Sheesh! It's in the Stars, AGAIN!

Dec 27, 2007

Man- my horoscope has been on point lately!

Gemini

You may seem busier than you actually are today as you dramatically run around from one thing to the next. Your apparent hectic pace can be a part of a strategy that tells others not to ask more from you now. Unfortunately, they might not understand and make additional demands on your time. Try the direct approach and just say you cannot take on anything else.
By Rick Levine
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Li-lo in the Hiz-ouse!


My friend Liza had her last day of work on Christmas Eve. She is now officially a stay-at-home mom to her 1.5 year old and her 12 year old. That means that she has no boss. She has no filing to get done, no calls to answer, no messages to fax, no reports to print and collate, no fed-exs to fed-ex, no conference rooms to reserve, no nothin' to do nothin' to! In other words, now she just has to make sure that her kids are clean and fed. Just wanted to say "Woo Woo" and "Big Up" and other 90's rap shout outs to my girl Li-lo as she embarks on this awesome, boss-less new life! WOOT!

Is this what I signed up for when I got married?

Dec 23, 2007

Allie: I was thinking about getting a new iPod.
Hans: Why?
Allie: Because your old one that you gave me is SO big and I'd like a smaller one.
Hans: Why don't you just take my nano.
Allie: Ummm... 'cause...
Hans: Besides, I want to get one of those new touch-screen ones and the nano doesn't have enough space for my stuff.
Allie: Yeah. Because I want one of those touch-screen ones and I took your old one last time and you got a new one and I want a new one now!
Hans: That doesn't make sense. You should just take the nano if you want one that's smaller.
Allie: I want one that's smaller AND has the touch screen. If you just need more space, why don't you take the full sized iPod I'm using and I'll get the new one.
Hans: Because I want to be able to show my pictures.
Allie: What?!? Are you dying to show people your pictures? I mean are you carrying around the digital camera so you can show people your pictures now? What makes you think you need to carry your pictures around?
Hans: This is stupid. We don't need any new iPods, we already have like 4.
Allie: Yeah, let's not get any new iPods.

Dude, Freecycle ROCKS!

We posted two desks and a dorm fridge and microwave on freecycle today. Man! Those people are nuts! Someone literally called about the fridge like 2 minutes after I posted it. As I'm writing this now people have already come a picked up the fridge and one of the desks and we're holding the other desk and the microwave for someone who's coming on Wednesday. It worked so fast that now we've listed an old TV that we've had sitting around for a while now. I thought it would be like Craigs List where you post something and like one person emails you about it, but this was crazy!

It's in the stars

Dec 21, 2007

I have my Google set up with things that I like to see every day, like my horoscope and the weather. Anyway, here's my horoscope for today. I thought it was sort of scary relevant to what we're dealing with right now:

Gemini
You might have underestimated the time it would take to do what you promised today. Or you may need to spend more than you anticipated in order to get what you want. Either way, scale back gracefully before things go too far. Whatever seems like a lot now will likely get even more out of hand in the days ahead.
By Rick Levine
Friday, December 21, 2007

Welcome Home

Dec 20, 2007

We got in last night and there had been a snow storm followed by freezing rain, so the whole driveway and yard was like one solid block of ice. I had a meeting this morning so I figured I'd wait until the sun was up and then I'd dig out. Problem was that the ice was still ice in the morning and there was no digging at it- I needed an ice chipper, which I don't have.

So I dug my car out mostly and started moving it back and forth until I got it good and stuck. Then my neighbor came over and tried to help me by pushing while I drove. Then another neighbor stopped by and tried to help the same way. After about 30 minutes of that we decided that the car was just stuck and we'd have to wait till it got a little warmer later in the day to try to dig it out.

So I canceled my morning meeting and went back to work.

About 2 hours later I hear this thumping sound outside so I go out to see what it is. The guy who mows our lawn (and coincidentally also our mail man) was out there with a snow blower, a shovel and an ice chipper digging away at my car. Wow.

Then the neighbor from across the street comes out and says "Are you stuck? Let me get my tow strap and tow you out." So he comes over and tows me out. Then the mail man uses the plow on the front of his truck to plow our driveway clear.

Man. I have the best neighbors ever.

Let the insanity begin

Dec 18, 2007

So we're leaving Mexico tomorrow to be home for 11 days while we pack the rest of our crap and get everything ready so we can move. We haven't really found an apartment. We found a few, but we don't have a signed lease or an agreement and we haven't put a deposit on anything.

The owner of the apartment that was near Wal-Mart with the green pool called the guy who has been arranging for us to see the apartment (not sure what his job is or how he makes $ because now he's giving us the owner's contact info) and she wanted to know what happened and wanted us to know she was negotiable on the rent. She's apparently had good experiences with people from Jersey in the past (I know, that's a first!) so she's pretty keen on renting to us. She even wanted to know if we wanted her to get any additional furniture.

Anyway, so we called and bid $200 less than she was asking. Turns out that -SURPRISE- there's a $100/month maintenance fee. Hmmm. Whatever. So if she's into it we're going to take that apartment. We're just going to have to do the negotiation over email because right now she's in Belgium (where she lives) and she's just coming in town for the holidays while we're back in the US.

We looked at one really nice unit, but it was unfurnished and we would be the first people to live there. In the US this would be a good thing. In Mexico it means that you'll be the first to wait at least a month to get a phone. We can't afford to forward all the business calls to our cell phones and pay roaming costs for a month while we work from internet cafes here. We need something more stable. So that's where the other unit comes in.

Anyway, lots of people have said that there will be a lot more selection in January, so if we don't find anything we'll be ok for now. I think both of us wish we weren't leaving now, we're just starting to get into a rhythm with work and stuff. If we didn't HAVE to sort things out with our house and if I didn't miss my dog so much we might not be coming back.

