Like I told this reader, I've woken up to dead bodies on the sidewalk in front of my home. Lost one of our closest family friends to gang violence in Parral. Seen a man shot dead in the chest on the corner by my best friend's apartment. Had to listen to my husband fearfully recall what happened when he was jumped in El Centro for taking a picture of the cathedral. Comfort a close friend after she was forced to listen to a family be murdered in the house behind hers. Listen to our neighbor cry with agony when they found her kidnapped daughters head in a field a mile down the road. And so on and so on. But I choose to look at the good in life, and not dwell on the violence and homicides. I choose to write my blog about the positive aspects of life in Juarez because there's already enough people out there talking about the negatives. Not to mention, laughter is my survival mechanism. Also, I'm well aware that I am beyond blessed to be a US citizen and be able to reap all the benefits that it entails, but if I used the US as my safety net, I wouldn't have left it in the first place. Living apart from my husband is not an option for me.
This discussion was followed by another person saying they agreed with the original comment, and adding a whole new slew of opinions. I was told that his Mexican family members thought my blog was a joke and that my posts are insulting. That I only tell one side of the story and that I make my husband look like a fool and it's an insult to all Mexican men. He didn't forget to put a little cherry on top at the end by saying that my husband "only survives because of the graces of the Super Heroic White Woman," and that Mexican women find my blog infuriating.
I'd direct you back to my Facebook page to witness the plane crash, but some of the comments have been deleted by their authors. I found these comments puzzling, and the second quite offensive. It made me feel as though some people who are reading this blog may be getting the wrong impression. These aren't the first people to give me their opinions or call me out on my blog. And up until now, I didn't mind the criticism. People have told me that I have horrible writing technique. I've been told that I swear too much. I drink too much. I'm a horrible person because my son doesn't live with me. My writing doesn't flow. I should talk more about this. I should talk more about that. Those emails come in on the regular and I don't really let them bother me. However, the idea that I am somehow insulting all of Latin America is something I can't just sit back and shake my head about. I have to defend myself. Actually, I haven't felt so defensive since I wrote 25 Things I Love About My Ham Sandwich.
I'm not really sure where to start in my response to all of this, so I guess I'll start with the statement that I "only tell one side of the story." I know I speak highly of Juarez while the press and cartels tear it shreds. But let's be real. Would me talking about all the gory details day in and day out change anything or benefit anyone? Is there a lack of bad news about Mexico? Would I be shedding light on a situation that no one knows about? There is a reason why I don't share all of the bad things that we've encountered since we moved to Juarez. I have blogged a bit about it here and there, however, my aim has never been to do some sort of expose on the (once) murder capital of the world. If you are looking for something along those lines, go check out Charles Bowden or Judith Torrea. I respect and admire their work, but quite frankly, that's not the story I'm trying to tell.
What I am doing, in case it hasn't been made clear, is trying to survive in my own way. This blog isn't about Juarez. It's not about the drug war or NAFTA or the missing women. It's about love and personal growth and patience and assimilation and appreciation. It should also be said that I am not a spokesperson for Juarez. My life does not represent the life of a typical Juarense. I do not represent Juarez. I am just Emily.
With that being said, I think someone can live in Juarez and not really know what it's like for most of the people here. And maybe that's where I am misunderstood. It's no secret that there are wealthy people in this city, who live in their fresa-Pronaf-club-bubble, and have no clue how the rest of the city suffers. But even that is far fetched because in this drug war, there really are no safe zones. You could live in Campestre or you could live in Anapra, but just a couple short years ago, neither group was safe from the bloodshed. Even united by violence, the city is still divided by social classes. And because of that, and my middle class American upbringing, it would be impossible for me to represent either group. Of course I will never know what it is like to be born outside of the US and to have so many unmet needs, but does that automatically make me entitled or unaware of the bigger picture in life?
Too bad I act as if this is an adventure, a movie of the week.
Yeah that is too bad, isn't it? If only I ran around crying all day and talking about all the tragedies in this country, things would be better. Give me a break. Sometimes I feel like people would prefer me to run around wailing about how horrible life is in Juarez and how I have been dealt a bad hand because I somehow ended up in this "shit hole." I can't figure out what that would accomplish, but so many people seem to think that's the way I should act. I can't wrap my head around that.
I also can't wrap my head around the fact that people seem to think I've saved my husband or done him some huge favor by marrying him. Heroic white woman? What the fuck? I'd like to think that these people don't actually read my blog. I'd like to think that anyone who has read all the blogs I've written about my husband wouldn't be capable of making such an asinine, flippant remarks. I'd really like to think that. For anyone who hasn't stumbled upon those blogs, let me say it again. Hopefully everyone hears me this time.
"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..."
Yet again, as frustrating as those flippant remarks about Ray were, I was most offended by the comment that I insult Latinos and that my blog angers Mexican women. That's really the main reason I felt compelled to write this blog today and address the comments at all. I'm not going to lie, this has consumed my mind all week. I spent far too much time digging through my blog archives and posts on Facebook and Twitter trying to figure out how I had managed to upset an entire race of people. I asked the gentleman twice if he could tell me how exactly this blog infuriates Mexican women but he did not respond. I guess the idea that I was offending an entire group of people that I just spent the last 3 years falling in love with just hit me a little hard. No, really hard.
I think I'm pretty tough when it comes to criticism because I have a lot of defects and I know it. But this was just too much for me. I've been trying to superarlo for most of the week and I think I'm almost there. Some wise words from my Mexican and Mexican-American friends helped immensely and a random email from a first generation Chicana reader who told me she was hooked to my blog and gave me her prayers and support certainly helped as well. So I want to thank those people for their assurance and comforting words. It meant a lot to me.
I guess at the end of the day, we all have to remember that the Internet has this really cool feature you can use if you don't like what you're reading. It's that little X in the upper right hand corner. All you have to do is drag your cursor over that bad boy and click. Magia!