Thursday, April 26, 2012


I was dropping off my husband at the maquila this morning and one of the Transporte Personal buses that we saw on Hermanos Escobar and Tecnologico had spinners on the rims. Of course I practically burst into tears from laughing so hard. It also had the go-to Playboy Bunny stickers on all the windows (which seem to be extremely popular among the public transportation circuit here) and featured the signature strobe lights on the inside. I imagine the second you get onto that bus all you can hear and feel is the bass-down-low and music one would only expect to encounter after 1:00 am at a strip club; that may just be my imagination though. I don’t know how anyone would want to go to work in that environment, at a factory where they earn a dollar an hour nonetheless, but of course the majority of the maquiladores are carless and live in outskirts of Juarez so they don’t really have a choice. Seeing the bus and the bunnies and the rims and the club-esque lighting reminded me how sexed-up everything is here. This is not new to me but I have wanted to talk about it for a while.

Everything in Mexico seems to revolve around sex. I always thought the United States was sex-centered, which it is, but it’s a little bit less in your face. I’m sure plastic surgery is more common amongst Americans for financial reasons but in Mexico if feels like everywhere you go, you get smacked in the face by sexiness. I know everyone is going to respond to this by saying it’s the same in the US, but I humbly beg to differ. Here, all you have to do is open the newspaper and there is a buck-naked chick, spread-eagle, with the only thing hiding her nipples and hoo-hoo being three cheesy graphic designs from the Prodigy days that slightly resembles fireworks. How fitting.

Sex is everywhere. Last night, my husband was watching a game show and somehow it’s implausible for the contestants to just be playing the game. That’s not enough for Mexico? They need to be in string bikinis playing the game. The game show host can’t be an endearing Bob Barker type; He needs to be some raunchy, sex-crazed, moderately overweight man who looks like it’s taking everything out of him to not just go down on Maria right there on the stage in front of everybody. It can get pretty disgusting depending on your choice of programming. My husband chooses wrong every time. I like sex just as much as the next woman. Hell, I’ll sit down and watch porn with you, but for some reason I just don’t like it when I can see the weather girl’s nips. There’s a time and place for this people.

What really throws me isn’t the lady on the screen screaming, “Vuelta, vuelta,” it’s the women on the other side of the screen. I don’t get it. The women I have met in Mexico are some of the most reserved, private, respectable women I have met in my life. I am not speaking of Mexican women as a whole, I am only reflecting on personal experiences. From what I have observed, Mexican women tend to be much more introverted, or at least save themselves and their true personalities for their loved ones. I have met a couple women who are as boisterous as the next American gal, but for the most part they seem very introverted. Is this purely their reaction to me?

The women I have met seem very reserved and hesitant to speak their minds about everyday happenings. When we had a neighborhood watch meeting a few months ago at my old house, I was the only woman who spoke. I couldn’t believe it because if anyone should have an opinion about the electric gate, or beggars, or guards, or whatever, it should be the person who is home all day, caring for their children. All the other senoras stared at me, eyes wide, mouths gaping open, as I spoke my mind about the security issues. The men didn’t seem to react oddly. Are Americans known to be outspoken? Is this expected of me? Were they disgusted that I spoke up or overcome with admiration? I couldn’t tell. The women I encounter on a day to day basis are such a stark contrast from what I see in the media that it leaves me completely perplexed.

Basically, these dudes wake up and there is T & A in the newspaper, and then they watch the weather report and the “meteorologista” has a push-up water bra and leather skirt that perfectly accent her hoe-stick and hoo-hoo. Then they get in the car and listen to the radio where all you hear is mamacita-this and mamacita-that to the point that it begins to sound like a phone-sex conversation. They head to the mercado after work to buy some milk and there are women there, promoting beer or bread or shampoo, wearing practically nothing as they try to get you to take their Pan Bimbo coupon. Then of course, after a hard days work, they relax and watch some weird Mexican version of Family Feud where the women are in their underwear, yet again, doing weird things with their bodies that men dare them to do. At least I think that’s what it’s about. Even being bilingual, I struggle to understand the purpose of some of these shows. A Que No Puedes. That’s the one. Even the sports shows have no resemblance to ESPN back home. Women jump up from behind the sportscaster’s desks in plaid skirts that perfectly display their ass cheeks, because, duh, didn’t you know that’s what you’re supposed to wear to a futbol game?

