I guess I’ve been having pretty good experiences with medical care here. I originally chose the Cruz Roja Mexicana for my trauma/orthopedic care because I knew they would have x-rays and because I knew they would be skilled doctors. And obviously as a charity organization the Red Cross is something I can actually afford (so I would be sure to “have” money for when I needed that 800-dollar MRI).

Uh, anyway. The Red Cross has good doctors. It’s a training hospital, though, so as I mentioned when I first laid out this whole spinal-injury saga, they have doctorcitos there watching while you are having your consultation, and the doctor sort of drills them on and highlights different aspects of the conditions and treatments. It can be a little distracting, but at least they are making sure to be careful about what they’re going over.

But the point remains that the patient isn’t necessarily the main focus; it’s actually taken me the course of several follow-ups to have one of my less urgent ailments addressed. I broke my neck in a head impact, but no one ever offered and I never insisted on diagnostics to my back until this last visit on Thursday (when they said I can take off my collarín!). So in a couple of weeks my back will finally get x-rayed.

I brought up minor back pain on my first visit actually, but not until the end of the consultation, so the doc was like “ah we can see to that next time” and never wrote out an order for the radiology. And then I forgot the second time when I had a different doctor. So yeah, this third time I got the order to have a study taken on what will be my fourth visit, a few weeks from now.

Given this delay, and my personal anxieties about communicating with healthcare professionals, I had this whole advocacy speech composed in my head, as follows:

“I like to dance really hard, and I like snowboarding, so can we please check my back just to make sure? And if that’s not convincing enough, I also want you to know that my pain isn’t extreme extreme, but it is substantial enough to show up in my dreams, and a couple of nights ago I dreamed I had back pain and talked to you guys about it and you told me that I was growing wings.”

I was seriously going to say that (it’s all true). But I actually didn’t need to, of course. All I had to do was tell them clearly that I wanted to xray my back.


note to liz

Look at this super nerdy facebook message I almost sent to my old roommate Liz. (We lived together in Belfast; she’s from Melbourne.)

Hey lady! Yes, Mexico continues to be awesome. I’m currently in a self-realization phase about what Black Studies scholars refer to as “double consciousness,” where people perceive you as one way because of your appearance and social status. That perception doesn’t have a hugely accurate correlation with, and often contradicts, how you ideally see yourself, but it sometimes feels necessary to play into it for social reasons. In those situations I’m critical of whether I am losing a bit of my self-awareness. Hhaha TMI. I just figured it out just now, sorry. It’s not actually about being white and American here– assumptions and understandings are probably pretty much right in those areas– but more about how I speak Spanish (like a child).

I don’t think I will send it to her. We haven’t spoken in a long time; best to keep it light. – Term coined by WEB DuBois, 1897 article in the Atlantic. “Being black, Dubois argued, meant being deprived of a ‘true self‐consciousness.’ Blacks often perceived themselves through the generalized contempt of white America.”

I’m not saying I’m feeling some sort of prism of contempt for this. Not at all. But basically I am saying I think in some ways my personality changes when I speak only Spanish to people. Hablo como mensa, as they say, an innocent, and I get kind of goofy and wide-eyed I think to go along with it. My friend León says I get around it by telling stories and using images, but there is still this thing about not picking up on subtext from others.

That actually probably is what shapes my social interactions more definitively– not how I speak, but how I understand others. Speaking only Spanish, I just don’t get everything that people are telling me, which affects my relationships. It affects my level of responsiveness to them, and I think that is the thing that really influences how they in turn see me.

In English conversation, I’m really good at observing subtext, and it’s kind of a shock not being able to rely on that in Spanish conversation. It’s like going blind or something. But still, you learn.

And I guess it’s balanced out by other things, advantages. Being foreign is interesting, for example. There are others.

hoodie con alas

I went to a fun party last night, at a cantina place on Chiapas that I pass all the time but had never entered. Lots of interesting people there, mixed crowd. Normal people, not hipsters –> good thing.

One dude there had a pretty cool style. He was wearing a black hoodie with black wings. I thought at first the wings were separate but then realized they were sewn on. He also had on a knit cap and diamond studded earrings, so medio cholo, but not really. No popped Ed Hardy cap or anything. Actually, Maggie called him a raver.

I asked him where he got the hoodie and he told me the Adidas store. I was immediately kind of abashed, like WTF ADIDAS SHOULDN’T BE CARRYING PRODUCTS WITH WINGS. I actually called them “alas,” since this conversation was in Spanish. He told me his shoes were also Adidas and the model was called wings.

So wrong. Do I need to write a letter of complaint to Adidas?

Nike, named for the Greek winged goddess of victory, should have exclusive rights on wings.

End of story.

Except wait. Because the whole conversation happened in Spanish, I also sounded like an eight-year-old while I was arguing all of this.

He told me the designer Jeremy Scott is a golden boy and allowed to do whatever he wants. I was like, who’s managing the brand?

college transcripts

Periodically I roll around in nostalgia for college, because it was really fun and gut-wrenching at the same time. Because of the classes, mainly, but other stuff too. Recently I’ve been doing it a lot because I am applying for an academic job, teaching high-school English at a private school here in Mexico City. As part of the recruitment process, I was asked to provide my academic transcripts. Just got the ones in from William and Mary. Freaking unreal the time this paper represents. Though I do wish I had managed more than 4.3 classes or so per semester– imagine all the ridiculous electives I could have taken if I wasn’t so bent on having a good time outside of class, too.

