Subtle and Often Missed…but Never Too Late to Celebrate!

As I was walking through Parque Rio last night, it was impossible to hear the sounds of opera emanating as we wound our way through the park for our nightly jaunt.  As I neared, truly, a man and a woman were exchanging parts of some of the most famous operas, and people walking their dogs, with their children, with the significant other, everything came to a halt.

It was perfectly wonderful for a weekend.

Truly, nothing else could stop crowds on the sudden, unless their voices had not been completely mesmerizing.  It was also something you had to reach for, but the usual party, Friday night sounds of acting out and celebrating the end of a week had all but stopped too, it was as if the whole area was celebrating their talent and putting everything else on hold.  It takes much for Kinah, Wriggley, and Amaya to stop in their tracks, yet they were completely content to stop and the in what these sounds were that they were so unused to.  I thought, I could not have spent a Friday any better – and without having to make a reservation and appointment, without a ticket :)

As we would our way back home out of the park, we passed four men, their faces lit up by the back licking fire out of a wheelbarrow, mixing tar, and to fill in the street, it was a perfect picture had I had my camera with me, the black of dark pushed away from the lively dance of the fire they were feeding. Moments that pass you so quickly often are subtle, yet can touch you so deeply.  As I passed a couple she questioned where I was from and remarked, “You picked a great place, visiting Mexico!” mistaking me for a week or two visitor, and I smiled thinking, I surely did.

We think these thoughts as our staff sifts through and celebrates the many artists that come in and out of Repentino.’s eyes, and realize many artists are chosen by the staff to represent a particular theme, yet, so many more submissions that escape the pages of Repentino. have this subtle whisper to let you not miss the amazing details that surround us every day, and bring back a memory of something long ago that touched us deeply.  We are blessed to have a forum for celebrate the beauty they bring to our doorstep, and we hope you agree. There could be no better gift, and we hope you also sense the subtle beauty that many bright out through so many mediums, priceless in the gifts they provide for our soul and mind!

 

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Mexican Life from a Scooter…

Say, 15 years ago, if someone would have said, “You will be sliding through the streets of Coyoacan, with a friend from Argentina, on your way to the BEST pizza joint in Mexico, and yeah, it will be on a scooter…”  I would have said, “Um, what are you smoking?” Yet, there I was.

You just happen to catch the before rain scent of the air and you know anywhere you go will be magic. “This is the BEST pizza in Mexico!” and of course, just like that, between a challenge and a brag, I knew what was going to happen.  Yet, whisking through the spaces that seemed only large enough for a small piece of paper (VERY SMALL), we were bumping, rolling, and sliding past traffic with ease and taking in the way Mexico looked from the back of my friend Andre’s scooter.  I realized how efficient his company, Walking Dog, was with the transportation and getting around Mexico so quickly with the scooters his company has.  Traveling by foot is completely different than by vehicle and seeing and feeling Mexico from a scooter is even more different and completely exhilarating.

I instantly was brought back to my seven year old self, being on the back of a motorcycle, (be it a Triumph, a Harley, Indian), my Dad was quite a collector!, and that freedom of air, catching your breath over small jumps, and just feeling Alive, it was great to have a good recollection of those days and here a lifetime later, reliving them.

Before I realized it, (used to how long it takes via car) – we were HERE! Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.08.18 AM  Mama’s Pizza, and I was sucked in before I even realized it.

Was it the fact that Pink Floyd’s The Wall

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.08.46 AM

was all over literally, one wall?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or the fact that a huge pinup of Marilyn Monroe was exhibited on the second floor?

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Or maybe that the drawings by the customers had been posted on the walls for customers to see?  Or that the restaurants provided crayons and paper for you to create your own?  It might have been the 80’s music and videos

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.21.09 AMplaying constantly, but honestly….when you see the at least four inch pizza,

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.11.37 AM and a potato that covers the whole plate -

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.12.30 AMWhere am I?  Chicago?  Literally, I can’t say I can refute this being the best pizza in Mexico , Hola Mama Rumba and Mama Mia combined, this was ABSOLUTE a ecstasy in eating!

Looking over the balcony (ironically, looking at California Pizza),

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.09.40 AM while the nightly rain began and taking in the buzz of a weekend crowd, the meal, the music, the things to laugh about, the FOOD, everything, made you realize how lucky you were to be in Mexico.  For a restaurant to be able to do that for an evening, you will remember it hands down.  Finding out this establishment has been around for 30 years is no surprise, you will know this from just the tasting of the food. Having a garage for the public is needed because as we left,it was PACKED, and it seemed these lucky individuals knew the secret as well of where to get one of the best pizza’s, next to Chicago, here in Mexico.

