Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dream 23/6/2009

I am in a shopping mall. I´m there with another person. I don´t remember that person. It doesn´t matter. The store which has caught our interest we have yet to enter. It has a white picket fence around it. The inside carpeting is some sort of golf green material, synthetic. There are large yellow flowers made of felt that adorn the ground. Also on the ground are large irregular, circular pieces of bright blue felt. These are supposed to represent water, as in lakes.

The store sells horses. The horses are full size, adult, living and breathing. I am somewhat disgusted by the fact that horses are on sale in such a manner. Yuck. My companion seems to think as I do about the ordeal.

There is a motto or a hymn of a product, store, something that I´m looking at. It´s on the back of a canister that is similar to the one that carries curry powder. A rectangular prism, "with soft rounded edges," (see The Mountaingoats). The motto is a modified version of the classic patriotic ditty, "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land." Instead of naming regions and places in the United States, however, it is referring to a Banana Republic and the resources thereof. I know it is talking about Ecuador. Evidently, it´s up for grabs. News to me.

I am working as an assistant to Rick Barnes. He is a homicide detective. We are questioning a kid in a case. The case is called "The Gabriel Case." The kid is shaggy-haired. He has a brown neck, either from sun or dirt. He is 19 years old. He could be a Tausch.

He is describing to Detective Barnes, hereafter DB, how he murdered the kid, whose name was Gabriel. I come into the room at the time he explains, very matter-of-factly, what he did with the body. "I squeezed it to get all the blood out, you know." I seem to know. It seems reasonable. He cut up the body into pieces. Rick wants to make some sort of measurement of length after hearing this piece of information. He requests a ruler from his desk outside the questioning room. The questioning room, incidentally, is a hallway about 20 feet long. Along the walls, facing the walls, are desks with walls on either side. The room is cramped.

I leave the room and find a ruler on DB´s desk. It is a meter stick or a yard stick. The thing comes apart in two pieces to make it more wieldy. It connects back together with long teeth that fit perfectly to make the thing whole. A cop sits at the corner of DB´s desk. He wears a blue cop shirt and dark blue pants. His uniform is complete with a reddish brown moustache.

The pig is clearly jealous of my involvement with DB. The pig should be investigating. Instead he sits and bes jealous of me, right there at the corner of DB´s homicide desk. "What does he need that for?" pig. "To measure the body," yours. I wink to show that I¨m having a real blast working with DB.

I come back into the room to deliver the ruler. As DB toys with the thing, presumably putting it back together, I notice the title of an editorial. The newspaper on which the title exists looks like a tabloid. It is really colorful. The fonts are large, imposing, and dynamic. The title says something about remembering Gabriel. "That´s yours," I ask. "Yep," says the Homicidal Tausch, hereafter HT.

I know without explanation that HT wrote the editorial. It was about how special Gabriel was. HT got it published either the day after the murder, or else two days following. Below the headline of the editorial is a line of three pictures. They´re arranged horizontally. On the left is HT, taken around the time of the murder. The middle photo is Gabriel. The photo on the right is another young man of similar age. Inconsequential.

As Rick and I leave the room, he says, "What a shame? Smart kid." I tell him that it is no big surprise that a smart kid might be capable, even more capable, of such a murder.

What interests me about this dream was my attitude towards HT. He didn´t seem to show much remorse, about as little anger as he displayed. If anything, he came off as confused, immature, and lost in all of this, as if the magnitude of his actions as well as the pending consequences (whatever they might turn out to be) hadn´t been duly understood as of yet.

I didn´t hate the kid, although I was disgusted by what he did. The two seemed mutually exclusive to me somehow. I felt empathy for HT. I wanted him to feel comfortable in his interview with DB. As I have seen and heard in interviews, Rick Barnes is a fairly calm person. This followed him into the dream. I wanted HT to know that we weren´t "out to get him," rather just to gather information.

Finally, I knew the kid was smart, and that this intelligence had probably cost him a great deal of suffering. For having dealt with this burden, I loved the kid.

Conversation on Goodreads

I´m on a website on which you can catalog your books. It´s called Goodreads. It´s free and nice. There are groups. In the groups are discussions. The following is a conversation about Classroom Management.

If only I could find people in real life that wanted to discuss things like this. Soon enough, my friends. Soon enough.

Barbara (made-up name):
Although I support the ideas discussed by Kohn, Dewey, Friere and the like, I don't know how applicable those ideas are if the teacher does not have good management skills.

Cameron (me):
For me, the ideas of those you mentioned, along with thoughts from Rousseau, Henry Giroux, bell hooks, for example, help in a very specific way; a way, unfortunately, that is not desired by many teachers. There are many teachers looking for manuals, complete with specific activities and management strategies for use in the classroom.

What Freire and the others do is provide a theoretical framework which can be internalized critically by the teacher. In having internalized an ideology that becomes personal, teachers are more easily able to be natural in their approach to management, and are also afforded the comfort in knowing that the decisions they make are in line with what they believe on a macrocosmic, theoretical level.

On the other hand, there are some that find specific methods that they enjoy, or that might work with one classroom, and they become enamored with said methods or activities. In doing so, they haven´t taken the step to realize why said method worked with that specific group of kiddos. What ends up happening, especially if teachers change grade levels, is that they are not equipped with a strong ideology of Management (which is what Freire and others offer), but rather a number (perhaps a few dozen) specific activities or methods that might only successfully apply to one group of kiddos, in one grade, and for one situation.

If you can develop the ideological framework, you´ll be able to critically investigate millions of ways to allow that ideology to manifest itself in good classroom management. This is because you believe in it, not because you expect it to produce results, but because you believe in the theoretical underpinnings thereof.

Jackson (made-up name):
Great post Cameron. I often wonder how teachers who have not spent time thinking about these big picture questions are able to sort through the drifting sea of specific rules and techniques offered by the many commentators in our field. How do they seperate the wheat from the chaff?

As Nel Noddings said, "How much more precious is a little humanity than all the rules in the world?"

Sucky Thing From Brochure of Cuenca

So, here in Loja, I found a brochure for Cuenca called Cuenca Chévere para Chiros, which loosely translates to "Cuenca Cheap and Cool."

