27 February 2007

baila, guapa

in addition to black history month, the chinese and korean new years, groundhog day, family day, and darwin day, in chicago february is also host to the chicago flamenco festival, a month-long celebration of the spanish music and dance form, with various performances given throughout the city. i am by no means a flamenco afficionado, but i just totally love watching and listening to it. the music and dancing is at once delicate and aggressive, the movement is fluid and also abrupt, and the wrists are just...enchanting! this saturday was the final performance, and i thought it'd be fun to go. unfortunately, so did a lot of other people who presumably had heard about the event before i'd even arrived in town, and they got all the tickets.

i really wanted to go, so i told my new friend kim about this dilemma, and she said she figured we could get in. we made some calls and planned our possible points of entry. the first move was to arrive early to the show, when ticketless potential patrons would be given a number based on their arrival, which would then determine the order in which returned or cancelled tickets were distributed. so we got to the front of that line, and while we waited kim reviewed our other options. we'd both come dressed as ushers in the event that more were needed, and kim had brought black tux jackets so that we could dress up as caterers and walk past the ticket takers in that capacity. (this is a ruse kim has successfully pulled off before, and is both one of many things that has made getting to know her a real adventure and the main reason i think she is a direct descendant of macguyver. also, i think she might be crazy.)

it was a very stormy and snowy night, so several tickets were returned and as kim and i were first in line, we had no trouble getting in after all. the show was quite enjoyable, and afterwards we went to a reception where was served tapas and sangrĂ­a. the wine, the bocadillos, and the spanish accents flying around the room transported me back to ehspain, and overall i had a really great night. kim did, too, although i expect she would have preferred to have gotten in in some way that required a grappling hook and made less use of the front door.

20 February 2007

faq chicago

q: so, you're out in chicago now. what part of the city are you in?
a: right now i live in lakeview, which is on the north side. but in a couple weeks i'll be moving to an apartment in humboldt park.

q: oh. i don't know where that is. should i probably come to chicago and check it out?
a: yeah, you probably should.

q: ok, cool. i think i will! so...how are things over there? keeping busy?
a: things are pretty great. i'm kind of busy, but not in a working all the time kind of way. my job is pretty flexible (a friend here says i don't have a day job. but she also says i'm going bald, so what does she know?), so i've been filling my time with a few of chicago's exciting areas--the museums, the restaurants, the places where homeless people pee, and so on.

q: oh. i see. what IS your job, anyway?
a: i work as a medical interpreter, which means i go to appointments and speak in english and spanish between a doc and a patient. it's pretty cool.

q: really? because it sounds boring.
a: oh, no way! i really like it. like last week i interpreted for a birth, which was awesome. and i get to see lots of different kinds of medicine and imagine myself doing them and decide if i'd like it, which is kind of like shopping for clothing, if you were going to only wear one suit for the rest of your life.

q: i have a sinking feeling you're about to tell another gross story involving bloody or detached body parts. let's change the subject before i start to wish i hadn't eaten such a heavy lunch. so what hospital do you work at? the one from ER? have you seen george clooney there? PLEASE give him my phone number! he's soooooo cute!!!
a: i'm actually not employed by a hospital or health clinic. in fact, i'm technically not employed by anyone--i'm an independent contractor. i work with an agency that finds interpreters for places that need them, so i work all over and around the city. this is in some ways a pain, but it's also been fun and a great way to see lots of the city. if i see george clooney i'll send him your love, but to be honest i'd always imagined the person behind the "q" was a man. weird.

q: well, i mean, it's not like i LOVE him. i just said he was cute. and that's all. so, uh...what else do you do when you're not at work?
a: well, i've found an incredible and interesting group of friends here who i have really enjoyed getting to know and hanging out with. and they know so much about chicago--i'm finding out all the great places to go, the cheap or free ways to see the city, and where to go for good falafel.

q: so you've been in one place for a month and a half--got any big plans to leave the country?
a: as a matter of fact, i do! in march i'm going with my lincoln church to mexico for a medical missions trip. i'll be interpreting over there and hopefully perfecting the triage system i tried out last time i did this trip, two years ago. i'm very excited to go back and to learn and see what i can while i'm there.

