Monday, December 31, 2012

Highlights of 2012

I got to watch, first hand, as one of the best friends I've ever had crossed the Mexican border, back into the US, with a fresh Visa in her husband's hands.

I got to hear my son play the harmonica, recorder and best of all, the guitar.

I saw my little sister Molly walk at her high school graduation.

I got to visit my besties back in Arizona. "Don't thank me, thank Truly."

I talked to my Grandpa David for the first time in years.

I got in the most random car accident ever and somehow, but the grace of God, didn't hurt anyone else.

My big sister got engaged! Finally. And can I say damn?! ;)

The company that I proudly work for hit $100,000,000 in revenue for the first time ever.

My son got an email address!

I lost some good friends and gained knowledge and new friends in the process.

My husband registered himself to go back and finish la prepa (high school.)

I met a couple of badass New Yorkers who gave me more confidence and direction in regards to what I want to be when I grow up. <3

A stranger paid for my order in the McDonald's drive-through, just because.

I learned how to make a pizza dough that I actually like. I'm not quite at Barro's level but I have acheived success with my calzones!

I passed all of the tests to get fully licensed in the industry I work in.

I watched the Mr. Jones video by the Counting Crows on YouTube 428 times and never got sick of it.

My Dad was in the US and had the chance to see my son for the first time in too long.

I spent an entire day on a pontoon boat with my parents, big sister, soon to be brother in law, nephew and best of all... SAM.

The world didn't end.

I spent the entire year with my husband, uninterrupted by ICE or court hearings or sentences.

Thank you God.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not the End of the World

It's been a really good week. Obviously the biggest development is that the world didn't end. Score. I knew it wouldn't, at least not now and not like this, but it sure was fun to fantasize about last meals and bomb shelters and hoarding canned goods. Maybe next year. Even though I didn't truly believe the hype, I behaved as it was the end, although I guess I do that every day, and sure did enjoy myself in the process. I made tamales and love and got thoughtful gifts in the mail and read fantastic books and did puzzles and drank vodka and sent out holiday cards and care packages. The best part of the week was getting a chance to volunteer with my co-workers at a food bank. It was an amazing experience for me.

When my husband and I met in 2005 we were both a mess financially. He was a poor immigrant living with countless roomates and no documents that would allow him to make a decent living. I was a poor American, recovering from a drug addiction and had been living in my car for a while before finally securing a job at a call center and, subsequently, an apartment to call home. We struggled for quite a while and I vividly remember a time when we couldn't always afford to feed ourselves. I remember a particular day when I finally swallowed my pride and went to a local food bank.

I was embarassed. Embarassed that I had to ride around on the city bus with a food bank box, embarassed that I couldn't take care of myself and above all, embarassed of the addiction that had brought me to that point. We feasted that evening. Government cheese, expired bread and canned peas. I found work shortly after that desperate day but never forgot how much the program had helped me. While we were sorting through canned goods on Thursday, I quietly recalled that desperation and realized how blessed I am that it hasn't returned.

The West Texas Food Bank is seriously short handed. I can imagine that most similar organizations have the same struggle. They have so much work to do and close to no one available for that work considering their limited funds. This location only has one full time worker and one part time worker sorting through the canned good donations. That may sound sufficient but we were literally wading in cans and I cannot imagine doing that on a daily basis. It was physically demanding in a weird Mexican maquila sense because it required doing the same simple activity over and over. I have never understood my husband's struggle on la linea more than I did after an hour of sorting through cans today. I'm sure I still don't get it.

My heart literally broke when I found out that we had to throw away any can that was dented along the edges. They told us that a can with a dent along the edge could be contaminated and because said contamination could lead to people getting sick, it was better to just toss it. "When in doubt, throw it out," we were told. I felt physically sick with the amount of food we were putting in the trash but USDA law is USDA law. I wondered how many Juarenses we could have fed with the food that we got rid of. How many would give their right pinky finger for just a couple of those dented cans? That was the hardest part for me. But at the end of the day, I was happy that we were able to help and happy that my co-workers were willing to help. It takes a special breed to give back with gusto. I love the spirit of the season and wish we (myself included) could all have the same spirit year round.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their December, and all that it means, as much as I am. I have been reminded to give thanks, love big and act as if each and every day were your last day on Earth. I hope that everyone else has had the opportunity to do the same.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Top 10 Mexican Junk Foods

I love to eat, and for me, half the fun of moving to Mexico was learning how to cook my favorite foods from restaurants in the US, and the other half was perusing Mexican grocery stores. I love them all and could spend hours walking up and down the aisles. From the fruteria on the corner to the mercado down the street to the nearby supermercados and hipermarts, the foodie fun just never ends.


These are some of the Mexican junk foods, in no particular order, that I have fallen in love with over the last couple of years. I'm not including street foods here because let's be real; that's a blog of it's own.

Hi my name is Emily and I am a Nutellaholic. The discovery of the Kinder Bueno solidified my addiction to sugar and hazelnuts in a way I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. Our friends over at Ferrero describe this candy as a hazelnut cream filled wafer with a chocolate covering. I think a more accurate description would be
 "God Himself hugged by a crispy coat of angelic perfection and dipped in orgasms."
I guess that's why I'm not in advertising.

Queso Asadero. Chihuahua is famous for it's cheese and that is something I've known about for a long time. I remember living in the absolute hood of Mesa, Arizona and having random men knock on my door asking if I would like to buy some cheese, "Fresco y directamente de Chihuahua!" I have fully taken advantage of all that Juarez has to offer in the cheese department. My favorite isn't Queso Mennonita as many would assume. It's actually Asadero. I freaking love it. It comes in many forms, knots and blocks and shreds, but my favorite is the cut you see above. Please excuse my creepy extraterrestrial looking hand, I just wanted to show you how thin the slice is. They make these slices perfectly sized for a quesadilla. This is "last meal" shit people.

Cheap ass vodka. The Popov of Mexico. This isn't much cheaper than the bottom shelf US versions but I like it. This is a new drink for me (I've been pretty stuck on Presidente since we moved here) and I'm having fun playing bartender and making mixed drinks. There are just endless possibilities with vodka since there are no additives.

Speaking of getting shit faced... If you're going to drink, you're going to need some nuts. Cacahuates Estilo Japones (Japanese Peanuts) are my favorite nut choice. Despite countless lessons from Cortney, I never could master the sunflower seed. This is my drinking nut of choice and damn is it good!

