Life in General

Over Connected?

Posted on 19/09/2013. Filed under: Life in General |

When I left the US to live in Mexico with my husband back in April of 2010 smart phones were just starting to become popular and the majority of people didn’t have them. When I moved back from Mexico in July of 2012 most of the people I knew had a smart phone. Smart phones are everywhere now. In an email at work someone commented “In this day who doesn’t have a smart phone?” Well, I’m one of those people. At first I didn’t get one when I moved back for financial reasons (I bought the cheapest pre-paid phone I could get.) I still haven’t purchased one. I have nothing against them, and I can see that they can really come in handy (especially if you’re traveling in unfamiliar areas and need to find your way, locate a gas station, etc.) I will probably get one at some point, but it’s not a priority.

People are always talking about how ‘connected’ they are to everything with a smart phone, which leads me to this:

Since coming back I feel a bit of culture shock – which is amazing since I wasn’t in Mexico THAT long. Everywhere I turn people are glued to the screens of their phones. I see people in the middle of a conversation with someone in front of them stop talking/listening because their phone rings with a call or text message. I see people driving, not even looking up at the road because they are glued to their phone. A person ‘consoling’ a friend and then ignoring them in favor of a message they just received. Have we all forgotten that a text message doesn’t disappear if we don’t read it right away? Do people not remember that they have voice mail on their phones and people can leave a message? (Oh, wait, people don’t leave messages anymore because they’d rather text a book than leave a 5 second message.) If you walked up to people in the middle of a conversation you’d wait to start talking until there was a break in the conversation, wouldn’t you? If you’re in the middle of an important conversation and someone walks up and interrupts you would ask them to wait a moment, wouldn’t you? Yet time and time again because a phone starts buzzing, people stop what they are doing to look at the message or answer the phone.

People are no longer fully engaged in any activity because they feel the need to answer the call/text message immediately. Of course there’s also facebook, twitter, etc. and you see people posting stuff about their vacation while on vacation because they have a smartphone and they can. Are those people fully engaged in their vacation? In my mind they aren’t because they’re so busy with their phone that they’re not looking around and talking to the people they’re vacationing with (although, they MIGHT be ‘talking’ with them via facebook or text messaging.) The last time I went to Mexico my phone stayed turned off the whole time I was there and I logged on to the internet a grand total of 3 times, to see if we had received any word from our lawyer, to upload some photos from a trip we’d taken, and to print my boarding passes for the return flight. Other than that, every minute of my vacation I was fully engaged with enjoying the company of my husband, seeing new things and enjoying time with family and friends.

Not everyone who has a smart phone is disconnected to the here-and-now. I have seen some people who do nothing more than silence their phone when they’re listening to a friend in need pouring out their feelings. I have been in cars with people who wait till they have pulled off the road/arrived at their destination before looking at their text messages. My dad has an iPhone but he’s not glued to it when he’s talking to people face-to-face. We were speaking about this phenomenon the other day and he said that one of his church members was in intensive care and he went to see how to help the family – they were sitting in the cafeteria at the hospital and, as he started talking to them, they kept answering text messages and phone calls, not all of which had anything to do with the seriously ill husband/father. It’s so very sad to see people are that disconnected just because they are main-lining a constant information feed via smart phone.

Please share your thoughts – are we too connected to the internet and smart phones that we’re missing real human connections?

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Perception – It’s a Funny Thing.

Posted on 06/12/2012. Filed under: Life in General |

It’s interesting how our image of who we are often doesn’t agree with other’s perceptions of who we are.

I generally think of myself as an average person, at least when I’m not really thinking about myself.   To me, my life seems normal because, well, it’s my life and in living it, it’s normal for me.  Living in your own shoes you get comfortable with all the little things that make up your life.  Sometimes even big things seem like just another day-in-the-life for you.  But then something happens that makes you question if you really are as ‘normal’ as you think you are.

I have had a number of experiences in my life that I don’t really see as major now, even though I know intellectually that they aren’t experiences the average American has.  Since I’ve just started a couple of new jobs recently I’m now getting to know a lot of new people.  This always opens up questions about backgrounds, experiences, things people enjoy, etc. It is in these moments when I start opening up to someone new that I realize my life has not been and is not now a “normal, average American life”.

