AMERICANA

 The American flag and the Colorado flag flying in the breeze.

AN ETHNOGRAPHY

noun | /eTHˈnäɡrəfē/

1. the study and systematic recording of human cultures
2. a descriptive work produced from such research


MOTIVE: EXPLORING SOCIAL PHENOMENA

(METHODOLOGY: story telling)

 

WORK

My boss starts work at 6:30 am, and leaves the office at 6:00 or 7:00 pm. She works harder than the men on construction, handles a pick-axe like a pro, eats an apple for lunch while driving, and has a great tan. Her car is always the last one in the parking lot.

Manuel opens shop at 10:00 am each day except Sunday. When he is at the store, people come to buy furniture. When he is not, nobody walks through the door. His main business is in custom pieces, and he can make anything happen - recutting, revarnishing, inlaying turquoise. 

When I get home, after showering and eating dinner with Oliver's family at a kitchen bench, from self-serve style bowls of food, I have only a few hours to myself. 

RELIGION

There are over five churches on this one stretch of road I pass every day. Each one has an electronic signboard, preprogrammed with messages that change each week. Recently, one read: 'God loves Cleveland.'

Yolanda goes to Church every Saturday evening, for the Spanish service. The English service falls on Sunday morning. She also teaches a Bible studies class to young children. 

Daniel and Vicente held a party a few weeks back, to celebrate their confirmation into the Catholic church. Everyone brought food and cake, and we sat under the usual tents, listening to guitars and dogs and children. When I asked them 'What is the purpose of a confirmation?' neither was able to give me a direct answer.

FOLKLORE

One in every ten houses around here has an American flag hanging on a pole by the front door. Some houses have two.

Jonathan's father owns a beautiful collection of Elvis memorabilia, including vinyl records, posters, and shiny old cars.

DEATH

Mario plays Call of Duty on a giant TV screen with a working headset. He is ten. 

At work, we spray Round Up on every patch of weeds we do not pull. So does every other landscaping company in the area. 

Just down the road, a few years back, a young boy shot his father with his father's own gun, which was kept inside the house. The boy lived with the body for a week or so, before people became suspicious.

The cemetery is located on the very outskirts of town. Nobody talks of death, even when I broach the subject, although they see it every night on Fox News

I watch people eat meat at almost every meal. At the supermarkets, meat is cheaper than in New Zealand. I have heard tell of animals being fed on other animals, and have seen for myself the cramped conditions of cows in an iron shelter, being fed not grass but grain. I have also seen, in the past few years, a new selection of grass fed, cage free, non GMO, hormone free animal products.

SEX

There is a stack of magazines in the upstairs bathroom, and in every office space I have visited. The front covers showing the same woman: white teeth, broad smile, gym gear, luscious hair.

At nights we sometimes hold a bonfire, and the guys will encourage each other in telling stories about their sexual conquests.

At work I am hassled by the older Mexican men for: a) working as a woman, b) the supposed ways I spend my hard-earned money, the main theory being that I shop it all away, c) the time I spend talking with males that are not my husband, d) for not smiling-at or dancing-with the guys. 

COMMUNITY

We arrange to meet up with others in our circle - Carlos, Jonathan, Matt, Josue, Jessenia - by text. We meet at Expert Burger, at the Bowling Alley, or at the Movie Theatre. Sometimes we meet at a house to hold a bonfire or a movie marathon.

Streets here seem like ghost towns, with the occasional sound of a golf cart, or a group of children playing, in between large expanses of empty sidewalks.

At the local Costco store, and at Church, everyone knows everyone. They shake hands and ask one another, 'How have you been?'

In Boulder, people on the streets were meditating amongst strangers. A lady sitting patiently while getting a henna tattoo looked up and began to talk with me. A young gentleman, too, approached us with the line 'You guys look like cool people.' 

Oliver tells me many stories of the mountain, and the other snowboarders. His stories include some people I have met, and others who have gained a reputation in the field, but each story sounds similar - awesome moments, joking conversations, crazy tricks, and a few thrills and spills.

At the counter of the local liquor store, I was ten cents short. The cashier, a lovely woman whom I talk to every time I visit, told me not to worry.

The house gets busy time around 6:00 pm. Relatives and family friends arrive to help cook dinner on the stove or on the barbecue, and we sit outside to eat when it is warm. There is always a lot of food leftover. The adults laugh a lot, and talk long after they have finished eating. Everyone helps to clean up.

MISCELLANEOUS

Phrases resulting from a keyword search of my emails...
Keywords: America | USA

The American dollar is almost equal to the Euro now, I bloody hope it stays that way | the American wedding will be pretty massive | Security Message for American Citizens | But when I was in America, I went to two High School graduations | toll-free in USA and Canada


DATA ANALYSIS

(Involving the interpretation of the function and meaning of the above.)

Up to you.

 

 

 Pick up trucks, desert scenes and highway signs.
 TV screens set up in a buffalo wild wings restaurant, playing sports channels.
  A colourful rack of long board skateboards. 
 Joystick on an arcade game at the mall.
 Dannin skateboarding in a curved bowl.
 Ollie and skatepark graffiti. 
 Wheat fields and flat topped mountains near Grand Junction, CO.
 Liquor store neon signs - corona, pabst and blue moon.