Tuesday, October 26, 2004

So I'm back in the groove of things again. Only took about four days. I had to take a Spanish exam today and I have to still check out how I did on my Media Law test--I'm sure it's horrible. Quite possibly that was the worst test I've taken, and not because it was hard or anything, it was because I was completely unprepared after being swallowed whole by the Presidential Debate monster and other journalistic deadlines. So a test suffered and we'll see how miserably very soon I'm sure. But the Spanish exam faired much better and my essay, which I thought would be a C, turned out to be a B+. Go figure...
And so goes school. I just preregistered for my last semester and here's how the schedule should go: Advanced Spanish Grammar and a class on Alfred Hitchcock films on Monday nights, Rock climbing and Precision Journalism on Tuesdays and Thursdays and just Advanced Spanish Grammar on Wednesday evenings. I'm counting on getting a paid internship so I can fill the other three credits and hopefully get a foot in the door for a job after college. I'll be interviewing for that later on in the month.
Other fun things: today I signed up to help out at the polls on Tuesday the 2nd from 5:30 in the morning until 10 a.m. Part of me is wondering what possessed me to do it, but then the other half knows the motivation--Extra credit; 30 points of it in my Chicano Studies class to be precise. Hey, I'm not going to complain and yes, I know I'm perfectionist geek. It's my only class where the "+" grade is being used. So basically if I can get an A+ in that class, it will seriously help another class--like Media Law! I'm gonna go for it, I mean, what do I have to lose? Anyway it'll be a good experience and something to tell the kids about some day. "Not only did the President of the U.S. speak at my college when I was a senior, but I also helped out at a polling site on the day of the election" I imagine myself telling my kids. I hope I get to tell them it was the year President George W. Bush was reelected...
So that's my story for the day. I'm off for more homework and maybe a little time with my fiance--only 6 months and 19 days left!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Last day in Mexico...

My eyes memorized the streets, the smells, the sounds. "Jesthers," a pasteleria in downtown Monterrey, was buzzing with customers. The store window displayed an endless array of round, white wedding cakes, topped by faux flowers or princess-like girls in colored dresses.
The smell of fresh donuts invades my nostrils the second I step foot through the door. Rows and rows of Mexican pasteries fill a stand in the middle of the shop.
Horacio Montemayor works the counter taking pesos from his customers who fade out the door with bags of empenadas. They're the few that still regularly come. The rest have moved on to American-owned businesses like WalMart, which stock their shelves with Sara Lee ready-made cakes and pies. It's cheaper there and, in some cases, more convenient.
Montemayor's shop boasts "The best quality and the best prices" on small, color-printed business cards. The small bakery is even on the Web.
With profit slowly declining as customers dwindle, Montemayor worries about his childrens' educational futures. How will he pay for college for the 17-year-old and what about the others who are approaching teen-hood?
I thank him for his time and slip out the door, past the old man selling cigarettes and gum, which are haphazardly perched on milk crates. A bus meanders by, leaving a plume of dark brown smoke in its wake. The familiar neon-green taxis whiz by, dodging through traffic.
I stick my arm out with my index finger pointed, the signal most use to hail a taxi. A bright green Volkswagon bug pulls beside the curb and I lean against the window and say "Por favor, al hotel Holiday Inn Express Tecnologico en Avenida Garza del Sur---cuanto cuesta?"
"Treinta pesos" he answers, and I open the door.
Hot air flows through the car from the open windows as the bug turns the corner to leave the downtown area. I think of Montemayor and "American progress" in the world abroad. He's not sure what the future holds, I recall him telling me. Right now he's focused on the things WalMart can't give its customers, like personal attention and relationship. It's the universal conflict in business: big brother corporations putting small entrepreneurs out of business; and, in Mexico's case, sometimes taking local tradition and culture with it.
I don't know what to think, but I see both sides of the equation. Maybe it's the journalist in me.
"Derecho," I tell the driver as he asks me where to go as we reach the intersection near the freeway. My American hotel is straight ahead.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

La noche en el Barrio Antiguo

The cathedral stretches skyward in the midnight darkness, and a blue neon cross atop the steeple of the centuries-old church guides us down the street to the discotecas. American music and 20-somethings stream from inside the stone edificios. Hot dog vendors greet civilians, gesturing toward the stacks of bright red meat, covered in cheese and bacon. Some of the students in our group catch a whiff of the Mexican specialty and open their wallets and retrieve their pesos. One of my companeros warns them: you shouldn´t eat those, you´ll get sick. He´s been to Ecuador for two years and Costa Rica for a few months, he should know.
The uneven sidewalks remind me of summertime nights in Nogales, near la frontera. I´m watching my group and watching my steps all at the same time, caught up in the life of the city´s center. My words are few, while my thoughts are many. Oh how I love this.
Native tongue whizzes by my ears. I catch a few of the words. Just enough to taste the conversation. But I fall back into my own bubble as we make our way down the street, dodging other groups or random vendors.
Nueva Luna. No charge for the girls, but 80 pesos for the guys. A better rate than the other place that was charging 150 pesos for each person. According to one of the local college guys, it´s a preppy place--similar to Scottsdale, we assume.
The stage already has a band playing a mix of Spanish-language music. A small group of revelers sway to the salsa beat and I can´t help but sway mine a bit as we make our way upstairs to a large table. In no time, la cerveza is flowing and a bowl-like glass full of strawberry margarita is placed in front of me. It´ll be the only drink for me.
We´re dancing and drinking, simultaneously. Other patrons watch us and I wonder if they´re laughing at our gringo moves or just staring because we´re different. Either way, we ignore it and laugh and dance for hours.
Another band comes on. They cover Maroon 5 and Black Eyed Peas and most of us (the girls) make our way down stairs to dance. A smile was plastered to my face the rest of the night. Dancing, Spanish-language music, friends and margaritas--what a great night. The only thing that would´ve topped it off would have been my fiance dancing with me--but then again, I don´t think he would´ve danced with me anyway. He´s not a fan. And Spanish-language music is not all that great to him either...
A huge bill, few companeros que estaban borrachado later, and we´re leaving the club to go to another. We end up in a gay club. A man offers the girls beers and tequila, but we decline. Don´t know where it came from or what was in it. We leave about 20 minutes after we get there.
Our night ends in a plaza full of smaller clubs. The plaza, que se llama Zocolo, is packed with college-agers and near closing time. The music only reignites my energy and I dance to "Hey ya," and "It´s my perogative"--more American music.
We´re on our way home in the bright green taxi, which zips in and out of traffic, through "suggested" street lanes. We pass the Applebees, the McDonalds, the Chilis and finally arrive at our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express de Tecnologico. Americanization at its finest.
Monterrey: a new Mexico in my eyes, but not one that feels so far from home, unfortunately. My heart still longs for la frontera...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The day before the debate: on campus at ASU

