So, I've gotten lax. But we all knew there would be some changes in me now that I've pushed into my thirties. One of them might be that I'm slower. AH! But let's not delay the passing on of information. Here's a quick two-month round-up:
1) I dug myself a mighty hole of virtual paper to swim in. That's right, internet research! I was pushing hard in the few weeks before mid-October hit to research grants and funding options for a youth radio initiative I'm working on here in Oaxaca. There was a bit of actual paper to swim in, as well, as I was writing up my very first syllabus for a radio class--which was fun to work on, that is when creeping doubt didn't crowd out my creative ideas.
2) There was a bit of shopping going on. When you head for the States only once a year, that comes with a steep price. Yes, the plane ticket. But also, the price of carrying gifts back and forth for loved ones. There's no showing up empty handed when you've been away from "home" for so long. I even had to hunt down a special suitcase to lug the many crafts and delicacies one can only find in Oaxaca. Note to self, when you pack 3 kilos of coffee beans, make sure to wrap them in plastic. The over zealous security guards at the airport may topple your bag, and thus, scatter those fragrant beans all over the inside of your carry-on. Second note to self, especially important when you also pack your bridesmaid's dress in that same carry-on ("Megan, pretty dress. Is that you who smells like...coffee...?) And the load back was no lighter. It's popular to become a little "burro" for your friends back in México.
3) I went on a trip. Mexico-Scottsdale-Portland (OR)-San Francisco and back. I tried to post a little video. But until my neophyte tech brain upgrades to a better model--I'll have to wait to post it again. I think it looked just like still pictures. Oy!
So in lieu of a play-by-play, here are some moments:
- A quick stop in Arizona sees me sitting in a diner-like breakfast place with Grandma & Grandpa, where the cinnamon buns are pillow-sized, and my tummy cries out for salty and sweet; California Eggs Benedict with a bowl of fruit it is! And you know what my first thought is as I'm driving around on Scottsdale's pristine roadways...? "Where are all the poor people?"
- Portland is neither wet, nor cloudy when I touch down. LIES! Or perhaps I have a red phone straight to the weather man upstairs--because we are blessed all week, and the day of the wedding with blissful sunshine. I do score a monkey hair coat from Vicki and Mike that keeps me warm--since I'm ill prepared for cold weather. It seems that each furry green hillside is spitting out some form of waterfall or river. There's no such thing as a water shortage here.
- A take a stroll in Noe Valley, the neighborhood just east of Drew and Felicity's hilltop apartment in San Francisco proper. I shuffle around the colorful shops, and plop down eventually in a café for a bagel and a vanilla steamer. The table next to me is talking presidential election. I'm finding it more difficult to tune out English, than it is to do the same with Spanish. Can't a girl read in public in peace?
- I'm stunned by what Felicity names the Bay Area's "free to be you and me" philosophy on life which makes it allowable to have 3 different public transit systems in town, separately run, and without a unifying map for tourists. This is not American organization, people!
- Felicity makes killer sweet potato stew. Alaska Amber is tasty. Tiger ice cream with hot fudge and homemade brownies is worth crossing the border for.
- Kiely is a burst of blonde energy and cries for "babies babies babies!" She leaps from lap to lap, happy and brave to visit with everyone at our small dinner party. I'm so glad Sarah and Eric's little one wasn't past the stage where people other than her parents get to hold her.
- Roadtripping with mom down the Columbia River Gorge, stopping to marvel at the size and power of Multnomah falls, that has pushed a bus-sized boulder from the surrounding moss-covered walls.
- An afternoon visit to the beach in Alameda. A long trek from Embarcadero to the Ghiradelli chocolate headquarters. An afternoon of thai food with the girls.
- "I don't know what I'm doing," seems to work its charm on transit workers in the MUNI system when one is lost, or really just wants a bit of hand holding.
- A tiny cape hidden under a larger cape. Brilliant! I love circus jokes.
- Um, did I mention my first friend in Glenview got married!
- Ah, the Mission District--a tiny Mexico far from Mexico. There's no absence of Spanish here.
- My little red sweater gets left somewhere on the streets of San Francisco. I hope you are happy Little Red, whereever you are. If your new owner doesn't treat you right, you know where to call!
- A long climb up the back way to Coit Tower, takes me to now almost 80 year-old frescoes (a public works project form the 30s), that seem more relevant than ever.
- A visit to the country east of Sacramento with Jenny: pumpkin festivals, hay rides, a cool night wrapped in blankets by an outdoor fire, sipping some tea.
- A dash to wine country, taking in the quickly chaning colors of the landscape over shallow glasses of pinot noirs and cabernets.
I feel like I wondered into a redlight district. The two little pieces of ginger on this sign look like they are tangled in a very naughty situation!
- And of course, more food, oh, glorious eating: steaming pitas and hummus at Nicholas, stuff red peppers at the Ovink/Sindelar house, purple cabbage soup, Bob's for breakfast, Basil/Mint ice cream from an Indian store, a raspberry white chocolate shake at Ghiradelli's, a long hunt for Giordano's in North Beach--where they pile your cole slaw and fried right onto the sandwich, ginger molasses cookies at Grand Central, Tofu Sate with Peanut Sauce at a hole-in-the-wall in the Bay, Vegetarian Crispy noodles--Vietnamese-style, dinner at Q, complete with battered catfish in a corn/lime salsa and hearty mac 'n cheese, three warm chocolate chip cookies floating atop vanilla bean ice cream (oh how I miss you cookies!), freshly made biscuits drizzled with homegrown honey, buttermilk fried chicken and corndogs that actually taste good, carmel apples, sushi on a conveyor belt, and micro brews for miles! Oh my!
- Sit on some square of green just across from Pier 19, watching the day go by. The sun glinting off Alcatraz. The tour of people atop sidekicks. I talk to an Iranian guy with two GIANT German Sheppards about how his electronic store is tanking now with the economic crisis--but his frozen yogurt shop is doing fine. I guess there are some things that people can't, in fact, live without.
- Navigating the construction-filled streets of Scottsdale with Holly. Enjoying election results at Meg's. Pouring over old albums of Grandpa squashed into a 1930's car with his family, their luggage lashed to the sides of the car, for there was no trunk.
4) I'm back almost a month now. We've got a new president on the horizon in the U.S.. That's exciting. The holidays are chomping at our heels. They've already started putting up Christmas decorations in the stores here. Without a holiday between Halloween (Day of the Dead) and Christmas here, they just have to march right on through and start the selling frenzy.
My head's down, and to the grindstone (ouch! bad metaphor). I've got to find funding, or a way to make this work. So I'm trying to keep all the plates spinning at once here. That finds me inside, at my desk, nose to computer most days. My bloodshot eyes tell the tale. But through it all I'm thinking it'll be much easier to be without funding and poor here in Mexico than the same in the States. So...
Thanks for hanging in there, readers. More from this side of the border to come.