Saturday, March 28, 2009

La mera verdad

As previously mentioned, I recently updated my résumé and CV. It makes me feel so pretentious and slightly dishonest, using all that drivel-licious terminology that abounds in résumés. Yes, I accomplished the stuff I said I did, but there’s so much more to the story. Here are a few examples of what I’d really like to have said:

Spanish Instructor, University of *****
-Introduced students to the idea that communism isn’t so bad, relative to fascism and/or the imperial yoke.
-Let slip that practicing Spanish conversational skills while slightly tipsy (though not drunk) is a great way to gauge how much you really do know when you’re uninhibited.
-Showed films and played music that would get me totally fired in a K-12 setting. “Me gusta marijuana, me gustas tú”. Gracias, Manu Chau, for your fine illustration of the use of indirect object pronoun structures. And seriously, Almodóvar nudity is only sexual in really creepy ways. What I am supposed to do, show them children’s shows like Xuxa? The woman was a porn star. At least Todo sobre mi madre gives them a peek at Spain’s post-Franco, wahoo, free-for-all cultural liberalism.

ESL Instructor, ***** Hispanic Community Center
-Developed a serious chip on my shoulder about those Chicano Power jerks who tell me that I’m not Hispana enough and accuse me of having "brown shame". Because, you know, it’s not like there are non-Mexican-American Hispanics in the world.

File Clerk, ***** Oil & Gas
-Lost last shreds of tolerance for mind-numbing paperwork.
-Lost last shreds of tolerance for petrochemical engineers and geologists who think they’re smarter than the rest of us, yet stare at me blankly when I make a quip about anything non-scientific. Say, a witty literature joke. Shakespeare who? Faulkner what? Isn’t that a dirty word?
-Almost turned to drink, but applied for grad school instead.

Reading tutor, ***** Elementary school
-Pulled kindergarteners’ fingers out of their noses and other orifices all stinkin’ day.
-Became adept at wiping noses without getting the boogers on my fingers. (If you're wondering, yes, I washed my hands. My poor chapped hands).
-Expanded my vocabulary of childish insults, way beyond "poopyhead".
-Headed off drug deals between kids who pass stuff for their parents. Those brown bags were not always lunch, I tell you.

I wonder if I’d get a job with that version. It does highlight some of my more unique experiences and qualifications, after all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


My husband has a friend who is getting a master's in development at UCLA, and since he's a relatively short drive away he and some friends came down and spent last weekend with us. When people are in town to visit us we tend to shell out a little more cash on entertainment, to make sure our guests enjoy themselves. So, we eat out more, go out on fishing boats, rent ATVs to ride around the dunes (not my idea), etc. Oh, and buy fireworks. Domestically produced fireworks. I pause here to remind my fair readers that quality control and manufacturing regulations are not the what they are north of the border.

There is a bizarre, pyromaniacal pleasure to living in a place where recreational explosives are totally legal and can be bought on the roadside. This was our first adventure with Mexican fireworks, which have alarmingly short wicks. In the desert around town there's nothing to burn. Except us, that is. Nobody caught on fire, but we did have a few that went off right next to our heads, and more than a few bottle rocks that shot not up, but horizontally, sometimes straight at us. One shot straight under the car, and for an arrhythmia-inducing moment we all worried that it would go off under the gas tank. I guess it didn't, because it's all in one piece and unscorched. It was a hoot. It reminded me of younger, more devious days driving down long country roads, shooting bottle rockets out the car windows with wild cousins. Those were the days.

Sigh. There are some aspects of our little strip of desert-meets-the-sea that I will miss. Some. Thank heaven for Wyoming.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

El curriculum

Ah, the tanking Mexican economy. It's predicted that the peso will fall to twenty-to-one against the dollar by summer's end. I predict sooner. To fill you in, when I was in Guad last summer the peso had fallen just barely below ten-to-one last summer, where it had been in a steady hover for years. When I was there in 2003, some days it got close to nine-to-one. We avoided changing money or withdrawing with US ATM cards on those days. This January, 2009, it was at twelve. February, 13.5. By March first, it was at fifteen. Today, it's at 15.5. It pains me every time I make a transfer from Santander to our US account. I miss the ten-to-one days.

The local economy is really in trouble. So much so that I'm looking for jobs in Colorado. We're not sure how long it will take my husband to wrap up here, but now we're old hands and spending a few months apart. It still sucks, but at least we know we can live through it successfully.

This, of course, is requiring me to update my résumé and my CV. I haven't done that in, oh, about three years. Gack. I thought it would be fairly easy, until I realized that my old CV was on my old hard drive, the one that crashed a little over a year ago. An IT angel at my husband's office was able to recover my non-duplicable data and sound files, but the rest was a loss. Imagine my bitter surprise when I found that it was not, in fact, backed up on my thumb drive as I had hoped.

So, I have spent the last couple of days reconstructing my employment and academic history for the last ten years. Gack. It's as hard as it sounds. God bless the internet. It's unsettling how many names I have forgotten, and even the name of an organization I worked for.