I don't have a lot of memories of my father from when I was younger but the ones I do have typically revolve around The Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. I remember going to Topsy's where they make gourmet popcorn.  I would always want this candy coated cinnamon version. One day Gordo and I were out de compras at Soriana San Lorenzo and a sexy big busted vendor girl was handing out samples of Poppin' Pop. It tasted like my youth and is the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Fantastic late night snack.

I'm a cheap drunk and my close friends know I am a boxed wine fanatic. Much to my surprise, there is boxed wine in Mexico. And when I say boxed I mean wine in tetra pacs. Franzia/Vella style boxes cost upwards of $20.00 US. No thanks. This red table wine from Valle Redondo California is my absolute favorite here and rings up at only $38.99 pesos a liter. In fact, I love it so much that I now wrinkle my nose at Franzia because it is just too sweet.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. Mexican Sweet Breads. You can get them fresh from a baker for pennies and there are out of this world Panederias on practically every single corner. On the weekends, people line up at 7am at the door of the Superette by my house just to get their conches and marranitos. My personal favorite is not pictured because I ate it before the camera had a chance. Duh. I think they call it a cuernito de queso.
It's basically a croissant filled with sweet cheese.

I hate chips in Mexico. I hate Mexican Doritos, I hate Takis, I hate their weirdo version of kettle chips and all of the chili/limon combinations that are so loved in this country. Cheetos Poffs are the ONLY exception to my hatred.
They are only slightly different from their American counterpart and every bit as delicious.
Oh, and if you've never had wine with Cheetos... Well friend, I don't know how you live with yourself.
No seriously, how do you lay your head on your pillow each night? 

The food my husband misses the most from the US is Hot & Spicy McChicken Sandwiches from McDonald's. Go figure. They do not sell them in El Paso so he has only gotten to have one once since we moved to Mexico. I brought them for him from Ruidoso, New Mexico, which is a little ski resort town that I had to travel to for a licensing class. He devoured four in one sitting. The chicken pictured can be found at S Mart and taste exactly the same in my opinion, although Gordo disagrees. Whatever, they are off the chart delicious. They are sold as Milanesa de Pollo con Especias. Fry those bad boys up and... Mmmmm.

If a Magnum and an ice cream sandwich could make sweet, sweet love and then miraculously give birth to God in ice cream form, it would be a Tandem. These are so good and have the uncanny ability to make me feel like a 12 year old girl all over again. There is something special about novelty ice cream bars that just make me smile and this combination of strawberry and chocolate is off the charts good. I have totally chased down a Mexican ice cream truck for one of these.

What are your favorite treats from other countries?

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Week of Firsts for the Mister

We had quite a week. I'm a little sad and not sure what to write. No, I don't want to talk about it. That's really an understatement. Regardless of everything going on, some fantastic things happened for the first time this week. The first first is that we bought a bottle of vodka, which is probably what made the rest of the week start to look a little less gloomy. #addictioncalls We made all sorts of new cocktails and it was like freshman year all over again. Koolaid. That's all I gotta say.

The 2nd first was that Mr. Cruz went to the dentist for the first time in his entire life. When he was younger he couldn't afford to go, and as an adult, I believe that I have scared the absolute shit out of him when it comes to dental work. After years of smoking crystal meth, my teeth are basically irreparable and I have endless horror stories about random, bottom of the barrel, questionable dentists. Don't do drugs kids. Because of my stories, Gordo was absolutely terrified to go to the dentist. I nagged and nagged until he made an appointment though and he went in yesterday for his first cleaning. Exciting stuff people.

I wish I could've gone with him for support and also because I am one nosey ass motherfucker who is dying to see what it's like to go to a dentista Mexicana, but of course I couldn't make it because I was working at the time of his appointment. I have tons of work that needs to be done and the latest estimate from my dentist in El Paso would leave me with a $5,000+ (US$) bill. I've held off, to say the least. Despite my lack of presence, he came out of his first cleaning alive. Although apparently they injected him with Novocaine which seemed odd to me for a cleaning, but what do I know? I'm just a crazy American, right?! Moving on...

The 3rd first, which comes in far ahead of dental work and discovering the joys of vodka, is that on Tuesday my mister ENROLLED IN PREPA! That is the Mexican version of high school. Of course I saved the best first for last. In Mexico, the educational system is very different from that in the US and your public education is only free through la secundaria which I suppose can be compared to middle school in America. Even up to that point, children only go to school for about 4 hours a day compared to the 7-8 hours a day in the US. I'm not educated enough on the topic to discuss the quality of that 4 hours. I have little to no experience with the Mexican public education system but it's clear that there are differences from the American version. I do know that Mexican private schools can be beyond excellent and there is definitely something lacking for the poor here. Surprise, surprise.

My husband's family couldn't afford to send him to prepa so at 33 years old, he was enthralled to discover that the maquila he is working for will cover the cost. I am so excited for him! As I've discussed in the past, I believe that education is everything in this world, and something the majority of us take for granted in the US. Of course he is nervous and intimidated and worried but I know this is going to be an amazing thing for him. I'm proud of him for taking this step because I know what it means for him and understand the emotional cost and the fear behind all of it. I am so unbelievably proud of him. He is supposed to start class on January 5th. I'll keep you posted with the progress.

In perspective, it's been an amazing week. I suppose I am just writing this as a reminder that I need to concentrate on the good things. Keep it real lovers. Keep it real.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

November 1st  Today I am thankful for my caring and hilarious and hard-working husband. I don't just love the guy, I like him.

November 2nd  Today I am thankful for brandy.

November 3rd  Today I am thankful for asprin, my amazing friends, and the hair of the dog.

November 4th  Today I am thankful for Old Navy pajama pants, Sunday movie marathons in my beautiful home, and garlic cheddar biscuits!

November 5th  Today I am thankful for my job and thankful that my parents taught me that things don't just get handed to you in life, you have to WORK for them!

November 6th  Today I am thankful to be the citizen of a country where I have freedom of speech and the power to vote. These may be rights for Americans but they are a mere fantasy for so many! Please do not take these privileges for granted. VOTE.

November 7th  Today I'm thankful for Sonoron hot dogs and wine.

November 8th  Today I am thankful for people who believe in me. Whether it be my mom, or a co-worker, or a blog reader, or my husband, or a journalist. I appreciate it. It makes me believe in myself.

November 9th  Today I am thankful for technology. It allows me to have meaningful relationships with sooooo many people, keep up with my blog, talk to my Dad, see current pictures of family members, and so much more. I don't know what I would do without the internet!

