So, Lyn is back home, and with him he brought me some warm hand-me-downs and, most importantly, five canisters of Spark! Oh happy Day!
The clothes arrived just in time for a cold snap. Yesterday it was 6-degrees Celsius — a little above freezing. I don’t know what I would have done without the warm sweaters Saadia sent down. I layered as much as I could to get through my class.
The school isn’t heated. In fact, in the middle of the building there is a very large circular opening (maybe four-feet in diameter) with just a decorative grate. Thankfully my car has heat. And, even more thankfully, our AC unit is also a heater. That meant we had heat in the bedroom. That, extra covers and two cuddly dogs did the trick.
Today is warmer, but the temps will drop again once the sun goes down. Good thing I moved south to avoid the cold winter weather!
On the Boise front…
Lyn’s mom got moved into her new room at the assisted living place. Lyn’s brother managed to get it all done. I can’t dwell on it, or the whole thing will make me crazy. I’m just glad it’s done.
Lyn had a job interview this week. This is a good thing. The school is right down the street from my school and almost exactly across from where he used to work. Hector, my academic director, recommended Lyn for the job. Hectors wife works there too, it’s a preparatory school, so high school students. And, they told Lyn that next year they want to offer math in English. That would be awesome! Of source, we’re not counting chickens yet.
Halloween was last week. Here in Querétaro, they celebrate Halloween as well as Dia de los Muertos (Nov. 2nd). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I had been told that kids do trick or treat — sometimes for two days — but a bit differently than in the U.S. For example, rather than saying “trick or treat,” they sing. Of course, since I was working, it didn’t matter. I didn’t see anyone.
Turns out that our condominium had a small party for the kids at the pool that evening. They asked what houses would participate so they would only go to those that were on the list. Phew. Although I did buy candy. I’ve been taking it to school for my students.
Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — is what I was looking forward to. I had been invited to go to an event in a cemetery. Everyone I told about the invite said I would absolutely love the experience. Unfortunately, I had to work (again) that night and missed out on the opportunity.
The tradition around Dia de los Muertos is fascinating. In fact, at my school, we participated in a school-wide competition that involved creating an elaborate altar with seven levels. Every level has certain requirements, including food and drink, religious images, use of specific materials (ash, seeds, flowers, candles, etc.), and the highly decorative skulls that are so popular.
There is even a bread called Pan de Muerto. It is a sweet bread with a depiction of bones on the top. It is very yummy.
Initially, I was assigned level 7 (the floor), and one of my students and I put together a little display. Ultimately, the school redid it, but I thought ours came out nicely.
Bottom line — Our School Won!
Here’s a pic of the schools alter:
The school also decorated the halls. Since the idea is to celebrate the dead, they had photos of famous English and Mexican writers and celebrities posted around the building, as well as hand decorated paper skulls and halloween decorations. It was very festive.
On Halloween, the school hosted a costume competition for the kids. They were very cute. All-in-all, it was a fun day.
Of course, Christmas is coming and they are already plotting the next competition — a door decorating contest.
I’m an unusually happy person. I wake up singing. No joke! Singing. But these past few days have tempered even my sunny disposition.
My mother-in-law, Mary, has been in the hospital for the last three weeks. My husband went back to Boise to help her transfer ultimately to an assisted living situation. In the meantime, he has to be her full-time caregiver. He’s never been good at these types of things, and now he is responsible for making sure she is compliant with her care instructions. Never mind that he has to get her to acknowledge that she can’t stay in her apartment, will have to get rid of 80% of her stuff, and probably won’t be able to keep her dog. No fun.
Even though he will be there a total of 20 days, there is so much to be done that it is doubtful he will get through it all. His brother will be coming to help out for a couple of weeks as well. Ultimately, I don’t know what is going to happen, but there isn’t anything I can do about it from here. I’m working really hard on letting this one go.
Even though the new baby is only a week old, there is already drama on the home front. I really dislike drama. Now I am the one in the barrel. My niece is angry with me because I said she needed to be respectful of her grandparents who are getting on in years and have their own issues. You see, she and her boyfriend and the baby are moving back home, into Bob & Ellen’s house, that is. Having a newborn baby around isn’t easy when you are the mother, never mind when you are older. Crying babies, dirty diapers, extra people and a dog can all add a lot of stress, never mind expense. More laundry, more showers, more electricity, more people, more money.