Anyway, here is a sample. My worst and best semesters, grade-wise.

Okay, first the worst. That was senior year, and I had just returned from my first trip alone abroad crazying around Ireland and deciding I wanted to move to Belfast:

Fall 2002
ENGL 407 – Sem Non-Fiction Writing 3.00 A 12.00
GOVT 338 – Latin Amer Politics 3.00 C+ 6.90
GOVT 410 – Sem: Brit Govt/Pol 4.00 B- 10.80
HIST 329 – Modern Chinese Hist 3.00 C 6.00
Ehrs: 13.00 GPA-Hrs: 13.00 QPts: 35.70 GPA: 2.74
Good Standing

And my best semester:

Spring 2001
ART 211 – 2-Dimensional Fdns 3.00 A 12.00
ARTH 252 – Survey: Art Hist II 3.00 W 0.00
ENGL 352 – Modern British Lit 3.00 B+ 9.90
ENGL 413 – Chaucer 3.00 A- 11.10
INTL 390 – Culture of Cold War 3.00 A 12.00
Ehrs: 12.00 GPA-Hrs: 12.00 QPts: 45.00 GPA: 3.75
Dean’s List
Good Standing

CULTURE OF THE COLD WAR PROFESSOR KAGANOVSKY REPRESENT. Haha I totally wrote my final paper for that course on the Back to the Future trilogy. Yes, all three movies. (Doc goes to the moon at the end of Part III!) And how about that Chaucer?

Looking back, I can honestly say that most of the courses I did poorly in were HARD. Modern Chinese History? Latin American Politics?

Okay I kind of sucked at Econ and Biology, too. But I think my Econ professor was an alcoholic, so. Oh, and I did get a C+ in Physics too Spring of freshman year. That one was disappointing, because I really like math. But I was super-depressed that semester, really hard (though ultimately rewarding) time emotionally.

Two other mars to my record would be the two W’s, my two course withdrawals. Above, in Spring 2001, you can see I withdrew from Art History. As previously alluded to by my sucking at Bio, I hate memorizing stuff. Which is basically all surveys of Art History seem to be, at least they did to me at the time. The other W: PHIL 301 SYMBOLIC LOGIC. Other disappointment. Again, because I really like math. Even though it was “math” from the Philosophy department, I thought I would be good at it. But I feel like 2/3 of the class got a D, so at least I’m not the only one who just didn’t get it.

One last indulgence: I TOTALLY took a GOVT course called “Terrorism” the Summer before 9/11. The visiting professor was a government dude from Los Alamos. I ended up writing about Peruvian group Sendero Luminoso, though I’m not sure exactly what I would have had to say on that subject. Except maybe something like, huhhuhuh, Tupac (Amaru).

more art basel pics

Just realized I had some more pictures on my phone. Oh, multifunctionals.

I was surprised to learn this is by Damien Hirst. Then I wasn’t surprised.

I feel lame for not writing down this artist’s name actually. I’ve been talking about his stuff– this wasn’t even my favorite piece of his. Not by Damien Hirst.

Also really liked this. In fact this series of ships was my favorite work in the whole convention center. Not a clue who it’s by. This is what can happen when budget limits your imagination. I know the dealer was based in L.A.

The real masterpiece, no? View of downtown from the Mondrian Hotel.

Also, I found the flyer for the exhibit I was trying to remember. We met these old graffiti dudes. Old-skool I should say. I guess it was kind of like meeting the Beastie Boys. Anyway, someone had put together an exhibit about their work, Hyperbolic Aerosolic. Here is a view of their exhibition, which was at the Eric Firestone Gallery. One of them, Steve, ended up coming with us to the Hello Kitty party. He was carrying a sharpie.

capítulo no

I ran into my high school Spanish teacher while I was in the States. Referring to my cervical collar, she asked how this “chapter in my life” is going. Then she quickly corrected herself, “It’s more like a page, isn’t it? It’s not a chapter. It’s just a tiny little itty bitty page. A paragraph.” I love you, Mrs Southall. Another friend, who incidentally works in healthcare, also referred to this injury as defining a period of my life.

I didn’t really look at it that way at first. I don’t want to look at it that way. I mean, it’s just an avulsion fracture. It only happened about 8 weeks ago. My life hasn’t been thrown off track. I’m not bedridden. But then today I realized I was walking around the house in the pantuflas the MRI people gave me and it really did hit me that maybe the effects are a little more sweeping than I originally expected. It’s like, first I thought I just did something dumb. Then I realized I busted my head open and escaped a terrible fate. Then I realized I had gotten stitches for the first time in my life. Then I saw that some of the causal circumstances of the accident related to other areas of my life. Then I realized I had a spinal injury, etc. And now the treatment and healing’s lasting longer than I thought it would, too. Who knows what else will happen as a result of this.

Perhaps the Össur company will respond to my offer to send them my glamorous Miami-J pics and I will have a modeling career.

I guess this also sort of happened, just on a smaller scale, when I fractured my wrist. That was snowboarding though, so to me the injury fit into another, larger phase– my “getting into action sports” phase– rather than defining a phase of its own.

It’s been an interesting experience so far, anyway. I wonder if it will start to get old.

Pantuflas gratis.

DJing with fractured wrist (April 2009). Yes, that says, “Beat someone” (signed Draper Love Matthews).