Taking food home was a no brainer, and believe it or not no way no how room for dessert, BUT, Andres plodded on with dessert.  Note, if you like cheesecake, get the Flan, because it tastes like cheesecakeScreen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.18.22 AM, which I prefer, so I was good, Andres, was NOT.  Literally, the next day, I had a full meal with the leftover potato (King Kong size) and “flan” cheesecake, so it was amazing!  But the also in the freshness of the air, the coolness of an after rain evening, Walking Dog’s Andres that was accommodating to show some of the best Mexico had to offer life is good.  Andres by the way, is meticulous about the care of your canines when you are around and when you are not.  Aside from leading me through the prices of replacing a lost debit card, walking your dogs and treating them like family, to replacing items in my apartment, to a host of other items, you can tell how reliable someone is from their friendship, and you can tell this right away in his genuine nature.  Add to that he is an artist  Aside from this hysterical photo he whipped up Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 9.09.24 AMwith mediocre crayons!

…that will be exhibiting his work soon (stay tuned for details!) – you have an all around eclectic individual that is simply talented and amazing.  We are lucky to have him as part of our Mexican experience, adding Argentina as a huge fact of what makes experiences so rewarding.

Is it possible to top the perfectness and enjoyment with friends, weather, scenery, and atmosphere after a night at Mama’s?  I am sure it is possible, but it will be a hard choice to be able to forget the experience you will have thanks to the food.

P.S.  My picture was desperate at best so good thing Andres’ and the food was KILLER!

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National Geographic hits Alvaro Obregon!

Check out the new National Geographic’s

informational/educational/photographic displays

on Alvaro Obregon, in Roma Norte,

from Cordoba to Merida, they are great!

 

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Cooling into summer…

…as I realize, my mentality and almost everyone else’s has been summer is coming to an end, yet, I have a new inspiration to keep the feeling of summer going all year long!  So to begin, I added some books just delivered:

The Border by David J. Danelo

Enrique’s Journey Sonia Nazario

Just Like Us  Helen Thorpe

Mexican Enough  My Life Between the Boundaries – Stephanie Elizondo Griest

 

Narcoland   Anabel Hernandez

Open Veins of Latin America  Eduardo Galeano

Taco USA  Gustavo Arellano

Then I realized, every day, I need to look forward to seeing people that can remind me what I love about being a librarian, which is ALOT!

I also want to never sacrifice or lose my time outside of school to lose reading,  walking, and being able to take in sites around me after school, period.

It’s so important to carve out time for yourself throughout the day and eke in front of you all the time the positive atmosphere you need to not “just get through a day” but to go into the day jumping and excited and being infectious in the positive to those all around you.  If those around you engage in the very things that begin to make you sink (and I have to work on this) you need to leave IMMEDIATELY, make an excuse to go to the bathroom, to the nurse, to the outside to just take a walk, just to break that negative momentum, and gather yourself into something even more invigorating, as well as create your own space of positivity wherever you are, that will maintain a whole new look around you and make a difference in the long run!

I realized I made a parallel today.  I walk my three afghans with pride all around the Roma Norte, Condesa, and further sometimes and literally, everyone stops me every 3rd person and asks and pets and croons, etc and this is the symbol, usually people with alot of money have Afghans, breed them, etc.  Here I am, in plain jeans, t-shirt, the exact opposite and I think most of the time people thing I am hired to walk them 24 hours :)

However, this is funny, I thought by taking in Kinah from the street, and having unexpected puppies, the unbelievable luck that I had that was ANYTHING BUT being wealthy to flaunt what most symbolize as wealth, just the opposite happened.  By giving myself to being a rescuer, a helper, the image of wealth came about.  I think that is the key, people fare much wealthier, MUCH MUCH wealthier, having friendships and doing things that are actually selfless, and it comes back to you.  It makes you look like you are wealthy even when you are not.  Not right away I have learned, gosh no.  It seemed for awhile sometimes bad thing after bad thing happened, and the more I was upset about it, the worse it became of course.  It takes me a long time to realize my wealth was in the friendships I had that were positive, and the deeds that I should do that are selfless, and not self-serving such as accumulating as much wealth to live of money alone, thinking of myself only , focusing on me me me to the point where others could be helped and are not, that is not what happiness and a positive life are about AT ALL.  On top of that, depression, isolation, and loneliness result from those areas that often cannot be climbed back out of.

Everytime I see Kinah, Wriggley, and Amaya together, I think of how a rough start everything was, and how grateful I am when they nuzzle up to me and almost seem to smile on most days, and realize, wealth is not measured in money, position, getting in with the right clique, or being #1, it is about waking up each morning and trying to make a difference in others lives, as a result of how you live your life.  Sometimes that comes in for form of a favorite pet, an experience, a spouse and best friend, and sometimes, even n the form of a day whee you get time to reflect on the things that can;t be counted that make your life better.