November 10th  (Posted on 11/11/2012) Today I am thankful that I had so much fun yesterday that I forgot to post day 10 of Thirty Days of Thanksgiving.

November 11th  Today I'm also thankful for my three favorite B's. Beer, burritos and B-12 drops.

November 12th  Today I am thankful that the heater in my car is working!

November 13th  Today I am thankful that Casa Collision came out to my office today and finally finished the last of the repairs from my accident. It only took them 2 months... Now I'm just praying that the engine troubles that started last night will be a cheap and quick fix!

November 14th  Today I am thankful for my disgustingly AMAZING husband, who should quit his day job at the maquila and become a radio journalist. I love you. I adore you. You hasta intimidate me. Mwah, mwah, mwahhhh!

November 15th  Today I am thankful for my sweet little doggies. They love me unconditionally and truly are man's best friend. A good friend's Doberman passed away yesterday and my heart goes out to his whole family. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard that is and it definitely made me realize how much I love my four-legged nuggets.

November 16th  Today I am thankful for good friends, who are still there for me even when we are worlds apart. Even when I haven't spoken to them in ages, it's like we just chatted the day before. Love you ladies.

November 17th  Today I'm thankful for an email I got from my little man. It lit up my life in ways I cannot even begin to explain.

November 18th  Today I am thankful for laughter and all of the fabulous people in my life who make me laugh each and every day! It is medicine for the soul!

November 19th  Today I am thankful for electricity and running water.

November 20th  Today I'm thankful for my health and dental insurance. It's not cheap and may not be the best coverage, but it's there. Now to decide if I should fix a "possibly salvageable" cracked molar for $300 or get it extracted for $40.

November 21st  Today I am thankful, not just for having a job, but for having a job that I love. And of course my fantastical coworkers are an added bonus.

November 22nd  Today I am thankful that God forgives me, each and every day. I am extremely blessed in every facet of my life, even when I am beyond undeserving. I am thankful that my God doesn't care if I swear or make mistakes or drink too much or have bitchy moments; at the end of the day, He knows my intentions and is always there for me!

November 23rd  Today I am thankful that the line was merciful and I was able to get to work, and home, in record time.

November 24th  Today I am thankful for... drumroll mothafuckas... YOUTUBE!

November 25th  Today I'm thankful for country music and American cable. I've been thoroughly enjoying Bravo for several hours!

November 26th  Today I am thankful that my CEUs are finished!

November 27th  Today I am thankful for the head mouse. This status brings tears to my eyes for so many reasons. We lost a co-worker in Utah last week in a boating accident. He was in his mid-twenties and leaves behind his wife and two children. He was a newer employee and only 7 days away from qualifying from our company's life insurance policy. What did the main man do? Cut his family a personal check for $10,000. I work for the best!!

November 28th  Today I am thankful for Christina Orta-Moncada. I can tell her anything and she never judges or thinks less of me. She has been there for me in the good times and bad and is the best listener I've ever known. She can out-eat me at Peter Piper and taught me all about wine but still tries to motivate me to work out. She isn't afraid to disagree with me and always makes me laugh.

November 29th  Today I am thankful for my sight and hearing, my arms and legs and my fingers and toes.

November 30th  Today I am thankful that my husband and I have been able to find a place, outside of the US, that we are both happy and proud to call our home. Sometimes I wonder what we would have done if he were from El Salvador or Ghana or Haiti or another 3rd world nation where I wouldn't be able to work earning US dollars and I realize how blessed we are that border living is even an option. I am eternally grateful that this crazy decision has worked out so well for us. Now I'll drink to that! It's Friday motherfuckers!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Living In a Cloud of Brandy, Rules, Lollipops and Denial

Lately a lot of  random people from the media have been contacting me to discuss the drug war, interview me on my thoughts on the drug war or ask me to blog about the drug war. Everyone seems to want me to get more involved and talk about it. I guess that may seem natural and I do understand that I have a voice and opinions that can contribute to the topic. I've mentioned it here and there throughout this blog to discuss how it's affected me personally. But I've just got to say... I don't want to say much more than what I've already said. I'm not trying to be another body hanging off of a bridge on the border with a fucking warning note pinned to my eyeball. Social networking can kill; don't get it twisted. The cartels can do what they do, y yo no me meto. I'm just here, riding it all out.

It's no secret that drugs have been a huge part of my life. I'm an addict. Everything I do. I'm excessive and obsessive and addicted to everything. Even though I haven't done drugs in almost 7 years, it remains a huge part of my life. That addiction is always hanging over my head, reminding me of what could be or what could have been. I've just somehow managed to limit my current addictions to things that are legal. That's it. The rest of my past and my thoughts and my chemical makeup don't go away. Even though I have this crazy past and experience to draw from, I just can't say anything more. My husband and I set some ground rules before we moved to the border and I guess I'm just writing this so that I can refer people to it in the future when they ask to interview me on stories about the drug war. I get pushed and pushed to be involved in projects that I simply can't be a part of. My family's safety and well being is more important than any story.

I want to be a voice for Juarez but I also want to represent a different part of Juarez and provide a different perspective of life on the border, and life in Mexico for that matter. I try to keep it light because that's what I want my life to be like. I want to be happy. I don't want this blog to be some sad, depressing place that people come to for murder statistics. That's not my goal. I know that people think that my attitude towards border life is skewed and misrepresents life here, but I'm no fool, nor is my stance a rarity here in Juarez. Of course there are murders here. Of course there is a lot of crime and violence here. It rages throughout Juarez every day. I don't deny it. I just can't talk about it.

When I hear about another homicide on Canal 44, I am very quick to assume it was the result of cartel violence, or criminal involvement or someone who didn't pay the quota. People are quick to be offended by my assumptions, noting that many people are mere victims of the current situation. I do not doubt that. Let me say it again. I do not doubt that there are innocent victims in this drug war. I'm not an idiot, and I know that there are countless individuals who are just random bystanders in a shoot out, or mistaken for another person, or are victims of car jackings or robberies or kidnappings. I get that. I'm not saying those things don't happen. What I'm saying is that in a large percentage of occasions, we aren't reading about innocent victims being decapitated. We aren't reading about innocent victims who have driven for 20+ hours across the Mexican desert just to be burned to death. We aren't talking about innocent victims who were shot to death by almost 100 bullets to one body. Most of the time, there is a method to the madness.