I don’t even know how the hell I am supposed to end this. I don’t think I will ever know. I just don’t it…

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lisa's Monthly Survey

I can always count on Lisa over at From One Country To Another to bring me back to the days of AOL and MySpace with one of her fun surveys. I love these and I always have. I love filling them out, I love reading other people's answers, and I love having something to write about that doesn't involve contemplating the meaning of life. Thanks again Lisa ;)

1. Name three things you have a fear of:

Car problems, birds and not living life to the fullest

2. Cheese or Fruit Pie?


Long or short hair?


Small town or big city?

Big City

Blue cheese or Ranch?


White or Wheat Bread?


3. Have you ever won a contest?

I won 2nd place in a writing contest last month at work. My cheerleading squad won 2nd place at our state competition back in the day. In middle school the intramural volleyball team I was on won 2nd place at finals. I get 2nd place a lot. I'm okay with that.

4. Would you rather camp out or stay in a Hilton?

I love to camp. That's something that really blows about Juarez because there really isn't anywhere to camp or fish. Pull up a map and look for the nearest body of water (that isn't in the US)... You'll be looking for a while. Although my tent and sleeping bags are getting pretty dusty I can easily say that I still prefer living in Juarez with the conveniences of city life to living en el rancho and being on a permanent camping trip.

5. Have you ever had surgery?

I've had a tonsillectomy and a cesarean.

6. Are you a planner or go with the flow kind of person?

Before we moved to Mexico I was a complete planner. I still have my moments where I try to control each and every aspect of everyday life but for the most part I have come to the realization that I have no control over God's plan for me. I feel oddly at ease with the realization. I'm sure it's the Mexican way of life rubbing off on me and I know it's a good thing.

7. If you could have anything to eat right now what would it be?

A ham pizza, easy on the sauce from Barro's Pizza with a side of Honey Hot wings and ranch.

8. What is your favorite type of flower?

Bleeding Hearts. Weird, I know... A lot of people aren't familiar with them so here's a picture. My mother had these growing in our garden when I was a little girl.

9. Do you remember your dreams? Do you have any?

I have been remembering my dreams a lot more lately. In the mornings after I cross the border I usually nap in my car for 30-45 minutes before work and I remember almost all the dreams I have during that time. I dream about everything. Sex, flying, cartels, food, family, winning the lottery, you name it, I've dreamt it. I've dreamt that my teeth have all fallen out and that I've been shot and that I find a dead cat in my fridge and that I'm a famous food critic. I dream big and I dream vividly.

10. What do you miss most about your childhood?

I miss my adolensence more than my childhood, but I guess it's one in the same. I miss being irresponsible and not caring about the consequences. That sense of freedom was exhilerating. And pink Hostess Snoballs at Dad's house in Kansas City on the weekends... I miss those.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Woman Like You

Last night we were out on our patio with friends, drinking some Tecates, playing darts, line dancing, you know, the usual. Yes, I said line dancing. I haven’t confessed this yet here on the blog but the Texans finally got to me and I am now an avid country music fan. I listen to it all the time and I can’t get enough of it. Its simplicity is addicting. It’s like bacon or young adult novels or crack. You can’t take just one hit.

Luckily I found a friend who shares my love for the banjo so I have someone to line dance with. We were having a great time when Lee Brice’s song, “A Woman Like You,” came on the radio and we got to talking. I’m going to assume I don’t have a lot of country fans reading this right now so I am going to post the lyrics to this song. Yes, I swear I have a point.

A Woman Like You
Lee Brice
Songwriters: Philip Barton, Johnny Bulford, Jonathan Stone

Last night out of the blue
Driftin' off to the evenin' news
She said "Honey, what would you do
If you'd have never met me?"

I just laughed, said "I don't know,
But I could take a couple guesses though."
And then tried to dig real deep,
Said, "Darlin', honestly

I'd do a lot more offshore fishin'
Probably eat more drive-thru chicken
Take a few strokes off my golf game
If I'd a never known your name
I'd still be drivin' that old green 'Nova
I probably never would have heard of yoga
Be a better football fan
But if I was a single man
Alone and out there on the loose
I'd be lookin' for a woman like you."