Things I would think about if I ever did this again? You can buy a car here. I don't think I'd bother driving down if I did it again. But we've already got to get rid of my car and we had decided to drive down anyway, so that's what we're doing. I'm glad we came down and checked it out because you seriously can get just about anything you need here. By the way... they even have those Vietnamese rice paper wrappers so you can make Vietnamese Summer Rolls (a weekly staple at home). I think we're going to do just fine here...

We're Getting there...

Dec 14, 2007

Well, I went today to see an apartment that's about 10 blocks further north than where we're staying. It was pretty nice It had two bedrooms, washer and dryer and a roof top terrace with jacuzzi. It also included internet, cable and water in the rent (which was payable in pesos, so it can fluctuate in dollars). All together, not a bad place and they'll let us have a dog. I took some photos, so I'll have to run it by Hans, but it might work.

Right now it's down to the place with the green pool that is a block from Wal-Mart versus the place with the roof top terrace that's 2 1/2 blocks to the beach, but about 15 blocks from the grocery store. Vamos a ver.

The Apartment Hunt Continues

Dec 11, 2007

We saw two apartments today. One was in Playacar, which is where many, many of the Americans here live. In fact, when we got coffee at a little coffee shop last night the waiter asked us if we were going to live in Playacar when we told him we were moving here. It would probably be a great place if neither of us spoke Spanish and had no intention of learning it.

BUT- it accepts dogs. Yeah, it's a dump inside and the furniture smelled and I don't really know if we'd like living there, and I'm sure we wouldn't like the long walk to town and the way it feels so separate and not Mexican, and neither of us really wants to live on a golf course, anyway, and there are way way way too many gringos there.

BUT- it's only $1000/month, which is pretty good considering it was huge and had two bedrooms.

Then we saw one that is only a block away from the Wal-Mart (where you can get groceries) and about a 10 minute walk from the beach and a 5 minute walk from our friends where we're staying now. And it was really cool inside with nice architectural details and a loft in one of the bedrooms. And it's in our price-range.

BUT- there's no parking, the pool looked unmaintained as it was green, and we aren't sure about the pets item, the realtor is checking with the owner.

Tomorrow we're going to see an unfurnished apartment that we've already seen once (but the realtor we're seeing it with priced it at $100 less per month than the owner did when he showed it to us). Really we're just going to look at it to ask the realtor about pets. It seems like a lot of furnished places don't want you to have pets because they're worried about their furniture. The floors are all tile, so that's not a problem.

We're hoping they'll say yes about the pets, because it's $100 cheaper than the unit without parking and is basically brand new. It has a lovely, well-maintained pool and parking, but best of all, it's exactly where we'd like to be located... you can't beat that.

So, fingers crossed, y'all. Hopefully the place tomorrow will accept pets. If they don't, fingers crossed that the other place will accept pets. But worse case scenario we can live in gringolandia.

A Good Apartment Can be Hard to Find...

Dec 10, 2007

I've been calling numbers from the signs that I see hanging off the balconies that advertise "Se Renta" for the last couple days. I haven't really gotten any bites except that now we have two realtors looking for us. I have, however, gotten fairly confident about my Spanish capabilities. I've even been answering my cell phone "Bueno" since most of these calls have been conducted in Spanish.

We're supposed to meet up with an American woman (who is originally from about 3 hours from my hometown- small world) to look at a cheap apartment in Playacar. We're not too excited about Playacar as it's the gated community at the edge of town where all the Americans live because they don't want to mix with the rest of the folks here (although, it's also supposed to be the only quiet place to live in town).

At 2pm we're supposed to be meeting up with an Argentinan realtor who will be showing us an apartment two blocks from where we're staying now, which is the area we'd like to live in. It's not that we have so many friends in Playa, but the ones that we do have all live in this area and have told us that it's the place to live.

On Saturday I met up with Liz at the beach to help celebrate her friend Leta's birthday. It was cool meeting up with a fellow blogger and expat in Mexico. We had a nice time. Here's a quick photo:

Man, I feel sorta stupid

Dec 7, 2007

Learning about a new place is a slow process. It's funny, when I moved from NC to NJ I got to know how to get around Hudson county. First we lived in one spot and I learned to navigate there, then another spot and finally a third spot. In the course of the 5 or 6 years we lived there, I got pretty good at getting around.

Then we moved to western Jersey. At first I didn't know where anything was, but I'm the type who likes to drive on a road just to see where it goes. Now that we've lived out there for three years I feel like I know it pretty well.

Add to these two places Breckenridge, CO; Charlotte, NC; and Chapel Hill, NC and I start to feel pretty worldly.

I don't know Mexico.

Today we walked around looking for this rental agency that all the expats in the dive industry seem to use to find apartments. We had a general idea of where it was by the cross streets where we should be able to find it. We walked several blocks out of our way before we decided to call our friend Sofia to ask again where it was.

Enter our experience with TelCel. I understand Spanish enough to know what the operator is saying until she gets to the part where she tells you what to dial. I think the problem extends from the fact that I don't know the word for "pound." I'm assuming they'd call "star" "estrella," unless they're calling it "asterisk."*

Anyway, she said she was looking for the person and that if they couldn't connect us we should dial ... um. yeah. So we hung up. Then we tried again and hung up. Then Sofia called us and we accidently hung up on her. THEN we finally figured it out that we should maybe just wait and see if it connects. It did.

Man. Makes you feel stupid.

Anyway, we found the place. They're closed for siesta right now, we'll have to go back later today.

*Ok, I just figured it out, they're saying "Asterisco" as in asterisk... my head hurts.

Where we're staying

Dec 6, 2007

So I thought I should post some photos of where we're staying, because it's really nice.

Here's the living room:


And the kitchen:


Our bedroom (it was nicer before we slept in the bed):


The spare bedroom:


The bathroom (there are 2.5):


Our view to the west:


Our view to the east:

Coming to you Live, from Playa del Carmen

We're here! We flew down yesterday to stay for two weeks while we look for an apartment (in the middle of high season, ugh) and see how it is to work from here. So far, so good. Obviously, I have an internet connection. We brought our Lingo VOIP router down, so we have a New Jersey phone number here (the same as our regular office phone) so that's cool.

