Sunday, August 23, 2009

First week of classes

I have one that starts at nine and goes until ten forty – Grammar. It’s all the technical stuff, all the conjugations and which ones go with which others under which conditions and making sure I get not only that but accent marks and spelling. The teacher’s name is Gloria, she’s about the skinniest full grown woman I’ve ever seen – I’ve seen fifteen year olds this skinny, but damn. She’s very formal, but it’s a formal class I guess, so maybe it follows.

The next one starts at eleven and goes until twelve forty – Conversation. The teacher’s name is Abraham, which is pretty much pronounced abRAM, and he’s a big old hippy. He’s all the time talking about like how Mexican culture should respect women more and animals more and about how after his mom had cancer they both promised to always be happy no matter what because life is too short … basically we’re getting married. Bueno, he’s probably not interested, but the class is super fun.

But I had a realization about halfway through the week when we were talking about where we all came from. I’m from the U.S., as is another girl, there’s a German boy, a Chinese boy, a few Koreans, a couple Japanese… and some of us are there in the exchange student program, and others are actually living there in Guadalajara, wives of diplomats or working in restaurants, and I can hear people’s different accents, like the German boy can’t really say an R, it sounds all French and in the back of his throat, and the Asians speak rather like they do in English and I realized…

…like, we are THOSE PEOPLE. Have you ever seen a promo vid of an ESL class? Or a show or a movie where they had an English as a Second Language class? And it was kinda funny because they all came from all over and all had different accents and different manners of screwing up the language, and the teacher was trying to unite them all under English… it was a little embarrassing, to be honest. But whatever, I’m here for my four months and I’ll get all my college credit and feel like I accomplished something. To be sure, I’m having a ton of fun outside of class, and so…


MONDAY: was the day my belly got sick. Sunday was the day I ate what made me sick, but it didn’t kick in until I was in class Monday. To be honest, when I felt my belly getting all awry, I got pretty friggin pumped. This little medical test I’m participating in is supposed to pay more if I get sick! The nice lady in the doctor’s office gave me crackers and Gatorade, told me to eat no fruit, no veg, no milk nor milk products. No money yet. I got home from class and took a huge honkin nap, from four until about eight pm. That’s when the Mister of the house came home and the energy changed altogether. It was really bizarre. “Mom” told us he was coming, with his brother, who was bringing two guitars for Kiki to check out – Kiki being about to start guitar lessons and the Mister working in a shop where they make guitars, it followed. Mom was bragging on the brother-in-law, about how well he played, and assured us he would play for us. It was really nice, we all sat down in the little plaza, she had me show him my cigar-box banjo and he threatened to put frets on it for me (cool, might happen too!) but it was so strange watching the husband come home and he and the wife didn’t even really greet one another. Things got awkward-turtle, and for the next couple of days Kiki and I felt like we were tiptoeing around the house almost. I had started laundry and hung it to dry, but the nightly rain was coming soon, so I went up to move it over onto the lines that were under a little roof so they wouldn’t get rained on – I got it almost all moved over just as the rain started dumping down and Kiki and Mom and Lore and Gonza junior came up to check. Lots of laughing and splashing ensued and it was pretty fun.

TUESDAY: traffic was INSANE when we got out of school. We waited and waited for the bus, but after a solid half hour and none had come, we started talking to the two girls next to us. Turns out they were waiting for the same bus, so we decided to split a taxi – it turned out to be twenty-five pesos each, which compared with the regular five pesos to ride the bus was pretty steep, but when you do the math into dollars is still a friggin deal. When we finally made it back to the house a solid two hours later, we went to go look for the piano book my maestro had recommended and ended up swinging by a shoe store, too. All I have are these fucking beat up ugly ass tennis shoes that I have been wearing for years, one pair at least for a decade and the other not as long but still a while, and a pair of cowboy boots for iffin I want to go out. I needed something I could be comfortable in but that didn’t look … well, like damn sneakers in bizarre colors like kelly green or fuscia. As I was trying some on, Lore stood up and I told her something must have been in her chair because she had some stains on her bum. Turns out it was woman problems. She ran to the car to wait for us with my bag covering her backside and I paid up and we went home to order sushi delivered (it’s all the rage here in Mexico, but not quite as good) and watch Perfume, some pirated copy, with Julie and her boyfriend Jesus.