It´s a nice brochure, for the most part, and mentions some stuff that I hadn´t learned in my month there, such as a place to get really nice herbal, medicinal juices, homemade for however many years. There is a section in which the brochure speaks of the people of Cuenca, aiming to describe the daily lives of Cuencans. Here is what the thing says about Beggars, first in Spanish and then in English (their translation):

Los Mendigos

Los medigos sentados en las veredas y escaleras de la ciudad paralizan a Cuenca. Ellos reflejan la siudad inerte, esto es, sin movimiento. Carecen de la prisa de los que gozan del estatus de ciudadanos.
La proliferación de mendigos, consecuencia de la migración de la gente del campo a la ciudad, ha alterado la visión de la indigencia. Haciéndola cotidiana, oculta el valor de la mirada denuncia, que el mendigo proyecta sobre el resto del cuerpo social.
En su continua lucha por ganarse la vida ellos deben hacerse cada vez más seductores en la calle, y este fenómeno es el que da espacio a la creación de personajes guardianes de las aceras, cada uno con su cara, su queja, su discurso, sus llagas, sus espacios y el impacto que proyecta en quienes los vemos al pasar.

The Beggars

The beggars seated on the paths and steps within the city paralyze Cuenca. They reflect a city that is inert, that is, without movement. They lack the haste that characterizes the other inhabitants of the city.
The proliferation of the beggars as a consequence of the migration of the peasants to the city, has distorted our vision of poverty, making us observe it as a daily phenomenon, lacking sensibility of the denouncing glance that the eyes of the beggars projects to the rest of society.
In their daily struggle to survive, they must become more seductive in the streets, generating a phenomenon which develops in the creation of a sort of guardians of the sidewalks, all of them with their particular look, their complaints, their speeches, their sores, their spaces, and the impact this creates on those who see them upon passing.

Wow, Cuenca. Pretty general and strong words, wouldn´t you say?

Ecuadorian Constitution 2008 Articles of Interest 71

Capitulo Séptimo
Derechos de la Naturaleza

Art. 71

La Naturaleza o Pacha Mama, donde se reproduce y realiza la vida, tiene derecho a que se respete integralmente sus existencia y el mantenamiento y renegacion de sus ciclos vitales, estructura, funciones y procesos evolutivos.

Toda persona, comunidad, pueblo or nacion podra exigir a la autoridad publica el cumplimiento de los derechos de la naturaleza.

Para aplicar e interpretar estos derechos se observaran los principios establecidos a la Constitucion, en lo que poseeda.

El Estado incentivara a las personas naturales y juridicas, y los colectiveos, para que protejan la naturaleza, y promovera el respeto a todos los elementos que forman un ecosistema.

Dream 22/6/2009

I had this dream while I was sleeping on an overnight bus from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Loja, Ecuador. I was by myself. My neighbor was a gorilla who was confused by the idea of personal space. He also ate chicken like a monster with no feelings.

I am on a cruise ship. I am on this ship with three buddies. They are not my "real" buddies in "real life." The three are Jews, which is to say they are Jewish. Each one is dolled up in a suit and a fluffy-middled party shirt. We´re watching TV on a couch in a room on the boat. We´re also playing video games.

On the couch, I fall in and out of sleep. My neck isn´t able to keep my huge head from falling (cabezón). Each time my huge melon falls, my neck is pained quite excrutiatingly. It hurts more than I want to know, but I still can´t control it.

I ask one of the Jews (a fat, freckled one with curly locks) to call the ship´s doctor. He does. The boat sways.

This, for all I know about them, was a lucid dream. In it, I´m trying to lift my damn noggin, but am, in the end, unable to hold the thing in place. I wake for the last time on the bus with a very sore neck, still neighboring the sweaty gorilla who hasn´t learned to share very well.

Dream 19/6/2009

I am at piso due. "Piso due" is what we called the all-you-care-to-eat cafeteria at our University. It is on the second floor. "Piso" means floor in Spanish. "Due" means two in Italian. I might have spelled that wrong.

I am choosing my ass off. Everything looks really appetizing. It looks appetizing in a specific kind of way. In the way that you know you will feel like shit after eating so much of it. This is part of the real world, as well. I know it is going to mess me up, but I want it regardless.

I am at an Ecuador fútbol match. I am there with my Mom and my Dad. We are sitting in the aisle on the steps. For some reason, we rise and start moving backwards up the steps. I assume during the dream that this is for a better view of the action. The steps are precariously steep and thin. Every so often, as we´re creeping up, I nearly fall. I get really pissed off when this happens. I don´t understand why we don´t just deal with the view we have and enjoy the game. Nearly falling isn´t the way I like to enjoy the game.

At one point I have about ten clear steps in front of me. The opposing team´s keeper on the field is quite close to our section of the stadium. He has a blue jersey on. The blue is the same as the feet of the blue-footed booby. The jersey´s sleaves are long, and the collar is black. I yell, "¡Hijo de puta!" at him, which means "Son of a bitch!" A cop with a long black jacket yells at me in Spanish. We argue and finally agree to something. Just then, another cop shows up. His uniform is different. I think about paramilitaries in Colombia.

The second pig is screaming about my initial transgression. I thought we were over it. He approaches me with his billy club in hand. He´s threatening me with it, so I grab it. In the struggle, which is weak, I get plunked on the nose with it. The blow is not forceful, though evidently enough for blood to be summoned. Summoned´s ass, it´s pouring. Cold, metallic blood rushes into my moustache and upper lip.

The crowd, naturally, has noticed the scuffle. I am glad that there is so much blood. I think every drop should make the pig feel more and more like the asshole I want to believe he is. Soon the blood has formed a small pool on the step in front of me. The pig´s overaggression is now palpable, beautiful, vibrant, lasting, primeval.

Finally, I step downstairs to get some food. I am assuming that I can clean myself with napkins at the food spot. On the walk, I am still relishing in the symbolism of my bloody honker. I regret not taking a photo of the injury. In "real life," I take photos of my injuries so that I can make a totally destroyed body collage someday.