Well, I could tell that got her attention
So I said, "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention
I wouldn't trade a single day
For a hundred years the other way."
She just smiled and rolled her eyes
'Cause she's heard all of my lines
I said, "C'mon on girl, seriously
If I hadn't been so lucky

I'd be shootin' pool in my bachelor pad
Playin' bass in my cover band
Restockin' up cold Bud Light
For poker every Tuesday night, yeah
I'd have a dirt bike in the shed
And not one throw pillow on the bed
I'd keep cash in a coffee can
But if I was a single man
Alone and out there on the loose
I'd be looking for a woman like you."

She knows what a mess I'd be if I didn't have her here
But to be sure, I whispered in her ear

"You know I get sick deep-sea fishin'
And you make the best fried chicken
I got a hopeless golf game
I love the sound of your name
I might miss that old green 'Nova
But I love watchin' you do yoga
I'd take a gold band on my hand
Over bein' a single man
'Cause honestly, I don't know what I'd do
If I'd never met a woman like you."

We both took the chance to ask our husbands what they would be doing now if they had never met us. Their response was hilarious to me. They both said that if they had never met us, they would be doing exactly what we were doing right then, drinking beer and barbequing with friends. But wait, there's more. Wait for it… They both said they would still be in the United States. Their response makes sense for financial reasons and because they probably wouldn't have such a sense of responsibility to follow immigration law if they were bachelors without a family to worry about, but still... it had me doubled over laughing.

If they never would’ve married Americans they would still be in America.

Oh the irony…

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Friday

On Friday I saw someone get shot. I didn’t know him. I was about a block away. He was wearing a red t-shirt. That’s all I really know about him. We weren’t in our neighborhood and neither of us had ever met the man. By his position on the corner in front of Del Rio, catty-corner from a popular church, I knew that he either sold cigarettes, newspapers or rosaries. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: This wasn’t a stray bullet, or a random act of violence. This was a man who failed to pay the quota. Am I an asshole because I understand the mind of a gangster, or am I an idiot because this didn’t scare me? I still feel as optimistic about Juarez and am as in love with this city now as I was on Friday morning. Sometimes I feel as though someone has injected Novocain into my brain. Is this ignorance? Am I in denial? I don’t know. All I know is that I am not the only one that reacts to murder this way.

We were on the way to our friend’s house for a little pre-Easter/Passover celebration, enjoying the radio and the warm Spring winds with the windows rolled down. When we heard the gunshots and saw the man fall to the ground, my husband and I simultaneously rolled up our windows as I reached to turn the stereo down, as though this would protect us from any stray bullets. We arrived at our friend’s house and told them what had happened. Moments later, one of their neighbors walked by with his daughter. She was maybe three or four years old. My friend asked them if they were headed to the corner store, and after the man confirmed that they were, my friend informed him that there had been a shooting and it might not be the best place to go with his daughter right then. This man hesitated for seconds, only seconds, shrugged his shoulders, and continued to walk in the direction of the store with his daughter. Shit, when you need milk, you need milk?! Apparently, a shooting on a corner in Juarez is about as surprising as a lemonade stand in suburbia. This is only the 4th or 5th dead body I have personally seen in the last year and a half, but I imagine it takes more than that to make the people so desensitized.

They flock to the corner when someone gets shot here. It always seems to happen on a corner. Crowds surround the body for what seems like hours before the caution tape gets put up. A lifetime passes before the ambulance arrives. It’s an eternity before the body is taken away. Afterwards, there is nothing left but a blood stain on the sidewalk. People walk over it unknowingly and knowingly. It fades into the concrete and you stand above it as you wait for La Ruta to take you to a maquila where you earn a dollar an hour. Maybe the victim was loved and has a brave family and a cross with plastic flowers pops up after a couple of weeks. The newspapers eventually report the murder but the name is never mentioned. Numb.

At what point in our lives did death become such a callous matter? At what point did I become a part of the “our” that makes up Juarez? I have a feeling that my ability to brush all of this off has more to do with my past than it has to do with my present, but still, how does one become so numb to all of this? Is this ignorance or is this bliss? Is this denial or is this acceptance? Is this realism or is this defeatism?

I have a feeling that I may never know…

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hot Dogs & Eggs

I remember when I first met my husband. I lived in a one bedroom apartment without electricity (because I couldn’t pay the bill) in a bad neighborhood in Mesa, Arizona. The complex I lived in was full of coyotes and drug dealers and poor immigrants fresh out of Mexico, getting their first taste of the “American Dream.”

Enter husband.

