It’s pronounced A-Hee-HEEC

From a recent date night in Ajijic.

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This town is just oozing with charm (does that make it sound too much like a festering sore?). I mean, just look at that mural of the dancing and serenading chickens. Isn’t that the funniest thing you’ve seen since Trump was elected? Also, it’s pretty much a full-time job trying out all the fun, local, independently-ownded restaurants. Our current favorite is Gossip’s Kitchen (presumably because the kitchen is right in the middle of the restaurant) where I had possibly the best jambalaya I’ve had outside of Louisiana (full disclosure: I’ve never actually been to Louisiana but you know, eating there is a life long dream…right up there with eating in Singapore. Full, full disclosure: I have only ever had jambalaya on maybe two other occasions in my life so maybe my range of comparison is somewhat limited.)

As I may have mentioned, we have moved to a pretty rural area. I mean, people don’t churn their own butter or anything but there are free-range cows walking about. To be perfectly honest, we have had a few panic-stricken moments of buyer’s remorse since we moved out there but for the most part, we’ve been loving the slower pace of life and Adan’s significantly reduced commute time. And we are making steady progress on the house. We don’t have light fixtures yet but our kitchen cabinets are getting installed this week, which is the most exciting thing to happen to me since the fifth Harry Potter book came out (that one, I remember, was a particularly hard wait because a) such a cliffhanger and b) it seemed to take longer than the other ones.)

Some of you have expressed concern over our internet situation. Yes, thank you for your prayers. We are currently living without Netflix and, I won’t lie, it is as hard as you would imagine it to be. And then some. Netflix withdrawal is a very real and painful condition.

This was a long weekend for us here in Mexico so Adan made chilaquiles this morning and simultaneously won himself Best Husband and Best Chilaquiles Ever Award. So I guess that is a testament that life can and does go on in the post-Apocalyptic, post-Netflix world that we are residing in.

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Guidebooks call it the quintessential Mexican town

We visited Guanajuato on Christmas day with some of Adan’s family. As the title suggests, most books call this charming little town a must-see spot. I have to say I agree, though I am not sure I would use the word quintessential to describe it. But who am I to argue with the Lonely Planet people?

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There are troubadors that give tours around town in the evenings. And petrified mummy corpses from the naturally ocurring minerals in the soil. Also, in the 1600’s huge quantities of silver were mined here and those old mines are now a Unesco World Heritage site. And it played a key role in Mexico’s war for independence. I don’t know, is that what makes for a quintessential Mexican town? We didn’t hit any of the abovementioned touristy attractions because we were more in the mood to meander and beause we had small children with us but just walking around the town is fun.

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University of Guanajuato, and I’m guessing the architect was ahead of the game and didn’t want to encourage obesity in the student and sightseeing populations.
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Adan with our adorable nieces. In case you can’t tell from the picture, all three of the subjects are total hams. I mean, just look at them.

 

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This Christmas season flew by and didn’t really feel very Christmassy, to be honest, mainly because we didn’t put up a tree and that completely threw off the Christmas feng shui. We had a good reason for not putting one up, though. We are buying a house and will be moving next month (insert fireworks and chessecake!)! It seemed like too much to ponder a big move and also putting up and taking down a tree. Especially when we are debating curtains and light fixtures and all the decisions that come with a house. Still, we are beyond thrilled and for the first time in my life I can happily browse at Home Depot for longer than two minutes. Buying a house is without a doubt the third major life event that has made me feel All Grown Up. Right after getting married and getting a Costco membership (in chronological order, of course, were we going by order of importance, the two would be flipped).

Also, for another Christmas miracle: Becky’s baby was born and it’s a boy! Grayson Beau. He is just perfect.20161214_120910-1And on that very happy note, the curtain drops on 2016.

In a holding pattern

Adan and I went exploring last weekend, and by that of course I mean we got slightly lost. The kind of lost where vultures start to circle if you show any sign of weakness, your GPS gives you a blank look and you haven’t seen another human being for many miles. But the view was pretty great.

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See all those stairs? Adan ended up carrying me piggy back up quite a bit of those because we made it down fine, and then I felt lightheaded and sick (maybe dehydrated?). And rather than abandoning me at the bottom of a pit, miles from civilization where no one would find my body (meaning that it could never be traced back to him), he decided to carry me out. In 95 degree weather. Guys, this is The One. Cue Bon Jovi and find me a white dress. If I hadn’t already married him, that is.