Just as I´m thinking this, my real big brother, Sterling, shows up in the breezeway. He is armed with a digital camera. I think it is a Nikon D50. He takes a photo. He analyzes the photo. His eyes say he loves it. His laugh agrees.

I have an encounter with a feller from my high school. This feller, in "real life," wanted, with varying degrees of devotion, to beat me up. I made his mommy cry. In the dream, we exchange shoulder bumps. After that, we exchange words. Shortly, we come to a peaceful agreement to steer clear of one another. Fine. Fuck it. Move on.

I make it to the snack bar. I am no longer alone. My companion is a girl. I don´t remember her face or whether I know her or not. It doesn´t matter. I am looking at the menu, still covered in "blood." After a minute of looking, I see my reflection in the window that separates customers from workers at the snack bar. What I see quite surprises me. There is, indeed, a bit of blood that has seeped into my moustache. The vast majority of the substance that I´m feeling so proud about is actually snot. Thick, yellowish green, snotty mucous. Fuck. I look like an ass.

Neil, a friend in "real life," has a skating party. He is in a tuxedo. I like that. In the parking lot is a dog who wants to take a bite out of my meat. I punch the dog in the snout. It gets a clue.

Inside the rink there is no skating surface. Instead, the floor is occupied with workers. The workers are rotating the skating surface. From the looks of it, it will be days before they are done. I mingle amongst the few guests. I haven´t seen them since I returned from Ecuador. None of the key players are there. This has me somewhat bummed.

What a Sports Nut, Huh?

So, last night was the third game in the College World Series. Texas (the University I attended) was in the game against LSU. I had been following the run they were making, mostly thanks to my Pa, who was updating me about their progress. I´m not really a huge baseball fan, and in fact never attended a game in five years as a student. However, I think being so far away made this game and this possible championship take on an air of importance that quite surprised me.

After dinner last night, I ran around the streets of Loja, searching for an internet place that was open, fiending like a wino or a crackhead for another swig, another hit. My search proved fruitless, and I went to bed with sports on the brain. Each time I woke up in the night, I would think of the game, which had surely ended, and send hopes out into the darkness that the good guys had pulled it out.

This morning at about 7:15, I was unable to get back to sleep. I began thinking about why I was so consumed by the outcome of this game, so distant, and yet so magnetic. I began to think about the last few months, and the sporting events that I´d been involved with in one way or another. I came up with a list of the nicest sports moments so far of my time in Ecuador, and I thought I´d share. By the way, the Longhorns lost 11-4. I´m okay with that now. I can relax.

Top 8, from the bottom.

8. Orlando Magic sweep the LA Lakers to win NBA Championship. This didn´t really happen, which is why it drops to eighth position. If it really had happened, rest assured it would be higher on the list. I don´t like the Lakers. Sorry, Billy and Jack Nicholson.
7. Damion James stays for his senior season. Damion James plays forward for the UT basketball team. Since he arrived, I have like him as a player. He is very intense and powerful. Maybe in another year he´ll have harnessed that energy and become a little more smooth and skilled. I sort of expected this, so it wasn´t huge news.
6. US fútbol topples number 1 Spain. I really don´t care much for the US fútbol squad, never have. I´ve always, until recently, supported Mexico. However, I really dislike the Spanish team, and I don´t mind rooting for the good old USA against them. Huge win.
5. Texas takes LSU to a third game in the CWS. Although we weren´t able to close the deal, I think coming up 7 runs short of a seventh national championship is a pretty nice accomplishment. This is compounded by the fact that the season began shrouded in controversy with Augie Garrido´s DWI arrest before the start of the year.
4. Ecuador ties Brazil in Conmebol qualifiers. This would be higher, but for the number of chances Ecuador had versus those of Brazil. I think the final tally was like 11 shots to 2, 70-30% possession, both in favor of El Tri. In the end, Brazil took advantage of their scant chances with their storied precision, but we still came away with a big tie.
3. Deportiva Cuenca beats Boca Juniors. I was in Cuenca for this game, and found a coffee shop and bar to watch at. Unfortunately, my friends Dario and Ji didn´t make it out, but we just met Cuencans who were more than willing to share space with a gringo fan of Dep Cuenca. I loved the faces of the Boca fans walking all around town. Final tally, 2-0.
2. Comuna Rhiannon comes out of nowhere to challenge Malchingui Camioneta Coop. The farm on which I lived for a month was full of a mix of people. We were estadounidenses, British, Australian, Belgian, Colombian, Mexican, Austrian, and others...One thing we weren´t was a group of well oiled fútbol machines, which showed in the first match between these two powerhouses, which ended up somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-5. The second match, played on grass in Malchingui´s concrete stadium (capacity 5,000), was much closer, much to the surprise of all those in attendance, which, though it sometimes felt like it, wasn´t near capacity. After taking a lead early in the second half at 4-3 on the goals of the Mexican Pancho, Rhiannon lost a bit of steam along with the momentum, and allowed three more second half notches, unanswered. Final score, 6-4. Followed by choclo, beans, and beers with both teams at a local comedor. Really unbelievable experience, and fantastic sports moment.
1. Argentina offered clinic in Atahualpa by Ecuador. This was by far the best sporting experience of my time here, maybe of the last few years. Top five ever. Argentina comes in, feared, ominous, precise, heavily favored. Beautiful weather. Beers and falafel beforehand. Photos, interviews, chanting, etc...really a perfect atmosphere. Entering the stadium there is an electrical charge captivating the beings present. First half is slow, not many chances. Ecuador´s keeper makes a save on a PK, along with some other really clutch saves across the entire match. Second half, the rains came. This didn´t slow anyone, especially not the Ecuador selección. Pulled away with an amazing goal followed by a dinker that put the good guys up 2-0, which was too deep a hole for the Argentines to climb out of. The crowd ends the game with the chant, "Y llora, llora, llora Maradona." Beautiful.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dream 18/6/2009

I am at a hockey game. I´m am at the game on a date. With a girl. I am realizing that I don´t really like her that much. I certainly don´t dislike her, though she´s not my favorite. I am, however, attracted to this girl physically. The attraction, incidentally, is strong enough that I feel that I would like to have sex with her at some point.

