Saturday, December 27, 2008

Just a couple days left!

So we've made it through the holidays and I am not completely nutso yet! This is a good thing.

I still have much to do with regards to packing. Two suitcases are packed and ready to go, but I've got two more to deal with. All the boxes have been mailed, with the exception of the one or two we are mailing with La Hija's new toys. I've got a lot to do but am much more inclined to relax with my family than do anything productive. This will have to change on Monday, as it my last chance to get it all together before our departure in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday.

I can't promise another post before I leave, so just in case, I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and I imagine that I will next be posting from El Salvador!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The chaos of holidays

The holidays are always a bit difficult for me... for a lot of people actually. This year is no different. Family drama abounds and I know I shouldn't let it get to me, but it does. I'm selfish and I want this Christmas to be peaceful and happy. I want my family to give each other the love each member deserves. I want the bickering to stop and for people to... dare I say it... get along!

I know it's a lot to ask. I know everyone goes through their own emotional stuff this time of year, but as I said, I'm being selfish. This is the last actual Christmas I'll spend with my US family for quite some time and I'd like everyone to just get over it, be happy we have each other and have that reflected in respectful and loving behavior!

Of course, this is always much easier said than done.

In other news, I'm still bitter about having to change La Hija's last name. I realize we would have had to do it sooner or later, but the fact that we can't name our daughter what we want to name her is ridiculous.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Updates n stuff...

So I'm here in Michigan, getting ready to depart one week from tomorrow and I'm looking forward leaving more than I can say. I've got a lot to do and so little time to do it in, but I'll do what I can and take care of the rest when I can.

I had a rather (un)pleasant conversation with a *cough* lovely lady at the consulate the other day and she informed me that because we "named [our] daughter wrong" the Salvadoran government thinks that "some other man is her father" so we have to change her last name. I was warned by some of you that it's never as easy as it may seem and that there may be more issues with naming that it first appears and you were right. I've got to do a birth certificate correction and then change her passport, but we'll deal with it when we can. Seriously, I was not at all pleased with the woman I spoke with... she was... not nice.

In other news, it is flippin COLD here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bit of business: Done.

So there was one last bit of serious business that needed to be taken care of before our departure for El Salvador: registering La Hija's birth with the Salvadoran consulate to get her birth certificate. Yes, this is certainly something that we could have accomplished in El Salvador, but Mi Amor was under the impression that it would take multiple visits to municipal offices there, whereas all it took (after I finally got copies of Mi Amor's identification papers from El Salvador) was a phone call, a fax, $15 and a letter here.

...and I had to decipher a Spanish form that didn't always make sense, but then again, what government forms do make sense -- regardless of language??

So, soon enough La Hija will be a dual citizen. Then, all we have to do is deal with getting residency papers for me, and that can't be done until I'm there... so, one less thing to worry about.

19 days until El Salvador!

Over the edge

Well, I think it's happened. I think I've officially been overcome by stress.

There's too much to think about and I've got too much to do in the next week. I'm leaving Indiana 1 week from tomorrow.

1 week.

And I am not packed.

And I still have to work.

And I have to sell my car (which is not paid off).

...and pay bills with a rather pitiful savings.
car: $390
insurance: $111
student loans $200
credit cards: $100 (which is paying over the minimum, but the point is to pay them off, right?)

that's a total of $801 a month... and $501 of that is for a car I won't even be driving!!!!!

Seriously folks, I'm stressed.

And let's talk about how clearheaded I absolutely wasn't during the planning of this move:
  • I overbought things that I could have waited on: I'm planning a trip back to the US in the summer!
  • I didn't really think about the fact that it would likely cost just as much to move via shipping boxes down than it would have to hire an international mover, and I'd have less to show for it: lesson learned. Move on.
  • Choosing to move post Christmas was idiotic. Let's think about this: the holidays are typically the most stressful time of year for folks (on multiple levels), and moving is supposed to be one of the most stressful events people can go through in their lives (ranks up there with divorce and having a new child, if I remember correctly). There I go just putting them both right together... and yet, I ask myself why my savings is half of what I wanted it to be before I left... seriously, I'm ridiculous!

I don't want it to sound like I'm not happy and looking forward to this move. I am, more than I can explain... I just wish I didn't let my emotions cloud my thinking so much...

This too shall pass... and it will work out. It always does.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Clinging to my sanity

I guess this is an addendum to my last post, but it's something I think I'll be writing about more often, so I'm giving it it's very own post.

