Thursday, September 24, 2009

Freak and Geek

Something I never get used to about living in Oaxaca is how I'm, in essence, a freak. I'm a big tall lady with a big Jewish afro and I'm not, you know, a quiet person. In my most insecure moments, I think every laugh on the street is a laugh at me. But now I've joined a health club and I stand out even more.

I'm the type who gets bright red in the face and sweats when I work out. To the point that people in the U.S. even noticed at times. In Mexico, where many people not only do not seem to sweat, but they also do not appear to mess up their hair or clothes while working out, I feel like a sweathog. Yeah, I'm Vinnie Barbarino or probably Arnold Horseshack and I'm strutting in saying "Hey, Mister Kot-ter," while everyone else comes and goes speaking of Michelangelo.

It's not like I have ever aimed to be cool or anything, but I wouldn't mind the advantage of occasionally being able to keep a low profile.

It hit an all-time low this morning when I went to Pilates. The Spanish instructions had me a half beat behind everyone else. I towered over everyone, all the more apparent with my bright red face. And then they brought out the medicine balls. Is that what they're called? Those giant exercise balls. We were supposed to balance ourselves supine across them in order to lift or stretch or exhale or inhale, but I found myself uncontrollably rolling around the room.

Panic rose in my throat, but I kept one goal in mind: just don't roll over anybody. If I can get through the class without flattening my classmates, I can call it a success. But will I ever go back?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Half as much

I've been busy since school started with serious party-hopping which means many pinatas to be broken. I've also had some great fun hanging with new friends such as Lauren, Sadie and Heather. The upswing in social activities means that we do way less village exploring and it means that we wind up at home between parties rather than out and about.

I'm a Cancer and I like hanging out at home, but something shook me the other day. I was walking out of my Osho meditation gathering and saw a house for rent. The house was on Jacobo Dalevuelta, right next to the house Steve and I rented when we lived here 12 years ago.

All of a sudden, I saw a different life unfold for me, where we lived in the centro as opposed to in a quiet-ish neighborhood. Where we'd be smack between two parks, across from a yoga center and right by a Friday tianguis. It would be the hubbub life, where you step outside your door to see what's going on. Twelve years ago, we would stand on our balcony and listen for the calenda processionals, dashing out to follow the brass band.

I felt myself longing for that version of Oaxaca. But does that version include kids and getting them up to Volcanes for school every day? Crossing bloody Ninos Heroes de Chapultepec--in essence, commuting? It seems silly to commute to take kids to school when Steve and I both work at home full time and enjoy the fact that we can take a back country road to the school and get there in 10 minutes. And that I can walk back in 25, stopping for a cactus smoothie breakfast on my favorite median strip.

I like rituals and checking in with neighborhood people, but I also like ambient buzz. Maybe we don't have enough of that around here?

Then I wondered if the old life I romanticize about includes the ability to have Jenny around. It reminds me of something I said to my grief group therapist a couple years ago, that I lead a second choice life with Jenny gone. I've reconciled that somewhat because I suspect many people don't even get their second choice life.

Then I remembered something Jenny said that I think I blogged about before. My dad once told us, "We Makofskys always have to work twice as hard for half as much." Jenny said, delighted, "Half as much! I love half as much. That's enough."

Monday, September 07, 2009

House of Cultcha

My lovely friend Nina introduced me to the wonders of La Casa de Cultura. Here is one thing Oaxaca's government seems to get right, funding an ornate building with arches around two inner courtyards, with creative arts classes going on in classrooms tucked behind the arches.

I took Max to his Introduction to Theater class there on Sunday, and spent the time listening to violinists practicing, watching ceramicists forming dinosaurs and catching glimpses of children practicing folkloric dances.

The experience made me think about the childhood I'd like Max and Geni to have, growing up pursuing creative endeavors at La Casa de Cultura. At one point, Max caught sight of a boy his age carrying a large canvas with the beginnings of an abstract painting. "That's what I want to do!" he insisted. And chess. And science. And origami. All of it amid the galleries and colonial architecture, the strains of songs and stomping feet, like something out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Back to School Again

I've got the school supply list for Colegio Teizcali's preschool in front of me, which caused a certain amount of headaches. Here's the list, including some of my bad translations:

1 workbook with small squares
1 workbook with big squares
2 professional notebooks for drawing, each 100 pages
1 double-lined notebook in the style of Italian binding
2 pencils (for writing, not drawing)
2 boxes of wooden colored pencils (24 colors) tagged with name
1 plastic pencil box tagged with name
2 pairs of rounded point scissors
1 "migajon" eraser
1 toothbrush, little cup, two toothpastes with flavor (except mint), tagged
1 comb or brush for hair
1 industrial gray robe with long sleeves (for sale in "Boneterias) or "mandarla hacer") with the name embroidered
2 educational games for the class library (puzzles, blocks, memory, "chalupa" [Ed. note--isn't chalupa a dish at Taco Bell?]
1 box of 24 crayons
1 small towel for hand-cleaning
1 big shoebox with the top covered in ultramine shade paper with her name
For swimming: bathing suit, swim cap in the color indicated by the swim teacher, goggles, sandals, and towel or bathrobe

It makes you tired, doesn't it?