Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sitting, waiting, wishing

I have to somehow manage emotionally to survive until February 17, when Pat O’Brien gets here. Somehow, I think I will find a way, but it still stinks. I just don’t think I will ever get used to being apart. Just because I’m not curled up in the fetal position crying my eyeballs out doesn’t mean that I don’t think of him every waking minute (and sometimes when I’m dreaming). Trust me, I do. But definitely I’m not USED to it.

When I think of being used to something, I think of finally coming to terms with it so that it no longer bothers you or comes to the for front of your mind on a regular basis. I’ve gotten used to the fact they don’t have canned green beans here – I’ve moved on, I’m OK with it, and most days I don’t even think of it! I’m still not OK with the fact that the man I love to hold is over 2000 miles away!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fun Weekend

We didn't do tons of stuff this weekend, but we definitely had a good time! Saturday, we went to a First Comunion party for a lady at work's little girl. I was a Madrina (or a Godmother - its the best I can compare it to). I bought her medallion. Check out the dress on this chick! She's 8 years old!

On Sunday, we went with our friends the Belmont family (Fernando, Martha, Alejandro and little Fer) to an all out Furniture Mercado in Mexico City. I was in heaven! There was so many different types of furniture and home decor, made straigh in Mexico and SUPER cheap! We were just going to look (I wanted to buy a new table that seated six and was slightly larger than my $87 seats are only made for children's butts model), but I found just what I was looking for, all for $350 including shipping from Mexico City. I got a dining room table, six chairs with cushions and a matching coffee table, stained, laquered and ready to go. Good deal, I would say! Its prety simple, but looks cool, I think! Here's approximately what it will look like, except darker.....

I should get it Friday - I'm excited!!!!!!

Friday, January 27, 2006


Geez o Peet, So I downloaded AIM already. I'm not very happy about it. AOL prides themselves on being so dang user friendly, and I find it anything but. or maybe its just that I'm turning into an old geezer and don't find change pleasant. Either way....

my aol screenname is karintmk

Feel free to add me to your buddy list!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Thank you all for your suggestions! We decided on StrikeAsaurus! Yeah, you might think its dumb, but I love it! Its even funnier trying to hear the announcer say the name :)

Turns out that joining a boliche league was a very good idea! The people were very nice, and it gave us a chance to practice our spanish on other people. Not to mention bowling is SUPER fun! My stellar average after three games, a whopping 78! Keith fared slightly better at 117! This, and the guy next to us bowled a near perfect game (he knocked down 9 and picked up the spare on the second half of the 10th frame.....I think he finished at 289 or something absurd like that).

The upside of sucking so bad is that our handicaps are awesome! Mine is 98 and Keith's 66 - making our team handi a 164 - thats a whole other player better than both of us we get to add on after each game! Which also means, we might get to win a game or two!

Go strikeAsaurus!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bienvenidos a Mexico!

I am officially indoctrinated (is that even a word) into the world of Mexico. This morning, Keith and I were driving to Mexico City, we got pulled over, and I bribed a cop. Yeah, can you believe it? I've heard tons of stories, but never really expected it to happen.

Let me 'splain. We all know that the air in Mexico City is thick as pea soup because there are a bazillion people, and hence a bazillion cars, who live there. They have a law that states unless your vehicle has passed emissions tests and has a sticker, you cannot drive in the Federal District (Mexico City and surrounding areas) one day a week. Your day of "non circulation" is determined by the last number of your license plate.

My license plate ends in a 3. Plates that end in 3 or 4 cannot drive on Wednesdays.

Now, I was well aware of this law, because its clearly written in many books about Mexico. What I didn't know is that it isn't just for Mexico City residents, its for ALL cars, regardless of origen. Thats why I got pulled over.

OK, so, let me state that I get nervous when I get pulled over by a US cop - so when I realized he was pulling me over (by pointed and beeping his horn - no lights, whcih I thought was wierd) my belly dropped. A few things have gone wrong so far at this point - I had to drive because Keith was too tired, I didn't have much money (about $150 pesos), I didn't realize that I was on EMPTY until we were half way on our way, so I decided to take the Libre road (the free scary get kidnapped but maybe there are more gas stations road). So on top of all this now I'm getting pulled over.

Now, most people in Mexico who are doing thier best to thwart corruption say that if you get pulled over, tell the cop to give you the ticket for your infraction and be on your way. I tried to do that, because I want to be an honest person and help do the right thing. But, I thought he was telling me that he had to take my car for the day if he gave me a ticket, and that it would cost $1680 to get out!!! Apparantly the "no circulation" laws are so stringent, that if you are caught driving on the wrong day, they want to make sure you never make that mistake again!