Disagree with me if you will, I don't care. Call me ignorant if you will, I don't care. For me, at the end of the day, it benefits my emotional well being to think of this drug war in a black and white manner. My standpoint has allowed me to create and live by a set of rules that give me a sense of control in this crazy world that is the Borderland. I can tell myself that if I don't do drugs or involve myself in criminal activity or associate with people who do, I'm going to be okay. If I don't pass judgement or make flippant remarks about the cartels, I'm going to be okay. I'm so quick to make the assumptions that I make because it is my method of coping with the violence. Thinking in this way makes me feel like it's all going to be okay. It's my Teddy. It's my security blanket. It's my comfort food. It's my mother's soothing words after I wake up from a nightmare in a pool of sweat.

Could I be murdered in a car jacking tonight? Sure. Could I be caught in the crossfire at a random shoot out in el mercado tomorrow? Sure. Could I be confused with some other overweight guerita that likes to blast Bob Dylan albums from her car but just so happens to traffic cocaine? Maybe. Probably not. But if that's the way I'm supposed to go and I die here in Juarez because of some random coincidence or chance run-in with the cartel, so be it. I refuse to live my life in fear of the possibilities. What kind of life is that? Regardless, I will follow my rules to my grave.

My view isn't skewed. My view is what I want it to be. Life is what you make it. Maybe it takes some denial and lollipops and brandy and rules. So be it. Para mi, ignorance is bliss. And that's all I gotta say 'bout that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

10 Things You Should Know About Me Before I Jump You Into My Gang

1.) I am insanely psycho about my hair and have to wash it at least twice a day. I'd prefer 3 times. I don't have any cool haircut or style. I don't use styling products or even conditioner. I don't even need fancy shampoos, I'm cool with Suave or V05. I will wash it anywhere too. Friend's bathrooms, airport bathrooms, kitchen sinks, whatevs. I just have to have clean hair. Makes me feel so fresh and so clean clean.

2.) I love to cook and love having friends over (especially during the holidays) but I absolutely hate it when there are other people in my kitchen, unless they are teaching me how to do something. I'm kind of an anxious cook and although I love it, I tend to stress when making meals for large groups of people. Any added bodies just adds to the stress.

3.) I drink like a fish and swear like a sailor.

4.) I cannot stand speaking in the morning. I literally jump out of bed at the first sound of my alarm, regardless of how hungover I am, but talk to me and perish. I have no qualms with waking up at the ass crack of dawn every morning, but unless you are bleeding from the head, whatever you have to say can wait. We can talk after I've been awake for a couple hours. 7:00 am. Talk to me then.

5.) I could survive on nothing more than Coke Zero, brandy, sausage, egg and cheese biscuits, chicken wings, calzones and Tin Roof Sundae ice cream. And love. Everybody needs a little love.

6.) I'm almost always and open book so if I'm in a funk and don't want to talk about my son or my past or my present, it's because I don't want to talk about it. If I do, I do. Don't push me.

7.) My husband and I yell at each other. Practically all the time. That's how we communicate. We swear and say malas razones. We talk to each other like we are compas or homeboys or whatever. Do not confuse our tone with anger. Just because one of us just said, "No mames, callase a la chingada," and the other responded with, "Fuck you guey," doesn't mean we don't follow it up with laughter and a make out session. That's how we roll.

8.) I am honest and I'll always tell you what I think if I know you are capable of hearing it.

9.) I don't like to be around negative people because negativity is infectious. It's like a cancer or herpes or mushrooms and I want nothing to do with it. When people insist on being negative yet do nothing to change their lives or better themselves, I have no choice but to keep them at an arm's length. It's for my own sanity.

10.) I am deathly afraid of birds and escalators.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blanca Nieves and the Seven Drunks

We got our monthly free Redbox promo code the other night and took the opportunity to rent Snow White and the Huntsman. Even though I am not a hopeless romantic, I'm somewhat of a fairytale fanatic. Right off the bat there was an intense battle scene and I looked at my husband and said, "Wow, this obviously isn't your typical version of Snow White, is it?"

After he stared at me quizzically for entirely too long I said, "You do know the story of Snow White, don't you?"

Oh yeah, of course I know the story. It's the one about the little girl and the wolf that wants to eat her, right?

No baby, that's Little Red Riding Hood! I can't believe you don't know the story of Snow White... Keep watching, you'll like it.

A little bit later he looks at me as if he's just invented the light bulb and exclaims, "Oh I know! This is the one about the girl with the glass slipper who turns into a princess!"

No babe, that's Cinderella...

Pues... Isn't this the one with the Smurfs?!?

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

I ignore his random comments and questions for the rest of the movie because I get way too into this modern version of such a classical story. I was even able to ignore Kristen Stewart's downfalls. I can normally only watch her act if the movie is dubbed in Spanish. Her... ummm... technique... generally makes me want to slit my wrists with a paperclip. She actually did well in this role though. It was all angsty and what-not. There were all sorts of surprises but I think my favorite twist was the fact that the dwarfs were little Irish nuggets who had a penchant for moonshine and hallucinogenics.

After we were done watching, we continued our discussion about fairy tales. I couldn't figure out why these cuentas de adas were such foggy memories for him and it was driving me nuts. As always, I instantly jumped to the conclusion that this is cultural thing, but quickly realized that wasn't the case. Was it because I'm a girl? Is this a gender thing? Do boys not get into fairy tales? Is that why he doesn't remember? I start to dig.

Baby, where did you hear all these stories?

I watched them on video tapes.

Video tapes?? Didn't your mom read you bedtime stories?

We don't do that sort of thing in Mexico.

What sort of thing? Read books?

The dude couldn't stop laughing. He knew he sounded ridiculous.

Of course people do read books in Mexico, but my husband's family are not those people. Books cost money. A lot of money in Mexico. Libraries aren't easily accessible or even existent in many parts. In the US, we can run to library and check out a copy of whatever and know that our children have the ability to learn if we guide them and if they have that desire. That opportunity just doesn't exist for everyone. Again... something else we consider a right that is such a remarkable privilege.

I sat there for a moment and tried to think of what my life would be like, if I didn't have the memory of my mother reading me The Emperor's New Clothes. Or Noisy Nora. Or Tikki Tikki Tembo. Or The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Or Kristina Katarina and the Box. I could go on for hours. To this day day, I could probably read The Princess and the Pea every evening and never get tired of it. The thought of not having those childhood memories makes me sad.