Taken separately, some of my experiences have happened in “average American’s” lives.  Together – well, not many novelists or screenwriters could come up with someone like me.

Just to give an idea of the things people find out about me:  When I was 21 I had two kids and was living on base in Panama during “Operation Just Cause” and got the thrill of waking to mortar shells hitting outside the housing area.  My middle daughter woke up one morning when she was 15 months old and couldn’t move her legs – two days later she had to be put on a ventilator. She was the youngest person they’d seen with Guillian-Barre Syndrome. (Thankfully she’s fine now.)  Bad year (2001) mom diagnosed with Lou Gherig’s, me with fibroid tumors *yay* surgery! and a major move.  Year(s) from Hell (2004-2005) lost my mom and both of my grandmothers, & one child hospitalized 6 times.  Then comes the real fun – just 9 months after getting married my husband and I go to immigration so I can be his sponsor – and he’s deported!  So, I packed & moved what I could and sold/donated the rest and moved to Mexico.  Once there I took classes to teach English, started teaching, opened a Café with my husband and learned Spanish.

So, when I look at those things I realize that my experiences are really different.  That said, I still think of myself as a normal person.  However, when I mention even a few of these things (such as my recent move & why) people start looking at me differently.  Before all this I’m just another pharmacy technician/co-worker/smiling face/whatever.  After I mention some of these things (or most of these things) people are suddenly impressed with me – they think I’m some sort of amazing person. (Not sure if it’s because I’m still smiling and pleasant or that they think I’m still sane or what.)  I haven’t actually changed at all, but the way they look at me is different.

What about any of you? Are there things in your life you’ve become so familiar with that they seem ordinary to you, but when you explain them to someone else  they are amazed?

This really should remind us that who we think we see is often very different than who that person really is on the inside.

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Decisions, Decisions…. Decided

Posted on 25/03/2012. Filed under: Life in General, Moving, Relationships |

Over the past several weeks I have been struggling with a big decision.  When I moved back to the US in November I did so for several reasons:  To pay for the lawyer and legal fees to bring Alberto back to the states, because I missed my family and friends, and also with the idea that I would work to get re-established.  Since coming here I have barely spent time with my kids, and even less time with my friends.

Iwas lucky enough to get a job right away, but it wasn’t a full-time job.  I was able to get full time hours during the holiday season, but of course those hours dropped off right afterward.  One of the employees was leaving and I was able to pick up his hours once he was gone.  During this time, I was borrowing a friend’s SUV and the cost of gas was climbing.   Between the poor fuel efficiency, the high cost of gas and rent I was struggling.  One of my co-workers offered to let me rent a room from him for a lower amount.  The apartment is much closer to work, and I thought that between the lower cost, shortened commute and the extra hours I would be able to breathe a little easier.  Then there was a problem with the vehicle I was borrowing.  One of my daughters was willing to sell me her car and I got it insured.  The only problem is that it needs  some work done.  Soon afterward I was looking over my finances and new hours and I realized that with the new expenses I would have serious trouble making ends meet in spite of living closer to work and having a more fuel-efficient car.

The main reason I haven’t seen much of my kids or friends since moving back is because I haven’t even had the money to drive up to see them, much less go do anything with them.  All of this hit during a week that I was sick, and I was left thinking about how precarious a situation I was living in.  Needless to say, it was very depressing.  I talked things over with Alberto and tossed and turned quite a bit.  I kept hoping that I could figure out a way to stay and see my kids more often, but I couldn’t find a solution.  I was worried about how we would pay for the lawyer if I moved back.  Alberto assured me that the business is doing well enough that we will be able to pay the lawyer on time even if I moved back.

The past week has been incredibly stressful as I have struggled with my warring feelings.  Wanting to stay so I can (maybe) see my kids and friends more often and because I really like my job and all it entails.  Wanting to move back because I miss my husband terribly and it is exhausting struggling alone without the comfort and support of your partner.  There is no easy answer, no simple solution.  Either way I loose something precious.  Time away from my kids or from Alberto is time I can never recover.  This puts a strain on everyone involved.