Last night we decided to walk around some so we went down to Avenida Quinta (the main touristy drag- looks a lot like a Vegas mall but with some nice restaurants). We grabbed a nice meal that wasn't too expensive and then walked around some more. Eventually we went to this little coffee shop where we've been before and drank some coffee and people watched. We even met an expat who was running a gallery. He was about my parents' age, maybe a little older and he used to run 9 galleries outside of Atlanta, GA. He and his wife have been here for 3 years.

The condo where we're staying is in a great location in terms of good places to live in Playa. We're about 6 blocks from the beach and two from the Mega, which is like Wal-Mart, but Mexican, so it doesn't feel quite as evil. It's nice and quiet back here for the most part. It's certainly quieter than our old NJ neighborhood when we lived in Union City. The condo belongs to our cave guide, Pietro. He bought it last year and he and his girlfriend have converted the roof top terrace into a studio apartment. We're staying in the regular apartment with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths and they're staying in the studio upstairs.

Pietro and Angela have offered to call some friends who might know something about what apartments are for rent. I'm going to email our friend Sophia who is also living here and see if we can get in touch with her and maybe hang out a couple times this trip.

Oh! And we've rented our house! The woman who is renting it wants to move in on Jan 1, so we're going to have to be outta there on New Year's Eve. She's coming in and painting one of the bedrooms while we're here. We feel like we might have asked for too little for rent, but the fact that it's already rented saves us a ton a money that we would have spent on the mortgage while we tried to rent it.

I'm seriously thinking that we're going to be able to do this!

Hi, Fned!

Dec 4, 2007

Hey, Cool, I'm Global!

Dec 3, 2007

Ok, so I admit, I'm a dork. I just installed a stat counter on this blog to see where people are coming from. Here's a map of where my readers are coming from:



There's lots of east-coasters, but I'd expect that- I have actual friends who visit the site. I know, shocking!

I have a handful from Mexico- "What up?!? Represent Yo! Mexico in the Hiz-ouse"

One from Chile- "Hi, Mamacita Chilena!"

But what I'm particularly proud of is my one German visitor, my one South African visitor, my one UK visitor, my two Aussies and that one person who is living in the ocean on the Equator off the coast of Africa!

Seriously, here's a closer look at where they're living:

Not much going on there, I'd say.

What, you might ask, is the most popular page? It's this one.

And the second most popular? Clearly you would have guessed it's this one.

I know, you're dying to know... what's the third most popular page? That would be this one.

What do these posts have in common? Well, two of them have nothing at all to do with Mexico, moving, or anything really... I mean, tattoos and a song I think is hilarious.

I have to admit, I'm a little obsessed. I was wondering if anyone was reading this blog, since only a couple of people comment, but it seems like there are a few readers. I feel so popular... *sigh*

Mexican Consulate Visit/Visa Status: DENIED!

Well, we had done a bunch of reading about what you need to take with you to the Mexican consulate nearest you to get your FM3. I have probably 6 or 7 books on the process of moving to Mexico, so we came armed with our passports, drivers licenses, 6 months worth of bank statements and a marriage license (just in case). One of the things that they tell you in all the books is that you never know what you're going to get when you go into the consulate- some are stricter than others and you HAVE to go to the one closest to you, you can't shop around.

For us, the closest one is in New York City. So we got up early this morning and headed in, thinking that it wouldn't be too crowded. As we rounded the corner of 39th street I saw the Mexican flag waving in front of this building about half way down the block. There were approximately 100 to 150 people all congregated around the gate in front of the consulate. We started to think that this might take a little more time than we had anticipated.

We had no idea what everyone was doing in front of the consulate at there didn't seem to be a line or any clear order. There was one official-looking guy who was manning the gate and letting people in or out randomly. We saw him let a bunch of people in for visas just as we approached the gate, so we figured we'd force our way up to the front and see if he would let us in, too. As we got there, he changed his strategy and started calling for only people who had appointment numbers to come forward. Hubby was right at the gate- like literally blocking the way for people to get in- and he doesn't speak enough Spanish to know what was going on. So I told him to step aside and let the people in who had the little papers with appointment numbers on them.

After about 5 or so minutes the guy looked at us and asked if we just needed visas. We said yes, and he told us to come in and gave us a number. A few minutes later he told us to go inside to the third floor.

The place was CRAZY inside! There were so many people in so many lines it reminded me of the NJ DMV a few years ago, before they fixed it. Anyway, we get upstairs and wait in a little waiting room for a couple minutes. Not too long after we sat down a woman came out and got us.

We sat across from her in her desk and she sort of gave us a blank stare... "Uh. Ok. Um. We'd like to get an FM3 visa for 1 year." Turns out that at this particular consulate you HAVE to be retired and you HAVE to have $1500 coming in from Social Security. It doesn't matter if you're a millionaire, you have to have money coming in from Social Security or you're not getting an FM3.

Alright, on to plan B. We're going to cross at the border and try to get Tourist Visas for 6 months. We'll be back in the US in a few months any way because some very close friends have a baby due in February and we'll be coming back to meet her in person, so it's not like we won't be able to extend the tourist visa by getting a new one every time we come back in.

All in all, I was pretty surprised how efficient the consulate was. I even got to flex my Spanish muscles a little since we basically did the whole transaction in Spanish after our agent was struggling to explain the situation in English.

I've read of people getting tourist visas and getting them converted to FM3s once they're in Mexico, we'll see what happens. It might not even be necessary.

Fingers Crossed...

Nov 29, 2007

I think we just rented the house to our neighbor's friend. She just called and said she wanted it and for us not to advertise it yet. I'll believe it when I see the deposit check, but she said she'd take it on a year lease starting January 1. We gotta be outta here so she can move in, which makes me think that we gotta start seriously getting the rest of our crap put away. Crazy.

I just lost two hours of my life

Nov 28, 2007

We ordered HBO a couple years ago so we could watch the Sopranos. For whatever reason, we've never canceled it. I like watching some of the series and movies, but one of the best features is that we get access to HBO on demand, so we can watch any movie that is in their current offerings any time we like.

