Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Thoughts for today...

Teaching high school students is much different than college. After two days, I would venture to say that all the students I have are pretty good: motivated, intelligent, insightful. It is just curious to see how quickly they begin to giggle, gossip, or put on the cool facade.

It's probably because it has been so long since I was in my teens that I have forgotten how consumeristic teenagers are. They are excessively concerned about where they should shop and eat. Of course, most of these students come from financially fortunate families (the summer school tuition is not cheap and they can afford to indulge their intellects rather than get a summer job). I probably was the same way, I have just selectively forgotten that period of my life.


Now that Sara and I are going to be on opposite sides of the country, we are going to neeed two cars (and I was talking about my students being consumeristic...). Sara and I went to test drive a few today. We would really like to get a Prius, but there is a six to eight month wait on them. That also means that the price you pay for it is highly inflated.

So we looked at some other options.

I was curious to drive the strange looking Element. It would be a practical car because it seems like we are always transporting stuff around (mostly a whiny dog - see the post from a few days ago). It ran well. I am drawn to its unusual design and quirky nature. Sara did not like it, though. Ultimately, however, I did feel like I was driving a delivery truck rather than a car.

At the Honda dealer, however, we did see an Insight that was for sale. Although it is a hybrid (which we like), the design is not what we need right now. Nonetheless, we took it out for a spin just to see what hybrids drive like. It wasn't bad. Probably the weakest part was lack of quick acceleration. It was a perfectly good car for city/urban commuting. Unlike the Prius, however, this car is not selling, and Honda is probably going to discontinue it.

The last car we tested was the Vibe. I liked it a lot and it is on the top of this list, at least for right now. Much to ponder...


Somehow, in the next six weeks, I need to finish teaching the aforementioned summer course, pack all my belongings, move to Boston, sort out the things I will need for year (both academically and personally), pack those up, drive cross-country, move into a new house, learn my way around a new community, start a new job, and prepare a new course.

Hmmmm. Maybe it is time to open that bottle of tequila I broght back from Mexico. It won't help me accomplish any of those things, but at least I will sleep better.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I started teaching summer school today.

The course is Culture and Human Behavior. This not my area of expertise, but the students are pre-college (still in high school), so the material does not have to be too sophisticated. The class meets everyday for three weeks (M-F 10-12, and M & Tue 1-3, with fieldtrips Wednesday and Thursday afternoons). It is pretty intense, but the pay is actually quite good.

The problem is that I need to start organizing things for the big changes that are coming up.

My life is still a chaotic mess.


Friday, June 25, 2004


Bar Harbor
Acadia National Park
Mount Desert Island



Occasional Rain

Whining Dog
Happy Dog
Tired Dog

Blueberry Beer

Sara's Birthday
Romantic Dinner
Watermelon Tourmaline


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Missing Bag: I went to the airport Friday morning and I spotted it throught the window of the dark baggage office. I hunted down an employee and I finally got my bag. The one with the bottle of tequila in it. I sure could have used a few shots throughout the whole ordeal.

Maine: It was wonderful. More later...

Return to "real-life": The only problem with running away from it all for a few days, is that the "all of those few days piles up and it is waiting to pounce on you when you get back. My desk/office/apartment/life is such a mess right now. The prognosis for an improvement is not good.

That's all for now. I am very tired.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


I am back from my trip to Mexico, but I have been cranky ever since my return on Tuesday. Cranky and tired. That is why I have not posted until now.

Why, you may ask.

Because the airline lost my two bags somewhere between the time I cleared customs with them in DC and my arrival in Providence.

"They'll be on the next flight from DC that arrives in a couple of hours," they claimed. "We will have them delivered to your house."

I stayed up a good part of the night waiting for the stupid bags to be delivered. They never came.

In the morning, I got a call. "You got two bags that were missing?"

"Yeah," I replied. "When will you deliver them?"

"In an hour, hour and a half."

Two and a half hours later. A car pulls up and a guy opens the hatchback. He stares blankly into the pile of luggage in the back of his car. I run up and see one of my bags.

"That's one of them," I point out.

"Yeah, I don't know where the other one is. I'll have to go back to the airport and sort it out."

Later that morning, I returned to the airport. After much running around, I finally find out my other bag is in Raleigh, NC. Why? I have no clue. The people there say they will get it for me.

Later that aternoon, I return to the airport. They tell me the bag is still in NC. No one there is replying to the messages they send nor answering the phone.

Back at home, I call the airline 800 number. After about 40 minutes on hold, I speak to a real person. After giving my info, she puts me on hold. When she comes back on the line, she tells me that she talked to someone in NC and my bag is there. They will send it to me tomorrow.

This morning I get a call from the Providence rep who has been helping me. She tells me that the NC people sent my bag and it should arrive at 2 pm. At 3 pm, I call to see if the bag arrived. No.

