What’s That Dude’s Name?

February 13, 2008 at 1:42 am | Posted in Immigration, Life in the US, Weirdness | 8 Comments

Michelle and her husband are a wonderful couple from Guatemala who study English with my husband.  We met them both this summer, got to know them better at a kickin’ party full of Central and South Americans (and one Mexican and one white girl).  Homeboy continues to study English with them.

Unfortunately, we don’t know Michelle’s husband’s name. 

After seven months of seeing someone fairly regularly, how in hell do you find out what their name is?  I don’t know how I got it into my head that his name was Miguel, but his name obviously isn’t Miguel.

Homeboy asked a mutual friend what his name was, and since it was a bit out of the ordinary, he promptly forgot it.

I told Homeboy to give the man a slip of paper so he could write down their phone number.  The guy wrote “telefono de casa” and the number.  And he put down his wife’s name, but not his.

I asked Homeboy if their English teacher takes attendance and he said that he passes around a sign in sheet.  Told him to look for their name on it next time.  He said that they always come late to class after the sheet has gone around the room.

They’ve invited us to their house this weekend, and I can’t believe we still don’t know his name!

I’m hoping that he leaves his wallet in the bathroom or something so I can go through it to check his I.D.  But I’m pretty sure that they’re undocumented so I wouldn’t be surprised if the name he used wasn’t his real one.  I doubt that he’ll have a diploma or something hanging on their living room wall.

How do we find out what his name is?  And will I really have to ask him what it is a full eight months after meeting him?

Life in a Parallel Universe

December 11, 2007 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Immigration, Life in the US, Marriage, Weirdness, Working | 6 Comments

Homeboy and my father are tight, and they certainly make an unlikely pair: a twenty-five year old, compact brown fellow and an elderly, red-headed white man.  Yet they go out to breakfast together at my father’s favorite diner, go on errands, and sneak donuts at Dunkin’ Donuts.  My father also fancies himself Homeboy’s tour guide, taxi driver, and ambassador to the English-speaking world.

So when Homeboy finally got a call from the temp agency to report for work yesterday, dad was only too happy to snap to attention.  I switched to crack-head soccer mommy mode to get Homeboy home with his resume, so dad could pick him up, pass off the required work boots, and take him to the temp agency. 

Dad calls to give me a run down of what transpired, but then got upset and only said: “It was chaos, pure chaos.  I helped him with his application, then they took him away in a van.  I don’t know where they took him.”  He calls me a few hours to express his concern, and he sounded even more traumatized than before, especially since Homeboy hadn’t called me to let me know what time to pick him up.

Homeboy finally calls, and I go to pick him up.  He had been moving packages for DHL and is thrilled to use his first paycheck in America to buy a gold chain and crucifix pendant. 

Jump to a few hours later.  Homeboy’s at English class, and I call dad to let him know that he was safely returned to me.  Stepmom picks up the other extension to tell me that after they attended a wake, they went to dinner.  Dad spent the entire dinner with his head down, mumbling “They took him away in a van, I don’t know where they took him.  I didn’t even get to shake his hand. They just took him away.”  Note: my father clutches at Homeboy every time they see each other.  He gazes meaningfully into my husband’s eyes, and celebrates each new step of his life in America as if he were a newborn. 

Dad was much relieved that Homeboy was fine, even jubilant.  I told Homeboy about my father’s trauma and how worked up he got that he couldn’t shake his hand. 

Apparently, as they shoved him into the van, my father remained on the steps of the temp agency, shaking his hand at his favorite Mexican in some sort of victory salute as a van load of recent immigrants, ex-cons, and the generally downtrodden temp laborers looked on.

Cape Verde: Where the Frig is That?

November 30, 2007 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Immigration, Life in the US, The Bucket | 3 Comments

Cape Verde is a nation made of up ten islands, located 400 miles off the coast of Senegal.  Colonized in the fifteenth century by Portugal, the country didn’t become independent until 1975. 

Why am I interested in Cape Verde?  Well, I learned from Wikipedia that there are more Cape Verdeans living outside the country than within. 

The largest populations of Cape Verdeans can be found in (in descending order):

  • Cape Verde
  • Brockton, Massachusetts
  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island (a.k.a. The Bucket)

In Woodlawn, the neighborhood that I work in, you can hear people speak Spanish, Wolof, Haitian Creole, Arabic, and English.  But more often than not, you’ll hear Cape Verdean Creole, which sounds slightly familiar to my ears, yet mostly foreign. Their Creole is a mixture of Portuguese and West African dialects. 

