Thursday, October 22, 2009

Paradoxes and Changes

So I know I said I lost my little notebook already. I'm still sad. Also in there were some ideas I was hoping to write to you about, so I'ma see if I can't brainstorm them a bit before they disappear altogether.

First of all, I was writing about some paradoxes I've witnessed here in Mexico. Looking at the list, they're pretty much all related to religion somehow or another.

First there's the whole issue of what exactly a woman in Mexico is supposed to be like. Seems like there are two extremes, and I'm sure those of you who know a thing or two about feminism know where this is headed. First of all, there's the impotance of the image of the Virgin in Mexican culure. Estimates I've heard range between 80 and 93% of the population as Catholic. So why, then, does this culture that reveres the image of the Virgin as well as the Mother so highly... allow its sons to hang out of cars whistling at the women they pass, yelling, barking, wagging their tongues? When I go out dancing, the Mexican girls advise me not to dance with more than one boy per night, never to kiss a boy until we've been out several times. If I do, they tell me, I'll be a slut, a whore, no kind of respectful woman at all. But then the same men who would judge me to be a slut seem to demand it.

And while we're talking about the image of the virgin, what of that? October 12 was a big local holiday here in Guadalajara, the Day of the Virgin of Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara. Now if you know anything about the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe, you know she appeared to a man there and spoke to him in his own native tongue. He went and told his priest who advised him to bring proof. When the man returned from visiting the virgin again, his apron was completely full of roses that never bloom there, and when he dumped them out the image of the virgin had appeared on his apron. But the Virgin of Zapopan? No story. She's just a little statue. She has a silly dress and a ridiculous hat and lives inside a glass case. People pray to her for miracles and claim that she gives them what they ask for. Every year they parade the statue all around the city, blowing off fireworks and noisemakers in her path no matter what time it is nor how many people with heart conditions may be nearby. She's just a statue someone made. She is... an idol. And yet this is the same religion that has God himself demanding in the only ten commandments important enough to engrave in stone that they should not be idolatrous. I'm pretty sure Jesus brought it up in the New Testament, too. How do they get around that?

There was another paradox in there but it's gone forever now. On to changes.

The first change is a bit of a paradox also. So I'm in an exchange program with all sorts of other students, I'm sure I've mentioned but I'll do it again. German, French, Australian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Candian, Holland-ish, Austrian... there are surely more but that's all I've got. Nobody from Italy or the UK I don't think. But Spanish only has five vowel sounds and not many compound consonants, so frequently our foreign names are hard to say. More than any other nationality, the Koreans adopt Spanish names when they come here. When one of them introduces themself to me with a Spanish name, I make a point to ask, but is that your own name or a Spanish name? 100% of the time they'll say, no, my real name is this, and when I repeat it, it's like... the surprise on their faces while they exclaim VERY GOOD PRONUNCIATION... It makes me a little sad for them.

But then I realize, I've changed too. It hurts me so badly to hear people call me GEEEEENA that I've just told them to call me Susan. Now, to be fair, that is my birth name, but it's not what I usually go by. I've changed. There are some people here that call me Ginna, but not many, and many of them screw it up when they try it.

Another change. When I first got here, I was surprised to see the kids in the house throwing the peace sign up any time they came home or entered a room or left... it's like Aloha or something, serves all sorts of purposes. And I laughed like uh what's up 1993 didn't expect to see you here. But it's not just them, it's all over the place. And now... I'm doing it. Throwing deuces all over the place. Whether it's the peace sign or the victory sign, I'm not sure, but I'm doing it. It's actually kind of handy.

Something else handy: the phrase "Vale la pena." It means, literally, to value the pain, or be worth the trouble. When I worked in Scotland, I came back with the phrase "canna be arsed" or "canna be bothered" as my phrase of choice. Here, for me, although I've picked up all sorts of phrases, my favorite is "vale la pena." So many things do and don't "vale" their "penas"... it becomes a way of thinking as well as a phrase.

On my list of changes, I had something that hadn't changed, wasn't changing, would not be changing as well. It was an important observation for me... and now it, and my beautiful beloved notebook are gone forever.

Staying in town and planning to pall around with Melissa and Sergio again. Here's to another ROCKSTAR WEEKEND.

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