Friday, July 26, 2019

Cultural Differences

I wrote this blog on 25 June, almost a mont ago, and forgot to post it.

After a trip to the States, I arrived home a few weeks ago around 1:00 a.m. I’d forgotten to tell the friend who was watering my plants and paying my bills that the cable company does not send them. You are expected to pay your bill no later than the tenth of each month. Mine wasn't paid and my cable and Internet were off—no way to communicate.
The next morning, as soon as I had coffee, I headed out for the cable company. Enroute, I ran into my landlady’s sister and their mother. Her sister said an architect from Queretaro was coming at 4pm to look at the skylight that was leaking. I tried to explain that this was not convenient but was not communicating--she didn't speak English and my Spanish, after numerous classes, is still rudimentary. They had a set of keys. I asked her to use them but she said I had to be there at four.  The skylight needed to be fixed before the rainy season began. So, finally in frustration I said, “fuck it, I’ll be there,” and rushed off to MegaCable. 
The next morning my landlady, who lives in Texas, called.  She started with, “My mother is the most important thing in the world to me.” And ended with, “Why did you say fuck you to my mother?” 
I was dumbfounded. “I wasn’t talking to your mother.” I told her. “Plus I said fuck it, an expression of frustration, not fuck you.”
My rental is one of four houses in a compound owned by the same family. I’d cultivated a good relationship with her relatives. Had invited them to dinner the first time my landlady visited them in San Miguel. Given them leftover desserts for the kids and grandkids after my dinner parties.
“You know me,” I continued.  “Why would you think I’d insult your mother?”
This was a misunderstanding, something I felt sure could be straighten out with conversation. I found someone to translate, a bi-lingual Mexican friend to avoid further cultural misunderstanding, and went to talk with her mother. She wouldn’t open the door. Less than a minute later another daughter, who lives in the house to my right, came to my house. “My mother does not want to talk with you, not now, not ever,” she said shaking her finger in my face like I was a wayward child.
Her mother was close to my age, a grown-ass woman who was behaving like a child. I was pissed. She took me to my dark side. The me who sought revenge, that part of me I worked so hard to get control of in my thirties.
When my landlady came to San Miguel tempers had subsided. She said that she that since she lived in Texas she relied on her family to maintain her house in Mexico. “They refuse to work with you,” she said. "I'm between a rock and a hard place. But no rush, take as much time as I needed to find a new place."
I was determined to find something quickly. Living is a toxic environment is not good. Every time I saw her mother she ignited my anger when she looked away from me with a humph. Once when she did this, I asked in anger, "How old are you, twelve?"  
I found something less than three weeks after the conversation with my landlady. Three weeks that had felt like twelve. There are pluses with the new place, no more stairs, a washer and dryer, and a small patio--and minuses, more money and less square footage.
A new chapter begins. Moving date is July 15.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Vagina Monologues

Recently I read one of the monologues for San Miguel’s tribute to the 25thanniversary of Eve Ensler’s play. Close to two years ago, I’d said ‘no more acting’ after doing Building the Wall. But, like Robert Schenkkan play, The Vagina Monologuesis part of a movement. For some reason, that I’ve yet to figure out, movements attract me these days.
I knew I hadn’t seen the play; thought that I’d read it but realized I hadn’t when I downloaded it on my Kindle I. I liked most of the monologues. Loved the humor—often Ms. Ensler had you laughing while she delivered a punch. Several were sassy—put me in the mind of the Lady in Blue, one of the Colored Girls, in ‘Zake’s (N’tozake Sange’s) play. But only one, “My Short Skirt,” reflected my experience. I’ve loved lots of books and plays that didn’t reflect me. But this was the Vagina Monologues. I wanted to have more commonality.
I had no commonality with the women who hated or were disconnected from their vaginas. I’d always thought mine was a magical place. It started in kindergarten. My nursery school was part of a test group that screened a film on birth designed for five and six year olds. Of course the mother was draped. We did not get a full frontal view of the delivery. It seemed like a magic trick when the doctor displayed the baby. When I got home from school, I examined my vagina. Looked and looked, searching for someplace where a baby could exit. I couldn’t find it. When Mama got home I asked. How does the baby get out?Through the birth canal, she said. It expands when its time for the baby for the leave. It had to be a magical place if it could expand enough to accommodate a baby’s head. 
The only non-magical thing about vaginas was periods. The monthly drip, drip, drip. Kotek, the pad we wore between our legs to catch the drip, anchored by a sanitary belt that never stayed in place. Pads that were hot and stinky in summer. Horrible. Then I discovered tampons. My reaction to them was the direct opposite of the woman in the Angry Vagina monologue. I loved them. They were a thousand times better than Kotek. Okay so the cardboard applicator wasn’t uncomfortable but only for ten seconds. Ten unpleasant seconds to replace a hot, thick, wad of cotton between my legs all day was definitely better. Two years later I discovered OBs—the tampon supposedly designed by a female gynecologist, with a lubricated and no applicator. You had to be intimate with your vagina to use OBs. They were inserted with your finger. And while I was inserting one, I accidently discovered my clitoris. The magic of my vagina increased tenfold.
Eve Ensler’s vagina stories weren’t mine. There’d been abuse in my life, not much and never violent. Wounds festered for a moment, then healed. I’ve learned to count that as one of my blessings. Little drama in that.