I leave the game. I decide to leave through the ice. I do this in the middle of the game. As I cross the ice, I realize that I am wearing a referee jersey. Everyone-players, fans, referees, are screaming in anger at me. As I run, I decide to change my shirt. I want to avoid being mamed.

I realize now that I am in the parking lot. I don´t have another shirt in the car. I decide to put my referee jersey on inside-out. On the way back in, I find Daniel Armstrong. Daniel Armstrong is a real person with whom I grew up in San Antonio. I haven´t seen him in a while. Over a year. We head back to the stadium. We find an enterance that has been covered with plywood. We break through the plywood to get in.

I don´t know what happened to the sexy girl.

I´m now on a farm. There is a horse there. The horsey is black and beautiful. The majority of the sleek beast is covered by a thick, red blanket. The horse is standing on the side of a trailer. I know it is a trailer, though it resembles more of a traincar. A container, so to speak. The horse is standing on a thin pathway to the side of the train container. The beautiful steed must have hated me. It kept on jumping with its front legs high into the air.

I feel as though its incessant jumping presents a possible danger for that fucking horse who hates me so. Still, I tell a lady about my concern. I still love that faithless prick of a horsey. The lady responds with a scream. "He has to stay there!" she hollers. Her attitude, the main component of her words, is really scummy and negative. She has proven to be as faithless as that big ol´ steed.

"Fine. Fuck it," I say.

I am on the way into the house on the farm. In the first room, I see Stephan and Bri. Stephan and Bri exist, to the extent that I can claim the existence of anything. They were with me at the farm in Malchingui. They are my friends. Stephan has 3 to 4 stacked to-go containers. The containers are made of two parts. The bottom part is some sort of flimsy metal, likely aluminum. The top section is made of plastic. You might call it a lid or a top.

I ask Stephan what he is eating. By the way, he is eating with the speed and carelessness for detail as might a vacuum cleaner set about the same task. I ask what he consumes even though I see that it is some sort of soupy tomato stuff. Inside of the soupy mess are vegetables, unidentifiable. I look up at Bri, who sits across the table with no food. She is not paying attention. I laugh anyway. My laugh is supposed to say, "Well, he´s just too much, I tell ya." It´s meant to be an endearing, friendly comment.

It is true that I want the food Stephan eats. Though the vigor with which he attacks the comestibles tells me he´ll finish all that is put in front of his mug. I ask where the food came from. Stephan pauses for long enough to say that it is from (first name)´s. I know what the place is in the dream, though I don´t recall the (first name), nor do I think it exists outside of my dream.

I move to the kitchen. I head there to make my own damn food. I find two styrafoam containers. They look like they were made to, have at some point, or hopefully still do, contain food. One styrafoam container is brown. The other styrafoam container is white. I am excited, frankly, about the prospect of finding some food, ideally something unhealthy but filling.

In the first container, I find a full meal of food, untouched. It is some sort of burrito. Inside the burrito is potatoes, onions, rice. The whole ordeal seems to have been spiced with something that gives it all an orange hue. The color of it all makes the first food quite appetizing. The tortilla is red. To the side of the burrito is a pile of black beans. They are not extravagant, rather simple and appetizing. As I look more closely at the food, I notice that there is mold on parts of both portions. The mold is sparse and, given my appetite, unthreatening. Small, whitish, greenish balls. 100 of these balls would fill one grain of rice.

I decide to scrape the stuff off with a knife and eat anyway. I scrape just a bit. I realize soon that I´m probably simply displacing the stuff more than anything. Absolutely not accomplishing what I aim for with any semblance of success. I stop and move on.

In the second container, the white one, is a different story altogether. I find in the second half of a quesadilla. I know that it is from Chili´s Restaurant. Chili´s Restaurant is a real place that I visited frequently on hockey trips because teammates worked for the place in Austin. Knowing that the quesadilla is from Chili´s ensures that I don´t want it. Not to mention that it is full of cheese. The other half is basically a tortilla full of guacamole. I know that it is really old. Still, though, it has maintained its color quite surprisingly. This makes me nervous more than anything.

Next, Neil and I go into a soup restaurant. Neil is a real friend of mine. We have gone to eat together in what I´ll call real life over the last six years. The restaurant is in California. It is a hip place with a phonetically spelled name, something like "kwik." I remember it having a "Q."

Neil is telling me that he is thinking about getting a job there. (For the record, Neil is currently employed and recently received a raise. So there, dreamworld.) Before working there, naturally, Neil would like to sample the fare. We look a long time, and I think we´ve both decided what we want minutes before we actually make a move to further the process.

I am interested in all of the soups, though have absolutely no interest in actually ordering anything but one of the two vegetarian options. One is called "Hunter´s" something. I want that one. I step up to order, but the menu at the front is different. On this menu, the "Hunter´s" soup is a meaty soup. Very meaty. I´m somewhat nervous with the status of my meal. The lady at the counter isn´t comforting. She is concerned about the line that is building up behind me.

I am concerned about my soup, especially in relation to my morals.

The final component of the dream was something German. That was my key word to remember the portion of the dream. I remember nothing more than that; "German."

Dream 17/6/2009

This is partially a dream, but partially part of the waking world. I´d call it a lucid dream, for all I know. This is a dream that happened as I slept in a tent. I always have heavy dreams when I sleep in tents.

I have to lay in a certain position in order to satisfy the rules of some third party. I don´t know who the third party was, although I know that it was a man. I have a strong feeling he was a stranger.

Anytime I satisfy the rules of said strangerman, either a ribbon or a cylinder shows up. When I say shows up, I mean on a seperate plane, perhaps in a seperate universe or location within our universe. It doesn´t matter. This place, plane, universe, devoid of anything but the ribbons and cylinders. The cylinders are made up of patterns similar to those found on the ribbons. The patterns are simply parallel lines, of varying thickness and frequency.

Each cylinder appears with each open base parallel to what would be the ground. Each cylinder goes from some random point to another random point. The ribbons show up with the majority of the surface parallel to what would be the ground. At each end of each ribbon, the thing curves and heads straight down, towards what would be the ground. The amount of the ribbon that faces perpindicular to what would be the ground is less than half of the ribbon that is parallel.