One thing I love about The Bucket is the amazing cultural diversity.  And Cape Verdeans add a rich history and fascinating dialect (or set of dialects, actually) to the mix.  Now that I’m here full time, I will be sure to bug people with all my questions about what they’re all about!

For a more articulate (I’m so whipped, but wanted to get something down before I collapsed) intro to Cape Verdeans in Pawtucket, check out the beginning of this article from National Geographic.

My favorite part (just before they cut the article and ask you to subscribe) is about the triste alegria (sad happiness) that Cape Verdeans feel–nostalgia for the place they left, but an understanding of being here for more opportunities–something that most immigrants feel.

Displaced Mexicans Smelling Hammocks

November 28, 2007 at 9:14 am | Posted in Immigration, Life in the US, Marriage, Mayan Culture | 9 Comments

Homeboy’s only advance preparation for coming to the US was to have a hammock made.  (For those of you aren’t aren’t familiar with the Yucatan, hammocks are an important part of Yucatec Maya culture: they sleep in them rather than beds and also make them.) He didn’t have his passport sorted until the day before (imagine my panic), he bought a suitable backpack a week before, and took some furniture in an open truck during a rainstorm from Cancun to his village about three days before his flight. But he did commission a gorgeous, mult-colored, double-weave hammock and paid 700 pesos for it, since his mum can no longer be on her feet for that long to make one for him herself. I told him repeatedly that there is NO way that you could put hammock hooks in sheet rock. But since he’d never actually seen a wooden house, he didn’t believe me and was sure that we would soon be swinging in our hamaca matrimonial in our little apartment in Rhode Island.

So the hammock has been in its bag for a few months since we don’t know what to do with it. A few weeks away he took it out to show our house guests, Monica and her Campechano husband, and I reminded him that it still smelled delciously smoky, exactly like the palapa kitchen that it was made in. So he smelled it, I smelled it, our guests smelled it. Then the two guys kept smelling the hammock, looking all sad and nostalgic. The more they smelled, the sadder they got!

Back in its bag it went, until next time he wants to smell home! I rue the day that we actually figure out what to do with it and it gets aired out so it doesn’t smell like Yucatan anymore!

Immigration Grrrls Rock!

November 22, 2007 at 2:03 am | Posted in Blogging, Immigration, Internet, Marriage | 6 Comments

The idea of forming friendships and making acquaintances online has long made me twitchy.  Pretty ironic, considering I am the consummate lurker and do love to post my snark (and occasional advice) on forums.  And it makes me feel slightly uneasy when I’ve followed someone’s blog or forum posts and then meet them in person.  In fact, at an expat gathering in Cancun last Xmas season, I admitted sheepishly to Rivergirl that I followed her blog and therefore knew about the parts of her life that she chose to share in posts.  I felt as though I was admitting to something bizarre like collecting panties from Japanese schoolgirls but Rivergirl took it in stride. 

Imagine my surprise when, after embarking on a long visa process to get Homeboy here, I started bonding with women on immigration forums.  This bonding led to emails, text messages, phone calls, and in one case, in-person visits!  All with women I’d be thrilled to suck back cups of coffee with on my lunch break or share some beers and fried goodies with after work.  And what connects us is the fact that we all went through the immigration process (some much more arduous than others, and others still unresolved) for a Mexican. 

There’s Stephanie, who lives too far away to meet for a weekend, but is from an area enticing enough for me to fantasize about a double-shot of adventure: meeting her and her Mexican in person, and taking a road trip through Baja.

There’s Candace, who I “met” on the Ciudad Juarez forum.  It turns out that she and her husband own a house in the same fraccionamiento in Cancun that Homeboy and I first lived in. 

And Laura in Wisconsin, who filed a hardship waiver to get her once undocumented husband legalized.  A fellow writer and wonderer, yet she seems much more productive and less lazy than I.  Maybe she’s faking it, but perhaps she’s not and she’ll post some inspiration for me to get my butt in gear.

I’ve saved Monica for last, since she holds the place of honor as the only woman I’ve ever met in person after connecting online.  Of course, it was inevitable that we’d get along: our Mexicans share a name, they’re both from the Yucatan Peninsula, they both worked in restaurants and bars in tourist regions, and they arrived in the US for the first time ever within a week of each other.  And they’re both currently cold ALL THE TIME. 

Perhaps for others, meeting online and then in person is normal.  For me, not so much.  But it’s added another fascinating layer to my life. 

So thanks, immigration grrrls for changing my mind about online friendships!

And adelante, chavas! Or shall I say, ñoras!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.