Sunday at home

I intended to go out to Xochimilco Centro yesterday, to take a trajinera ride along the ancient Aztec canals (yes, james, I asked around, they are the ancient Aztec canals). Not the tourist boats but the local "bus" that is used by the people who live and practice agriculture on the little manmade islands created there more than a thousand years ago. But eventually, me dio flojera as they would say here, and I decided to stay home instead.

Still, it was a good day. Wrote 9 1/2 pages of poetry yesterday, part of the first draft of what might become my first long poem in sections (or a series of short poems). Was on quite a roll there! Also, 7 pages of prose in my diary, although that´s less of an accomplishment (judging by the length of my emails and blog posts, you can imagine that my diary entries tend to be long in general). Still, good writing day.

Currently reading "Inheritance of Loss" by Kiran Desai. I admit I was prejudiced against the book because of an interview I heard with the author, got annoyed by some of her takes on the writing life. But the book is utterly beautiful. I´m actually trying to hold off reading too much of it in one day because I am afraid it´s going by too fast, want to hold on to it, savor it more... finally realized I could always come back and reread it another time, and that allowed me to keep reading! The woman is a great story teller, but she´s also a poet, there are so many lines of poetry hidden in her novel (here´s one of my favoties: "his laugh would have registered bright pink on the litmus test"). In fact, this long poem of mine carries an epigraph from the book as well. It´s been a long time since I raved about a book like this, so yes, I highly recommend the read!

Also, finally finished converting hundreds of video clips towards our documentary into the right format for us to work with them. Utterly boring work, days of copy-paste, L and I are so glad to have finally completed it. Now, the process od actually trying to create a 30 minute video from this footage should be more interesting. I didn´t think I´d be learning iMovie, of all things, during this Mexico trip, but in some ways, that´s the nature of this work, isn´t it? The visible work in the community is one aspect, and all these other skills need to go into making that possible! Plus, I´ve wanted to learn to use iMovie anyway, so no complaints there!

Then there were the conversations with my host father. He´s such a wonderful man, old fashioned and the patriarch in many ways, yes, but so sincere and clearhearted, so honest and so simple, that it´s hard not to love him. He grew up in a small agricultural village in Oaxaca (which I visited for an afforestation campaign during my previous visit to mexico), came to Mexico City when he was 25, and for forty years worked at the same department store as a clothes salesperson. He retired last year at age 64, and now he has set up a little stand selling music outside his house. I shall take photos of that to explain what I mean, but it´s one of the things I love about this neighborhood: for many houses, the division between home and work isnt so sharp, all over the neighborhood you see posters outside houses advertising whatever they can sell-- from fresh cheese and lunch to dance classes to the lady who will read your letters out to you. Señor O sells music. His CDs hang off a special rack on his front gate, and he stands there in his sombrero, blasting pop music on the small stereo he has there. I haven´t seen more than a couple of people stop by in the course of an hour, sometimes he sells more than at other times, but the way L puts it, it isn{t so much about earning money off of this work but more as a therapy, a having "something to do" now that he is retired. My bedroom window is right above the gate, and I sometimes leave the window open at night because it can get very warm inside without even a fan, in which case I wake up to the mix of loud Mexican music and the calls of his roosters. It´s a wonderful way to start my day :)

He´s curious about India and about the USA, curioous about the world beyond Mexico, the only country he knows. Every so often, he will ask me a question that throws me off completely. One day, he wanted to know how well I have planned my life, do i know what age i want to be when my children finish primary school? (He was disappointed to learn that I didn´t). Another time, it was about whether men in other parts of the world are as attached to their mothers as Mexican men are (Have you heard of mamitis? Everyone here jokes about thsi peculiar disease that befalls mexican men, where they cannot stop comparing every woman in the world unfavorably to their absolutely perfect mothers!). He wanted to know what I would do if I were married to a man with mamitis-- how would I win him back? I laughed and told him I´d never thought much about that either, but he was dead serious about those questions, insisted that most divorces are born out of yong brides not knowing what to do about their husbands´ mamitis. Then, he talked to me, L, and two other friends who were having dinner with us about the importance of cultivating love like a rose... when it recieves the proper care, it blossoms beautifully. L joked that some love is like the camphor flower, parasitic, destroying everything in its path, caring only for itself.. that you never know if it is indeed going to turn out to be a rose. Different flower metaphors crowded around our dinner table, and he grew a little upset with L´s cynicism... finally just told us that, although we might choose to look at the world that way, he had tended love like a rose and it had given him beautiful results. L´s mother died 6 years ago, but you still hear him talk about her as if she just left the room for a bit, so much love, she is so present in this family, it´s hard to deny him his conviction in love like a rose!

So much for that. This week, L has classes everyday, leaves home at 7 AM, returns around 9 PM. I have to contimue working on that video, but also must find other ways to entertain myself. A trip to the city center sounds good today... hoping to visit a local handicrafts market, I love Mexican handicrafts, and handicrafts in general, and who knows, I might even find little gifts for some of you while I am there! :P