I never read enough poetry...I always loved reading, learning and analysing poetry in school though. I'm short on time today, so here are a few of my favourite poems for you to read: all by different authors from different times and places. Enjoy!
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
~Edgar Allan Poe
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
~William Ernest Henley
A SOLILOQUY OF THE FULL MOON, SHE BEING IN A MAD PASSION
Now as Heaven is my Lot, they're the Pests of the Nation!
Wherever they can come
With clankum and blankum
'Tis all Botheration, & Hell & Damnation,
With fun, jeering
And still to the tune of Transmogrification--
With no Hats
Or Hats that are rusty.
They're my Torment and Curse
And harass me worse
And bait me and bay me, far sorer I vow
Than the Screech of the Owl
Or the witch-wolf's long howl,
Or sheep-killing Butcher-dog's inward Bow wow
For me they all spite--an unfortunate Wight.
And the very first moment that I came to Light
A Rascal call'd Voss the more to his scandal,
Turn'd me into a sickle with never a handle.
A Night or two after a worse Rogue there came,
The head of the Gang, one Wordsworth by name--
`Ho! What's in the wind?' 'Tis the voice of a Wizzard!
I saw him look at me most terribly blue !
He was hunting for witch-rhymes from great A to Izzard,
And soon as he'd found them made no more ado
But chang'd me at once to a little Canoe.
From this strange Enchantment uncharm'd by degrees
I began to take courage & hop'd for some Ease,
When one Coleridge, a Raff of the self-same Banditti
Past by--& intending no doubt to be witty,
Because I'd th' ill-fortune his taste to displease,
He turn'd up his nose,
And in pitiful Prose
Made me into the half of a small Cheshire Cheese.
Well, a night or two past--it was wind, rain & hail--
And I ventur'd abroad in a thick Cloak & veil--
But the very first Evening he saw me again
The last mentioned Ruffian popp'd out of his Den--
I was resting a moment on the bare edge of Naddle
I fancy the sight of me turn'd his Brains addle--
For what was I now?
A complete Barley-mow
And when I climb'd higher he made a long leg,
And chang'd me at once to an Ostrich's Egg--
But now Heaven be praised in contempt of the Loon,
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.
Yet my heart is still fluttering--
For I heard the Rogue muttering--
He was hulking and skulking at the skirt of a Wood
When lightly & brightly on tip-toe I stood
On the long level Line of a motionless Cloud
And ho! what a Skittle-ground! quoth he aloud
And wish'd from his heart nine Nine-pins to see
In brightness & size just proportion'd to me.
So I fear'd from my soul,
That he'd make me a Bowl,
But in spite of his spite
This was more than his might
And still Heaven be prais'd! in contempt of the Loon
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Thursday, 27 February 2014
This is a hard one, because there are SO many things I would change about the world if I could. From governments that play games with each other across the globe, allowing atrocities to happen to other humans and the environment because their hands are ‘politically tied’; to our messed-up conceptions of what it means to be beautiful; to the way that education has slipped into being a form of standardized tests, void of much actual learning or expanding of the mind (which is what actual education SHOULD be). No, the first thing that I would change, that perhaps would help with some of the above, which make me insane when I read about how another state has cut funding to the social sciences, or how Monsanto is spreading it’s GMO seeds everywhere, is the lack of TOLERANCE and ACCEPTANCE that we as humans have for each other.
This is not a new thing. Ever since we were half-naked tribes and bands of hunter/gatherers roaming the plains of the Middle East, there was an ‘Us vs Them’ mentality. Some researchers think that this is a survival mechanism, ingrained into our animal instincts for survival. You attack and take out the ‘Them’ that threaten you. Now, when we were happy Hunter/Gatherers, this might have been applied both to other bands of H/Gs trying to encroach on our food supply, or to a band of lionesses trying to eat us. The animal response kicks in and you attack what is different because different is not safe.
