Friday, December 27, 2013

At a certain point I start to feel
silly making these kinds of announcements, but dooh da dooh, can you hear the trumpet call?

Mono found out yesterday that he can ask for extended leave from the military so that we can see if there's a better fit for us outside of Mexico. He still doesn't have a visa for the States yet, so that's out, but I can be his sugar mama if I get a job teaching English or Spanish elsewhere. He needs to study, since he doesn't have a Bachelor's degree, but if he can focus on that while I'm bringing home the bacon we should eventually maybe possibly be able to plan for a move to the U.S. one day.

In the meantime I have to look for jobs. No, I mean in the meantime I'm drinking my body weight in margaritas and then when I get back to Minnesota I'll be looking for jobs and sending my resume out to the universe and all its goodwill hint hint points for positivity.

I'm pretty excited about this, I have to say. I feel like my time traveling was cut short when I met Mono and although I obviously wouldn't change that, I'm tentatively thrilled about the idea of setting out on another adventure, this time together. I'm also nervous because it's a big move for both of us and now it's two people hanging on the teeter-totter instead of just one.

Yesterday Mono called the powers that be at work to find out if taking a leave was possible. One of the captains overheard him and called him into his office and they ended up talking about it for three or four hours. He advised Mono to leave for reasons of stability and money and family and everything. He told him a terrible story about when his kids were born which I won't repeat because I don't think I'm officially supposed to comment on those things, but oh my dear.

He also said "grab yourself by the balls and hold them tight, and when you think it's difficult, grab even tighter." Meaning man up and be brave. So I guess I'll be ball grabbing myself as well (or something) and see what else life has in store. Bring on 2014!

Monday, November 25, 2013

This is not for any of your viewing pleasure. This is an experiment for myself to see if I can make a reasonable list of things for which I'm thankful. Tis the season, right? Mostly I'm a grouch so I genuinely want to know if I can do this. Plus I've read somewhere or maybe heard it on Oprah, that it's good to do such a thing every once in awhile. Practice gratefulness and love life. 

These won't be in any particular order, but that doesn't mean that number 1 isn't in it's rightful place. I'm going to write them down as they come to me.

1.) I'm grateful there are no cockroaches in Minnesota. At least that I've seen and that's good enough.
2.) I'm grateful for Facebook. I mean that for real. Facebook chat is my primary means of communication with Mono.
3.) On that note, I'm grateful for Mono.
4.) I'm thankful that Cozumel isn't located in Siberia.
5.) I'm thankful that even on days when the kids are naughty little devils, I can call them little eggs or something else equally hilarious, and they'll smile and be cute and the battle for control will be lost and gone forever. ¡¡A huevo!!
6.) I'm grateful for my baby Manchas the cutest thing alive ever with cute teeth and cute manchas and cute toes that are painted to match mine when I'm in town and she's so cute oh yes what a cutie pie.
7.) I'm grateful that when Manchas had a tick growing out of her head it wasn't discovered until I was in Minnesota. 

Manchas had ticks. We sprayed the apartment but we (I) kept finding them on her (and me!! agh, dreadful!) and we (I) burned them then pulled them out of her hair. The reason I did it was that Mono was a clumsy fool the first time he tried. He used some kind of pliers which he'd heated up in the flame, then he smooshed the garrapata and pinched it in half, and also burned Manchas' skin where the tick had been.

Or so we thought. Manchas started to grow this scab, which I thought was scar tissue from the burn. It was irresistible and black and ugly and I picked at it with my fingernails because I thought it should come off, but also, hellooo, it was a scab and I couldn't help myself. I'd aways stop short when I got through the first layer and it started to bleed. 

Then when I came back to Minnesota.. this is innovation and it worked out for the best but let me tell you I don't approve of this approach. Mono took scissors - the same scissors we use to open up our boxes of milk - and snipped off the scab. I hope he washed them. Inside was that tick, alive and growing in the skin of poor Manchas' head.

I'm grateful I was gone because I googled pictures of 'tick burrowed in skin' and blechh.