When he came into my life I had just lost my family to my drug addiction for the second time in my life. I was wild. I was irresponsible. I was fun. I didn’t think about tomorrow, only that night, that minute, that high. I lived for the night. It was probably the most fun time of my life while also being the loneliest, most depressing and embarrassing time of my life. I don’t want to talk about that time in my life though. Not yet. Tonight I want to talk about what it was like to be really, really poor. And being poor was a direct result of that constant state oblivion so I felt the need to mention it.

We are getting tastes of that again, here and there, depending on how low our electric bill is, or if I get any overtime at work, or if it’s a lucky month where there is no electric bill (it only comes every 2 months in Mexico.) Sometimes I work a few extra hours, and the car doesn’t break down and my credit cards aren’t maxed out and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Those are the good months. We get those months more than we don’t. This is not one of those months. When you only have one US income but a couple’s worth of US bills, the slightest glitch in your finances can throw you to the floor.

I know I talked about this last summer when we had another particularly rough patch and here it is again, just as before. I don’t really see this as something we can entirely escape from while we are here in Mexico. We just aren't in the position to save for the unexpected... Sure we could probably just eat rice and beans and never go out, but I am trying to enjoy my time here in Juarez to the fullest, not resent it. We gave up cable and some other luxuries to be in this house and I still don’t regret it, but times like this definitely make me reflect on the past.

We lived on Mesa Dr. and Broadway in Arizona in a one bedroom apartment that cost $675 a month. At the time my husband brought home $300 a week, I wasn't working, and we both had horrible spending habits. We were smack dab in the midst of some sort of twisted mix of generational and situational poverty. We considered electricity to be an option yet water to be a necessity. A big shopping trip consisted of a walk to the Food City on the corner to purchase a dozen small eggs (78 cents at the time), a bag of store brand corn tortillas ($1.19), a package of Bar-S hot dogs (88 cents) and the smallest bottle of Tapatio hot sauce that they sold (99 cents.) We would alternate this menu with the splurge of $5 pizzas from Little Caesars every 4 or 5 days. We had no furniture in our apartment other than a mattress that we had dug out of the dumpster. Our pillows were several t-shirts stuffed into another t-shirt. We didn’t have cell phones or a computer or a DVD player. We did have a television that I had traded some drugs for.

The reason I am even thinking about all of this is because we had hot dogs and eggs for dinner tonight. Although now we had the rica addition of jalapenos and onions thanks to the cheap produce here in Mexico. This is what I really wanted to talk about. Yes. I am getting to the point. I swear.

I feel blessed tonight because of the little things. Mexico is built around the poor (and the rich of course, but that is another blog entirely.) There is a little thing about Mexico that makes it easier (no... not easier, si no que more convenient) to be poor here than it is in the US. This is about quantity. I got to thinking about this today because I was Googling, “What to cook when you’re poor” (YES!) and came across a couple’s experimental blog from 2008.

The blog discusses the amount of money the majority of people have in this world to spend on food a day and while the average in the US is well over $5.00, I actually think it was $7-something, the rest of the world has an entirely different figure to work with. Someone commented on the blog and pointed out that the factor that screws so many poor people is their inability to purchase goods in bulk. This hit home with me today.

Thankfully, we have been blessed with a refrigerator and a stove, but we sure as hell aren’t in the position to go to Costco and buy 15 pounds of pinto beans right now. This is what got me thinking about a wonderful characteristic of Mexico that the US just doesn’t have. Here in Juarez, I can walk to the corner store and purchase 1 egg. That’s right, one. I could also buy just one kilo of dog food instead of a 10 lb bag. I can buy 2 jalapenos and the workers wouldn’t even bat an eyelash. I can purchase 1 roll of toilet paper, or 2 apples or half a head of lettuce or 1 slice of ham without any strange looks. Hell, you can even buy just one hot dog. That is the way of life here because the people of Mexico simply cannot afford to plan ahead, or stock up. It's a society built around survival and making it through the day and honestly, it’s something that I am forever grateful for when we are going through hard times.

It makes me sad too, of course. Knowing that I have friends out there who are enthralled with the idea of $300 million going into renovations at Sun Devil stadium while others in this world starve is a tough pill to swallow. On that same note I also know I have more than enough and there are many people out there would be unquestionably jealous of my lifestyle and spending habits.

I am just having one of those humbling realizations that so many people have so much less than me, even when I am at my worst. I may have no breathing room this month, but my bills are paid and I am fed and for that I really just want to thank God. I want to give thanks for all that I have and all that I don’t have. That is all. Enough rambling for the evening…