Friday, February 2, 2018

Bowl of Stupid

The Superbowl 52 or #stupidbowl as I am choosing to call it has come to the city I live in. I have been living in Mexico for the last two months going to a yoga school and spending important time staring at the Caribbean Seas. I have returned to my home base for two short and very cold weeks. It is bone chilling cold. My face hurts. My poor planning has managed to place this brief time at home during the very cold two week hoopla and hullabaloo that is the Superbowl. I am ignoring it as best I can.
Today is Friday, I finished a lot of errands today and I am not leaving my house until at least Tuesday. I will venture to yoga classes at a nearby studio and also join some friends for lunch far from the maddening crowds. Stupid Bowl Sunday I will be home not paying attention.

NPR reports that a packing plant in Tancitaro, Michoacan had to ramp up production 50% to meet the demand for Superbowl Sunday. It is estimated that more than 200 million avocados will be eaten on Sunday. So I am thinking about how sports has had no real or positive impact on my life. Wait a minute, I saw avocados priced at $4.99 at a local specialty store. These thoughts are sending me down the rabbit hole and it is interesting to reflect on a life where sports was never, ever integral. Just as I never defined myself by the work I did to make money (my career) I have also never defined myself by any allegiance to sports teams. I do even want to understand the psychology fanatic behavior.  

I grew up on the north shore of Chicago, actually one suburb off the lake, in a completely middle class multi builder subdivision nestled between corn fields on the outskirts of the village center and adjacent to a Naval Air Base. It was the kind of neighborhood where the school bus picked you up at the end of your driveway and if you weren’t waiting they would honk the horn. I had absolutely no sense of the world as a whole or the big bustling city that was 24 miles to the south of me. I learned about that and many other things when I left high school a semester early and tramped off to university two weeks after the winter holidays of 1973. I was only 17.

There is very little of sports that has infiltrated in my life. I grew up with Chicago Cubs baseball playing in the garage on the radio at my father's work bench. My grandmother who live in a tiny upstairs apartment in my aunt and uncle's house in Milwaukee would sip coffee and listen to the radio broadcast of the Milwaukee Braves (before they moved to Atlanta) in 1966. I remember Thanksgiving dinners in the overcrowded homes of my aunt and uncles, people eating on metal TV trays and drinking and smoking. There always seemed to be endless football blaring on the tube.

In elementary school I hated gym class and anything that had to do with team sports. I was always the kid that got hit first with the dodge ball and could never throw it far enough to even imagine hitting anyone. I hated competition and participated as marginally as I could. I went to Wrigley Field a few times and sat in the $2 bleacher seats with the bleacher bums. That was fun. I never played any team sports. I speed skated for fun. I roller skated. I studied ballet, tap and modern and jazz dance. I was in the ski club which made bus trips to Alpine Valley and Wilmot Mountain both over the border into Wisconsin. I liked camping. I liked the solitude of the Illinois Forest Preserves. I love watching barges go through a lock and dam or moving cargo down a river.

In high school before I started working, we would get dropped off to go to the school football game. We would climb under the bleachers and out the fence to go mess around in the fields behind the school. Then we would climb back into the fenced stadium in time for some parent that would pick us up. We would always be sure to know who won, although we could have cared less. I went to the same high school as John Hughes, The Breakfast Club (ending scene) and Ferris Bueller's Day off. I liked art and expressive activities like dance and music. We ate bags of french fries from Little Louie's across from the village park. I liked to ride my boys royal blue Schwinn bike with those road bike matching blue taped handlebars. I worked in a record store for a short while, started my album collection, worked in the flower market at a grocery store and drove a Carmen Ghia.

At university, I tried to go to one football game and for two years I actually lived across the street from the stadium. I was cold and I am sure I didn’t make it to the end of the game. I never cared for peppermint schnapps and never understood the concept that peppermint liquor could keep you warm.