8.) I'm grateful that when I go to Zumba and a Latin song comes on, I feel a little bit like home.
9.) I'm grateful that I'm slowly but surely making gains on paying off my student loans this year. 
10.) I'm grateful that my family lets me crash their pad even though I'm 26 mother-effer years old and really shouldn't be living at home now.
11.) I'm grateful I get to go visit Nicole in a few days.
12.) I'm grateful it's a short work week because I've been sleeping like zeero.
13.) I'm grateful for shipping within the U.S.A. and the pile of books I've been accumulating from Amazon.
14.) I'm grateful for a diversity of experiences and this year counts as one of them.
15.) I'm grateful for happy hour, although it's been some time since I've been to one of those guys.
16.) I'm grateful for Raid.
17.) I'm grateful for the sun, when it's warm, and if that doesn't work out then at least when it shines.
18.) I'm grateful that Felix has a fluffy head and he lets me snuggle it.
19.) I'm grateful I started back at the gym this past year. Besides a brief stint riding the bike, all I'd done in the past probably 6 years is go on walks, with few exceptions. I miss my long walks while I'm here but I can kind of twerk! Let me explain it to you this way. Imagine some dad (hi Dad!) thinking he dances well, and doing it enthusiastically. That's what I do except it's twerking version. I have to be in the groove though, I can't just twerk on a dime. I also can't do it if any complicated arm movements are thrown in because that just ruins my concentration. Basically, I can put my arms out stiff like I'm balancing on something, and I imagine I furrow my brow a little bit to keep focus, and then I twerk it girl, twerk it. 

After doing some research in the interest of finding a photo or video, I realize I have some room for improvement, though.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lying in bed, scented candle resting on my chest (unlit), pajamas on (okay, so they have been all day but I've showered and it's a Sunday so give me a break).

I'm trying to learn how to relax more. Not just distracting myself with the computer or a book or the pile of work I always need to get to, and not just being lazy, but relaxing. I'm not sure I'm very good at this but I'm making efforts. I ordered a book of poetry, for goodness sake. I've read like four poems in my life, and two of those were Dr. Seuss.

I spend a lot of time stressing out about next year's plan despite it being impossible to figure out right now. Perusing job boards, considering my options for different cities near Cozumel, calculating how much money I should make for student loans and while I'm at it a trip to Indonesia. I never, ever thought I'd be here right now. When things with my Saudi job kept getting delayed indefinitely, I remember saying to Mono for the first time that I might have to leave, but I didn't actually believe it would come to that. And then a feweeks later that's exactly what happened, and I was here about three and a half months before I got to go back for a visit. That time when we said goodbye we knew it was going to be the longest stretch. Six months! I mean, that's just too much. But nowe're down to 34 days as of today and the time is crawwwling because it's in my sights but not here and I'm just waiting for my life to go back to normal.

Deep inhalation of candle...still 34 days.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today when my class was dancing to the ABCs a student raised his hand and told me he knows how to lap dance.

That's all.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Proudest moment of the week: (!!!)

One of the Paras at my school is from Oaxaca. On Tuesday she came into my room and said she had some questions about how I'd gotten my teaching license in order to work in a Minnesota public school. Teachers here have to be licensed by the state, however, in my case I have a Community Expert license since I've spent several years in Spanish-speaking countries and was granted temporary status as a Spanish immersion teacher. 

I danced like this in my head when
 she said she thought I was Mexicana.
I told her about my situation and, confused, she said, "But you're from Mexico, aren't you?"


You have no idea how happy this makes me (!!!) because hello, I don't look Mexican, and I obviously never said I was from there. Do you know what this means, people? It means she thought my Spanish sounded Mexican!!! 

It's not that I think Mexico has the best accent, but losing a non-native-speaker accent is not easy and not even something I was really striving for because I thought it was pretty much not achievable. I started learning Spanish too late in my life, and didn't have any kind of handle of it until I studied in Ecuador at age 22. And by handle I mean not much. I spoke English to my local friends down there and they spoke Spanish to me, so I really mainly had passive skills. And think about Arnold Schwarzenegger (why is his last name in the spell check dictionary and not marked as wrong?). He's still got an accent and he's been living here for the last 45 years! I Googled.

