Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Somehow I made it through six months and his 31st birthday with my mind intact (or as intact as in ever was)... When we return from El Salvador we are going to start going to these group meetings for families who have lost close loved ones. There are separate group meetings for pre-K kids and adults who have lost spouses/partners, so it will be great that La Hija will be in a position to know that she is not the only one whose daddy is in heaven. I called to get some more info about the organization and the meetings and became very upset at the prospect of actually sitting down with other people who have lost spouses/partners. It dawned on me that I really just haven't been dealing with it. I've thrown myself into work, into school, into keeping my child happy, into enjoying a budding friendship, into any and everything imaginable except dealing with the fact that my husband was murdered. I can talk about it like it has no effect on me, I can push it out of my mind or remove myself from it so much that I don't have to deal with the emotions that go along with it. I know that going down to El Salvador, buying and having his gravestone installed, and spending my first extended visit down there without him will all serve to help me realize (with more clarity) that he is gone, but I think that going to these group meetings (I'm guessing it's akin to group therapy) will help me deal with it even more... my biggest fear is that not dealing with it will eventually build up and cause a true break.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Emotional development

Well, last Friday was my birthday, and it also marked the 5 month date of my husband's death. Such a strange combination of emotions I had that day.

My mother told me she heard Wish You Were Here on the radio the other day and started sobbing in the car. She says she will never be able to hear that song again without crying. I know Mi Amor's death impacted her, but I did not know how much until now.

I have been exploring my emotional options as of late. I had a few drinks with a male friend who I had not seen since the beginning of college and it was a good experience. It felt nice to be out, to be social, and to be talking with an attractive man. This was a safe outing, however, and there was no pressure for it to be anything more than just drinks, so I kind of took the easy way out with that one.

I don't know what I am and am not ready for emotionally, however. I have a friend with whom I have a very strong mutual connection and attraction and this friendship has been filling a void as of late. I am so conflicted, though. The part of me that wants so badly to live in the moment says, "just relax and have fun with it!" but there is another part of me that can find a million and a half reasons why I should take about 10 steps back.

I woke up yesterday morning to find that I'd taken off my left-hand ring (it is not my wedding ring... I could not put that on after my husband died... but I wear a ring in place of my wedding ring that my aunts gave me in memory of him). I freaked out a first and started searching the bed, trying to figure out what had happened to it. To my surprise, it was on my right hand. This really bothers me for some reason. A few people have suggested that perhaps it was Mi Amor telling me to let go and move on.

I wonder, though, is there a "proper" time to wait? It has been only 5 months, but it feels much longer since the last time I spent any time with him was at the end of last January. My love for him has not diminished in the least. If anything, it has grown and developed over the months since his death. I have let go of most of the anger and have stopped trying to find answers to questions that will never be answered. I easily and regularly focus on the positive memories we made and can see his actions in such a different light now. I feel secure in saying that I will love that man for as long as I walk this earth and no other man will ever, or should ever try to change that.

Part of me feels ready to, at the very least, open myself up to the possibilities, yet another part of me is absolutely terrified of that prospect.

We shall see.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Four Months

Today it has been 4 months... the longest and shortest 4 months of my life. I have been trying to figure out a way to put our whole story into words, and am finding it very difficult. Sometimes, as useful and magical as words are, they fail to accurately illustrate the subtle complexities of very emotional events. I will think for a while, and then I will write.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I need to hear your stories!

I have started another blog called Faces of Immigration. I know that some of you out there in the blogosphere have had some dealings and difficulties with immigration, and I would love to hear your stories and post them on the new blog. There are so many people with so many stories, but we all have a few things in common: fear, heartbreak, and loss. Too many people look at the immigration issue from afar, without any clear understanding of the personal element behind these laws.

This needs to change.

The Stages of Grief

As I come upon four months of living without Mi Amor, I find myself increasingly analytical--most particularly with respect to my emotional state. I no longer cry every day, but some days are still very teary. There have been a few days where I realized at the tail end of the day that I had not spoken to anyone about him--not even La Hija. There are moments, fleeting moments, where I forget that I've experienced such a deep and soul rending loss. Seconds where I feel calm and happy without trying.

They say that there are steps that people go through in the grieving process. I identify with some of it and have been conscious of some of these steps over the past few months. Others do not resonate so strongly.

Denial and Isolation.
At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.

This a strange one for me. I had not seen Mi Amor for four months at the time of his death, although we'd talked almost daily, except for when he was training out at sea. I'd spoken to him around noon on the day he died. My phone rang at around 10:30 pm and I was excited to get to talk with him again, except when I giddily picked up the phone he was not on the line. It was his sister. All she said was he was dead. Oh yes, I protested, but she just kept saying, " I am your sister, he is dead... he is dead. I am your sister, he is dead." I don't know how long we were on the phone, but I do remember repeating "Nononononononono" over and over again. I also do not remember who told me what happened. I do not know if I learned any of the details in Spanish or if I was in the dark until my Tio (who I did not know before this) called and made sure I understood by telling me everything in English. I still did not believe it until I walked into Mi Abuela's house and saw the casket there. No, not until I took a few steps closer to it and saw his face, and even then it was unreal. I had panic attacks every night in El Salvador because the AC kept waking me up with the intense notion that we were back in the old house together and someone was knocking on the door.

I do not know when it became real to me, but eventually it did. Part of the reason it became real was because I told people, even people I didn't know. Everything reminded me of my loss and I somehow found the fact of my husband's death appropriate, and in fact necessary, to bring up at the most random of moments.