After looking into the matter, it appears that the flight from NC to DC was late and the bag probably did not make the connection. Although, no one is sure the bag is in DC. It will probably be on the next flight from DC, scheduled to arrive at 6:30. Well, because of bad weather, that flight is now scheduled to arrive at 11:00.

So what's in this bag? Most of the presents I got Sara on my trip, a few things I salvaged from my house, and most of my clothes that I took on the trip.

I would probably be more laid back about this if it were not that we are supposed to go to Maine tomorrow for our post-graduation (much-needed) vacation.

I might still go out to the airport tonight to see if the bag is on that VERY delayed flight from DC.

I am glad we are driving to Maine, that is if the bag ever arrives.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Tomorrow I go back to the country of my birth. My Mexico, or at least Mexico City, is a Mexico that does not exist anymore. It lives only in my memory. The real city has changed, grown, evolved; as it very well should.

I will be a foreigner in my own country. I have become a pinche gringo. Although somehow I am still a chilango. Most of you won't know what these terms mean. Oh well...I am too tired to explain.

I find it ironic that I am heading to Mexico where it is cooler than here. Today was our first steamy summer day here. Two days ago we were struggling to get above 60 degrees. Mexico City seems to be in the mid 70s during the day.

One last thing: if you are ever in the Providence area, be sure to eat at Madeira. It is a Portuguese restaurant in East Providence. It is amazing! Not so good if you are a vegetarian, though. I had an scrumptious Paelha that was HUGE. I ate about half and brought the rest home. I heated it up for dinner and it was enough for both Sara and me.

Have a good weekend everyone and I will see you next week!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Return to Mexico III

I have realized that if I am going to get to the point of this story before I leave in two days (ie. why I am going back to Mexico), I need to move ahead quickly.

Two events in the fall of 1985 shook up the unstable status of quo of my broken family. The first was the huge earthquake in Mexico City in September. The area where we lived did not see major damage, but the devastation in the other parts of the city was striking. Events like this force individuals to reexamine their lives, and we were no exception.

The second event was when my aunt (my father’s sister) pulled my mother aside and told her that she needed to get on with her own life. She also told her that she should not wait for my father to come back. When pressed, she informed my mother that my father was living with someone else.

After this news, my mother asked my sister and me how we felt about moving to the US. I wholeheartedly welcomed the idea. The pollution and overcrowding of Mexico City was beginning to overwhelm me. Moreover, I had always felt like a foreigner in Mexico and I hoped that I would fit in better in the US (this did not pan out – but that’s another story for a different time). Most important, though, I though I could run away from the pain the whole situation had brought upon me.

Not wanting to uproot my sister and me in the middle of the school year, my mother decided to put off the move until our summer trip to the US. Afraid that my father would attempt to prevent us from moving, we did not tell him of our plans. We packed just the essential things we needed and sent them with a friend who was also moving to the US. In the summer of 1986 my mother, my sister, and I moved to California.

When my father found out about our intention to remain in the US, he was not very happy, but he soon accepted the situation. He said he would keep our house in Mexico should we want to come visit or if we ever wanted to move back.

My sister and I eventually did go back to visit and stayed in our old house. Over the years, however, certain things in the empty house began to deteriorate so that we could no longer stay there. For example, the water heater no longer worked, so we could not have a hot shower. On subsequent visits, we stayed with my relatives and eventually with my father and his new family (again, another story for another time).

On my last visit to Mexico, I returned to the house with Sara to show her where I had grown up. The house was like an eerie time capsule from the time we left. It was like a place frozen in time. During this visit, I realized that this unnatural tie needed to be cut. There were a few things my sister and I probably wanted to salvage, but the house needed to be emptied and sold.

Given the time and financial constraints of a graduate student, the need to coordinate with my sister, and probably further avoidance of the issue, four years went by before my sister and I planned the trip to empty the house.

On Wednesday I will board an airplane to Mexico to confront some of the skeletons in the closet of my past and on Friday my sister and I will enter a place where it is still 1986 to salvage some memories and discard others. Hopefully we will clear the air of an old house and allow it to become someone else’s new home.

It will undoubtedly be an emotionally difficult time.

I doubt I will be able to post from there, but I will share what happened upon my return.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Return to Mexico II

[Note: If you want to read this chronologically, start with the previous post - if you have not read it already]

When we returned to Mexico at the end of August, my father had indeed moved out. Stories emerged from people we knew that told of various times my father had been spotted over the years with other women. We all felt confused, betrayed, emotionally wrought. I cried, I yelled in my own quiet space, and I withdrew into my dark, quiet, and tumultuous world. At the same time, I built up a facade. One where I could smile and say that I was doing ok; one where I could try to confront the challenges of becoming an adolescent. This mask was built on denial. I never admitted to anyone what was going on with my family. When friends stayed over and asked me where my father was, I would say that he was on a business trip or that he had gotten an apartment closer to where he worked because it took to long for him to commute during the week.

My mother after overcoming the shock of what had happened began to attempt to salvage her marriage. She began attending counseling and asked my father to join her. He half-heartedly went with her a few times, but that did not seem to lead to any form of resolution.