I look forward to a year, a total year in 2014-2015 of doing this and so much more thanks to the amazing people around me, and sifting out the negativity slowly to leave only the best experiences to relish in.

 

 

 

 

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Every turn, every corner…

…I look back over the last few weeks and realize how amazing they have been, AMAZING – from the simplest discoveries to the more complex that are right under your nose.  Dido’s Life for Rent says it best when she says,

“..but if my life is for rent and I don’t learn to buy

well I deserve nothing more than I get

cos nothing I have is truly mine…”

I am finding there is so much that is available, that is valuable, that is precious that does NOT cost anything, and slowly discovering these one by one is one of the most amazing things that makes life well, priceless.  from the simplest aspects of being able to get up when you want, to sunshine, to a breakfast of any making you choose, to hear the patter of rain, to read, walk, to do anything you want when you want to, that freedom is priceless, and valuable, and often taken for granted in countries where many try to take that away from the individual.

I recall looking back over the last few days and seeing and walking through parts of Chapultepec Park that unfolded like a painting, never seen before, to the murals of Diego Rivera in the Museo Jardin de Agua, to taking in amazing blues and Honky Tonk at the USA Food Truck Festival to many, many more things that s summer usually does not allow you to appreciate.

It’s funny how something as simple as reading a book that reaches out and make you disappointed, angry, upset, relieved etc, and I walked away from a section of a book I am reading and seeing the amazingness around us, I am so glad I do not tend to sit inside and not take advantage of the amazing things around us each day, sometimes just being able to relax at home and take all the advantages in and realize, life can be simplified, can be amazing, and can be special if you devote each day to making it that way, your life becomes more positive, uplifting, and much more motivated.  Being able to say that more of your life was given to help others along the way, leading a selfless life and not acquiring THINGS, has become even more beneficial and only one of the many realizations that has come with being a visitor of a country outside of the United States, priceless…

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Enlightenment, Educational, and Noooo, interesting? YES!

I have noticed lately there is so much right in our own backyard, that we are unaware of, and exploring and finding those items makes a new outlook on how you see your own area.

Such was the case when a friend Deb and I stumbled on the Tamayo Museum.  I remember mixing is up with the Soumaya Museum when I was in the taxi once and yes, the drive was correct the Tamayo was NOT in Polanco, lol.  As we worked our way through part soy Chapultepec I had never been before, I realized what a perfect place it was was for Tamayo, surrounded by people all day, shaded areas and a beautiful cafe outside, all around very impressive.

As you walk in you are amazed at the huge expanse of space on front of you, light coming in and just like a breath of fresh air, all the save you need to take in the beauty of this building and allowing the neighboring green of the park to enter in, it was welcoming to say the least. I also found that by giving our credentialed id, we got in for free as teachers. WOW!

I first walked to my right where there was a lounge-type area, and very cool – all the explanations and a majority of books on the artists, as well as the exhibits and detailed explanations were provided in a whole area constructed of fresh-looking wood, and neatly organized by exhibits.  Underneath the collection of materials for each exhibit that was currently on display, inquiry logs were available for you to describe your reactions and responses to each of the exhibits.  I loved the look and the comfortable space created by this area.

I then turned around and began to make my way into the first exhibit, pictures not allowed to be taken in this one specific area.  Yet, Brazilian artist Jac Leirner, was well represented with many difference exhibits.  His exhibit titled Functions of a Variable, I felt did lengths to show fads, social acceptances through companies, and a spirit of Andy Warhol.  A description below entails an introduction:

“Closely related to the formal and spatial expressions of Brazilian Neo-Concretism, as well as with the conceptual strategies of the decades of 1960 and 1970, in Brazil as well as abroad, Jac Lernier’s practice is focused in the daily accumulation of everyday objects and its reconfiguration in sculptural forms, giving a new meaning to the objects, but also conferring them a new value and use.”

I was amazed at everyday items, common at one time, such as devalued bank notes, airline tickets, packages for cigarettes, and especially shopping bags made such a statement.

What impressed me was the differences of perspectives that were also realized in looking at some of the artists’ work.  I like when you are brought to the realization that art or anything, can make you see things differently, that reaches out to me.  So it did here with several exhibits.  This is the excerpt, from the series of architecture pieces titled Theatre of the World, that were on display that represented culture as well as architecture hand in hand:

“The Theater of the World looks into the work of different artists interested in architecture as a place for political and social representation. Although, more than revealing the failed utopias from the past, this exhibition reflects on the world as stage, where the monuments, palaces, ruins and social housing projects coexist and renovate under the same façade of nation and apparent development.”