Tonight I decided to watch a movie and the only one in their line up that looked decent to me was "Because I Said So." It's that one where Diane Keaton is the mom and she has three daughters. She meddles with her youngest daughter to try and get her a boyfriend- her youngest daughter is played by Mandy Moore.

Let me just say that it's like the writer of this movie picked up a copy of "Romantic Comedies for Dummies" but stopped just short of reading the chapter entitled "Don't Make it So Predictable it just totally SUCKS!"

I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy just like any other girl, but this one was pathetic. I mean, even "Must Like Dogs" was better and that one was pretty lame. I seriously just lost two hours of my life that I will never be able to get back. I could have been watching Tila Tequila on MTV and had better pay off... ok, maybe it wasn't that bad, but close.

Pasaporte!

Woo Hoo! I got my passport in the mail today! I believe that I only have a couple things in my old name now. I know I have two credit cards and my health insurance in my old name and I think my old 401K is in my old name. That's it!

The floors are looking nice now. Tomorrow the guys put the last shiny coat on them and they'll be done. We have a couple more things to pack up or sell before we're ready to get outta here for good, but that will have to wait until we're back from our next trip.

I want to sell two guitars, a steel string acoustic and a nylon-stringed classical guitar. I haven't played in a while and I don't feel like trucking one of my guitars down in it's big-ass case when they make lots of guitars in Mexico. If I really miss it, I can buy another one. That's what I did when I moved to Colorado- I missed having a guitar so I bought one (ok- it was a piece of crap, but it did the job). It's not like I play for anyone but myself, anyway.

I also need to sell my car, but I don't want to put it on the market and then leave for two weeks so I'm not around to show it if anyone calls. It will just have to wait until I get back. It's a great car and in great shape, so I'm going to post it on Craigslist and I hope it will sell in a week or so. We'll see.

Mamacita Chilena reminded me to bring less than I think and I've been hearing that from lots of people lately. I think we're going to bring scuba stuff, computers, some clothes and the dog. We're really trying to not bring much more...

Anyway, sorry for the boring post. Better get back to work.

I could be doing this from Mexico.

Nov 26, 2007

We got back from South Carolina last night and found that the cleaning lady had come while were were gone and the painters had come and basically painted the entire house an off white color. We're getting there! Tomorrow the floor guys come and refinish the hardwoods so that they match. We're hoping that the realtors can show the house to potential tenants while we're in Mexico for a couple weeks. The place looks totally different now! We both like color, so it's sort of dull to us now, but we want it to work for the majority of people- our color scheme is red and blue mostly, but if someone came in and had forest green as their color scheme, we want our house to work for them, too. Meanwhile, it's looking nice and clean! No marks on the walls, etc.

I got my social security card with my new name on it today. Hopefully the passport will come this week. I'm starting to get excited!

This morning when I turned on my computer I saw that an old client had emailed me to make some edits to one of his sites and he wanted me to make this year's electronic holiday card (a job I've done for him now three years in a row). All I could think was "Dude, I could be doing this from Mexico." I can't wait to be doing what I do here, there.

We have a couple friends visiting us while we're going to be there this time. Aaron and Jeff are going to come down for the last part of the second week that we're there. Hans and Jeff are going to cave dive for two days and Aaron and I will either head over to Cozumel and reef dive or do some sort of exploration of something else. Then we're all going to go to Chichen Itza on one of the weekend days.

We spent Thanksgiving at the beach in SC and let me just say that it wasn't hot enough for me. Sunny and 60 is no substitute for cloudy and 80! Man, it's so close I can already smell the chips and salsa!

Life around here and getting ready for Mexico!

Nov 19, 2007

So we've set the date of the first week of January to move to Playa del Carmen. We're going for two weeks in December to look at apartments and generally try living and working from there. It's pretty exciting, but it's meant that we seriously need to look at the amount of crap we have and what we're going to do with it, so that's what we've been doing the last few days.

Hubby spent all weekend going through the three filing cabinets that we had stuffed and removing all old bills (like so old we will never need them for anything) and old contracts, other random stuff we thought we should file, etc. We made three boxes of papers to be recycled and 5 bags of shredded papers that we recycled after making sure that no one could read anything on them.

Meanwhile, I went through the closets and boxed up stuff that we plan to put in storage, like china and high school diplomas, photos, etc. I also made a pile for Good Will and a pile for the garbage. We're going to get a storage area for our china and stuff, plus we have a lot of paintings that I did and that hubby's uncle did and we're not taking them to Mexico. Then there's a couple items of furniture and appliances that we don't want to have to buy again when we move back.

Today I had to rush around like an idiot because I've been procrastinating. We wanted to go to the Mexican consulate to get our visa, but apparently they're sticklers for small things like your name being the same on your passport and drivers license... sheesh! So I had to go over to the social security office today and get my card changed over to my married name (what, it's only been 6 1/2 years!). Then I had to get everything in order and get some photos and send off a bunch of crap and money to get my new passport with my married name. Fortunately, this shouldn't hold us up... I should have my new passport sometime next week, just in time to change the plane ticket to reflect the new name so we can get outta here on Dec 5th!

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is coming up and we're going to the beach in South Carolina for the end of the week to visit family. It should be fun. We'll be dropping off the cat with my sister, so that will be one less thing to worry about.

Finally, I went salsa dancing last Thursday and had such a great time! I gotta say that I love salsa dancing with guys who are good leaders! There was a lesson before the good people got out there to dance, so I caught up and learned a little and then got to have fun. I even got to dance with the teacher, which was a lot of fun. After that I looked up to see if there was any salsa in Playa del Carmen and it turns out that there is at least one club that has it on Thursday nights. That's good because my personal trainer is Mexican and he always swears that Mexicans don't dance like Cubans or even Colombians. Glad to see there's some dancing happening anyway.