The appearances, at first, seems totally existential and irrelevant. Soon, however, I realize that third party strangerman has a specific arrangement that he is going for. I begin to see a pattern formulating, which includes a weaving of the ribbons, with spaces being filled with cylinders.

I do not complete the pattern. Instead, I wake up sweating in a tent with sand all over my body. I am pissed that my sleep was such a job. I am pissed that I am sweating. I go to the hammock, which I still think had healing properties.

Dream 15/6/2009

I´m at Buffalo Exchange. I´m there with two girls. I know these girls, and have for a long time. I´ll not use their names. There are three other people who I don´t know. These three are a mix of girls and boys. We end up three and three. We lay on the floor in pairs. We´re naked. The pairs are one girl with one boy each. We lay one on top of the other, though not in any particular way. I´m asking if one of the girls I know is okay. Her hair has been cut crudely and she has either become deaf or mute.

We decide to celebrate. I fill a huge, green, plastic bucket with Trópico Secco. Trópico Secco is an aguardiente made in Ecuador. I throw in a little bit of cranberry juice. It´s not much, compared to the amount of Trópico.

We walk up Seidel. Seidel is a real street in San Antonio, Texas. I used to walk up the street all the time as a youth. I have the huge, green, plastic bucket full of booze. On the walk, I´m picked up by a car. The car is driven by the other girl who I know´s mom. We don´t speak. I sit on the back of the car. The car is more like a buggy. My foot rests on my Chaco sandal. None of the straps are around my foot. The Chaco sandal rests on the street, which is speeding below us. It´s not a problem.

We end up at a barbeque. The barbeque happens only a few blocks from the start of the journey. The barbeque is being put on by a lovely African American family. They are terribly nice and invite us to join the festivities. I stand by the side of a car which has brought a group of us to the barbeque. Michael and James from Rhiannon are there, amongst others. Of these are Dusten and others from the Family of Dudes.

I offer everyone the Trópico mixture in the huge, green, plastic bucket. James doesn´t want to share the hooch with the Patriarch of the Barbeque, hereafter PoB. Neither does Michael. I try to tell them that it is for everybody.

I walk back down Seidel to 2909 Sir Philip. 2909 Sir Philip is the address of a home I used to actually live in with my family. Ask my brother. As I arrive, I notice the PoB coming out from the backyard. He asks me if he can try the "lemonade vodka stuff." I tell him it´s still at his house, but just then Dusten makes the corner. He´s carrying the huge, green, plastic jug full of mixed Trópico and cranberry. PoB tries the sauce and says that he enjoys its flavor. I tell him to let us know the next time he has a barbeque, because I would like to join. He checks that I´m a vegetarian. He says, "We might still, next time." We´ve made friends.

We´re at a museum. Mom, Dad, Aunt Melody, others. The museum is full of small silver trinkets behind large cubes of glass. I think that they are "native," although I don´t know what I meant by that description. My Aunt Melody (who is really my aunt) tells me that there is a trinket of my Great Uncle, J.O. J.O. stands for John Oran, and he actually is my Great Uncle. His sister is Lois, my real Grandmother.

I walk over to see the thing. It is under another layer of trinkets. Dad can´t see the thing. He asks if we can leave because it´s dinner time and he has to work. He just wants to leave.

Ecuadorian Constitution 2008 Articles of Interest 171

Articulo 171

Las autoridades de las comunidades, pueblos, y nacionalidades indigenas ejercerán funciones jurisdiccionales, con base en sus tradiciones ancestrales y su derecho propio, dendro su ambito territorial, con garantia de participacion y decision de las mujeres. Las autoridades aplicaran normas y procedimientos propios para la solucion de sus conflictos internos, y que no sean contrarios a la Constitucion y los derechos humanos reconocidos en instrumentos internacionales.

El Estado garantizara que las decisiones de la jurisdiccion indigena sean respetadas por las instituciones y autoridades publicas. Dicho decisiones estaran sujetas al control, de constitucionalidad. La ley establecera los mecanismos de coordinacion y cooperacion entre la jurisdiccion indigena y la jurisdiccion ordinaria.

Fight at the Plaza

In the Plaza Grande. Quito, Ecuador, Pichincha. 12:45 PM. Watching people. Tourists. Shineboys. Drunks. Police. Tourists. Tourists. Cameras. Presidential Palace. Munkey, Jodi joke about barefoot or sandalded shoeshine as we´re approached. Shineboy I, 8. Offers with a wry smile to shine Munkey´s bare feet. Shineboy II, 11. Walks by. Punches I in back. I takes offense. I punches II in the neck. I and II fight. The fight is in the face. Neither drops his shinebox. I yell. ´Ay, yay, yay...tranquilo.´ My stomach hurts. It hurts from the punches. We see a kid. The kid is rich. His pants don´t touch his shoes. His sweater proves he´s a skinny nincompoop. His glasses don´t argue. His age is similar to the pugilist, II. Their age is the only thing similar about them.

Theme for Movie/Book/Ponderances

I´ve realized a really wonderful theme that makes me really happy to think about. I think it rivals, in how much I think about it and appreciate it, Kurt Vonnegut´s near obsession with "extended families."

This theme is basically adult men spending friendly, platonic time together, just as buddies. I´ve seen it all over the world, and I´d like to provide a few examples, including some from here in South America.

In the states, especially in San Antonio and at times (like during the condo building craze of the 2000s, I´ve noticed groups of fellas who work on construction, likely immigrants from Mexico or Central America, likely in the States alone (which is to say without wives, children, mother-in-laws, who live together in large houses, almost like college houses. I am very much enamored with the idea that they cook together, gripe together, work together from time to time, fight with each other, pay bills together, and drink beers and coca-cola together. I often see these fellas at Fiesta on 38th Street in Central Austin, purchasing bags and bags of jalapeños, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. I want to join their meal and their conversations.

