Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I can't make this up.

Sometimes I hate my job, I'm sure everyone does.

Sometimes I love my job, I'm sure everyone does, too.

Today I had both of these experiences. In the morning, I wanted to curl up under my desk and hope that the children would disappear. In an effort to be positive, I'll spare the details on the negative part and get to the silver lining of my day.

The students are in a unit of inquiry that looks into different perspectives and points of view, how these lead to conflict and how we have to listen to others to live together in harmony. To get the kids thinking about perspective and point of view, I decided to have them write a story about eating from the perspective of the food. Pretty straight forward, right? After 10 minutes of working, one kid raises his hand to ask a question. He asked the following:

"Miss, is it okay if the story's fiction?"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can you hear me now?

The following conversation took place between yours truly and a lovely employee of the Comision Federal de Electricidad. To preface the conversation, here in Mexico your light bill comes once every two months and you have about a week to pay it before they come and shut off your electricity. I always pay my bill within 48 hours of getting it. Partly because its only around 10 bucks and that doesn't break my bank, and partly because if I don't I'll most likely forget. Anyhow, this months bill was due October 23rd; I paid October 19th. Imagine my surprise upon arrival to Casa Alvarez to find my electricity had been shut off.

Me: Good afternoon, I have a question. I paid my bill with plenty of anticipation and today I arrived home to no electricity. Can you please tell me why?
CFE: Give me your Service Number.
Me: blah blah blah a list of 12 numbers in Spanish
CFE: Did you check your interrupter?
Me: You put a lock on my meter. I have no light.
CFE: Did you check your interrupter?
Me: What's does it look like?
CFE: I don't know. I've never been to your house.
Me: Well, could you explain it to me so I can tell you if I checked it?
CFE: Do you have a fuse or a breaker?
Me: Oh, I get it. I have a breaker. It's fine. Did you hear me when I told you that you cut off my light?
CFE: Your light is not cut off.
Me: Yes, it is.
CFE: No, it isn't.
Me: Whatever. Gracias.

Good thing I have neighbors who know how to use wire cutters. Long story, short. We cut the wire lock and turned the electricity back on. I just wonder, how can someone in an office, who hasn't been to my house, tell me that my light is on? Umm, ma'am, I'm in my house...The lights not on...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Is it all about me?

I will never claim to be selfless. In fact, I will claim to be selfish. I can't deny that I want things the way I want them, when I want them, with no ifs, ands or buts. I do consider that most often things can be done my way or the wrong way. However, in my selfishness (and maybe this is a selfish thought), I like to think that I consider the wants, needs, opinions, and desires of others.

I've noticed lately that most, if not all humans with whom I come into contact, share this general selfishness. I've also noticed that a lot of people are taking selfishness WAY too far. So far, that they end up putting their ever so precious self into danger.

There was a woman behind me on the way to school the other day and she couldn't handle the fact that I was in the fast lane and not going twice the speed limit. She couldn't even glance into the slow lane to notice that I was passing 5 cars and the moment the lane was free I moved over. While she was flashing her high beams and honking, I'm sure she sent me to a place far, far away that I have no desire to visit now nor in the afterlife. When she finally, a whole 30 seconds later, got to pass me, I noticed she had her young daughter in the car with her. One wrong move and she could have easily killed herself, her daughter, me and my child just because she thought she could go super fast and tailgate so close we were almost kissing bumpers at 50 mph.

Another example is the NWA flight where the pilots flew past their destination because they turned off their headsets and were using their laptops. These actions put their lives in danger along with hundreds of others. Now they will probably, and should, lose their pilot's licences and their livelihood. All because they were too selfish to focus on their job for the couple of hours it takes to fly from San Diego to the Twin cities.

I want to reiterate that I'm not writing to make any sort of claims of perfection. However, I think we all need to start considering others a lot more than we consider ourselves. It's so often that we hear: Do what's right for you. Don't worry about anyone else. Self first. Etc. You know what I'm talking about.

I've decided that I'm going to challenge myself to be less selfish, to consider others more, to eliminate my jealous and negative thoughts, to be thankful for all the things I do have. I hope you'll join me, even if it means just putting the seat down so your wife doesn't tell you to, or smiling at your coworker even though he/she makes you want to scream. I don't know what ideas you'll come up with, but I hope you'll share so that we can all start being a little more selfless and a little less selfish.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My, how you've grown

Baby Alvarez is getting bigger every day. I wore a skirt yesterday. Apparently I don't do this much because one of my students said, "Miss, are you really happy today? Why are you wearing those clothes?" I had to come clean and tell him that none of my normal clothes fit me, and maternity is still too big. Baby is almost 18 weeks old. I'm happy to report he is no longer puking, wretching, gagging, etc. This makes his mother extremely pleased.

Ramon is totally excited about the baby. He goes to bed after me, but sometimes when he gets in bed, I wake up because he's talking to my belly. You can tell Ramon is all about the baby, he didn't feel the need to include my face in the belly pics. You'll have to imagine my beautiful smiling face.

At 15 weeks

At almost 18 weeeks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The woman's woman

The following is a real event that occured in my home between 3:15 and 3:45pm.

A hole was drilled in the wall to make a place to hang my aprons. (Yes, I do realize how weird that sounds.)

Another hole was drilled in the wall to make a place to hang my calendar.

The entire floor was swept and dust cleaned from aforementioned holes.

Mexican red rice was cooked to delicious perfection.

Dishes were washed and kitchen was cleaned.

A load of laundry was done.

All of this was done by me and while wearing a skirt.
Bring it on, Baby Alvarez. Your mommy is a rockstar.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 crazy sometimes.