He was never intimidating, or mean - on the contrary he was very kind. But, I didn't want him to take my car!!! I mean, we're halfway between Toluca and Mexico City, no one was answering thier phones, so what the heck are we supposed to do in a not so nice area of D.F. until the next day??????

I ended up getting ahold of my re-lo consultant Claudia, and she was able to talk to him and me to make sure I understood correctly what the sam heck was going on. She tried to get him to let me go, but to no avail. I was crying and begging and pleading - I asked for him to take my 100 pesos, and we would turn around and go straight back to Toluca. He said it was not a good deal because the ticket was so much more......but apparantly my tears got the best of him. When he came back to the car, he said he would take the 100 pesos (he handed me his book, I put the money inside and handed it back) and we were to turn right around, go to the gas station and head home. And he said to not cry anymore.

I really did want to do the right thing. But under the circumstances, I just wanted to get back to Toluca and be far far away from Mexico City, and paying him was the quickest and most effecient way of doing it. I was really scared. It was definitely a situation that I would not have ever experienced in the US, thast for sure. After it was all said and done, I felt pretty dirty, bribing a cop. But after I explained the situation to my co-workers, they all said they would have done the same thing.......

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Things to be Happy About

• I got a cup warmer for my desk, so now I have hot tea all day!
• Eunice is coming to visit in February, at the tail end of Pat O’Brien’s trip!
• I feel better for getting all the bad feelings out on “paper”!
• I joined Curves last night!
• I've been regular since I've been home for Christmas!
• I’ve paid Troy all his money owed from the Divorce! I’m officially and legally free!
• Its almost time to go home!

Long term focus sucks

I’m sure all this resentment/anger/desperation can be directly related to the fact that I feel like huge piles of crap right now. Lots of drainage, cough and sneezing to make my sunshiny day that much better! It also can be related to my past weekend. Short as it was, it’s always incredibly amazing to spend time with Pat O’Brien – but unfortunately, I always end up being incredibly resentful upon returning to Mexico. It’s difficult to explain, I guess, but I will try (because, dear reader, isn’t that what this blog is about?). I know Mexico will help me realize benefits in the future that I can’t quite grasp right now, and I also know that it was a dream of mine to move and live here. So, in the long term, I know this is the best decision for me, and I’m proud of myself for making it – despite all my life changes in the past year. My anger/discontent resides in the fact that I’m not really having a jolly ol’ time here – so far it’s definitely not all its cracked up to be. So, basically I am choosing to be miserable in Mexico instead of being safe and happy in the arms of Pat O’Brien in Chicago. As most Americans, I have a hard time with the long term – because instant gratification is so much more, well, gratifying. But, alas, I will persevere for the long term knowing that it is best. Apparently this international assignment is turning into being a huge character building exercise. I should be full of character when I get home. Chock full!


I am not the type of person who likes to wait around for things to happen - especially when it comes to communicating. My Spanish is very basic, and very functional. I can understand what people are telling me more now that I have ever been able to. But I CAN’T FREAKING RESPOND!!!!!!!! Right now, I have four to five word sentences, TOPS. Mostly I respond with yes’s or no’s, or an uncomfortable pause and contorted face that means I don’t understand. I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrated I am. People are kind and patient, but how long can they be patient? Hell, I’m not patient! I want to learn! To SPEAK!

I am trying so hard to learn Spanish – I have tons of different types of learning materials, ranging from books, CDs, interactive CDs on the computer – I even put them on my iPod for chrissake!!!! But they just doesn’t seem to be helping. The big problem is that I’ve been here for two flipping months already and Apasco can’t seem to provide their employee with what should be a VERY basic need – CLASSES TO LEARN HOW TO SPEAK! They knew I was coming for 6 months – couldn’t they have arranged it before hand? I gave them the contact of the place that I wanted to work with here, but apparently it’s too expensive (can you PUT a price on being able to communicate?), so they are looking around for other alternatives. Great and flippity dandy. I can’t pester them any more than I already am; you would think that calling once a day is enough. Maybe I have to march at the corporate offices with nothing but hot pink moon boots on shouting through a bull horn to get people to realize how important this is. Crap. So I’ll have to wait another two months until they arrange these alternative classes to start really learning and improving. Hey, maybe I should let them know that a good time to start is when I am already fluent – you know, after I’ve gone through the tumultuous affair of trying to fend by myself in a land of sharks that eat people who don’t speak Spanish.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The worst part of this whole experience

So far, so bad. This experience has been less of a tip toe through the daisies than I would have hoped. I find myself thinking, what exactly kind of experience did I sign up for? I was all up for cultural exchange, and taking part in a new culture, learning a new language and new things about my industry. What I didn’t sign up for was feeling alienated and alone. It sucks to have people not do things, and you sitting by yourself in an office thinking no one gives a shit about you. Companies are hesitant to spend the money to send people overseas because a) Its ridiculously expensive and b) They have poor retention in those employees after repatriation. Now I can understand about the poor retention! After feeling alienated, alone and not cared about, I’m certainly not going to be that excited about remaining loyal after coming back to the states, either! Not that I need someone to hold my hand for every little thing, but it would be nice for some responses when things are requested!