These children's books shaped me into a person who values the written word. They gave me the freedom of imagination. Now that I think about it, these books, and the fact that my mother took the time to read them to me, plays a huge role in who I am today. It's a simple thing, really. It probably only took up 10 minutes of her time everyday. But look at the reward.

I loved school because I loved to read and because I loved school, I tried hard. Not just in school, but in life. I was determined to do well even in the worst of my days. And now, as an adult, I have a good work ethic. Even though circumstances and bad choices led me to never graduate from college, the fundamentals of learning have stuck with me throughout the years, and have allowed me to be successful in my career, even without a degree. It's the domino affect of my lifetime.

All because my mom read me Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? That's confusing and deep and relevant in ways I may never understand.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Burrito Crawl Success

Gordo and I are forever in search of the perfect burrito. Part of it is because of our insatiable craving for Filiberto's and part of it is due to our boredom and lack of having our children here with us. Some weekends we can be relentless as we go on a treasure hunt for the perfect combination of meat and tortilla.

A couple of weeks ago we stumbled upon a place that topped the charts. This restaurant apparently has no name and is conveniently nestled on Tecnologico in seguidita de Galarias Tec. When I asked their name they informed me that they hadn't decided yet (although they've been there for over a year) and that many refer to them as Burritos Tec. We pulled in with hesitance as there was no obvious parking space. When you veer off Tecnologico you arrive in what appears to be a greenhouse. Plants and flowers galore. You could park approximately 4 cars under their carport adjacent to the "restaurant" and the rest is left to your imagination. Mexicans always seem to just figure it out. The place was packed that morning, as is any place that offers menudo on a Sunday in Juarez.

You gotta kick the cruda somehow, right?

When we entered we were greeted with open arms. The woman at the front counter happened to be the owner (duh) and instantly asked if we had any trouble parking. She gave us an overview of their specialties and it was clear from the straight-away that menudo was the name of the game but I just couldn't hang. I ordered a burrito. Deshebrada a la Mexicana, which is what I order at every burrito stand. My husband teases me for the monotony but it's like my score card. How else could I compare them all?

Their version was insanely superb (i.e. mouthgasm) but I was even more impressed with their customer service. A smile makes the meat taste better. They were so nice and offered us free caldito, explaining that it would make us want to come back, again and again. They were right. I felt less drunk almost immediately. This place was over the top delicious and I couldn't give it a higher recommendation.

They offer all of your typical guisados. Prensado, chile rojo, chile verde, frijole, deshebrada, deshebrada a la Mexicana, winnie and chile relleno. I'm sure there are a few more but I can't remember (beef coma.) The most expensive burritos, like deshebrada of course, were 20 pesos. Other choices were 15-20 pesos. I added queso asadero to my burrito, as always, and they still charged me 20 pesos. Maybe because they saw future gringo dollars or maybe because that's the price or maybe because I look like a fucking movie star. I'm not sure.

They had a poster-board sign advertising their breakfast special with a black Sharpie: Two eggs, a guisado of your choice, beans and tortillas for 35 pesos. Their salsa bar was fantastic and had some of the best salsas I've had here in Mexico. Above all else, I was impressed with their customer service though. As a lot of you know, that is a biggie with me, and is practically non-existent in most of Mexico. They were extremely nice and had lots of menu suggestions for us. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who lives in the area or is passing through Juarez.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hard to Love

While all the haters and anti-immigrant folk and just the general confused population are out there wondering how/why I "settled" for a poor Mexican immigrant, I'm just thinking this:

I hate to refer to another Lee Brice song, but shit, I am hard to love. Lee Brice isn't even close to one of my favorite artists, but his songs seem to have plucked my heart strings lately. Before you start talking trash about country music, I just have to defend myself by saying that Texas is infectious! I just can't escape it. It's like Bieber Fever or methamphetamines without the skinny jeans or rehab.

I have to post the lyrics too because I know my grandma and Aunt Jano frequent my blog and I'm not sure if they'll be able to see the video, so here are the lyrics:

Hard to Love by Lee Brice
Songwriters: Benjamin Glover, Billy Montana, John Ozier

I am insensitive I have a tendency to pay more attention to the things that
I need.
Sometimes I drink too much, sometimes I test your trust, sometimes I dunno
Why you're staying with me?

I'm hard to love, hard to love, I don't make it easy, I couldn't do it if I
Stood where you stood
I'm hard to love, hard to love, you say that you need me, I don't deserve
It but I love that you love me. Good

I am a short fuse, I am a wrecking ball crashing into your heart like I do
You're like a Sunday morning full of grace and full of Jesus I wish that I
Could be more like you.
I'm hard to love, hard to love, I don't make it easy, I couldn't do it if I
Stood where you stood,
I'm hard to love, hard to love, you say that you need me, I don't deserve
It but I love that you love me. Good.
Love me good.

Girl you've given me a million second chances and I don't ever wanna take
You for granted, I'm just a man, I'm just a man.

Hard to love, hard to love, oh I don't make it easy and I couldn't do it if
I stood where you stood.
I'm hard to love, hard to love and you say that you need me, I don't
Deserve it but I love that you love me. Good.

You love me good.

I don't know what anyone else is talking about or thinking, but I'm a bitch. Plain and simple. I didn't settle for anyone. My husband is the man of my dreams and I don't deserve him. Even if you considered every good thing I've ever done in my lifetime and ignored the horrible, selfish and inexplicable things, the math just doesn't add up. I am difficult, emotional and overly passionate about irrelevant subjects. I fly off the handle without reason. I drink too much. I have a multi-colored past and am disgustingly indulgent. I am an obsessive addict. Even though I came from a middle class American family, I'm a spoiled brat. Maybe that's because I came from a middle class American family? I have a short temper and am beyond demanding. I'm an uptight, impatient, over-analytical hypocrite. And somehow, regardless of all of that, Mr. Cruz loves me. He adores me. He is proud of me and thoroughly enjoys me as a person.

My husband didn't "luck out" to meet me. I am a better person because he has come into my life. For some reason, God put him in my path. This has nothing to do with green cards or money or citizenship. The price of me is much too high for abusers because I am 3 gallons of crazy in a 2 gallon bucket my friends. I'm the lucky one. I'm the one who is hard to love...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sana, Sana, Colita de Rana…

After 7 some years together, I’ve learned to never question my husband when it comes to healing methods, medicine or the likes. Nor should I question his friends or friends of friends or mother or cousin or his uncle’s neighbor’s plumber’s priest’s father. They know what’s up, and I, my friends, am just a silly American who has no faith.

