Wednesday, January 31, 2007

You'd think we weren't going to class....

Today was supposed to be my longest day when it comes to classes, but it ended up being a short and very fun one.

When driving to campus this morning I started to see a little snow coming down, and by the end of my first class the campus (or as far as I could see from the art lab in the 3rd floor of the building) was completely covered in snow.

So I went to the library where I met up with Anna. Kate joined us later. We read Hamilton's column in the school newspaper and then we were too distracted by the snow and all (we were next to a huge window) so I proposed we went outside for some pictures.

We walked out the library, and then decided to go back in just to pick up our stuff and leave that building for the day. We took a few pictures and then went to the next class just to check if there was a note on the door saying it had been canceled. There wasn't a note. There wasn't an email. Just doubt.

I left. My commute had me a bit worried, but once I got out of the hills, up and downs of Fayetteville I did good. Those hills are killers with snow or ice. Berthito just slipped a few times... just enough to get me all focused on the road. It took me about 40 minutes longer to get home that it would in any other day.

It's still snowing.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friday walk around campus

what's in a classroom?, originally uploaded by aquarelita.

Yesterday's weather called for a walk. So I took off my sweater, grabbed my camera, and took off. I was by myself because on Fridays people just seem to flee campus since very early. Even I do this... it's been a couple of semesters since I've managed to make up my class schedule so I don't have any classes on Fridays. It's pretty neat.

But well, yesterday I had to go do some things in the afternoon after work. And after I was done I just started going around campus. The sun was shinning like it hasn't in quite a few days. And the light hitting the trees and the few leaves that are left on them seemed to glow with a golden charm. It was beautiful. And the sky was blue and clear, not one cloud around.

I ran into a couple of friends, which made the whole thing even better. By the end of the walk my hands were really cold and my hair was looking crazy, because it was windy.

Good times.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

sushi goodness and a busy schedule

this is semester has had a busy start! but today I had sushi and things seemed fine.

i'm enjoying most of my classes :) especially creative writing... and all the reading involved in it.

i have tons of things to say, but i have no time! i miss my regular blogging.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

She knows what's up!

I went to see my advisor this week and we talked a while about several
things. I mention to her that I'll go to grad school, but that I don't want
to go right after undergrad, and she told me that I need time to know what I
want to do and to get some experience before I go to grad school. Now, SHE
knows what's up! I've been getting bombarded with the idea of going to grad
school right after undergrad. But truth is, I can't do that right now. I
don't have the finances or the clarity.

It was a nice meeting. Now back to business.

Friday, January 19, 2007

My eye-os are fine!

I went to get my 18-months-overdue eye check up. I'm fine. I don't need new glass, thank goodness!

Full day today. After office work, will go get the big paintings out of the studio, will go to J board hearing, will baby sit tonight.

Lovely, lovely. What might make it better is some pupusas :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

i hate the UA Parking and Transit Department.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ice Ice Baby!

There's a thick layer of ice over Northwest Arkansas!
Yes, baby, my car was so freaking cold that it took me about 45 minutes last
night to just opened my car. Then I had to get the ice off the windshield
and the windows. There was rain since Friday (which, by the way, I love) but
then the temperature dropped like CRAZZZZZZZZY and all started freezing.
There was a very light snow all day yesterday and it looked very pretty, but
it kept freezing my car. By the time I had to leave for the MLK banquet my
car had been idling for about 20 minutes and there STILL was some ice on the
I love winter, but driving in the winter is so very dangerous.
After the banquet I had to do some other tricks to get my car door to open.
And the car looked hilarious all covered up in ice. I didn't take a picture,
thought, it was too cold.

Jose brought me some postcards from Mexico, which are pretty awesome. AND he
brought me a ceramic sol y luna in blue... which is now in display in my
room, thank you very much.

This morning I woke up extra early to start the semester right. I went,
tricked-opened my car and then left for class. Yes, baby, this is the
beginning of my last Spring semester at the University of Arkansas. I made
it safely to campus, but parking was another story. The parking deck was
full and had so much ice in some parts that it was just so ridiculous. They
had to close the 3rd level of the deck because that part pretty much becomes
an ice skating area when we hit freezing temperatures. There have been other
times when the UA facilities have been so ridiculously slick, so by now I'm
just used to this situations. That doesn't make it any better or less
dangerous, but what can I do? The UA will only learn after they get a suit.

