Monthly Archives: May 2012

Gym Stories – Two Weeks In

My impossibly fit trainer says I am doing well. Doing better. Whatever. Muscles still hurt after each session and I attribute that to him piling on the weight at every opportunity.

“I want to see you fail” he says. And with a horrible grimace as I make a supreme but ineffectual effort, I do just that.

I still feel like a 98 pound weakling looking for that Charles Atlas ad at the back of the comic book.

Wanting to understand a bit more of the gym culture, being as it is somewhat foreign to me, I looked up gym locker room etiquette and found this great article: which made me chuckle.

At “my” gym, you see, there is a lot of blow drying going on and while I haven’t seen anyone blow drying their pubes (mentioned as a potential faux pas in the article mentioned above) I have observed the earnest (this is when you blow dry with one hand and run the other hand through the hair being dried all the while staring earnestly at yourself in a mirror) drying of chest hair, arm hair, leg hair and just this morning, feet. Yes, someone was drying their feet with the blow dryer, just prior to putting on FLIP FLOPS. How dry do your feet have to be when putting on flip flops anyway?

Anyway, in spite of all that OCD blow-drying and the extra weight from the trainer who wants me to fail, I am not ready to call it quits just yet.

As Arnold famously said, I’ll be back.


Typical Facebook Exchange?

I was looking for someone on Facebook and a similar name came up and so I clicked on it. There was a photo and this mind-numbing exchange. The names have been deleted to protect the author(s) but it is completely and absolutely real. Note the first two post is the same person talking to herself. Another reason to learn about privacy controls on Facebook.
Enjoy. Imagine it as a play.
    • Sandra R K where u at

      March 21 at 1:49pm
    • Sandra R K im here where are u

      March 21 at 1:49pm
    • Sue W love the picture

      March 21 at 1:52pm
    • Sandra R K thank you

      March 21 at 1:53pm
    • Sue W We all had some good times together. Remember the Sunday dinners and the holidays.

      March 21 at 1:57pm ·  1
    • Cindy R P yea we did

      March 21 at 2:08pm
    • Sandra R K u nonwhere that was taken at

      March 21 at 2:14pm
    • Cindy R P yes i do at dada bday at ur house

      March 21 at 2:35pm
    • Sandra R K i have some with dad and the grandkids and great grand kids we need to print ythem of and take some to dad

      March 21 at 3:46pm ·  1
    • Cindy R P yes we do he would like that u think he would like this one

      March 21 at 6:03pm
    • Kay R S Hi Family! Very nice. Could we all get a copy? How long ago was this taken?

      March 21 at 6:32pm
    • Kay R S Hi Suzy, Sandy and Cindy.

      March 21 at 6:34pm
    • Cindy R P dads birthday last nov 2010

      March 21 at 6:34pm ·  1
    • Cindy R P i will gwt some copys made

      March 21 at 6:36pm
    • Sandra R K tanks can u put in on your computer

      March 21 at 6:55pm
    • Sandra R K ok how do u do it i have more

      March 21 at 6:55pm
    • Cindy R P do what

      March 21 at 6:58pm
    • Sandra R K i have more pictures of dad bday on my computer

      March 21 at 6:59pm
    • Cindy R P sorry about that my computer keeps freezing up why cant i see u on her

      March 21 at 7:04pm
    • Sandra R K what do u mean u cant c me

      March 21 at 7:05pm ·  1
    • Cindy R P t dont see ur name on the chat rm when ur on here

      March 21 at 7:09pm
    • Sandra R K i dont c u eather

      March 21 at 7:11pm
    • Cindy R P r u not my friend

      March 21 at 7:12pm
    • Sandra R K what do i do

      March 21 at 7:13pm
    • Cindy R P u have to ask me to be ur friend

      March 21 at 7:15pm
    • Sandra R K how do i do that

      March 21 at 7:16pm
    • Cindy R P go to my page and clickon friends

      March 21 at 7:18pm
    • Cindy R P i was told that when they mow at the cementary theythrow the flowers away was there any trash can around there

      March 21 at 7:20pm
    • Sandra Ruckman Keehn no

      March 21 at 7:21pm
    • Cindy R P how did u lose me

      March 21 at 7:21pm
    • Sandra R K dont no

      March 21 at 7:22pm
    • Cindy R P when u click on my page does it say were friends

      March 21 at 7:25pm
    • Cindy R P u can go to ur friens list and it will tell u if were friends

      March 21 at 7:27pm
    • Sandra R K i cant find where u wrote

      March 21 at 7:30pm
    • Cindy R P go to ur friends list and look and see if im in ur friends list

      March 21 at 7:31pm
    • Sandra R K i still cantget u

      March 21 at 7:34pm
    • Patty D This is a wonderful pic!!!!

