Monday, February 27, 2006

Oh, the humanity.....

Today is a dark dark day for me. I feel like wrapping myself up in a Mexican blanket and sleeping for weeks. Pat left this morning. It was by far our most emotional goodbye. I'm still not doing well, but I made it to work and seem to be functioning.

I don't have a lot to say right now, but we did do a ton of stuff this past week. Eunice got in on Friday. I'm so glad she's here - I'm sure she'll help me not be in a pity party for the next couple of days. Friday night we did a tour bus of Mexico City, Saturday we went to see the Monarch Butterfly migration, and yesterday we had friends over to chill and have some barbeque burgers and dogs. Keith did a much better job of describing our adventures, so because of my current fragile and tragic state I will refer you to his blog and photo site for details.....

Keith's Picture site

Keith's Blog Site

Thats pretty much all I have to say right now. I will (hopefully) write more later when I muster up the will to survive.....

Monday, February 20, 2006

Burn Baby Burn

Pat O’Brien arrived safe and sound Friday night, and I must say it was (as I’m sure you, dear reader, remember from my anticipation post) intense. I did not upchuck my McPollo though, so that’s a good thing.

Saturday we decided to take a chill day, and went to the movies in the late afternoon to see Bandidas. Here’s a tip, unless you’re in the mood to enjoy and laugh at how terrible it is, don’t go see it. Entertaining, and well worth the $4 each we paid, but not a good movie at all. After the movie we decided we were going to be brave and visit a local cantina. Keith is always trying to get me to go to this place called “Charley’s” because he says it looks like it’s owned by an old American retiree with long white hair and beard with a towel over his shoulder. I think it looks like drug dealers hang out there.

Anyway, since we had Pat as reinforcements, I figured it would be a good time to try it. We never made it there. I wanted to first check out a little strip with some bars in it that was right around the corner. So we did, and it almost looked like an Irish Pub from the outside, and it had Guinness glass etchings in the window, so Pat O’Brien, naturally was game. Turns out to be a Spanish bar, but they had Irish Car Bombs, of which we did five, Tequila with sangrita, of which we had four, and beer, of which we had a lot. The staff was really nice and I think Keith and I might have found our local beer hang out spot……Plus, the bill for the three of us was only $60!

That did make for some hung-over boys on Sunday morning. I felt pretty good, mostly because I didn’t drink that much because I was the driver.

Anyway, we met our friend Veronica in Mexico City, had some Mexican breakfast, and made our way to the Pyramids. HOLY COW. Mega impressive. I know I told myself that there is just too much to see and I don’t want to visit any one place more than one time, but this, this I will go back to – probably when my parents come out. My legs are sore from climbing both the pyramids of the sun and moon, and my chest and arms are F-R-I-E-D, but it was so amazing. Veronica is just as burned as I was (damn tank tops) and Pat O’Brien is pretty much fried toast too, but just on his neck and ears. Apparently his plethora of arm hair provides a natural SPF protection. Somehow Keith managed to escape burning. I’m not sure how.

After the pyramids we had a quick lunch at a local joint. We also tried Pulque, which is a fermented drink from the maguey or agave plant. Very traditional pre-Hispanic (i.e. Aztec) drink of the Gods. Or, as they say “leche de la vaca verde” (milk from the green cow). I guess because it comes from a giant green plant and its kind of milky looking. Think, tequila beer. Tequila is distilled, beer is fermented. Anyway, it tasted like ass. It tasted like Keith’s burps smelled all day. Bile. Ew. But, I highly recommend everyone try it at least once, just to have the experience. Keith did not partake, because he was barfing all over the place. (OK, just twice, in the parking lot where we were meeting Vero and in the parking lot where we were eating).

Now, we will be on our way to Acapulco in about an hour and a half. Its pretty much right before spring break, so it should be festive but relatively low key. I am really looking forward to relaxing! It’s just too bad that it’s only for 3 days……

I’ll be posting pics of the pyramids and such probably after we get back from Acapulco. We’re taking a computer with us, but only to download the photos from my camera (since I have a teeny tiny memory stick). I don’t know if I’ll be sober enough to type updates to the blogg……but stranger things have happened!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Anticipation.....

Some people thrive on anticipation. Not me. Suspense and anticipation have a tendancy to make me nauseous. As I am now. Its approximately t-7 hours and counting until Pat O'Brien arrives, and I feel like I am going to upchuck my McPollo sandwich any second now. In a good way I guess.