My boyfriend came from the south side of Chicago. He was a south side Irish Catholic through and through. When people asked where he grew up, he would say what parish he was from. He came from a blue collar father, a stay at home mom, had 5 siblings all crammed into what my mother called a brick crackerbox. While he didn’t really follow the Chicago White Sox, I got to learn about north side and south side rivalry at least when it came to baseball. The south side boys drove me 87 miles from DeKalb to a White Castle one night because they couldn’t believe I had never had a slider. It was there, on the south side on another occasion, on a hot summer night in 1976  in which I witnessed my first (and only) drive by shooting. We were standing outside a French Restaurant (of all things) somewhere not too far from 85th Street and South Kedzie. Not much time or money for spectator sports around this hood at the time, just a lot of Irish Catholic girls named Mary Rose, Mary Ellen, Mary Dell, Mary Elizabeth, Mary Margaret and that went on and on and on.

So here I sit in my home on an insanely cold Minnesota winter weekend where people are paying outrageous amounts of money for tickets to a sport event, paying inflated hotel prices and escalated uber fares, over eating, over drinking, over spending, attending all kinds of parties, making money, spending money and there are 2000 national guard soldiers in town to keep everyone feeling safe. Anyone else find this odd?

Whatever the outcome of the “game” no one’s life will really change except for those whose pockets get lined by the almighty dollar. In my humble opinion, this football is religion to the masses and Sunday’s service will be fueled with decadence, the ugly kind not the fun kind. The weary will awaken on Monday, tired for sure, probably hungover and their morning alarm will come early and it will be loud.  

It’s just not for me. I’ve never been a very good sheep. Don’t know, don’t care. I am happy to be engaged in the life I have. We are packing to leave on an epic camper-van trip to the the south west states, packaging some art we made to deliver to friends in Houston, cooking an amazing pot of vegan vegetable soup, playing guitar, singing songs, watching movies and sipping a warm cup of tea.

“Many go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Faded Frescos

It has been a year since we were last here In Playa del Carmen (PDC). Just as the faded frescos display hints of old signs, new construction makes way for new dreams. On side streets rooftops transform to new lodgings. On the Quinta, (main tourists street), a sparkling white nightmare of a shopping mall is bathed in white lights which illuminate and dwarf the remnants of old, long standing shops and the beautiful little Calle Corazon is only a memory.
We have not seen the street cart man that sells the churros near the square. We have not seen the old twin ladies that stand in the doorway at a podium offering massage. We witness Sunday night mass on loud speakers coming from the little chapel with worshipers spilling into the street.

We walk by the fruit ladies (and men) who have been in the same spot for as long as I can remember. We stumble upon transplanted punk rock fire dancers, native drums, annoying pan flutes, dancers and showmen in native dress, falling and spinning from a high tower in the square. They pass a beautiful hat around for those watching to fill with spare coins.
We are more intrigued by the early morning peddle carts transporting loved ones and products for delivery. We search for beautifully embellished delivery trucks with hand painted signs or corrugated shiny metal toppers. From our window we watch the man chopping cabbages every morning for use at a nearby antojitos stand. We watch men sift through the endless collection of metal to take the best pieces to scrap for pesos. We watch a painter precariously perched from some home made wood scaffolding hanging from a 4th floor roof. We visit with our new friends from Canada, Norway and Germany. We wait for the very hungover niñas, who had way too much party for their days here, gather their belongings and make their way to the bus station which will bring them back home to their families in Merida.

We read books, meet friends for dinner, go to the beach, ride bikes, practice yoga, make small paintings, draw pictures, stitch embroidery, sing songs and play guitar. Each and every day is simply perfect. Everyone is happy, full of stories and laughter. Vive feliz.

As always, the playa is forever shimmering in countless shades of turquoise. Unending waves. It is my favorite color, the color of the Caribbean Sea. It is the color I see when I close my eyes. Today, the sun is warm upon our shoulders and the air is humid and sweet.