WEDNESDAY: Mom came to pick us up nearby the school because traffic was still sic and we had to get back quick so we could grab some comida before returning for our music lessons. When we walked back to grab the bus again, we got a ridiculous amount of whistles and calls! I figured maybe it was because Kiki had her guitar on her shoulder? No idea. When we grabbed the bus, Kiki was wrapped up…

…first I should tell about the wonderful thing Kiki has brought into my life. Surely y’all know how much I love to hear stories. Stories of all sorts from all sources, I want to hear them all. Kiki has done some traveling in her day and met some pretty radical people and has some great stories to tell about them. My walk to the bus is usually accompanied by one of these awesome tales, and I eat it up.

So Kiki was in the middle of one of those tales when we got on the bus, and didn’t notice that the man sitting in the front seat had his eyes pretty much paying rent on her ass. I motioned to her to scoot further away from him, saying Honey you’re being nudey-fied by that guy there, and she scooted and he tried to give us this big grin but you know we weren’t having it so he went back to digging in his nose. I hope he was drunk. He kept staring though, and eventually this woman leaned forward and said “Why do you keep staring at those girls? You don’t know what a woman is?” She was getting off the bus, so she told us to take her seat and she got off, giving him a nasty glare and he never looked at us again. We decided she was our Mexican auntie and refer to her as our Tia now.

My class is at four, so Kiki does homework for an hour, then hers is at five, so I do homework for an hour, and then we go home. Or that’s the plan. But the traffic was still sick from them having to repair the sinkhole in the road, wherever the hell it happened, so we had to get creative. Plus, it was raining, so we had our little travel umbrellas and were walking all over trying to figure out where we could catch our bus. When we finally saw one, traffic was so bizarre and it was not in a lane to come pick us up, so we just walked into the road to get it. P.S., my piano class was awesome. My precious little viejito teacher started at the very and I mean VERY beginning to give me a brief history of music, starting with friggin cave men hollering and beating on trunks with rocks, up until when people tried to figure out how exactly to note music to know not only the pitch of the tune but the timing of both the sounds and the silence up until the Italians came up with words like allegre and stuff to tell you how to play it. When he got to Chopin, and he told me that Chopin taught his students that they don’t play piano with their fingers, the fingers are just another instrument, they play with their SOULS, he got choked up and of course therefore so did I. He speaks so slowly and precisely, due probably to his advanced age, that I understood every single word he said. I’m positively enamored of him. My new shoes hurt so much that day but I was determined to wear them in, and I think all that walking in the rain helped.

THURSDAY: So after class, I went to practice piano a while before I had my 3pm Ritmos Latinos dance class with my homoboy from my home school. Most dance classes I’ve ever taken, the teacher is like, okay we’re going to do this step now and this is how it’s done, step by step, okay now let’s all do that together, hey you you’re going the wrong way you should go the other way… no. This guy just turned the music on and started dancing and we could either follow him or screw it all up as much as we wanted. And he went full steam ahead, hardcore dancing. On my walk home from the bus stop, however, after yesterday’s nonstop piropos, I only got one whistle that I think was probably for me and one honk that I have no idea. Here’s the test then, I thought. I’ll ask Kiki how it went for her. If she still got ‘em, then they’re all for her. If she didn’t, then it’s just our power combined. Turns out she got way more. That’s right, I’m holding her back.