I also went to see Love in the Time of Cholera. It really followed the book, so it was good, but long. Lovely scenery and of course, Benjamin Bratt always is nice to look at. mmm.

Mc Elvis

Nov 18, 2007

So we have set the first week of January as our moving date for Mexico. We've been going through all our crap and throwing away stuff that we don't need, etc. so we can get an idea of just how much stuff we're going to store and how much we don't really need.

I was going through boxes and ran across a box of photos from my wedding. I couldn't resist posting these photos of my dad. He has done Elvis impersonation casually for the last 10 years or so. These were taken at the party the night before the rehearsal dinner party. This was just a casual BBQ get-together at my parents' house. Of course, McElvis (as he calls himself- his name is Mack, so he's McElvis) made an appearance!

La vida es mas compleja de lo que parece

Nov 8, 2007

I love Jorge Drexler. Seriously. I have a six disc changer in my car and like three of the discs are Jorge Drexler (ok, two others are Julieta Venegas, but that's a different post). My hubby always complains that I have the worst CDs in my car because they're all in Spanish. Whatever...

Anyway, I love this song, but it had some lyrics I didn't get, so today I looked up the lyrics in Spanish so I could see what exactly were the words that he says. I'm going to post the Spanish version and then my rough translation. I'm calling on all you folks already living in Spanish-speaking countries (or those fluent in the language) to let me know if I got it right!

Here's the song so you can hear this wonderful man's voice. Man- he's one of my major celebrity crushes.



Here are the lyrics in Spanish:
El velo semitransparente
del desasosiego
un día se vino a instalar
entre el mundo y mis ojos...
Yo estaba empeñado en no ver
lo que ví, pero a veces

la vida es más compleja de
lo que parece...

Pensaste que me iba a quebrar
y subiste tu apuesta,
me hiciste sentir el sabor
de mi propia cocina...
Volví a creer que se tiene
lo que se merece,
la vida es más compleja de
lo que parece...

Todas las versiones
encuentran sitio en mi mesa...
Todas mis canciones
por una sola certeza.

No quiero que lleves de mi
nada que no te marque.
El tiempo dirá si al final
nos valió lo dolido...

Perderme, por lo que yo ví
te rejuvenece,

la vida es más compleja de
lo que parece...

Mejor, o peor, cada cual
seguirá su camino...
Cuánto te quise, quizás,
seguirás sin saberlo...
Lo que dolería por siempre,
ya se desvanece,

la vida es más compleja de
lo que parece...



Here's my translation:
The semi-transparent veil of unrest
One day came between my eyes and the world
I was committed to not seeing what I saw, but sometimes

Life is more complex than it seems

You thought that I was going to fold
and you raised your bet
You made me feel the taste of my own cooking (I think it's better translated as "You made me lie in the bed I made" or a similar sentiment)
I came to believe that people get what they deserve

Life is more complex than it seems

All of the versions have a place at the table
All of my songs with one sole certainty

I don't want you to take from me anything that doesn't mark you
Time will tell in the end if all the pain was worth it to us

Losing me, from what I see, rejuvenates you

Life is more complex than it seems

For better or worse, everyone will go on their way
How much I loved you, maybe you will continue without knowing
What would hurt forever is already fading

Life is more complex than it seems

Gettin' Stuff Done for Mexico

Nov 6, 2007

We have been really preoccupied with the amount of crap stuff we have lately. We've been trying to pare down a lot of it so we can pack our lives in our Toyota 4-Runner and go.

There was a time when my whole life fit into a VW Golf... ah the good ol' days. When we moved into our house a few years ago we rented an almost full sized truck. It's obnoxious! And it's not like either of us are pack rats, we've just accumulated stuff.

So this weekend I took some time to go through all my clothes. I pulled together four garbage bags full of clothes plus two bridesmaids dresses (that would be perfect for prom for someone who needs them) and two business suits and took them all to the Salvation Army. It's amazing how empty my closet and drawers are now.

Most of the clothes that I donated just barely don't fit me any more. It's like if I got real anal about losing 10-15 lbs I could wear them all again, but the reason I got rid of them is that I realized that it's been like 3 years since I could wear any of them and by the time I fit back into them they're going to be out of style any way! So I figure that if I get that skinny again I'll go buy some new clothes to celebrate.

Hans also went through his closet and drawers a couple weeks ago and he removed three bags of clothing, too. I guess it's one small step towards being able to get outta here. We still have way too many books and other stuff, though.

We have also spoken with two realtors who are going to come look at our house and tell us what it would rent for. We're also going to ask them about what it would sell for. It's not that we want to sell it right now, it's just that our little minds are cranking and I've been driving 30 miles to hang out with my friends in Hoboken two to three times a week. It's too far. We're thinking of eventually moving closer to NYC again. But for now we're keeping our eyes on the prize. Mexico is first, then we can decide where we want to live when (or if) we come back. Besides, if we rent the house on a one year lease and come back early we'll have to rent anyway, so it might as well be closer to town.

Katie Holmes ran the marathon?

Nov 5, 2007

So I've spent far too much time this morning emailing back and forth with three friends over the validity of Katie Holmes' supposed marathon adventure yesterday. One of my friends works at Runners World and they never heard anything before or after about it. She thinks that someone named Katie Holmes ran it, but that it wasn't THE Katie Holmes and she thinks someone has put this on and created images as proof and they're just pulling all our legs (even Reuter's leg) by posting some photoshopped pictures online.

All I have to say is that I was there, I ran with her. Here's my proof:

Dive Rebreather


As many of you know, my husband is obsessed with diving. Don't get me wrong, I love diving, too, but I prefer the "open brain, pour in margarita, look at the pretty fishies" type of diving. Hans is a little more hardcore. He likes rebreather diving. Basically, the rebreather catches his exhalation, removed the carbon dioxide and turns it into clean air. It's bubble-free diving. One of the nice things about it is that it's silent since there aren't bubbles making noise. The fish aren't scared of him, instead they come right up to him and look him in the eye.

