Thursday, April 28, 2005

¡ feliz casi cinco de mayo !

yeah, it is still April, but we are already looking ahead to our next LUCHA VA VOOM show - this coming Thursday, in Chicago on Cinco de Mayo...this past month has been a busy one for both of us. Fifi has been hard at work designing the artwork for the upcoming shows....everyone knows that the sublime graphic design of our website is all the product of her impeccable eye for composition, color and content, ¿si? well as working with various artists around town. she has been so busy that she hasn't even had time to sit down with me so i can twinterview her for our blog. soon, Fifi fans. this i promise to you -

now me. for the past month i have been studying and training in the beautiful city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. actually, i stayed in a little town thirty minutes outside of the city - one known amongst luchadores as "El Pueblo del Milagro" because it has consistently produced the most talented luchadores in Mexico...just something about the blue skies above it, the mountains and fields of maguey that surround it. there is a beautiful altar with a blessed stone cross near the city where i went to ask for some specific miracles...adorned with flowers and trickets representing what the people have come to ask for (little homes, little paper pesos, little golden title belts), it sits in a barn-like structure in the middle of one of those maguey fields. i can't say that i have ever felt moved to ask for a miracle before, but as soon as i stepped into the barn, i felt something peaceful and overwhelming at the same time, and i knew that if i could manage to ask for what i wanted with all my heart, it would indeed come true. my mexican mom and dad had taken me there, and my mexican mom suggested that i ask for the miracle of not speaking spanish like a gringa. i had some other ideas in mind - two, to be exact. i didn't have any trinkets to lay at the foot of the cross - all i could do was close my eyes and open mi corazon. like any good prayer, i asked with as much faith as i could find and then was able to calmly forget about my woes. it was a couple weeks later that i realised that they had been slowly coming true...

oaxaca at night, twinkling.

aside from training, i also studied spanish at a school in Oaxaca. like the first day of junior high, i arrived with my (mexican) mom and dad and they stayed until they found out exactly what time they should come back for me. after that i took a little test then sat in the garden until it was time for class to start. also like junior high, the very first person i met turned out to be my best friend in the entire world of the entire school. he had many adventures in Oaxaca, including suffering from mutiple perridas...a perrida is a stye, and it is called a perrida because it is the result of witnessing two dos perros enamorados. the first stye bothered him quite a bit, and yet he still refused to wrap his arm around the back of his head and pull his eye back with his fingers until he recovered from it, as is the cure for such an affliction. as a result, he suffered from another one just as the first was nearly gone. this did not stop him from being the best salsa partner i have ever had, however. we took salsa lessons at the school, from the best-built man in Oaxaca, Roberto, who drove straight onto the picturesque school grounds on a red motorcycle every day. he taught us "manos" and so much more.

my spanish teacher was also a little godsend...she taught us just as much about popular culture as she did the language...including "¿peeeeeerdon?", which is accompanied by a strange monacle, created by bending your pointer finger back with your middle finger, and placing them both over your eye with a certain amount of saucy latin attitude...a more engaging and theatrical version of "excusssssse me?"...i took a photo of her at the blackboard, on which was scrawled FUCK and not much else, after watching Nicotina for a lesson on slang...we listened to music, she brought us pan, we played board games in spanish. i would usually get pretty giddy during game hour, and i must admit that i had a very hard time concentrating when we played Memoria. she went through the deck, reviewing all the cards with us...when we got to the tiny, cakewalking El Negrito i lost it. of course i understood what he was doing on the card - just being a cute little good-natured iconographic NegrITO was all, just like El Borracho, tripping down the street with his bottle, was humorously representin' for the mexicans...i was just surprised that he hadn't already been extracted by some irrate estadounidense, and i guess i was also a little surprised by our maestra's unfazed response to the group's various reactions - some reference to how obsessed with skin color americans are. certainly we are careful with racial stereotypes for good reason, but her shrug off of El Negrito intrigued me. i would be a fool to write much more about how i have been considering a fresh, new relaxed take on racial awareness, but i will admit that it is on my mind. i ate meat almost every day i was in mexico after not touching it for eleven years, too...i am not sure what is going on, to be honest.

she also took me to train with her martial arts teacher, who taught me some very valuable new holds. she came to get me at school, accompanied me on the bus to her pueblo, introduced me to her teacher, and her cousin drove us all the way back to my town afterwards. the whole experience left an impression on me, but sitting in the back seat of the car chatting with her, the warm air blowing in from the maguey fields we were driving through, bright stars overhead - this was very precious to me. precious because i can't have this in Los Angeles, even if i squint. i will miss mi maestrita.

aren't we all cute??

i will also miss my friend, the sad-eyed teacher of nivel 2A, who i spoke to the first time two days before school ended. he took me out for one of the only nights out on the town, a difficult feat to arrange since buses to my little town stopped running at eight at night. we played billards, ate in a precious little restaurant, watched a surreal japanese film that had lots of disconcerting scenes with milk, went for tea, to his parents' house, then to a bar with a string of bras hanging over the counter, where we talked about how valuable alone-time is, and other things...what i will remember most is his house, where he crouched in front of my chair in the kitchen and tapped my water glass with his fingers by the light of a candle until the power came back on. he also spent an hour in the car driving me home, and i didn't even shake his hand good-bye. ay, el pesar...

other highlights of the trip include: seeing the biggest tree in the world in Tule

that is all one tree behind me

seeing the biggest spider in the world in my suitcase, walking around the ruins in Mitla and Monte Alban, visiting a roadside mezcal plant where i was encouraged to stick my fingers into every stage of the process for a taste. my favorite day was when i went with my family to the panteon to tidy up the grave of El Guapo, father of my mom, and husband to my saucy, equally guapa grandmother, as it was his birthday. they told me stories about him (a friend of his admitted at his funeral that he never actually knew his real name, only ever called him Senor Guapo). we laughed, trekked over to other gravesites, (mi mama stamped on her husband's mom's grave as we passed it and playfully growled " ii suegra !!") and ended up at the chapel, where they were holding mass. it was here that i heard music that i can't forget...a marimba, played by two people standing at the back of the church, just regular folk from the town. it sounded like sacred side-show music, a small sound that resonated and grew as it bounced off the walls of the church. i already adored the people, the traditions, the clothing, and the amazing food of my town, but now i found that the music made me tear-up too. it was then that i realised that i had found the one of the few perfect places on earth.

and then i came home. Fifi and i began training the very next day, and by now we have less than a week until our much anticipated return to Chicago. we are so excited ! we wish everyone a Feliz Cinco de Mayo, whether it will be spent with us or out on the town here in California !!

mi abuelita mexicana y yo

bises y besos,
B and F