Throughout my years on this earth, I have done many things to help alleviate stress... some more healthy than others. Lately, my outlet of choice has been cooking, and I've been reminded of how much I enjoy it. I haven't done it as much as I'd like over the past two years, because I'm often the only one around to eat it. Lately, I've taken to bringing cartons of food to work for coworkers because I just can't eat the same things over and over again and I enjoy the act of cooking too much to stop.

Before Thanksgiving, I made Blueberry Cranberry Apple Butter for holiday gifts... then I realized I've got some folks in my life with some special dietary needs, so over the weekend I made two versions of some Four Berry Apple Butter (blueberry, cranberry, blackberry and raspberry) for those folks.

Then I made some Chicken and Dumplings for dinner tonight.... oh my YUM!!!! I hadn't had it in forever and it was amazing... good thing too since I've got 4 meals worth of leftovers.

I'm making a pork roast this week since I have one sitting in my freezer.

I've got a ton of other things to make over these next two weeks too... just to get rid of the perishables. I'll likely be bringing some stuff over to my neighbor too. She's on a fixed income and still feeds her grandson (who works but won't buy her any groceries for some reason) on a daily basis, so she can definitely use some extra food now and then.

Muddled, mixed-up me

I've wanted to post something for quite some time and just haven't been able to sit down to do it. Things are hectic, I'm over-emotional, overwhelmed, over stretched and all around ready to move. If there is one thing I've always detested, it's being in limbo. That "In Between" space is so uncomfortable to me... and I've been here for 2 years, but the discomfort is intensifying as of late. Yes, I still belong here... sort of. I'm still working, I've got to finish up my classes and I've got to pack up everything. I've also got some time to spend with my US family over the holidays. That is a good thing, I know. I'm just ready to be with Mi Amor.

I'm tired. I'm tired of single parenting... tired of being alone... tired of living without my mate.... tired of trying to explain to La Hija why she can't see Daddy when she wants to... and really tired of trying to explain to people what life will be like down there before I even get there. People want to know when I'll be coming back for a visit, what my work schedule will be like, how we are going to deal with child care, how we are going to deal with Mi Amor's work schedule... they want answers to all of these things that I don't have answers to yet and dealing with all of these questions is.... emotionally exhausting.

I feel like I have all of these obligations to my family... to spend as much time with them as possible... but I'm spreading myself a bit too thin. This will all be over soon enough and I'll have some time to unwind and relax after I get to El Salvador.......... that is, unless I'm teaching on online class....... oy.

23 days and counting.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

So today, beyond giving thanks for my family, friends and a long overdue upcoming move, I am thankful for a responsive congressman.

Before the elections, I wrote to Congressman Brad Ellsworth about supporting free elections in El Salvador.

I actually got a written response and a conversation request from a member of his legislative staff:

Dear [Aighmeigh],

My name is Zach Pfister, and I work on Congressman Ellsworth's legislative staff. We recently received your e-mail regarding free elections in El Salvador, and Congressman Ellsworth has asked me to conta
ct you discuss this issue in greater detail...

Ok, what???

I am seriously excited and seriously thankful and a Congressperson would take the time to do this.

So yes, I'm thankful for a lot of things today. Even though I know there is much tension about the roots of the holiday, this year I just want to be thankful for life and the many blessings I've been given.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cleaning out the Kitchen

In a quest to utilize what I've got in my cabinets and freezer, I decided to spend the afternoon making Christmas present preserves. Last year I made cranberry apple butter, and it turned out well but was a bit sweet. I found two bags of cranberries and a bag of blueberries in my freezer today, so this year's concoction is blueberry cranberry apple butter. It's got a very nice tartness to it, so I'm pleased with the outcome. I ended up with 11 half pint jars, so that should do well for gift giving this year, and I may bring some for Thanksgiving next week.

Slowly but surely, I'm using up what I have in the apartment. Made some vegetarian lasagna this weekend, using up the few lasagna noodles and the frozen breaded eggplant I had. Part of me thinks that the fact I have to buy more in order to complete the dishes I'm making is a bit counterproductive, but I guess I'd typically have to go grocery shopping anyway, so whatever. The lasagna was amazing, by the way. I used some sundried tomatoes and these great olives I have... I had planned on using some artichoke hearts I've got in the fridge too, but I forgot. I guess those will have to go in salads or something. This weekend I also made the turnip, parsnip and carrot dish that I love, which used half the homemade chicken stock I have in the freezer. I made myself throw out the veggie scraps I had in the freezer, along with some fish that had some serious freezer burn. I'm not going to make stock again in the next month, especially since I won't even be home for most of next week.