I feel the same way when I watch intense movies. Well, that and I clench my teeth so much I get migranes (yes, I do utilize a bite plate to keep me from wearing my teeth down to stubs). Which is why I don't like to pay to go to the movie theatre to see a movie like that. Its like, "Hey - here's a great idea Mr. Movie Theatre! Why don't I pay you $15 to sit in here for two hours and come out feeling like I want to yak all over this ugly already mulitcolor carpet while I have a pounding tension headache!". No sir. I'd rather pay my dough to see a comedy or chick flick, where I know there will be no ralphing.

Some of the plans for Pat O'Brien's trip are finalized! We were going to go to a dance on Saturday night, but I want to be refreshed and ready for the Pyramids of Teotihuac√°n on Sunday, so we're not going to be dancing after all. Saturday will be a lazy day around Toluca. Maybe we will take a trip up the volcano. Then, Monday we head to Acapulco until Thursday! I inquired about all inclusive plans at our hotel, but I don't think it would be a good deal for us. We would only use it for the drinks, and we would have to each drink 14 beers/margaritas each day to make it worth it. While I know Keith and Pat could do it, I certianly can't. Besides, we would feel pressured to stay and eat at the hotel if we got it. I want to experience some of the outside restauruants.......I'm sure that we'll manage to make it work somehow!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Boliche Bummer

Last night was dissapointing for me. Strikeasaurus (or, Strike And Sanrus as it says on the score sheets) played sans me last night, due to an impressive migrane. I get headaches often, probably once a week or so, but only get blessed with the big ones occasionally. This was the worst one I had here. It was throwing spears out of my right eyeball. Sucked my arse.

Anyway, since the Excedrine wasn't working well, I figured that going to a bowling alley with shit piles of smoke and loud cracks of the pins from all the strikes I throw probably wouldn't help things either. So I stayed home and Fernando played for me. Keith said they did OK, although they lost all the matches because they played a super awesome team (actually against Alejandra, the girl I work with, who is in first place for the women, and won last seasons tourney). I just layed around and tried to get rid of my head ache. It eventually subsided, but only after I cracked my neck (which, I am trying to stop because I'm pretty sure I'm going to give myself arthritis of the neck, which probably isn't very fun.).

Its gone today, thankfully. Once in a while I get the ones where they are still there in the morning. Then I have to sleep all day to get rid of it. Definitely not cool.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wow. Now that's a pall bearer

Today, as I was driving home for lunch, I came across an usual sight. Keith said he has seen it before, but it was the first time for me. I have seen processions, mostly in celebration of some saint or la virgen. But today, I saw a funeral. Well, first I saw this large arrangement of flowers, kind of like a banner, then I saw a about 100 people bearing lots of flowers, then I saw the casket, riding on the shoulders of 8 men.

Now, when you are a pall bearer for a funeral in the US, you don't have to work that hard, unless there are steps involved. 100 feet, max. These guys were WORKING - the casket was rested on thier shoulders, it was 80 degrees out, and the nearest church was at least a mile from where I saw them, and the closest cemetary was at least 2 miles from that! But there they were, paying thier last respect with thier sweat and tears. Quite a feat, I must say. It left quite an impression on me.

Still, I found it kind of strange to drive by a casket on my lunch hour......

Monday, February 13, 2006

Crap - again

Ugh. I just had a horrible realization. I am completely holding myself back from speaking Spanish. I understand lots. I mean, almost 80% of what people say. But I don’t respond because I don’t know exactly what to say. This is a huge problem. It’s like I am trying to comprehend everything in my head, to gather everything, with the hopes that one day everything will just come together and I will speak fluently. That’s not really how thing work, I realize. I don’t know exactly what my problem is. I don’t know if it’s because I despise like feeling stupid – ok, yeah I do know that it’s because of that. I hate sounding like a 2 year old kid when I try to put sentences together. It stinks.

During my intensive Spanish lessons in Chicago was when I first noticed this issue. I would read things, listen, and understand, but it was like pulling teeth getting me to speak. One of my teachers, Frida, told me that she wasn’t worried about my comprehension or writing, she was worried about my speech! And not because I couldn’t do it – I have been told numerous times when I do speak I speak very well – it’s just because I won’t do it. I dread it.

Today I was reviewing a standard with a co-worker, Javier, who also wishes to know English better. He had a great method – he read the standard in English, and translated it out loud into Spanish. And he did very well! So then he says, OK, your turn. And I froze. Like a deer in headlights. My heart started pounding. I felt tears welling up in my eyes, and tightness in my chest. Even though I knew what the first word was, I couldn’t get it out. The first words out of my mouth were “It’s hard because I don’t know the words”. You know what, because I said that - that’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t do it because I wouldn’t let myself.