There is a great example in a movie, a movie that has recently become a real favorite. The movie is Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman. It´s about a fella, Lucas Jackson, who gets sent to a roadside prison after defacing public property (cutting the heads off parking meters) while inebreated. Anyway, the bulk of the movie is about this population of fifty men spending time in said roadside prison, all suffering under the weight of the Boss´ iron fisting reign. They, naturally, find time to divert their attention away from the dismal situations they´re living in, through card playing, bet making, and an occasional squaring up in the boxing ring. I am very much interested in this idea of mutual suffering across a diverse group of adult men, as well as the coping mechanisms they employ to ameliorate and live through such circumstances, maintaining a sense of humor, diversion, and hope.

Other examples I´ve seen here in South America are the groups of older men, generally existing on some point of the continuum between sober and pass-out hammered, who spend hours and hours chatting in the park, sometimes sharing a bottle of aguardiente. Interestingly enough, a common Ecuadorian drinking tradition says that there is generally one bottle (of caña, aguardiente, chicha, punta, beer, whatever) and one small cup, sometimes plastic (which can be attained from the store selling the hooch) and sometimes glass, generally in a home or restaurant. Each drinker is given the cup, asked to down the contents, after which point the server (generally the purchaser) refills the cup and passes it down the line. It goes like so, in a circle, until the bottle is finished, after many a joke, argument, handshake, etc...I really love this, and would love to take part more often.

Another really wonderful and dynamic situation in many parts of Ecuador (and possibly South America overall) is the bus driver and bus caller relationship. I am very much enamored with this interaction, and have likely mentioned it on this blog before, but I now realize one of the reasons it touches me so much. Basically, one man drives the bus. The other hangs out the front door, yelling to those on the street the destination of the bus. It is his job to sell the bus, so to speak, to the potential passengers who line the streets of Ecuador. Therefore, they are a symbiotic beast, both depending on each other to work seamlessly to accomplish two things: One, fill the bus to capacity (generally 150-180% of legal capacity). Two, get the bus to the destination as quick as possible so as to facilitate more trips per day. These two jobs are somewhat in contradiction with each other, and therefore the two men (only because I have yet to see a woman fill either position) are to work in a really wonderful way together. Naturally, there are teams that work quite well and others that don´t. This interests me a great deal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gritas heard from Ecuador

¡Comercio, Extra, Comercio!
¡Lleva un dolar de limones!
¡Seco, seco! (de gallena, chivo, pollo, etc…)
¡Jugo de coco!
¡Aguas, aguas!
¡Qúe rico, helado de mora!

Dream 6/6/2009

This dream involves a person who is very real in my life. I have had an interesting relationship with this person over the last six years or so, when I first met her. Some of the happenings in the dream are conceivable and some are not. Some are totally out of her character. For the sake of the dream, the person will be named Gertrude. Don’t try and read into it too much. That’s my job.

I’m in Gertrude’s room and we’re discussing what she’s to do about her old boyfriend. He has mob ties. It’s clear that they’re done with each other romantically. We’re trying to figure out what he might try to pull. It’s also clear that he doesn’t want Gertrude around ‘us’ (Gnubbi, Cam, Ster, one or two others).

Gertrude has most recently broken off her relationship with Gnubbi. Gnubbi is a real life friend. He is a German friend that I met at Comuna Rhiannon in Malchingui, Ecuador. Rhiannon is an organic farm with goats, piggies, doggies, and a jackass named Nessy. We’re (Gertrude, Gnubbi, Cam) in Gertrude’s room trying to figure out how to even the stakes, so to speak. Some of Gertrude’s stuff must go to Gnubbi. Don’t as me why.

A decision is made. The decision includes seeds and land, amongst other things.

We go outside. We (Cam, Ster, Gnubbi) get into a high truck. Ster is a ‘real’ person. He is my big brother. First name, Brian. Middle and preferred name, Sterling. Nickname, amongst others, Ster. His actions could or could not be reasonable according to his ‘real world’ actions and behaviors. It doesn’t matter.

Ster drives from the right side of the truck. To his left is Gnubbi, in the middle. I am in the lefternmost seat of the truck. He navigates the truck directly down the road. At the end of the block, directly in front of the perpindicular road, is a lot. It looks vacant, though not totally empty.

Ster, with Gnubbi and I along for the ride, arrives at the face of the lot. He doesn’t stop driving when he arrives there. He just keeps on keeping on. There is a wooden, seven-foot fence in our way. He demolishes it with the nose of the truck. There is a second, parallel fence, a meter after the first. He demolishes it with the nose of the truck. There is a third, parallel fence, a meter after the second. He demolishes it with the nose of the truck. There is a fourth, parallel fence, a meter after the third. He demolishes it with the nose of the truck.

Each time, Gnubbi and I use the soles of our shoes to help knock down the fence. It is surprisingly easy to do.

Meanwhile, I’ve been eating the seeds and herbs. They’re all in a brown paper sack. I know for a fact that I was eating basil. As Ster finally stops his rampage, which has been quite calm and emotionless, I throw the herbs into the corner of the lot.

The parents of the lot, and presumably Gertrude as well, have been watching our actions from the middle of the street where we began. Anguish occupies their faces. We’re destroying what used to be theirs and has now been turned over to Gnubbi.

We jump ship. We meet with the family in the street. The family consists of who I know is the Father and the Mother, who is the old white lady from Be Kind Rewind. She is drinking a Newcastle out of a bottle. It is not very cold. It is about three quarters empty. We discuss how much space a female lioness needs to be healthy. We’re considering putting the lion in the lot. We also discuss if the lion can be a vegetarian.

The Mother spills the Newcastle on her off-white t-shirt.

Dream 5/6/2009

I’m attending a State Board of Education meeting. I do not know if it is the State of Texas.

I have trouble getting into the meeting. I know that this is because I am not a member.

I make it in the meeting. My method has something to do with sticker nametags. I am not alone. Besides the other teachers, I have a partner. I do not know, nor do I care who this person is. I doesn’t fucking matter.

I’m chatting with this identityless person, hereafter IP before the meeting starts. We’re being sure to chat quietly. Even still, I feel that IP doesn’t pick up on my nonverbal cues to zip it. Just as the meeting begins, a lady to my left raises her left hand. She asks the presenter to remind us that we shouldn’t be talking during the meeting. I want to curse her or hit her with a water balloon.