Participating Artists: Alexánder Apostol, Yto Barrada, Marcelo Cidade, Nathan Coley, Livia Corona, José Dávila, Marjolijn Dijkman, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Angela Ferreira, Andreas Fogarasi, Meschac Gaba, Carlos Garaicoa, Terence Gower – Pedro Reyes, Pablo Hare, Heidrun Holzfeind – Christoph Draeger, David Maljkovic, Olivia Plender, Anri Sala, Kostis Velonis”

It was haunting to see buildings, shells of the buildings left untouched for years due to the funding that disappeared, building made out of paper that were cut out and stood out, all red in color, and rows and rows of these.  the illusion you see when you first look at these housing “units” is the message of mundaneness, and similarity even though each one is different yet the common quality still exists.  There were also the pictures where the architecture had been cut out, and you looked at the picture so differently wondering, what was there and what is there now that fills this space, or the space around it?

One of my favorites was a exhibition of a movie made where it is an illusioned city, meaning that when people come to visit, fake trees are pulled up from a mechanical device in the group, clean buildings side swivel outward, and bushes and other pleasant scenery appears making it appear these enhancements are always a part of the city, and then when the visitors/dignitaries leave, everything disappears.  This made me wonder if the future will be like this, a fascade due to the way we treat our environment.

Yet another film depicted an actual neighborhood that was drab and dreary after economic support from a democratic-based movement ran out, and instead of leaving this drab and unfinished look to the buildings due to lack of fundings, an artist came in and painted all the exterior buildings in very loud and bright colors on the sides of the buildings/ bringing the neighborhood from a depression-looking one to one of life and brightness.  What a difference it made!

In coming to the exhibit where Rufino Tamayo himself worked on the set and costumes for the Shakespeare play, Antigone, I was struck with how the various layers were hung, overall depictions of Antigone that ran into each other.  I found as I walked once in this exhibit area, and once out, I spied books in English that I could better understand Rufino Tamyao’s life.  What a life.  I mean, WOW.  I realized how much heart, soul, and contributions he made and wanted to leave for Mexico’s future to enjoy and relish.  I easily say there and poured through page after page of his convictions and accomplishments and felt that much more fulfilled after seeing this collection of diverse cultures represented.

On my way out fittingly enough, was a piece that covered the way with four canvases, by Rufino Tamayo.  As I made my way into the museum store, I saw the text I had purchased last year, titled, Los tamayo, un cuadro de familia, of Rufino Tamayo and his history in Spanish.  When someone came and suggested I purchase it I thought, yet, knowing there were a limited number published and something told me to go ahead and get it (it was a little pricey, but seeing the museum I feel much more knowledgeable in knowing this was an important purchase).

The cafe was a perfect ending to an amazing experience, beautiful outside, individuals enjoying the park, a delicious omelette, great Chai tea, the atmosphere, the service, the food – everything, reasonable and DELICIOUS.  I walked away realizing what an amazing and generous individual Rufino Tamayo was, and what an honor it was to tour his museum.

 

 

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A week of this, that and amazing opportunities…

With Tuesday and Wednesday as days now that have been a huge help to catch up, there is plenty to look back on and see why this summer has been one of the best ever.

Yesterday, minus the hurried schedule that reared its head (detailing information about retirement benefits when I turn 60 from Mexico, possibilities for my Infinoavit and the amounts I would be eligible for in certain ranges, signing my rental agreement, finding out about the Afore, going to Bancomer and changing my address for my bank statements so they come here  :), checking on transactions on my checking account, verifying due dates on my Bancomer credit card, moving a bed from someone’s apartment to a moving truck, exchanging a wrong faucet part for the cash back at Home Depot, – the best parts were relaxing with friends as Barracuda Diner (amazing mint chocolate milkshakes) and exchanging time and ideas with author David Lida, if you haven’t checked out his books – Do so please, he brings an amazing commentary on life in Mexico and the implications.

I settled down intending to write and update blog posts last night but realized I was tired….lol…

However, attending MeetUp Tandem Language night at Groove in Condesa was GREAT!  I sat beside a Spanish instructor who gave me slight tips on pronunciation, learning the tenses easier, and other details that I just had been looking at differently, and blocking out of my memory while I was tying to put it in my memory!  Before half an hour, I looked up and the place was full of individuals that came for the Tandem Language Night, at lead 25 people if not more! While I knew about MeetUp’s Tandem exchange night, wow, I loved every minute of it and began to feel the benefits of submerging myself in Spanish to learn it better and be more knowledgeable.