This mentality has remained as we settled and developed civilizations, languages, religions, complex cultures, taboos and hierarchies. And it has been used as an excuse to kill, subjugate, steal from, attempt to force conversion, and in some cases completely annihilate whole cultural and religious groups for centuries. This is NOT ok. We are all from the same place. Whether you believe that place is the Garden of Eden or Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, we, as Homo sapiens sapiens, every human on this planet are the SAME. There is no such thing as race. Every culture, every belief system, every form of thinking or being or acting or loving developed on THIS planet. We are different because we have different geographical and cultural influences. Our past is what shapes us, and defines us. Our culture is what creates our identity, our likes, dislikes, tastes, conceptions of what is right and wrong, and ways of viewing the rest of the world.
People use the excuse all the time that as humans with higher functioning brains, we must be better than other animals. We must be the leaders of this planet, we have the right to do with it as we see fit. But when those ‘highly functioning’ brains go to war, whether on a different belief system, a different lifestyle choice, or on a different way of viewing the world because it is DIFFERENT and therefore DANGEROUS, then we need to stop and think about how exactly we are using these brains of ours. Instead of teaching younger generations to accept difference and learn from it, choosing their own conception of what is good; we teach them to fear, abhor, and attack what is different.* ‘If they don’t believe what I believe, then they are wrong and I am right because xyz said so’. We are highly functioning, smart animals. We should be able to easily stop conflict through words, and accept differences by trying to understand them, and then finding a common ground, even if that common ground is just one grain of sand to share. We should be able to easily change our worldview to see things that are new as an opportunity to learn, instead of a thing to destroy or re-mold into something comfortable for ourselves. But we are a product of our cultures. And cultures take time to change.
The world would be a very boring place indeed if we all thought, believed and acted in exactly the same way. The beautiful variety of foods, languages, arts, and minds that populate Earth is what makes it so special, for those people who can appreciate it for what it is: diverse. Every major religion on this planet was founded on the basis of love. Learn to love and accept the difference, tolerate those who have different points of view, and teach them about yours. Don’t expect or demand people to think, believe and act exactly like you. No one wants a parrot following them around repeating everything they say, do they? So why would you want to live somewhere where personal expression is just a parroted version of a dominant idea? Now, I’m not saying that I am all hippy-dippy, sitting in a field holding hands with those who I don’t agree with, totally accepting their point of view because I am so developed and I can see past all my cultural influences to find the higher sameness we all share. I’m not perfect, and I admit that it drives me crazy when people are utterly close minded and refuse to think that there might be a different way to think or do or act. Or when they are completely opposed to my way of thinking. Yes, that grates on me, but I accept it, and if we can’t discuss our different points of view, we probably just can’t be friends. That’s ok. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you can’t demand they change who they are to make you more comfortable. Let them on their way, and you go your own way.
Embrace difference, tolerate what you don’t agree with, and live for love. That’s how I think we can change our culture, and the world.
*obviously, this is not a universal. Some people are amazingly open and tolerant, and I wish they would have more children and spread their tolerance across the world. The ‘We’ here refers to the family unit, the schools, the churches, and the governments of the world. Many of them are guilty of this.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Kimberly Renée Sigmund. But I usually go by Kim. It’s mostly family members who call me ‘Kimberly’, and many Mexicans, who think the name ‘Kim’ sounds like ‘Qué?’ (the word ‘what?’). I quite like my name, although I did go through a phase when I was younger of changing the spelling of ‘Kimberly’. No idea why. To be more unique? To find a spelling that suited my personality? I don’t know. It’s not like there were loads of people named Kimberly running around my school. But I have many a school paper from that period (9th grade I think) and my name is spelled ‘Kimberli, Kimberlee, Kimberleigh, or Kimberlea.’ Sigh. The things we do when we’re young and silly. Eventually I got over that and stuck with Kim or Kimberly.
By definition my name breaks down to mean the following:
Kimberly: English, meaning either ‘Ruler’ or ‘From the Meadow of the Royal Fortress’
Renée: French, meaning ‘Reborn’
Sigmund: German, meaning ‘Victorious Protector’
So I’m a ruler who is reborn and also a victorious protector. I can deal with that.
I asked my parents why they chose my name, and I got two responses, one from each parent. They are numbered based on the order I received them. Try to guess which response belongs to which parent:
I'm pretty sure we just loved the way it sounded. We studied 'Name" books for a long time before deciding. So no real family connection or name-sake. We just thought it was pretty, and voila, so were you!