Before I used to have Holcim tattooed on my ass; I actually thought they cared about their employees. But not so much. Its not even just this aspect of being alienated in Mexico…….I feel like I got shafted this weekend. I wrote a nice formal request to my boss in Dundee to attend conventions to the American Concrete Institute this year, and was vehemently denied, even though it has a direct benefit to my future development in this industry. Not even just my future in the industry, but also my future with the company! It would be that much easier to repatriate if people remember me because they’ve seen my face once or twice over the course of the year....but what do I know, I'm just a lowely engineer.

Funny how quickly one can turn so cynical.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I am whole and complete again!

You know how you feel after you’ve been working towards something very diligently, and then it comes to fruition? That’s how I feel today. It’s an absolutely fantastic feeling! Almost like I’m floating! The funniest thing about it is that it’s such a small thing, or rather I considered it a small thing when I was in the US.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I FINALLY HAVE HIGH SPEED INTERNET ACCESS! It’s taken about a month and a half of calling calling and calling again, being on the phone for an hour at a time, going here and there and getting wrong information more often than getting the correct ones…..I am so incredibly relieved that it is done. It’s like a hundred million pound elephant was lifted off my shoulders. I also was able to hook up my wireless too, so I am completely mobile within my house! This allows me to pay my bills in the US and Mexico, chat and talk online to friends and family, search for information at will and essentially – BE FREE!!!! This was really the last service I had to hook up, so now I actually get to start living. I’m pretty sure I haven’t stopped smiling!

OK, now that I am accessible – here are a few ways you can get a hold of us which are much cheaper options than calling:

Yahoo Messenger (with voice) – my ID is mayerkt; I think Keith’s is kpmayer44 or just kmayer44. You can make free computer to computer calls here too (if you have the free upgrade to Yahoo with voice), but in my experience its best left to just IMing – the delay for voice is bad sometimes and I’ve gotten cut off a lot.

Skype – I think my name is karintmk…….but I’m not sure. If you don’t have skype, download it free at www.skype.com. It’s completely free to call computer to computer, and pretty good rates if you are calling computer to land line / cell phone. If you don’t have a built in microphone / headset you can get one for a relatively cheap price at your local computer mega store. This does work with dialup as well, however sometimes there is voice distortion, so I would really only recommend it for those with high-speed.

I don’t have AIM – because I’m kind of anti-AOL; but if there are enough of you crazies out there who use it often, maybe I’ll think about downloading it……..

Monday, January 16, 2006

Not on the bandwagon

I confess, I am officially a yo-yo dieter. Over the past 7 years or so I have lost and gained the same 25 pounds about three times. So, it comes time again to do the same. No quick fix, just with good ol’ eating better and exercise. As much as I’m tempted to try Trim Spa to speed things up, I’m secretly (or not so secretly) afraid that it would make my brain fry and I’d start and acting and talking like Anna Nicole Smith. So not worth it!

In my experience, there’s not really a way to trick yourself into being in the right mind set either. Each time I have lost weight, it’s just because I was ready to do it – something in my brain just clicked. So, I’m not on the New Years Resolution bandwagon, it just so happened that I decided to be healthier shortly after 2006 began; it’s purely coincidental.

I don’t make New Years Resolutions. Starting over on January 1st seems like a good idea – the beginning of a New Year, a seemingly fresh slate. But really, it is a purely arbitrary date that some yahoo decided to push on the people. If you’re not ready to start over (and usually, you aren’t ready if someone ELSE decides the time) 99.9% of resolutions will fail. Then you just end up making yourself feel worse than you did before. Focus on changes or resolutions when you are ready to really make changes – if you think about it, any time is a good time, every second, every hour and every day is fresh and new. You can start over any date – it’s just as arbitrary as January 1st.

OK, off my soap box. So, what am I doing to help “perder peso”? I started a food journal – this was stolen from my old Weight Watchers days. I write down everything, even if it’s not the best choice. I also keep track of my water and fruits and veggies, how many times I go to the bathroom and the consistency of such. I realize that’s TMI, but since I’ve been having bowel issues in Mexico I figured I should keep track of what’s going on. That way if I have to go to the doctor I will have a better idea of how my body reacts. FYI - In case you are wondering, more often than not since I’ve been back in Mexico I’ve had my shit together, if you know what I mean. Much more pleasant not being in constant poop distress!