Still, we did come to a decision.  I already had tickets to go visit Alberto, but now they will be one-way.  I told my managers on Friday that I would be leaving.  It’s a heartbreaking decision.  My co-worker felt  so bad for me that he offered me an even lower rent, but I couldn’t accept.   In part I feel it would be unfair, and in part these last five months have been so emotionally draining that once I’d reached the decision I didn’t have the energy to go through the process of deciding all over again.

So, on April 16th I will be flying back to Mexico to be with my husband.  I will look back fondly on my co-workers, and I will miss my job.  I can only hope that all of the paperwork will go through and Alberto and I will be able to move back to the states by sometime next year.  I hate leaving feeling that things are unfinished, but then life is a work in progress and is always unfinished.

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Ok, Enough Already!

Posted on 16/03/2012. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General |

Over the years I have been one of those ‘lucky’ people who has ‘experienced’ life.  Now, by life, I mean life in terms of the quote “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”  I have lived in a war zone, had a child in intensive care, had a spouse on workman’s compensation (while pregnant with child #4), dealt with multiple financial setbacks, been through divorce,  and over the course of one year I watched as my mom suffered and died from Lou Gherig’s, lost both of my grandmother’s and had my oldest suffer from a major illness.  Every time things would seem to be getting back on track, something else would come up to knock me back down.

My life really seemed to be going wonderfully back in 2009.  I got married to a wonderful man and got to visit my father for the first time in a long time.  Then life came along.  My husband got deported and I sold everything and quit my job to move with him to Mexico.  We worked hard to build a life there, but it was very difficult for me to be away from my family.  Then we found out last November that there was a chance to get a waiver so he could return to the US.  Although it was hard, I moved back to the states and in with my daughter.  A friend of mine offered me the use of his truck, and I was able to find a job.  In spite of these good things, paying for the lawyer and trying to get on my feet has been a struggle.  Right after the holidays, my hours were cut  and what little reserves I had were gone.  Even getting my income tax refund was meager help at best.  My daughter is moving out of her apartment the end of April, so I had to figure out where to go.  My assistant manager had just renewed his lease and was looking for a roommate, and the price is good.  My hours have finally started picking back up since last week.  So, of course, now that I start to see a light at the end of the tunnel… Hello life! My friend’s truck had a problem with it’s brakes – apparently a connector rusted out and he wants me to pay for it, and the price is more than half of one of my paychecks.  Now, while I understand that I have been using his truck, this was an issue that had nothing to do with my use of the truck.  The past two days I have been borrowing my daughter’s car (which had been my car before the move to Mexico).  I feel very uncomfortable using my friend’s truck again since it is very old and seems to have a lot of issues.  However, this means that I needed to get insurance for my daughter’s car so I can drive it.  (more $ out of my already tight finances.)  She has offered to sell me the car, and wait a few months for me to start paying her so I can save some money to get a much needed repair done.

Meanwhile, the packet of paperwork for my husband has apparently gotten lost in the mail, and the backup packet from the lawyer still hasn’t arrived.  My husband has been asking about the possibility of me moving back to Mexico since this process is taking so long.  My limited finances have left me incredibly stressed out and I haven’t been able to see my family or friends like I thought I would since coming back.  All of this has me alternately wanting to curl up in a ball and cry or just go ahead and move back to Mexico, where I’ll at least have my husband to turn to for comfort.   The only problem is that I know it will be very hard to get re-established when it does come time for us to move back.  Plus, I really like my job and I would hate to leave it after all the time they’ve taken to train me.

Is there anyone else out there who keeps getting kicked in the shins by life just as they’re starting to get back to their feet?

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A Life Half-lived

Posted on 30/01/2012. Filed under: Life in General, Relationships |

It isn’t uncommon for people who are married to be living apart for months, people in the military often have to deal with that sort of separation (I know, because I was a military wife for several years.)  Usually when happy couples are separated it’s due to a job.  Then there are couples like us.  Couples that some would prefer not to think about, or who some feel somehow ‘deserve’ the separation.  For those of us separated due to our partner being deported, or not allowed in this country it’s harder.  We don’t see an end in sight.  We don’t get the comfort that after this assignment or this job that we will be reunited.  No, instead we worry and wonder if we’ll ever be able to live with our partner.  Sure, it might be possible for us to go and live in their country – maybe – but then that would separate us from our loved-ones here.   We might not be able to find sufficient (or any) employment.  We may have difficulties learning a new language.  Living in a country that has different values, beliefs and customs may also limit our ability to find new friends.