I did not isolate myself, and have made every effort to combat the desire to do so. For this, I know I am much better off.

The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if she's dead), or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.

I was angry, and am still angry at times. Angry at myself, at him, at his attorney, at our governments, at the still unknown killer(s), at the police, at our families, at his fondness for beer, at his fearless determination, at his bosses, at the gangs, at L.A., at Vegas, at the entire state of Michigan, at just about everything that I could somehow link with the path that got us to the point we were at. I've never been one to allow my anger to take over, and seldom think of it as a productive emotion, but I allow(ed) myself to feel it and let it go.

Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, "If I do this, will you take away the loss?"

Now this I don't get. I understood from the very moment that his death sunk in, there was nothing I could do to change this. There was no reason to bargain. He was dead and La Hija and I were not, and that was the long and the short of it. No more time together, no more calls, no more kisses, no more kids, no more hugs, no more arguments, no more laughter, no more "us." It was done. There are no take-backs in death.

The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.

I'd been depressed for a while, since he first left for El Salvador, actually. Quite possibly even since my pregnancy. I do not remember the last time I felt "right." I was briefly back to my old, chipper self during the final weeks of our last time in El Salvador, but our necessary return just sunk me back down. What was so scary to me, is how disturbingly familiar that pit in my stomach felt when I heard of his death. I thought to myself not again! for so many reasons. We'd worked so hard for so long and faced setback after setback. That sense of disappointment and despair came back like an overplayed pop song. You know all the words and tend to get them stuck in your head, but you're miserable for the duration of their mental playback.

I do not know if I was any more depressed than I had been for a while. I was more aware of a sense of resignation--an acknowledgment of the fact that our best would not cut it--that we'd tried hard and fell short.


This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.

I am getting to this point. Slowly. I want to feel "normal" again. I want to be free from having to fight off tears for insane things, like the sound of La Hija's old crib mobile, random songs, and spying older couples holding hands in the street. I want to accept that my life is going on, and that does not negate my love for him. I want to open myself to the possibilities of a happy future, even without him by my side. I want to get to the point where I don't feel like I must be alone if I can't be with him. I want to remember my silly, flirtatious side. The side that enjoyed laughing and joking with people and having a good time. I do not feel completely cut off and sinking in the mire, but I don't feel quite whole yet either.

Perhaps I just need more than five steps. This seven step model is a better fit.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Es Oficial!!

Tickets have been purchased and La Hija and I are headed down to El Salvador again for Nuevo Año! Originally, I'd thought I needed to return by January 5 for school, but it turns out we aren't back in session until the 19th! That brought down ticket prices about $350 each, so I bought our tickets last night after speaking with Mi Prima.

I had not heard Mi Prima's voice since we left El Salvador after the funeral, so we were both so excited. A bunch of hysterically happy women screeching in Spanglish. It was hilarious! So, La Hija and I will be there for a full 17 days, and I couldn't be happier. I'd asked if that was too long and Mi Tia said we could live there forever--I told her to be careful what she wishes for :)

This is a huge bright spot for me. I know it will be difficult, but the holidays will be difficult in general. I am just so thankful that I will continue to spend holiday time with Mi Familia--both American and Salvadoran.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Over a year?

It's amazing to think that I've had this blog for over one year now. Amazing how drastically life can change in that short a period of time. Mi familia invited me to continue the yearly trip to El Salvador for Nuevo Año. Tickets are very expensive at this point, so I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to swing it, but feels good that there is the possibility for the tradition to continue.

This weekend I arranged for two coins that Mi Amor had given me to be made into pendants for me and Mi Hermana. I thought that would be a good gift for Navidad. I have very few material possessions left from Mi Amor because most of our stuff was stolen in the day between Mi Amor's death and our visit to la casa. This is difficult for me because I know the strength of my emotional attachments to my father's belongings (He died when I was two. It is my hope that La Hija will have actual memories of her father, where I have none), and I have so few items to pass on to our daughter. I have maintained that the material items are not important, because ultimately they are not. This realization does not take away the feeling of violation, nor does it make it any easier to not have any more than a few shirts to pass on.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful long weekend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An unsent letter to Mi Amor's immigration attorney

I thought I should tell you that my husband was killed at the beginning of June. He was shot seven times and left lying in the street. Luckily we were all informed quickly and I was able to fly down for the funeral. He looked peaceful and, although he was shot once in the head, his face was not harmed.

I also thought I should tell you that I am angry. I am angry that no one took him seriously when he said he was afraid for his safety if he returned to El Salvador. His age and appearance made him a target. I am angry that there was "nothing that could be done" to keep him here. I am angry that I am a 32 year old widow and that our daughter will have so few memories of the father who gave everything for the chance to be with his family again. I am angry that we had to be pecked at by a heartless vulture of a lying landlord who stole most of our possessions. Mostly, I am angry that we struggled for so long and came so close to being together again only to have some idiot thugs snatch away our dreams.

My only hope is that our loss can be an eye-opener to the realities of your clients' situations. When someone professes a fear of returning home, claims they are afraid of the gangs and their penchant for random murders, I hope that you will listen.

(maybe someday I will send it)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What I remember

The other day, I had a sudden flash of a memory. The small, round scar on his chest, surrounded by otherwise baby-smooth skin. It was not discolored, just raised, and I don't remember the story behind it.

