Friday, June 27, 2008


I spent my summer soltice in the ocean.

Summer soltice is my favorite of all the pagan holidays. The passion, the heat, the sultry lust that lingers on the skin like the sweat from the sun, all speak to my inner goddess (it´s no accident that I have an Ishtar symbol tattoed on my right breast). In the not so distant past, I let go of my pagan years for various reasons but of late they are trickling back into my life. It was with a bit of a pang that I realized my summer solitice would not be spent around a bonfire this year.

But we were in Veracruz, and to my suprise I found that floating in the ocean on this day was sacred enough.

I am not a beach person. When I went to Haiti, I did not overly enjoy the couple of days spent on the beach. I much prefered the city and the sacred waterfalls. I do not enjoy lingering about in the sun. And mostly I am just afraid of being in the ocean. Perhaps because I come from a place where the ocean is always wild, I do not find her comforting. I find her overpowering, frightening, and am in awe of her power. Even on the beaches where she does not pound her fists into the rocks, I find her great length a bit terrifying. I am terrified of drowning, and often have nightmares about dying in such a way. But I am also drawn to her, and when I see her, I feel this heavy lump in my chest, like I might cry and run into her arms. But I am wary of her call.

Thus I was not suprised when I felt that longing as we drew closer and I smelled her--the most overpowering female scent in the world. And when we saw the gulf spread out before us, I felt that terror mangified as my children ran along the unguarded docks. I no longer felt afraid for myself but afriad that she would pull my children to her breast, taking them from me. My children felt no such fear and showed an immediate and firece love of her. Camille, who arrived in Veracruz sick, was happy for the first time in days. She splashed in the waves, lying in the surf like a luminious beached mermaid. All of them splashed and played, and laughed. The beach we were on was tame and gated so I felt fearly safe....until I looked out on that endless horizon and felt that familiar terror leap up into my throat.

But then I sat back, drank a pina colda and a couple of beers. I drank in the sun and I ventured into those bekoning arms. I laid back, and floated. Bliss. Mar seduced me with the gentle laps of waves, the up and down off her motion. I felt relaxed and free. I understood the lure of just sinking down into that wonderful liquid and becoming one with the sea. It was the most peaceful I have felt in many months. I did not think of anything but the feel of the water on my arms, and the motion of being rocked. This was my mother holding me in her arms.

I thought as I floated that perhaps I had been a siren in another life but felt rather silly. Here I was this overweight woman in a black bathing suit...not a sultry seductress luring sailors to their watery deaths. And then I felt irrated that I thought of myself as such a stereotypically female thing, powerful as the siren might be. And I thought maybe I had been a pirate or a sailor, lover and hater of the ocean. But my mind kept bringing me back to the siren, and I embraced it. The siren as untamed femaleness, powerful and seductive, rather like the goddess whose symbol I inked into my skin.

I left with the taste of salt on my lips.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dropping In

Well the hifi did exist but not in our room:( The one evening I went to use, I very foolishly left my wallet in the lobby where it was stolen. It is indeed E very hard to be a blogger in Mexico. My respect to the many, many who do so.

I have uploaded a few photos but not nearly as many as I have taken. But I promise to make an effort to hit up some internet cafes when we get back.

There will be a much longer post later about Veracruz but we did have a good time minus the wallet episode!

Keep your eyes on my flickr site for photos, photos, and more photos.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Defeying stereotypes as usual I am a fat girl who loves salad. When I was pregnant with Umbrerto all I thought about was the Greek salad at the Homestead. Summers in Charlotte are all about the salad as it´s too hot to eat much else. I experiment with not just salad dressings but salad ingredients. I love using a vareity of greens and adding different food stuffs--almonds, a vareity of cheeses, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. And there is really nothing like the fresh taste on a hot summer day. Rabbit food maybe but damn rabbits have good taste.

Now we don´t have much salad in Mexico. Most resturants, if they even offer salad, offer very bland choices with one kind of lettuce. And at home there is little in the ways of ingredients. I think H´s mom thought we were a little nuts when we requested spinach leaves for our salad. After a week all I could think about was salads. I bought some red leaf but it was a poor subsitute for the normal leafy vareity I usually have to play with. And because I couldn´t have it, it was all I wanted. Whenever, I got hungry I wanted a salad. Nothing else really hit the spot.

Finally at Happy´s I saw it. The salad. It was perfect--spinach leaves, mushrooms, advacdo, tomatoes, and bell peppers. I was so grumpy that I had settled for pizza when that yummy salad was avaiable. And I ended up eating the salad even though I was totally full. Yes, I overate on salad. And the next time we went to Happy´s I got another salad. I find that I often long for the days we go to Happy´s simply so I can have a salad. And the salad is delicious enough to long for...