As part of his obsession, he started making these statements about rebreather diving (closed circuit diving) versus regular SCUBA diving (what's called open circuit diving). I did a quick search online and there weren't any shirts or anything with funny rebreather related slogans on them. Most things are sort of Navy Seal looking stealth crap. So we decided to make some shirts.

We're using Cafe Press to print and ship the shirts for us, so I ordered a couple for him just to check the quality out (plus he wanted them to wear, of course). I am totally stoked at how nice they are! They look really cool. I'm so proud of us!

Anyway, if you want to look at our Cafe Press store (or more importantly, if you want to buy something!!!) you can check it out here: Dive Rebreather.

More Halloween Fun

Oct 29, 2007

These are some pictures my friend Mary took. She's the one that's dressed as a queen.

















Mountain Biking is Fun

Oct 28, 2007

Here are some videos from Hans' mountain biking ride the other week.

video

Hans makes it, George falls.

video

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen!!!

I LOVE Halloween. Basically, I love any excuse to wear a costume, but this is a whole holiday where everyone wears a costume! Luckily, we had a party to go to, so we actually had a reason to think about what we were going to wear.

I knew I wanted to go as Carmen Miranda for a while. I looked around at the costume shops, but the costumes they had were so cheesy and the hats were super fake looking. Then I remembered that I had the perfect dress, a tropical, samba-inspired number that I had gotten to wear to a wedding in Key West a couple years ago. All I had to do was make a hat. I ended up buying a bunch of plastic fruits and flowers and birds and stuff from a craft store and crazy gluing them onto a swim cap, then I wrapped some fabric around my head and voila!

Hubby had decided to go as Justin Timberlake from the SNL classic skit, Dick in a Box. We went to the thrift store and got the perfect jacket, shirt and tie, shaved his facial hair into an artful design and added on some cheesy glasses. Then we went to the sex shop and got a big plastic dildo and put it in a box... you get the idea...

Anyway... Rob was nice enough to offer his well-decorated (Thanks Audrey!) place for us to all congregate. He had the eerie sounds and old horror movies playing. He had ice cubes with gummy worms frozen in them and green jello shots. All in all, it was an evening well spent.

Without further ado, here are our costumes and some of my favorite costumes from the party.



Here's a close up of the fruit hat.



Bill went as a sun flower. I love his "scary hands" in this picture!



Here's the nasty perv with his little present and of course he's found a Japanese school girl to show it to... Actually, she's going as some character from the Kill Bill movies, but I don't know which one.



A pimp and a referee



An astronaut (with space diaper), a mouse, Mrs. Peacock (from Clue) and a guy with a "costume."



Raggedy Ann with Robert Smith in the background.



And, last but not least, a lady who's just trying to get some sleep, a doctor and a trekkie.

Mexico Here We Come

Oct 25, 2007

So after all that whining on my part, last night we sat down and planned a 15 day trip to Mexico to get stuff sorted out. We'll be down there the first couple weeks of December to look at apartments and try working from there. I have a feeling it might be easier than we expect. I'm really looking forward to being there and just doing the "same ol' same ol'" but in a beautiful place. Plus, I'm really looking forward to waking up and realizing that I just dreamed in Spanish!

The State of the Mexico Experience Part II

Oct 24, 2007

The one thing holding us up for moving to Mexico was this pesky software launch (that is also in a large way funding our ability to try this adventure). Well, it launched a couple weeks ago, but that doesn't really mean our jobs here are done. Hubby is still on site at least 4 of 5 days a week and sleeps over up there 2 to 3 nights so he can work mega hours (it's a 1.5 to 2 hour commute at rush hour, gotta love New York City).

Basically, we're still at the mercy of this job and time keep ticking away. It's funny, I went to the dentist last December and they like you to book your next appointment 6 months in advance, so I booked an appointment for June and thought, "Hah, I won't need this! I'll be in Mexico! Ole!" Well, June rolled around and we were still trapped here by "The Software" so I went to my appointment and made another appointment for December thinking, "Hah! I won't need this! I'll be in Mexico! Ole!" Well, I have a sneaky suspicion that I'll be here for that appointment, too, but seriously, I'm not going to be here in June!

We have already committed to flying to South Carolina to spend Thanksgiving at the beach with my family, and we have return flights to Jersey. Originally we thought we would drive to SC with all our crap and then head to Mexico, but it's not going to really work that way, it seems. So we're going to plan a two week trip to secure an apartment and set up internet, etc. I wanted to turn around right after our Thanksgiving trip and head down, but hubby is hard to pin down on this stuff. He's so burned out from working so hard that he just doesn't want to commit to anything unless it's cave diving (and he's not into combining a Mexico trip and a cave trip for whatever stupid reason).

So, what's holding us up now is properly finishing this project and then Thanksgiving and some caving trip to Florida. Then we'll go for 2 weeks to Mexico. I'd like to move before Christmas, but somehow I don't think this is going to happen. At best we might go for two weeks the first couple weeks of December and then move in January. Sucks that we missed the off season for getting good deals on apartments, but whatever.

Oh well, back to the grindstone.

Burglars Move into Alabama Woman's House?

Oct 22, 2007

Packing up our house and leaving it may be more involved than we thought! This lady came home after an extended absence to find three people had moved into her home, one lady was wearing her clothing and they were sleeping in her bed! Hmm, this porridge is too hot, this one it too cold, THIS one is JUST RIGHT! Hopefully no one will move into our house while we're out!

Electrical Inspector.

Oct 17, 2007

When we bought our house a couple years ago, the people who had owned it before us had finished the basement themselves without getting the permits from the township. That's apparently not uncommon in New Jersey, in fact one time I saw a bumper sticker that said "If only it was as hard to get on welfare as it is to get a building permit."

So we didn't really think anything of it. You have to be sort of careful that someone from the township doesn't come in and see that it's all finished because it will cause your taxes to go up. As far as they know we only have 2 bedrooms and one bath. Our house doesn't look like it would have a full finished basement that walks out into the backyard from the front, it's an unassuming 1950's ranch.