He had many scars, both physical and emotional, and I always tried to be gentle with him. Their stories often horrified me--it was so often unfathomable that such a sweet, kind, and funny man endured so much trauma in his life... traumas so intense that they left their marks all over his body and mind.

I tried my hardest to heal the wounds that festered underneath his hardened skin, and for the last few years of our time together, I think I was at least somewhat successful.

But I remember those scars, and their stories... his smooth caramel skin... the warm, earthy smell of his hair after he'd come home from a long day of work... the strength of his rough, worker hands and how they made me feel so safe when they held mine.

And I also remember the little nagging fear that I'd lose him... that he wouldn't come home one day... that no one would know where he was.

I remember waking up nights when he had not yet come home, frantic with worry, unable to go back to sleep, just waiting and waiting for the sound of our truck... the sound of the door... anything to tell me that he was okay.

I remember the combination of relief and anger I'd feel upon his return, the desire to scream at him and hug him all at once... and how exhausted we both were those days: he from work and I from tossing, turning, crying, and praying all night.

There are so many things I remember, yet there are still so many things I do not know. The last month or so of his life, even though we spoke daily, feels like such a mystery to me--and one that will likely remain so. I only hope that while I reinforce the memories, the mystery fades.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Through all of the chaos

Somehow I am finding some sort of comfort these days. The tears are less frequent and, while I still have no clue where we are headed, I know that we will be okay.

Three of us in the family have been having dreams about Mi Amor, and strangely enough, he seems to be wearing the same sort of clothes in everyone's dreams. Last week at some point I had a dream about him (he was wearing a black and white striped shirt)... in my dream he came back and said he was still alive, that it was all a big misunderstanding and that everything was fine and I didn't have to worry. The next day I got an email from Mi Prima saying that her husband woke up the night before and thought he saw Mi Amor, in a black and white striped shirt, walking around by the window outside the house. That same night, Mi Primo had a dream of Mi Amor, wearing the same thing, where he was trying to explain about and describe the people who killed him. I have not had any of those eerily vivid dreams since, and I'm not complaining about that. I woke up so confused that for a second I wanted to try to call him.

I have been regularly talking with a good friend of Mi Amor and Mi Primo. He is such a comfort to me and he makes me laugh. There are so few connections to Mi Amor here, other than our daughter of course, so it is nice to speak with someone (an adult) who knows how I feel and what a good man he was. Plus, I get to practice my Spanish, which is a great thing.

Earlier this week I sent out a couple of packages to Mi Familia. I'd put together some photo albums, mostly of Mi Amor and La Hija, threw in a few framed recent photos of La Hija, and my mom and I embroidered some cloth napkins for them to hang or put on tables or whatever. It feels good to have finally gotten them out.

Two weeks ago I got a new job teaching Lit at a voc. ed. school. It has been a lot of fun so far and it's nice to get back to work. I hope that I will be able to pick up some more classes next quarter and eek out a living between that and subbing. I'm staying with my aunt most of the time and have decided to put La Hija in preschool/day care out here. I've been looking for places so we could live on our own, but it would be a huge struggle to make ends meet, so my aunt has said we can stay as long as we need and want to. Thank God for my supportive family.

There is more I want to talk about, but I need to sort it all out in my head before I write it down here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The long road...

I am still struggling with this. I want to be able to say that it's gotten a bit easier, but I can't. My aunt (or technically, my second cousin) passed away last week and the funeral was on Sunday.

I was a ball of anxiety, jumping the whole drive there every time someone's breaks went on. A bundle of nerves.

At the interment, La Hija (who came along) was talking with her Nuh-Nuh about what was happening and I heard my mom say, "She is in heaven now, with your daddy," and it took all my strength not to lose it.

The things that struck me most, at least the detached and objective part of me that takes over when it's too much for me to handle, is how drastically different funerals are in El Salvador. Beyond the two day, pre-burial, almost shiva-like, in-home viewing and visiting period, the funerals there are just so much more... real. There is no attempt at hiding or prettying up the grave-site. No tarp over the dirt, no trying to hide the hole, no fancy contraption to lower the casket. There was a hole, a mound of dirt, some slabs of cement, some rope, and four men. I watched as they lowered his casket into the ground, praying no one would let the rope slip. Mi Compadre was watching them like a hawk, making sure everything was done properly. The last thing I saw was them lay the cement slabs down on top of the casket. Then, a family friend (very close to a Tio to me) and one of Mi Amor's closest friends (who sang "Wish You Were Here" at the grave site per my request... talk about a meltdown for me--it was one of our favorite songs during the time we spent apart) took me aside and told me I should leave because I needed to let it go and there was nothing else to see.

It was all so raw, but in some ways I think it was better. We pretty up death to make it less scary for us, but I'm not scared of dying, death, or the afterlife. My problem is missing people once they're gone.

Monday, July 6, 2009

One month...

It was one month ago today... four weeks as of Saturday--but who's counting?

I am.

Te amo siempre, Mi Amor. Te amo mas de la que tu sabes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Contemplations on healing

As I approach the one month marker of being without Mi Amor, I find myself growing more emotional, more nostalgic, and more determined to make sure that El Salvador and our family there stay an important and regular part of our lives. Mi Amor has a son, almost four years older than La Hija, whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I have asked Mi Hermana if she would help facilitate a meeting between us during out next visit so that Mi Amor's children can forge a relationship. I have also decided to keep up the tradition of sending him birthday and Christmas gifts, in memory of his father. I do not know how I feel about the possibility of meeting his mother, as she was the source of so much pain for Mi Amor, but I am civil and kind enough to put that aside in order to have a relationship with Mi Hijastro.