What can I say? Bob and Ellen have been the bedrock of this family for 50 years. They have given and given and given, yet it is rare that anyone takes their feelings, needs or wants into consideration. It makes me angry.
They, however, just keep putting up with it. “Going with the flow,” is what Bob said to me this morning. At some point, the “flow” just might drowned him. And then what will the family do?
Ah, well. I promised myself I wouldn’t get too enraged about this. Again, I have to let it go.
I just learned that my niece, Jennifer, had her baby. She wasn’t due until the end of the month, so it came a little early. Nevertheless, he’s a healthy 7 lb 8 ounce baby boy named Bryson Bruce.
It was welcomed news during a period of intense stress over health issues with family. My brother-in-law just had a hip replaced, my step-dad is going through chemo (again), and my mother-in-law has been in the hospital for three weeks and will likely be there a while longer. Being in another country has left us a wee-bit helpless in all of these situations. Although, in some ways, it has been a blessing.
In fact, one of the reasons we left the US was to get away from the hassles of caring for everyone. I admit, I’m a fixer, and if I were there, I would be doing everything possible to make everything “right,” which is what I always did when I lived there. That made me totally crazy and stressed out. From here, while I feel powerless, I at least am more sane not having to be the one to do everything.
With regard to my side of the family, they are well equipped, emotionally and financially, to handle their lives. My husband’s family, well, not so much. So, right now, with his mom in the hospital with a recurrence of breast cancer and a brain tumor, we are paying for people to assist and support her as well as doing whatever we can from afar. Fortunately, Lyn has taken over the responsibilities of managing it all. I couldn’t have done it for many reasons. First, I’m working full time. Second, I am not the one who should be making decisions about her healthcare. It’s time for Lyn and his brother to take over.
So, that where things are.
Congratulations Jennifer! I can’t wait to get pictures of the newest addition to the family. And, please, remember that Bob and Ellen are getting on in years and have their own issues. I love you, sweetie! Be good.
I can’t believe it has been over a month since I wrote anything here. It isn’t because I don’t have things to say — I always have something to say — it is more because I have been so busy!
I started my new job about six weeks ago, so I have completed the first round of classes. I definitely LOVE THIS JOB! I am having so much fun. The people that work here — the teachers, the administrators and the staff — are just wonderful people. Every day you are greeted with kisses and hugs, coffee and plenty of happy people. And that’s just the people who work here.
The students are equally wonderful. They are typically excited to be here. They pay a lot of money for the opportunity and are motivated to achieve their language goals. There are a couple of younger students (teens 14-19) that are a bit more challenging to engage. After all, they already have school work to do. This just adds to it. Nevertheless, if you can find a way to engage them, they bring an incredible life to the classroom.
For example, I have one 17-year-old student that loves science fiction movies, so, yesterday, we talked about SETI, METI and the pros and cons of finding life on other planets. We also talked about movies like Arrival, which was focussed on decoding language in order to communicate with visitors from another world. When possible, I also bring Marvel and DC comic movies into the discussion. They are very popular here.
If there is a downside, it is that some of the classes are small, like two people. Sometimes both students are absent. When that happens, you have to stick around to be sure that they don’t just show up late. That is a little dull. In fact, that is why I am working on this blog! I know for sure one of my students isn’t coming. The other hasn’t reached out to me yet, so I can’t be sure if she’s just late or not coming at all.
I did have the opportunity to teach at a business, too. It was a course on telephoning and teleconferencing. At first, it was very challenging, as the materials were not really appropriate for the level of the students. Additionally, the materials were out of date. It took a while for me to actually figure out how to manage the class. My midterm reviews from them were not good. In fact, I would say some were downright mean.
Nevertheless, I carried on and got through. After it was all over, they were happy. They even wanted me back! That was a big surprise. However, here, they rotate the teachers to give students different perspectives and expose them to different styles and accents.
The Home Front
In August, Lyn got a job teaching 7th Grade English. At first, he really liked it. But the honeymoon period was over quickly and the students’ behavior became unmanageable for him. I met the kids one night when we were at the mall. A big group of them were also there.
The end result was that he quit the job. It was best, although he was very sad, too. He really liked the kids; he just couldn’t control them so he could teach effectively.