One mucho cool thing was July 20th’s NCTE online Twitter chat about the teacher as a writer. What kind of topics came up?  It is amazing when you are inspired and this was my first time using Tweet Chat and whoa, thank goodness, to keep up with all the Tweets!  Topics from resources and a google doc that came out of it, to considering yourself a writer more so because you are a teacher, the validity of writing as an educator to others around you, and this is just the tip if the iceberg!  You need to check that Twitter tag out and it emphasized the amazing things Twitter can be used for!

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 10.16.08 AMSome key phrases that inspired me thanks to the amazing educators around me are below:

*”I want my students to know writing is a part of who I am, to embolden them to to do something that represents them!”

*”It is vital to make writing transparent and shows what type of person you are!”

*”Just like running a 5k, and still being nervous year after year, sharing with both (colleagues and students) is the main way to grow and build trust both ways.”

*”If you allow writing to serve as an extension of who students are?, they will be hooked for life.” “If done right, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, all of it are sources for writing!”

*”Writing need to not be confined to a floor of a school, a class, or a discipline.”

 *”By making writing assignments and projects personal, hard for them (students) not to be genuine.”

I hope that I can use some of these ideas from amazing educators that tuned in on the 2oth to beef up my library blog here! Also, did you realize that the New York, is offering free access to pas archives for a limited time?  DEFINITELY take advantage of that, it is ironic I just review the New York for those that might be unfamiliar, yet, following that free archives!  GREAT OPPORTUNITY!  Also, check out the availability of FREE audio books for a limited time through SYNC!

And um Natalie?  Thanks for the flashback photo at SRU, not sure that would be the image SRU wanted to get people to come to SRU, lol.  I am curious what flashback photos each of you have from your college years?  :)

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ASNE? FYI?

When I first came to Mexico City, I was just returning from an amazing adventure, and institute called the ASNE  Reynolds Institute, thanks to the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.  It changed my life forever.  Literally.  I always knew as I clamored my way major after major in college, I lived for new experiences, a chance to dip into education, social media, loved the outdoors, but wanted new challenges each day.  I get bored easily with the same pattern day in and day out, and didn’t have the patience to not experience peoples’ stories and I wanted to be involved with them on a daily basis.  I found my home at Kent State that summer.

Thanks to being accepted to this Institute, I was whisked away on a flight to Kent State, picked up in a limo, and housed in the dorm at Kent State University, surrounded by technological and journalism experts, and educators from Hawaii to New York.  It was a utopia of learning how to go out and find a story, report, it, and dig into people’s lives and find out THEIR story, and report it to the interest of those around you.  It was about ethics, decisions on making journalism work in the 21st Century, using professional and personal skills alongside each other, taking what has been deemed a nowhere major such as Communication and making it something outstanding in Journalism.

Up to this point I had been baptized in advising the amazing Aloha yearbook at Seaford High, and looking back now as the advisor or the Repentino. magazine, a brilliant continuation of talented individuals that are challenged alongside me daily, I never could have been part of a more crucial Institute than this that changed the direction of how I wanted to be involved with publications and the immediate community.  This blog has slowly evolved to meet the diverse needs of people around the world, and still is evolving, just as I am int he field of journalism I learned at the ASNE Institute.

It makes sense, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea that connects to something I researched or published before and realize, there is no set schedule for discovery, creativity, and implementation in journalism, it flows and ebbs in nocturnal, and odd hours , all hours of the day (and night).  What better field to be such a diverse person in than in journalism and journalism that doesn’t fit into the stereotype of the reporter in an office, on the street, and back to the office, but evoking to the 21st Century…evolving to the blog, the iPhone, the iPad, the QR code, the coffee shop, the theatre, and so much more.

I look back at the Institutes I have been lucky to be a part of,  the Holocaust Educator’s Workshop in the Kristol Center at the University of Delaware (age 23 of the pamphlet), the Delaware Naturalist Certification Program, the Clarice Smith Art Education Institute in D.C, The first National Writing Project in Mansfield, PA,The National Youth Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, the numerous Jostens’ yearbook camps I attended at Gettysburg College, the AP Institutes in Lewes, Delaware, and of course ASNE in Kent State, they all jelled together with this basic ultimatum – Use this experience to reach others otherwise it is just a list of “things” you went to on your professional record and nothing else.  I had enough “things” and wanted to jumpstart what I did with all my experiences in my life, and ASNE put those together and ignited a passion for finding unique ways to reach people, to constantly create methods to reach people and bring them together, and to inform.  

I am finding that I am growing more creative as I get older as one as I utilize my experiences and not just them soak in, but then turn around and “wring out” those experiences and put them to use.  I have learned so much since that ASNE experience, I feel it was a central stopping station to take all the experiences I had worked through and refining them to be used in the most optimal way possible.  Yes, looking back on those mornings walks I took with H.L. taught me an important lesson, making time for yourself to grow in areas you are strong in is vital, reflection is necessary.  During that process you will create a position that you best fit into, that utilizes your talents to the optimum, and necessarily doesn’t fit into an current neat, existing job description, often it becomes created on your own  – if you allow opportunities to grow and morph into something else.  I found being a Media Specialist Librarian and an advocate for journalism allowed this to happen.  I have never been the same ever since.