Anyway, yesterday I was minding my own business, eating lunch and catching up on "What Not To Wear" (since the internet was down yesterday so I wasn't online) when the door bell rang. There was this little guy standing there with a ID card hanging from his shirt.

"Electrical Inspector," he says.

"Um, ok, hi," I say.

"Electrical Inspector, from XXX Township," he says.

I say, "Ok, so what do you need to do?"

"You guys did the work on the basement? I'm here to inspect it."

Now my heart is in my throat. I'm wondering, how could they possibly know that like 3 years or more ago someone did some work on the basement!?! So I say, "We didn't do any work on the basement." Which, technically, isn't a lie because we didn't actually do the work... um, yeah.

"You didn't? Is this 12 Wrong Street?" he asks.

"Nope, next block up."

WHEW.

It's the Hap-Hapiest Time of the Year!

Oct 15, 2007

I'm talking about Halloween, folks! You may know that they are releasing a 3-D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas this Friday, which is a must-see Halloween movie. I love Tim Burton's claymation movies. This one is just awesome, you should watch the regular version if you don't have access to the 3-D one, it's totally worth it.

So, a me and a couple friends were able to convince another friend that he should have a halloween party. I'm totally stoked. We've been brainstorming about costumes for a couple days. I really want to do something fun and witty.

Last year I had a Day of the Dead party (what? yes, I AM obsessed with Mexican culture. What's it to you?) Actually, it was sort of loosely based on the Mexican holiday. The theme of the party was Mexican, but everyone had to come dressed as someone who actually is dead. We had Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana (with tire marks and other car crash injuries), Al Capone, The Crocodile Hunter, Frida Kahlo, James Dean and others. I went as Joan of Arc by wearing a knight costume and tying a burning log to my back (it was made of styrofoam with tissue paper flames). That was about the best I've done in years.

This year I want to do something great... any ideas?

The End is Nigh

Oct 14, 2007

The software project that has been delaying our plan-making for going to Mexico for the last year or so has finally reached launch day! Tomorrow it goes live! That means that we'll still have to stick around here while we make sure it's stable and provide support, but we're that much closer to being able to get outta Dodge.

The hubster is going on site today and staying up there Sunday night and Monday night and as many nights next week as is necessary to get this thing really stable. It's nuts, but it means that maybe in a couple weeks he'll be able to work from home for more than one day! It's been a long, long time since we've worked a full week together from the house.

This project is huge. It basically controls all business operations for our client's 11 offices and their headquarters. The interesting (sad?) thing is that our software is so efficient that it has made about 1/3 of the jobs at the company obsolete. We even had key stake holders come and ask us to downgrade certain capabilities because it was going to make them obsolete. Isn't technology cool? But then again... what will all these people do? Ok- I'm not going to think about that for too long... better to think about what I need to accomplish so I can get outta here!

We have a friend who recently moved to Playa del Carmen who I've been emailing back and forth with. She's a great contact to have there because she's been there for a few months and is working as a dive master (she speaks like 4 languages, so oddly enough she's been doing her thing in French mostly). We had been sort of scared off of living in Playa by the shop owner of the dive shop we use in Cozumel. But the thing is, I am not sure that Coz has enough of the business amenities that we'll need. It's nice (even though it feels sort of like an American invasion) that Playa has a Sams Club and an Office Max or whatever. Plus, the idea of having to catch a ferry every time we want to go cave diving sounds like a pain. Anyway, we can always move once we're there if we don't like it in Playa.

One change in the plans that we had is that we have once again decided to take the dog with us. Roberta, in Coz, told us that she got broken into a couple times but not since she got a dog, so we figure it'll be a good idea to have one, even if he would only lick a burglar to death. He's got a loud bark!

Ok, I'll post more about the where we are and what we're doing to get ready once we really start moving on it!

I'm seriously going to have to talk to my mom about this

Oct 11, 2007

My mom is in a wheelchair. This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen! It's this guy.

The Avon Two Day Walk for Breast Cancer

Oct 8, 2007

Well, this weekend I did the Avon 2 day walk for Breast Cancer in New York City with my pal Liza and our team, "The Grand Boobians." We started on Saturday morning and it was a nice, cool morning with lots of fog. That was nice for the temperature, but not great for the photos of the various bridges we had to cross that day.

We got to the opening ceremony a little late, so we were at the very back of the huge mass of women (there might have been about 2 men there, too) who were facing this stage that was at the end of pier 84 on West 43rd Street. That ended up being a good thing because when we all turned around to head out on the walk, we ended up being at the front of the pack.

First we walked through Times Square. It was very early and still dark, so the lights were still pretty bright. There was apparently a message on one of the marquees for us, but I didn't notice it.

Then we walked down to Washington Square Park. At this point, both Liza and I were feeling great and we were right on schedule to be able to finish the whole 26.2 miles before the sweep vehicles picked us up. The sweep vehicles were there to pick up any slow walkers and transport them to the next rest stop or to help people who couldn't walk any farther.

After Washington Square Park, we walked on down to the Manhattan Bridge. It was super foggy, so there wasn't much to see off the bridge and I didn't take any pictures of the gray. Instead, I took some pictures of the entrance to the bridge. Since I've always lived in Jersey and always thought it was silly that people payed extra to live in the other 5 boroughs (there's this weird snobby thing that New Yorkers have... they'd rather pay 5 times as much to say they don't live in Jersey while we have the same commute and cool community feeling but much more space and cheaper rent) so anyway, once we got across the Manhattan Bridge I was surprised to find that Queens was so nice! Then I realized later that it was Brooklyn... duh! So anyway, Brooklyn is sort of like Hoboken, same sort of cool vibe. Of course, it wouldn't be New York without massive piles of garbage on the sidewalk!

So we walked through this little park between the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge, which was very nice. The fog was sort of starting to lift, so I got some photos of the various bridges. Actually, I got lots of photos of the Brooklyn Bridge and a few of the Manhattan one.