After I tried sixteen different ways to get out of it, he finally told me – you NEED to do this, you’re not getting out of it. I did it. Don’t get me wrong, it was horrible. It took me ½ hour to read a 7 sentence paragraph, but I did it. And I ended up learning twice as many words in an hour as I have the past two weeks.

Ugh. So, how does one overcome a fear like this? Just do it, right? Yeah, I don’t think so. I’m hoping that once my classes start I will loosen up a bit – the more I learn the more I won’t fear speaking. Or, maybe I will just start drinking at work. Liquid courage. I always speak better when I am a bit tipsy! It just really sucks, all this time I have been blaming Apasco for not getting me classes, and really it’s always just been me holding myself back. It’s a really crappy feeling, but hopefully it helps me move along.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Nice relaxing weekend

We actually didn’t have a ton of plans this weekend. We were just going to have breakfast with my friend Veronica and play with her new miniature schnauzer puppies. They are sooo super cute! Here’s a couple pics. They are so so tiny!

We met her at about 10:30 on Saturday morning, and picked up breakfast (which was consumme and barbacoa! A little strange for breakfast, but super YUMMY!) We were also tried something new - although I forget the name. It was either heart, or liver. With a ton of spices. I had a tiny piece, Keith took a whole giant bite, but we couldn't finish the taco. Organs just feel wierd in your mouth. Ick. She also picked up a six pack too. Again, a little strange, but what the heck ‘when in rome’. Our six pack turned into many more trips to the store for more beer, then into karaoke. I stopped drinking about 2pm though, because I am really trying super hard to not stuff myself with empty calories. Of course, since I wasn’t drunk, I got a little antsy about 4pm. These are times when I realize that I am super American. I like my space, I like my alone time. I just don’t like spending that much time with people who I don’t know really really well. So, I went home for a bit (left Keith there with Karaoke and Beer) then returned about 6pm. Then, we headed to play pool at a pool hall that Vero’s boyfriend owns. It was pretty cute – a little wooden bar in the corner and four pool tables.Then, Keith started doing crazy shots with a zillion different types of liquor, and by 8PM he couldn’t walk that well, and definitely couldn’t talk. So, I decided that since I can’t carry him if he passes out, it was time to go. We were home by 8:30! So I still had a relaxing night to myself!

Today, I slept in until 2. Keith wasn’t feeling quite right (surprise surprise) either, so it was better to just chill – we were going to go to Mexico City to check things out. I did manage to get the urge to clean, and unpacked the remaining boxes and put away the miscellaneous stuff in my office. It looks like a different room! It felt so good to get rid of more crap, I shredded tons of documents and receipts too – two more giant garbage bags, out the door. Now when Pat and Eunice get here they won’t think that I am a super slob-o-rama! And it just feels good to have things in place, you know? I feel complete.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tomorrow is always better

OK, so I'm not nearly in as much dispair as I was yesterday. Welcome to my life! More ups and downs than Cedar Point, America's Roller Coast! I think talking/emailing to friends and boliche helped that. I also found a free online counseling thing that I think will help satisfy my needs, at least until I can communicate well enough in Spanish to get a real shrink here. I told them my life story and they told me I'm not crazy :) Problem solved! OK, maybe not, but it will at least give me a venue with semi-professional consulations.....who speak English.

We met a new friend at Boliche last night. She's this adorable little 22 year old who chain smokes. She reminds me a lot of my ex-sister-in-law (except for the whole chain smoking thing), but Mexican. As a matter of fact, I might start calling her Mexican Kimmy. Anyway, we did OK, we only got 3 out of 6 points - but hey, thats cool. we both improved our averages.

I also am going to cancel my membership at Curves, because its super inflaming my knee, and it really is way too far away. There is a $10 penalty, and I loose my membership inscription, but its not as bad as it could have been. I found a different (real type, not curves) gym, much less expensive (I can buy memberships for me AND Keith for the same price) AND there is no contract AND it is butt loads closer. This will allow me to do some hard core strengthening on my knee, and hopefully it will stop bugging the bejesus out of me!

BTW - we're in single digits! Only 8 more days until Pat gets here!! 15 until EUNICE is here! WOOO HOOO! We're so popular!

One more random side note - I think Keith has a job! Of course, I don't think he's told them that he's going home for a month and a half, but maybe he'll figure out how to tell them later!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Crap

Yup, that’s pretty much what I feel like right now. There’s not really any good cause either. I had a pretty productive day at work, had good conversations with family and friends over the past couple of days. I guess I just have the blues.