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Open the Pages of…

The London Review of Books     April 17, 2014

In looking at the periodical The London Review of Books, the same large size, fold in half size periodical follows the ooh of The New York Review of Books.  Even when you turn inside, the Table of Contents follows the same pattern, with contributors detailed below the actual pages the articles appear on.  I like that the preview for the contents of the next issue is also listed on this page.  No apparent online access version is listed, yet there is one and can be found here.

The very first article delves you into the UK directly, the controversy of Hs2.  I had no idea that Hs2 meant the High Speed two, the plan for a 330 mile railway that will link parts of traveling north and south in the U.K. and controversial due to the fact that individuals are being asked to move since the rail itself will be taking over particular parts where homes are located.  Obviously, one of the largest concerns is that of the ability to bring the U.K. even more to the modern era. All sorts of issues that involve the environment an the land, as well as dispossessing homes are contained, as well as the overall plan and justification for such a mammoth project, and as you can see, there is alot of opposition as well.  There is much attention to the mammoth issue since this article actually goes on for about 4- pages.

The Letters section of course has correspondence that relates to articles of the past from within UK, yet, also writers from Virginia, Toronto, and Bolivia add to the diversity of writers that respond to past articles.  It’s nice to see the variety of readers and issues being represented.

It’s ironic how we discussed the books in The New York Review of books that have to do with China, as the next article chooses Pamela Crossley’s Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China.  The biggest takeaway her was that Cixi rose up through the ranks of a surviving wife of the Xianfeng emperor, and when the emperor passed away, continued to influence many factors that China has implemented today in the modern era of China.  It is hinted that that Cixi was referred to as more honorable and heroic than she was in real life, yet the contributions she left behind as a woman in a strict China dynasty seem to be very apparent.  This further emphasize the power of a woman in a time where women did not have the chance to be influential when it came to men being the main object of ruling and contributions to a country to the public eye.

I was intrigued with the new article which focused on the artist Kate Bush.  I never truly listened to anything by Kate Bush, but always knew in the 80’s -90’s she stood on the verge of being different and being able to stand apart from the mainstream music stream. Ian Penman makes the point that due to the fact that Kate Bush always managed to be quite popular from choosing to not be in the public light alot, and the fact that she works exclusively with her family and a studio at her home, the risks in music she seemed to take before are behind her.  The urge to want Kate Bush to go back and be challenged and take risks in her music is apparent in this author’s writing and he ends hoping this is a sue for Kate Bush to reemerge with the same style she appeared with in the 90s full of daring, challenge, and breaking from the standard mold of artists out there now.  Listening to her song Hounds of Love and Waking the Witch, (a little freaky to say the least) one hears a Cyndi Lauper style voice only much more mature, which takes risks, experiments and performs outside of the parameters of the standard music that was in the 80’s.

In the next article, you could tell this was very hard core politics in the UK, and Colin Kidd goes head on into the strategies to repair the House of Commons, but was way above my ability to follow due to the various names and conventions I am quite unfamiliar with in the govern of the U.K..  Yet, it is  important to see how relevant the London Review of Books keeps with the current concerns of the country.

The first in detailed article on a book would be that one examining Lydia Davis’ Can’t and Won’t.  The author Adams Mars-Jones dissects the sections of this novel and interprets the various sections as they appear to the reader.  While most seem autobiographical, they do appeal to the author due to the quirkiness and creativity she brings to observing events she goes on to describe.

I went on to read the next article focusing on artists Ben Nicholson and Winifred Roberts (Nicholson), as well as Alfred Wallis, who both artists came across and seemed to help promote.  What I found amazing was learning that Alfred Wallis really had just painted on cardboard and pieces of whatever he could find in his fishing shack, using paint he had on hand from the boats.  I think it is quite amazing to read about individuals I never kew existed, and have them brought forefront through the London Review of Books, showing the diversity of topics that are revealed in this periodical.  The gallery Kettle’s Yard is references constantly where many of these works were displayed, which in itself looks amazing.

In looking at Marina Warner’s Story-Bearers, the Moroccan author Abdelfattah Kilito is focused on, with the focus on how he saw languages, (Arabic and French) as well as  how he worked through them and how his works are being translated currently. and a video demonstrates his ability as an author comes through however this is not in English, but Arabic, so might be difficult for some.