Toot toot. Tootin' my horn thank you very much.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I found this gem when I was looking for information on the tiny town where my Grandma-in-law-to-be lives. I adore it because it reminds me of listening to the fifth grade band at school assemblies, and the horse does the same dance I do when I've been holding it for too long.

It was a false alarm, people. Though a March trip to Michoacán for the wedding seemed to be a good idea for about 24 hours, we pretty quickly came to the decision that we'd wait until we have more money saved up and the financial capacity to at least buy some furniture for the unintentionally minimalist apartment. The three months that I was in Cozumel waiting for my job to start up were all kinds of stressful, and we're both trying to prepare ourselves for the possibility that I don't find work on the island next year. We'll be better off because loan payments will be reduced significantly and we'll be paying less on rent, but I know myself and the fact that I'm much more expensive when unemployed versus working. It very quickly gets boring not to have a job and by the time Mono's done with work I need to get out of the apartment and recover at happy hour asap.

During the day I could take Manchis for walks and go for bike rides, but both of those were eliminated when I broke my arm in January. The way that happened was really stupid so I'll just tell it now and get it out of the way. Mono was on his bike in front of me and I was behind. I thought that if my tired bumped his tire, it would, you know, bump it. Like a bumper car. No harm done. Actually what happens is the person who bumps (me) loses all control of the front wheel, jerks it back and forth wildly in an effort to correct it, and then falls off with the bike on top of her. The first thing that happens following that is an old man passeryby on his own bike riding behind will stop and ask Mono if the bike is ok. Ooh, that looked pretty bad, hope it didn't get scratched or anything. 

I didn't cry (at that point) but I did kind of do the wild-eyed huge grin-in-pain look. It f***ing HURT, ok? I can admit that now. At the time I just laughed and tried to play it cool. Let me tell you something, there ain't nothing cool about wiping out on a bike when you're 25 years old and it's due to the fact that you were trying to pester your boyfriend. You look like (are) an idiot. 

I insisted we keep going (aka get me away from this embarrassment immediately), and continued on our way to the cable company. Shortly after I realized I could only break with one hand and this was going to be a difficult ride. Then my not crying per se, but that runny nose thing you get when the tears are coming began when I was standing in line surrounded by strangers as we waited to pay our internet bill. I comfort-fooded myself with Diet Crush and then we began the slow trek home, where Mono had to open the bottle of soda and put my hair in a sweaty ponytail because I could no longer bend my elbow. Two kernels of knowledge born that night: 1. You're so dumb, 2. Putting hair in a ponytail is a learned skill. Isn't that odd? Seems so instinctual to me.

This past week we had conferences at school and oh my, those were some long days. My normal self would have been nervous to meet all these parents but I was too busy to even think about that and they turned out fine in the end. It's always nice to hear the perspective from home, and it sounds like kids are enthusiastic in their learning and eager to showcase their Spanish skills. One mom told me whenever her son sees someone who's.. brown, for lack of a better word, he'll go up to them and try speaking. The last person he tried this on was Indian, but it's the thought that counts.

On Tuesday we're going on a field trip to the farm and ohmydeargod, it's going to be coooold. I don't know how I'm going to make it through a real winter this year. Death. Aside from the weather I'm thrilled to see some animal baby lovies and I think it will be a necessary learning experience for some of the students. We spent quite a lot of time this past week learning about the farm and farm animals. None of the students had ever seen a cow being milked so they were pretty confused by the close-up photo in one of our books. I explained that the farmers attach a machine to the cow, and that machine takes the milk out of them. 

"Like a breast pump. My mom has one of those," offered one student. This served to clarify for the kids how it works, which is just strange to me really, and I think says something about the evolution of our society in the past fifty years or so. 

Another student asked me how to say 'booty' in Spanish. Later when I looked at her response to the writing sample for the day, I learned that she'd previously been to a farm where a cow's booty grew and grew and then out pooped a baby. 

It was not my intention to address reproduction when the farm unit came up but somehow that seemed to be quite relevant to students, and I don't blame them. I still remember being at the cousin's farm and my aunt waking me and the cuzzies up in the middle of the night to go to the barn. Unnatural humphs were coming out of the mouth and flared nostrils of the mama cow and then at some point a bloody something made an appearance, helped along by my uncle pulling on it's hoofs. I don't remember its booty growing, though. I think that's the only thing I've ever seen being born, and I'm pretty ok with that. 

