Thursday, December 31, 2009

On the edge of a new year

Firecrackers are popping outside, and the kids sleep soundly through it. That's something I'm phenomenally grateful for. I'm big on new year's resolutions and just resolutions in general. I think I resolve something new every week or so, just based on a person's casual suggestion or something I happen to see.

So it's more challenging to sort out what could be a meaningful resolution for 2010. I know I'd like to do more creative work, something to do with writing a piece about Jenny. But what's most on my mind is trying to live greener.

Oaxaca has a scary dry season, if you ask me, and it gets me worried about water and about resources in general. And my mind always drifts to garbage. So I've sourced out some biodegradable plastic bags that I carry with me in my purse. Whenever I'm shopping, here in Mexico, the kingdom of plastic bags for everything, I whip out my bio version and use it instead, and empty it out at home to reuse later. I've bought a few of my favorite vinyl market bags (though my Mexican students said it made me look like their grandmas) in various sizes, so I always have something to carry somewhere.

I also want to reduce our paper usage. We've made the switch to cloth napkins easily. I was worried because we have no dryer that keeping up with napkins would be too challenging, but napkins fit in any wash load and dry on the clothesline almost immediately. I've never used paper towels, but I've had to persuade the household to use the cloth rags I have around instead of paper.

Starting my compost pile was successful, thanks to my friend Sadie's guidance. I will boost it by expanding the number of pots in which I keep all the great veg and fruit scraps.

Someday soon, it will be planter boxes on the rooftop. I want to grow veggies, fruit and herbs. We have our rainwater catchment system for watering.

I'm always impressed with Oaxaca and Mexico in general because, despite the lack of infrastructure, people here get by on so much less consumption. In the whole green picture of things, it's the reduce part of the equation that matters the most. I posted this all more concisely on my Facebook status, vowing for less crapola in 2010. I'll be seeking out other methods for attaining this noble goal.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Expat Paranoia Sydrome Redux

A short piece I wrote on this very blog, "Expat Paranoia Syndrome," is the story of the month over at Expat Women. If you haven't read it yet, you can check it out on the website:

Expat Paranoia Syndrome

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Moving to Oaxaca and then--

Moving to Oaxaca with kids was not a huge leap for me but realizing that we've been here over two years does startle me. I wonder if I start to take my surroundings for granted. We spend our days rushing Max to Colegio Teizcali and Geni to her new Waldorf school that she loves, then we work, get Max and Geni to after school things--when you get down to it, what's the difference between living here and living there?

For me, the difference is in the details, that much of it happens in Spanish, in buildings painted indigo or terracotta or orange, with graffiti and agua fresca everywhere.

I've framed my week around certain rituals I dearly love. There is the organic market at Xochimilco, where I get my torta with wild greens, Coloradito mole sauce and cactus, and a chai and a tejate on the side, because who can choose? There are my weekends at the Casa de Cultura, listening to children practicing indigenous dances and classical music. Our Friday morning breakfast date at Itanoni, a restaurant dedicated to maintaining biodiverse species of corn, sparks many happy conversations between me and Steve. The markets, the revolutionaries, the wrestling posters, the chuggy buses, the cacti, the calendas, the kiss on the cheek from neighbors and friends--it's all part of my walks to pay the bills or pick up tamales.

Our third year here, and I've found I work a little too much and we don't venture to villages as frequently. The quantity of visitors has declined, and certain bureaucracies frustrate me more than fascinate me. But, through all of it, I equate Oaxaca with my destiny. There is no other place I know so messily beautiful, so profoundly moving, even in the smallest details, the brooding shapes of cloud shadows moving across the mountains or the sounds of brass bands in the distance.