In the long run, this was a good thing. Shortly after he left the job, his mother developed some serious medical issues and, as of right now, is in a rehab hospital. Lyn’s time is being devoted to managing her care and, alternatively, to studying Spanish.
Ten months and counting
It is hard to believe that it has been 10 months since we left the US. While the first month was in a different city, it was effectively the start of this grand adventure. We are finally getting a little time to explore and enjoy ourselves. Lyn is starting to drive and get out and about on his own. This morning he is grocery shopping while I work on my lesson plans for the week.
I’m always checking in with him about this move, if he thinks it was a good thing or if he has any regrets. He seems to be content overall. Me? I’m happy as a clam. I’m making friends, going places, learning new things. If only I could get some exercise, I’d be even happier. Ah, well. Soon.
Now that I’ve had a two-hour nap, let me bring you up to date.
The last couple of weeks have been very exciting for us. Both Lyn and I have started our new jobs. Amazingly, both of us are still upright!
The amount of energy it takes to teach is incredible. Both of us spent Saturday in a near coma. Lyn, after five days of teaching teenagers. Me after one six-hour class. The adrenaline of “performing” for that length of time takes its toll. Not that I mind! I had a great time!
I was sooooo nervous! The Anglo has very particular ways of doing its lesson planning. The materials are different from what I am used to as well. Never mind trying to make a six-hour class interesting.
My first attempt at lesson planning was okay. After meeting with Hector a few times and sitting in on a couple of classes, I finally found my own voice. The second drafts were much better. And, surprisingly, I was able to fill up all that time! Of course, it helped that the students had been taking Saturday classes there for a while. They knew what to expect. In fact, the group was primarily made up of the students from the class I sat in on, so everything felt familiar. There was one new student. He blended in very well.
Lyn, too, had a good week. Unlike me, though, he is an introvert. So, by the end of the week, he was totally spent. But, he LOVED IT. He has around 100 students in four classes. From what he tells me, they are really adorable. Typical pre-teens, yet since they have been at this school for a while, they know the routine.
The school has some very strict policies. In fact, even the teachers have to conform to a dress code: blue pants, white or blue shirts. The shirt color is determined by what day of the week it is. It certainly makes it easy to decide what to wear, particularly given that Lyn gets up around 5:30 in the morning to get to school on time.
Speaking of 5:30, I have another new class that started today at 7:00 in the morning. That means that I have to get up at 5:30 too! OMG. While painful to the max, there is one benefit — I get to see Orion setting out my window. The mornings are a little cool here, so, for me, choosing my outfit is a bit more of a challenge. I am trying to be organized. I actually picked out my clothes last night and had them ready to go.
One thing I didn’t anticipate was how much traffic there would be at 6:30 in the morning. Who the heck is on the road? I hit so much traffic, that I had to call the school and have Hector start the class for me. A typical 15-20 minute drive was 45 minutes this morning.
Lesson learned. Tomorrow I’m getting up and leaving even earlier. Hopefully, I will be able to sleep tonight. A two-hour nap can sometimes make that challenging.
One of the more interesting things about working here is the every company has its own banking relationship. For us, that means that each of us has to open a bank account at a different bank just so we can get paid. My account is at CitiBanamex and Lyn’s will be at Scotiabank. We have a third, joint account at Santander.
Opening a bank account here is almost as much work as getting a visa. Seriously! You need so many documents to prove that you are who you are and live where you live. It’s crazy. CitiBanamex was fairly easy, although it did take me two trips. Lyn is having a bit more trouble. He’s already gone twice — once with me and once with some bilingual friends to help translate — and still hasn’t been able to open an account.
The first issue is just the timing. The bank only opens new accounts during the week until 3 p.m. and until 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Well, Lyn works until 3:30 every day, and I work until 2:00 on Saturdays. He can’t go alone as he doesn’t speak enough Spanish.
Some of my friends from the dog park volunteered to go with him for the second trip. It turned out that Lyn still didn’t have the right documentation — they wanted the original copy of our electrical bill and our lease contract. This is because our electric bill comes in the name of our landlord. It is too complicated to change it, so we just pay it. That means another trip is forthcoming. We are going to try to do it tomorrow, as he can get out a little earlier. I’ll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, I did get my first paycheck. For less than 15 days, it was just shy of my monthly salary at Globoworld.