I just did a Google Image search for calf being born and it is pretty much as I remember it so instead there's a nice picture of a rhino. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's nine months early so of course I'm trying to plan out all the details of the next year of life. Mexico revamped its immigration system just last November, and it seems like no one, including the people who work at the immigration office in Cozumel, really knows exactly what to do with the new system. I've been researching from afar but wasn't finding the answers to my many questions, so I sent Mono to the immigration office in Cozumel this past Monday to see if her could get some answers.

Guau guau
Bless his heart but Mono understands nothing about the immigration process. He always goes with me if he doesn't have to work, but I realized after awhile that it's probably more effective if he doesn't tag along. The office workers tend only to address him when we go together. Actually this happens all over the place; people just assume I won't understand them so they don't try. Normally I'm annoyed by this. Really, for those of you who have never lived in a non-English speaking country, imagine existing in your own little foreigner bubble anytime you're in public. I'm talking down to the baggers at the grocery store, who act surprised when they finally notice I've repeated something three times in 
Spanish before it's caught their attention. There are so many tourists in Cozumel and a good number of expats too that only speak English. I think a number of Cozumeleños just tune out anything that might come from my mouth because they expect it to be a foreign language. Annoying. But also sometimes helpful. One time Manchas poo'd in the plaza where a number of city workers "work" during the day. The plaza was across the street from our old apartment, so I know the work I refer to largely means finding a relatively cool spot on a bench under the shade. Manchas loves that place. There she is, standing guard and looking at the neighborhood pups that would visit the plaza each day. 

Dotted throughout are signs that say dogs must be on a leash or the owner will be fined, but many of them are scratched out and painted over with short phrases to promote civil unity and discourse (caca, poop). I keep Manchas on a leash in the streets but in the plaza I let her go free because we always go at night and the workers aren't there to lay down the law. One time she ate a dead bird. Actually on another occasion she ate a live bird. But on this particular visit to the plaza, daytime, I let her go, she went romping away, and I saw the civil workers look in her direction, stand up from their position of relaxation, and upon looking over at me they sat back down. There was a moment of hesitation, half step - should I say something? shouldn't I? - but in the end they said nothing. Then Manchas poo'd in the bushes and a look of wrinkled eyebrow concern passed over their faces. One of them shifted his weight, but it was a false alarm as he was simply transferring his broom to the other arm as he waited to see what I might do. 

I cleaned it up. Did the stern voice on Manchas to show her who's boss then performed a couple flailing lunges as I tried to get ahold of her and reattach the leash. I was grateful I wouldn't be fined the 1500 pesos mentioned on the sign, despite the bag of poop I was now toting, but the reluctance of the workers to talk to me was something I'd seen before, and it gets a little old after awhile.

As I was saying, immigration. I asked Mono to go to the immigration office this past Monday and after a three hour wait he saw one of the guys from his football team, who it turns out is a law student and is doing his practicum in the immigration office. He advised us to get married sooner versus later, so that we could get the visa for family unit rather than waiting and depending on a job to hire me.

I wasn't thrilled about this news at first. I was not imagining any kind of extravagant wedding; I was thinking more along the lines of skimming over that part and jumping right ahead to an extended honeymoon. No problem with a civil registry wedding, but since we did that same routine when I officially became Mono's concubine (an offical legal status in Mexico), I wanted to at least go to a different city or do something to actually acknowledge the fact that we are now married. My justification before was that we already live together and have the same life as we'll have married, so I don't want it to be just another day of running an errand in the morning and then celebratory drinks (normally celebrating the drinks but in the case of the wedding celebrating with drinks). Since we've been apart for the last lifetime, I also wanted not to have to come back to Minnesota and live apart once we've gotten married.