I was one of those who tried to live in a new country and build a life there so I could be with my husband.  I quit a fairly well-paying job, sold my belongings and moved down to Mexico.  I knew practically no Spanish when I moved, but I was determined to learn.  My husband and I searched for ways to earn a living and finally opened a cafe with what was left of our cashed-in retirement plans.  The first year in Mexico there was so much to learn:  how to get around our section of town, where to buy things, how to speak Spanish, the food and ingredients that were and weren’t available, etc.  After things began settling down, reality began to sink in.  With the amount of money we were making and how expensive travel was becoming, the chances of seeing my father, children and grandson more than once every year or two were remote.  So, we started making inquiries about any waivers to get my husband back sooner.  We were told there was a possibility of a waiver, so I moved back so I could pay all the fees (over $4,000 between the waivers and the lawyer.)

Now, it feels like I’m living some sort of strange half-life.  I’m sleeping on my daughter’s couch, borrowing a friend’s truck, living out of a suitcase, and working a job at about half the pay of the one I’d left behind.  I’m married, but I don’t have the comfort of my husband’s embrace.  I have no expendable income, so my life consists of watching my grandson when my daughter is at school and going to work.  I have been away for only a year and a half, but I feel distant from my friends.  Most of that distance is due to my lack of funds.  After all, who among us feels like going out when it’s hard enough to keep gas in the car?  Another part of the distance is because I feel disconnected.  I don’t wholly belong here because of my living situation and because it feels like half of me is missing.

Right now my life feels like I’m living it in a series of vignettes rather than a complete movie.   Allie at work | Allie babysitting | Allie talking to her husband on the phone.  Everything in-between is somehow truncated or glossed over.  My life appearing and disappearing like when you’re trying to read a book in the back of a car at night… moments of illumination when the streetlamp is overhead, fading to darkness only to be thrust into the light again.  This keeps me from wanting to take part in my usual hobbies, which only furthers that feeling of not fully living my life.

I have not lived a particularly hard life by the standards of many people around the world.  Many people have lives that are far more difficult than my own.  On the other hand, I’ve had a lot more difficult experiences than many people my age.  One at a time, they’re not so bad.. I woke up to mortar shells hitting outside the housing area we were living in down in Panama.  Postpartum depression after child #3 (yeah, many women get this, still it’s not easy.)  My third child (at 15 months) waking up one morning unable to move her legs & two days later not being able to breathe on her own.  She was in the hospital for three weeks.  When we came home, our upstairs neighbor went off the deep end and started threatening us with hammers, and tormenting our family (she was later evicted.)  A year later, my husband (now my ex) had a neck injury and was put on workman’s comp – while child #4 was on the way.  Fast forward a couple of years, in the middle of a move to another state – surprise pregnancy – no insurance! Major financial troubles (spurred by the medical drama of the past years.)  Then, just as things are starting to get back on track – my mom was diagnosed with Lou Gherig’s & I had to have a hysterectomy.  Two weeks after my surgery my ex started a job in another state and I was left to pack and take care of five kids by myself.  Two months (if that) after the move, the marriage disintegrated.  Single mom, five kids, minimum wage job *fun*.  As things start getting better – three deaths in the family (grandmothers and mom) and a major medical problem with one of my kids.  Then, just as life straightens out  and I marry the man of my dreams, he gets deported. *UGH*

So, people hear all this, or friends see me live through this and ask “how have you not lost it?”  The answer is “I don’t know.” or maybe it should be “I already went crazy just so I could stay sane.”   That said, there are times in this latest bit of ‘excitement’ that I feel like saying “enough already!”  I am thankful that my job isn’t a stressful one (even when we were busy over the holidays.)  I’m just hoping that I will once again reach an equilibrium and that I will stop feeling so disconnected.  I’m wishing for something to go really right so that my husband and I can be together again soon.  I want to get back to feeling like I actually belong where I’m living.  I want to get back to doing my hobbies and seeing my friends.  But first, once he’s back, I want to go to the beach and go visit my dad, because I know those things will make me feel alive and IN my life.