I have to say, thought, I'm glad the winter is not looking like summer. It
has been pretty sad so far, the weather changing as often as I get gas for
my car. We've done so much wrong to this planet.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The narrator

I finished reading "The art fair" by David Lipsky today. Beautiful writing. It had me hooked, specially because so much of it has to do with a character that's working to succeed in the art world. Oh, the art world. And I have to confess... I bought that bok (on sale) and only because I loved the cover.

So after I finished the book I got out of my bed and went to look for the book's place in the bookshelf, then grabbed the copy of "Memoria de mis putas tristes" I borrowed from the local library. That should go by fast, actually, I have to finish it before 8 pm on January 22nd :) I started reading that one when I went by Barnes & Noble last week.

After all that this morning, I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing (thought very light). It's cold and my car is frozen. I'll have to spend sometime defrosting it before I go off to the MLK banquet tonight.

Sometimes I think as a narrator. When I'm quiet and thinking of different things while doing anything (painting, cleaning, sometimes in class) I narrate my own book. I in different styles. This morning I was using Lipsky's style. After I finished the Dirty Girls Social Club I was using the voice of one of the characters. Often, when I realize I'm doing this, seems funny. Sometimes I don't notice. Oh, well. Tomorrow I start classes.... if it stops snowing.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Making sense of years of devotion

I used to be very religious. Growing up we, with my mom and my sister, joined a baptist church near our house. I was about 5 years old when we starting attending the church. My closest friends were there, and we spent a lot of time going to services, meetings for a couple of committees my mom was part of. There was this one committee I liked in particular; it was the committee for the anniversary celebration and my mom was the secretary. They met on Monday nights. And while my mom was talking about how much money the church needed to raise for certain date in order to have enough for chicken sandwiches and building maintenance, I was out the temple playing with two of my friends and my sister. Their dad and mom were in the same committee.

I decided to invite God in my life in what I figure was a Saturday in December 1991. We had gone around the communities surrounding the church and had invited people to come see a movie about the apocalypse. I was 6 years old. I sat up front to get a better view of the movie and by the end of the night I was thinking I didn't want to go in desperation like the people in the movie had seemed to be. I wanted to be happy in heaven with Jesus by the time all that went on. So I prayed with the youth leader that got up after the movie to invite people to come to salvation. From that night on, I've believed I'm part of His family.

I started growing as a Christian. And there came the time I was able to serve at church. It was a very early age compared to what people were used to seeing, but I wanted to serve. I had an urge to serve, my heart was burning because I wanted to grow more and know more and serve more. But to be able to serve, one had to get baptized or transfer the church membership to that church. I went through the baptism classes and on Sunday, December 26, 2006 I and my group of friends, that generation of kids, got baptized. I saw a picture from that day and we were so little. I was 11 years old. It was a good day. I remember my dad came to church and saw us take that step. That made my day so much happier, just the fact he came to support us.

He's always wanted us to believe in God. He used to tell my mom to look for a church and take us to the Sunday school so that we could somehow acquire a set of values. Before going to what ended up being my church we would go to a little church which temple I never saw finished. It was just walls, there was no roof. But we would meet in our Sunday class and color drawings of men with tunics and camels or sometimes mules by their side. I remember the day we learned about Joseph and his dreams. I remember that day because we had to color the tunic his father gave to him, the one with all the beautiful colors.

I don't remember the first committee I joined at church. I do remember when I was in the missionary committee people didn't take us seriously. And I guess that's what you do when you see a 12-year old sitting in one of your meetings, except by doing that they were hurting me because I really wanted to serve but there was something about me (I didn't know what) that just wasn't good enough to be given any responsibilities. Things changed later, when they started to need me for things I was good at, like making people laugh and drawing.

