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Archive for August 25th, 2012

This weekend my mom and I are going down to see Jonah on Sunday instead of Saturday.  A switcheroo, so I could go to the Latin Fest today in Washington Park.

It’s still going on as I type this, but I could only last so long.  The day was lovely and Hades-hot.  I’d arrived early, and I went by myself.

I saw the Marines were there and tried the pull-up bar, which I jumped 5 times to reach, but eventually realized it wasn’t going to happen.  Look at the picture – the bar was about 10 feet high!

If only I were in secretly-super-power shape and could amaze those guys.

I did, however, win a prize for a game where they boost you up and you do a flexed arm hang, chin not touching the bar, for as long as you can, the max being 110 seconds.  I eyed that bar and watched two or three other women last anywhere between o.o seconds and 10 seconds.  When it was my turn, a lady behind the Marine booth set her camera on me.

The Marines smiled a bit smirkingly amongst themselves.  (I really am a twiggy limbed lady):

So they boost me up and I get my breathing going and I’m flexing those skinny arms and giving it all I’ve got, stretching my neck to stay above the bar, bicycling my legs in the air for distraction and whatever ounce of help it might give me.  Then I fell, not expecting the sudden give-out, and landed hard on the ground.

But now the Marines were smiling a different smile at me.  “34 seconds,” the one who was timing it said.  It felt like an hour and a half , but he had the stopwatch so we’ll go with 34 seconds.  This was impressive to them even though we all knew the only reason I could stay up there for those 34 seconds is I am a light-weighted woman and even weak-ass arms can hold up 115 pounds for 34 seconds.  But I won a Marine baseball cap and everything.

I thanked them for their service to our country before I took my hat and walked away.  The Few.  The Proud.  And Me.

Then I hung with some awesome kids, doing chalk drawings and body art:

First I drew the Puerto Rican flag.  Most of the attendees seemed to be Puerto Rican; the vendors sold a lot of Puerto Rican flags and shirts, so I had plenty of opportunity to make sure I was getting it right with the stripes and colors.  Then I couldn’t leave well enough alone so I added a sun and a tree.  That’s when all the kids came, and the real fun began.

Soon I had many friends.  I handed out juice boxes and we all worked hard.

Next it was time for body painting in the kids’ zone.

Thank God she and my next volunteer both wanted rainbows.  (Who can’t draw a rainbow?)  The girls were equally concerned with whether or not the rainbows would include the color pink.  (They did).

Then I walked around and bought some trinkets for M’s kids, and climbed a hill to hear the band and dance in the sunshine, toward the back of the crowd, all of us enjoying amazing Latin music in the big, wide field.  I danced like I was at a Grateful Dead show, because that’s really all I’ve got in my inventory.  But only for one song.  Heh.  Getting old.  Plus I was just sick two days ago.

Nearly collapsed from sweat, the heat of the music, and all the many people under a bright, hot sun, I left early-ish.  I was hungry and thirsty and had used up all my money.

Two things happened there, though, which smashed  any stereotypes I may have heard about Puerto Ricans/Latinos.  That made me feel all people are generally, in fact, good.

The first is when I slowly walked maybe 500 feet away from the dancing to sit on a bench in the shade.  After a minute I realized I’d taken my camera out of my sack and had left it in the grass where I was dancing.  I honestly thought it would be gone by the time I got back, so I wasn’t exactly running back to retrieve it.   But when I returned to my spot, there was the camera, sitting right where I’d left it – even though the crowd had thickened and anyone could have easily swiped it.

Thing number two happened when I was mucha sed (very thirsty) after dancing, and walked down the hill toward a pineapple drink stand.   The idea of their booth was to sell Pina Coladas, but I asked if I could just have a small cup of the pineapple drink without any alcohol.

Then I remembered to ask: ¿Cuánto es?  (I really didn’t need to speak Spanish much, but I did so want to practice).  The lady selling them told me $7.  “I only have $4.50 with me,” I said, automatically switching back into English, offering the money with something between pessimism and shame.  “Do you think maybe I could have half a cup?”

<-The lady in the orange shirt

She smiled and poured me an almost-full cup of yummy icy pineapple deliciousness.   I was a little afraid she’d get all nasty and dismiss me:  sorry, gringa.  Instead she smiled wide when I profusely thanked her.  “De nada,” she told me, and waved me away.  I’m going to find out who she is, though, and get her the rest of her money.

I took a few more pictures during the day – some posed (amazing balloon hat, no?)

(this guy was awesome)

…and some, more candid…

I loved her skirt

This was a landmark Amy-in-an-unfamiliar-crowd challenge, and I not only had no anxiety but I really enjoyed myself, by myself.  And tomorrow I get to see my Boo.  Sounds like a great weekend to me!  Plus, T minus 7 days until I fly to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home and museum, where I will no doubt burst into intense, amazed tears and perhaps collapse on the floor.

“…Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us, but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; just as in the experiment, we need oxygen and a candle to help.  In this case, the oxygen, for example, would come from the breath of the person you love;  the candle could be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion, lighting one of the matches.”

~ Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

One of my matches was lit today.  It shines even still.  I think I’ll keep it burning…

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