Archive for November, 2007

Shopping, shopping, shopping

November 29, 2007

For some reason, I’m in a shopping mood right now. I think I can place the blame for this irrational behavior in several places – so that you know that it is totally not my fault.

First, FIL – book shopping heaven – has made me realize that I really do need more books. Thanks FIL!

Second, Louise – my “friend” sent me an Internet coupon for the Ann Taylor store, which she is well aware is my mortal weakness. This is combined with the fact that I really (no really) don’t have enough office clothes. I have enough weekend clothes, but I’m sorely lacking in the office-ware department. I REALLY covet the clothes on the Ann Taylor web site – and I know they fit me. Evil Louise!

And third, we desperately need a sofa before the Christmas visitors arrive. We just have to have one. There is only so much sitting around the kitchen table you can do before you want to stretch out on the sofa and relax. When we have someone over to stay, the futon (our stand-in sofa) becomes the guest bed. And, yes, we actually drag it into another room for this occasion. (We though it rude to make Adolfo’s mother sleep in the living room and have the sun blazing in on her at 7:30am. The guest room has curtains.) For Christmas, we are hosting Adolfo’s brother and sister, so we need more places to sit.

Also, I’d like a new refrigerator, but I think that one is far in the future. I’d be happy to window-shop some new refrigerators.

So that’s it for now, the FIL hasn’t ended yet, my pants don’t fit and I have no place to sit.

It’s really not my fault I’m going to be broke soon!

FIL!

November 23, 2007

The FIL begins tomorrow. The FIL is the Ferria Internacional de Libros, that’s right, it’s the International Book Fair! Woo!

I am told that it is the largest book fair in the Americas and some say it is second only to the book fair in Frankfurt, Germany. Em may need to comment on this as she is the only person I know who has been to the book fair in Frankfurt.

I’m hoping to spend all my Christmas money before it even arrives. (ok, maybe I can restrain myself a little.) Adolfo’s mother arrived last night and tomorrow the plan is: all book fair, all the time.

I have the newspaper insert and soon I will get my official FIL schedule and will need to sit down and make a plan. There will be lectures and concerts and expositions and movies and lots and lots of books.

Each year there is a regional special emphasis, which is called the “Invited Country” or region. This year’s invited country is Colombia. So, there will be lots of Colombian writers giving lectures and books about Colombia or by Colombians. Also, there will be concerts by Colombian bands (oh, like, Aterciopelados), Colombian food, etc.

That’s not to mention all the other non-Colombian events and presentations. Elena Poniatowska is going to present her new book called “Amanecer en el Zócalo” about the 50 days of strikes in Mexico City after the last election.

Adolfo says that in the past, they would walk up and down the expo hall full of books for days on end. Which sounds just about perfect to me. It lasts a week, so if you don’t see me around, you know where I am.

"Real"

November 18, 2007

Holy mackerel, I found REAL butter at the market yesterday.

Those of you who are not in my family may be wondering, just what is “real” butter and how is it differentiated from “not real” butter. Well, the opposite of “real” is not “not real” but “store”, as in, “store” milk. You know, milk that comes from the store. “Real” butter doesn’t come from the store.

And, yes, I did buy this butter at a market place, but I would never have found it in the Gigante supermarket.

I went to the market for veggies and cheese. The cheese lady happens to sell other somewhat random household items along with the cheese, so I picked up a bar of soap and a can of tuna along with my kilo of cheese and 18 eggs in a plastic bag.

I asked her if she had any butter and she asked me what kind I wanted. I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I tried to get clarification.

She said, in a little box or a ball?

HUH?

So then one of her daughters brought out this plastic bag containing a BALL of butter. I said, “Where did this come from?”

And the father said, “We make it at home.”

I asked where the milk came from, and he named a little pueblo somewhere that I didn’t recognize. (That’s a good sign. What do I know about the pueblos around Jalisco? Practically nothing.)

So, of course I bought it and danced around the house with it while Adolfo looked on, very confused and concerned for my mental health.

I’ve been losing weight lately, so this should put an abrupt halt to the weight loss as I’ve been considering all day the number of things that I could eat with butter.

It tastes like “real”.

Work Related

November 14, 2007

This one is for Amanda because I finally decided to write about something that happens at work.

There are many things that are different from my jobs in the same field in the states and there are also many differences, as you would suspect. However, in the last couple weeks, one of the differences has caught me off guard and made me think about how human relations are difference between countries like the US (Canada, UK, etc.) and countries like Mexico (Spain, France, other Latin American countries, etc.).

A couple weeks ago, my students started kissing me.

You see, all girls kiss other girls they know or meet, on the cheek (once, lean left). Girls also kiss other boys they know or meet, on the cheek. Boys do not kiss other boys, but may give a very masculine one or two-pat hug if they know each other well.

So being a girl, and getting to know some of my students better than others, some of them have started to kiss me.

For some reason, it is shocking to me, and while I rarely get faked out in social settings, I have misread some of the students leaning in for the kiss.

I was ready for the handshake; I had handshake-relationships with students in the states. But, under no circumstances did the handshake lead to a kiss on the cheek.