Ever since I was a teenager, I remember Brenda telling me that contrary to our expectations, marriage never turns out to be a 50/50 endeavor, with each party giving an equal amount of effort and love. Sometimes, you give 50% and your spouse does likewise. Most of the times, you pull 2, 17, 60, 70 or 95% of the marital weight. You carry your spouse when they are sick, discouraged, depressed or going through hard transitions. And soon enough, the tables turn and your spouse has to carry you up the Mexican Grand Canyon in scorching high noon heat. I guess it makes sense, though, that marriage is not a 50% reciprocal relationship because that would make it a business partnership rather than a love commitment.

So, at the end of that miserable day, I guess I learned a) that two people with no sense of direction should never wander so far from the highway or beaten track and b) things are never as dire as they seem when we are in it together.

On business news, I have a website up and running for my translation services: http://www.fasttracktranslations.com

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Now comes the hard part: I wait. And wait. And, apparently, when I’m done with that, I wait some more. I feel vulnerable and also afraid. Afraid that this will really work; afraid of falling on my face. I guess fear of failure is a pretty pedestrian thing to struggle with. I think I can claim a bit of eccentricity and individuality on being equally terrified of success. We are working right now on getting the word out and working with existing clients. It’s a lot of decision making, but mostly? It’s a lot of waiting.

The Costco Diet: The correlation between hot dogs and introspection

So, since Adan and I belatedly jumped on the Costco membership wagon, our favorite home cooked meal has become their hot dog. We got at least once a week to get them, and I am not admitting anything, but we *may* have gone three times this past weekend. Once for their rotisserie chicken, twice for hot dogs. Before you get all judgemental and start in on a mental lecture about obesity and processed meats, I just want to point out Adan and I have lost five pounds each since we started living off hot dogs. The Costco diet is clearly better than South Beach. Okay, okay, so maybe we haven’t exactly lost five pounds so much as not lost any weight, but we also haven’t gained any weight… and everybody knows that maintaning one’s weight and losing weight is really just a tiny difference is semantics.

Speaking of food (I mean, seriously, when do I ever speak of anything else?), I have been making homemade pizza! Adan says he’s falling in love with me all over again. It takes a bit of trial and error with the dough and it’s my first ever attempt at using yeast. It’s actually quite fun. I like watching it expand, like a mutant, or like a living thing, which I guess that’s quite appropriate as that is what yeast is. (All right, so maybe I should get a gym membership, instead of sitting at home watching dough expand…) It’s like my weekly science fair experiment, and there’s actually something quite satisfying about making something from scratch… I know, the sheer irony of my saying this… my twenty year old self is reading this and asking “Who even ARE you?!?!” There was a time in my life when even heating up a frozen pizza in the oven would have been considered too much work. If you have never attempted making pizza dough at home and think that people that regularly do such things have a higher IQ (I totally used to think that), I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret: it’s actually not that hard.

So I finished translating the book and now am unemployed again. This is really a drag, not having a stable income. Granted, I made two month’s income off the book project, so I guess technically I could just watch reality TV and soaps (by reality TV I of course mean sitcoms and by soaps, I mean old episodes of The West Wing) for the next month before having a panic attack, but I like to get an early jump on things, I always have. Hence, I am panicking ahead of schedule. It feels good.

People have asked me how I am doing post quitting my job of ten years. They always seem very concerned, as if trying to talk me off a ledge. Honestly? This may be Denial talking, but I’m actually quite fine, emotionally. It makes sense that there would be a mourning period after such a change, but I don’t think I’ve really gone through that. I think focusing on the Next Step has left me with little time to be nostalgic about the Past. This should in no way be interpreted as an insult to the Past. The Past was great and treated me like a princess when I was living it.

Also? Yes, I’ve had the occasional bout of cabin fever, but for the most part, I’m really quite content. I have worked a steady job since I was 18, in order to pay rent and utilities and buy cheese at the grocery store. In all this time, I had always assmed that I could just never be the kind of person who didn’t work. I don’t judge the people that don’t, I just never thought I had the temperament for it. In fact, before we got married (and even for a short while after), Adan used to say that it would be nice if we could eventually get to the point where we could just live and save off of his salary and I could have the option of just staying home. I told him in no uncertain terms that I could never learn to adjust to staying at home all day.

