Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Florence and the [Washing] Machine

Has someone ever done you a favor but they did it wrong or not to your liking but you couldn't really say anything because they were being nice so you had to hold your tongue?

One weekend I was camping with my girlfriends (the Kamp Kittens who, when it was winter, morphed into the Kraft Kittens) and I was feeling cranky (or was that kranky?). I probably should've stayed home but I decided to be social and go. Our first morning I wanted to sleep in and be left alone but one of the women came over to my tent and presented me with a cup of coffee. How nice of her, right? But she'd put cream in my coffee and I like it black. I was polite and thanked her but all day I mumbled why the hell did she put milk in my coffee? doesn't she know how i like my coffee? why would someone do that? 

A friend of ours was dying only we didn't know it at the time. I mean, she was in her 30s so how could that be? She was single and so us women friends did what we could to take care of her. One time when she was in the hospital one of the women did her laundry and brought her bras, panties, t-shirts, things like that. The woman in the hospital bed wasn't as nice as I'd been about the coffee. "The next time you do my laundry could you please use unscented detergent?" Or she'd reprimand us because we brought the wrong underwear. When we cleaned her apartment, we had remembered to recycle, right?

The night of the wife beating I'd grabbed the only blanket I had (outside of the comforter on my bed) to throw around my friend as she hunkered down in the dirt under my trailer. Later I put it around the shoulders of one of the bear spray sprayed men. I'd given away all my other blankets during a cold spell last year including my one and only sleeping bag. This blanket had been given to me by my realtor when I moved into my house - a pretty off-white Pendleton throw. It was one of the few household items I brought with me when I left Portland.

I didn't expect to see that throw again or if I did, I figured it would be a mess - a mixture of dirt, blood and bear spray. When I got home from Tucson the blanket was on my picnic table. It was clean. It was felted. It was shrunken down to half its size. Flo, God bless her, had washed it. A 100% wool throw thrown in the washing machine. Didn't she know not to do that? Had it reappeared I probably would've bagged it up and waited for my next trip to Tucson to have it dry-cleaned. But how could I say anything? So when Flo came over I thanked her profusely.

I may give the throw another wash and then dry it in Demo's dryer to thoroughly felt it. Maybe I'll make it into...uh, what? A purse? A door mat? A bed for the cat? A pillow cover? Could I needlepoint it? Hang shells from it? Hey, Kraft Kittens, got any ideas?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

All Hell Keeps Breaking Loose

I just finished typing up my version of the events for the police, the district attorney, the judge, whomever needs to see it. It was a pretty easy task because I'd run through the story of that night hundreds of times - in my mind and to other people. But there is one part I have a hard time recalling in detail. It's the part where I wasn't killed or bear spray sprayed.

The man in the RV right next door to mine tried to kill his wife. What would you do if you heard your friend screaming? Police always say domestic violence calls are the most dangerous and they warn the public to stay clear and let the police do their job. But the police were slow in arriving and I felt we had to do something so I started banging on the RV door.

This is about the creepiest image from that night: The husband came to the door and smiled at me through the window. "Everything's fine. She's just drunk." He walked away and resumed beating her.

I guess our banging on the RV and screaming at the husband pissed him off enough that he left his wife alone in the back bedroom and when he did that she managed to fling herself head first out the emergency exit. A huge feat and fall for a woman her height (around 5 feet tall).

This is where events get foggy. Another neighbor carried the wife to the lounge chair in front of my trailer. I went inside to get a blanket. When I came out I saw the wife slide off the chair and crawl under my trailer. I watched her husband walk the road in front of my trailer with bear spray in his hands, arms straight out like that pepper spraying cop at the Occupy campus, direct shots to the eyes of two men standing there, direct shot to the eyes of the nice Mexican woman who lives at the end of my row. Where was I that I saw this but was out of the line of fire? I must've been hiding in the shadows next to my trailer where I could see that the wife was under my trailer and that the husband was spraying people but he couldn't see me. I tossed the wife the blanket.

The cops arrived and found the husband. After he'd been cuffed and taken away the wife came out from under my trailer. That's when we learned that another neighbor - the man who had banged on the RV and yelled at the husband right along with me - had received a machete blow to the head. One thousandth of an inch more and that man would be dead, the blade slicing into his brain.

I tended to the two men who had been sprayed, leading them to chairs, turning on the hose, grabbing towels. I sprayed water directly on their faces, rinsed the towels, held them to their faces. BAD MOVE! When I saw the towels the next day - turned orange like they'd been dipped in napalm - I realized I'd been reapplying the bear spray to their faces. And I had failed to keep my hands thoroughly rinsed so they burned all night long along with the area around my mouth.

There was one funny moment. I had to lead one of the men back to his rig. When we got to his door he said "take off your shoes." I mean really, he was worried about the carpet? I led him to his bedroom where he stripped naked while I turned on the water in the shower, being careful to only see his backside.

It wasn't until two mornings later when I woke and realized that if I hadn't gone to tend to the wife at the other side of the RV, if I'd been standing by the door when the husband came out with the machete, I'd be dead. He's a big man. No way my little head - as stubborn and hard as it is - could've survived that blow. And how was it that I avoided the bear spray?

Thankfully no one died. The wife is banged up but okay. The machete'd man will survive. The bear spray sprayed people were resuming normal activities the next day.

