Today is César Chávez Day. Chávez was a farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist. He got his own stamp in 2003 and eight states officially recognize today, his birthday, as a holiday. Wisconsin is one of them because his work in the western part of the US led to the founding of Obreros Unidos, an independent agricultural labor union in Wisconsin.
Yesterday was Tracy Chapman's birthday. If you aren't familiar with her work, she's the lady who sings "Give Me One Reason." She's known for the political messages in her songs and has been quoted as calling herself a "hopeful cynic." I sometimes feel that way too, if you haven't noticed.
My current obsession with Dave Eggers has led me to his book, What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, which tells the story of a Sudanese man, Valentino, from his early days in Sudan to his time as a refugee in Ethiopia and finally his life in Atlanta. It is at the same time fictional and nonfictional, and though Eggers wrote it, Valentino is the speaker.
The nonfiction novel has become my favorite almost overnight (or at least as quickly as it turned from gray Farch [the ugly time between snowy February and sunny March] into full blown Spring). I love that this is a true story, yet creative license has been taken to streamline unimportant events while highlighting others. A lot of my writing has little by little crept into nonfiction territory over the past year, which either means my imagination is failing me or my real life has suddenly become way more interesting.
As soon as I have $1,000 that I don't owe to St. Norbert College, my landlady, or the government, there is a program guaranteed to make my life more interesting. VaughanTown is a week-long immersion program in Spain, except it's the Spaniards who are being immersed in English, not the other way around. They need native English speakers to be conversation partners and in exchange, room and board IN SPAIN is taken care of.
I have the travel bug again, so this is looking very attractive. I remember Holy Week in Rome...it was crowded with tourists, but by that time I felt more like a local and people were asking me for directions. I miss waking up in a foreign country with an entire day to lay out on my balcony and contemplate the fact of being in a foreign country with an entire day to lay out on my balcony.