Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year in Mexico

You know it's New Year's Eve, or New Year's Day, or Christmas, or Dia de Independencia, or the week before them, or the week after them, when you hear bomb-level fireworks going off around here up until 2am and starting again around 5:30am. And so it is New Year's Eve, and Max demanded that we all wear yellow underpants because his Boing! Boing! magazine said that would bring money in the year to come.

Another tradition around here is to eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes 12 and to make 12 wishes for the New Year. So we all ate raisins around 7pm. I imagine that, if our wishes come to fruition, they may be dried out renditions of the original wishes because of the raisin substitution. So, instead of world peace, perhaps we'd get a treaty signed or something. And my wish/resolution to write every day might be watered down to writing grocery lists or emails. Not that I'm complaining. I'd love the raisin version of my wishes to come true.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How to get to Yagul

Yagul is a rather remote, less-visited archaeological site that is on the road to Mitla, which is a more major site. To get to Yagul, you take a MITLA bus from the second-class bus station, by the Mercado de Abastos. You ask the driver to let you off at Yagul, and then you climb up the mountain to the ruins, about 1.3 miles.
That's one way to get to Yagul, and how I did it 10 years ago. Another way is to wait forever for the bus and decide to rent a car and drive there, which is what Steve and Max did today, to my chagrin, because the car rental negated the money we were earning for getting the photographs.
But Steve tells me Yagul is as dramatically beautiful and eerie as ever. There is a labyrinth in the center, and the mammoth cliffsides around, all seeming to have faces and skulls carved into their recesses.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How do you bring back the dead?

I've been reflecting on the philosophy that, during Day of the Dead, the veil between this world and the afterlife is lifted, and the dead visit altars dedicated to them. I've always made altars for loved ones, especially for Jenny. I try to follow some of the traditions, incorporating flowers, candles, foods, water, pictures, and mementos. And I add my own elements, like alebrijes, paintings, favorite books, masks, vinyl tablecloths, Max's drawings, tissue-paper roses, and medallions from bread of the dead.

But it's an atheist's altar, beautiful and, in some ways, meaningless. It's a hedge, too, just in case I'm wrong about my belief that there is no afterlife. I know, though, that, if she could, Jenny would only visit something that I deeply believed in, so I've explored some options.

I rented a DVD from Netflix on how to communicate with the dead. They recommended writing a question and meditating on the the dead person and, somehow, the answer will appear. I went to Ecstactic Dance and tried the same thing--posing a question to Jenny at the beginning of class and hoping for some kind of inspiration in her voice, her persona during the class.

Recently, though, I rediscovered the best way to bring Jenny back. We were on a long drive and I started to sing to pass the time. The songs were all Jenny, all her silly fantastic Ethel Merman operatic ballyhoo and pathos and hilarity. It was her "Scrappy Doo" song, sung to the tune of "Desperado". And the themes to "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". Old-timey stuff like "Red River Valley", "You are My Sunshine", and "Clementine". Jenny had a way of belting out a story song--"Killing Me Softly" "I Will Survive" even, sort of, "Like a Prayer". She always sang loudly, which made up for our shared trait of lack of staying on key.

So, I'll lift the veil and bring back a little of Jenny tonight. Here are the lyrics to her "Scrappy Doo" song. You must sing it loudly, to the tune of "Desperado":

Scrappy Doo, when will you stop chasing crim'nals?
And start singing hymnals,
Just like you used to do?
Scrappy Doo, you've got that pu-u-ppy power
to catch crim'nals by the hour...
But have you forgotten Saint Jude?
Scrappy Doo, you have left me in a lu-urch
So get your dog ass back to chu-urch
What do I have to do?
Scrappy Doo, when will you stop chasing crim'nals?
And start singing hy-y-y-ymnals...
Just like you used to do?