Saturday, October 16, 2004

Thoughts on Monterrey

number two

Why am I a little disappointed about the outcome of flag day? My assumptions about Monterrey revealed. 623 words.

[NC]-I think Monterrey is just great, by the way. I want to get that out at the very start so that it can be kept fresh in mind. I am afraid that at times I might confuse the issue by pointing out both the pros and the cons I seem to be feeling. So keep it in mind: Monterrey is great, even if there are no elephants there.

It’s just that I was certainly preparing myself for something altogether more alien. I had grown accustom to the idea that my life, in several months, was going to flick like a switch, and that I would be very far away from home and the things that I have come to expect out of life. I was under the impression that I was going to be somewhere remote, cut off, forced to trek for my mail and buy up a store of my favorite products for the figurative three-year winter. I had imagined that my day to day existence was suddenly to be fraught with cultural oddity that I would slowly come to recognize as normal before it happened again next time. I pictured myself drinking warm Fanta from a rented bottle beneath the shingle of a nearly forgotten consul, hailing outbound traders driving exotic animals to the sands or waters of the horizon.

But I just don’t think Monterrey is going to be like that. Culturally speaking, of course, Mexico is different form here. I’ve been to Mexico. I loved it. It was my epiphany of solo travel in ’95 when I bought a one-way train to ticket El Paso and walked across the border at Ciudad Juarez determined to return when I had found whatever it was that I was looking for. I stayed in Mexico, wandering its edges, for months; falling in love with the people I met, the places I stayed, and the food that I ate. Moreover, when I decided to return, half of my money still in my pocket, I skipped several cities I had wanted to see in an effort to get home for Christmas. One of those cities was Monterrey. So, yeah, I really want to go there. I really wanted to go there ten years ago (and Durango and Guanajuato, among others). So see, Monterrey is great.

For what it’s worth, it is my goal to use this journal, at least before my foot hits Mexico and my new Foreign Service houselife begins, to really get my attitudes and prejudices sealed in public stone so I can not forget them all when faced with realities like I usually do. With luck the end result will be a litany of ridiculous slapstick revelation about the dubious value of my expectations.

But I just don’t think Monterrey is going to be like that, either. It is closer to San Antonio than it is to Mexico City. If it wasn’t for Matamoros it would really be a border town. It is the third largest city in the country, and considered to be the richest. It is filled with industry and college students. It is really close to the gulf coast, and sports a proudly cosmopolitan world-city image familiar to San Franciscans, Milanos, Parisians, and people from Prague. While it is certain that there will be angels in the architecture, there will certainly not be cattle in the market place. Monterrey will be a wonderful place of distinctly first-world amenity and US adjacency where I wont have to feel estranged from home, commercial product, or diversity. My Region 1 DVDs will work fine on my NTSC Television. Americans will abound, and why not? They can drive here.

But I wont get to ride on an elephant, now will I?

Quiet Reading Room

This is a quiet reading room. Often, I find it is uncomfortable to digest long tubes of columned text directly off a computer screen. This journal is dedicated to the collection, percolation, and ultimate integration of my personal experiences. Subjects that I want to examine and then talk about--sometimes talk a lot about--€”are presented here. This central content can tend to thousands of words, maybe millions. I was afraid that readers were leaving the presentation boggled, spinning, googly-eyed. Or perhaps when confronted with twenty-four inches, or yards, of monitor sprawl they were just giving up. I am not even certain that I have necessarily solved this inevitable content problem of modern information enjoyment, but here is what I have done.

After long and highly scientific routines manipulating double-blind control- and test-subjects, peer reviewed journal publications, and hours and hours of hands-on experimentation, I have crafted this quiet reading room. There is no scientific way to control the length of the articles I write, but careful handling can somewhat soothe the contextual presentation. In other words: I have dropped the traditional speculation about lexicon, and attacked the question of the matrix itself instead. Brilliant. After years of diligence what I eventually crafted is this reading room.

The walls are contoured to relax instead of constrain; the paper is made to soften instead of reflect. The light is dimmed--just so--€”to prevent strain, angled to prevent umbra, and color-coded to soften harsh red lights and deepen wimpy light reds. There is nothing I can do to control aural environment, but my recommendation is that it should be kept quiet. About ambient sound: these entries are probably best read as far as possible from emergency vehicles, preferably from beneath the muffler of a vintage fire fighter pilot's scarf, puffy old duvet, or snow that is still falling.

My theory is that the wide web world is filled with potent and material opportunities that are just too difficult to digest for many people to take part. Enjoyment of this stuff is regulated to the routines of crawlers and robots at the peril of humankind's peaceful future survival. In an attempt to delay this likely outcome: welcome to this quiet reading room. It is for people like you to relax, kick back, and hate my content for better reasons than the dizzying vertiginous specter of its lousy dpi presentation.

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