Yes, we did go thru baby books galore! every name I liked your --- was not crazy about and every name --- liked, I too was not crazy about. (or absolutely thought was horrible, Belinda? :( I think we were getting desperate by this time to make a decision). We did not know if you'd be a boy or girl. I knew I did not want to name you after any family member because to me, everyone is their own person, own individual and I wanted a name that would be yours alone. I asked your --- to write down all the boys and girls names --- liked and I did the same. On these lists, the only two names for both sexes that we each had written down were Kimberly and Derek. (So this story is for your bro too.) As for Renee, we thought it went well with Kimberly.
So that’s it. That’s how I came to be myself, name-wise. Names are magical things, I think. They definitely bestow a certain amount of personality upon a person. Or maybe it’s vice-versa. Have you ever looked up the numerology of your name? It’s pretty fun, and can be very accurate. Go to this website here if you want to try it: http://www.paulsadowski.com/Numbers.asp. I found this reading partially inaccurate, but mostly correct. Just like any true ‘science’. Haha!
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
This is a haaaard question. Let me just cut half of this off right now by saying that there are far too many places I want to visit to even attempt to discuss it here.
Now, that leaves places I want to live. I would love to live in at least 3 more countries in my life. And with my current language capabilities, that pretty much leaves Central and South America, or any Commonwealth country/ American territory. I have no interest in Guam, so we’ll cut him off right now. Ok, so Central and South America offers quite a lot. In terms of the work I would like to do in medical anthropology, I could pretty much live in any of these countries and find work. But as for interest, I have to say that Costa Rica has always sounded appealing, as does Argentina. The natural beauty of Costa Rica, the laid-back lifestyle, I think I could get on board with that. And Argentina, the Paris of South America, with its complex history and European influences would be a great mix of the Old and New worlds.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina|
In terms of English speaking countries, besides an interest in living in London for a wee while, I’m not bothered. But I also have a massive interest in Asia. Maybe some time living in Japan or Hong Kong could happen? That would be so interesting, and such a massive culture shock, I definitely would be willing to try Asia out for a year. Plus, English is quite common, and I could attempt (haha) to learn the national language. In Japan, I would love to try to understand the behemoth that is Tokyo, and think of all the sushi I could eat! Hong Kong, as a former British colony, could also offer me a bit of that European influence mixed into this unique Chinese Island. And even though there is so much globalization now, I love how the Asian cultures are still quite unique for us Westerners, and it would be interesting to immerse myself in one for an extended period of time.
Now, if I was to ever return to the USA, where would I like to live? Hands down, San Francisco. I also find San Fran to have a great cultural mix, a good vibe, and it’s a lovely city. Plus, it is still California, which really is my one true American home. Of course, every time I visit Hawai’i I also feel like I could live there…just for a little bit…take in the Island rhythm for a season maybe.
So, as usual, I have no easy answer to offer for this question. I want to see and do so much, and really understand so many more places and their peoples, that it’s impossible to choose just one. If I’m lucky, I’ll get the chance to live in each of the aforementioned places for a while. All I can do is hope, and get some good networking going! J
Monday, 24 February 2014
It’s hot here. Like, too hot for people from Edinburgh hot, kind of similar to Southern California hot. I was quite pleased to realise that I needed a light coat, sweaters, and boots in Mexico City back in December, so I brought some back with me after Christmas. And everyone told me that January is the coldest month, so I was prepared! Then, come January and the 70 degree weather is back. Come February and you would think it was April. Today the high is supposed to be 82. Tomorrow, 84. Sigh, I’m not ready for this yet. In my brain this is abnormal and I feel like I’ve been cheated out of a whole sweater season! But there are some good things about the warm weather in winter here. Such as:
I can wear sandals and a dress to pop to the store
I can get away with carrying a light sweater and not a bulky coat
My boots won’t need to be re-soled from repeated wear before next winter
I don’t look pasty white because there is always enough sun to give you a healthy glow, just by walking around, and I can walk around in tank tops to get tan arms
My hair and nails grow faster in the sun and warmth
Sunshine=happiness. It’s a brain chemistry thing
Of course, every rose has its thorn:
The metro and metrobus are always too warm, especially mid-day when there are loads of people. Luckily, Mexicans are quite good about hygiene.