q: haha, i was kidding when i asked. you travel too much. you suck. but hey, weren't you planning on coming back to lincoln to get your stuff?
a: hey, what did i tell you about that kind of language?!? yes, i am coming back to get my stuff. i ended up waiting a little longer than i thought i would, which has meant that i wear the same pair of pants to every job i have, and one of two sweaters. it's easier to live out of a suitcase when you're on the move and nobody sees you twice, but i think some people in various medical clinics in chicago are beginning to think folks from nebraska can only afford one set of "dress-up" clothes. we're a simple folk. anyway, i'll be back in lincoln for the second half of next week. give me a call and we'll see if we can't hang out a little. it'd be fun!

q: i guess i might. it sounds like things are going really well for you. are you surprised?
a: to be honest, i kind of am. when i was in ecuador i told an american doc about my plans to become an interpreter out here, and he told me i wouldn't be able to do it because i'm not a native speaker. at the time part of me thought this was likely more a reflection of his own inability to speak spanish effectively (gosh, he was pretty bad) than an indication of the feasibility of my plan, but it was also really discouraging to me--he said it like he knew what he was talking about, and that he was very definite about it. so this whole experience has been a really great lesson to me to just go after whatever it is i want, no matter what anyone says. i mean, no matter the odds or--

q: you're starting sound a little too much like one of those inspirational posters, man. that's really lame. i think i need to go.
a: oh, ok. well, maybe i'll see you in a couple weeks? when i'm back in town?

q: eh, whatever.
a: ok! i'll wait for your call!!!

08 February 2007

border wars

last night the united states played mexico in soccer. the game was in phoenix, but whenever the us plays mexico along our southern border it's more like a home game for them. and we keep playing them down there because that way the stadium's full. it's a complicated issue, but the point is, the crowd was decidedly pro-mexico.

it was officially a friendly match, but as one fan's sign at the stadium pointed out, when it comes to these two sides "there are no friendlies". it's true. there's been bad blood between the teams for years, and since lately we've been the dominant side, things have gotten especially ugly. there's usually some elbows thrown, words exchanged, and...name-calling, too! and of course during the corner kicks, there was the requisite throwing of water cups at our players.

so there they all were, a crowd of 60,000-plus people, most of whom HATED the united states, and as i watched i couldn't help but think how nice it was to have so many people gathered together, hating our great nation just for our soccer, and irrespective of our politics and diplomacy.

oh, sport! i love you!

03 February 2007

real news

the whole idea of this electronic webpage was, at inception, to inform interested parties of my doings. lately, though, i've been more into using my considerable talent for talking without actually saying anything. so i thought i'd give an actual update of my life rather than an off-kilter observation or a lenghty story about...nothing. so here goes:

on the work front, i've been training for this interpreting job, which has been boring but not as boring as the similar class i took in lincoln. training ends next week, but i got to start actually working early and i had my first paid jobs this week. i did all kinds of different appointments, and pretty much enjoyed the job as much as i thought i would--a lot. it's so fun to see ultrasounds or whatever healthcare situation they put me in. and it's a great challenge, and i am learning a lot, and it's just so interesting!

the second sunday i was here i went to the church one of my roommates attends. i enjoyed the sermon, and in the bulletin they had some information about an esl class the church does for free which was to start that very week. this combined three areas in which i am, if not an expert, at least pretty well-versed: teaching, working for free, and the english language. so obviously i signed up and started doing that right away. i really enjoy doing it, but more importantly, it allowed me to get to know a lot of people at the church, and i found much to my delight that they're really great people! already in the few weeks i've been out here i have people i can call and who call me for various fun times, and they're people i genuinely enjoy. i consider myself very blessed in this regard, and am just really happy out here--i can't imagine this first month going any better. i'm enjoying every minute out here, and i'm really looking forward to all the next months.

so that's my life lately. stay tuned for a zany story about the mishaps that befell me the other day when i tried to order a pizza.