My first brush with Mexican medicine came several years ago, when a family member called us in the US to inform us that my husband had a severe lung condition and was on the brink of death. Of course it was true, a psychic told them so. In order to be cured, he spent countless hours on the phone writing down a prayer (or chant or whatever you call it) as it was dictated to him word for word. (If you’ve ever heard my husband trying to give a wire transfer confirmation number over the phone, you’d understand that this was a tedious process.) He then sent me on a hunt for mason jars that had to be a specific size and a certain type of cotton swab. I protested, of course, but eventually gave in and hit up about 5 different Goodwill stores in the Phoenix area before I found what he was looking for.

He carefully labeled one of the jars “Sobar” and the other “Tomar.” They were each filled with purified water which was blessed over the phone by the psychic or witch-doctor or whoever. I then had to soak the special cotton things in the Sobar water and rub it all over my husband’s back (remember, we’re curing lung disease here people,) while he drank from the Tomar jar and chanted his little diddy. He was, of course, miraculously cured and the family rejoiced. I think you all know I’m not much of introvert and I wear my heart, and common sense, on my sleeve. I voiced my opinions from the get go and was told stories about cancer being cured and crippled people walking again. I was forced to listen to countless horror stories of what can happen when you don’t believe.

I’ve since learned to bite my tongue.

So when we went on our little treasure hunt for that alcohol de caña, I didn’t say a word in protest. I know he’s tried my whole Western medicine route for the last couple of months and is still in pain, so what can I really say? He’s getting desperate. When a friend at the maquila told him about this magic potion, he just couldn’t resist. This man was apparently bed-ridden for God knows how long before he had a couple of drops of this stuff and POOF, good as new! Again, it’s alcohol de caña, red onion, lime and garlic that is left to ferment for 15 days. The fermentation process is coming to a close and I’m really trying to keep my thoughts to myself but would you just look at this shit:

My poor husband is going to drink that. And he thinks it’s going to help him. In fact, he believes it so much that I think it just might work. You see, although I don’t think putting a feverish baby in a bath full of lettuce does diddly squat, I do believe in the power of positive thinking and the power that one’s faith can give them. There are countless little health tricks (que?) of Mexico that make absolutely no sense to me but I’m no medicine man. Putting Vick’s Vapor Rub between your toes when you have the flu? Wearing sandals in the shower to prevent getting sick? Rubbing an egg on your belly when you have a stomach ache and then cracking it and if the yolk’s black the sickness is gone? Seriously, has anyone ever seen this result in a black yolk?

At the end of the day, all I can do is smile, hope we don’t end up getting his stomach pumped in IMSS Urgencias, and thank God that my husband believes that tequila and lime cures the common cold. Salud.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Saturday In Pictures

Woke up early and baked a German Chocolate cake!

Did my nails orange for the season...

Decided to head downtown to get supplies for my husband's health brujeria. Had to snap a pic of this on the way... What do you think it's going to be? It's taken them 2 years to get to this point...

I was super excited that my nails matched the buttons on my shirt!

Almost there...

I love going downtown but it's not really safe to take
pictures there so I usually take them from the car.

We had to search through a lot of this to find what we were looking for.

Annnnnd we finally found it here.

The newest cure for my husband's feet?
Fermenting a liter of cane alcohol with lime,
onion and garlic for 15 days and then drinking it...

You will never catch me drinking anything out of an old salsa bottle.

Time for street food! I thought I'd get some of those papas locas I always see.
Con todo? Sure!
BAD IDEA. Inedible.

That's better... Ish...

Time for Soriana. Our purchase was FREE after using some of our points!

This guy washed our car while we shopped. 50 pesos.

Calzones for dinner!

And then an 80's movie marathon.
I don't know how those cans got there.

Lucy hates Tom Hanks.

At the end of the day, some of us were more worn out than others...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Dad and My Inspiration

My parents were separated before I was two years old. I remember weekend visits with my Dad. Those didn't last for too long but the little moments are burned into my memories. We moved from Kansas City to Illinois just before I turned 8 years old. I think when I was younger I was bothered by the fact that my dad wasn't there every day. Now that I do not live with my own child (for completely different circumstances) I am able to understand why I didn't see my Dad everyday. Everything about my life and what's happened with my own son has brought me to the point of acceptance and being able to understand my parents and their struggle. Our family may not be traditional, but in my opinion, it does not stray from the norm of any other American family in this day and age. 

I have 5 sisters. We are spread out all over the globe. Two of my sisters live in Kansas City, Missouri, one in Bettendorf, Iowa and my two step sisters live in El Salvador. Our family unit is normal to me. We may not be a typical nuclear family but I think that is typical of our time. I am thankful for all of the advancement with the internet because I am able to stay in touch with everyone, mainly through Facebook and Skype. Above all, I am thankful that my mother made a point to teach me the importance of family. She has always supported my desire to stay connected with everyone and has nothing but good things to say about each and every member of our wacky little Harmon/Bonderer/Cruz unit.

Years ago, when I met my husband, he taught me things that made me love my father even more. He preached the value of "honoring thy mother and father," regardless of the circumstances. Today, my Dad is a huge part of my life. I always know that he is a Skype call away and because of that, he has been able to teach me so much about life. He is the first person I go to for advice, and I value his opinion more than any other. He is a man that so many aspire to be, including myself. He has embraced life and love and generosity for all that it is worth. I don't dwell on the past with him. It has no place in our relationship. Because I have gone through the things I have, I am finally able to understand him and his decisions, and appreciate him. I am so insanely proud of Michael Bonderer and who he is today. 

I want to share his story because he is an inspiration to me. If I end up being a tenth of the person he is today, I will die a happy woman. Although we are worlds apart, we come from similar backgrounds. We have made monumental mistakes in our lives but are both trying our best to move on from our pasts and do something with ourselves and the lives we lead today. I cannot appropriately put my thoughts into words. What does my Dad mean to me? There really are no words. I am so thankful that he is my father and I am so thankful that he is a part of my life. I'm even thankful that I have gone through such hard times so that I am able to come to a point where I can appreciate him and everything he does.

I can only hope to make such an impact in my lifetime but I don’t think I could ever touch a person's life in the way that he has been able to. I wanted to share all of this because I am so proud and because I would like to give some attention to his organization and shed some light on his cause. I hope to involve myself in charities in Mexico in the same way that my father has in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti. I feel like there is a reason I ended up leaving the US and that God has a purpose for me in this world.