Ironically, my sister and I saw our father more after he had moved out than when he lived in the same house. He would come over to visit in the evenings and he would take us places on Saturdays. I never really enjoyed these visits because there was a swelling anger in me towards him. What bothered me the most was that he would not tell us where he lived, nor would he give us his home phone number. He had a pager that we would call when we wanted to get in touch with him.

After some months, the routine became normal. Or at least it seemed that way. I was a mess inside, but I felt like I needed to continue with my life or at least try to. Instead of confronting the demons that where eating me up, I chose to ignore them and deny their existence. I think the whole family took this approach. My mother held out hope for her marriage and an eventual return of my father. She did not want to alienate my father by pushing for a resolution. My father, on the other hand, seemed content with the situation, despite the familial chaos he had caused.

And so things went on for over a year: my father growing more content with the status quo, my mother’s hopes vanishing, and my self-esteem plummeting. Until someone else spoke up to shake up the situation and foster in a change...

I will get to that next time.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

I am returning to Mexico City next week. It has been over four years since I was last there. The reason I am going back is a long story. One I will probably tackle in installments.

Let me go back twenty years, when I was a gangly thirteen year-old, just about to enter the difficulties of puberty. I lived in Mexico with my parents and my younger sister. For those of you who don’t know, my father is Mexican and my mother is American. After they were married in the US, they moved to Mexico City where I was born and grew up. Almost every summer, my mother, sister, and I went to California to spend a couple of months with my maternal grandparents. My father would join us for the last few weeks and we would all return together.

Growing up, I never questioned the stability of my family. In fact, as I saw friends who had divorced parents, I always felt fortunate that my parents were together. My sister and I did not see my father much, though. During the week he was always at work, usually coming home after we had gone to bed. He also worked at least half a day on Saturdays, and Sundays we would go to my grandmother’s house where my sister and I would mingle with my cousins and the adults retreated to a different part of the house.

It was June 1993. The school year was coming to an end and I was relieved to have all my exams behind me. I was looking forward to escaping the summer heat and pollution of the city and spending a quiet summer in Sierra foothills of California with my grandparents. One morning I walked past my parents room and I saw them sitting on the edge of the bed talking. My mother looked upset and my father looked nervous. This is one of those images that will remain with me forever. Every detail is still there, the ugly orange knit cardigan my mother was wearing and the ratty yellow bathrobe my father had on. The stale smoke that wafted through the air from all the cigarettes my father had been smoking. They told me to go somewhere else, do some chore probably. So I left.

During that talk, my father told my mother that he was going to move out that summer while we were in the US. He needed time and space to think. He wanted to evaluate his marriage and what he wanted from life. He told her, however, that my sister and I were not to know until we got back.

My mother, devastated, tried but eventually could not keep this news from us. We knew something was wrong and she finally shared what she knew. That was one of the most difficult summers I ever had.

More to come...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Sara had a meeting with her new employers in Boston. She missed her bus in the morning, though. So I had to drive her up there. I am actually getting used to the drive by now.

I stopped by the apartment we put in an application for in Boston. It is a nice place. I hope we get it.

I found a house in Walla Walla from here (with much help from my new friend who is over there). I was faced with choosing a furnished house with an unfenced yard or an unfurnished house with a fenced yard. Since I am dragging our poor dog cross-country, the least I could do was get a place where he could spend time outside. He will really like that after living in an apartment for two years.

Speaking of the dog, we had our yearly visit for his checkup and shots. He was very nervous this time, but he was very good. Now he is very tired (he also came along for the ride to Boston). He is sleeping here in my office, making a lot of strange noises. It is actually quite entertaining.

I can't believe I am going to Mexico in a week. I will explain why soon.

I wish life would slow down a little so I can catch my breath (and build up some more energy).

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

We survived!

We made it through the utter chaos and pandemonium that was the graduation circus/carnival.

None of the relatives killed each other. In fact, most of them were on their best behavior - more or less.

We are exhausted, though.

Our dog was VERY confused. It seems like each day a new set of people came to our apartment. Usually nobody comes to our apartment.

I now have a piece of paper that has some Latin written on it. I think it says that I am now a Doctor in Philosophy in the area of Anthropology. Or something like that...It is actually a fairly droll piece of paper. Some of the other degrees I have gotten are much prettier - more colors and designs.

I had a couple of strange dreams the night before commencement.

Dream One: Instead of gowns, the graduates were wearing prisoner uniforms. We had a big ball and chain attached to our legs. On the ball was written, "DISSERTATION". To graduate, we needed to carry the ball and chain up to the stage, where with a big hammer and wedge they would break the chain and set us free.

Dream Two: A long time ago, my mom bought me a t-shirt that says "Hookt on Fonix rilly wurkt fer Mee!" as a joke. In the dream, I was wearing this shirt, but it had an addendum to it: "See I evin gotta Ph.Dee!"

Tomorrow the dog has to go to the vet.