Some of those things have been sorted and some of them not but right now it looks like we may be going the way of the court house in Michoacán in the spring. There are some disgusting awful horrifying murder pictures when you Google Image search some of the cities in Michoacán, but there are also pictures like the one to the left, which I think is what happens when you poke a hole in a volcano just as it's about to rise. As well we have lots of pictures of beauty queens, which is great because that's really my thing.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I tutored a little boy today who is kind of an exaggeration of little kids and their imaginations. One way we get through our math work is by allowing him to tell a story for every three or four equations that he solves. Today the problem began:

"There were 7 knights, 4 jackal guys from Achman Rah, 3 cowboys, 2 zebras, and 3 guys of the Trubba the Hun."

He refers to his baby brother as Egbert and his mom and dad have started to do so as well. He's part dragon and Egbert is his dragon name, that's why.

Kids are strange and funny and being able to listen to that weirdness is for me the best thing about teaching young ages. They have no shame and despite the fact that they may be inclined to misbehave, they also are so eager to please. I have one student who when we wrote our 'Hopes and Dreams for First Grade' a couple weeks ago, wrote that he wanted to rob a bank, go to jail, and be bad. He loves the attention this gets him, but when he showed it to me that day I told him it made me sad. Later he amended the writing, adding that he would be more nice. "I love it! That's wonderful! Excellent!" As I was hanging their work up later I noticed he had concluded with an additional line: "Be the dumbest and ugliest kid in the class ever." 

I got a lot of cute mileage from our mini-unit on Mexico during the week of Independence Day, which included a Skype call to Mono and such questions as "Do you have allergies?" and "What noise do foxes make?".  As a class we brainstormed things we had in common and things that were different between our two countries. Dominick raised his hand eagerly, "We both have tequila." I couldn't very well squash his dreams by laughing at him so I kind of smiled politely, long enough for him to give me the most beatific smile you can imagine. He exuded an angelic glow, so proud of himself for his contribution, and I swear his eyelashes fluttered.

Speaking of tequila, several weeks back another first grade teacher at my school asked what the picture was for the letter 'w' in our alphabet cards. It was a wombat, which are either really ugly or really cute, but here's a cute one. 'W' is a tricky letter in the Spanish alphabet because it doesn't occur historically. A lot of Mexican slang has 'w' in it - wakala, for example (ew), or wey (dude, guy) - but that comes I think from the fact that Mexican Spanish borrows so heavily from English, and English has a lot of w words. The 'correct' version of those words, in the sense of being true to Spanish phonetics is guácala and güey, and they are sometimes written that way but not often as I've seen. 

Words that have 'w' in Spanish are borrowed from English. Maybe there's an exception to this but I can't think of any. I looked in a Spanish dictionary for w words and you can see some examples. 

(Hoo, take a deep breath, this is a lot of language stuff that I adore and that bores most people, but the liquor connection is coming soon).

So... the teacher who did not recognize the wombat picture is from Spain. It turns out that in their alphabet pictures for 'w', they would have a picture of whiskey. 

Anyway this story continues because whiskey is not the only image that's apparently at home in a Spanish classroom but never to be seen in one here. I wish I had a picture to show of this but unfortunately I can't remember the website where I found the worksheet. I was looking for alphabet review for morning work and I saw something on one that I thought couldn't possibly be. My eyes went from the image to the letter to confirm that actually yes, this is 'P for pecho." Breast. Out there, for your first grader to see. Which is kind of weird, but I'm also pretty confident the kids who 
see a naked boobie will remember that one in the future.

will not be testing that hypothesis.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

As I was saying . . .

Mono had me watch a documentary a few months back called "De Panzazo." It's about the education system in Mexico and it's probably not an accident that it came out when it did, shortly before the attempts at reform went through. In it the host visits schools and talks to students and teachers and administrators and people in the government, one of whom was recently arrested for stealing money from the country's education funds for, among other things, jewelry, clothing, and a house in California.

This was not in the video but I have to point this out before I get to the movie. The Secretary of Education Emilio Chuayfett is currently advocating for the elimination of math in the first five years of school. His justification?

"Well, with the current plan of studies the majority of the students learn almost nothing anyway, and these days almost every phone has a calculator."

The first time I read this I posted it on my Facebook page, then I took it down maybe five minutes later. I thought there must be a Mexican version of "The Onion" and I was dumb for falling for it. Not the case.