I am saving up to buy a headstone for Mi Amor's grave. Mi Tia paid for the funeral, the casket, and the burial--I wish I could find a way to show her how much I appreciate her kindness in taking care of him... of us in that manner. Part of me would like to offer to repay her once I have the money, but she told me Mi Amor asked her a long time ago to buy him his caja, and so there was a sense of keeping a promise in her acts. One day, something will come to me and I will know what to do.

I still speak of him in the present tense and I can't imagine how I can speak of him otherwise. One thing I know for certain is that I am a lucky woman. I met, loved, and was loved by my soul mate. Few people in the world can say that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What happened...

This is not an attempt to scare anyone away from El Salvador. I love that country and the people in it. This is something that could have happened in any major city in any country in the world.

I have taken most of the following from a journal post. This is what happened:

On June 6, 2009, as he was working at his taquirea, my husband was killed. Someone came up behind him as he was preparing food for some customers and shot him seven times. Seven. Once behind the ear, two in the arm, and four in the torso. Seven.

Crime of opportunity, the police assume. His watch was gone, there was no money on him. They made sure to leave his ID, though. Thank God for that. My worst fear was that something would happen to him and no one would ever know.

He was an amazing man. Hard working and loving beyond words. Everything he did, he did for us so we could make our dreams a reality. He knew it was dangerous where he was, but went there anyway because he made good money there and he just needed to make it through until September when the next boat left.

La Hija and I were to head down in August so we could finally have our civil ceremony down there and have both of our governments recognize our marriage... so we could start working on getting him back into the states.

I spoke with him the day he died... I told him I love him, and I am so thankful for that.

Now, I am numb. I try to keep it together for La Hija, but that isn't always possible. Every once in a while, when I realize I will never hear is voice again, never feel his touch, see his smile... when I realize that the one person I could tell anything, the one person I went to when I needed to breathe is no longer there, I feel lost and scared. And then I look at our daughter and see him and realize I need to get it together and take care of her.

I just miss him. I really miss him.

This event in my life, as horrible as it is, will in no way keep me from going back. In fact, I think it may just make me fight that much harder to get there, since it will have to be on my own. I will return to spend time with my family. Perhaps someday I will return and work at one of the private schools. I will return though. That much, I know for a fact.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Fright of an Open Future

The thing that keeps me up nights, the thing that I am having such a hard time with at this point, is the uncertainty. We had all of these plans. I knew where we were headed. A civil wedding in August to "legalize" our marriage. Finishing school. Teaching in El Salvador. Another baby in two years. A house, a garden, a business. Returning to the US when we had the money for an attorney.

It's all just... gone. I'm staying in school, and teaching in El Salvador is still one of the ideas I'm tossing around, but everything else... all those other plans... all those fantasy images have to fade because they can't happen.

At night, though, they come back to me and make me smile because they images were so lovely... and then I remember we buried him and I've spent as much time with him as I was allowed. There is no future with Mi Amor and that I'll have to make my own way.

This is what keeps me up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thank You.

We are home and I am exhausted. I will write about it--put it into words with the hope that it will help clear my head.

Thank you for your words of support. I am so touched by how people have reached out to me and feel so blessed to have the sort of encouragement and kindness in my life.

Right now, I feel the hardest part is over and now I just have to figure out where to go from here.

One thing is for certain: this is not the end of mi vida Salvadoreña. This I promise to myself, Mi Amor, La Hija, and all of mi familia en El Salvador.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I don't know what to do. I can't sleep. I feel so useless. So lost. So confused.

We had plans.

I talked with him today.

I can't stop crying. Can't stop thinking. Can't figure out why this is happening after we got so close.

How do I explain this to our daughter? How do I press on through this?

The language barrier is so frustrating. I need an explanation. Need to know what the hell happened, although I'm quite sure I don't want to know.

All these dreams... all these plans... everything went *poof* and my vision of our future is impossible. No more time together... no more hugs and kisses... no more laughter... no more children together... no growing old with him.

It just doesn't make sense... and I'm so tired.

Not much more to say.

I don't know how much more I will be able to write here. Mi Amor's sister just called and I heard little more than muerto.

I don't have any more information than that right now.

This is not what was supposed to happen.
This makes no sense.

I am waiting for phone calls so I can go down there.
Trying to figure out whether or not to bring La Hija.
Trying to figure out what to do without my other half.

My mother was widowed at 30.
This was not supposed to happen.
We were going to make it
We were going to overcome.
Figure it out.
Have our family.

I will update when I can.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I am worried about my Honduran blogger friends... is everyone ok??

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's worth a shot

Dear readers, if any of you have legal contacts in El Salvador please email me privately ASAP. I have some important questions to ask. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One of these days...

One of these days, we'll get it right.
We'll get it together
And find strength and peace
In our years
Of sacrifice
And faith.
And together we'll prove the world wrong
And laugh in the face of this seemingly insurmountable difficulty.

