22.1.09

Epipheral Vision

This post is about Four things.

There's been a problem building with Camille for a while now (character-driven plot FTW). She's been pretty despondent with her family, not talking very much or "integrating" into the home, as Anita says. Suzanna, apparently, has talked with Camille about it several times, and is tired of trying to deal with her. I'm not sure of the veracity of that statement, since Suzanna is an old woman suffering from some disease which makes her go to Quito every so often for treatment, and she probably has the mental force of a tomato. She does make good turkey, though. But I'm getting off-topic. The upshot of it all is that Anita asked me to talk to Camille and see if I can get her to change.

Now, it is absolutely not my place to have that conversation, but from what Anita said, the people whose place it is have had that conversation, and it didn't work. Now, Camille is the only other American here, and, if she goes home, as Anita's told me is the next step if Camille's family decides to let her go, I'll be alone. Not alone, but there'll be no one else to understand how awesome going to KFC is, or to laugh at "What's that over there?" I don't know if you know why that's important, but it is. So, I agreed to have a chat with Camille and see what was what. As I've been giving "English lessons" to Camille's sister, Andrea, for a while, it's not weird for me to be over at her house. My original plan was just to take a few minutes and say, "Hey, Camille. Let's talk, huh?" Didn't quite work out that way.

Camille showed up around four o'clock, but left to go to the internet right away. Which was actually a good thing, because I wanted to okay my talking to her with her family first. I don't want to be stuck in this kind of drama. So, it was just Andrea, myself, and her two sisters, and so I asked Andrea about it. Andrea stopped just short of saying "PLEASE TALK TO HER. DAMMIT." She then went on to tell me about all of the horrible awful things that Camille's done, and they were pretty bad. Again, I don't know how much of it is true, because emotions tend to get the best of people, but it was pretty consistent with what I've seen of Camille. I can't write most of it here, because Andrea made me swear I wouldn't say it (I think she was worried that her mother would find out she told me), but it boiled down to a couple of things: Camille stays in her room all the time, and doesn't talk to people, Camille won't help with housework at all, Camille eats everything ("You see that basket of eggs? That won't last until Monday.") or refusing to eat ("She just sort of throws it away."), and Camille hates sharing.

I'm going to talk about that last part. Sharing is an incredibly important thing here, and I never realized until Andrea told me bluntly. She said something to the effect of, "Here, everyone shares. If you have something, you offer a little bit to everyone around you. You don't have to share all of it, if they ask for more, you can say, 'I already gave you one,' but you have to share at least a little bit. No matter how small it is, you take it and cut it into little pieces and give some to everybody." She went on for a good, fifteen minutes about sharing. And it's true. Every time during break at school, when someone has a bag of chips, the first thing they do is offer some to everyone around them. I hadn't noticed before, but it just works out that way. And if they (usually me) don't offer, people ask for some. Of course, I never refused, and now that I understand, I'm always going to offer. It doesn't really work like that in the U.S. There's a real idea of "I bought this with my own money. It's mine, and you can't have any." that gets inside of you. It's not even something I ever really thought about until this happened. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, it's just the way we are. Of course, not everybody, and not all the time, but that idea's there. It's not in Ecuadorian people.

As if to epitomize this thought, Camille refuses to share with anybody, even refusing to get something for herself if it would make her feel uncomfortable about not sharing. Andrea finishes telling me this, and I'm like, I had no idea sharing was so important. Why don't you tell her that? No one sat down with me and had a talk about sharing things until now, and I know Camille hasn't had one. That was my basic response to each of the points, that if you don't tell her, she won't know. Of course, some things, like not helping when being asked, I couldn't explain, but I'll get to that later.

So, about that time, Andrea's mother and grandmother (the "I hate America" grandmother) showed up, and Andrea explained that we had been talking about Camille. The two women basically confirmed what Andrea had told me, though not as explicitly, and when I asked if they wanted me to talk to Camille, they said, YES. The mother's the only authority figure in the house, since the dad has a two-week on, three-day off, deal as a police chief in Azuay (another province). She told me that she didn't want to discipline Camille, or tell her to do stuff, for fear of upsetting her. I explained that this was a common problem among first-time host families (Johannes's family had this too), and stressed that they should talk to Anita.

Then Camille showed up, and, as it was seven o'clock, it was time for me to leave. I told Camille to walk with me for a bit, and tried to explain delicately about how my mom had asked me to talk to her to see if she was having problems. We talked about it for a little while, and I made a very startling connection. Now, because Camille's host mother is very timid, she doesn't ask anything of Camille, leaving it up to Andrea, two years Camille's senior, to make requests. When I asked why she didn't do things her sister asked her to, Camille told me that back in the States, she's the oldest child, and so it's very strange and upsetting to her to have a sibling tell her what to do. The pieces fell into place, and I said, "Why don't you say that? I wouldn't have to be here!" Again, my mother's right. Every problem in the entire world stems from people not talking to each other. Except, like, um, Earthquakes. And diseases. But everything else, yeah.