When I got home, we lunched (ahhh, the things learning Spanish is doing to my English) with Lore, who was flipping the television channels around and was watching some movie with horses and Spiderman. Turns out it was Seabiscuit, and when I realized it and hollered – Ah, Seabiscuit! – she thought it was the funniest word she had ever heard and kept making me repeat it for the duration of the movie. We started talking and ended up talking about plastic surgery somehow or another. Kiki and I were both strongly against it, declaring that women who get it don’t believe they’re beautiful, and that we think it’s better for someone to say “She’s pretty good looking” than to say “She’s friggin gorgeous but it’s all fake.” Stressing natural beauty over manmade falseness. Lore stressed that it wasn’t a big deal, that people in Mexico do it all the time, that it’s super cheap and a boyfriend of hers almost bought her boobs once. Kiki and I were both appalled … come to find out a couple days later that the nose Lore has now isn’t the one she was born with. Whoops.

She was also telling us about how she doesn’t really pal around with her old friends ever since she split up with her ex boyfriend – that most of her friends were also his, and so to avoid awkwardness she’s just kinda quit hanging out altogether. So Kiki and I declared that we would be her new friends, so we took her with us to the bailet folclorico downtown in this grand old theater where we met up with another couple of kids from the program. It was seriously impressive, and just fifty pesos, which is less than five bucks. Sweet!

FRIDAY: We went home after a Kiki watched me practice piano until my hands got tired and ate, then went with Lore to meet some friends in the city center – the same ones we met at the bailet last night. We went to the Mercado San Juan de Dios again, the one from when we went downtown with Mom last weekend, so that was kinda fun, so that the girl Monica could look for a violin to take lessons with. Then we needed to head back to make it to the futbol game in time – our school’s home team was playing a big deal team from Mexico City and we all wanted to go and pretend like we were longtime fans. But Monica and Daniel wanted to wait for another chick who was super late, and we did a lot of sitting around.

I have a problem with restlessness. It manifests a little in everyday life, but it goes over the top when I’m traveling. We were sitting waiting for this chick to show, this chick I’d never met before in my life, and she was taking way too long to get there, meanwhile the time was burning and we were supposed to meet my homoboy before the game for a drink but time was awastin and everyone was wanting to take pictures of the group in different combinations and I HATE being in photos and it was making me go bonkers plus the clouds were gathering and threatening to start raining at any minute…

…when the chick finally showed, there was MORE indecision going on, more like well are we gonna take cabs or a bus and are we going together or in groups and meanwhile if we take a bus it’s gonna take too long, I wanted to hop a cab with Kiki and Lore because I needed to go back to the house to get my ticket anyway because I’d thought we were going to be going back by there so I left it there and then get to the game but they were all well wait are we gonna blah blah…

…then the rain started and I just started walking. I figured anyone who wanted to come with me could, and I’d be able to manage either way. Kiki and Lore hopped the cab with me and we made it to the house just in time to make it to the game just in time and had a BLAST. You would not BELIEVE the fight songs these guys kept singing – some completely appropriate to be repeated, some I wouldn’t even repeat in a bar. We went expecting to get SMOKED by the other team, but we smoked them three to zero. The stadium was entirely full and went wild.

We were standing with a group of exchange students who all wanted to go out partying afterward. Neither Kiki nor I really had any desire to go somewhere crazy (Lore hadn’t gone to the game with us), nor my homoboy (whose name I intentionally keep omitting because some folks back home might know him and I don’t want his antics recounted without his consent) and we wanted to just find a place nearby to sit and get a bite and a drink and head home… but the whole group jumped on a bus so we, like good little sheep, followed. These two Korean girls from Kiki’s class were following too, and while grammatically and on paper their Spanish is great, when it comes time to speak they’re way too shy and apologetic to be any good at all. We felt the need to look out for them, and when we all ended up at the place the Germans had been leading us, it looked like a posh dance club with a dress code and a line to get in. Man, all we wanted was a cheap taqueria and a margarita! So we looked at the place, at each other, at the place, at each other… and there it was again. A group of people, standing around, indecisive, wondering what to do. Kiki and I had spotted a place we were interested in eating at, so after more than enough indecision we just said, alright, we’re going. Whoever wants to can come. Ended up us two, my homoboy, Daniel, and the two Korean girls.

We ate entirely too many tacos and quesadillas and I drank my weight in horchata and the whole table’s ticket was like two hundred twenty pesos and we paid and made our respective ways home. What a week!

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