Walking around, lugging all my crap, I end up sweaty everywhere I go during the day. Sigh.
Bugs are starting to come back out in the evenings. Mosquito protection needed!
So overall the unseasonal warmth is a good thing, and I keep reminding myself that I’ll be missing this come next January in Edinburgh, so I’m trying to take it all in now!
Sidenote, It’s funny to me just how few people here wear sunglasses. This is a sunny country, and you can buy them from almost any street market-fake Ray-Bans and fake Chanels and fake whatever else you want. But it is a small part of the population who actually wear sunglasses. Why is this? Is it just not the cultural norm? Is it because they are more accustomed to dealing with the sun in their eyes in other ways? Is it a generational thing? Is it only pansy Americans who can’t handle bright sunlight? I have no idea. But I’m leaning towards it being a generational thing. All my Mexican friends here wear sunglasses, and when I’m out and about I notice some young adults and middle aged women do as well, but very few men, and even fewer older people.
The random things we notice…
Alas, I need to focus on my own research and not the cultural conceptions of sunglasses use in Mexico City.
Sunday, 23 February 2014
Have you ever watched someone dig through their bag for that one thing they just can’t find? Yeah, that person is usually me. I carry quite a bit with me on a daily basis. Both because I have a fear of needing something that I didn’t bring (always happens when I don’t carry hand sanitizer), and because I tend to go out for the day not planning to come home between scheduled events/work/etc.
Here is a picture of the contents of my bag today:
The bag is one that I bought in Kenya, and I love it. It’s large, but light so it’s easy to carry.
Clockwise from the bag, I always carry a black Moleskine notebook for jotting notes while out and about, or at spontaneous interviews.
Red Moleskine day planner. I love these things. They have space for daily planning and blank note pages for to-do lists/ideas/important information. Plus, they come with stickers you can use to highlight important dates like meetings, birthdays, concerts, hair appointments, etc. I <3 moleskine.="" o:p="">3>
A water bottle, because the tap water in Mexico is not sanitary and I hate buying bottles every day, so I tend to fill a few up in the morning to take with me.
An (almost empty pack of gum). Self-explanatory.
Pink sunglasses case (plus sunglasses). México is sunny, kids. Eye protection is necessary. Plus, then I can more easily ignore the Méxican men who catcall to the ‘Rubia’ as I walk down the street.
A Starbucks napkin. I steal these when I go to Starbucks because it’s easier than buying little bags of tissues. These get used as facial tissues and toilet paper, since many places don’t give you TP, just a toilet.
A little bag from Topshop. This holds the small bits and bobs in the bigger bag to stop them from getting lost/for easier access.
My wallet. Coach, a Christmas gift because I can’t afford stuff like that. Shout out to Aleem and Ashley for the gift!
Ipod. Music makes things better.
My phone. Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Dying day by day. But my constant companion because I use it as a map, to contact people, to take pictures, and to entertain myself on long public transit rides.
Hand sanitizer because well, yeah. Those bathrooms that don’t give you TP? They definitely don’t give you soap either.
Coco Butter chapstick. No one likes dry lips, and it has SPF!
MAC compact which is empty, but I use it for the mirror.
Shea butter lotion dry hands-almost as bad as dry lips.
A band-aid, because I use them often, usually for blisters from my shoes.
Marks and Spenser mint tin, now carrying aspirin and vitamins.
New pack of gum, not yet opened.
Hand-made tissue holder that I have stuffed with Starbucks napkins because I can’t be bothered to buy tissues. Made by a lady that I work with in one of the clinics for Christmas.
A pen, for aforementioned note taking and life-planning.
MAC eyeliner. Black. Definitely a necessity.
So that’s it. On a proper work day I would also be carrying a large notebook for interviews, a digital voice recorder for when the interviews are in Spanish, some form of fruit for a snack, and probably a sweater because it is hot outside, and freezing in almost every clinic I go to. I walk a lot so this amount of crap is definitely is not good for my back, but it’s only for a few more weeks now, my back will survive!
