Monday, August 18, 2008

Autumn Memories

Why didn't I go to Carleton College in Minnesota? Sure I just found out it existed like, this minute, but that's no excuse. It's all picturesque like someplace one of the Wakefield twins (probably Liz, Jessica's too wild for that town) would have gone. Or where Nancy Drew would have gone to college during brief breaks of crime fighting and mystery solving.

Instead, I went to school in the inner city just blocks away from the gang-infested ghetto and a stone's throw from Crack Alley, the sun dappled lane where all the drug/rehab meeting are so conveniently located near the drug houses. Brilliant planning on that one. Sure my school had it's perks, but it wasn't all cutesy. And, if I went down to the main campus that had more charm, well, let's just say that the old “charming” buildings stunk. They reeked of charm literally. And downtown Ann Arbor has never been my favorite place although if you want to try Ethiopian food and get a brownie from a place that reeks of incense and has a Wiccan symbol on the menu, then that's the place to go. Oddly enough I prefer my brownies witchcraft-free, but I'm a little stuck up that way.

Maybe it's because it's almost fall and I know that I won't have the usual red, yellow, and orange leaves to look at and there will be no hay rides or trips to apple orchards that I'm getting all nostalgic and wanting that new school experience in the autumn. Or maybe I shouldn't have gone to a school that had a river they once dragged for a body while I was in class. Ahh...memories.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Don't Blog Angry & the Field trip

I haven't blogged in a while because I think, as a rule, people shouldn't blog while angry and I've been less than enthusiastic about life since the flood in our place two weeks ago. I had been so excited to move into a renovated apartment and then, just 2 hours into the move, water came up from the sewer drain in the laundry room. I would hold a funeral service for my clothes, shoes, books, and scrapbooking things, but I fear it would be too emotional. So we were eventually moved to a new place across the hall (not pleasantly, mind you) and then our neighbor's place flooded as well. So I'm trying to be positive and not wait for the other shoe to drop. So I'm not even going to mention that fact my bathroom stinks like Snuggle when my upstairs neighbors wash or the fact my new garbage disposal doesn't work or the lack of a drying cycle on my dishwasher. Not even going to bring it up.

On to more positive things that don't leave me weeping silently (or not so silently) in a corner. I went to a Portuguese Mass in downtown Praia today. There is a man from another island in the Azores that took us on a nice tour last month and today he offered to take us to Mass. I went with another woman and her two kids. One thing I've noticed about the churches here is that they seem enormous and then you go inside and realize much of the space is devoted to the altar and side altars. As big as this chapel was, there were only a handful of pews for sitting. It had two altars side-by-side and only one side was lit with candles. There were statues off to the sides, and when I got up close to the altar I saw a life-sized statue of Mary with Jesus carrying the cross. When I say life-sized I mean Mary standing was taller than me. The church was from the 1500's and had old paintings which had a strong aroma and not in the good way. I also noticed the statues of Jesus on the cross were more gory as the wounds were open and bloody opposed to how we normally see it depicted in the States. I witnesses two women go over to the cross and one woman kissed his feet and another kissed her hand and touched Jesus' hand. It reminded me of my wedding when I took flowers over to the Blessed Mother.

I had been wanting to go to a Portuguese service for a long time and had been told I'd get nothing out of it since I wouldn't understand anything. I have to admit the sermon was long (it went on forever and he had 4, yes 4 typed pages of things to say...single spaced) and I didn't understand it, but I was able to follow everything else since it was the same. And they even say a few words the same. It was also interesting to see the sacristy and read about the statues. St. Rita is very big here. I've found the churches here, even in poorer communities, tend to be quite ornate. Another local church is literally half altar, which is very different from American churches that tend to focus on seating rather than grandeur.

I'm really glad I went out and experience some of the local culture. Sure it meant kneeling on wooden planks (I miss cushioned kneelers), a 4-page sermon and the lack of A/C, but I also got to witness a lot of interesting things I would not have seen in the States. I hope we get to go on another “field trip” soon!