Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Strange Sushi

number twenty-seven

I finally manage to leave the house today on a lunch date with one of Sunshine’s contacts. The Barrio Antiguo is very nice, but I have discovered that even sushi can be unexpected here. 916 words.

[NL]—Now, today I got out of the house. Apparently, Sunshine and a coworker have been exploring a process by which the man’s poetry can be translated into Spanish. This has given Sunshine some interesting material on which to practice a new skill, and brought her into collaboration with a woman who freelances as an interpreter and translator. All this is just a shortened way of setting up going out and eating lunch today with Sunshine’s friend Leticia. I was looking forward to getting out of the house for the first time since I had arrived (since I am not counting grocery stores). I was still a little shy about barging into Mexican culture, and we were both a little leery of the traffic on a Tuesday afternoon, so we opted to take a cab to Monterrey’s Barrio Antiguo, where the sushi restaurant that Leticia favors is located.

The simplest way to draw a map of the Centro area of Monterrey is to draw a tic-tac-toe board. The up/down line on the left is the major artery that we’d taken through Monterrey on the first day. This is the north/south line (#2) of the elevated metro. The tic-tac-toe line on the right is the eastern border of the Macro Plaza, Monterrey’s large monument- and plant-studded paved central park. The bottom line in the game board is the Rio Santa Catarina, the mostly-dry riverbed that is probably responsible for this valley, and is lined with ten-lane highways and attendant remora service roads making life a real bitch if navigating toward all points south (like where I live). The side-to-side line to the north of the game board is the other large road following the metro’s east-west route (line #1), and leading north of Cerro de la Silla toward Laredo. With me? This is vastly inaccurate, as none of these lines are straight (or flat) in the real world; but it should get the gist across somewhat.

The Barrio Antiguo (antique neighborhood), is located in a little triangle in the south-western corner of the square just right of center. It is framed by the Plaza on its left and Rio at its bottom. Here, in this little island in the midst of all this traffic, is a quant little colonial Mexican village, which is all that is left of the way Monterrey was originally intended to look. It is beautiful, with little, narrow cobblestone streets and overhanging trees; and it makes my heart flutter for the more romantic fantasy Mexico it is more possible to glimpse in poorer towns. In the leading edge of this neat little old quarter, there is a little neon green all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. Predictably, this is where we are headed.

I am still a little, shy as I have said, and this is why I ended up drinking tea. I just couldn’t be entirely sure that the waitress had looked at me and very clearly said “would you also like tea?” So I nodded. Sunshine’s friend Leticia was extremely nice, and was very happy to speak in English the whole time we were eating so I would understand what we were saying. She also gave us a book containing the letters of Frida Khalo translated into English (which I am very excited about because I am a fan). She stressed that she’d picked it out of her own collection, so it wasn’t really a present. I felt bad that it had never even occurred to me to take her a luncheon gift.

Sometime after my delicious sweetened iced tea arrived, after a lot of shop talk between bilingual people, we stood to walk down the line of sushi trays. Since the extent of my Spanish today seems to be nodding, I took the rear, and did what they were doing. The restaurant was still nearly empty since Mexicans tend to eat during siesta, sometimes as late as two. Of the five different items there were to choose from on the sushi bar, not one seemed to contain any ingredients I don’t eat. There were stuffed mushroom caps, California and crab rolls, bowls, and some tempura. It wasn’t until I had gotten back to the table that I realized that the tempura was fried crab-stuffed chipotle peppers. They were wonderful, and really very hot. I ate two of them.

The dinner lasted about two hours, there is never any rush in Mexico, and Leticia kept trying to get me to go up for seconds, but I was okay with my one helping. She and Sunshine talked about this and that, and it was all very charming. When she got around to biting into her pepper, she said it was too hot, and didn’t even eat the rest. Finally we got up to leave, and as we walked past the sushi trays I noticed that there had been at least two-dozen things added since our first pass. Apparently, the lesson here is to get the sushi when it is crowded in the joint, not when it is empty.

Out on the streets of the Barrio Antiguo it had begun to rain, and I watched Sunshine very closely as she placed her hands on Leticia’s upper arms and gave her an air-kiss to the right cheek. When she turned to me, I feel I did a really good job emulating Sunshine exactly. Then Leticia left us, and it was up to us to figure out where to get our cab to our home.

And our boxes.

Photo Illustration by the Author

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.

Return to Previously

About Mr. Cavin