ya volví de donde andaba

I wrote the post below a week and a half ago on my way home from Chihuahua. Since then, I’ve been to a conference (for work) in Orlando, I’ve been to Las Vegas (where I met up with Josh for the weekend) and I’ve been in Tucson (again, for work). During all of this traveling, the same theme has come up, over and over: some of my best conversations come from sitting next to a stranger in a car/plane/bus/train.  That being said, I AM SO HAPPY TO BE BACK IN MY BED.

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Have I mentioned that I’m working on my thesis? No? That’s pretty miraculous, because it’s ALL I THINK ABOUT. It also fuels 99% of my complaints, but I’ll try to keep those off the blog (thesis = stress/exhaustion/hunger). This is all to say that this weekend, I enjoyed a quick little trip to my parents’ home in Chihuahua to do (what else?) thesis stuff. Since Josh didn’t have a long weekend like I did (thank you, American Presidents!), I went down on the shuttle.

The shuttle: 12-15 passenger van that takes people from Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson to various parts of northern Mexico (and back).

The shuttle is fascinating, you guys. You are close enough to your seatmates to basically smell everyone’s breakfast breath, but unlike the subway, the bus or the plane, this particular form of public transportation means encounters are loooong, not fleeting. Being so close to strangers for such a long time makes for an interesting experience, as you all try to give each other space while being (basically) up in each others’ grill for like, 8 hours.

My least favorite part of the shuttle trip is the border crossing. At the border, all the bags must be opened and checked, and everyone tries to avert her eyes as the border agents paw through our treasures: white socks and notebooks brought back for the kids, a pair of pink panties, sheets for la abuela, boots and three “leather” jackets to sell. Bags are filled to overflowing with things imported for family members in Mexico, and those of us who tend to over-pack (ahem) hastily struggle to close our bulging bags as everyone else pretends not to notice all the things we brought spilling out. It’s a private moment obligatorily shared with strangers, and it feels like you’ve walked in on something you weren’t meant to see.

My favorite part of the shuttle trip is the way you catch the stories of people’s lives amidst the sharing of gum, napkins and chips. I learned about the lady who takes turns with her three sisters to care for a disabled elderly sibling. They each make the long journey from various U.S. states to stay with her for one week each month: four siblings for four weeks, each taking her turn ever since their mom died. I also learned one man’s cure for lombrices: first thing in the morning, you eat a spoonful of sugar. Then you immediately take a shot of tequila. That way, all the lombrices are looking up with mouths open after the sugar, expecting more, and then you drown them with alcohol! (Please picture this in your mind, it is hilarious and I was dying.)

The sweet and the sad, the funny and the bitter, no matter where I’m going, it’s the stories I collect in the process that make the trip worthwhile.

bajo este cielo azul

For the past month, I’ve been hearing and reading (blogs, you know) people complain about how aaaaawful January is and how they can’t wait for the month to be over. I always feel vaguely offended by this, because have I mentioned that January is Birthday Month around these parts? Yes, it’s true. Two Capricorns married each other (this means that our fights are especially intense… fun). Also, January is one of the best months to live in Phoenix, and I can’t possibly relate to the complaints of endless snow and ice while we’re happily enjoying 60-70 degree sunny days over here.

Josh’s birthday comes first, and while the first comment people make when they find out his birthday is so close to Christmas is usually something along the lines of “that sucks,” it’s actually really good for this household. You know how when the holidays are over, it feels as though you have nothing to look forward to anymore? Well, immediately having two birthdays spurs us into planning the next celebration(s) and gives us purpose for the rest of the month. This year, one of us had an especially important birthday (let’s just say the age he turned rhymes with “flirty”), and for this big occasion I decided to give the biggest present I could think of.

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con el globo

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globo en aire y agua

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I thought it might cure my obsession with hot air balloons, but it only seems to have exacerbated it.

Other birthday shenanigans included a party at St. Francis with our friends (followed by dancing at our tried-and-true Club Downtown in- you guessed it!- downtown Phoenix) as well as a weekend getaway to Flagstaff. We went chasing the snow and to ski, but unfortunately I spent a lot of time sick in bed. Luckily, we stayed at the most adorable B & B ever, so at least I was convalescing in a gorgeous room with a cozy fireplace, enormous jacuzzi tub, etc. We also managed to get in some skiing, and had quite enough of snow and cold to last us through till next winter (we’re wimpy Zonies now, three days is about all we can handle).

So, farewell January! You’ve been good to me, and (apparently unlike everyone else in the blogging world) I am sad to see you go.