Archive for May, 2009
The good news is that my camera is working again. The bad news is that it wasn’t working the day before yesterday when F and I witnessed a fabulous photo shoot taking place between the Parroquia and the jardin. In front of two magnificent horses, there was an ornately dressed cowboy jumping through circles he made with his rope. Next to him was a gorgeous model, impossibly tall with fantastic shoes, taking pictures of him. It was around 7:00 PM and the setting sun cast a golden hue on the scene and back lit the sensual lines of the horses and the model’s frizzed out hairdo. How I wished for a working camera at that moment.
San Miguel is a photographer’s paradise. The town is drenched in color and warmth. The colonial architecture creates a nice background for anything and everything. Chico’s shot their Spring 2009 catalog here. Volkswagen recently filmed a commercial. The town is a wedding photographer’s dream.
F and I headed out around 6:30 PM yesterday. As we opened our doors, we saw the same model and her crew. This time, she posed outside El Gato Negro, a perpetually festive bar directly across the street from us. I think a better place would have been the bar on Barranka. The swinging doors are a vintage green that would have contrasted nicely with her dress. The lighting would have cast long early-evening lines, softer than the heavy contrasts at El Gato Negro. This time, the model posed with an animated guy who was drinking beer. She, however, didn’t look so happy. I never saw her smile once. I’m thinking she wasn’t supposed to. Maybe all the fun happens after the sun sets. Maybe her beer drinking partner was having enough fun for the both of them. But my, she certainly was stunning. So were her boots.
Yesterday, as I was turning a corner, I saw an old woman lying on the ground. She had fallen down and was struggling to get back up with the support of her two canes. I went to help her and after she was on her feet, I tried to straighten her to an upright position, attributing her hunched over position to a sense of imbalance. But that’s all she was going to move. She thanked me before I could do any harm by unintentionally readjusting her. As I walked down the hill, I turned back once more to make sure she was still on her feet. From a ways away, she looked like a question mark on canes.
My camera is on the blink. It’s the dreaded black screen again (not a battery problem). I’m not sure I can fix it. Maybe it will fix itself? I have a few leftover pix I’ll be posting in the meantime.
Suffering is an integral part of Mexican culture. It’s prominently featured in telenovelas where the characters supplicate to the Virgincita in every episode to give them courage as they endure their plight. In turn, the Virgincita offers compassion for the longsuffering and intercession on their behalf but with the understanding that to live is to suffer and one must accept their human position and the hardship this entails.
I witnessed suffering over the weekend on the blood stained collar of an intoxicated cabarello. I saw it again yesterday, as I passed an older lady standing outside a decadent home, her face in her hands, looking exhausted, worn, and weary, possibly waiting for someone to walk her home. Every day, I see the lines of desperation on the beggers that hem the streets. I’ve gotten to know the suffering of the women I’ve worked with at the shelter, and realize that for them, the way out is a lot further and obscure than for someone with an education and the opportunity it affords.
As I watched the embedded video above, tears fell off my chin. Fernando watched it with me, but wasn’t moved as I was. When it finished, he told me that you don’t have to go far to see this kind of hunger. It’s right here with us. I’m starting to learn that suffering is relative, and that if you suffer from a broken heart, you must have enough resources to keep your belly and the bellies of your children full.
We had a few days of rain recently. Rain tends to bring out all the little buggers, including scorpions. Yesterday at the gym, I felt something in my shoe as I was power jumping. When I removed my shoe and dumped the contents, there was a dead, smashed scorpion in my hand.
Sara’s favorite subject in school is Biology. She’s interested in pursuing two professions: archaeology and law. She’s very good at reading, listening, and music. As President, she would first focus on helping the sick and developing medicine for diseases. Then she would focus on social justice.
More profiles at the emerging Buen Pastor website.
Tuesday was a special day for F and I. We visited Buen Pastor to interview the girls and take photographs. Unfortunately, my camera’s memory stick ran out of memory the 10th picture in and we couldn’t dump the files. Plus I didn’t have a way to download the images. Buen Pastor’s camera didn’t have any batteries. I’ve learned to always expect the unexpected, so I didn’t mind. It just means another trip back to Buen Pastor and more interaction with the girls.
Madre Lourdes and I enjoyed the responses to the questions. The girls are incredible. They have high aspirations. They spend a lot of time after school studying and doing homework. It would be a dream realized if they had a computer lab and software to learn English, typing, and even driving. F has installed all these programs at Santa Julia. I wish the girls at Buen Pastor had access to them too.
This girl, Teodora, came to Buen Pastor four months ago with her twin sister. They had never set foot in a classroom before. In only four months, they have almost caught up with their peers at school and absolutely love to hit the books and study. It’s wonderful and makes my librarian heart sing.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the relationship about giving and receiving and how my perception of this relationship has evolved since I fist started experiencing Buen Pastor. I’ve thought a lot about a parable that goes something like this, or perhaps not like this. Even though I can’t remember the story, I do remember the message.