We will survive this
Although today it may not seem so.
Although today we cry and scream
And tear our hair out
Because of the pain
Because of the fear
Because somehow, for some reason, it is always a terrible surprise
When we take our three... four... five steps back.
A surprise that steals your breath
And leaves you asking
Why, why, why?
Why now?
Why us?
Why this?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


So, after all of that chaos, I ended up having something called Fifth Disease, a harmless (yet uncomfortable) childhood illness which I probably got from subbing. I'd never even heard of it before! I wasn't really sure that it was really what I had until La Hija came down with it the week before her birthday. The rash looked so horrible on her, but it really didn't seem to bother her. It was odd though, because she didn't get the rash until a week after she'd had the fever, while my fever broke and the next day I had the rash. Both of us got over the rash pretty quickly.

Mi Amor got a new job welding on a boat. He is at sea for long periods of time (we're talking months here) so it is extremely hard not talking to him frequently. I've been tossing around the idea of going to El Salvador again sooner rather than later because I am having such a hard time adjusting, but it's something we need to have a talk about. There's so much I'd need to consider.

I've been subbing a lot lately but that work is going to dry up soon so I've been applying for new jobs daily. I'm keeping the faith that something will come along... things always work out.

We had a Chuck E. Cheese b-day party for La Hija and she loved it. It's so amazing to me that she's 3 already. How time flies.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An update

Where to begin... I've been trying to sort out some health issues as of late. I've been catching every little bug around, it seems, and it'd started to become worrisome. I went to the doctor and got a few tests done, and everything looks good. We're attributing it to stress and depression and starting treatment for that.

Monday I ended up in the ER because I'd been running a fever over 103 degrees, my head was killing me and my body was so sore it hurt to move. After a gamut of blood tests, a CAT scan, and a spinal tap, they decided whatever I have is viral and isn't going to kill me, so I've just got to wait it out. I'm still running a fever, but I can keep it down by piggy-backing acetaminophen and ibuprofen. The only real problems at this point are keeping up with the meds to keep away the fever/pain, the cold sweat that comes along with breaking the fever, and the fact that I can't work... again.

I have to take my MI teacher certification test this Saturday. It's just the basic skills test so it shouldn't be a big deal.

Time to get some more rest.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Holding up and holding on

Well, a lot has happened in the past few weeks. First I got sick. Really, really sick. Sicker than sick. More sick than I'd been in I don't know how long. We are still unsure if it was food poisoning or the flu, since my mom ended up sick 5 days later (a bit long for a flu transfer, don't you think?) and La Hija never got sick at all. The day after the night of the worst of it, I had to go to a meeting so I could begin subbing. That was a treat. Nothing like being nauseated during a 2 hour meeting with an auditorium full of people!! It was worth it though, since I finally got everything in order and began subbing last week! I also had my, first classroom observation experience, which was really interesting. It was much more exhausting than I'd imagined. Basically, it was like sitting in a lecture for 5 hours, because I was having to analyze and take notes the entire time.

I taught kindergarten yesterday and am actually physically sore! Whodathunkit??

I had one student who was most likely autistic, but it was never verified to me. We had a hard time at first because he couldn't deal with any sort of change in routine and was really acting out with me and the other students. I tried to talk with him and was incredibly patient when he needed to say things over and over again or when he got frustrated because he couldn't do something. Honestly, it reminded me of my daughter's "I wanna do it myself!" toddler behavior, but it was taking place in a 6 year old. I spent a lot of time defusing issues between him and the other children. It was rough.

At the end of class (this was AM kindergarten), he refused to do his work and was sitting in a chair away from the other students looking very mopey. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, "I am just sad because I'm gonna miss you. You were very kind to me and most people are mean. I want you to go home with me!" and he started crying. I ran up to me and gave me this huge bear hug (he was strong!!) and cried and kept telling me how sad he was and asking when I could come back.

It was an emotional day.

In other news, business went really went over election weekend. Mi Amor tells me that our family is thrilled at the FMLN victory. Mi Amor was of the opinion that he didn't care as long as he made some money that weekend!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Much on my mind

School is taking up a lot of my time these days. I forgot how much they can pack on the work and, of course, I'm a perfectionist, so assignments take me forever.

We drove down to Indiana this week for an interview at school. Evidently, I have some masochistic students and I am one of the nominees for adjunct instructor of the year. Between the prep work (an essay) I had to do for that, school work, and two days of driving, I was more than exhausted by the end of the week. I am going to try to get some sleep tonight. My stress level is a bit too high at present.

La Hija has been so testy lately. She gets angry and yells, "I miss my Daddy!!"

On one level, I know that she is pushing buttons because she does the same thing with just about everyone (Nuh-nuh, Papa, her aunts and uncles, grandma, grandpa... just about anyone who is not present. Heck, she will even tell me that she misses her mommy--and then she catches herself and laughs), but I also know there is truth to that.

I had hoped we could go back by May, but my aunt is getting married this summer and I need to be there, so it's looking like August now. I can't afford to be flying back and forth, pretending it doesn't cost ridiculous amounts of money.

I miss Mi Amor as well. We talk almost daily, but I miss his hugs. I miss kidding with him and laughing and seeing his smile. I miss watching him with his daughter. I miss helping him with the business.

Speaking of that, things are getting better, very slowly. He is making about half of what he needs to be making in order to support us. He says the economy is even worse there right now--which is something I can't even imagine. It doesn't surprise me though--they are dollarized. Their economy hinges on ours.

I have been thinking so much about starting up a business, but I have no idea how to begin learning about such things. I will need to learn about creating a business plan and all of those basics, and then I would need to figure out how to finance such a venture--even though it would take far less money to pull it off in El Salvador than it would elsewhere.