The presenter is a stunning and professional black woman. As she begins to outline the points of the meeting, I find myself extremely impressed by her savvy. This feeling is almost an admiration much like a crush or even full-blown love. It’s very genuine and not overly sexual.

I find a job working at a photo laboratory. It is very similar to an actual photo laboratory that I used to work at. The name of this ‘real’ photo laboratory was Club Photo. Was because it is out of business. I worked there with my brother, Sterling, and my friend, Nick. The other people I worked with there became friends during my time there, which is why I name Nick specifically.

One person with whom I worked at Club Photo was working at the photo lab in my dream. His name was Jay. He was a nice feller, sorta nerdy, and really quite intelligent. He worked on computers and stuff. I’m being ‘shown the ropes,’ as the saying goes, in the photo development lab. Suddenly, my little bottle of rubbing alcohol, which I actually have with me here in Ecuador, spills and runs over about a dozen stacks of photos. Each stack, incidentally, is topped with photos or index prints of me and my family. I tell the guy but he’s not impressed.

I’d like to say one small thing here which I find significant. I try not to read too much into dreams, though I do find them interesting and telling from time to time. For example, I was thrilled when I had my first dream in Spanish while here in Ecuador. In this dream, I am happy to say, the photos of my family included not only Ma, Pa, Brosef, and myself, but also my brother’s wife, my sister-in-law, Kathryn. I’m happy that my dreams have caught on to reality. Moving right along:

I get angry. I am not angry with the man. I am partially angry with myself for being clumsy. I am also really quite perturbed with the damned bottle of alcohol. I throw the bottle of alcohol, hoping that takes care of any day one problems.

Jay tells me to follow him. On a bike. He speeds off. I have to rustle up a bike to ride after him. I find my shoes. They are yellow corduroy house slippers. I tell myself, ‘Good job, for being yourself and wearing those shoes. You like them and that’s just fine.’ Slippers donned, I straddle the bike. It is a mountain bike.

Jay is missing. He is riding all over the building. The building has turned into a Samsesque store. It has food in large quantities, office chairs, and Airheads by the 6-dozen. I’m dodging products and people as I speed through the aisles. The customers aren’t amused with my antics.

Finally I find Jay. We’re now outside and it’s muddy. The village we’re in is akin to those I’ve seen in Andean Ecuador, or those I haven’t seen in Hawaii. By this point, I’m flustered, overwhelmed, and focused on the ground as I travel precariously through the muddy trail. My bike is sucky. The right pedal is quite slow.

We arrive. The bike ride has seemed to take hours. We arrive at the place where we’re to turn in our bikes. We didn’t actually rent the bikes before leaving the photo lab, of course. Baptiste has now joined the crew. We’re three.

We give our bikes to the guy who is on the poster of Hostal Residencial Sucre (see Drawing in sketch book). He charges me over twenty dollars. $20.20. I realize that, as the new guy at the office, I’m expected to pay for everything.

Baptiste and Jay have made it across the rope bridge by the time I pay. I take a first step and the rope bridge breaks. It doesn’t break in half. All of the ropes save one and the wood planks fall to the ground. I’m hanging there, now with a seven foot, five inch surfboard under arm. I yell in Spanish at Baptiste. He yells back in Spanish, although what he says and the way he does is bullshit.

I then slide down the rope that is above my head. I use a chain or a rope and the surfboard to balance myself on the way down. The surfboard sails across the top of the rope. It looks like a skateboarder is grinding on the thing. Only there’s no one. It lands safely. I land safely. I’m surprised at how well the stunt worked.

Things to Remember from Comuna Rhiannon, Malchingui, Ecuador

“Tell her I think she’s fancy.” This was said to a fellow comuner by her inebriated brother about a girl he was interested in. I love the shit out of it. Really.

Costeño Tradition, Colombia
My friend Zamir, a Colombian from Bógota, told Baptiste and I about this tradition of many Colombians on the coast. It goes like this. Evidently, around the age of 13 or 14, young men living in certain parts of Colombia’s coast, ‘comer una burra.’ Now, don’t take this literally, they don’t actually eat the burra. In fact, they are having sex with the burra (donkey) so that their members can become strong and sturdy. Evidently, the burra likes it after some time, according to Zamir. In addition, if you as the wife of a Costeño what she thinks about the tradition, she will reply that she fully accepts it, and in fact would be upset if her mate had claimed to be a Costeño without actually having taken the steps to ensure membership in said club.

Fútbol rematch in Malchingui

Yesterday was the rematch between the nutjobs at Rhiannon and the camioneta drivers from nearby Malchingui. A camioneta is basically a truck taxi.

I missed the first game on a day in which I felt throughout work that I was about to faint, puke, fuke or paint. Incidentally, it would be painting that would dominate my work schedule over the following three days, a welcome change from maize picking and tent tent repair (referring, of course, to the tarp that covers tents that are not waterproof. We treat our campers nicely at Rhiannon.

After nailing some grommets with a fellow communer, I had to back out and head to the house for a nap and a worry. You see, sickness is no stranger in Comuna Rhiannon, and while I understand my general ability to ward off most diseases (punch a tree), I was somewhat more apprehensive about this current set of circumstances. It probably didn’t help that the day before the match, we had ‘entrenarnos,’ which consisted of about an hour of grueling gravel fútbol. Long story short, I, the starting keeper for the gringo team (sorry Zamir, Emmanuel, Zoellie, and Pancho-the only non-gringos among us), spent the afternoon of the game in bed, which also meant I missed beers in the school watching the UEFA final. Sound like the beginning of a Matt Christopher book? I know, (s)he has a style that has begun to determine events in my life. So it goes.

On rematch game day, which I like to call Easter Sunday Back From the Dead Rematch Bonkers Fútbol Event, I spent the day, along with the majority of the community, watering the trees, flowers, and herbs across the entire property…a lofty job, if you must know. Now, all that water has to come from somewhere, and we have a few options at Rhiannon. First, there’s the tap. Stolen, bogarted, free, unreliable. Second, the brown bucket. Unreliable, filled by the well. Third, the well, which fills in two ways, both rain (ha…I wish…but not really) and the hose from the tap overnight.