Saturday, 22 February 2014
Routine hmmm? Well, I supposed I have a semi-structured routine here. I definitely have to be more flexible with my time in Mexico, both because there definitely IS such a thing as ‘Mexico Time’ and because some weeks I do very different things than other weeks. I might spend four days one week sitting in clinics with healers and attending classes on natural medicine, or I might spend all week chasing down new healers to interview, waiting for them to be ready, speaking with them, doing some reading, trying to find new places to try to find healers, etc. I tend to do a lot of waiting for people, both my informants and my friends. Traffic in this city really is crap, and people just have very fluid ideas of what ‘now’ or ‘2:30’ means. ‘Ahorita’ is a word here that means ‘in a bit’ and that can either mean ‘in two minutes’, or ‘in two hours’ or even ‘never going to happen’. I’ve had all three meanings used on me. It’s a bit frustrating, but it’s part of the culture and you just have to go with the flow. Which slowly brings me back around to my ‘routine’.
Three things I tend to do on a regular basis that might be called a routine are: work out almost every day, stream TV shows on my laptop, and read celebrity gossip. I enjoy all three things for different, yet similar reasons. I enjoy working out for my health, my mental wellbeing, and because it is something that has been a part of my life for so long now that I can’t imagine NOT being active pretty much every day, even if for just a short amount of time. I get some good thinking done while I run and swim, and conversely I can completely zone out and forget everything when I’m on an elliptical with a Glamour magazine and friends re-runs (with Spanish subtitles) on the TV in front of me at the gym.
Likewise, I really look forward to the point every evening where I am physically and mentally incapable of working any longer. This is usually around 8 pm (I don’t have set work hours, but start late and end late, on average). Around this time I love to close my notebook, forget about anthropology, and completely succumb to an episode or three of Doctor Who, How I met Your Mother, Criminal Minds, etc. It is like a salve to my brain, and it really helps me relax. Plus, I like TV. It’s entertaining and there is some really smart, funny writing coming out of TV right now. I wish I could say that after working all day I love to curl up with a good novel. But sadly, after reading all anthro all the time for a year and a half, and writing my fieldnotes everyday, the last thing I want to look at in the evening is more words! Unless…
…they come courtesy of UsMagazine.com. I know, it’s horrible. Our culture’s sick obsession with celebrities and their weight and their children and their vacations. But I am dead serious when I say it is the best, easiest way to shut off and dumb-sown after a long day of mental stimulation. Do I really care what the Kardashians are doing? Not so much. But I could still tell you exactly how Kanye proposed to Kim, and why Khloe is divorcing Lamar, thanks to Us Weekly. It’s like the junk food of mental stimulation, and I’m not afraid to say that I love it.
Perhaps once I’m not a student any longer I will return to reading important things like the world news (I scan headlines now for the most part) and great works of literature (I’ve been working on ‘The Kite Runner’ for a while). But for now, TV and gossip rags make the other, hard parts of fieldwork more bearable. When I can’t get someone to commit to an interview, when people get suspicious about WHY exactly I’m sitting in on their medical consultation, when I show up to a clinic that googlemaps says is in one location and it just. doesn’t. exist. It’s ok, because I know that when I get home, there will be an episode of New Girl ready and waiting and probably some new pictures of Kate Middleton in some fabulous Jenny Packham dress from some glam event in London. Like I said before, it’s all about balance. J
Speaking of routines...
Friday, 21 February 2014
Regret. It is something that, in my opinion, is supposed to serve as a tool towards remorse for people who do terrible things, or people who allow terrible things to happen. Which on the whole sounds alright. But the word as defined means ‘to feel sad or sorry about something that you did or did not do’. There is no scale given for what level of action (or inaction) deserves regret. Apparently anyone can and should feel regret for even the tiniest things. I disagree. For most normal people, regret is about focusing on the past, and allowing your sad and sorry feelings to wallow there, remembering what you have (or haven’t) done, dragging you eternally into a fixed point in the past like an anchor on your soul. No thanks.