I'll put it on the list of things to do while I'm here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trying to find work in Michigan

It just so happens that the vast majority of my family lives in one of the states with the highest unemployment rates in the country. So even though I've sent out over 40 resumes since I've been back, I've not had an interview. Now, I'm getting my ducks in a row to go to a meeting at the beginning of March which would allow me to substitute teach (which I would probably be able to do 5 days a week), so I'm not without options, but I wish I had something regular... even part time.

I'm trying not to get discouraged, especially since classes start next week... and my orientation is tomorrow through Friday.

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that things happens the way they are supposed to and that it isn't necessary to control everything in life.

Business isn't going as well at the new place as Mi Amor had hoped. Traffic is minimal because it has been really windy, and people don't tend to eat outside when the wind is whipping the dirt around at skin perforating speeds.

Regardless, we are both trying to keep our chins up.

I am also setting out on a quest for better health. I would like to have another child in the next in a couple year and that requires some serious lifestyle changes. I have set a goal for myself and am going to try to propose to Mi Amor that I be rewarded with another tattoo once that goal is reached. Here's hoping he agrees! It's been almost 6 years since my last set, and I'm beginning to really miss it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Doing what I can

Well, I've been back in the US for a week and I've managed to get quite a bit accomplished. I've enrolled at the University of Phoenix, which offers an online MA in Education leading to AZ certification and am only waiting for the financial aid stuff to go through before I can actually register for my classes. It looks like I'll be starting around the 17th. I went with this program because it really is about 99% online, which won't prevent me from going back to El Salvador as soon as conditions are favorable.

I did my taxes. I'm not getting back as much as I'd hoped, but that's okay. I'm given what I need.

I've applied for a good 40 or so jobs. As I'm applying for jobs online, one never really knows if they are actually applying for a job or if they are responding to another recruiting agency. It really kind of sucks in that sense, but at least I'm putting feelers out there. Worst case scenario, I'll start substitute teaching some time in March, after I go to the meeting the sub contracting company requires me to attend.

Mi Amor went through some serious chaos over the weekend and is relocating at present. If there was any confusion as to why this return had to happen, it's gone now. The situation would have been very complicated and a bit frightening had La Hija and I been there. Suffice it to say, we will all be better off where he is now and I will be able to work, or at least start training, immediately upon our return.

I miss El Salvador and having my family together, but things are going as well as can be expected and I feel like I'm being productive during this hiccup.

I wish it were warmer though :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Well, we are back in the frigid north... and I am here with very mixed feelings. Certainly, I am happy to be with people I love and who care enough for us in return to take us in during our time of need. I also know this was the best thing for our family. I am, however, seriously lamenting the fact that this had to happen in the first place. I want to be home and La Hija, while very excited to be with her Nuhnuh, keeps saying she wants to go home to El Salvador.

I had to buy some warm clothes yesterday, as I was seriously lacking in that department. I've got a ton of work clothes (definitely a good thing) but not so many items of casual winter clothes. Indiana was not as cold as Michigan.

Mi Amor is in the middle of working a 2 week long festival, and I really hope it is going well. We are hoping this will give him the financial leg up he needs to get ready to relocate, and the relocation will allow us to return much more quickly.

In the meantime, I'm applying for jobs and hope to be able to get out to campus today to get info on when I can start school.

In other news, there is an 80 degree difference between here and El Salvador.

I am cold.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The next major task

We are headed back to the US on Tuesday morning, so I've got a bit of work ahead of me. Mostly, I need to figure out what essentials I need to bring with us so that we can have what we need and still have plenty of room in our suitcases to bring more stuff back with us upon our return. I also have to get boxes together to pack up La Hija's toys so that they don't get too dirty in the coming months.

I've started packing what I know I'll need: my work clothes and shoes, as well as La Hija's long pants and sneakers. I want to bring back as little as possible.

This trip back is so interesting because Mi Amor and I have completely changed roles. Upon prior departures, Mi Amor was always the one in need of reassurance. I was always the one saying, "We'll be back in May... it'll go by fast!" This time around, I'm the one needing to hear that this will only be a short trip home. Mi Amor is confident that we can come back by May, and I truly hope he's right. In the meantime, I'm just going to do whatever I can to bring as many positive things out of this situation as possible. At the very least, I plan to make some money, spend some time with the family, work on getting my teaching license and start formulating a TOEFL curriculum for my return.

Incidentally, the new English school I wrote of previously is very literally new. In fact, they haven't even started hiring teachers yet. I will be sending them a resume in the hopes of having something, even a part-time something, do to if we are still located here upon our return.

We are taking a rather strange flight this time around. We are first flying to Managua, then to the US. There is a mere 30 minutes between when our flight is to land in Managua and when our flight to the US departs, so there is a chance we'll be spending some time there. Gotta love adventures. I'm trying not to worry about what will happen if we are stranded in Nicaragua for a night... we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here and There

There are many differences between life in El Salvador and in the US. The differences are most prevalent in with respect to every day household matters. In the US, I was used to lots of storage space, a pretty much all enclosed living space, hot water, and laundromat laundry. Let's just say I was spoiled.