I started as a clown in, I think, 1997 when we went to a very small and poor town on Morazan, one of the Departamentos (the geographic divisions in El Salvador are called Departamentos, kinda like States) of El Salvador. The town was 8 hours away and we went with a big group. My mom, my sister, and I went. And I saw extreme poverty as I'd never seen it before. I had seen poverty, but not like I saw in Joateca (the town). I saw kids walking miles barefooted each day to go to school or work. I saw kids whose clothes so thin and old that soap would rip them. And in the eyes of little kids who were happy because we took some toys or used clothes in better condition than theirs I saw life and injustice. And I got so mad at everyone because that reality should be for anybody. It's inhumane, but yet I was looking at it, I was there powerless about the present and future of those kids and their parents. After that trip we kept going back to the town until we established a little mission over there. I went a lot and always enjoyed the time and the opportunity to make a small difference in the lives of those we helped. Last time I heard of that mission it was left alone by my church. Some internal problems came along and there was no strength to keep working for others-- or something along those lines. It seemed ridiculous to me, but by that time I wasn't part of the church or the country anymore. And then I felt more powerless than the times I looked poverty in the eyes.

I learned to not hate until it was too late. There was a kid at church, Dennis, who seemed a little more feminine than the other boys. I was 13 the most, and he was about a year or two younger. I used to make fun of him because he had an attitude about things that seemed funny to me at the time. He would get really mad if we told him he was wrong on anything, and deep down I felt he was gay. I never meant to hurt him, but I know I probably did because I didn't treat him like I treated everybody else. I know he felt me stare the times I wondered if he really was gay. The last time he got mad at me was all a mistake. I had seen a commercial on TV from some new houses for sale, one of the kids playing basketball in the commercial looked just like Dennis and so next time I saw him at the Sunday morning class I asked him if it was him, but he got so mad at me and yelled to quit bothering him. I wasn't making fun of him that time, it was just a question, but then I knew I had hurt him. I only told Caro about my thoughts on Dennis an how he had gotten mad that time. And I only talked to her because I was feeling very bad because he never came back to church after that day. That talk with Caro was the first time I realized I had to change.

Being a kid is very dramatic. There's an age when you don't count for the adult world, but that you know you're not a kid anymore. And there was a lot of drama at church. For a bunch of Christian kids we were horrible. There was a little group that seemed to be dedicated to keep new kids away. I thought it was ridiculous, so I was constantly giving speeches about how bad that attitude was and how God didn't want that. Those kids would constantly make fun of my sister and would say that she was dumb or things like that, and I would get really mad and tell them how they were the stupid ones that would not ever grow up to be anything good. Sadly, I was right. We grew up and they were as useless as they were when we were 12. And it's even more obvious now, when I remember the things they cared about and how they treated others... they never changed. I left the country and they were still the same. I learned a lot from one of the youth group leaders, Maria Ines. She was pretty awesome. One of the qualities I admired the most of her was humbleness. By the time she came into my life I had grown a cold heart and attitude. I don't know why, but I'm not good at expressing my appreciation for those I love. The last time I saw Maria Ines, la Chinita, was a Monday and I had given her some tapes of Christian music. And she hugged me and said "I know you love me, even though you're so freaking cold" (she said that in Spanish, of course). And I just smiled. It really bothered me when she or someone else asked me if I didn't like them, if I didn't love them, or if I hated them. Those questions would make me feel uncomfortable, but eventually people learned to know how I expressed my feelings. The Tuesday after la Chinita said that to me I got home after school and my sister was crying because she had had a stroke and was in intensive care at the hospital. We spent that night at the hospital, praying. I was 15.

She died one month after the stroke.

I was appointed "collaborator" for the leadership of the youth group when I was 14. I guess I was too young to be called a leader, though I had the same responsibilities that the other 6 leaders had. After Maria Ines died it all changed. We didn't deal with her death. Just like we, in my family, hadn't dealt with my grandmother's death. And so the youth group at church suffered, specially the leadership. Next thing we knew the first leader had turned his back on the group and everything else in his life, he was Maria Ines' little brother. After a few months he left the church.

We weren't taught how to deal with death. I realize this is something the majority of people have such hard time understanding and overcoming the changes cause by it, but we just didn't talk about it at all. When someone passed away in our church some people would get together and go to the funeral or if it was at church we would meet there and sing those songs you only hear at Christian funerals. Songs that talk about a place brighter than the sun and it's our real home, yet they seem so lifeless and stripped from any hope they were meant to bring to the soul.