The option on this fateful day became clear enough, as a handful of people rob the poor brown bucket of all its contents within the first ten minutes. I decided to be well-master, which just happens to be the most romantic job on the farm. It’s just you and the damned well, filled to about 3 inches, and you’re on the clock, with an army of ‘regadores’ arriving after what seems like no time, ready to rob you of all your hard work. I thoroughly enjoy jobs in which my main challenge is my own ineptness, as I spend the day trying to overcome the hurdles in my way.

Long story short, I got every damn drop of water out of that damned well. The plants got watered and felt great, but likely not as great as I, the well master, who had in a John Henryesque feat of strength, defeated a concrete and steel creation of this luddite hating 21st century. Pretty overdramatic, isn’t it? I like it that way.

After three hours of work, a Minnesotan friend and I cooked lunch, both keeping in mind the magnitude of the afternoon’s upcoming events. She, a very conscious athlete, probably did more to regulate the menu than I, who played nary a hockey game without a little booze in his gullet.

Our menu consisted of the following: salad (of iceburg, tomato, cucumber, lime and panela dressing), lightly boiled broccoli, white rice, lentils with tomatoes, cumin, black pepper. A four-course meal for your face, which the two chefs washed down with a Boa Constrictor (a drink that, at the time, we thought may or may not have caused said Minnesotan to have difficulty breathing…hence the Boa, get it?)

After dressing out, which ideally consisted of donning an Ecuador national team jersey, we linger outside in front of the house, waiting for the camionetas to arrive to deliver us to our destiny. Some juggle the fútbol, others take shots of a liquor called D’Brandy, some stretch their legs (though I think this was more show than anything-I know because I was one of the ‘stretchers.’)

The camionetas arrive, and we’re paraded through the streets, looked on by many familiar faces with smiles as well as some that are less acquinted, who seem to be asking why we’re so goofed up and in the jersey that represents their country. Either way, this all adds to the excitement, nerves, and anticipation.

We arrive at the stadium, dubbed Estadio Central de Liga Deportiva Parroquial Malchingui. It’s complete with grass, ticket booths, concrete bleachers, and possibility. We walk through the throngs of people, probably 15 or so, into the stadium, and are greeted by a beautiful and massive fútbol field. Equally effective in stirring emotion is my first vision of the opponents with whom we’ll battle over the next hour and a half…Junior, Gordo, Beto, Profe (the school director and also camioneta driver), Juan, Diego, etc…we’ve reason to be nervous.

Minutes into the match, my breath has been taken away by the powerful and stunning siren called Altitude. It is clear that I’m in some sort of shape, just not the kind you need to be in to play fútbol. After the first few shots, I fall back into the comfort akin to my hockey mindset, and the game begins to be fun, in an intense way. The intensity is somewhat challenged when Juan, neither old, fat or a camioneta driver, makes a fool of your beloved narrator by dancing around him for the first goal of the game. That first one I always like, and this one was no exception. It’s why I hate shutouts…I prefer to be imperfect and human.

We go into halftime down 3-2, which is more than I could have hoped for.

Into the second half, I find that my expectations might be selling us short. Riding the back of our trusty and skilled Mexican steed, Pancho, we notch a couple of goals early in the second and find ourselves staring at a possible victory…an unbelievable upset, I would imagine…think Miracle on Ice.

In the end, however, lessons are learned, limits tested, passion manifested, and bittersweet pride fills us all after what ended up being a 6-4 loss to the home team.

After the game, we’re lead by the opponents, who now have their chance to show their human side, to a Malchingui bus that takes us to a local restaurant. At the restaurant (more like a garage with an oven), we’re filled with beers, choclo, and hava beans. The atmosphere is naturally somewhat divided, mostly a language thing, though some of us crossover and converse.

It’s clear at the end of it all that we have earned their respect, not only as fútbolers, but also as people. And that’s what counts in the end, now isn’t it?

List of my 6 and 7 year-old students and their favorite colors

List of my 6 and 7 year-old students and their favorite colors in Malchingui, Ecuador.

Darwin-Brown (changed from Red)
Jefferson-Green (changed from Brown)

Name for a Historical Pornography Movie

Don’t Shoot Until You See The Whites of Their Eyes

Dream 1/6/2009

I was watching a lady chew and spit into a bag. The bag was clear and contained a milky liquid, seeds, fruit, and the skins of fruits. I knew that this was a spirit.

Farm work songs.

Mierda (I was finding and smashing donkey shit this day.)

Mierda en mi boca,
Mierda en mis ojos,
Mierda en mi Corazon.

Shit in my mouth,
Shit in my eyes,
Shit in my heart.

Litter Along the Middle of the Earth (to be sung in the voice of Woody Guthrie)

Pickin’ up garbage, staring at the middle of the earth,
Searching for refuse, scattered along the middle of the earth,
Trying to find trash here, don’t ask me what it’s worth,
I been picking garbage since the day of my birth.

Tent Grommets (this day, I was building a tent to protect other tents from wind and rain.)

Some people say that grommets are useless,
But that kind of talk, I think it’s just foolish,
If the whole, damn point is to protect from the wind,
Then I see no other place to begin.

You see the first time they tried, they glued it together,
But that only held for a day, much less than forever,
So I’ve come along to rectify,
The weakness in the structure that one just can’t deny.

Dream 23/5/2009

I’m fighting Randy Quaid. It’s the Randy Quaid from The Last Detail. At first the fight is really serious. We’re clearly on different sides of a larger issue. After hours, we’re both exhausted. The fight is now funny. Every minute or so, one of us will lazily slap our opponent’s face or sock his gut. I punched his eye. We cracked up about it. I get up and head for the bathroom. There is a sign that tells me not to enter. I do anyway. I start peeing on the floor.

I wake up now, and am about a millisecond from peeing the bed. Phew.

Schedule for Travel to Cuenca

Leave Rhiannon at 15:20
Leave Cuatro Esquinas at 15:30
Arrive in Quito at 17:00
Leave Quito at 20:45
Arrive in Cuenca at 6:15
Leave Cuenca at 20:45
Arrive in Quito at 9:45
Leave Quito at 17:00
Arrive at Rhiannon at 19:00 just in time for dinner