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Insomnia

Posted on 22/01/2012. Filed under: Life in General |

Every now and then my mind is just *active* and sleep just doesn’t want to happen.  Usually it’s just a myriad of thoughts that keep skittering through my mind.  It’s not always a single thought or problem.  It can be a little frustrating to have my mind so active, especially when my body is tired and wants to go to sleep.   Thankfully it doesn’t happen often so it doesn’t interfere with my life.  (though there were times when I’d get really frustrated when I was younger and knew I needed sleep in order to get through school.)

Tonight isn’t exactly one of those nights, probably in part to the wine I’ve been enjoying.  This is probably one of the few times when I’ve already started drinking before I start having my thoughts go flitting through my mind.  It’s a different sort of feeling to have my thoughts trying to meander all over the place and have them dampened by the alcohol.  I can’t say that I ever remember this happening before. I am aware that my thoughts are trying to scatter everywhere, but the wine is preventing anything to be processed other than my main focus.  It’s rather strange to be able to focus on one task without having other tasks being organized, prioritized, etc. in the background (for lack of a better phrasing.)  Today, I’ve had enough to drink that I’m actually a little sleepy and  as my thoughts start to scatter the parts that branch off disappear.

When I’ve talked to some other people about their thought processes I’ve realized that a good portion of people have  a single train of thought instead of many different thoughts being handled at once.  Most of the time I barely notice that I’m thinking of many things at once.  It’s not unusual for me to think of a solution to a problem whWile I’m thinking of something totally different.

For tonight, as quickly as the problem was starting, it vanished.  I am sure that the several glasses of wine had something to do with it.  It’s a good thing because this time I did have a lot on my mind, and the wine has made my body sleepy enough to win out over everything.

That said, I’m heading off to bed.

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Holidays Apart and Other Stuff

Posted on 03/12/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General, Relationships |

It’s yet another holiday season where I’m not with everyone I love.  In 2009, just eight short months after our wedding, Alberto was deported.  I spent our first Christmas as a married couple, thousands of miles away from him, packing and selling our things.  Needless to say, it was not a Merry Christmas.  The following year I was in Mexico with him, but our children and grandson were here in the States.  Even though his family was welcoming, it was very hard to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas away from my children. (I had always spent the holidays with them in the past.)  Now, I’m back up in the States, trying to earn enough money to pay for the paperwork and legal fees to bring Alberto home.  So, for the third year in a row I don’t have all my family with me.

I have always been a generally cheerful, up-beat person.  However, now that is truly being put to the test.  The stress I have been under for the last couple of years has been incredible.  It isn’t easy to make the drastic decision to sell everything and move to a different country, especially one so poor as Mexico, and leave your family, friends and everything you know behind.  I made that decision so I could be with my husband.  Mexico City is a very difficult place to live, and that was only compounded by my lack of Spanish.  I am just now able to carry on conversations with people, although often it is a struggle due to my poor conjugation.  So many people complain about the problems of crime, pollution, jobs, cost of living, etc. in the States.  I am convinced that they would not complain as much if they lived a year in Mexico, working a regular job there and earning the average pay.  There is no ‘equal opportunity employment’  there.  Employers can specify age, gender, attractiveness, and a host of other things that would not be permissible here in the States.  Alberto and I struggled with finding adequate work and ultimately opened a cafe to support ourselves.  We had been working sixteen hours a day, six days a week until about three months ago, when we were finally able to cut back to ten hours a day, six days a week.