Cross your fingers for me. I'm bilingual and bi-literate, surely someone will hire me. . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

La muerte, figurativa y literal

High time I updated. Much has happened, but I've decided to avoid a list (a numbered one, anyway).

I took a trip to the States. It was supposed to be a short one, and the plan was simple: one-way ticket to Salt Lake, buy my sister-in-law's SUV, drive it over to Colorado to register it, hang with some friends, tie up a couple of loose ends at the University, and drive back to Peñasco. How complicated can that have been?

Getting to SLC was fine, but a storm blew in and I ended up staying there a couple of days longer than planned. It was pleasant, though, since I was staying with some beloved friends that I hadn't seen in ages, and we had a nice time together. There was some drama in their lives at the time, involving a father in the hospital and a hysterical mother not taking it well, but I'm glad to say I was able to help out with some things and alleviate a wee bit of the load. Once the storm had passed I took off on I-80 across southern Wyoming, and just east of Ralston the wind started to blow. I had forgotten: in Wyoming falling snow isn't the problem, rather the fallen slow that blows across the roads and creates white-outs and icy highways. I spun out on the interstate, and by some blessing ended up unharmed with my back end in the median, perfectly poised to pull back onto the road once I'd started breathing normally again. I said a wee prayer, remembered that I now had 4-wheel drive at my disposal, turned it on and proceed the next fifty miles at about 25-30mph, with sometimes only a few yards of visibility. I arrived in Denver otherwise uneventfully.

My father had called my the night before to let me know that my grandfather had quit eating and drinking and had lost consciousness, and would probably pass in a few days (in accordance with his living will, he was given no artificial nutrition or hydration at this point. 90-some year-old men should be allowed to die when their bodies tell them it's time). I was glad that I would be in town for the pending funeral, since I wouldn't have been able to make it had I been here in Mexico. However, when the doctors told us that he wouldn't go long, they hadn't factored in the Montoya effect. We're a stubborn, long-lived bunch, and he went six more days before passing. Naturally, I stuck around waiting for his death and the funeral. My father spent most of that time in New Mexico while we waited in Denver, and he was there with his father in the moment that he passed. We shared sweet memories of him, especially of what a funny, smart man he had been before succumbing to the Alzheimer's. Nobody should have to suffer the final stages for as long as he did. Again, he's a Montoya. Oddly (or perhaps not), I didn't cry for him. There were some tender moments, especially during the funeral, when I got a bit teary-eyed, but I haven't cried for his death, and I doubt that I ever will. It was a release. My father stated it well, several months ago when we were driving back from having visited him: I have already mourned my father, he said. The part of him that I knew is gone, and I have already mourned him. I will not mourn the shell of his body when he goes. Well-stated, indeed.

The funeral was beautiful, sweet. There were some awkward moments, such as when my self-blinded, unrepentant uncle saw face-to-face the children of the first family that he abandoned so many years ago-- and when one of his daughter from his second family (bless them for the good people they are despite him) graciously introduced herself to her unknown half-siblings. Mostly, though, it was wonderful. My grandfather's wife has been our angel in these long years (he remarried a few years after my grandmother's death in 1989). It was the first time I had been to a graveside with full military honors. My mother's father and one of her brothers were buried with them, but I wasn't able to attend their funerals (a sad casualty of my globetrotting). My grandfather served 33 consecutive months in battle, making his way on foot from Algeria to Normandy, then to the eastern front in Germany (he took a boat across the Med, of course) and was awarded multiple Bronze Stars. He was an honorable man, always. A man without guile.

The long stay for the funeral permitted me to spend more time in Colorado, and though I didn't see everyone I'd hoped to I was able to spend more time with friends and family than I'd anticipated. When I finally headed back to Mexico and my husband, I ended up staying an extra two days with my in-laws in Phoenix, laid up with a nasty sinus infection. A stroke of luck, though, that my father-in-law is an otorhinolaryngologist and was just the right person to make it right.

Finally, home to my husband, where I encounter another slow death, a moribund town waiting and praying for plentiful spring-breakers to revive the foundering economy. We are in the middle of spring break for the big Arizona schools, and the streets and beaches are nearly empty. Thank you, prensa amarillista. Thank you, sensationalist US media for making it sound like the entire country is as dangerous as Juarez. Thank you for driving away tourists. Thank you for fatally wounding the economy of Mexican resort towns in a nation that depends heavily on tourism. And a special thanks goes out to the Dean of Students at the University of Arizona, who on unfounded rumors and grisly fantasies issued a letter to UofA students and their paranoid parents warning them specifically not tot travel to Puerto Peñasco for Spring Break. Thank you. Thank you for destroying jobs and families and businesses and whole towns. Give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back.

Lola, who feels perfectly safe in her present Mexican home, loathes the self-centered blindness of the US media. Jódanse, CNN and Fox news and all the rest of you.