I also take a couple minutes each morning to jot down how I’m feeling emotionally. This is because I was getting sick of being so down and depressed, so I figured it would be a good thing to get those feelings down, and hopefully let them go. Seems to be affecting me in a positive way so far – but we’ll see how she goes.

What else? Mostly I’m just trying to make better choices; breakfast everyday that’s not a coke and two cinnamon pop tart (usually oatmeal or a slim fast shake), taking vitamins and fiber, and eating 3 – 5 veggies and fruits per day ( I know it should probably be 5 – 7, but I’m starting with realistic goals). I don’t have a system of counting calories or anything – we all know that a grilled chicken breast is better than a greasy greasy burger, veggies are better than candy bars, chips and fries, and that oatmeal is better than sugar coated sugar wowies, so it’s really not all that hard.

There’s also the not eating until I’m going to burst thing. That helps a ton – only eating when I’m hungry and stopping when sated, not when I can’t fit anymore food down my esophagus. Let’s face it, it may be tasty, but do you really taste it after the 100th bite? I also am drinking 1 – 2 liters of water a day (8 cups or 64 oz), NOT drinking much alcohol, and increasing my exercise a bit. Last week was primarily my 20 minute Pilates DVD and 30 minutes of knee exercises (which I should be doing ANYWAY) on alternating days. This week Keith and I are adding 20 – 30 minute walks during lunch 3 times a week.

Humph. Interesting. I didn’t think I was really making lots of changes, but I guess I have. Doesn’t seem like much when you’re ready to do it, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not being “perfect”. I did eat an entire box of Mac N Cheese (with 1/2 butter and skim milk, at least) for dinner. Really though, perfection is not what I am striving for. Every positive choice I make that one more than I made before, and one more my body will thank me for down the road. That’s what I’m aiming for.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Archeological Zone

Keith and I had a fun adventure this weekend - on Saturday we went to two local archeologial zones. Apparantly, there are over 2000 in Mexico, which is more than any other country. We actually got lost trying to find one, but ended up backtracking and seeing a site about 1.5 hours north of Toluca called Huamango, which I knew we passed on our drive to Toluca from Michigan. Here are a couple pics...

The original inhabitants of both of these places are unclear, but they were constructed in early 900 AD, and evenutally taken over by the Aztecs (or, Mexicas..pronounces me-shee-cas). Pretty cool places, I would say!

The second place was only 10 miles north of Toluca, and its name is Calixtlahuaca. VERY COOL! Theres something kind of mystical about these places, they're arrangment and the feeling!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Suggestions, anyone?

In order to bulk up our cirlce of friends, I decided that Keith and I are going to join a bowling league starting next week. Hey man, if a place has a 20 foot bowling ball and pin outside, it has to be fun, right? There's a chick at work who currently is in a league, and she suggested it - we're actually pretty psyched!

Here's the problem though, we have to come up with a team name by Monday. PLEASE! Post your suggestions! There is no prize involved, but you will live in infamy at the SuperBol in Mexico if we become the champions and have our name emblazoned on a plaque!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wet Foot

I went to get a car wash today finally, and decided to stop at a place less than a mile from our house. Not an American car wash, mind you, but a concrete lot where they have many men with buckets, a trough full of water and a few vacuums. Its only 20 pesos, and it looked like they do a good job…….so I get out of the car and promptly step right into a water trench, where I managed not only to soak my foot but also to twist my bad knee.

The guy was cleaning out the trash, and almost threw away the ice scraper that my Dad put in there (he didn’t know what the heck it was), and then it takes the guy a half hour to clean it – while there were three other guys standing around that could very easily have been helping him. And I was on my lunch break, so it didn’t leave me much more than 20 minutes to get home and eat.

He did a pretty decent job, but the moral of the story is you get what you pay for, either in quality OR time. I wish they had touchless car washes at the gas stations here…..but come to think of it, I haven’t seen an automatic wash here at ALL! I think next time I will just ask the guy at work to do it, I see him washing other peoples cars when he’s done doing the concrete mixes…...he hates to be idle.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


MEXICAN ANNIE AND RON! Muchas Felicidades para tu boda! Vegas style’s the way to go! I can’t wait to see the video!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And now for my other personality.....