Driving in Mexico. Many will never have (or take) the opportunity to drive in this lovely country I call my home. The first months I was in a constant state of almost heart attack while behind the wheel. Now, my skin has been toughened and I can take on the biggest bus and the wildest taxi driver. There are some things you can't explain about it until you do it for yourself. In this post, I'll at least try to let you in on a few of the idiosyncracies of driving here.

1. I've gotten the question often enough, "Can you do that?" To which the only plausible answer is, "It looks like I already did."
2. Signs, speed limits, one-way streets, stoplights, brake lights, etc can be considered as suggestions, not requirements. Free right turns do not exist.
3. Lanes are also a suggestion. When in doubt, ask yourself this, "Do I fit?" If the answer is yes, it's a lane. If the answer is no, it's probably still a lane.
4. Busses will race and cut you off and start moving while you're getting on and off, just so that they can get to one stop and sit (while blocking traffic) for 10 minutes and drink a coke.
5. Speaking of busses, bus routes are also suggestions. Don't be surprised if your normal route one day ends up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, the driver probably forgot something at home.
6. There is a special dance that happens at the changing of a stop light. Since both running the red and jumping the green are acceptable, the cars magically drift through the intersection in slow-motion rivalling even the greatest choreographed ballet.
7. There's no such thing as a close call, you either hit or you don't.

Now that you know some general rules, I'll let you in on a few of my own secrets that just make me sense of the madness and make my own enjoyable moments.

1. Sometimes I drive down the middle of what I know is supposed to be one lane in each direction street just because I get sick of rule #3.
2. I never let cars in that don't use turn signals.
3. I use my horn; it's so satisfying.
4. I shake my head at people; It's even better when they're looking at me.

So, next time you're stuck in traffic or get cut-off. Thank God you're not driving in Mexico...and use your horn.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'd call myself trilingual.

I like to say I'm trilingual.

Why, you ask? Native English speakers, with little to no knowledge of the Spanish language, I invite you to decipher the following actual phrases commonly used among students.

1. My impress don't have tint.
2. My brother she have his bird day party old the day.
3. Miss, I can go to the nursery because my panza dolerme?
4. The proposite of that excursion was explore the piramid.

Have I stumped you yet? Here are the translations.

1. My printer doesn't have ink.
2. My brother(or sister, one must ask the name to determine gender) had his/her birthday party all day.
3. This is a question. Miss, May I go to the nurse's office because my stomach hurts?
4. The purpose of the field trip was to explore the pyramid.

These are just a few smatterings of how I prove that I'm not only fluent in English and Spanish, but also Spaniglish. Another example,

Teacher: "What are you doing?" Student: "Anything!"

I know my student means to say nothing, but I can't help but think that he or she is really trying to trick me. I think they're doing anything OTHER than what I've asked to be done.

Last, but certainly not least, the use of apostrophes. The following words, in Spanglish of course, all contain apostrophes.

1. Paren't
2. Wan't
3. Studen't

Oh, the list goes on and on. But, you get the picture. Spanglish isn't Spanish and I'm sure you concur that it's certainly not English. It's possible to speak it, write it, read it, etc. Doesn't that make it a language?

Excuse me, but I think I'll update my resume.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


As the US fights over healthcare, I spent my afternoon at the IMSS. That's Mexico's social security, or nationalized healthcare. It applys to all children and any person with a job. Through the IMSS you get paid sick leave, and in my case they will be paying my salary for the six weeks before and the six weeks after Baby Alvarez is born.

I must admit that most US citizens wouldn't accept for one second the quality of service, supplies, hospitals and doctor's offices. It's honestly pretty gross. The white sheets are graying. The walls look like they haven't been painted in years. The nurses don't use gloves when they give you a shot...You get the picture. On the other hand, I think to myself while I'm there, "If a third-world country like Mexico can provide nationalized healthcare, why is it so difficult for the US?" They can make this, albeit low quality, system work AND the senators, deputies, presidents, government offices, etc are still taking home huge chunks of tax pesos. I'm by no means an expert or really even that informed about the healthcare struggle in the US, but I like to have opinions any way.

On another, related, note, most people I know have horror stories about going to the IMSS. I must have an angel at the IMSS because so far, knock on wood, I've had no problems. I made changes to my schedule without standing in line, got an appointment (I need 5 to get maternity leave) within a week of when I asked, and my doctor is normal and seems to be up-to-date in her medical knowledge (not always a guarantee). Hopefully it will continue that way!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What's in a name.

I decided to name this blog Casa Alvarez and have it be focused around our home and life here in Mexico for a few reasons.

One obvious reason is that we're so far away from my family and friends which makes it hard to share the daily goingson of our little family. I want to be able to give people a peek into our life so you can see that a lot is different and a lot is the same. I think there are often so many things that I now consider normal, but to many are unfathomable, hysterical and/or just plain bizarre.

Another reason is that this is kind of a self-help outlet for me living abroad. One of the hardest parts of adjusting to life here has not, in fact, been getting used to the chickens and goats next door, the clowns on the bus, constant fireworks or marching bands on any given evening. (all true) The hardest thing has been trying to make Mexico "Home."

When you travel, you get to see the best parts of a place; when you immigrate, you get to see it all. Yellow chicken and no Cheez-its goes from being a weird nuisance to a daily reality. I could probably find a deeper analogy, but its early in blog history to get sappy.

As my understanding of this place has evolved, I have learned that to really make Mexico home I have to work hard. I'm not nor will I ever be a Mexican. But, there's a real chance that I may never live in the US again. Home is where I make it, how I live it, and what I make of it. I have decided to make my home here, right now in our tiny 1 bedroom apartment. It's small, it's got cement columns that make it seem smaller, but it's ours. It's home, it's our first Casa de los Alvarez.