This video touches on my father's life and work and explains why he is such an inspiration to me. If anyone has any questions or would like to volunteer, please visit

"What we need... People who are ready and willing to serve: who will just show up."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lady Balls and First World Problems

I could never live out in the country in Mexico. To all the expats that once lived in the comfort of America, and then moved to El Rancho de Whatever: I applaud you.

Let's be honest; I just don’t have what it takes to hand wash, go to the bathroom outside, kill my own dinner or go without water certain days of the week. I wish I was that kind of woman because those skills would be damn handy in an apocalypse.

Unfortunately, I can barely handle this:


I'm really not looking forward to taking a bucket bath later on...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Car Accident and La Ruta

Last Friday, I was coming home from work, so excited because it was raining. After so much time in Arizona I have become obsessed with rain because it was such a rarity. I was driving very carefully. Gordo had just called me to wish me a safe trip home and remind me that our back tires were worn down and to be careful driving in the rain. The road I take home is Montana and is the main road that connects downtown El Paso to the East Side. There is tons of traffic, especially during rush hour. It was 5:15 and I know I was going 40 miles per hour. I was at the part of Montana where it slopes down slightly, just after Paisano. The speed limit is 40 mph and there is always a police car staked out in that area, pulling people over just before Trowbridge. Because of the decline, I have to hit the brakes to make sure I am at or under the limit. I am 100% positive that I was going 40 mph and was a good distance away from the car in front of me. It was a moving van. A Penske moving van, but the Penske logo had been painted over with yellow paint and had temporary plates. The truck slammed on its brakes to turn left. That intersection is dangerous because Trowbridge comes in at a diagonal and there is no turn lane from Montana. It is such an awkward intersection that upon telling this story, several of my friends asked me if it is even legal to turn left there.

The truck slammed on its brakes and I quickly looked to my right rear-view mirror and saw that I had space before swerving to the right to avoid a collision. I honked my horn furiously at the moving van just before my truck began to hydroplane through the intersection, across 3 lanes of traffic, over a median, and across the lanes of oncoming traffic before it did a 180 and slammed into the curb. At this point my truck tilted to the side, so much so that I looked to the right and saw the sidewalk, assuming it would flip. Gracias a Dios, it ended up slamming back down on four tires. It took me about 10 minutes at that point to even get out of the car. I waited as traffic passed for what felt like forever before I had a chance to even get out of the car. I was shaking as I called my husband to tell him that I had had an accident. Of course he was freaking out. Knowing that I was on the other side of the border and he couldn’t come to my aid, he of course felt instantly desperate and hopeless. Next I called the police and then my insurance company.

I still can’t believe that in this intersection, at this time of day, I didn’t hit anyone. I can’t even believe that I didn’t flip my SUV going over that median, but even more so I can’t get over the fact that I didn’t hit any of the oncoming traffic. God was with me that day and I was being watched over. Clearly there is some sort of purpose for me (beyond drinking brandy and eating Cheetos) that I have yet to address.

Luckily my friend Elizabeth happened to be driving home a friend and took a different route from the office leading her to see me on the side of the road. When she first saw me, she thought I had just been pulled over. Thankfully there was no damage done to the body of my truck. The rear axle cracked in half and the middle console is a mess because I’m an idiot and wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. Looking at the driver’s side, you would never know there had been an accident. As she drove by she just thought I had been pulled over. The only thing that tipped her off was that my truck was facing the wrong direction (not towards the bridge.) Luckily she called me and I had a chance to explain what had happened. She parked her car down the road and walked over to me. I know I’ve said this a million times but I am so thankful that I have met the women I know here in Juarez because they are such good friends to me. I have a lot of expat friends who don’t have that luxury. She stayed with me until the tow truck came and was sweet enough to take me home that night.

Injury wise, I got out of there without a scratch. I had a big bump on my head, bruised thighs and arms and some pain in my hip and neck but considering the circumstances, I am beyond lucky. By now the pain is mostly gone with the exception of my neck when I lie down or sit up. I am so thankful that I can even be writing this blog because I know I should probably be in a lot worse shape. I did have full coverage on my truck so I really only have to worry about the deductible which is a blessing because there is no way we could financially replace our car at this time. The biggest issue has been waiting for the repairs. With no other options, I have had to ask my girlfriends for rides and they have been beyond gracious with their time and gasoline. I will be forever appreciative of their help. I am hoping to have my truck back by the end of the week.

In the meantime we are just hanging out here at the house in the evenings and on the weekends without a vehicle. Today I finally took my first “route bus” trip.  It was pretty interesting. We went to the grocery store. You know, as an American, I really do overlook the little things in life. When we first got here I didn’t entirely appreciate the washing machine. There are so many people in this world wash their clothes by hand but I never really thought about it. There are a lot of things we take for granted in America. Cars or washing machines or dishwashers are things we really overlook in the US and I never really stopped to think about it. These were simple things and for most of my life I kind of considered them to be rights as opposed to privileges. It’s just an eye opener and of course humbling, as is my entire experience here in Mexico.

It is one thing to ask for a ride to work but asking for any other reason just seems unnecessary to me. The bus schedule in Juarez and El Paso do not function in a way that allows me to make it to work in time but it certainly serves it’s purpose for weekend errands. Today we took a trip to Soriana which is the local mega-grocery store. After we made our purchases, we carried our grocery bags over the “puente pateonal” which is like a bridge/walkway that has been built over Tecnologico which is a major roadway in Juarez. By this time Ray was seriously annoyed with me and all of my comments and observations that he really looked like he just wanted to jump off of the bridge. Luckily, it was build with rejas on the top to ward off any suicide attempts and save annoyed spouses.

After the bridge we only had to walk about a mile to the bus stop. We didn’t really have to walk that far because there is a bus that picks you up right outside of the store, but we didn’t want to have to take 2 buses. Each bus ride costs 6 pesos which is just under 47 cents right now in US dollars. When I say 47 cents in English I really feel ridiculous but when I say 6 pesos in Spanish I feel like that is a significant amount of money. Is that weird? We didn’t want to pay an extra 12 pesos for less than a mile so we did a little more walking. We barely made it to the bus stop in time and actually had to run a little. I’m sure everyone who knows me personally is laughing at this point…

That bus took us into our neighborhood and dropped us off just about a quarter mile from our house. It was my first trip on “La Ruta.” My husband takes these buses everywhere, bless his heart. He goes and pays our utility bills on the route bus and takes 3 routes in order to get to the bank where we pay our rent on the 10th every month. He even visits friends on the bus; it’s how he gets around. It’s how everyone who doesn’t have a vehicle gets around in Juarez and I definitely take my truck for granted. I am so thankful to even have transportation that is so convenient and simple. He has told me tons of stories about the route buses here and the drivers are pretty notorious for getting in horrible accidents so I was pretty nervous before we got on board.