      March 22 at 8:07am
    • Angie S hi good pic

      March 25 at 7:46pm
    • Cindy R P thank u

      March 25 at 7:48pm

Don Ambrosio and the Hacienda Lifestyle

Don Ambrosio’s joints ached. As he climbed the stairs to the platform containing the rusting remains of the haciendas henequen scraping machine, 3 large white ladies in straw hats and plaid shorts bearing what must surely be expensive camera equipment close on his heels, he suddenly felt older than his 73 years. He was getting tired of this, showing a seemingly never-ending stream of tourists the ruined plantation that had been a part of his life for the last 60 years.

He turned to face them, directing his gaze at each of the three flushed red faces that stared back at him expectantly. Two had already raised their cameras and were pointing them directly at him; he wondered if he should start a little song and dance number. Wearily, he took a battered henequen leaf – one of his props – from the floor behind a giant metal wheel and, bending it in half, showed them the fiber that would have been extracted and motioned to them how the leaves came up from the fields and onto a conveyor belt that fed them into the scraper, leaving liquid and pulp behind. The tourists snapped away with their cameras and he paused for a moment and smiled a tired smile. His English was unfortunately non-existent and their Spanish was limited to “si” and “no“.

It seemed – no it was – so long ago now that he had worked as a henequen leaf cutter in the vast extensions of land that had once belonged to the plantation, working from 5 AM to 5 PM under the merciless sun for very little pay. In those days, he remembered, there was no question about what one was going to do, or to be, other than a worker at the hacienda. If you were lucky you worked in the hacienda buildings, tending to gardens or perhaps performing cleaning duties for the wealthy owners who spent an inordinate amount of time lounging around on the expansive terraces, sipping cool jamaica tea or perhaps something a little stronger. If you were less fortunate, you worked in the fields and were woken each morning by a 4 AM whistle that signaled the beginning of another backbreaking day in the fields or on the machines.

The gringas had stopped taking photos and were waiting to move on.

He had already taken them through the haciendas main buildings, including the kitchen, living and dining areas and had tried to explain, as best as he could with his mime techniques, the fact that every room in the hacienda could be converted into a bedroom or sleeping area thanks to multiple hammock hooks on the walls. He had also shown them the office, where he recalled Don Ignacio, the owner, spending many hours poring over papers with the assistance of an accountant making sure that every aspect of the henequen production was recorded, measured and accounted for. The gringas had shown special interest in – and taken many photos of – the wooden desk, now infested by out of sight termites and ants, who were silently reducing the ancient piece of furniture to dust before his very eyes.

He now showed them the silent motors that once ran the scraper machines; hulking steam engines that belched smoke unfettered by environmental concerns into the Yucatan sky for years through tall stone chimneys that rose, San Giminiano-like, above the flat land like lightless-lighthouses and now served as beacons for visitors intrigued by the prospect of exploring the Yucatans rich past. He recalled the noise of these machines that could be heard for miles around and while it may have been annoying, it was the sound of money as well, for this was the time of the so-called “green gold” which made the chosen families – those of European descent – rich beyond their wildest dreams and allowed them to furnish their mansions and plantations with the finest offerings from Europe, from floor tiles and furniture to crystal chandeliers and marble statues.  Meanwhile, Ambrosio, and the other 300 dark-skinned Mayan workers and their families, lived in the most basic conditions and shared none of this wealth. Instead, they were paid a meager salary in currency produced expressly for their hacienda – it was useless anywhere else – and were limited to buying their provisions at the tienda de raya, or company store, at often inflated prices.