I guess it’s fair to say that I expected this. Moving to another country poses a huge emotional burden on a person. HUGE. Somehow though, I managed to pass the preliminary psychiatric evaluation, even despite my other life goings on, and my emotional history. I have an obsessive compulsive personality that is prone to depression. I have been off and on medication for the past 7 years, and I also have been in and out of therapy for over 15 years (I think my first session was in the 4th grade). I’m not sure why – genetic pre-disposition, maybe? Yeah, that’s it! Always blame the parents! Seriously though, I guess I am destined to struggle with this for the rest of my life; even with medication and therapy, I don’t think it can ever really be fixed. It just comes and goes as it pleases. What a sad thought. I’m destined to never be completely happy on my own.

I would love to find a therapist here, but I really think that would be futile given the language barrier and all. And I don’t want to go back on medication because, well, I don’t like to be medicated frankly, even though I know they help. I think I am going to resort to doing some sort of online therapy. We’ll see how it goes.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Weekend Activities

First off, let me say "GOOOOO STEELERS!" I'm not a huge Steelers fan, but I am a big fan of any classic/great player that is missing a championship getting one....such as The Bus. It just felt good to see him hold that trophy.

Anyway. so, our activities this weekend were pretty limited. I just bought Keith a ticket home for April and May, so our funds (i.e. my funds) are running a bit tight. We did get to catch a movie Saturday night - we saw a 9:30pm show, with medium popcorn and pop for under $15! We decided to see Dick & Jane, with Jim Carey and Tea Leoni. Suprisingly, pretty good. It moved well, and had lots of good physical humor, but an interesting story line as well. It was either that movie, or Munich; and I am not a big fan of intense drama / suspense thrillers. It makes my jaw hurt (or, if I don't want it to hurt than I have to bring my bite plate with me....which make me look like a dork).

Sunday we were going to have a little Super Bowl party, but I didn't really invite anyone and the two people I did invite ended up not making it. So it was just me, Keith and Fernando. Ended up being OK though, we had enough beer for the three of us, and plenty of food. AND we got the game in English, so we were pretty happy. Now, I just need Keith to eat all the non-healthy left over food so I can jump back on the healthy eating train!

Oh yeah, Sunday morning Keith played basketball. I thought it was just a street pick up game I was volunteering him for, but turns out its a league with uniforms and refs to boot. A guy at my company plays, so I thought it would be a good idea so we could meet new people and give Keith someting fun to do as well. The team lost, but Keith did get to play one quarter. It was like he was sucking wind though - hard core cardiovasular activity at 9,000 feet altitude isn't kind on your lungs if your not used to it.

Today, for me, was a day of rest. Its Mexican Labor day, I guess. It was nice to just veg and sleep in until noon! I did get some laundry and other organizing done (I have than two weeks to get the house ready for Pat O'Brien and Eunice's visit); but mostly I was lazy. Tomorrow, back to the grindstone!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Volcanic and other Geological Activity

Yesterday, the volcano Popocatepetl (or, el Popo) awoke for a small spew. Just a little bit of smoke spewing but enough to make the news; as did "The Violence in Detroit". Some chick apparantly was shot and killed outside a club, which normally wouldn't make the news in Mexico City but apparantly thats what happens when the Super Bowl is in town.

Anyway, its very strange to think that there is an active volcano so close to me! Popo is about 30 miles south of Mexico City, and we're about 30 miles west of Mexico City. So if I know how to do geometry right (whats that pythagorean theorum thing again?) that means Popo is about 42.42 miles south east of Toluca. Much further away than the Nevado de Toluca, which is only about 15 mile south of here - but that volcano as been inactive for years.

Anywho, here's a pic:


Also, I had no idea that Mexico had like, 10 active volcanos. Here's a map of where they are - pretty much they run right along the San Andreas fault.


Speaking of the San Andreas fault (btw - the same fault that runs through Cali) apparantly there is an significant earthquake in Mexico City about every 4 - 6 months or so. By significant, I mean 4.0 to 6.0 on the richter scale. I'm not sure if we will feel them in Toluca, but man, I'm in Mexico City enough where I should probably brush up on my emeregency earthquake response. I wonder if sitting in front of my locker indian style with my arms crossed behind my neck head works for earthquakes.....

Friday, February 03, 2006

My two favorite Mexican kids in Mexico

After purchasing my new tables in Mexico City, we stopped for dinner at good ol' BK. We actually ended up staying there for quite a while, because believe it or not, going out to eat at a fast food restaurant is still a big deal in Mexico! Remember those days as a kid when it was a super duper treat to go to Mickey D's - what joy! what elation!