I’m pretty sure the bus driver today was deaf. He had a hearing aid in both ears and there were a couple occasions where people got on the bus and didn’t even pay. I’m not really sure what that was all about. It was hot. So hot. Today is the first day of fall but that made no difference. The bus was a mess. The bus wasn't crowded like I had expected but the seats were torn and it was beyond dirty. Everyone was sweating and the only comfort was the occasional gust of wind that came through the tiny cracked windows. The funny thing is that as I am making all of these observations, my husband looks at me and says, “This is the nicest route bus I’ve ever been on! Oh my God, I can’t believe it baby, tuviste suerte!” The incredulous look on his face made it clear that he was being serious.

Apparently, my experience wasn’t indicative of a typical bus trip in Juarez but it was an experience nonetheless. I had a good time and it was humbling and we can only go forward from here. I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gone, But Not Forgotten

I suppose by now you all know that I tend to ramble when I talk about America and what it means to me, so I’ll go ahead and skip that lengthy disclaimer.

I was just watching all of the old news footage from September 11th on YouTube and I swear I remember it like it was yesterday. I was getting ready for school and listening to the radio like I did every morning. At first, I thought it was just a horrible accident, but by the time the second plane hit, reality had sunk in. Of course I was terrified, who wouldn’t be? Growing up, I had learned all about war in history class, but for some reason, I just considered it to be a thing of the past. I learned about the Revolutionary War and the struggles that took place to develop our great nation. In middle school, I became fascinated with World War II, unable to wrap my mind around the Holocaust. I learned about the draft that came years later and tried to imagine what it was like for my parents to grow up in a time like that. I found it all so unbelievable and I certainly never imagined that war would play a role in my life outside of textbooks or movies or video games.

At the time of the attacks, I was a junior in high school in Tempe, Arizona. I may have been thousands of miles from ground zero but I had never felt as close to the East coast as I felt that morning.  We spent the entire school day watching the news. We went from class to class, keeping our eyes glued to the television as much as possible. We watched in silence, wide-eyed in disbelief, as chaos took over our country. I remember an eerie feeling of unity that day. I couldn't quite place my finger on it at the time, but now I know that my classmates were united in fear. It’s hard to explain now, how I felt as a teenager; watching people jump from buildings because they had no other option and seeing our country literally crumble before us on live television. I can’t really put it in words.

It didn't really resonate with me until recently that this is the war that shaped my generation. My children will be learning about this in school and it will seem unreal to them as well, just as other wars before it had seemed to me. As a child, I knew that war was something unforgettable and horrible, yet it seemed tucked away safely in the past. This is the war that changed my life, although it didn't affect me in a way that some might think when they read about it in their history books for years to come. For me personally, this war hasn't meant hiding out in bomb shelters for the last 11 years or fearing gunfire from our global enemies on a daily basis. Others haven’t been so lucky. Even though I haven’t been on the frontlines, it’s changed me nonetheless.

I cross an international border everyday so national security could not be more relevant to my life. Obviously, our national security policies were forever changed by 9/11. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the Customs and Border Protection officers are trying to protect our country from the very things we all fear. We’re too busy being annoyed and feeling inconvenienced to be thankful for the security they aim to provide. I am a member of countless Facebook groups that are focused on immigration and at times, there are a lot of hateful words exchanged about CBP. Sometimes the comments make me cringe. Trust me, I get it. I don’t blame anyone for being angry. It’s hard to accept the invasive inspections, harsh comments about immigrants, or countless hours spent waiting in line. I know I’m not a terrorist or a criminal, but how could they possibly know that? They don’t have the luxury of picking favorites, or excusing people because they are U.S. citizens. How can they tell the difference between me and the next person with a smile on their face and a trunk full of ammo that will eventually kill innocent people? The answer is that they can’t.

I feel so torn at times with my perspective on all of this because everyone seems to think I’m nuts. I’m supposed to be pissed off, right? I guess I am pissed off that I’m not allowed to be with my family in the United States. No… that’s putting it lightly. Knowing that my husband is not welcome in my own country is beyond devastating. It’s so many things that I can’t even begin to describe. Even so, how in the world can we even begin to blame a CBP official for the way things are? When I go back eleven years and remember what happened to this great nation, it really puts everything into perspective for me. I guess it doesn’t have that affect on everyone, but for me personally, it explains a lot about our laws and really defines the purpose of CBP. Remembering 9/11 makes their demeanor so much more understandable. As crazy as it sounds, when I look at the whole picture, it’s actually difficult for me to not have some sort of empathy for their struggle. If I take myself and my personal situation out of the equation, it becomes blatantly clear why things are the way they are. The horrifying acts of terror that occurred on 9/11 were only able to take place because this country lacked security.

A lot of people probably think I am an idiot for having the respect that I do for border patrol but I’m not as naïve as some may think. I know there are controversial issues involved and inappropriate and even inhumane acts that occur on the border. As unfortunate as it is, I think the same can be said of any branch of law enforcement. At the same time, I don’t think the actions of a handful of officials should speak for entire departments. There are going to be racist CBP agents who abuse their powers. There are racist doctors and judges and professors who abuse their powers as well. This is an unfortunate reality of life. What happened on 9/11 is another reality that we have to accept. The tightened security on the border and stricter immigration laws are an unfortunate result of this war. It’s easy to blame it all on the the guy asking if you have any fruit to declare for the hundredth time, but at the end of the day, they didn’t develop the laws they are enforcing, so it just doesn’t make sense to point fingers in that direction.

I guess I had to say all of that so that it would make sense when I say this: I truly respect and appreciate our border patrol agents and our military and our government. Even if I don’t always agree with their actions, I am thankful for their service, and I am thankful to be an American. I wanted to recognize today, and take a moment on my little platform that is this blog, to remember all of the fallen men and women. From those who were trapped in those airplanes and buildings, to the service men and women who risked everything to save the lives of others: You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.