The more time I spend in Mexico, the more dazed and confused I am re-entering life back in the U.S. Contract writing work, plus seeing family and friends, brings me back to Dallas several times a year. Part of me thrives on getting stuff done quickly and efficiently, shopping with incredible selection, and going into an office dressed in real clothes and shoes to meet with members of my work group. Another part of me is just plain freaked out now by north American life and culture.
To wit: television news, which these past few weeks has been fixated on deflated footballs, celebrity transgender transformation, the birth of an English princess and a violent biker gang war.
Seriously, until a massive earthquake in Nepal left thousands dead, injured or homeless and legitimately pre-empted other news, there was coverage ad nauseum about whether Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots knew their footballs were under-filled, providing for easier grip. Yeah, and suspending superstar quarterback Tom Brady for several games is an unspeakable tragedy, with him confined to staying home with his Brazilian supermodel wife instead of earning millions of dollars playing a game.
Anyone paying even sloppy attention to celebrity news will know that former Olympian Bruce Jenner is now undergoing transgender transformation to become a woman.
Leaving his ex-wives and children a little, well, confused. I have to admit here that even though I return to the states several times a year, on one trip back to the states, I had to figure out who the Kardashians were and why in the world I would want to keep up with them. Now I know and I’m even more sure that I don’t.
And the biker war in Waco, where apparently motorcycle gangs including Bloods, Crips, Bandidos and Cossacks met up at a centrally located restaurant to discuss territory and drug trafficking routes. At the end of a violent fight and shoot-out scene that left 9 gang members dead, police collected more than 100 weapons in the parking lot, including guns, knives, chains and brass knuckles. And we wonder why Texas has such a Wild West reputation.
Other stateside stats from this trip:
Clothes bought: two pairs jeans, two pairs cotton cargo pants, 5 Gap T shirts, 3 tank tops and three pairs shoes, specifically for rainy season in Oaxaca. Plus a “new” rolling briefcase from the thrift store. Stuff that’s hard to get in Mexico, at least for a grande-sized gringa.
Average price for restaurant meals: about $30 for a meal in a fairly trendy restaurant with one, that’s one, glass of wine. For one lunch with my bosses I had a salad (in which they forgot the cranberries and skimped on the goat cheese) with one-third of a dessert and only water, $25 check.
Cuisine: Tex-Mex about half a dozen times (we truly don’t eat chips with guacamole and enchiladas in Oaxaca); sushi three times; Thai twice; soft serve yogurt, I’m not telling. Those places with a dozen flavors in self-serve machines are amazing and I’m on a mission to try all possible combinations.
Number of work meetings: 16, over a month. Not complaining, just noting. Seeing people face-to-face when I’m in town makes it easier to maintain contact with them for the contract work I do in educational PR, writing content and managing marketing projects.
Movies seen: two. “The Water Diviner,” with an aging Russell Crowe as an Australian dad looking for the graves of his sons lost in the battle of Galipoli, a tear jerker but with great accents and vintage clothes. And the French documentary “Dior and I” about the new head of the Parisian-based couture house. Sadly, I missed the final few minutes of the film when the theatre was evacuated because of a fire alarm – whether real or not, I don’t know, but in this day and age of bomb threats (oh, and I live just miles from where two suspected terrorists were shot dead by an off-duty policeman at a Mohammed-drawing contest) I was almost to the car by the time the fire trucks arrived. Presumably, the fashion show went on despite numerous challenges; I didn’t lose any sleep worrying about it. It was fascinating in a sort of “I can’t believe that’s a real job” kind of way.
Number of steps taken this month: I don’t actually know, since the last pedometer fell out of my pocket on the plane trip back and the next one I bought at Target lasted exactly one week before it broke. I’m down to the replacement counter which is showing that I vary wildly from about 4,000 to 10,000 steps a day in the U.S., vs. the fairly consistent 8,000 steps a day I average in Mexico. One would wonder why I keep buying step counters, but I’m kind of hooked now to know how I’m doing.
Number of cultural events seen in Dallas: 0. Wish I’d gotten to see the Oaxacan children’s choir at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Sol y Luna festival, but when my friend cancelled at the last minute I didn’t go alone. Or to the Dallas Museum of Art’s Aztec exhibit. Unlike Oaxaca, these events aren’t free or even reasonable here. I did have a moment of déjà vu hearing that The Who are touring again, and that Hall and Oates are coming to Dallas this fall.
Number of sons seen: two (all that I have), with bonus celebratory days of both of their birthdays, Mothers’ Day and Memorial Day weekend. This is the best stuff, no price tag.
Spanish spoken: occasional, like the service station attendant checking the air in my tires and a talkative waiter from Mihuatlán, Oaxaca (who by the end of the meal had invited me to come visit his family), and about 10 minutes a day catching up with José on the phone. Just when I think I’ve been making pretty good progress, nearly a month off causes my language ability to suffer mightily. It’s maddeningly like exercise: you work and work for a long time, slack a little, and have to almost start all over again.
American things I still don’t get: Honey Booboo and Mama June, The Bachelorette and American Idol; $99 Fitbit electronic step counters and $25 lipstick; changing purses to match your outfit; receiving paper statements in the mail recapping what online statements say; the overuse of the term “spoiler alert” when clearly they don’t mind spoiling anything; and the Texan obsession with following weather as minute-by-minute breaking news. Yes, there’ve been tornadoes and flooding, but still.
The birth of a royal princess to Prince William and Kate of the House of Windsor, now that’s news I can appreciate and understand. More than a deflated football, anyway.
— Susan Bean Aycock, embracingthechaos.org