I have been back in the states for almost a month now and I still feel very displaced.  I did get a job right away, and I really enjoy my work.  There was a possibility to get my old job back, which would have given me a lot more pay, but I couldn’t bring myself to apply for it.  I used to enjoy that job even though it was very stressful, but now the thought of going back to something that intense is overwhelming.  Where I am now is perfect for me.  Even when we are busy I’m not stressed at all.  I’ll take a good work environment with less stress and decent pay over high pay, high stress any day.  What has me feeling displaced is the fact I’m sleeping on my daughter’s couch, living out of my suitcase and borrowing a friend’s vehicle.  As welcoming as my daughter is, I don’t really feel ‘at home’.  Then there’s the problem of not seeing Alberto and missing that companionship.  I have barely even seen my friends since I’ve been back too.  I really want to see them, and sometimes I have the time when they are free, but I feel so tired (from sleeping on the couch and stress) that the idea of getting back into the suv and driving to see them is just too much for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this way before.  I can hardly wait till I have paid all the fees and the lawyer and I can visit Alberto and (hopefully) get him back up here.  I just want to have our life back.

I keep getting asked “But since you’re married, doesn’t that mean he automatically gets to stay?”  It doesn’t matter that we are married. Gaining residency to the States (or any other country for that matter) is a complicated process.  It is not an easy process either.  I don’t want to hear people talk about how illegal immigrants are only here to cause crime and/or drain resources.  My husband paid taxes, he donated blood, he volunteered his time to maintain parks and did many other things a good citizen would do.  In other words, he contributed to society.  Most people don’t know how complex the immigration process is, and yes, there are a lot of people out there who are a drain on society – but that goes for U.S. citizens as well.  Most people who come here to this country do so for the same reasons that the first settlers came here – opportunity for a better life and/or freedom from oppressive government.  My family came from Germany and Ireland many generations ago and they had a much easier time immigrating.  Now life is more complex, and it is easy to make mistakes while trying to navigate the immigration process.  We should be a little more understanding and start looking at the individuals rather than have an us vs. them attitude.

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Stateside… for a while

Posted on 17/11/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General, Moving |

So, we recently found out that it might be possible to get a waiver to bring Alberto back to the states.  The only catch is that I have to come back up to the states to work for a little while because we’re not making enough in Mexico to pay for the lawyer and all the waiver and filing fees.  (Not to mention getting any paperwork he has to sign notarized at the Embassy in Mexico – $50 per document.)

As soon as I got back to the states I started filling out applications for every job I could find near my daughter’s house.  I wonder what the people in H.R. think when they see my work and school information from Mexico.  It’s very difficult for me to not be working right now.  I am accustomed to working and I have to pay  a little more than $3000 in all between the lawyer, waiver fees and Embassy fees.  I doubt that I will even be able to get something small for my kids & grandson for Christmas.  I haven’t been able to do anything for them since moving to Mexico.  I gave up a good job when I moved, gave my kids all the family heirlooms, gave my middle daughter my car, and sold everything else.  So, now I’m starting from scratch, though thankfully my oldest daughter is letting me stay with her.

It is heartbreaking to be in this situation.  I want to be near my kids and be able to help them, but I also want to be with my husband.  If I stay in Mexico then I have little chance of visiting my kids and no chance of helping them.  The only reason I was able to come back to the states this time is because a good friend paid for my ticket.  I am scared that if I stay here long enough to earn money to pay for all the legal work that it might hurt the chances of bringing my husband back.  What’s even worse is the fact that if we had gone through the process this year instead of in 2009 he most likely would not have been deported due to new legislation.

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Preparations: Dia de Los Muertos & Going to the States

Posted on 29/10/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General, Moving |

Our day of the dead tableSo, there’s a lot of stuff that has been keeping me busy lately.  After a bit of a meltdown following the last post Alberto and I started looking at me going back to the States for a while.  There are several reasons for us to do this.  One is that living here has become extremely hard for me and I really need a break and I need some real time with my kids.  Another is that we might be able to get a waiver approved so Alberto could come back to the states – but to do that we need to pay the filing fees and lawyer – which cost more money (in US Dollars) than we make here in a year.  So… It’s back to the states, work, see my kids and friends, and visit Alberto when possible.  While it will be nice to be in the States for a while and see family and friends, it really sucks that I have to be separated from my husband.  It will not be easy for me since I sold all of our stuff and I won’t even have a car.  Basically, I’ll be starting from scratch – well, from scratch plus clothing.  I know I’m not the only one who’s had to rebuild their life, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.