Becuase I´m learning to come to terms with my fat girl self, and learning to eat as opposed to binging, and trying to avoid all diets (there´s a ton of posts on all that later), I recognized the lesson beneath my salad craving. Deprivation can make you crave anything. We really do tend to yearn for what we don´t have. I like salad anyway but my obession here is akin to what I normally feel for no-bake cookies. The issues is that I can´t have it as often as I would like so I want it all the time. When I tell myself, or when I really just can´t get something, I end up wanting it with a scary intensity. Maybe this is why I gained 40lbs in no-bake cookies...they were the only food that I really felt I could not have on WW (oh that and bagels). Everything else I could rationalize into smaller portions, or at least find a low cal. options. But no-bake cookies? There was only them, and when I quit dieting it was really only them! Now that I can´t get´s all about salad.

Yesterday we went to the zoo, and I ended eating a hamburger for lunch. It was really good, and I didn´t feel overly full when done. Normally I´d beat myself up for eating a hamburger, for makign a bad choice. I´d ignore the fact that this is what I really wanted to eat. Yesterday, I refused to abuse myself. I acknowledge that it wasn´t healthy but that it was good, and it was what I wanted to eat. I also recognized that it was likely to keep me too full to eat other good things I might want to eat. And indeed, I didn´t get hungry until about 9 that night. I ate a salad: red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, apples, and cheese covered with a balsmaic vingerette. It was delicious.

Added note: We´re going to Veracruz tomorrow, and we´ll have high speed internect connection in our room. Look for a link here sometime this weekend to see our Flickr page!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Cities show metamorphis at its best and its worst. Crumblings buildings ruin into the streets, no longer loved or even tolerated. New sleek buildings push up through the ruins. Popluations increasing and decreasing change the shape, attitude, and traffic patterns of the city.

Mexico City is no exception. It is a city that has mastered metamorphis. Cortez levled the Aztec city and built his own vision atop the ruins little knowing that through the years, these same ruins would push their way up--an aching reminder of the past. And as the city grew it´s streets expanded in an ever widening pattern to make way for more and more cars.

On a less grand level, many of our old haunts have given way to newer haunts for other people. And some of our older haunts attract a new we find not so friendly.

We knew Mexico City would be a different place but knowing and feeling are very different things. To experience the difference often feels like culture shock. The traffic is a great example of this kind of shock. We remembered the traffice being awful, we remembered that traffic laws in Mexico City are a bit different in the U.S. We KNEW this but experiencing it has been a nightmare. Every outing in the car is fustrating, long, and loud. The insisent beeping, the sudden formation of multiple lanes to turn onto a one lane street, and the running of red lights, leaves me in a total state of fear for the kids´saftey. And then parking? I don´t remember it being this bad! I swear that while some of it is us just not being used to such massive traffic, there has got to be a lot more cars here. Today we were almost sidewinded by some moron talking on his cell phone while reading a map. This was after being beeped at by some fucking stupid woman. H yells at the guy, asking him what his problem is. His answer? H was going to slow. Yeah imagine that in rush hour traffic in Mexico City. The great part is that the asshole ended up behind us!

And on a further bitching note: my beloved Condesa. Who has taken it over, filing it with trendy shops and even trendier bars? I don´t recognize the yuppies who hog the streets with their SUVS and valet parking. We hardly go anymore because there is literally no parking. We took H´s mom out for Sushi yesterday, and we spent at least 45 minutes looking for a parking space. And ai the people! They´re sooo...trendy, skinny, and boring.

But there have been some good changes: I like how homosexualiy is a lot more open now. I see gay couples everywhere whereas seven years ago I didn´t see many. I like that there are so many cool things for children now. The playgrounds are amazing! The science museum at the UNAM is incredible. I like that there are so many more coffee shops. I like that the ¨alternative kids¨are spilling out of their confined plazas. And I love that recycling is really taking off.

My mom said to H when we left: Remember you can´t go home again. It was a nice reminder that you can´t ever return to the same home but that you can totally redefine the changes into home.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mexico City Rain

We´re visiting during the rainy season. It´s rained nearly every afternoon since we´ve arrived. Usually we plan our outings before the rain hits which kills us as we really are nocturnal creatures. Before we just dragged little Umberto with us to various cafes, where he´d sit quiety playing with his cars while we drank coffee and talked. This time around this is so not an option. The girls simply will not sit. Piper hates the crowds, and cries the whole time. Camille just wanders around checking out all the tables. Luckily, Mexicans for the most part are far more tolerant of children than Americans. The last time we attempted a cafe visit, we meet up with our friend Gabriel, and his very cool girl friend Danillea who has a six year old son. Piper sobbed, Camille followed the couple of dogs that hung around, and Umberto? Well Umberto played ping pong with Daniella´s son. They were not only all over the cafe we were in but in the resturant next door. At one point, Umberto was crawling, commando style, under people´s chairs. And D´s son hit the ball onto one couple´s table where it bounced into the man´s face. Was anyone mad? Nope. It´s amazing really. But it´s not really comfortable for us.