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.” 
― Victor HugoLes Misérables
Caribbean Sea, Acrylic on Canvas Board, 6" x 6", 2014

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Welcome Back

It's no secret that I am not a fan of cold weather. We have diligently planned our winter get-a-ways to spend just the right amount of time in the cold north to realize how fortunate we are to escape. 
At 3 am, we shut the door behind us, lock it and ride off in the middle of the night, with our Uber driver.  We are just one travel day away from our room #5. We are amazingly calm and more than ready to leave the gray days with no sunshine and the freezing temperatures of Minnesota behind .
We land at our destination, it is warm and there is endless sunshine. We breath in the warm and humid air and I feel my hair start to curl immediately. We make our way past what seems like a million taxi drivers and colectivo hawkers to our busy ADO bus bay #144. It's a 40 minute bus ride to our destination and I want to cheer out loud when I see the bus pull into the parking bay. I watch the already sinking sun from my bus window. The sky turns darker, just as it was so many hours ago, when we caught that early morning ride, from our frozen home in the north.

Our bus exits the 307 highway at Playa del Carmen and begins to wind through the town streets. We step out into the familiar and make our way through the vendors calling out to us to buy from their puestas. We smile respectfully and say "no gracias" repeatedly as we will until the end of our time here. I imagine the vendors are welcoming us back to this place of perfect sunshine, temperature and simplicity. Where days merge one into the next, where we can observe the lives of local workers and international travelers. We have barely a care in the world. Time stands relatively still except for the movement of the sun and moon. We revel in how simple life can be, happy for the choices we have made along the way and gratitude always for all the opportunities that led us to this moment.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Blanca and my Broken Foot

Blanca - photo: Bryce Fairbanks

As dreams go they are often full of little vignettes and I usually don't remember them. I've been trying to write them down sometimes and use them to feed my writing.  

I dreamed I had a broken left foot or ankle. The dream did not divulge how exactly I broke it, but since I am in Mexico my guess it I walked into a hole in the sidewalk or stumbled up or down a curb somewhere. The sidewalks here are very treacherous and much like an obstacle course. Curbs appear in odd places, trees appear in the middle of the path and unexplained holes that will never be repaired, rebar jutting out for a someday light pole and a pathways of varying heights.
The clinic had simply put a lightweight beautifully decorated cast which stopped about mid shin. I was happy there was no pain and running around like nothing was wrong. The cast seemed to weigh no more than my black engineer boot I was wearing on my good foot. My feet looked good together a nice juxtaposition of beauty and toughness.
I'm sitting on top of a picnic table, both feet resting on the bench and some of my friends are there with all their happy dogs and cats. I'm not in Mexico and not sure why. We are getting ready to share food. 

We are all happy and excited because for too may days Blanca, the dog had gone on an adventure in a neighborhood she was not familiar with. She was unable to find her home and unable to cross the big river. She is a little bit shy and difficult to lure.

We are celebrating that Blanca is home safe again. At the gathering we notice that Blanca has again wandered off, but we can still hear the jingle of her tag attached to her collar. We are not concerned because we know she is near her home and can find her way back. After a short time, she runs up to everyone and looks at us as if she is joking about wandering off but she says with her eyes, "I won't do that ever again." She is happy to be home. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bougainvillea Everywhere

I dreamed about you last night. You were as beautiful as ever, exactly how I remember you with your amazing hair, your smile and your stare. Most always talking hopeful and positive, while your life seemed, from my view to crumble around you. Now forever young and always strikingly gorgeous. You only looked different to me because your usual sun soaked skin was white as milk. You were sitting in a tower of a building that had a thatched roof and looking down from a window.
Someone came to me to tell me that you wanted to see me. I'm not sure who it was. I climbed some stairs to where you were sitting. You wanted to tell me something and just walk with me for a while. You had something important to say. I grabbed your milk white hand and your skin felt cold as ice. We walked quietly along the beach.
I asked you if you were really dead and you simply said yes. I saw your children waving to us. We walked a little more turning onto a beautiful cobble stone path that led us through the shade, away from the blazing sun. We passed old and lovely trees and there was bougainvillea blooming everywhere.
I forgot to tell you that I miss you. I forgot to tell you that I loved you and then you were gone.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~Marcel Proust

Photo Credit: (c) Just1backpack Mexico