Most of my holiday shopping is complete, just a few odds and ends to pick up and a lot of organization to do. At this point, I think I may only have one more box to send down to El Salvador. I may have another to send after Christmas, as I am guessing La Hija is going to get a bunch of toys... especially since I bought her some this weekend. I took her to the toy store and we roamed around and I bought her some of the things she went nutso over... she was content with only opening the Yo Gabba Gabba figures, and she's been obsessed with them ever since. She's requested that we watch the show constantly, which means I have to play the same two On Demand episodes over and over and over. Thankfully, she's consented to watch Jack's Big Music Show (which I love) a couple of times and I've snuck in an episode or two of Blues Clues, The Backyardigans and Dora, so I am not totally insane... yet.

I booked the rental truck for the move as well. Of course they always tell you that you're not guaranteed a truck, which flips me out, but I'll deal with whatever comes up. If I have to drive an hour to pick something up, I will.

The next big task at hand is to correct all the papers I have in my possession before class on Tuesday so I don't have anything pressing over Thanksgiving. We're heading up to Michigan and as much as I'd like to pretend I'll get something done while I'm up there, I know better. Most of our time will be spent relaxing and visiting with family. My aunt has arranged for La Hija to get a ton of photos taken, so she'll get to play dressup one day too--we'll see if she cooperates!

Anywho, I guess I should go to sleep. Must wake up early tomorrow and get some work done.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

T Minus (less than) One and a Half Months... ???

I knew December would creep up on me without my noticing, and yes I realize that it's only November 16th, but that means the month is half over and I really feel no more prepared than I did a month ago. Thankfully, Mi Amor is on the ball and is working out logistical issues with business #2 and is working his tail off to make as much money and establish as much of a base as possible before we get there. The plan is to have employees in two cities eventually, and he has a friend with a small house we'll rent near where they'll work. Interestingly enough, this was an idea we both came up with separately. He's got a loyal following in the area he's in right now and while it makes logistical sense to relocate so I don't have to commute an hour each way through the mountains on a daily basis, it kind of sucks to lose such steady income by picking up shop and moving. So, via working some events this month he's hoping to make enough money to not only get the appliances we need to buy (an oven and a washer) but to get the other house and keep everything going there after the holidays.

La Hija is watching Yo Gabba Gabba and all I have to say is that this is the trippiest show in the world and if it wasn't for the fact that I know it would be impossible for anyone to lace my koolaid with something psychotropic, I'd seriously wonder... They're singing a song that says, "don't... don't... don't bite your friends!" ....I think I love it. It's hilarious!

I have to send out another box this week. It's Mi Amor's birthday soon and I didn't get him much, but I'd like to be sure it gets to him before the big day.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Things are coming together...

I had to take a break from the blogosphere for a while... all the politics were beginning to wear down on my delicate sensibilities. I get really emotional about some things, and the state of the world that we live in is definitely one of them. Discord hurts me more than it should. I can deal with conflict and certainly love a good debate, but when there is hatred involved I don't do well.

Anyway, I'm glad the intensity has turned down a bit. Now I just need to stop reading things I know will rile me up, like Internet commentary on the election results. I am appalled at the lack of basic respect people can have for each other. Seriously.

So things are smoothing out with the move, slowly but surely. Mi Amor got us a new house in the city I wanted to live in!! It's got 4 bedrooms, 3 of which have bathrooms, which is excellent since we will have some of his friends/employees living with us for the time being. I have mixed feelings about it but got used to living with people during my college years so I can learn to deal with it again, I hope. The main thing I require (and I've said this) is that there are established boundaries and that we have some private space. Of course, Mi Amor has thought about this and actually laughed when I brought it up. "You're my wife! Of course we are going to have some privacy!!" he said. We'll deal with it as it comes. Right now, the most important things to me are that we are together and that we are saving money in every way possible. I don't want to rent forever.

My mom is coming for a short visit on Monday, which is very cool. There was a questions of whether or not she'd come down and I was very upset by that. She lives in The Netherlands at present and I was having a really hard time with the thought that she would be an 8 hr drive away for 10 days but wouldn't come to see me... especially since it was my birthday a few days ago and I was feeling that ache of loneliness that always seems to rear its ugly head around special occasions.

Basically, I moved to this small Indiana city (town) to be closer to my mom but her husband got a European job transfer a year ago. So, for about a year now I've been pretty isolated and without any sort of family support--my nearest family member is a 4 1/2 hr drive away. My parents have some friends who would help me in an emergency, and I have made a few very close friends here, but they are few and far between. It has been a serious lesson in self-sufficiency and I have learned what I am made of.