Turns out I am a fast learner. Because panic attack aside, I am worried that I’ll get so comfortable between jobs that I’ll just permanently be “looking for a job.” Maybe all this time, I deluded myself and others into thinking of me as productive and hard working when really I am lazy and unambitious in the worst sense of the word…

The true definition of freelance: working, sort of

So, I am working, sort of. Or as the hipsters like to refer to it: freelance work.

I have taken on a translation project of a book that I have to finish this month. Which is great, because, you know… income! It is not so great, because with freelance work there is always the potential for work, right alongside the potential for being unemployed again at any given moment. It’s the paid benefits of a job, without any of the stability.

You know that myth about Damocles? How he thought it must be so cool to be king, until he realized that being king is like having dinner with a huge sword hanging over your head, the only thing keeping it from lopping your head off being a single strand of horse hair. Freelance work is basically eating a tuna casserole, all while trying to not look up at the sword dangling over your head.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe that one must always make an effort to look on the bright side. Adan is excited about the prospect of my being able to work from home, partly because he worries about my safety and knows I’ll be more comfortable this way. But mostly, because this gives him an excuse to set up a home office. He’s been dragging me to wood shops and Home Depot, because he wants to design and make a desk, rather than take the slacker approach (or, Choong Sil’s way) and just buy one. Spending time at Home Depot is only slightly more entertaining to me than watching a colony of ants on the sidewalk.

Also, though, for those days when I need a change of scenery… I pack up and head to my other office. Elhy Cafe over by Chapalita, where they have amazing lattes and friendly, but not intrusive staff.

IMG_0997I have found it conducive when I want to really focus for a large chunk of time. Mainly because when I’m home, even when my intention is to block out all other distractions, I usually wind up throwing a load of laundry in the machine when I get up to stretch or, at the very least, battling feelings that I should be doing a load of laundry. Which means that I subsequently get up at half hour intervals to hang clothes & do another load, or just end up feeling guilty that I’m not fully taking advantage of my time. But, when I’m away from home, I forget that I haven’t thought about what we’re having for dinner or that there’s no clean towels.

Another wonderful thing about freelance? It enables Adan and I to keep up our Monday Matinee tradition. Adan works weekends every other week, and then has Monday and Tuesday off. Quite often, on his Monday off we go to a matinee. Let me tell ya, you haven’t lived until you’ve been to the movies at 1:30 p.m. on a Monday. Usually it’s just us, and maybe three other people in the whole theater.

In short, when one is a freelancer, one is able to determine one’s own business hours, which really works for me, because I’ve never been one of those people that says: “I work best under pressure.” I work best when I’m well ahead of schedule. Well, not true, I work best with a latte and potato skins by my elbow. Sometimes, the flexibility of hours is nice for reasons less joyous than going to the movies. I came down with a stomach virus and it has been nice to be able to work when I feel up to it, with breaks.

(Sidenote, I am never sure what to do with my extra time on those rare occasions when I come down with a hostile takeover in my stomach. I spend roughly seven hours a day eating or thinking about food. In short, every free awake moment of my day. When I say, “I think about food”, I don’t just mean shallow food cravings. I mean the real, compex food issues of our times. E.g. Nacho cheese, what exactly IS it and why does it taste so good?)

Of course the biggest perk and the most obvious reason people take up any sort of freelance, work from home situation, is the ability to work in sweat pants.

In summary, I am working, sort of, or temporarily, at least. And that is reason enough to celebrate.

Today in Movie Reviews and Op-Ed

Adan and I went to the movies to see two crime fighting vigilantes, one of them a caped crusader, the other an alien with superpowers, duke it out in a battle to see which one of them could cause more citywide destruction. Would I recommend the movie? Well, the popcorn was awesome. We got the half caramel popcorn, half regular butter and it was so fresh, so hot, such salty-and-sweet perfection. I give it a solid six and a half stars out of five. The movie? I fell asleep. Apparently Wonder Woman is in it, too, but I didn’t actually catch that bit.

Life, Lately: I gave my two week’s notice at my job.  It was just time. I have been working as church secretary at Fuente de Vida for over ten years and that is a LONG, long time to be doing any one single thing. I don’t think anyone among my friends and acquaintances has been at the same job for that long without any breaks. (ok, I take that back, I can think of exceptions, but they’re mostly in our parent’s generation. I meant that I don’t know anyone my age that has stayed at one job for so long).

I am looking for jobs now, polishing my resume (that is code for embellishing to make my puny accomplishments seem hire-worthy) and basically freaking out that I may never find another job and will perish as a stay-at-home wife who will drive both herself and her husband crazy. (Stay tuned, it’s bound to get real in a very soap operatic kind of way).