I remember sitting at the very back of the church for Maria Ines' funeral at church. The place had never been more packed, not even for her wedding was the church so full. People were telling stories of her kindness and the beauty of her life. And I was crying in silence. Because for some reason, there was this unofficial rule that said you couldn't cry out loud for somebody's death. God forbid you were to break down, for it meant you had no hope in that the person was in Heaven-- a place where you'll meet them later in the afterlife. So all that pain was inside, masked with conversations we didn't want to have. At the cemetery nobody wanted to cry, but then it was so that you could be strong for the family. Her husband, one of my best friends, cried in silence while her coffin was taken down to where it'd rest from then on. I saw that and broke down. A friend next to me hugged me and I stayed there until it was time to go. In the car on our way back Maria Ines' brother was laughing and telling jokes, so I knew then that he'd break down in different ways. I could never understand those times and all I could think about was my dad laughing at the cemetery after we buried my grandpa, his dad. I didn't understand why people were laughing when all I wanted to do was to be sad.

To this day, I don't deal with death well. When I lost April in September 2005 my world just stopped. And reliving things through all the news coverage on her murder and then on the trial a year later just came to open the wounds. But the thing is, I don't want to talk about it because I'm afraid I'll offend God. The beliefs I grew up on tell me some people don't go to heaven, and that just seems so wrong to me. So unfair. Why should a life be measured to standards set by certain beliefs if life was not fair? Not all people are given equal opportunities in life, and that's what I refer to when I talk about fairness, but they're supposed to go through an equal judgment after death?

I grew up scared that my family would go to hell if they didn't believe in what I believed. I started trying to convince my dad my beliefs were the true beliefs everyone else had to follow too. And the night I talked to him about the salvation plan as I had been taught to explain, he said we are all Jesus children. He told me not to be blind, because God loved everyone. That night I cried thinking my dad will not go to heaven with me. I wanted to save him like I wanted to save everybody else. So I decided I'd be a missionary. I wanted to go to the theological seminary in Guatemala and study there after I graduated from high school. But when I went and talked to one of the leaders at the seminary about my decision he told me I was too young to go there. I didn't understand for they didn't give me any explanation. I now think it all worked out for the best.

I don't go to church anymore. When I moved to the U.S. I started looking for a church, but never found one I liked. I wanted my church from El Salvador, I wanted those same friends, that same place, the same things I had but they just weren't in my life anymore. I hold on to many of those beliefs still, but many I've disregarded. If things aren't based in love I don't think they're good for humanity. There was a lot of conflict, materialism, and hate in my church and all throughout my spiritual quest; but it's only because we're human and those things happen. Overcoming those things is where the power is, in learning to love for free, as the Jesus in the Bible did; but many interpretations of things and secondary rituals of religion get in the way of unconditional love for God and others most of the time. I got tired of talking about the right way of singing at church or the right way of dressing for church, I got tired of little things that at the end don't matter.

I've explored this in my art also, in the painting series "Historia de Creencias" I tried to make sense of my spirituality and, in a way, that series goes well with what I've written here. Spirituality and religion are a very important parts of my story. Making sense of the experiences that have shaped my beliefs in different ways is important to me, and that's why I wrote all this. Not all is said, but now I feel better about where I stand on some things.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The master cleanser

I've known for about 17 years that I need to lose weight. Not that I am unhappy with my rolls, but there are way too many crappy diseases in my family that might just end up killing me. Things like diabetes and heart complications, for starts. But as the story goes with everyone else... I've tried many things and they don't work. Now, lately I think I've gotten a little chubbier because there's this one pair of pants I like that fits a little tighter now. So it's time again to try to lose the pounds. I've started with the master cleanser. That's to help me eliminate toxines from my body and a couple of pounds at the time.

What I really care the most is getting some toxines out and not put anymore in. I'm quiting fast foods and sodas, not that I eat out a lot, but every little thing of those does nothing but bad to the body. Have you watched Super-Size Me?!

I used to be really disciplined, but something happen to me after I moved from El Salvador to here. I need to get that quality back.

Here I go. Wish me luck :)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

here's to 2007!

to a year full of happiness, smiles, art, and love. here's to graduation year and to the end of my college era. here's to making new memories, to making new friends, to making new trips around this country. here's to different hairstyles, different hair colors, and hopefully a hair donation to locks of love. here's to family and friends. here's to dreams and goals. here's to a year full of life. here's to my 22nd birthday. here's to the hope i will see my dad again. here's to the lives of my siblings. here's to many sunsets, and sunrises, and rainy days. here's to strength for the bad times and laughter for the good times. here's to 2007 and the goodness of each of its days!!!