) (I know, I know, I know, I use WAY too many parentheses). Anyways, back to the action, you would think someone that has two continents named after him would at least get some recognition, I mean, if Luis Pasteur can have a street in Mexico named after him (and I’m sure other places, that guy was a god among men) then why can’t Amerigo get a little love. Has their ever been a parade in the name of Amerigo Vespucci? I doubt it. I don’t really like parades so I probably wouldn’t go if there were one, but still, billions of people fall under the banner of “Americans” from the North and South and our textbooks and parade committees don’t even care. I smell a conspiracy theory. This guy gets less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. The other thing that fascinates me about Amerigo is that he named the continents after his first name. I have spent an unhealthy amount of time wondering why. How much different would all of our lives be if poor ol’ Amerigo named them after his last name? What if we were the United States of Vespucci? Would that make us Vespuccans? Would people still hate Canadians? Would NAFTA be NVFTA? That doesn’t work at all, it looks like Roman Numerals. U-S-V! U-S-V! It’s kind of like how Eugene Skinner named Eugene, Oregon after his first name except TIMES A BILLION! All of this has me questioning my previous statements of the popularity I would have gained from naming the microwave or deodorant after myself. No invention will ever surpass having two continents named after you (except if someone invented something that could make continents. That would be so cool). Well, I’m not exactly sure how to wrap this up seeing as I haven’t really made a significant point. How do you wrap something up in which you made no point? Honestly, I’m surprised you’re still reading. Oh, I guess my point is that how come some people gain cult like status for doing something of relatively little significance, (see: Guevara, Che) and others get one sentence in a fourth grade history book? (That’s not a point, that’s a question. Oh, well). Nothing is sacred. I’m afraid that when I invent a backpack that doesn’t leave your back and shoulders soaking with sweat after walking home from class in the Mexican sun (and name it an “Oliver” of course) that for some reason beyond my control people won’t remember who I was and I will be no better than the microwave guy or deodorant dude or poor ol’ Amerigo. I might be the first person in the history of the world to lose sleep over Amerigo Vespucci. I don’t know what to think anymore.

Birthday

Hey, thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. I had a good one. I told Lolita about it about a week ago but she didn't remember in the morning and I didn't want to tell her because I didn't want her to have to bake me a cake or something. I told her in the afternoon and she told me I should have told her in the morning and then proceeded to bake me a cake. Then I realized how stupid I had been, why would I not want someone to bake me a cake? It's cake. What was I thinking? It especially hit home when she told me she used to work in a cake shop and even more so when I tasted it. It was a good one, well, thanks again!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Spice Rack



I don't care what spice this actually is, what that translates to, or how it is spelled, I hope none of it ever makes it into my food.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Backstabbing, Shotguns, Hot Blind Girls, and So Much More!

Everyday everyone goes home from morning classes for “la comida” which is basically a late (and large) lunch that the host mothers cook. Everyone seems to have different stories and different experiences from their comida—some good some not so much. One thing that seems consistent across the group is that the senoras all want to keep giving you more and more food whether you like it or not. Usually Lolita and I just talk during comida (when I say “we” talk I mean she talks and I listen and agree) and I try to eat the food she prepared that is enough to feed each member of the Von Trapp family, a pride of lions, and Oprah Winfrey’s entire studio audience. However, sometimes during comida we watch TV and if there is one thing that has been the most consistent here (it’s certainly not the bus system or the likelihood that a restroom will have toilet paper) it has been that there are always soap operas on TV. And, I must say, I love it. I can’t remember the name but today we were watching one and although I can’t consistently follow the dialogue, Lolita keeps me informed on who is good and who is bad—that is, if I can’t tell from the music or the look on their faces. I realized about half way through today that this is really the only time here that I will be able to ask questions like, “Why does that guy have a shotgun?” or “Was he trying to poison her or was that meant for the other lady?” or “Is he the father of the hot blind girl’s kids too?” (Apparently my friend Chris watches it with his host mom as well and he said he kept wondering how the hot blind girl put on her makeup. I was mad I didn’t think of that.) And in return Lolita gives me hints like why one guy had to hide when the other one showed up—I didn’t understand, why was the guy with the shotgun hiding? In any difference of opinion, shotgun always beats no shotgun—and she gets to tell me stuff like, “She wants him back because he is hotter than her new husband” and “That’s his sister but he doesn’t know it.” There’s nothing like brushing up on my backstabbing, convoluted family tree vocab. You never know when that will come in handy. They also seemingly live in one giant house which conveniently lends itself to at least five conversations an episode that are overheard from an adjacent hallway by a passerby who wasn’t supposed to here them. Also, no one ever shuts any doors. Quite convenient, indeed. It’s strange how these people are cunning enough to go behind the backs and lie to the people they know best but lack the common sense to shut the freaking door. Idiots. Even though it will be difficult to see the TV behind the mound of food on the plate in front of me, I’m thinking that in tomorrow’s episode shotgun might beat out no shotgun.