OK, now that I’m finished depressing the world let me tell you what has been good. I’m getting more responsibility and challenges at work, and starting to understand how things function. We’re beginning to make some great friends, which will really help settle in. I think Keith and I are going to join a bowling league, which starts next week. I also really really like my house. It felt good to get there after the three days of driving (which went without incident). It feels like home, especially now because I have some fantastic pictures of my family and Pat O’Brien hanging all around (I think I posted some of the pics before – they are the ones our super Photographer friend Michelle took before we skipped the country). We have a satellite dish finally, so we are watching lots of cool movies and super awesome shows (in English!), and we should have internet access sometime next week (keep you fingers crossed).

I also really like being able to let my cats outside. I was delighted to look out the window the other day and see Thalia jumping about 10 feet in the air to try to catch a butterfly! It was so comical! Milo doesn’t have much interest in butterflies. I think its because he’s a Caucasian cat. You know, he only has a vertical jump of about two inches…..

The other bonus is that I’m beginning to plan my mini-vacation when Pat O’Brien comes for 10 days next month. I’m pretty sure we’re headed to Acapulco, because that’s the closest place with sunny beaches and warm weather. AND, because Apasco has a plant there, we get like a $50 discount on rooms at select hotels! We’re only going for three nights, but it is pretty cool to think an awesome destination like that is only 3.5 hours away!

I finally get paid, and I want to come home

I’ve lived here for about months, and I am getting my first paycheck Friday. I am very excited! Things that have been in limbo will finally start to fall in place, and I can start making a budget and living a semi normal life. I also, as a bonus, get $180 per month in “vales”, which essentially are vouchers. I can use them like cash at many restaurants and Wal-Marts. I guess they are like food stamps – it’s the only thing I can compare it to.

Anyway, I apologize again for not writing much. Its been a function of not having convenient internet access and not really wanting to write much. I feel like this should be a positive reading experience for everyone, and frankly, it hasn’t been all that positive as of late. But, I realize, my intent for this blog was not to entertain but rather share all the ups and downs of this experience. So, let me try to share what’s been going on.

Apparently, it’s completely normal. Or else that’s what the expert cultural training consultants told me this summer. Everyone experiences a phase where they just want to go home. Everything about the new country irritates them, and they get incredibly home sick. That’s what I’m going through right now – and it might be that I just spent two weeks at home for Christmas, but still, coming back here was T-O-U-G-H. The little things that only slightly bothered me in the beginning make me want to shoot myself now, and the things that I did enjoy really aren’t that spectacular. In fact, I decided that there is really nothing that I enjoy about daily life here. The traffic sucks, I despise fearing for my life every time I drive along side a bus (which is pretty much constantly), I hate getting bombarded by people selling things or begging IN the street at stop lights, it makes me cringe to think that it takes one month for a letter to get to me, I really don’t like the food, the air is terrible, I can’t stand not being able to communicate, I hate not getting jokes, the zillions of stray dogs are depressing, I’m always freaking cold AND I CAN’T FIND TATER TOTS OR CANNED FRENCH CUT GREEN BEANS!!!!!! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

*sigh* So there it is. I want to come home. Where people know how to drive and obey traffic signals; where tater tots and French cut green beans abound. I told Keith the other day how incredibly thankful I was that he is here with me, because I’m pretty sure I would be retarded amounts of miserable if I was by myself. I guess, however, that the consultant’s job really did pay off, because one of the things that is keeping me from packing up my brother and the cats is the fact that this feeling will go away, and I will be able to actually enjoy myself……or so they say. Hey, I figure everything else they told me has been true, so I choose to trust them.

AND I know its all part of the experience, and this is something I have wanted forever. So, I’ll be a tough girl, take it head on, stiffen up my upper lip, suck it up, take one for the team, keep my chin up and all that jazz and see it through. Because that’s just how I do – even if I complain a bit along the way.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Hey Girlie! If you weren’t already, now you and Matt are officially pod-cast internationally  I listened to you somewhere around Monterrey! Thanks for keeping my mind off the miles and miles of desert!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

WOW! Has it been that long?

Geez, I see that Dec 20 was my last post. That was three days before I left for home. And guess what? I'm still here! In the US at least. I flew into Chicago and spent a day or so with Pat O'Brien, and then after taking him to the airport (he spent Christmas with his parents in Tuscon) I drove to Saginaw to hang with the Mayer family. It was a great visit! Got to see the whole fam damily and play Dance Dance Revolution on PS2. Playing it wasn't nearly as enjoyable as watching my dad and uncle's take part. We were cracking up!

The other major event while I was home was purchasing a car. Most of you know my car woes from reading this blog, and, as you know I was unsuccessful at securing a loan to purcahse one south of the border. So, Keith and I decided ROAD TRIP TIME!