I prefer to live my life by learning from the things I feel I have done or handled wrong, whether through action or inaction, or by lack of forethought. Life is one giant learning experience, so why REGRET what you cannot change? If you CAN change it, then it’s just a mistake and upon rectifying it there should no longer be feelings of remorse surrounding said mistake. Do all you can to live your life well, apologise when you can, think before you speak (I work on this daily-this is why I’m a writer and not a lawyer), and try to live by the Golden Rule.
Saying that, I understand that this is a writing prompt and obviously it has achieved its purpose. But for posterity’s sake, here it is:
Something I wish I had done differently last year: I wish I had taken out a bigger student loan for this year. I underestimated what I would need and want, and because of that I have been unable to travel around Mexico and the surrounding areas as much as I would have liked to, and had to budget my life in the city more than I would have liked to. I’ve seen little bits of the country and enjoyed the city, but not as much as I know I could, or maybe should have. To be fair to myself, I have been busy with fieldwork, but I wish I had thought that decision out better. One of the things I enjoy most in life is travel, so it is a shame that I have been so close to such amazing things, and unable to see them. My solution? I’ll think more carefully about it next year, and be creative in my remaining time here to see and do as much as I can afford. I have a few things and ideas planned for the next 6 weeks, and I’m really looking forward to doing them. I’ll also plan to return here in the future and see everything I’ve missed! ;-)
So that’s it. Think about you own lives as well. Do you regret things? Can you change them? Are they worth the mental anguish? Most of the time, the answer to the two latter is ‘no’. So change what you can and free yourself from the rest. Live well.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
Well, I’m actually looking forward to a few things this year. I’m looking forward to going back to Edinburgh, and re-establishing my life there. I’m looking forward to visiting a few new places around Europe this year, and for a few people to come visit Edinburgh for the first time (you know who you are, let’s get to planning!), and I’m looking forward to the challenge of staying healthy and happy during the writing of my thesis. So I suppose overall, I’m looking forward to having new experiences and re-discovering my favourite things about Scotland.
You all know about my serious love for Scotland, as I’ve harped on about it over the years since I moved there (If you're newer to reading, see the backlog here: http://madpassionblog.blogspot.mx/). Although I am really enjoying Mexico and my time here, I can’t help but occasionally stop and think about the people, places, and things I miss most: the smaller, more intimate size of the city, the cleaner air, the less-than-80-degree weather in January/February (80 degrees in winter is just weird, I don’t care where you come from), my friends, the safety to walk around alone at night, the abundance of Indian food and cheap imported foods from the rest of Europe…I really am looking forward to getting back!
I’m REALLY looking forward to some more travelling this year. 2012 and 2013 didn’t allow for a lot of travel, at least not to anywhere new (Hamburg, maybe, but it was still Germany and not anywhere near as interesting as Berlin so it gets a thumbs down in the ‘new places’ department). I’m hoping to visit Prague and/or Italy, and maybe Greece if I need a super sunshine fix as the light recedes in early winter…Likewise, there are so many places in the UK I’ve never been. Most of England is just a blur from outside the train window, and great bits of Scotland are just shadowy ideas in my imagination. I’m going to try to take visitors to some places that I love, to some new places as well, and try to schedule a few weekend trips to get myself better acquainted with the island in general.
|Prague, Czech Republic: yes please!|
Healthy and happy? Well, we’ll see. I find it amazingly easy to be healthy in Mexico. The sun shines, the produce is amazingly fresh, tasty and cheap, I can go out for long walks or runs any day of the week, or go to the gym. And because I’ve been specifically focusing on getting healthy, I’m motivated. When I return to Edinburgh and actually have to start eating bland, flown-in from a billion-miles-away fruit and veg, focusing on the theoretical workings of a thesis, and dealing with sporadic rain and its effect on my workout schedule? No idea. But I did it before so I’m sure I’ll manage to do it again. Close proximity to a gym will be key. Happy I’ll have to manage on my own, which will definitely be a challenge during the thesis-writing stage. But hopefully some of the aforementioned travel plans and friends waiting in Edinburgh will help give me something to focus on and keep my spirits up.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to the rest of 2014. I really want this to be a good year, so I’m trying to make it so! (haha I just quoted Star Trek without thinking about it…Dad, are you proud?) 2013 was really difficult, and I’m ready to move forward and keep looking towards the future instead. The future in which I am DONE with school forever and my thesis is just a faint memory!