Thats pretty much what Alex and Fer were like while we were there (after they ate thier food, of course). It was either getting to play, or getting a happy meal - they (they meaning Alex, because Fer can't talk yet) chose juegos. They had a ton of fun in the Area de Juegos de Ninos - as is shown here in these pics. They were in there forever, as can be seen by the sweaty heads and crazy hair - seriously, they are too cute!

My New Table is Here!

YEAH! I got home today and my new tables and chairs were here! They are super super super cool :) Well worth the money, and well worth not being able to buy groceries this week (because I am BROKE!). Here are a couple pics....If you look closely you can see Keith assuming his usual position on the couch.

Time is flying by

It’s amazing how much faster time goes while you are occupied. This week has been good so far, because I have actually had lots to do besides fiddle with my iTunes library; which, by the way, can keep you occupied for HOURS! I can’t imagine that people who have 10,000 songs have time to do anything else but organize their music! Of course, most of them are probably slightly less obsessive compulsive about these types of things than I am. But I digress…..

Seriously, for the first time since I’ve moved here – I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday! Let alone February 1! That means I have been here for almost 3 months! Weird, isn’t it? Anyway, the faster time flies the better. That means that I am busier, which means (hopefully) that I’m making friends and learning new things. I’m a big fan of learning new things and having friends, so that means I will most likely be happy and not a cesspool of self pity.

What’s been keeping me occupied? I just got my mega tax worksheet thingy from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. It’s the biggest spreadsheet/file I’ve ever used. And not quite as user-friendly as TaxCut. There are about a billion things that I need to gather, so it will take me a while to drudge though that.

At work, I have started my “Programa de Inducci√≥n” (Induction Program) which is going to basically allow me to interview the top executives of the Technical Service division of the company, and get to know them and how their specific divisions operate a bit better. Good idea, except that my Spanish is still muy mal – and even though most of them speak some English, they were told to conduct these meeting/interviews in Spanish. SUCK! I had my first one Monday with the head of the CTC and it actually went OK. I did very well understanding, but at the end I felt like a tool because my responses were mostly “Si”, “No”, “yo entiendo”, and “Claro que si”. When it came to the end and he asked what I expected to get out of this experience, I didn’t have a lot to say (because I couldn’t!) and my brain hurt from concentrating so hard on what he had to say for 2 hours!

Today was the second at a plant in Mexico City. Good times! I love concrete plants! The guys who I interviewed were pretty cool, and it turns out one plays in a basketball league Sunday mornings close to our home, so I told him Keith would be there to help out :) He needs to get out more, anyway.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Obsessed with MySpace

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but Keith hooked me on the whole MySpace world. Yes, I realize I’m probably two years behind the curve, but hey, sometimes its better late than never. Anyway, it’s kind of cool because I’ve actually sent a few notes back and forth to people that I haven’t seen or talked to in a while. It feels pretty good to be “in” on what’s going on in people’s lives. And I feel cool because I have “friends”. The bad part is that I’m obsessed with getting messages and trying to change my format. That is not a good thing because I’m totally HTML illiterate. So if anyone wants to help……feel free to pass on some code!

WEEEE'RE BACK!


Yes, strikeAsaurus returned last night. I really wish that we had bowling shirts; it would make it so much cooler. And I’m sure it would help my average! There is a team called Las Abuelas (a couple of cute grandma’s) that have cute shirts, they crack me up! My goal last night – one strike each game and pull my average up over 80. I CAN DO EEEET! Actually, I diiiid eeeet! I had one strike (or chusa, if you wil!) per game, and one extra, and I can't remember exactly but my average was, but it was definitely over 80 by at least one or two pins. We ended up winning 5 points out of 8, which was pretty darn good, since you can only win a max of 6 out of 8 (you always get one point for showing up, and another for paying)!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

GOOD LUCK BRO!

Aw man, I feel like crap. I was supposed to call my brother back and I didn’t, so I didn’t get a chance to tell him good luck! He has an interview today with a company called Wall Street – it’s an English school in the local mall (Gallerias Metepec) that only hires native English speakers as teachers. We got the tip from a girl we met in Wal-Mart a couple weeks back. I hope it works out – Keith really needs to get out more in order to learn Spanish. As much as he would hope, sitting at home and doing Sodukus while watching Smallville isn’t going to improve his Spanish skills. As a side bonus he would earn some money, so I wouldn’t have to give him an allowance!