Adorned in "Kerry Edwards" stickers, holding small, blown up balloons of a long-nosed "Bushnoccio," Kerry supporters rally around a CNN stage, hollering at the top of their lungs. "Crossfire" is being filmed.
Across campus, the Student Service Building's lawn is peppered with small white crosses, depicting the lost lives of American soldiers in the Iraq war. Stuffed animals are sporadically placed among the white sea. In contrast, a long piece of bunched cloth lines the sidewalk. It's filled with glass beads and a sign nearby says "each bead represents the life of an Iraqi civilian lost in the war."
While ASU might have been dubbed "active" several months ago by a magazine that encourages protest and activism, the scene today is far from the norm. Has the fervor been ignited solely because we're now in the limelight of national television cameras? Or is it just the excitement of having the two biggest names in the nation coming to our campus?
A sorority girl in my Spanish class wears the Kerry sticker on her left breast. Is she aware of the candidate's stances or is she just following what the rest of her girl friends are doing?
I've seen anger in the impassioned eyes of each group's followers. I've heard obscenities hurled. I've been smacked over the head with political ideologies of my media professors. Fox News: bad. John Stewart: good.
I'm a minority, it seems, on this campus. I have no plumage of "W" posters nor do I leave my opinions in the ears of others. They ask who I'll vote for and I'm truthful. The man who I feel I can most trust, and on this campus, the political underdog, so it seems. They shake their heads and smirk. Man, she doesn't have a clue, they must think to themselves.
Streets will be closed tomorrow. I pray that I'll be able to park in the structure I paid so much money for so that in the evening, I can ask our university's president "was it worth it? Did the debate change your mind?"
"Who are you going to vote for in the upcoming election?"
I'm sure he'll try to avoid the question. Maybe comment that both candidates did exceptionally well, that the university did a fabulous job of pulling this off and it will once again show the world that ASU is an institution that's not all about making the top ten list of the biggest party schools in the nation. No, if anything he will turn to me and say "this is one of the greatest universities in the nation and now they'll all know it."
But things aren't always as they seem, Mr. Crow. Ask the girl in my Spanish class to compare the immigration policies of the two candidates. Ask the avid Kerry supporter with his oversized sign what his candidate of choice's plan for Iraq is or how Kerry will really take care of taxes or the deficit. Ask them. Do they know? Or is it all a fascade with a bandwagon appeal backed by a stick on a slippery slope.
Sure we look good, Mr. Crow. We've had two years to prepare for this day.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Well, I have a few minutes on here and feel like slacking a bit, so here we go. An update on my life, which has been a bit chaotic so basically, nothing out of the ordinary for me!
I found out I only have 6 more credit hours left to complete my degree. So I have two mandatory classes to take next semester (which are both my choice, by the way) and then I have to figure out what to take with the other 6 credit hours. I'll probably fill them up with PE classes and maybe a Chicano Studies class again. Everything's been so interesting in that class. Anyhoo, it'll be good for me next semester not only because it'll be a bit more relaxed, but I'll also have more time to focus on wedding stuff, which is going really well by the way. Our only issue now is that we have to go back over our invitation list and narrow it down to 160 people. Do you have any idea how hard that is? 160 people--geez. I think we'll be doing that this weekend, so it's sure to be a bit stressful. But once that torture is overwith, then we'll be able to keep moving. But thus far, wedding dress and veil are ordered, caterer and menu is set, flowers are in the works, photographer is set, DJ is set, cake is set, reception site and wedding site set. Now it's all about the details, which is my personal favorite.
School's going well, as I stated before somewhat. This semester I have the lightest schedule, however it's packed with reporting for my depth reporting class and my job with the school magazine. I'm really enjoying the magazine and I'm now debating and trying to figure out a game plan for who I'm going to intern with and try to get on board with after I graduate. It's a tough decision because I love writing, but I'm trying to narrow it down to specifically what kind of writing I want to do. I may get stuck at the daily for a while, but we'll see. I don't think I want to pursue straight up magazine stuff because typically there's not a lot of investigating that goes on with that. I dunno--we'll see where God leads me! :)
I should probably get going, but keep the faith, all and I miss y'all.