Closets/Storage Space
Most houses in El Salvador don't have closets and have very little, if any, storage space. The house we are in how actually has a rather large closet in the master bedroom, but this is the first house we've been in a with a closet. You either have to go out and buy wardrobes, put all your clothes in a dresser. We bought a bought a nice dresser that is about 4 ft. across, has a mirror, two locking drawers and three long drawers for $130. It was well worth it, and a bargain by American standards, as it is first piece of particle-board-free furniture that I've owned in I don't know how long. Kitchens also seriously lack storage. There are typically no cabinets, cupboards or drawers, so you're left to your own devices for storage there as well. We've solved this problem by using these shallow, stacking, plastic bins... they work well just about everywhere and run about $13 a pop.

(Literally) Open Floor Plans
One thing that I've noticed about almost every house we've lived in or been in here, is that some part of it is open to the elements. Typically, there is a courtyard or patio or small back yard--mostly because you need somewhere to do the wash! Right now, our home is completely open--as in every room opens to the outside and we have a rather large courtyard with a mango tree in the center. It's nice because it provides a decent amount of space, and gives Mi Amor room to work... it does, however, still have its problems.

The courtyard is tiled with outdoor brick-like tiles, and we have a few flower beds, so we're not talking about living around a lot of dirt. You wouldn't know it though! I have to sweep the living areas of our house every morning and mop every other morning, just to keep the place remotely clean. It's still a constant battle. The dirt just finds its way everywhere! It's not as bad as the last house, which somehow attracted this horrible film of black dirt every morning, but still. This constant battle with the elements and dirt is one thing I really have a hard time with. I get frustrated at times because it feels like everything gets dirty just as soon as I clean it.

Hot Water
There is none, unless it's warmed by the sun. This is something I've gotten used to, but I think I'll be investing in a one of these at some point because the water is just too cold in the morning. Mi Amor stresses that it's good for the body, and I'm sure it is. It's just not good for my mind!! All dish and clothes washing done at home is done in cold water, and is leaving my hands rather... rough.

While we are lucky enough to have a separate sink in the kitchen, where we do some of the wash, most of the dishes and all of our hand washed laundry is done in the sink above. On the left is a large water reservoir, which is convenient when the water pressure is nil during the day (which actually hasn't happened for a while). The downside to these reservoirs (there are typically large reservoirs in the shower area too) is that they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and need to be emptied and cleaned weekly. On the right is a basin where the wash is actually done.

The other problem with no hot water is figuring out how to bathe children.

La Hija is not a fan of the cold water, so I've taken to trying to make it play time for her. The water gets warm from the sun, and it's typically hot enough to make cool water feel more than refreshing. We still haven't gotten to a point where she will let me wash her hair without a fight, though.

Overall, I'm really fine with the differences. I may be bringing back some less harsh dish detergent, however. My hands feel like sandpaper

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Buena suerte??

So I was walking to the corner market and what did I see? Signs for a new English language school in town! IN TOWN!! We're going to check them out tomorrow to see if they are hiring and what the pay would be. This isn't going to solve our money problems and prevent me from having to return to the states for a bit, but it could very well make it possible for us to return much more quickly.

Tomorrow we are planning a family day. We may go to the beach or perhaps just roam around--the point being we're getting out to do something other than work or take care of household business. Well... we have to go grocery shopping too, but as long as we do something else besides that, I'll be happy.

We are very low on food and I had no meat to cook for Mi Amor's lunch today, so I used what we had and made some egg salad. Unbeknownst to me, he'd never had it before and is now a huge fan. I was also told that I make better rice than his Tia... and that, my friends, is one of the biggest compliments I've ever gotten!! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sorting it out and other nonsensical ramblings

Things are coming together.


Yes, La Hija and I are still returning to the states on a temporary basis, but Mi Amor and I have a time line and some goals we've set out.

We also have a plan B, so we can make sure this is temporary and a few months doesn't turn into another 2 year separation.

We've also decided that I am going to go back to school to get my teaching certification. I can do most of the program online, and when it comes time for me to do my student teaching, La Hija and I will again return to the states for a semester. This will allow me to get a much higher paying teaching job down here than the one I'll have in a few months.

Local governmental elections are tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes. Interestingly enough, we had amazing water pressure during the day today, which is very unusual. We decided it was all too convenient that the day before elections we've got water galore.

Mi Amor is going to work in the morning to take advantage of having a bunch of hungry voters around, and we hope to have a little BBQ with his sister and her daughter in the afternoon. Monday he has a new employee starting. Here's hoping this one likes the work and sticks around.

Speaking of employment, the woman who cleaned our house a few weeks ago came back the other day!! I was so excited--both because she does a great job and that makes keeping it all up easier during the week, and because La Hija really enjoys playing with her daughter... not to mention that it gave me a little bit of faith in people taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them. I'm curious if she will come again this week.

Last but not least, I'm still waiting for the mangoes to ripen. I hope I get to taste at least one before I go. We've used some of them already with salt and limón, but I really want a nice, sweet mango!!

Friday, January 16, 2009


So there's definitely a plethora of insects, birds and other little things hanging out here at the house. We have a family of doves living in our mango tree, a plethora of 1/2-inch ants, a multitude of spiders, half a billion mosquitoes, flies galore, and a handful of lizards living with us. The lizards are by far my favorite.

This little guy lives behind our toilet. He's teeny--just about an inch long--and so fast you'd miss him if you blinked!

This is one of at least four adult lizards we have in the house. One of them lost its tail and it makes me wonder what else we have creeping around he could have scrapped with to lose his behind.

One thing is for sure, for such a tiny creature, they make a lot of noise. I had no clue that reptiles can make little chirping sounds, but these do... and they do so rather loudly!!