He led the gringas on to the hacienda’s small chapel. While they – somewhat disrespectfully he thought – snapped close-up photos of the altar and the haciendas patron saint dressed in a purple frock, he recalled that many of his friends from the village had initially been glad when, in the mid 1930’s, the leftist federal government introduced land reform and forced the hacienda owners to relinquish control of the thousands of acres they had and turn them over to the mostly Mayan workers. These same workers had quickly changed their tune when they realized that without the machinery, still under the control of the hacendados, they were unable to do anything with the henequen plantations. The owners, meanwhile, also came to a similar realization as the upstart Indians began demanding a better price for the plant, thereby cutting into their enormous profit margins and making the business less attractive. Many of Ambrosios friends had then complained that perhaps they had been better off under the old system as they had been more or less taken care of by the hacienda owners, who, while not permitting anyone to improve their lot in life had provided such basics as elementary education, a living wage, basic medical care and a strict dose of Catholicism. Of course it was too late; the federal law was now the law of the land and things were about to get even worse. The invention of synthetic fibers dealt the final death blow to the henequen industry which, through the demand for rope produced from this plant for the worlds shipping industry and many agricultural applications, had made a select few Yucatecans inordinately wealthy.

In a way, he had been glad to see the end of the henequen; glad to see the owners abandon the buildings to find refuge and undertake other business ventures in Merida. With the demise of the hacienda, the beatings, the 12 hour work days and the harsh penalties for the most trivial transgressions also disappeared.

He took the ladies to the hacienda gift shop, where they examined postcards and trinkets and bought refrescos from Ambrosios daughter who had forgone a life in the city of Merida, preferring to remain in the pueblo surrounding the former plantation and work alongside her father. She had never known the hard life he had led in the long-overgrown henequen fields and for that, he was grateful.

The gringas were done with their shopping and handed Ambrosio a $50 peso bill and through their gestures and smiles, he could make out that they were very pleased with the tour, such as it was. He smiled back and said softly, “Gracias.”

Unexpectedly, melancholy tears came to his eyes – the eyes that had seen so much – and he turned away before anyone could see.

He was very tired indeed.


Sergio Gets a Phone Call; Regarding Juanita

The phone rang about four times before Sergio decided to pick it up. It was 9:30 and his wife was out, picking up their exchange student at the airport, otherwise he probably would have let it ring. Maybe the plane was late. He was in the middle of watching a movie he had rented at Blockbuster that afternoon and Bruce Willis was just dispatching another mono-browed bad guy by ripping off his arm with a telephone cord; unlikely, but what did you expect from a gringada called Die Hard III, he thought.

He picked up the phone. “Bueno?

A calm but somewhat urgent voice of a man on the other end informed him that he was calling on behalf of Juanita Morantes, who had apparently had a nearly fatal encounter with a package of cookies and that he had found her on the sidewalk outside her house. She was alright, said the caller, who gave his name as Marco, but was still a little shaken and since he had asked if there was someone to call, she had given him Sergios number.

Sergio listened while the stranger explained that the police paramedics had come and gone and had pronounced her fine, before muttering a “gracias” and then adding “y ella quiere que la vaya a ver?” Marco  replied that it was probably a good idea, just to make sure she would be alright and that he really had to be going. “Esta bien” said Sergio before again thanking the stranger and hanging up, a resigned and slightly annoyed expression crossing his face. Whoever heard of someone choking on cookies?

Sergio had not seen his sister Juany in some time, since the last family Christmas dinner when they had had a rather forced encounter over a large, dry turkey and sandwichon dinner. Rebeca, his wife, had been slightly depressed as her parents were not coming from the DF that holiday season due to a last minute Mexicana Airlines strike and Juanita had been as pedantic as ever, complaining about her various ailments and the fact that the house – their parents house, she had reminded everyone – was falling to pieces around her. While pushing aside the romeritos that Rebeca had painstakingly made as part of her Christmas season dinner tradition, Juanita picked at her piece of turkey meat and went on and on about the plumbing, the electricity and the fact that her phone service had been cut due to the fact that she could no longer afford it. When tears came to her eyes during this litany of complaints, Sergio had finally had enough and had stood and gone to the kitchen to fix himself a stiff drink. When he returned to the table sipping his Buchanans he had found Juanita’s chair empty. “Y mi hermana?” he had asked. Rebeca shrugged her shoulders in a resigned way and replied “dijo que se iba a su casa“.