|The Isle of Skye, Scotland|
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Thirty days from now is my thirtieth birthday. I know, weird. I think it might be weirder for my parents, having a 30 year old child, but still. It’s a milestone, for sure, and to mark the occasion and try to update many of you on what has been happening in my life for the past year, as well as share some things many of you won’t know, I’ve decided to challenge myself with this ’30 Days to 30’ writing plan. Each day will have a theme or question that I answer in writing, and I’ll also plan to post some pictures along the way. Some days will probably be shorter, based on time available, and some will be longer. I love getting feedback from everyone, so please feel free to contact me with questions, comments, commiserations, or anything else. J
I’ll start with what I’ve been up to in Mexico. Seeing as I have now been living in Mexico for over 7 months, I am positive that it won’t all fit in one post, so I’ll give an overview and add more information as the month goes on. I had a lovely time in Guadalajara for my first month. My Great-Uncle Pat and Great-Aunt Queta are wonderful, welcoming people and really made me feel at home, and I made some lovely friends while I was there. I got to visit a few places nearby, like the city of Tequila, and really ease my way into living in Mexico. After completing my language class in Guadalajara last July, I went on a scouting mission to Mexico City for a week to see how I liked the place, and whether I wanted to/could work and live there.
|Visiting the Puebla of Tequila with a friend from Language school, Dawnelle|
Technically, I was supposed to move to Mexico City right away, as was part of my thesis plan, but I really liked Guadalajara and I had heard very mixed things about Mexico City. So I bought a cheap flight (seriously, the USA could REALLY learn about discount domestic airfare from both Europe and Mexico-so many more people would travel!) and headed west. I was offered a place to stay for the week with a friend of my Aunt Peggy, and they welcomed me in and gave me free reign of their home when they left for Cancún halfway through my trip. I spent my days travelling around the city as a tourist, meeting a few contacts I had from other friends, looking into getting a flat, having a meeting with the Professor who had offered me an affiliation with an Anthropology department, and *drumroll please* meeting my First. Official. Natural. Healer.*
His name is Ernesto, and I have been lucky enough to be able to work with him the entire time I’ve been here. A friend of a friend uses his services, and offered to take me to meet him while I was in Mexico City. He was very welcoming, answering some questions I had during his clinic hours, and his wife, who runs the school part of the clinic where they offer courses in different forms of natural healing, asked me if I wanted to join the herbolaria class that has just started. Herbolaria is the study of plants and their medicinal uses. I immediately jumped on board, having already decided that I definitely wanted to move to Mexico City, and went back to Guadalajara the next day with a focus, a new flat waiting for me, and excitement for the next step of my research.
|Checking our the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City|
|Eating elote (Mexican street corn) at the mercado|
August flew by as I started feeling my way around my neighbourhood and tried to do some research, attending my Herbolaria classes, and made some friends. I live with a middle-aged Colombian woman who is, frankly, difficult. But the flat is clean, in a good location, and an ok price, so I’ve stuck it out. But I am REALLY looking forward to living alone or with someone less insane when I return to Edinburgh. At the end of August I flew to Veracruz for the wedding of a good friend from Edinburgh, who happens to be Mexican. Panagia and Nicholas threw a great wedding at a grand old hotel in Veracruz, and a few of the friends who travelled from afar met up a few days before the wedding and we all got to be tourists and get to know each other before the wedding. It was a lot of fun!
|Me with the Bride and Groom after the civil ceremony (which was after the Catholic ceremony)|
|Visiting Palacio bellas Artes, one of my fave places in D.F.|
September brought news that I needed to do an insane amount of work for a mandatory university proposal that I had been told to ‘not worry about’ in June. Needless to say, much of my time in September and October were taken up with reading, writing, editing, repeating, and overall hating life. But I was able to get a few more interviews done with other natural doctors, and I was able to fly back to California for the wedding of one of my very best friends, Aleem to his lady love Ashley. It was and Indian/Catholic wedding, and therefore went on for three days of festivities and included a LOT of food, family and fun, plus some dancing and henna tattoos just for kicks.