Tonight H decided the kids had to go out. We had spent the morning at the park where I walk, and then had lunch at Happy´s. But H still decided the kids needed more time. I pointed out that the sky was nearly black with rain clouds but H is ever optimistic. Of course half way through the god awful cluster fuck that is Mexico City at six, it started to rain. It started off with a few harmless drops and quickly transformed into a deluge that made the cluster fuck all the worst. We sat through various lights, listening to the horns blaring, people yelling. The kids fell asleep, and we decided to go El Pendlum to have a coffee. Of course there was no parking, an ever present problem in this massive city. We ended up driving around, and soaking in Mexico City, wet.

H has always said that rain transforms a city into something new. And there is something new and different about a city seen in the midst of a storm. Because Mexico City is such an outside city, there are plenty of people regardless of the weather. In every doorway, arch, or pavilion, people stand close together, waiting out the afternoon rain. There are flashes as people run from one saftey to another. My favorite was a man with his arms around two women who shielded him and themselves with two umbrellas. The metro bus stops were filled with people waiting impatiently but at least dry for the packed city buses to take them home, or out.

And as it grew darker, the city began to shine. Neon lights blurred when glimpsed through the wet windshield. The rain added a clean touch to everything, and the city began to glow. And despite assholes in their cars, the constant beeping, the fucking valet parking that takes over entire roads, there was something magical in the post rain streets. These are the moments when Mexico City seduces you.

I wish I could post our pictures but we´re running on a telephone modem here, and plus my photos are all on H´s laptop. If we get a chance we´ll post them soon.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Through the Skin

The last few days have been spent walking. We have wandered Coyocan, Roma, and Division del Norte until the kids were too tired to walk. There is a desperation to our walking. I find that I want to soak in the city through my pores. If I can only draw the city into my body, I can carry her with me everywhere I go. She will be in my body, in my flesh and in my soul in such away that we will never be seperated.

In the class I TAed for, Jeremy talked about how for the Romans seeing was felt as a much more physical act than it is for most moderns. Seeing was like touching, like drawing what one saw into oneself. It was touch. And as I gaze over the city whether we are walking or driving, I find that my eyes caress each person, each moment, each building. I am reaching out and capturing the city, trapping her into myself. Like the pollution that invades our noses, covers our skin in a fine dirty soot, I am being invaded by Mexico City. She is becoming a part of my body. I am watching her, brining her into being in my cells, on my skin, and through the flow of my blood.

Yesterday we spent a few hours in Roma. It has changed but there was plenty that felt familiar. We had Arabic coffee in a little cafe situtated next to the Tibetan house. The kids loved the bathroom: It´s beautiful and red! Everyone was wonderfully tolerant of the kids, smiling indulgently at their antics. We then walked over to the plaza where Umberto giggled at the naked man statue. We had to get pictures of both the front and back. Umberto: It´s a boy because he has a peepee. And we gazed at the ¨the witch house¨which looks like a witch with a pointed hat (H amazed that I figured out why it was called the witch´s house because he had never seen the face before.) Camille made a friend who loved ponies, and they overcame the langauge barrier as only children really can. We then rode around the city looking for a place to eat and I photographed the city from the car, taking in all she had to offer. We rode through a rain deluge that cut off the power for many hours. We spent the evening sitting in the dark, candles softly lighting the rooms as we talked with H´s mom.

Finding new places and rediscovering the old has been bittersweet. There is a sense of lost when we find that old places are gone. The Arabic cafe used to house another cafe that we frequented but that lost was quickly replaced with the joy of strong coffee with hints of cardamon. And when we drove through the Condesa we found our old haunt. It was still there. Still open to the air across from the ¨dog park.¨I felt an intense joy at seeing this place, remembering how we spent hours, drinking coffee while Umberto made the rounds of the regulars.

The kids great joy has been birds. They have spent a great deal of time chasing pigeons and doves. They wait quietly until a bunch have gathered and then they run at them. Piper is quite seirous about this chase, and runs after each one with staunch determination. The other day an old woman came out to the balcony. She asked if we would like her to throw some bird seed to the children. She tossed seed out to draw the birds, and smiled as our children chased them. When she went back in she blew kisses to the children, commenting how on lovely they were. They also love the stray dogs and cats. Piper was thrilled when I spotted a stray cat on a wall in Coyocan.

