Monday, October 20, 2008

Art House

I posted a picture of our new painting on my Mexican Pop Spot blog, but I wanted to post this one here, showing Maxito in his lucha libre mask and Superman pjs. It's just a little strange and melancholy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Walking Home

One of the great joys of my life here in Oaxaca is that I get to take Maxito and Geni to school every day and then walk home. We live on the fringe of the absolute edge of the center of town, right before it gives way to a giant grass-filled ravine. I seem to discover a new route home every time, by accident, because I have no sense of direction. I have found:

The neighborhood of Infonavit, where there are more pedestrian alleyways than roads, with names like Walkway of the Pilots and Walkway of the Teachers. Sometimes I enter the alleyway labyrinthe and find little shops and, once, an outdoor church (on Walkway of the Secretaries).

A street I like to walk on, though it's an indirect route: Virgins of the Volcano.

A little green pasture where someone, upon occasion, places a tiny fence and lets the sheep and goats go grazing, right on the street corner.

The streets filled with mototaxis, which are built up, three-wheeler motorcyle taxis that cost 5 pesos per rider, with a discount for kids. When the vocho fails us, we go moto. Most mototaxistas decorate their motos with bumper stickers and nicknames like "The Little Devil" and "The Bad One". Sort of a bastardized version of the dashboard shrines on buses.

This corner, where men gather. They always say something to me right after I pass, and I can never figure out what it is. We drove by their corner the other afternoon, and I saw why they migrate there without fail. They play dominos.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A New Hit

Every once in a while, I go to Google and do a search on "Jenny Makofsky" and "Jennifer Makofsky" to see what I get. I'm delighted to have found a new hit. Jenny is apparently cited in this wonderful-sounding book. Somehow the author got information about Jenny's extensive research on jumprope rhymes.

Jenny wanted to write a thesis or book on jumprope rhymes, counting out rhymes, and general street folklore. She deeply believed in the power and voice of folk culture. She interviewed and taped her students, my students, my mom's students, and friends' students chanting out rhymes and arguing over the variations. I think I kept Jenny's research on the subject. She would be delighted to hear the rhymes Max and Geni are learning in Mexico.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Come Together, Right Now

The vocho is fixed and, for once, the mechanic did not come back with a bottomless pit of things wrong with the car. How cool to have a mechanic we like that works on our block.

I just got another group of articles approved, so I'll be busy writing about Day of the Dead, Oaxacan chocolate, and, yes, "Desperate Housewives" this week. Should be interesting.

With the car and the writing both going well, I feel like things are just about...right. I almost hesitate to say it, for fear I'll jinx it. I'd like it if these articles paid better--good, there's a complaint! Aha, another problem: Geni has a cough, though it's getting better.

I am really thinking Obama could win this, but is that just a perspective from someone who lives out of the country and can indulge in wishful thinking without too much reality getting in the way?

We bought a great surreal painting by our friend Humberto Batista. There is a papaya and a pear and a massive Olmec head statue, against a flat blue horizon. I'll post a picture soon.

Max wants to be a pumpkin for Halloween. I keep trying to persuade him to be a devil or a skeleton, because these are the two costumes that are traditional to Mexico and its comparsa ritual, which is like a manic dance parade where everyone wears one of these two outfits. Geni will of course be the devil.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Naughtiness on Parade

Traviesa. It's a big word in Mexico, and it's a word we use here, in the house, and at school, a lot. It means mischievous, though you can also use it as a noun, I think, as in "What a scamp!"

Why do we use it so much?

Right here.
Do you see that little one in the lower right-hand corner? The one making the mad dash down the hill before she veers for the middle of the street? Meet Genevieve at three years old, just as out of control as she was at two, but now with greater speed and ability.

Yesterday, when I picked her up at preschool, the teacher apologized. "She has no socks on."

I asked, "Why?"

"She got them wet."

Right at that moment, I could tell Geni's teacher was trying to cover for Geni. The jig was up. "What did she do?"

"She and her friend Diegito snuck over to the water jug and pulled down the tap. They both got all wet."

"Oh, teacher, I'm sorry. She's so traviesa."

"No, it's good. She's learning."

I didn't have the heart to tell the teacher that Geni has already mastered the naughtiness-with-water curriculum pretty thoroughly. At home, she waits for her opportunity to run in to the shower and turn it on full blast, or to sneak into the kitchen and upend water glasses on the counter.

What's next, Geni?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Find?

Last weekend, we headed out to Tlacolula to the Sunday tianguis. It's a huge, rambling outdoor market that frames their stunning church and its courtyard. We braved many a tope bump in the road to get there and check out the offerings.

My first sight was a little boy walking his goats on a leash as if they were puppies. I can imagine the fate of those goats, and loved them dearly as they kind of bleated/sang while trotting down the street.

The market was in its early stages, which is good for many reasons. Less crowded, a relaxed pace, not getting pushed to the side, the vendors are not as pushy yet and, when you purchase, they kiss the coin and cross themselves because it's the first sale of the day. As did the indigenous woman wrapped in rebozos when I bought ten boxes of matches for ten pesos.

In a random corner, there was a woman without a stall, just a giant garbage bag. She was announcing she had shirts for 25 pesos, or $2.50. Well, all right. I stopped and had a look. They were your basic t-shirts you'd see on the endcaps at Target for $9.99 or something. I grabbed one in that ethereal light green color that I keep buying in an attempt to replicate a t-shirt I had in the early 1990s and can never seem to find again. It may be because that t-shirt was not truly light green, but rather the lightest lemon yellow with a hint of green, but I keep trying nonetheless.

And then I saw it. An indigo shirt with a yellow pattern. The pattern was wild, like some combination of an Indian or Mayan design, blended with flowers, giving this overall effect of like a bubbly paisley. I'd never seen anything like it before, and here it was for $2.50. Sure, I didn't like the little pockets or the tight little piping on the sleeves, but that pattern! I could paint it on a canvas or something. So, I snapped it up. Such a find. Upon bringing it home and taking the shirt out so to admire it, I found the origin of my mysterious pattern. The shirt was covered in the faintest outlines of Tweety Bird. I bought a shirt covered in abstracted Tweety Birds. Someday I'll post a picture of it here so you can laugh and laugh at me.