So tomorrow I am packing more and putting some stuff together which I hope to talk my mom into bringing back to Michigan for me. I really need some more space in this little hole of an apartment. It's getting a bit too crowded in here for me!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Sí podemos.

This Moment...

This moment is absolutely amazing.



I love what I'm seeing right now.


Forget possible.

Change is officially probable.

We Are Making History...

I voted early, but I voted and therefore display the handsomely designed button of wonderfulness at the left with pride. Many thanks to Nezua at The Unapologetic Mexican for sharing his talent!

Today is an important day in American history and I made it a point to discuss the larger ramifications of this election in my classes today. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this election, something will be radically different in our next administration: there will be a minority in one of the two of this country's highest offices. This is huge! Think about it: the 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote in 1870 and many remained disenfranchised until the National Voting Rights Act of 1965... women (regardless of color) weren't allowed to vote until 1920!!

Considering my political leanings, I am even more excited by how much support my candidate of choice has and how so many people of all races have rallied around a candidate of color. It warms the cockles of my cynical and sometimes hardened heart and gives me hope for the future of this country.

In class today we were serendipitously scheduled to read "I Have a Dream" and I was excited by how amazingly perfect it was. It is important to talk about race and gender in politics, and I know that my students aren't asked to think (let alone talk) about such things very often.

It was a good day and I am happy to have taken place in such an historical event... it will be something to talk with the grandkids about.

Seriously folks, get out there and vote if you haven't already. No excuses. Take part.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ok, so just a small political interlude...

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

sometimes I just can't help myself! Powell <3

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Countdown Continues!

Well, 2 months and 5 days from now I will be living in El Salvador!!

Sometimes I can't believe there's actually an end in sight for this 2 year ordeal. It's been such a struggle. Such a long road. I may only be (almost) 32, but I have the gray hairs to prove it (although few people realize this as the woman who does my hair is spectacular at her job!!).

I sent another box out today. It's kind of ridiculous how much this is costing, but if I keep reminding myself that it pales in comparison to the total cost of an international move, it feels a bit less horrendous.

It's cooled off enough around here to make me feel comfortable with the idea of packing up our summer clothes (both in suitcases and to ship) and relying solely on our warm clothes. Yes, it will add to the boxes piling up in the front of the apartment, but I've resigned myself to the fact we'll be living that way for now.

I just talked with Mi Amor. He is working... on the beach! He works so hard and I'm so proud of him. He's almost finished another cart which means he'll have part number 2 of business number 2 up and going either next week or the week after. Part of me worries he'll be working too much for us to spend time together, but I also realize that my nerves are searching for just about anything at this point to worry about.

I need to take a nap. I've been fighting this upper respiratory infection for weeks now and am still coughing up a storm, as is La Hija. Seeing as the apartment is quiet at present (it's nap time for La Hija too) I should take advantage of this chance at rest and snooze. I can't afford to keep this sickness hanging on for any longer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm going to have to bury my head in the sand soon...

I don't know how much more of this I can take. The more I pay attention to what people are saying around me (such as, "with all these illegals voting, who knows if we can have a fair election" and "if Obama wins, it's just because of all the illegals" and other nonsense... like claiming this is going to be the "first racist election in history because of all the 1st time black voters"), the more I seriously want to fight people. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I may look mean, what with all the tattoos and my perpetual scowl, but I'm really a pacifist... but these people make me want to punch them in the head to attempt to knock some sense into them.

I really had to control myself today... especially because this lady complaining about "those illegals voting" was standing behind me in the early voting line. Seeing that I was visibly shaken by this woman's comments (and plotting how I could correct her ignoramus comment without punctuating it with a right hook), this lovely older woman in front of me started talking with me about how she remembered her grandmother talking about how everyone used to be "racist against the Irish too" and we agreed that immigrant populations always seem to face bigots in this country. I made a few comments about how my husband is Latino and we've experienced a lot of racism here (among other things). Needless to say, Little Ms. "Oh My God! Illegals Are Going To Elect A Black Man!!" refrained from speaking to me for the rest of our wait. Thank god!

I'm going to have to take a break from politics now that I've done my civic duty and gotten my vote on. I'll leave the rest of my anxiety for election night.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why am I always disappointed?

Why am I always disappointed, even when I am not surprised? Over the past few months, I've had a number of political conversations that swing around to the topic of fear for Obama's welfare and safety. He's been under the watchful eye of the Secret Service for quite some time, but that does not quell people's fears but it can sometimes make folks a bit more comfortable or confident...

...and then you see things like this and the worry festers like a gangrenous wound

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Through the eyes of a child...

