Opera weekend

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

Audrey Hepburn

bridge 001 to MegaFriday night I attended La Bohème and Saturday night was the gala fundraising dinner.

The opera played to a nearly full house and was very enthusiastically received. The singers were accompanied by a pianist and percussionist. I thought that I might miss the orchestra – and I did – but the singing was such that I was easily pulled into the story and carried along by the vocals and acting. The humor of La Bohème was extremely well performed.

The fundraiser was a wonderful event and bringing music to children of the campos is a great cause. The program’s name is Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason and as its title indicates, it aims to bring more than just music to the children. Some of the children from Los Ricos were to perform prior to dinner. An attendee at the gala who professes to dislike fundraising events said, for her, the children’s performance would be the worst part of the evening.

There was plenty of champagne and good food at Hotel Posada de la Aldea, fun and entertaining conversation, and at the end of the evening, performances by Rodrigo Garciarroyo, Guillermo Ruiz, Liene Camarena, Edgar Gil, Enrique Angeles, Alejandro Camarena from the cast of La Bohème and Mario Hernandez, the musical director. Somehow, I ended up sitting at a table in the front and have never been so close to the power of an operatic voice! What a thrill!

Sr. Hernandez played the Intermezzo by Manuel Ponce.

Sr. Garciarroyo thanked the audience for its generosity and talked about how important programs such as Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason are to Mexico. He believes that community is as important to norteamericanos as family is to Mexicans and programs such as this would probably not exist in Mexico without the norteamericano desire to build community.

On the walk home, under a jet black sky dotted with stars, so mild that I needed no sweater while wearing a camisole and a lacy top, I thought back to the highlight of the evening for me, the performance by the children:  it was not their music that was so impressive; it was that – and I hope that it will not be for just that one night – in front of an audience of well-to-do norteamericanos and important adult Mexican stars of the opera world, these children were somebody. Dressed handsomely (in school uniforms?), their black hair glistening under the lights, likely nervous, perhaps scared, they were the stars.

Just when you think life can’t get better …

When I reached the corner where calle Nicolás Bravo makes a sharp right and immediately afterwards a sharp left and where calle La Soledad begins, I heard “buenas noches” from some young children sitting and talking in front of their homes. I’d seen them before and we’ve said “hello” to each other, so there was nothing unusual about our “buenas noches” Saturday night.

On Sunday afternoon when I made the same turn there were just two girls playing, and again we exchanged “holas” and “buenas tardes” and the older girl, perhaps six or seven, ran up to me and asked if I was “hombre o mujer.” I must be quite a puzzle to them, a six-foot (183 cm) gringa, wearing a pink baseball cap (in these neighborhoods hardly any Mexican women wear head coverings except perhaps scarves), and a female who walks quite fast. I told her “mujer” and began walking again, and she walked with me, asking more questions, then she took my hand as we walked until I had to turn left up the hill and leave her neighborhood.

I had been in low spirits during the walk home. I’d been to the Feria de las flores and had purchased nothing because I was wavering – again – on whether I would stay in San Miguel and what’s the point in planting when I wouldn’t be here to care for the plants? Then, unannounced, there was this little hand spontaneously taking mine and walking with me. I felt so privileged.

The Bridge from Happy Chicken to Mega

A pedestrian bridge crosses the Libramiento a Querétaro, connecting the parking lots for Pollo Feliz and Mega, the grocery/department store. The steps and landings are some type of metal, and several have a springiness to them, enabling them to make a buckling sound that creates an air of uncertainty and gives a certain sense of mortality when making the crossing, which many people do. So far I have only seen Latinos make the journey – I have yet to see anyone cheat and walk directly across the road.

The bridge is necessary for pedestrians as three main roads meet at the heavily trafficked glorieta (roundabout): Salida a Celaya, Libramiento a Dolores Hildalgo, and Libramiento a Querétaro. If the pedestrian overpass weren’t there, one would be like a chicken crossing the road to or from the Feliz Pollo parking lot.


I coincidentally came across a “recent study” at about the same time I learned of Lynda Barry’s talk at Lawrence University. The study was published by Yahoo or Google or another of the advertising machines – and it states that a liberal arts degree is the number one or two or three resume/interview killer for getting a job. If – as many parents tell their children – you are only young once and the college years are the greatest time of your life – then should one commit to study something one might do for any number of years in the future? Myself, I kick myself for never having obtained a degree – or at least studied – Art History. I feel as if there is a huge gap in my knowledge.

Unlike vocational degrees (like computer science or advertising), I’ve always felt liberal arts degrees prepared one for critical thought and the application of thought to the written word and gave one a broader perspective than did the vocational degrees. I won’t detour this post, but I will mention that I think the fact that colleges offering degrees in “Retail Buying” demonstrate the abandonment of training by the corporate world as well as a certain type of bribery of the educational system by the business world.

Here are results of several surveys. You’ll notice some contradictions. Not all experts read the Tarot deck in the same way.


Best degrees for future employment:  Physician Assistant, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Information Systems, Physics, Occupational Therapy, Health Care Administration, Nursing, Economics

Worst degrees for future employment: Library and Information Science, English, Music, Education, Biology, Chemistry, Counseling, History, Architecture, HR Management

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Report: Hard Times: Not all College Degrees Are Created Equal via ,Yahoo

Degrees with low unemployment: Health care. Education, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Communications

Degrees with high unemployment: Architecture, Arts, Humanities and Liberal Arts, Social Sciences


“Unfortunately, that kind of benevolence doesn’t usually translate to wealth.”

Degrees that lead to careers that do not pay well: Sociology, Fine Arts, Education, Religious Studies, Theology, Hospitality/Tourism, Nutrition, Psychology, Communications


Degrees that lead to careers that do not pay well and that had high unemployment.

The study determined the likelihood that a recent graduate would end up working in retail, where a college degree isn’t always required, rather than in their field of study. [As if obtaining education for education’s sake is a bad thing.]

The degrees: Anthropology, Fine Arts, Film and Photography, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Graphic Design, Studio Arts, Liberal Arts, Drama and Theater Arts, Sociology, English

My guess is that graduates of Advertising, Business Administration, or any other vocational training program, do not enjoy their work in the same way as the La Bohème singers at the gala.


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