|Ashely and myself before the Indian ceremony|
|Aleem, me, and Ashley|
October flew by as well with a two day music festival, the celebration of a good friend's birthday and a visit to the Mexican version of Oktoberfest (so wrong, yet so right), then bled into November which started with the celebration in Mexico of the Day of the dead (Dia de los Muertos). One of the most participated in religious holidays, it is actually two days: November 2 and 3. November 2 is the day to remember the dead who passed in adulthood, and November 3 is for remembering children who were taken too young. For weeks in advance, stores sell the special pan del muerto, a bread shaped to look like it has a spider on top, calavera de azucar y chocolate (sugar skulls and chocolate skulls) as well as decorations, candles, marigolds (only used for remembering the dead) and other items for the family altars. Each family sets up an alter to their dead relatives, and I decided to join in, to remember my family who have passed on.
|A the Corona Capital music festival|
|Happy Birthday Ammal! (Back, centre)|
|My family altar for Dia de los Muertos|
On the second, a few friends and I went to a town known for its Dia de los Muertos celebrations, which has a huge graveyard where families decorate the graves of loved ones and stand sentinel over the graves for an entire day, paying homage to the dead. Children also run around on these days asking for money and candy to put into carved gourds or watermelons, a Mexican version of trick-or-treating. It’s a beautiful and interesting celebration, and we really enjoyed seeing it and being a part of it.
|graves covered in flowers by families for Dia de los Muertos|
I also maintained my tradition of throwing a Thanksgiving dinner outside the USA this year, bringing my new Mexican girlfriends into the mix, and teaching them about one of my favourite American holidays. We cooked and ate at my good friend Ammal’s house, and had a wonderful time. I forgot to account for the super high elevation here and how that affects cooking time, so we ended up eating really late, but they were good sports and absolutely loved the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and pie I made. And they all pitched in with veggie dishes, breads, snacks, and drinks as well. It was a great Thanksgiving!
|Ammal, me, Gloria, Renée and Marcé|
December was full of me trying to get as much work done as possible before leaving for the US for three weeks in California and Seattle, seeing friends and family and celebrating Christmas and New Year. It was a lovely trip, although I felt a bit guilty being gone from Mexico so long and not practicing my Spanish…whoops! My Spanish IS much better, but far from perfect. I think I would need to live here for years to get there, so hopefully in the future I can return to a Spanish speaking country for more time!
|Barnes Family Cousins Day of Fun in Newport Beach!|
|New Years in Seattle With Auntie Marla and Auntie Hallie|
January included the visit of my family from California. I showed them all around Mexico City, and then we went to Guadalajara to visit the family there and tour around a bit. It was a really fun trip, and I definitely got a lot of Spanish practice in being the translator for everyone! I am also working closely now with both Ernesto, the ‘Médico Naturista’ I met in August and another Naturista called Alfredo. They allow me to work with them in their consultations with patients, giving me access to some really good information for my thesis. This is great, and has really helped me focus my ideas into a rough thesis plan that I am using to plan out the rest of my time here because in January I also bought my plane tickets to leave! Eek! I leave Mexico in early April for California, spend a few days there, then I head to Edinburgh! Having a leaving date is both a blessing and a curse. It forces me to focus and really get as much work done as I can, and I am trying to soak up as much of Mexico and time with my friends as possible. But it also makes me think a LOT more about how soon I’ll be in Edinburgh, and there are some things here *cough crazy flatmate cough* that I can’t wait to leave behind!
|Sigmund Family at the top of the Temple of the Sun in Teotihuacan|
|Uncle Pat, Derek, Me, Cindy, Jazmin, Aunt Queta, Dad, Mom and Jaclene in Guadalajara|
So that kind of sums things up in a very general way. I’ll add more detail to a few interesting events as I go along, and more detail about life in Mexico in particular. I am so very sorry for being rubbish at writing in the last few years, but when you write for your ‘job’ everyday, it’s hard to then write anything else at the end of the day.
I hope you are all well and happy!
|Angel of Avenida Reforma!|
*Just an FYI, I am studying a group of alternative healers in Mexico City called 'Médico Naturistas' who use natural medicine, trying to define what natural medicine means to them, and how they use it to treat patients.