I figured I'd pamper myself this evening and decided to use this brown mud masque on my face. After I'd applied it, La Hija came running over to me with this horrified look, pointed and me and screamed, "EEEEEEW! YOUR FACE!!!"

God I love her! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Change is a Threat...

...and boy does it bring out the ugly in the world.

As if Obama's popularity in the polls didn't cause enough of the American racists out there to tear off their PC muzzles and begin spewing their rhetoric of ignorance and hate for the whole world to see... as if the possibility of "One of Them" in power wasn't spurring enough of an upsurge of frightening public (re)actions... the sickness seems to be spreading worldwide.

Evidently, it's not even safe to wear an Obama t-shirt these days--even in the UK.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Election Interference?

While the past two U.S. elections have been... shall we say... questionable... I'm not actually referring to our elections in this post. I'd actually like to talk about possible U.S. interference in El Salvador's upcoming elections. See, we supported right-wing ARENA militarily during El Salvador's bloody civil war and seem to have a mind to keep them in power, as illustrated perfectly by the strong-arm tactics used in 2004 to frighten the Salvadoran people into "supporting" ARENA. In September, Marisol Argueta, El Salvador's Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke to the American Enterprise Institute and stated that, "more U.S. support is urgent, lest President Saca be defeated in the 2009 elections."

My issue is not with which party is better suited to meet the needs of the Salvadoran people. I have no desire to talk left-wing/right-wing politics. The point I want to stress here is that the election results and subsequent ruling party should solely reflect the desire of the Salvadoran people, and nothing more.

For more Salvadoran election coverage, please read Tim's El Salvador Blog and Free and Fair Elections. If you are a Salvadoran and would like write President Saca in protest of U.S. interference in the 2009 elections, you can see SHARE's sample letter here. Finally, if you oppose U.S. interference in El Salvador's elections, please contact your Congressional Representative. You can find a sample telephone script, which could be easily turned into a letter, here.

I've Tried...

I have tried so hard to keep politics out of my writings here. I really wanted to attempt to focus solely on my move and the whole experience of relocating to a foreign country, and I was almost certain I could do it.

Honestly, I should have known better.

As much as I try to remove myself from it, my mind and heart still goes there. My beliefs are strong and I don't suppress my emotions well, nor should I have to. It seems I'd just imagined this blog differently and wanted to somehow unnaturally compartmentalize myself. Emotions here. Business there. Creativity somewhere else. The disturbing inner workings of my fragmented psyche in yet another, more anonymous locale. I don't think it works that way for me, though, so I will just have to allow this blog to be what it will be.

So, a good friend of mine sent me this video today and I am horrified. The thought that these people are shown as anywhere near representative of the Everyday American is appalling, and the reality that their sentiments may be more common than I'd like to think is both disheartening and downright terrifying.

It breaks my heart and frustrates me to no end that there are people in this world who are so comfortable and content in their feelings of hatred and fear. I want to take these people, shake them violently and say Why do you cling to your fear like a life jacket? Are you happy? Do you feel safe in your ignorance? What the hell is so threatening about difference anyway?? What ever happened to that idea you have about that God of yours creating everyone in "His image", huh?? How does that only apply to people who share your light skin tone? And who the hell are you to impose your unwarrantedly elitist, antiquated, unenlightened, racist ideologies upon me?

And so it goes.

More later on other things political--as I have a lot to say and I'm sort of on a roll.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's One of Those Days...

This forced separation from El Capitán has never been easy for me, but I've come a long way from that lost and shattered girl I was two years ago. I found my way, made a decent home for La Hija, and fought my way through the depths of a depression I was never sure would lift. Much of that has been due to the fact that I've managed to find a way to spend time in El Salvador 5 times over these two years. We have both worked hard to keep our family together, and neither of us would have ever guessed what we'd imagined would take a mere 6 months would take 4 times that.

Every once in a while, it gets very difficult. The reality of the situation grips me, and then I look at La Hija and of course I see him. She has somehow managed to take equally from the two of us: darker than me and lighter than he, my lips with his smile... She reminds me so much of her daddy, and she asks for him often. They talk daily and she covets a picture of the two of them together.

Every once in a while I look at her and I wonder how my mom dealt with being a single parent, especially since she didn't have the luxury of picking up the phone to call her husband when the going got tough. I have to remind myself that no matter how difficult this situation is for me, my mother was widowed at my age and I am merely in limbo.

It's times like these, when the lonliness stings and El Capitán's physical absence weighs heavily on my heart, that I need to remember to count my blessings.