In the movie they discuss the lack of preparation for teachers and the fact that there are no consequences when they are no good or just decide not to show up to teach. The unions control it all and get as high a percentage of funding from the government as any other country, but much of that money gets siphoned off here and there to various corrupt game players. Teachers can get jobs I think with only a high school diploma - perhaps because only a quarter of the population makes it to university anyway. Mono has two family members that I know of in education. One of them is some kind of world famous chemist who won the still-standing award for "Best Student at Our University, Ever." Maybe not called that exactly but you get the idea, and it would seem he doesn't count as one of those under-qualified teachers.  He teaches at a university in Mexico City. Mono's aunt is an English teacher in Michoacán and although I haven't spoken to her, Mono's cousin lives in Missouri and therefore speaks English, and he says her English is basically.. nope.

In Mexico you can study five or six levels of English - lasting maybe a year in total? I think? And with that certification you can teach it. I met several English teachers when I used to go on school visits in Cozumel and uffda.

To be honest the idea of potentially having children and putting them through this system is not one that I embrace with much delight. I mean really. But aside from my own interests there's an entire generation of students that stands to lose an understanding of math (and language arts, etc.). Imagine never getting to the Algebra and Geometry and Calculus and Statistics classes that we study in high school. I am not a lover of math, but I'm grateful at least for others who used those years of advanced math to figure out that they are, and to go on to understand it more and bring about some of the comforts of everyday life that depend on mathematics. (I don't know how exactly. Aren't there numbers and stuff involved in computers?). What happens if a country doesn't have any of those freaks?

In my classroom we celebrated Mexican Independence Day by calling Mr. Z and asking him some things about life in Mexico. The questions were varied: What's your name? How old are you? Do you have allergies? What noise do foxes make? I wonder if kids get it; do they understand really that this person has a different life, a completely different experience?

A couple of times different countries have come up in lessons and I've pointed out on our world map where these places are, but how to make a first grader realize the magnitude of the physical differences that separate us - the Atlantic Ocean, or the Chihuahuan Desert - or the cultural?

This picture was taken in México, I don't know where. Doesn't it look run down? Accurate.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

This week kind of did not go according to plan when my computer died in the middle of our morning math lesson and I lost all the lessons I had planned up until that point. It was annoying, to say the least, but at the same time the resources I have here are incomparable to my school in Cozumel. Going from having no printer, copy machine, books, curriculum, materials WHATSOVER means I know the situation can always be worse. I worried (and it's still early in the school year) about what the transition back to Mexico will be like for the next school year, but I think it's part of the experience, too; traveling, teaching in a new setting, being challenged and learning from it.

A little bit about Mexican schools since they've been in the news a lot lately.. and let me preface this by saying that as I'm figuring out where to begin on this I'm having one of those overwhelming moments where I think "This is real life?" I get these, regarding Mexico. I've spent a lot of time there and I'm well aware that Cozumel, being an island, for one, and being a main port for cruise ships in the Caribbean, has a different reality than you might find in other parts of the country. It's so isolated, in fact, that I've been almost nowhere else in Mexico except for Mexico City, when I went for Mono's graduation. I haven't even taken the ferry across to Playa del Carmen. On many occasions I'll read a news story or hear something from Mono's family or be complaining about low Mexican salaries (mine, specifically, because I'm selfish of course), and I'll have a mini Oh-my-goodness-this-is-not-all-tacos moment. Mexico is so close to the United States. Cozumel is the easiest place I've ever flown into. The plane lands and the passengers file down the stairs onto the tarmac as the sun beats down and palm trees droop lazily in the lack of breeze. After a long but painless wait in line for immigration, I bypass the crowd of tourist looking for their shuttles and Mono and I walk across the street for a three dollar and five minute taxi ride to the apartment. Nods at the iguanas, hair up in a ponytail as the heat presses in (bliss), and I'm home.