Once upon a time, there was a student that wanted to impress his teacher. His teacher couldn’t walk without the help of a cane. Recently, the cane had been burned in a fire, so the teacher had remained seated throughout his day. The student decided to make the teacher a cane. After he found the perfect wood, he set to carving images and symbols he knew that his teacher would appreciate. Every day, he looked forward to spending more time with the cane, anticipating the joy it would give his teacher. Then finally, one day, the student presented the cane to his teacher. Instead of thanking him, the teacher casually put the cane down at his side and proceeded with the day’s lesson. But the student couldn’t concentrate. The teacher had not even acknowledged the gift, let alone thanked him. So he asked his teacher, “I have spent many days creating this cane for you. Shouldn’t you thank me for it? The teacher responded, “It is you who should be thanking me for creating an opportunity to give.”
The first time I came to Buen Pastor, I had solicited donations from friends and came down to Mexico with a bundle of money for the convent. I remember when I excitedly handed Madre Lourdes the bulging envelope, she barely even looked at it. Like the teacher in the story, she put it down and went to business as usual. Like the student in the story, my pride had been pricked. But I remembered this story at the time, and I began to dwell on it.
Throughout the past four years, I’ve had the opportunity to raise money and be at every part of the giving and receiving relationship. I feel foolish now when the madres thank me profusively–which they do–for giving them money that my friends have donated to Buen Pastor. These women have dedicated thier LIVES to advance the well-being of others for precious little compensation, except to know that they are doing a good thing. I get it: the giver should be thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this good thing.
It’s come full circle… now, when Madre Lourdes tries to give me money, I don’t push it away and feel badly because I know how little she has. I accept it. I’ve come to realize that when you’re hooked into Spirit, that money is simply energy moving to where it needs to be.
I sent off my updated resume and cover letters to three libraries today:
- New York Film Academy in Los Angeles
- Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia
- University of California Santa Barbara
Each position is markedly different from the others and from my job at LCC. Most of all, I’ll be grateful for a change of scenery and new challenges that these positions represent. After applying to non-profit organizations, foundations, and meaningful work for months without any luck, I’ve decided to try libraries again.
Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving early morning for Buen Pastor. I’ll be working on the website and delivering Madre Lourdes $400 of the quilt raffle money. Thanks to everyone who has participated. You should have received a thank you email from me if you did (if you did not receive a thank you from me, you most likely didn’t hit the last submit button on the PayPal form). If you haven’t yet had the chance to buy a ticket, there’s still time.
Over and out.
One of my favorite things to do in San Miguel is buying a cone from this guy and sitting in the Jardin on Sundays with F. His ice cream is the best.
She dreamt of walking down a quiet street, looking for her home. She thought it was here somewhere. But all the doors were closed to her. It seemed as if the street itself told her she was close, but her door was not here.
Something new I learned today: If you ever get an insect trapped inside your ear, shine a bright light on the buggy side of your head and the creature will emerge.
I walked by Guera’s old place today. It’s an eyesore. There is trash everywhere and broken down cars in various states of disrepair. One is missing its wheels, another its doors, and a third sandwiched up like an accordion. Even though part of the house is made of bricks, it looks like a huff and a puff could blow it down. The front door is a dirty piece of material blowing in the wind. I saw two little children playing outside and I thought they must have been kind to Guera and responsible for preserving her sweet nature. I looked for Guera’s mother, but didn’t see her.
As I passed by, I noticed two large trash bags placed where the asphalt and sidewalk begin, not far from the house. Beside the bags laid a clean carcass of what looked to be a large dog’s thorax. I wondered what the bones would say if they could talk.
Dogs suffer all over the world. I know this. But to see it really hits home. Fernando told me that Jaimi, F’s friend the groomer, told him that people have been taking their unwanted dogs to the fringes of town and abandoning them there. Packs of dogs have now formed, starving and looking for food. Just past week, I read on the listserv that a woman’s beloved little Italian Greyhound was hunted by a pack of these dogs and killed.
It’s a rags to riches story: Guera has found a new home! She’ll be leaving for Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the end of the month. Her new father is a semi-retired attorney who is an amazing dog dad. Members of his family (and even F) want to be one of his dogs. He dotes on them, dedicates much of his time to them, feeds them nutritious food, takes them to the vet (he’s already set Guera up w/an appointment), and most of all showers, absolutely showers, them with love. Guera will have two brothers to play with and will live next to a superior dog park. She will want for nothing.
When Guera used to put her flea infested, sweet little head down on her dirt pillow, never in a million years could she have dreamed up a paradise as wonderful as the one she’s headed to. We’re all so happy for our precious little girl.