A Turtle's Pace to Win the Race

I'm trying to deal with things slowly but surely so I'm not overwhelmed come December, but I realized yesterday that it's October already! What?? That fact is wonderful, of course, but it's also a bit overwhelming. We're almost half way through the semester, which means things pick up in one of my classes, end in another, and begin in yet a third. We're also planning our annual awards event at my other place of employment and I'm trying to orchestrate as much of it as I possibly can and assure my boss that everything is ready to go. I don't get to attend, as I am teaching/tutoring on the day of the event and can't really figure out a way to make it work. My boss has offered to pay me what school pays me, which takes the financial difficulty away, but I'd have to work out a tutoring sub and find something useful for my students to do. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've got a lot going on right now and that fact is beginning to manifest itself as a very tired looking, scattered woman who is fighting off some kind of nasty sickness.

La Hija and I are a chorus of seal-coughs all night long. Yum.

This morning I started working on the stove. We are living in a "1 bedroom" joint which is nothing more than a glorified studio, so the oven/stove is a small one, but it's probably as old as I am and isn't the easiest thing to clean in the whole world. I've taken care of the range and have the drip bowls soaking at present. I swear, I wouldn't be surprised if they haven't been replaced since this place was built--I know the carpet sure hasn't! I've got to get some oven cleaner so I can finish off the job.

Next job I'd like to tackle this weekend is getting some of our clothing organized. I've already got a suitcase packed with a few things for El Capitán and La Hija's sized up summer clothes and shoes. I think I may have some 3T clothes in the mix there and I need to take those out and put them aside. I can bring those back down with me after our visit next summer. I've got some of my own clothes that I can pack away now. I don't tend to dress really casually around here since I'm either in work clothes or PJs all week. I can get by with minimal hot weather casual clothes at this point. It's still in the 80s here, but it won't be for long.

Speaking of weather, it's been insane here. Mid to high 80s during the day, mid to high 40s at night. No wonder everyone is hacking around here.

Exhaustion is doing strange things to my mind. Yesterday, I had to call El Capitán to ask him why I know the word guanaco, as it got stuck in my head while I was at work. Evidently, in addition to being an animal it's a slang term for Salvadorans. Suffice it to say, without rehashing the entire bizarro conversation, he got a good laugh out of the fact that I'm getting Spanish slang stuck in my worn out noggin.

In other moving news, we've managed to save up enough money for a car and El Capitán has managed to find one that will fit our lifestyle perfectly at an amazing price. Here's hoping everything works out so he can buy it within the next few days. I'm very excited--especially because it's an automatic! Wooohooo!

(Yes, yes, I know. I should, and in fact need to, know how to drive a standard, but I'd prefer to learn at my own pace. Learning to drive standard in an already stressful driving environment would not make me into a nice person!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Naming Laws... What??

Lately, Mi Amor has been talking with me about things that were once virtually off limits--mainly, the prospect of more children--which is a pretty solid indication that he is as ready for this reunion as I am. I have always been very open about the fact that I want more children, but he has more often than not pushed the subject away because he was unsure about our future. No matter how much I attempted to assure him that we would make this move happen, I don't think he believed it would until we actually got our tickets.

Anyway, when La Hija was born, we kind of melded Salvadoran and American naming traditions/styles. We gave her a hyphenated last name but put mine first and then took his mother's last name rather than his father's. Both of us were very happy with this decision because it sounds wonderful and pays homage to his mother since his relationship with his father was... well... unpleasant. So, we were talking about it and somehow I thought to ask if we were going to have issues with the last name of any future children. He basically told me that we would have to give our future children a different last name from La Hija's because of some sort of naming laws there.

I couldn't believe it! I guess it just seems so ridiculously archaic to dictate how names are given to children. I called the consulate to get the details because I was just appalled by this notion that my children may be required by law to have different last names. Evidently, when a child's birth is registered at city hall they dictate that the father's paternal last name comes first, followed by the mother's name. Once that is in the system, we can go through the process of changing the name to what we see fit. I'm sure it won't be as easy as it sounds... it never is.

It would be interesting to do a bit more research on this to find out why this is still happening. I imagine it has something to do with a new focus on requiring paternal support and preventing illegal adoptions and child trafficking.

All of this is far off in the future, anyway--at least a year or two. La Hija is not yet in pre-school and I would like to be settled in El Salvador before we think about adding any family members, not to mention needing to be in better physical shape in order to prevent the pregnancy complications I had the first time around.

All if it's just so interesting to me, though. It's wonderful to see how the simple solidification of a moving date has translated into happiness, confidence and a willingness to imagine, to plan... to dream.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Family on my mind

Boxes. Boxes. Boxes.