On one hand, it’s very nice and I know that they feel they know me better, now that I have been working with them for a month or so. On the other hand, I can’t seem to mentally prepare and I just keep feeling awkward, then I hesitate and they think I don’t want to kiss them, and then they hesitate once I recover and it just ends up being weird.

Also, they are the youngest people I am kissing these days. Everyone else (our friends) are long out of school and are much more confident people.

The students seem young and insecure, except for one, who is very exuberant and practically grabs me by the shoulders and kisses me. SHE is also more mature than some of my other students (her parents don’t live in Guadalajara and she lives alone, she has a very different style of dress, she is doing different types of studies), she has a LOT of confidence.

I like that my students are feeling more close to me, I just have to prepare myself for the lean.

Mandarin Juice

November 13, 2007

I need a juicer, and fast.

Our concierge brought up a plastic grocery bag full of mandarins this evening after I got home from work. He had a bag for every apartment (there are 4 of us) and I’m quite sure he kept a large amount for himself and his family. We saw him cutting fruit from the tree this weekend, which is enormous and weighed down with ripe mandarins.

I have a hand juicer, the kind I use to squeeze a lime or two, but squeezing 10 pounds of mandarins is going to take me a while. I delayed dinner tonight by squeezing two glasses of juice. Mmmm…. Fresh squeezed juice.

November 8, 2007

My Grandma B died last night. I’m feeling kind of far from my family, but Adolfo has been a great help. When I called home tonight, they said they were eating Chinese take-out food, and I was feeling rather nostalgic and homesick and just plain sad.

So, after talking to the family and talking to Adolfo for a little bit, we decided to go try the Chinese restaurant down the road. Grandma B liked Chinese food and I thought a little won ton soup would make me feel better.

And, surprisingly,it did. Grandma must have been smiling down on us, because, although we were prepared to be disappointed, the food was really good. And, I’m feeling much better and less homesick.

Movie popcorn

November 7, 2007

One of the differences that I’ve encountered with food here in Guadalajara involves going to the movies. This past Sunday, we went to the University of Guadalajara’s movie theater, which like any good university movie theater shows odd foreign flicks and random documentaries. It’s great!

We went to see a documentary about a fantastic piano player (Martha Argerich). Unfortunately, we didn’t know that we were seeing a double feature and the second movie was so bad that we walked out in the middle. Neither of us had ever left a movie in the middle, but this one was awful and ruining our good movie vibes from the documentary.

When we go to the movies here, we always get snacks. We never got snacks in the states. The snacks in the states are gigantic, costly and don’t taste very good, in our opinion. However, the movie snacks here are really good. (We have only been to 2 movie theaters here and both are independent. If we went to the Cineopolis, we might have a different experience, I don’t know.)

Adolfo gets the peanuts, which come salted and with some dried chile de árbol in the mix. Somewhat dangerous after the lights go down, as you cannot just grab a handful and toss them in your mouth for fear of biting into a fearsome chile.

I go for the popcorn. The popcorn is made without salt and when you get your small sized bag of popcorn (one size only and it’s just enough for me) you move down to the condiments. On your popcorn you can put lime juice, hot sauce and salt! I’ve dabbled in the lime juice and salt or hot sauce and salt, but never all three. It is just about the best pop corn you could want, no fake butter, no extra-super salty and just the right amount. Oh, and it only costs 10 pesos (1 dollar).

Snacks and a good movie, what more could you want.

Virtual Altar

November 2, 2007

Day of the Dead is celebrated today, and from the newspaper I bought this morning it appears to be celebrated through the weekend.

I think we are supposed to go to the cemeteries and picnic with our relatives. But, neither Adolfo nor I have any relatives in the local cemeteries. I also don’t have the family photos necessary to build a proper altar, so I decided I would describe my altar here.

If you haven’t seen a Mexican Day of the Dead Altar before, they are very interesting family art projects.

Generally speaking altars are made up of the following items:
Photos of dearly departed friends and family members,
Marigold flowers (also called cempasúchil or, if you’re not practiced up on your Nahuatl, Flor de Muerto)
Candles,
Sugar skulls (sold at every local grocery store, if you go to a market and there is someone with some icing, they will write a name of your choosing across the forehead of the skull, if you like),
Pan de Muertos (bread of the dead),
And then you personalize the altar with things that your friends and relatives liked. You should also consider preparing the food that the dead enjoyed so that they will be more likely to come back and visit with you.

Some altars are more religious and others less so, depending on the family and the relatives, of course.

So, in my altar, there would be pictures of my Grandpa B and a couple golf balls and a hamburger, a picture of my Uncle Tom and a carved wooden duck and perhaps a firecracker (set next to the candles, would provide an appropriate amount of danger for Uncle Tom), a picture of Aunt Helen and Perry and some of that awful candy corn and cherry cordials.

Then you gather with your family and tell stories about the friends and family past and eat Pan de Muertos. In a way, it reminds me of Thanksgiving. I believe there are some public events tomorrow around town, we’ll see if we make it to any of them.