Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Buckets of Water

I can't believe I left the cliffhanger just sitting there like that. We're almost all healthy now, and the party seems like so long ago. Over 30 people showed up--all of the no-shows were expatriates, and all of the early birds who stayed the longest were the Oaxaquenos--and my lasting memory of the event was watching one of our guests hauling a bucket of water up to the toilet so she could flush it. Ah, well. Steve's enmoladas went over well, or everyone was polite about it, who knows which?

The Monday after the party, the strangest thing happened. I was picking up Maxito and Geni at school, and talking to another expatriate mom. She said, "My sister's in town" and I looked over and saw the sister, and jealousy washed over me. It has stayed with me now for almost two weeks. The sister was holding her niece like she was her own child and I knew that's what Jenny would do with Max and Geni. It makes me grind my teeth when I imagine it.

I've been distracted, too, because I got a writing assignment to write about all various and sundry topics that were favorite obsessions of the "Have You Seen the Dog Lately?" of old. It's been good to be immersed in projects about Mexican wrestling, ex-voto painting, fringe theater, movie musicals, and artist trading cards. It's clear I've been typecast as their "alternative culture" writer, because they only pick up my more eccentric pitches.

Jenny, I love you!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Is that what you want? A cliffhanger? All right.

On Tuesday, Steve informed me that he wanted to invite people over for comida on Friday. I panicked, due to social anxiety issues. Having always had party trouble in the United States, I surely didn't want to attempt anything here, at least not until I had the guise of Max's birthday party to hide behind. So Steve went on to invite upwards of 40 people and started making enchiladas in various mole sauces like mad.

As our freezer filled, Genevieve starting acting up. She screamed from 2 to 4am a couple nights in a row, all while our "bomba", water pump, commenced grinding and hissing in the backyard.

Genevieve was sick, so we dashed her off to the homeopath yesterday. And now I'm sick, though I suspect it's hay fever. And Steve's sick.

In the mean time, I was desperately calling our landlord to get someone to shut off the water pump. The horrible grinding was bothering the neighbors, too. And then, last night, it burned its fuse, taking the electricity with it.

Our electricity is back, but the bomba is broken, meaning we have no water. No showers, and, more critically, no flushing toilets, and our 40 guests arrive in 2 hours. We are now hauling buckets from Miscelanea Evis, the store next to us (gracias to the kind, ever resourceful Julita) to fill our toilets. We will spend our afternoon dinner party filling toilet tanks.

Will the guests consider us "crazy gringos" and never speak with us again? Will the bomba repair guy show up mid-party like he promised and add to the fun? Will I be able to feign the energy to get through a party I didn't want in the first place, now that I'm down a couple nights of sleep? Will Genevieve decide the party is the perfect setting to do her new Display My Big Tummy show? Or her oldie-but-a-goodie Dig For BoogerNuggets show?

If you never hear the answers to these questions, you will know that this party destroyed me.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Hilair wrote to me that it's easy keeping up with me, because I'm so bloggy. That made me happy. I have been blogging more because I recently picked up an old travel journal and read through it, and was stunned with all I had forgotten.

I hope blogging can help me hold onto some of the details that time tries to erase. But perhaps it's not enough like a travel journal, not filled with the same little strange details and sketches in the margins. It's very tiring to think that I might have to keep a handwritten journal as well.

Even though I purposely keep this blog theme-free and try to stay as stream-of-consciousness as possible, don't I still sense that I'm writing for an audience? Can anybody really share their private ruminations with the online world?

But I guess nothing matters other than some words get written. These days I'm thinking about solar panels, Genevieve's boingy curls, growing a vegetable garden, how I miss the beach, Japoneses (delicious coated peanuts spiked with a tiny bit of spice), and, of course, money.

Another bit of blog happiness: Pickel of "My Two Boys" has hosted my blog on the Carnival of Family Life:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mi "Casa"

Yes, here it is. Lovely Carrie McNinch sent us a photograph she took of our house. It takes a lot of imagination to think this will be done in a month. I promise glossy beautiful photos soon!

The house is cool, plain, and modern, so basically a blank slate. We will of course cram our tons of artwork and altars in there, but what next? Not owning anything means I have to buy (cheap) things quickly, and it would be nice if they had some sort of style, I guess.

So I looked at online decorating sites. This was just a terrible thing. Never in my life have I owned matching items. It seems silly to coordinate your bedspread with your drapes! I've always benefitted from the hand-me-down, junk pile, random acquisition, gift method of decorating, so this is new territory.

Then I vaguely remembered a doctor's waiting room in Portland. I had read an issue of Domino magazine there, and I recalled it as less matchy-matchy. Perhaps I'd get some ideas. This house was interesting. No fancy curtains or chic little tables, and lots of brightness and patterns. But still, it seemed too clean and planned. What was I looking for?

I stumbled around and found a blog called decor8. She's very gung ho about a style she promotes as Boho Modern. This is an improvement--lots of crap stacked on things, paintings up against the wall. It is a little more realistic. And the emphasis is on mixing things up, not putting it all together. Some of her commenters, however, did not find it so charming, and called it Crack House Chic. Is this what we've come to? I guess you could go for the cleaned-up version, called neo-Shabby Chic (look how much I'm learning!), but that looks expensive and uncomfortable to me.

As time wears on, I see what I'm a sucker for. The words "flea market", "swap meet", and, the biggie, "junk". But some of this flea market decorating seems to take beautiful old things and attempt to make it into generic new things. I'm not trying to make my crummy old stuff look like Pottery Barn. So not an improvement, in my book.

So, I'll keep searching. Some possibilities: cottage style? beach house style? rustic? eclectic (shudder...but it's probably what I'd be labeled)? retro? Or I'll give up and just let the crap fill up all the corners and make up a name for it. Broken Toy Bohemian. Pile of Papers Nouveau. Mouse Cage on Television Totem. Socks.