I am trying to not think that we only have a few weeks left. I want to draw out this time. I don´t want to go back to Charlotte and this longing to stay makes each hour precious. I fight exhaustion because I don´t want to let go of the day. Each day takes on a quality of beauty and longing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Home, Again

Yesterday, we loaded our blurry-eyed children and our blurry-eyed selves onto an airplane bound for Mexico D.F. We were bringing our children to a home they did not know. We were brining ourselves home. After the inital excitement of lift-off, our children declared themselves bored and promptly fell asleep for most of the flight. H and I filled out immigration forms, and I read. But underneath these mundane tasks, I felt myself growing increasingly nervous about arriving in Mexico. There were a variety of issues that rose, and I examined them each before letting them go.

The last time I was in Mexico I was a different person. I was a colder person. I lived in this little shell and really the only one getting in was Umberto. I felt shut off from people, and the city provided me with a shelter that I couldn´t have found in a smaller town. I loved walking the streets, and feeling like no one could see me. I wrapped myself in an invisibility provided by being a mere one in a city of billions. But I am no longer that person. I have opened myself up to intimacy and love. I no longer feel like the wounded animal looking for a hiding place to lick her wounds. Would I still love this city or would she no longer by my home? And I could really call this great mistress my home?

The plane dipped sharply to the left, and beneath us the outlines of fields gave way to houses. One more sharp descent, and the houses grew into the city. Umberto said: It´s big! This seemed such an understaement as we swept ever closer to the buildings that climb up the valley walls, over the mulitude of cars that crawled over a dizzing maze of roads. Umberto then said, a bit nervously: Are we going to land on the cars? I had forgotten how the plane seems to lower itself right into the middle of the city. Piper just cried ¨Weeee!¨as we landed, and Camille slept through her homecoming. And me? Well I felt a bit foolish as my eyes teared up a bit. I looked over the great city, not nearly so pretty in the harsh light of day, and saw my home. I could feel the big foolish smile on my face, as we came closer and closer. I had come home, and as we drove through the streets to H´s parent´s home, I knew her and loved her.

It is still an odd thing for me to think of this city as my home. I am actuely aware that this not where I was born. I know my roots, and I know that Maine shaped me. Nor do I have any ideas about claiming to be Mexican through marriage. Initally, I thought I could. When you´re white in the U.S., you don´t have a claim to ¨culture.¨ But I quickly realized that my claims were meritless. But from the very first visit, I have felt like Mexico City was my home. Initially this feeling was romantic. I was a country girl from a rural state, and Mexico City was...well a city. And what a city! Old, beautiful, loud, exotic. She seduced me with her lovely buildings, her livey, beautiful people, her anicent, exciting history. But when I returned for my second visit, the intial attraction was over. I saw the diritier side of this city. She was dirty, hard on the poor, filled with prentious middle class people who drove overpriced car while stepping on the indigneous peoples who flooded the city looking for work. I saw the starving dogs and cats that wandered the streets. I saw that she was real. And that made me love her all the more. I found a place for myself in this city filled with amazing breathtaking beauty and horrible ugliness.

And we are back again. She´s changed. There seem to be more cars. There are new buildings, new bus systems. They´ve torn apart Coyocan which almost broke my heart. But there were some of the old cafes. We took Umberto the church plaza where he walked for the very first time. We wandered the streets, looking at the old houses we remembered and still loved. We also got a chance that many don´t have. We got to see her through the eyes of our children. They skipped her sidewalks, found things to love and to fear. We got to eat at H´s dad lovely new pizza place. And I spent my first night, sick to my stomach unable to move from altitude sickness. But you know...I am still in love. Ginger has finally come home.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I Live

Sorry to my loyal readers. We spent the weekend moving and cleaning. Thankfully my mom took the kids. It was pretty hellish and took much longer than we thought. My friend D (thank you! We love you!) helped us move the bigger items, and even helped me wipe down the kitchen. But we've crammed everything into a storage shed, and we fly out to Mexico tomorrow.

We've been with my mom since Friday night. She has slow, slow Internet connection and no wireless (her house is like the black hole for electronic signals). This means less blogging for us. Strangely it has been nice although I've missed hearing from all of you. H said he feels a bit like he's free. I don't know if I feel quite that strongly but the few days off made realize that I spend too much aimless time on the Internet. It's yet another compulsion, I think.

And weight stuff...well I did sort of cave and try to diet but that quickly fell away. I was too busy to log in everything I ate, and I started having those fantasies of what I would do when I was thin. And I spent hours caculating how much I could lose in various amounts of time. It sucked up what little bit of energy I had after packing all day. I don't want to be a slave to writing down everything I eat for the rest of my life. And it does little to help me with what's really at the root of my dysfunctional relationship with food. I have a lot to say about this, and about compulsion but I don't have time right now. We have a lot to do before heading flying away tomorrow. But I will be posting from Mexico, and hopefully I'll have Umberto's website up tonight.

I can hear the kids tearing apart my mom's living room so must run!