This has been the best job I’ve ever had despite the unique challenges it involves. My co-workers are generous and kind. Take Carnaza, for example,

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who in all the years I’ve worked in close contact with him, I’ve never once seen lose his temper and lash out in anger. Heck, I’ve never seen him even vaguely irritated or annoyed. The guy can laugh at himself (and, let’s be honest, he’s quite good at taking the Mickey, too but never in a way that would give offense), is the most humble and joyful servant I know (can’t count the number of times he’s given me a ride to the airport at four in the morning) and is an enthusiastic eater (Boy, can he ever eat! Though, to be fair, loving food is practically a prerequisite for working at the church).

My boss/pastor walked my down the aisle at my wedding, for the love of quinoa!, that is how important he and his family have been (continue to be) to me. It has been a privilege to be a part of this church community, serving in the capacity I had.

Nevertheless there comes a time when you need to move on, not because of some sort of relational rupture or dramatic falling out. But just because you need a new challenge, a different environment. Who knows what it will be. Maybe a little further down the line I will go back and finish a degree. Maybe Adan and I will adopt an emu. (It’s highly unlikely, but I hear people going through a quarter life crisis tend to break character). Maybe I will take up candle making.

In the meantime I wait. It is both nerve wrecking and exhilarating. I guess change always is.

Asian women have small feet you know

I recently bought flights to Tijuana and was forced to pay a fee to offset my carbon footprints. I wish the airline had asked me a few questions about my lifestyle so as to determine whether my carbon footprint needs offsetting instead of just making that assumption. I feel that Adan and I don’t have particularly large feet when it comes to greenhouse emissions and the environment. At Adan’s new job the company strongly encourages all employees to either take company transport or carpool (he does the former) and I walk back and forth to work, so we actually don’t end up using our car all that much. Shouldn’t the airline be giving me a discount and sending me a thank you note for caring for our planet?

Still, am looking forward to this trip, starting with two days with Eric and Bekah’s lovely family, whom I have not seen in five years, when their oldest son Caleb was a mere pea pod.  They now have two more boys. After that I will cross the border and meet up with my friend Ruth in San Diego. We have not seen each other in 18 years! (As an aside, how did we get old enough to have known people for two decades?!) There is nothing I love more than catching up with old friends and drinking coffee, and when I can do those things simultaneously? I’m delirious with joy.

Here are some pictures from recent weekend outings to cafes and parks.

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From a trip to his ‘hood (Leon) two weeks ago. Yes, the picture is artistically blurry on purpose (fingers crossed behind my back). I firmly believe that Adan and I can’t ever take a road trip anywhere without getting lost. With most couples, one of them has an inner GPS. In our case, bad sense of direction combines with not being able to distinguish left from right, so we usually add an extra hour–or four–to whatever estimate the map gives us.
Chapalita on a Sunday afternoon.
Chapalita on a Sunday afternoon.

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This is a staged candid, rather like those wedding pictures of the bride and groom gazing adoringly at each other's eyes and completely "oblivious" of the cameraman.
This is a staged candid, rather like those wedding pictures of the bride and groom gazing adoringly at each other’s eyes and completely “oblivious” of the cameraman.
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another fake candid, do these seem convincing at all?

Headline news so far in September, the leading above-the-fold item in the Metro section is that Becky is no longer a vegetarian. I’m afraid she now won’t have any new motivation to visit me in Mexico, as we used to say that it doesn’t count when you’re in a foreign country. A Health Item: yes, Adan got glasses. We are officially an Urkel family. Polls and surveys show that the public (his wife) is strongly in favor and thinks they make him look smart, in both the American and British understanding of the word. Food & Wine: We only had coffee (or, rather more appropriately, sugar) at the above place, but are excited to go back some other day and try breakfast there.

Also, because no post is complete without a funny or deep quote of C.S Lewis’s: Gambling ought never to be an important part of a man’s life. If it is a way in which large sums of money are  transferred from person to person without doing any good (e.g., producing employment, goodwill, etc.) then it is a  bad thing. If it is carried out on a small scale, I am not sure that it is bad. I don’t know much about it, because it is  about the only vice to which I have no temptation at all, and I think it is a risk to talk about things which are not in  my own make-up, because I don’t understand them. If anyone comes to me asking to play bridge for money, I just  say: ‘How much do you hope to win? Take it and go away.’