He found her on the street, just down the block from the house, walking to the avenida to catch a bus and asked her if she wouldn’t rather have him drive her home. He did not ask why she had left or insist on her returning to his house to finish dinner. She simply looked at him for a moment with those sad, bovine eyes and replied “No, gracias, anda con tu familia” before turning and continuing her solitary walk on the deserted street. Sergio wasn’t even sure that the buses were running that night, but before long a noisy green Minis 2000 squealed to a halt, cumbia music oozing through open windows and the door. Juanita made her way up the vehicles stairs, the bus lurching forward even as she was still depositing some coins into the drivers fare-box.

Sergio had walked back to the house, both angry and relieved, passing the inflatable Frosty the Snowman his wife had bought at Costco weeks before, and had gone inside. He shook his head. Why had she even bothered to come if all she was going to do was be miserable?

Since then, there had been no news from his sister. Until now.

His sister had always been resentful of the fact that he and his brother had gotten away from the old house after their mother got sick, had gone to study and make something of themselves and had married and were doing well. He did not understand why she did not do the same, preferring to remain in that old dump of a house when she could easily have sold it years ago and taken the money to get a small house in one of the new developments around the city. He had even offered to help her with the Infonavit and get a low interest social housing loan but Juany had refused. “En manos de quien voy a dejar esta casa? La casa de Papa y Mama?” she had asked him.

He slipped out of his house slippers and into his street shoes, buttoning up his shirt as he looked for his car keys and cell phone. Bruce Willis will have to wait, he thought as he dialed Rebeca’s number and closed the door behind him. “Bueno?” he heard Rebeca’s chilanga accent in his ear. In spite of them having been married and living in the Yucatan for years now, she had not lost her sing-song way of speaking, probably due to the fact that she mostly socialized with other wachas who, as a group, felt somewhat ostracized by their Yucatecan counterparts; a certain polite distance was always kept between the ladies who claimed true Yucatecan heritage and the new arrivals from the rest of the country, especially those from Mexico City, el D.F.

Tengo que ir a ver a Juanita” he explained to Rebeca “se cayó afuera de su casa y me habló un tipo para decirme que la vaya a ver“. He could imagine Rebeca frowning as she heard this but she simply said “está bien” She added that she, Rebequita and Annie had just passed a police checkpoint near the airport, that the plane had arrived on time and they would be home soon.

He arrived at Juanita’s house 15 minutes later, traffic having been mercifully light at this time of the night. After driving around the block he found a place to park, cursing the fact that he had to leave the BMW on the street in the middle of the night for God only knew how long. Who knew what kinds of delinquents and prostitutes were around in the ‘centro historico‘ – he smirked at the thought – once the shops closed and the sun went down. What a pain.

Juanita came to the door a few minutes after he had knocked loudly on the once-grand wooden door that reminded him of his childhood, its blue paint cracked and peeling like a dry lake-bed.

Pasa” she said and he followed her inside, being careful not to touch anything in case it broke.

The house was a mess, it really was falling apart. Sergio wondered for a moment if this whole incident had not been an excuse to get him to actually come and see for himself what the house looked like; that he would feel some sort of pity or something and offer to help pay for some repairs or whatnot. He had no intention of sinking one single peso into this lost cause of a building, he thought to himself.

Como estas? Que te pasó?” he asked his sister.

Juanita gave a tired little sigh, and he braced himself for the usual bout of complaining and self pity.

But none came. Juanita simply told him what had happened, that she had gotten a piece of cookie stuck in her throat and had gone outside for help and a man had helped her and she was really quite fine now, thank you very much.

They looked at each other for a moment, then Sergio looked away.

Pues, si estas bien, te dejo – tengo que regresar porque hoy llega la niña de intercambio de Estados Unidos” he said “quieres venir a pasar la noche con nosotros?” he added, knowing that she would not come yet feeling that he should ask, to be polite.

No, no no, estoy bien, gracias por venir”  replied Juanita and walked him to the door. He gave her a half-hearted peck on the cheek which she returned with an equal lack of enthusiasm. “Cualquier cosa… me hablas, oiste?” he said before turning away. Juanita nodded and went back inside, closing the old door, both aware that Juanita did not have a phone available to her at that time of the night.

The BMW was still there, having survived it’s short stay in el centro apparently unscathed and Sergio got in, buckled up and drove home as quickly as he could, away from this part of the city that was now foreign and completely unappealing to him.