Another political article follows that examines the role of the United States with Syria and potential attacks, and Obama’s decision to follow through or not in she of the cases.  The tone of the article is somewhat critical or more puzzles by why certain moments were not followed through to attack Syria when that seemed to be the intention, and the scary aspect of chemical weapon use, and which country is supplying to which country, and then the involvement of Turkey among this as well.  The additional scary aspect is the level that the U.S. has been providing arms to groups that actually might be more a threat than beneficial to the fighting occurring in Syria.

In the heading titled Short Cuts, a brief look at the conflict is brought to the reader’s attention, that involves Crimea, Romania, Germany,  Russia, and the Ukraine, a back and forth struggle involving aspects of religion, the Tartars, and the risk of freed that now exists.

In an article that focuses on Francois Mitterand, it is interesting to found out the loves of foreign dignitaries and how their lives are as scandalous as those we heard about in the United States.  From affair to the critical moves made toward various decisions, in reading the views of European views, this periodical is able to delve you into a different vocabulary of lives instantly from the variety of European-centered articles.  I had not idea how involved in the resistance Mitterand was and was unaware of the timeframe of his live and involvement, so this article also became a history lesson to me of his influence and involvement after being a Prisoner of War.

I was intrigued with an article that focused on how little was know about Jonathan Swift, due to his elusive references which often were coded to mean something else.  The emphasis on Jonathan Swift is in fact interesting.  The while article talks about how the word “Coffee” standing for sexual relations with a woman.  Yet this encrypting occurred frequently in his life, which adds the mystery to finding out details and information about his life.  The phrase “patterns of contradiction” appear everywhere in relation to studying Jonathan Swift.

Richard Hoggart is examined next as a prominent representative of cultural and media literature.  Additionally, he is discussed serving on a trial as a witness to determine if the novel Lady Chatterly’s Lover was obscene.  Ironically, the fit that someone of Puritan character was behind this story also comes up in this discussion hat involved him as a key witness.  One of his most influential works was The Uses of Literacy of what he is best known for.

Under the Diary column, a particularly interesting article dealt with the feelings of the areas of Odessa, Crimea, and the Ukraine.  The conflicts that interact with Russia helped bring some sense of the various feelings among factions in this area, and this column seems to allow writers to in fact write in a personal/diary format to bring out meaning of issues a little more clearly, especially issues that seems to be confusing due to the multitude of sides involved.  After reading this I realized the individuals in these areas that due feel change is about to happen, changes a million worlds away, and those that do not want to be involved.

The three pages of the Classifieds section covers everything from announcements for Write-Ins, Universities of Study, to many offers to travel to European destinations for accredited writing sessions and writing retreats.

In between the diverse articles that cover so many ranges of topics, publishing companies like Princeton University Press, films by Film Forever, Cambridge University Press, Harvard, Uniform Books, and Authorhouse (self publishing) just to name a few, are represented.

I was interested in the London Review Bookshop’s coverage of 10 texts that covered the breadth of Samuel Beckett, and the chance to visit the bookshop that focuses on so many contributions Beckett made.

I walked away exhausted working my way through so many political, social, and other articles from so many topics – I had NO IDEA the London Book Review of Books would take me there, and it will take you too, but be ready, this is the BBC, NPR, and more wrapped up in each periodical, and you will walk away more than informed!

 

 

 

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Empowering…

Overall, I like the word Empowering, and to truly take on the meaning of this word, there needs to be action behind this – I found this word in several examples as of late worth sharing.

Luckily, and inspiringly, I have seen every year, since I became an educator, the combination of a student who knows they have something to give, those that have no idea that they could be something or do something that would change them and others, and those that are told they have “something” but need a push to realize it and be able to motivate themselves.  With each of these very different three combinations, I always found myself energized to go the next day and be refreshed again, all who have gone on to to be simply, empowering.

So you can imagine how intense and inspired I was when I came across Lee Smith’s book, Guests on Earth.  The review I wrote is below:

Controversy behind a curtain of intrigue. Highland Hospital, Zelda, Asheville North Carolina, Dr. Robert S. Carroll, also mentioned are a few of the true facts that Lee Smith brings out to draw you as the reader in. In high school I was sucked into Charlotte Bronte’s tale of Jane Eyre, who represented all of what the period pushed its characters to embody (and unusual as this is usually a female-oriented story with the characters affected). Here, Lee Smith represents all that many did not know about Zelda, a strong, fulfilling, artistic, and VERY talented individual who Scott Fitzgerald needed as inspiration. Many do not realize how much of his writing came from Zelda’s or how repressed she was, yet, Lee Smith has the ability to represent a true side of Zelda, and not the stereotypical crazy persona that is often attributed to her.