Since deciding this and getting tickets back to the states there’s been a flurry of activity.  Calls to find out who I can live with (still don’t know for sure who it will be).  Trying to polish up my resume.  Looking at apartment costs (just in case).  Plus trying to get the Cafe squared away so Alberto can run it by himself.  This part has taken a lot of time.  Building new shelving, re-working the menu, generally re-organizing and teaching Alberto how to make a couple of the recipes. (lots of fun since I had to stop my usual “by eye” measurements and really measure the ingredients!)  Then there’s trying to figure out what all to pack.  Add to all of this that one of the biggest holidays down here is coming up… Dia de Los Muertos.

Dia de Los Muertos is Nov 1st and 2nd.  (yes, you could say it should technically be dias de los muertos, since it’s more than one day, but it’s not.)  This is a very big holiday where you remember your dead relatives.  The first day (which falls on All Saints Day) is for ‘los inocentes’ (for dead children) and the second day is for the adults.  Everyone sets up a table with photos of their relatives, candles, candy skulls (which should have names of the relatives on them), jicama, peanuts (in the shell), mandarins, a small pumpkin or gourd, pan de los muertos (bread of the dead) and any favorite food of the deceased people.  We have our table all set up, but we have not purchased the bread yet (we will do that tomorrow or Monday).   I have seen people make the sign of the cross and kiss their hand when seeing the table, which I think is rather interesting since this holiday is a pagan one, dating back before the Catholic religion ever came to Mexico.  Strange to see such a co-mingling of pagan and Christian beliefs. We are going to be open all weekend and will probably be open late on the holidays.  One of the big cemeteries is just a block away from us and people are already cleaning the graves in preparation for the holiday.  It’s a nice thing to see people remember their loved ones.

One thing I am not excited about is the fact that the city is cutting the water during these days.  This makes it a little problematic and frustrating when you need to be able to wash dishes, flush toilets, etc.  Like almost everyone, we do have a tank of water here, so hopefully that will be enough to get us through.  We can be thankful that we use bottled water for our coffee, tea and recipes and we have a good supply of that already.  The city says that they’re doing this because they are replacing some pipes in the main (read: only) water reservoir here.  I think it’s more likely that they chose the holiday to do the work because they usually cut water during the holidays.  (People here have the propensity to wash everything at least twice on the holidays, even if it’s already clean -don’t know why – so the government cuts the water.)  Mexico City already uses  four times the amount of water that it’s aquifer provides, and if people waste water that just makes it worse.  Sadly, the people here don’t understand environmental issues like that, so the government doesn’t explain, they just cut the water. Unfortunately, they rarely advise people ahead of time, so if you don’t plan ahead you’ll have to buy the bottled stuff and wash with it (expensive!!)

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Homesickness

Posted on 06/10/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General |

There are moments here in Mexico that I feel very homesick.  It’s hard being away from family, friends and everything you know.  Even harder still when it’s hard to communicate with the people around you.  There are many times during conversations when I feel completely like an outsider.  Life here is very different from in the US.  People here often work six days a week (12 hours each day)  even though their salary is for five 8 hour days.  A pair of ‘decent’ shoes is about what one person makes here in a day.  If I worked the same amount in the states as I do here, I could earn enough at minimum wage to have a nice apartment, a car, etc.  Here however, there is just enough to pay for utilities and a little more.  If we didn’t have a house here that was already paid for we couldn’t afford to live here.

Today, on two different occasions, I was asked the same question that everyone seems to love asking me.  “Do you like Mexico?”  If I hesitate at all with a response (or say, “sort of”) people try convince me of why Mexico is wonderful.  The sad thing is that these people really believe it.  Yes, there are some parts that are beautiful, but as a whole, Mexico City is not beautiful.  It’s the same as most VERY large cities – dirty, noisy, rude, etc.  When I try explain why I miss my country and how nice it is, they look at me like I’m crazy, except when I mention my kids & family, and only then do they understand.

Right now, I feel rather traitorous because I want to go back to the states and I don’t want to be here anymore.  However, my husband can’t go back right now – which leads to these feelings of being torn.  I don’t want those feelings to turn to resentment.

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