And in this time, I will huggle my little baby Manchas and try to get her to poo inconspicuously in the overgrown lot down the block. I'll go on bike rides and try not to break my arm (that happened too this past year, whoops). Happy hour. Morning coffee. Walks down the Malecón. I'll go and sunbathe on the lounge chairs of a beachside restaurant and almost certainly get sunburned but I won't care. It's all very simple and when I live there I complain about it being boring but it's very much apart from the poverty and violence and *differentness* that I at least abstractly know exist elsewhere in the country. I don't know how to identify with those things and so when I see glimpses of them I try to latch on because I think I should know, right? 

So much has changed in the past year. I emailed Nicole today about Thanksgiving plans and I realized that it was just a year ago I was in Munich. I don't even know how the time passed but at the same time that seems like another lifetime - not even another lifetime, but another life. While I was over there I bought some book called "Mexico: What You Need to Know." Something like that. I was not happy in Cozumel and felt far away from family and although I liked my job, I didn't like that my coworkers were all in other parts of the world. I didn't mind working Saudi Arabian hours and therefore overnights, but I think as I sat alone in a sleeping apartment, with sleeping neighbors (except when they partied aka often, but usually the volume waned a couple hours into my shift), I ended up feeling more and more isolated from Cozumeleña life. 

This story is going no where fast. Anyway so I bought this book thinking I needed to prepare myself for the worst and make sure that I could hack it. I remember I was concurrently reading three books at the time, the other one taking place in Medieval Germany, another a memoir of a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and the third Suze Orman's "Young, Fabulous, and Broke." Books are a window to the soul and the psychoses, are they not?

No where fast. 

I bought that Mexico book to figure out if I could hack it, and then a couple months later I was in Mexico City for Mono's graduation and on our last night there we watched a movie about wild animals in Africa or something and I cried partly because of the baby lion cubs but also because I didn't want to live in Mexico City and between the two it was all just a bit overwhelming. 
Not Manchas but a one-day future friend???

This is too long to start talking about Mexican schools now but I promise there is a point ("point"), and that in broad terms is the evolution of my realization and sometimes tearful acceptance of the fact that Mexico is in fact different. And while for a time I wasn't sure if I could be tough enough for it, now that I'm here I think. I probably. could.

And in those other moments I'll blame it on the lion cub.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I've been thinking about starting up this bad boy for awhile and so here I am over a year later.  In the meantime a lot has happened, and in terms of my blogging habits my attention has been turned towards reading others versus writing my own. There's a huge network of expat women writing about their experiences living abroad with their native spouses - some of them by choice, many of them involuntarily as a result of immigration issues. For some it's an adventure and for others it's a slow countdown to when they can return home. 

I always stop reading when that happens. It's discouraging to read that these families can no longer tolerate the homesickness, or Mexican schools, or the wages, or whatever it may be. I can understand those feelings but at the same time, I moved to Mexico in the first place on my own. I wanted that life in a foreign country - at least, as I saw it, until I had had my experience and would move on to the next. In the strange way that life works, once I figured out that Mexico was where I'd be long term, it became necessary to leave. Back to the United States to make some moolah (and by make it I mean not see a dime because it's all going straight to student loans aka the bane of my existence).

Anyway this is the part of the blog where I'd normally click the little x on the tab and stop reading. When you're trying to figure out how you can make a life in Mexico, it's not helpful to see it not work out (immediately), and also, hey, I grew up here, boring. But I do have a great opportunity this year teaching first grade at a Spanish immersion school, and I'm at least grudgingly grateful for the fact that I'll be less in debt by the end of this (although back to that bane of my existence thing, I could gripe for quite awhile on my opinion on higher education costs in the U.S. of A). 

So I am in Minnesota and I've been here since the end of February, with lots of other happenings in the prior to and in between. Trips back and forth between here and Cozumel and a graduation in Mexico City. I sublet an apartment in Munich for six weeks and drank my first full beer at Oktoberfest. My job with a company in Saudi Arabia ended its semester and then, without explanation and precipitating the need to move and make some money, continued to push back its start date further and further until four months had passed and I was on a plane north. In June Mr. Zepeda and I got engaged when I went back for a brief visit, and last week I turned what feels like the very old age of 26 and started my first week with the adorable rug rats of first grade. 

That is my recap and reintroduction. We'll see how this goes...