This link here…

is only one example that emphasizes how underrated and underestimated a woman Zelda was. This art of storytelling by Lee Smith will suck you in and enlighten you to all that Zelda might have been. and even more if not for this tragic end, and shows how she was often overshadowed by her husband; we find out that it seemed alot of his success came from Zelda. A brilliant read!

I found it refreshing  Lee Smith highlighted the persona of Zelda as brave and fighting against the stereotypes that were placed on her not only then, but also now in the areas of being “crazy”, “insane” and an “outsider.”  I feel alot of those stereotypes came from her being in the shadow of her husband Scott Fitzgerald, in a time where it was fashionable to be shocked by women outside the norm, but not looking up to them, that supposedly was the male role of the time.  What I now envision is a slideshow of items that are just the opposite.  Zelda’s influence on her husband’s writing and not being acknowledged, coming across the amazing influence of architect Linda Bo Bardi among a”man’s world” of architecture, 2:08 spot of Lele Pon’s video (go ahead, watch it, lol), and just seeing the young ladies in my history as an educator rising up and leading, creating, and being amazing role models, all are empowering in their own way.  Women are so under-estimated due to egos of men in a society trained that way, and no better place is this shown than in Lee Smith’s book focusing on not only Zelda Fitzgerald, but other young women that sought to overcome difficult situations.

The extensions to this as a teacher, in teaching The Great Gatsby?  Amazing.  It would be great to discuss the irony of The Great Gatsby, as a feminine novel instead of a male dominated novel. The art pieces that Zelda produced as well during her periods of treatment, to the idea that Zelda was really the best she was when she was empowered in her talents apart from Scott Fitzgerald, there are many exciting leads that could be followed to bring a truer sense of who Zelda was as a person and not as a stereotype.

Aside from the discoveries made in Lee Smith’s novel, and wandering through Chapultepec and finding areas I did not know existed while living in Mexico, I found one more on Thursday.  Being asked to go and explore the outdoor grounds of Dangu, an interesting chance to see a place where cats and dogs can be kept when you leave for a jaunt, I couldn’t resist.  I was lucky enough to come across someone that mentioned Dangu to me, and I thought, why not, let’s see what happens behind the scenes.

After bring picked up and taken towards Toluca, about a 35 minute drive, through some pretty rural and basic outskirts of the DF,  I found myself at the front of a wall and gate that looked like a hacienda.  As we went in, I was astounded.  Fancy iron gates, open to the air, and tons of them containing well maintained sheltered houses, as well as small yards, numbering at least 40, in front of the hillside.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 2.24.21 AMHere was a clean, healthy, and open-aired retreat where dogs and cats, could be separated yet have a piece of their own walking, running, and playing environment outside, as well as protected from the elements if needed.  The view was amazing, and then learning that pets are taken on a wooded trail, they also given a time called “kinder” during the day with other dogs if they want or can be, as well as being able to take in this amazing cared for environment, I was taken in immediately.  On top of that, before being returned, pets are cleaned and groomed before being delivered back to their owner?  LOVED LOVED this opportunity to have my dogs treated better sometimes than I could for them during the week.

Sitting in the main wooded house with light and windows everywhere viewing the area of DanguScreen Shot 2014-07-18 at 2.24.27 AM

we talked nutrition and services that included helping dogs with acupuncture for the pets that were injured and had dysplasia, with amazing recovery results afterwards; moving onto healthier diets for dogs, to a variety of topics, it was refreshing to meeting individuals that take the time to care for canines, and go the extra mile and then some for others pets.  Learning of their past opportunities to find homes for animals, as well as the methodical steps they take to provide an amazing environment for animals, Dangu is top on my list for the meticulous and careful attention many pets do not get.  This was worth every amount to have at least my canines looked after in the best possible manner outside the city.  The video and website did not do this area justice, and the special made areas for smaller dogs since they are more fragile, they have thought of everything.  It was GREAT knowing that specialist trainers made up every staff member here, and helped finish off what is an amazing experience for all pets and their owners.

Finally, while occurring first for the day, but discussing last, I am finding that looking for something new in Mexico, every day, is not difficult.  Stumbling across the Korean Gardens off of Reforma today was an amazing discovery, and peaceful.  From the architecture, to the amazing landscaping that a friend with me remarked. looked German, due to the very organized and methodical way things were being implemented,  (a high testament to the quality the Mexican employees were doing with this area), this was the perfect start to a great Thursday.  If each of us set out to find something new that was right in our countries’ backyard everyday, I have a feeling we’d all be different people.

If you take a look at the amazing services for animals from Lucky Dog, to Dangu, to Walking Dog, you see the spirit of giving back in so many forms, we are lucky to be surrounded with so many individuals filled with that sense of empowering others, it is worth passing it on to another!

 

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