Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Word of the Year 2019: Action

Mural about the Mine-Mill Strike by the Local 890 and the 209. Bayard, New Mexico

2018 was my first venture into a "having a word of the year" as a guide for living. That word was courage.

For 2019 the word is action

A subset of words underneath action includes:
  • Effectiveness
  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • Risk 
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Mission

... and courage.

But I can also borrow from the 12-step world and use this: 
  • Awareness
  • Acceptance
  • Action

 ... and courage.

Why "action" this year? 

I've spent a lot of years learning shit, finding and collating pages of that Rule Book to Life that most of us are born with, but some of us - like me - are not.

I've found the learning sometimes on a positive path, sometimes on a terribly painful path, sometimes on a scary-good path, sometimes on a scary-bad path. At a certain point, it's time to integrate one's learning and apply it with intention. The year 2019 seems to be that time.

Last year, I came across a factoid - true or mythical, dunno - that proposed:
In social media, we humans fall into a false sense of having Done Something when we  like or share or follow a page or meme that allies us with or against a cause. When we relax into the belief of having Done Something, we tend not to take any follow-up, real-life action that involves time, money, or putting one's ass out there on a street, in a building, on a border, on the air, in a newspaper. All too often, the societal result is like the adage: The dogs bark, but the caravan keeps on moving.

This idea nettles me.

In recent years, I witnessed women, men, girls, and boys who stepped out from the safety of the crowd to assert plainly - in words and deeds - that our society must act on the just beliefs it espouses. I wish to emulate them.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Mexico City: Toilets I Have Known, Including This One

Public pay bathroom, Mexico City. November 2018.

I'm no stranger to strange toilets.

I've seen the toilets of:

Outhouse in Mestia, Svaneti, Georgia. Straight to the stream

I've seen some fancy schmancy toilets, some humble toilets, some toilets perched on the sides of hills, some godawfully filthy toilets, and some toilets that included instructions for their use.

Toilet with instructions, Tbilisi, Georgia.

I've seen toilets that were holes in the floor, some with nice tile surrounds, some with wood surrounds, and some that were just holes in the ground.

Some toilets had toilet paper. Some had water sprayers. Some had little buckets of water. A museum in Mtskheta, Georgia, offered a page from a newspaper crossword puzzle.

Museum restroom, Mtskheta, Georgia.

In Mexico City, there are public baths or toilets that you can pay to use.

One day, I turned into one. Cost: 5 pesos.

I was at the front of the line for what appeared to be the entrance to a quite nice little toilet room. However, whomever was in there ahead of me was taking her own sweet time. Someone directed me upstairs to other toilets, and well, it wasn't quite so nice there.

Public pay bathroom, Mexico City. November 2018.

Public pay bathroom, Mexico City. November 2018.

Public pay bathroom, Mexico City. November 2018.

Public pay bathroom, Mexico City. November 2018.

One does what one must.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Mexico City: My Daily Eats

My typical fare in Mexico City. November 2018.

In my early days here, I had my share of tacos and gorditos deliciosos, but then I settled down into more typical eating for me.

Most days, I boil eggs or make an omelette for breakfast. Day-to-day, my lunch, dinner and night-time meal are a variation of:

  • Bread from my preferred panaderia;
  • Hard, salty farmers´cheese from the Saturday market;
  • Tomatoes;
  • Fruit;
  • Carrots;
  • Jicama.

In the photo above is a giant, angry-red orange from Michoacan. It is sweet with a fragrant, sharp note.

Also above is a clutch of variegated rosemary, which I add to my tomato sandwiches or omelettes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mexico City: My Laundry

Lavanderia, Mexico City. November 2018.

Once a week, I take my laundry to one of the several lavanderias in my neighborhood.

Lavanderia, Mexico City. November 2018.

Sometimes my laundry is ready for me to pick up the same day, sometimes I´m asked to pick it up the next afternoon.

To have my items washed, dried, folded, and placed in a tightly-wrapped plastic shroud, it costs 20 pesos per kilo.

Lavanderia, Mexico City. November 2018.

One time, my laundry weighed 3.5 kilos and it cost me 70 pesos (about $3.50 US). Another time, my laundry weighed 3 kilos, so it cost me 60 pesos (about $3 US).

Lavanderia, Mexico City. November 2018.

The people who operate the lavanderia that I patronize are amiable and professional.

I estimate a minimum of three lavanderias within four square blocks of my residence. Does the local demand for external laundry services support such an intense supply or is the competition to attain and retain customers fierce?

Are the lavanderias owned by a chain, franchised, or individually owned? I see the name "Edison" associated with them, but I don´t know if this is a chain brand or perhaps the brand of the machines used.

I don´t know the answers to any of these questions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Mexico City: My Bakery

Mexico City bread. November 2018.

Every day, I go to the same bakery. In addition to offering the prosaic bread I seek, it seduces its visitors with sweet concoctionary dreams.

From the crowded sidewalk, the interior looks like this:

Mexico City bread. November 2018.

Bolillos, white and brown, nestle in a wide, deep nursery of sorts, sometimes warm from the oven, where they await plucking by those of us ready to gobble them up.

Mexico City bread. November 2018.

A brief tour in this video below:

Let´s talk costs of my daily bread:

  • White bolillos x 2 = 3 pesos
  • Wheat bolillos x 2 = 5 pesos
  • Seeded, flat roll x 1 = 5.5 pesos
  • Total for day = 13.5 pesos = 66 cents US

I am put in mind of the Bowie Bakery in El Paso´s Segundo Barrio.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Life Hacks From the Road: The Fine Print, Literally

Blurry product label.

When shopping, there are times, even with my reading glasses, I can´t make out the small print on a product package.

Damn it, that´s frustrating.

One day, a hack occurred to me.

I whipped out my phone, selected the camera, and used the built-in zoom.

Voila! I can read the tiny print!

I´d forgotten this hack the other day when shopping for coffee at the Walmart in Mexico City. I had to ask a passing woman if she could tell me whether the chocolate flavoring of the coffee meant there were added calories.

Clear product label.

Other life hacks from the road here.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Mexico City: The Midwestern Wope

Ball on roof, Picacho Street, Las Cruces, NM. July 2013.

We sat at the dining room table in the guesthouse's communal sala, or living room.

Three of us English-speakers were at the table: me + two guesthouse volunteers. "Bo," of Minnesota and Wisconsin origin, was talking to another volunteer, I don't remember who.

I was probably busy eating lunch.

But my radar blipped at something Bo said to the other volunteer, which was: "Midwesterners have a special word they use: ope." He elaborated on the alleged lingustic factoid, saying that we midwesterners utter this word when we bump into something or someone or drop something or suffer some other minor spatial accident or near-accident.

My knee-jerk reaction was: "Maybe that's true in Minnesota, but that's not something we say in Missouri." (Hopefully, I didn't say this out loud, but I may have.)

LESS THAN 24 HOURS LATER, I was in the communal kitchen, at the stove, where I dropped something and I said, "Wope!"

Jesus, it hit me. We Missourians say this ALL THE TIME.

There are variations:

Bo, I'm sorry I doubted ye.