After promising me that she would talk to her family as soon as she got home and see what she could do to fix things, we said goodbye. I don't know if she did or not, I'll find out later today or tomorrow, I guess, but I did my part.

In an unrelated occurence, I had a strange and rather disappointing series of epiphanies this week relating to my school. Remember that one post where I said I was just going to stop listening to my painting teacher? I think I should just apply that to all my teachers.

In Artistic Drawing, we're working with drawing ink, which is very difficult-to-use stuff. I've been in a nostalgic kick in my artwork lately, because of my homesickness, and so when ordered to draw a landscape in ink, I made the ocean, with a guy fishing:



I happen to kind of like that picture. It's silly, yes, but I like it. I go to turn it in, and hear the teacher saying, "INVENTED. ZERO." to other students. So, I quietly slipped this picture back into my tablero. The assignment for the day was to do it over, though, so I couldn't hide it. The teacher came by, and sure enough, "INVENTED. ZERO." He never said it couldn't be invented before, so I added him to my mental list of teachers that change the rules for the assignment after I've already done it. Anyways, he takes one look at my picture and says, "Putting rays on the sun is childish. Don't do it anymore."

I can picture my mom's face as she's reading this. It's funny.

But anyways, the inner artist in me said, "This is my god damn art, and you can't tell me what to do." I didn't say that, of course, but I was thinking it. And that makes the difference, and led me to my second epiphany: I'm through letting my art suffer for my grades. My grades mean absolutely nothing to me. They don't help or hurt me with colleges, which is about all grades are good for at this point. If I want to put rays on my sun, I'm going to put god damn rays on my sun. If I want to draw the ocean, I don't care how many times they order me to make a mountain. Now, I didn't feel like going at it just then, so I redrew the sun as the moon, which doesn't require rays. But that's the last time. That's all I'm going to say about my art school right now.

Oh, and I hate my Painting teacher. That's really the last thing.

Hey, Racism! There's a fun topic.

JACOB'S EXTRA-SPECIAL RACISM PIC OF THE MONTH



Next to the Church of Santo Domingo is this stately statue. It's a fun thing, with a couple of young poor children making do with what they have. But the message to poor people ("Stay in your place. You have it good enough.") is something I'm not going to get into. Instead, I'm going to focus on the black kid in the back.

This picture seems innocent enough, with the white kid with blue eyes flying the kite while the black kid looks on in admiration. But let's get a closer look at these two upstanding young gentlemen.



Yes, as you can now clearly see, the white kid is looking on in wonder as his kite (I like to think of it as his dreams) fly up to the Heavens. Sitting on the rock, the black kid is watching the white kid fly the kite, his hand outstretched. The real message was probably Ibarra promoting its diversity, but the artist managed to slip in his thoughts. Study the black kid's expression, and you will see the look of apathy. This is a kid who has realized that everyone else will always have more than him, and has accepted that fact. So, he must sit idly by while other, whiter kids fly their kites and live their dreams. Walk by this on your way to church, all you black kids. Just be thankful you don't have ragged clothes. Oh, and he has giant lips.

Spain's legacy of Purity of Blood ("Cleanliness of Blood" in literal translation) lives on!

I went to take pictures of the Indigenous strike (stayed home from school for it), but they didn't show. It wasn't until later that I realized that I was there at ten o'clock, when they said they'd be there. I should have been there an hour and a half later, at 11:30, when they were there. Oh well. Instead, I watched Obama get inaugurated and got some interesting pics.



This is a crazy old black man preaching about how Jesus Christ died for our sins. He said, over and over, "ONE DAY, GOD WILL JUDGE JESUS CHRIST FOR OUR SINS." I'm like, I'm not all that religious, but I don't think that's how it works...



The Chinese food place lied to me. IT FREAKING LIED TO ME.

Okay, that's all. Thanks for the comments, Mom and Silvia. I'm looking forward to your visit!

¡Ciao!

2 comments:

Ezra said...

This is really interesting Jacob. Well except for the racist pic of the day. (i think that should be classified as something else) And I like your drawing! Your art teacher is crazy!

silvia said...

I think your drawing of the fishing dude is AWESOME. Not kidding. Especially the wavy sun lines. Avoiding wavy sun lines because you think they are childish is very narrow minded. The main concern when considering whether to include wavy sun lines is whether they look too awesome or just awesome enough.