They pile up, taking over the room square inch by square inch. Their presence is a tangible reminder of our upcoming journey and a symbol of how this move is taking over my mind.

I find myself wishing I was less excited to leave, more so for the sake of my family members in the U.S. Many of them have made it obvious that they'd like this move to be temporary. They are disappointed when I say I refuse to move down there, uprooting everything, with the "just for a little while" mindset. No matter how many times I say it, someone always asks when we will work on coming back. What would the point of leaving be, if I am going to plan my return before I've even left?

Sometimes I want to scream at them for making this more difficult for me than it already is. I appreciate the input and value their opinions but would prefer their love and support. I have worried about more than they could ever imagine, mentally played out terrifying (and incredibly unlikely) scenarios, and played the "what-if?" game until my nerves screamed with anxiety. I struggle with my need to let go and my hunger for control on a daily basis and have done so my entire life. Moving to a new country, especially when I'm unable to have everything spelled out to me in advance, is difficult enough without having to deal with family members and their fears of the unknown. They mean well and have every right to express what they feel, I just wish they would give me a bit of credit and realize that we've been planning this move for two years. It's a long time coming--it's not something we're just jumping into.

Three months from today I will be living in El Salvador. It's about damn time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Should Be Working, But...

I am so preoccupied these days. I am here at school and I should be correcting papers, but I need a break to (hopefully) get a bit more focused. At the end of the day yesterday, Mi Amor called me and said, "I need to talk with you about something very seriously right now..." and my heart sank. I'll admit it: we are so close to finally making this move a reality (it's been two years coming--since La Hija was a mere 4 months old!) that part of me is waiting for something to happen to make it impossible. It's not a healthy way to think, and by no means is this a nagging concern, but when he says things like that my entire body tightens in anticipation of the rug being yanked out from under our dreams.

"Te amo mucho," he says.

As much as I dislike that moment of anxiety, a phonecall like that will make my day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No... no it certainly can't be easy!!

So I've been doing my immigration homework (gracias a Dios!) and I've discovered that getting my documents apostilled is not going to be as easy as I'd thought. Of course, lil ol' idealistic me thought: this won't be a problem. I'll get everything together at the beginning of December, send it in together and *poof* I will suddenly have all my documents together in case the immigration officials need them!!

Okay, so my imagined scenario wasn't that ridiculously simplistic, but it came nowhere near to the reality of what I'll have to do.

After a bit of research, I've discovered that documents must be apostilled by the Secretary of State in the state where they originated. Not only that, but they must be notarized by someone in their state of origin as well!

See, I guess the problem is that I had to go and live all over the place instead of just sticking to one general geographical area. I was born in one state, educated in another, and currently reside in yet a third (thank God I don't have to deal with getting La Hija's birth certificate apostilled or we'd be dealing with a fourth)! So, in order to get my birth certificate, college diplomas and police record apostilled, I will have to deal with three different states. Two of these states will be a piece of cake; the third, however, is a bit far away and I have yet to work out exactly how I will deal with getting my documents notarized without having to travel there. I've got time to figure it out.

In other news, I got my CV out to Mi Amor and threw in a picture La Hija colored and a picture collage I put together of the two of them. It always feel really good to check something else off the list of things to get done.

I've gotten two more boxes ready to ship... now I'm just waiting until I can actually afford to send them!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mis preocupaciones

There are any number of things that cause little bouts of anxiety to well up inside of me on a daily basis, it seems. It's not overwhelming as of yet, but I've still got a little less than 4 months before we depart. Here are some of my most frequent and intense concerns:

  • Feeling isolated: we have no shortage of family in El Salvador, and I truly enjoy being around all of them. So what am I worried about then? On every trip down there so far I have experienced a very distinct feeling of isolation because my Spanish skills aren't that wonderful. I understand most of what is said to me, but it takes effort. I can speak on a very basic level (often with the help of El Capitán) and can get past my self-consciousness enough to do so on occasion. My main issue is that I find myself totally tuning everything out around me when in public. It's almost as if I don't bother even trying to listen to my surroundings because I know I will have to concentrate to understand anything—and oh boy! my level of excitement when my ears pick up on English in public is incalculable! I know this will go away given time and an increased exposure to both hearing and speaking Spanish, but I know I will be feeling isolated enough having moved out of the only country I've ever lived in—I know this aspect of the transition will likely be one of the most difficult.
  • Immigration red tape: I have been told and read many different things about what will be required of me as far as documentation is concerned. I have read that I need to get translations done at the ES consulate, but the consulate tells me they don't do translations. I've read that I should have apostilled documents, but I've been told (by the immigration officials in San Salvador via El Capitán) that we can't do anything until I get there and that we can't apply for residency for me until I've lived there for 6 months anyway. As of right now, I'm going to do the basics: get my birth cert and a police record apostilled, bring my diplomas down for translation (since I live in the middle of nowhere and don't know where I can get a translation done), and hopefully my mom (who I will have given Power of Attorney) can help with anything that may come up. The woman I spoke with at the consulate in Chicago told me that I should be able to get my tourist visa extended as needed until we can take care of what we need to take care of. I'm going to keep working on this one slowly but surely, but I have a sneaking suspicion this will bother me for quite a while.
  • Logistics of ending a semester/moving/dealing with the holidays, etc.: it's a lot to deal with all at once. I'm feeling pressured by family obligations (and the desire to spend as much time as I can with everyone) and the need to take care of business. Honestly, I'll be happy when we're on the plane since that part will be over.
  • Not knowing what I'll be doing for work: right now I know that I will have no problem working for an ok (yet small by US standards) wage at a language school. I've been told how much (little) I'll get paid and I can basically dictate my own hours. That's wonderful. There is a possibility that I will be able to continue to teach for the college where I'm currently teaching by taking some online classes. I've also proposed an online tutoring program that my Dept. Head is trying to push through ASAP. That has the possibility to greatly help with our income, and internet is something that I've already said is a requirement once we arrive J. There is also a possibility that I will be able to do some graphic design work for my other current job even after we relocate. My main concern with this is finding ways to make sure that classes are covered and work can get done if the internet goes out. We're going to have to figure out how to make it work.
  • Money: although everything is pointing to us being fine financially, the very existence of the "Not knowing what I'll be doing for work" is cause for this worry. Until the details of Salvadoran life are ironed out for me, this will be constantly on my mind.
  • Our living situation: at present, El Capitán is living in a beautiful home that I would very much love to return to. The problem is we eventually would like to move to a different city. In fact, at some point we will have to move to a different city because La Hija will eventually be going to school and we've already decided she'll be attending one of the private, bilingual schools in the country. We are both torn about when to try to relocate. Additionally, if I am to start working right away, we're going to have to move ASAP as a 45 min daily commute doesn't make sense with gas prices the way they are right now.

Ultimately, all of these things will work themselves out. This move is a lesson in patience and in trusting in the fact that everything always works out. I mean, we've made it this far—almost 2 years of having to live as a family even when thousands of miles apart all while trying to figure out how to bring our family back together—and if we can get through something like that, we made it through most of the battle, haven't we?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Moving (the complicated and annoying way)

The overly complicated nature of this move weighs on me much of the time. I'm a college instructor and our semester doesn't end until the week of December 20th. We fly out 10 days later, and I will be expected to spend every waking (and resting) moment with various clusters of family--especially considering La Hija's presence is coveted by... well, everyone. Such is life with a charming 2 year old.

What complicates matters even more is that I don't live in the same state as the majority of my family--anything I'd like to keep (store) must be moved 8 hrs away, so it's not just a simple matter of vacating our apartment. Then there's the question of whether or not I need to actually change my official residence and get a new license before I head off.

This stuff gives me a headache.

On a positive note, I've officially started mailing boxes of random stuff to El Capitán. Two boxes out so far. Who knows how many will eventually go via mail, as luggage is limited due to excess baggage embargoes. Even if we could bring extra bags, I don't know if I would considering how ridiculously fee-happy airlines are right now. Being the wonderful man that he is, Mi Amor keeps gently reminding me that I don't need to send things that we can replace there, but I'm having difficulty with emerging emotional attachments to the most random things: a blender/food processor combo that my mom had gotten us when I was pregnant, for example. Rationally, I understand that we could get another one; emotionally, I don't care and sent it because I want that one.

Evidently, moving out of the country is turning me even more wonky than I am by nature.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

30 December, 2008

As of 12/30/08 La Hija and I will be living in El Savador with El Capitán. I spoke with the fine folks at the Salvadoran Consulate in Chicago and they set my mind at ease. I had been reading too much about what other people claim their requirements were for residency, which were in conflict with what El Capitán was told at Dirección General de Migración. Basically, they just said "come here and we'll deal with it then," which made me (understandably) nervous. After all of this time apart, the last thing I wanted to deal with is not having some paperwork go through as planned, but the woman at the consulate explained how it would work, so I've got a game plan now.

Otherwise, it's just a waiting game right now. Packing and prepping and getting more and more excited each day.