Evidently, these guys are native Hondurans who end up hitching rides on plátano shipments.

Finally, this little guy is one that Mi Amor was none too pleased about. He says that back in the day they used to chase you and bite you (even though this one was all of 3 inches long and very definitely afraid of me). He's definitely much more menacing looking than the other guys... if a 3 inch lizard can be menacing.

All in all, the flora and fauna is definitely keeping me entertained.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Timing... or a lack thereof.

Just a bit over a week ago, if you were to have asked me if I'd be staying in El Salvador I wouldn't have been too sure... mostly because I didn't think I could hang. Over the past week, I've gotten into a good groove though. Mi Amor has been spending a bit more time at home (although still not much), we've had time to joke and laugh, I've taken a serious interest in our business and am helping out, and I've gotten to like the domestic tasks I've taken on throughout the day. I've been keeping myself busy with La Hija and the housework and I've grown quite content here.

Of course, in the irony of all ironies, this happens just at a point when we realize that we are really struggling financially. In the past month or so, a lot has happened with respect to our business and, although it makes enough to feed one mouth and pay the bills, it does not make enough to feed three. I have no objection to working... in fact, I want to work, but that requires relocation and relocation is just not in the cards for us right now. I have some money in savings, but that needs to go toward my bills that don't go away just because I leave the US.

So, after many long, teary and heart wrenching conversations, Mi Amor and I have made the hardest of hard decisions: La Hija and I will be temporarily returning to the US at the end of the month. We are hoping it will only have to be for a few months... just until he can get the business back on track and get things solidified again.

Thank God we have an understanding, supportive family because returning to the states is going to be much harder than it was leaving.

I have more to write, and some pictures too, but that will have to wait until I'm feeling a little less frustrated, disappointed and sad.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Poverty and work opportunities

One thing about people here that already astonishes me the fact that people are poor, sometimes unimaginably so, but so many of those same people have no desire to keep a regular job. For example, Mi Amor wanted to hire this woman to clean our house once a week and he was going to pay her more than what she was asking. In addition, we fed both her and her daughter when they were here. She had agreed to come back the next week, but just never showed.

Example #2, there have been a string of people working for our business. People will start working hard and then one day just not show up... or they'll say they're coming back and just leave (after getting paid, of course). The latest employee was a young man who La Hija just adored. He was working out well for the past week or so... and Mi Amor kind of took him under his wing, even buying him some new shoes. Today, he just didn't show up. After tracking him down by phone, he said he couldn't work anymore because his Tia didn't want him to... but he had no intention of calling to tell anyone that. Talk about burning bridges!!

Call me crazy, but I just don't understand how or why people with such economic hardship look at work so casually. The mentality seems to be I'll get enough money to get us through the next few days and then I'll worry about money again. This mentality is everywhere and I really wish I had some insight as to why it is the way it is.

Mi Amor has no answers for this one either. It angers him as much as it frustrates and mystifies me.

That is just insane to me. I just don't get it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reality sinks in quickly

I’d like to say that my first week and a half in El Salvador has been blissful and without stress… that a return to standardized married life has gone without a hitch… that I am comfortable and integrating seamlessly, but unfortunately that’s just not reality.

Every other time I’ve been here there has been a definite return date. I had the security of two jobs I enjoyed, a reliable car and a tiny, yet comfortable apartment. We had a routine. There was stability and familiarity and I was secure. Now I’ve quit my jobs, moved out of my apartment and have all but sold the car. I have nothing to go back to if this fails, and that terrifies me.

I had my first taste of the reality of family decision making as well. I’d bought a car and Mi Amor was financing a truck. The thought behind two vehicles, beyond giving me some much desired independence, was so I could work. Well, work has been put off for at least a few months because of some upcoming festivals, and we were met with an offer: if we gave back the new truck and sold my car at a profit, we could buy another truck (not new, but in great condition) and only owe $1000… bringing the car payments down $100/mo and owning the truck free and clear in a handful of months. Unfortunately, it made too much economic sense to keep my car, but that decision makes me feel trapped.

It’s crazy though. I mean, where would I go? In all actuality, that car would very likely be sitting there unused, but it was still some security for me.

To say I feel isolated already would be an understatement. I am trying to get going with my Spanish, but the language barrier paired with the fact that the only people I know are family members is already causing a bit of frustration. I have never felt so dependent on someone else and as much as Mi Amor loves me, he doesn’t quite get how difficult that is for me sometimes.

Then there’s the whole problem with the two of us adjusting to coupled life again… remembering to take someone else into consideration when you’re not used to having to do so can be a bit of a bugger too.

My main problem, and I’m guessing at this, is that I had this idea of what an amazing reunion we’d have, and life got in the way. I should have known it would be a struggle from the start… letting go of my life in the US was too easy. It should have been much more stressful. Evidently, the stress is just coming into play now.

On a few positive notes, the business is doing really, really well. I’m enjoying the novelty of water reservoirs, having little to no water pressure during the day, relatively chilly military-style showers and cheap cell phones. The oppressive heat and the mosquitoes, I could handle less of, but that’s another post all together.

La Hija loves having her daddy around as well, but is having some adjustment issues too. She’s over the language thing and is soaking up Spanish like a sponge. She does, however, miss her friends and family very much and asks to see them constantly.

As of right now, I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to be positive. I mean, come on. I’ve only been here for 10 days!!