The Brooklyn Bridge was really cool. One of the things I like the most about living near NYC is coming in and seeing all the real tourists. I really like to see international tourists because it reminds me that I live in a place that is famous the world over and that people really like to come and see it. I saw a group of Spanish tourists who had cameras and an English/Spanish dictionary, which is so cool. I told Liza that I wanted to go to Madrid with my English/Spanish dictionary and a camera! There was a particularly beautiful shot of the Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge that I think was enhanced by the foggy weather. Liza and I were still feeling good at this point and were still ahead of schedule to finish on time.


Lower Manhattan also looked very pretty with the fog.



So we crossed through Manhattan and were in Tribeca. At that point we started to walk uptown and began anticipating walking across the George Washington Bridge (my favorite of all the NYC bridges). We were still feeling pretty good at this point, although our legs were starting to be a little sore and our feet had started to hurt. We figured we had 150 blocks to go to get to the bridge because somewhere along the line we had determined that the bridge is at 150th street. I don't know what were were smoking when we decided it was that close... Anyway, we passed Lincoln Center on the way.

After Lincoln Center we started to feel quite tired and had to take a couple unofficial rest stops because our feet were starting to really hurt. We buckled under and kept walking. We walked along the outside of Central Park for the length of the park and then crossed over west so that we could head through Columbia University. On the way we passed some sort of Bolivia Day celebration and heard some Latin music and saw people dressed in traditional Bolivian costumes. We also passed a beautiful cathedral whose name I don't know, but right next to it was the gorgeous statue. Our feet were seriously hurting and I think we were starting to lose time.

Then we walked through Columbia University. That school is so beautiful and cool. I would love to have gone there. If I had gone to graduate school, I would have liked to apply there. If we have a kid who is very smart and we have the dinero I'm totally going to take them to go look at it. It's in the middle of crazy Manhattan but it has such a nice, calm, academic atmosphere. It really made me miss being in college. Too bad it only lasted for about two blocks.

At this point we had decided that we had to be at least at the 20 mile mark. We were really starting to have hurting feet. Liza's foot was getting this burn on the bottom of it, sort of like a blister, but the podiatrist at the wellness village at the end of day one told her it was really a friction burn. So we were starting to really slow down and were not really going to be able to make the whole 26.2 miles in the time we needed to finish it in. We rounded the corner and there was the rest stop and they were announcing that we were at mile 17, only 9 more to go!

We decided to press on. The George Washington Bridge was just there, I mean how far could it be? (It was at this point that we realized that the bridge is not at 150th street, but more like at 180th street). It was seriously like Vegas- the bridge is just over there, look how close we are, we'll be there in no time!


It was so close! We'll make it!


At this point we started to realize that there was no way we were going to make it to the bridge. It didn't seem to be getting any closer than it was in the photo above. Liza's foot was really starting to bother her and my feet were starting to really hurt, too. Luckily, neither of us had actual blisters. Some people had huge blisters- we saw one woman who had a blood blister on her heel that was the size of her whole heel. Yuck. So we walked to the 19 mile point and took the bus to the Wellness Village where we camped that night.


The Wellness Village was cool. They set up the tent for us and we took nice warm showers and ate dinner. Liza then headed off to bed and I walked around and took some pictures. They had a large tent set up for the evening entertainment and as a place to eat. They had these large inflatable dildos (that's what I was calling them) where you could write your message for the next group of walkers (in our case, Charlotte, NC- my home town!). I wrote a message from our team on there.



They had a band and a bunch of people got up and talked about their experiences with breast cancer. It turns out that this walk, the New York one, raised $10.2 million dollars, the most of any Avon Walk for Breast Cancer ever. Everyone was very excited. Some people were doing all 8 walks this year, so they were doing a walk every couple of weeks and had to raise the $1800 minimum to walk in each one.

So after the band played, I slept like a rock. When we got up, we both felt ready to tackle the day. Neither of us was sore, though both of us had feet that hurt a little. I hadn't brought a change of shoes, which was a big mistake. The other shoes that I have had given me blisters during training walks, so I didn't want to bring them to the actual walk. Now I realize that it would have been relief to at least have some shoes that hurt my feet in different places since my feet were already tired of wearing the shoes I had worn on the first day.

Anyway, so we headed out of Englewood, NJ and it was basically all up hill until we got the the George Washington Bridge. I love this bridge. I think it's one of the very prettiest ones that leads into Manhattan. I love the modern look and the view is amazing. I took an unbelievable amount of photos on it since I love it so much. I'll spare you some of them and just post a couple.

By the end of the GWB I was really starting to have foot problems. The outer part of my left foot, around the arch area but on the outside, was starting to cramp up and it felt like my shoe was pushing on it and bruising it. Because it was hurting so much I started to walk funny, I guess, because the pain extended up the side of my foot to my ankle, almost like a sprained feeling, but I hadn't rolled my ankle. The first rest stop was under the bridge at the little red lighthouse of children's book fame.

My feet were really hurting, but the next stop was lunch and I was determined to make it. Lunch was at the 8 mile mark, so we walked on... or rather limped on. Liza was doing pretty well as she had brought a change of shoes. By the time we got to lunch we were also lagging on the time. We needed to be out of lunch and on the road again by noon in order to make it on time and it was about 5 till noon when we got there.

We ate rather quickly and started to head out when I determined that I didn't think I could walk much further. We decided to make a stop at the medical tent to see if they could do something about my foot pain. The EMT looked at my feet and my shoes and determined that there wasn't really anything they could do about it, so Liza and I caught the bus to the next rest stop.

From that rest stop we had about 2 miles to go to the finish line. I limped in in fine style. It was a very long 2 miles, but we made it!

My thoughts on 39.3 mile walks for charity? I will never do this ever again. Marathons were not developed for walking. I swear that the time I ran a half marathon was nothing compared to walking one. It was for a great cause and I raised a good amount of money, but I will absolutely never ever do this again. As we kept saying all weekend, "Who's bright idea was this?"

Click here to view a slide show of all the photos I took.