What about our decision to get involved? I think our relentless yelling and banging on the RV is what caused the husband to leave his wife alone for the time she needed to escape. Would I do it again? You betcha. But I now know to move away from the door when the husband emerges.

The husband is being held in a Mexican jail on two counts of attempted murder. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Since living in Mexico I've witnessed expats suffering medical emergencies and sudden deaths. I've seen how the judicial system works for Mexicans. This will be the first time I will see how that system works for an American in Mexico. Of course most people I know hope he rots in a Mexican prison but I wonder if they (his lawyer? the American consulate?) will try to get him extradited.

Most people were shocked - they seemed like such a loving couple. When someone said that to the wife the next morning we looked at each other. I said "I'm not surprised." I knew her husband didn't like me and I didn't like him either. I'd seen bad behavior (not on this level) from him before. This year I felt that things were not right over there.

Domestic violence and RV parks, they seem to go hand in hand, not just here but when I lived up in Amado, too. Retirees mostly. People who are bored. Who maybe drink too much. Who share a small space. I spent years living in close proximity to other people - mostly apartment buildings - and I never saw this much spouse beating.

So far the wife is hanging tough. She's got lots of support from the community and her family. It's difficult to throw over a 30-year marriage but I think she can do it.

I got an email from her the next day when I was up in Tucson. She said everyone in town knew - Mexicans and Americans alike. Can't you just picture the talk in the barrios? "Did you hear about the crazy gringo who almost killed his wife and machete'd a neighbor?" Aye carrumba. Things have been a little too crazy in the park in the recent weeks. Let's hope these things don't happen in threes because if so, we're due one more.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spanish Word(s) of the Day: cochino and hipocrita

I see that el cochino is complaining that the left is denying him free speech. Hm. What about the religious right (for example) protesting a movie they think is anti-Jesus or anti-God or anti-religion? According to el cochino's stance, aren't they denying that movie's producers their free speech? Or is it okay for the right to protest and call for boycotts and advertising withdrawals but not the left? That's called hypocrisy.

From Merriam-Webster: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

Let me explain the free speech issue as I see it. IMHO people have the right to say what they want (unless it incites violence against a particular person or group of people) and I have the right not to support them and to urge others to withdraw their support, i.e. advertisers.

Here are a few examples of the right's hypocrisy surrounding the Ms. Fluke/birth control issue: They're okay with the fact that Rush smuggled Viagra but he's not a cochino (the male equivalent of a slut). They're disgusted with all those babies on welfare but don't want to give women access to birth control. They don't want their taxes going for family planning but as Jon Stewart so eloquently put it: get over it! We all have taxes going places we don't support (WAR for example).

The other day a friend who spends all his down time watching Fox "News" said Rush shouldn't have called "that girl" a slut but she was one because she had too much sex. Every time she had sex she had to take a birth control pill which meant she had sex likes 3,000 times a year. Whoa, all us women screamed from various seats in the truck, you don't know how birth control works. And after we told him - one pill a day no matter if you're having sex or not - he still didn't believe us. He didn't believe that women knew more about birth control than he did. How in the hell can someone take the bullshit uttered or screamed on Fox as absolute truth? It's beyond me.

This friend of mine has daughters who most likely at some point in their lives were on birth control. One got pregnant quite young. How would he feel if someone like el cochino not only said his daughters were sluts but also that he was a lousy and irresponsible parent?

I believe the left should keep up the heat on Rush (Christian Science Monitor). If nothing else, it may clear up some misconceptions about birth control and family planning. (But are people willing to listen and learn? It seems doubtful.)

Although I'd love to see Rush without a radio program, and I'm thrilled that as of this writing he's lost 21 advertisers (Politico), I haven't signed a petition to Clear Channel to give him the boot. I want Rush to die a slow and painful radio death. Besides, he'll find some way to reincarnate himself. Still, my fantasy is to see Rush dirt poor and having to rely on all those "socialist" programs he rails against: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps. He'll be too poor for Viagra. (Do women actually have sex with him? Is he married?) Maybe he'll wind up living out of a shopping cart (a BIG one) and do his soapboxing on street corners with a tip jar by his side.

The more these controversies come up, it seems the stronger women get. We've been complacent, thinking these battles were won years ago only to have the beast we thought dead rise up and attack us again. It's like the right's robocop. But us women, we're resilient.

Oh-oh, I'm feeling my inner Helen Reddy rising to the surface: I am woman, hear me roar.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spanish Word of the Day: Espontáneo

The whole day was spontaneous. We went to the garage sale in New Kino which was kind of a bust but I did buy an acrylic container for shells. I asked how much and the lady said 50 cents. Fifty cents? I couldn't wrap my mind around that. I'm in Mexico and she wants 50 cents? Finally she said 6 pesos. Okay, now that I understood. (Don't get me started on expats who deal in dollars.)

We were stopped at the intersection and my friend asked if we wanted to go to breakfast. I said no, I'd rather just go home. Then she said one word that changed my mind and changed the course of the day: mimosa.

Three mimosas later we were at the Kino Bay RV rec room watching the pool tournament. Got there in time to see Demo shoot. After that we walked across the street to Jorge's. The Coca-Cola delivery men were there and I saw Jorge pick up his guitar.

I was supposed to go out to dinner that night but I spontaneously decided to stay home. It had been such a perfect day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spanish Word of the Day: Mesero

Most of my favorite waiters have hit the skids. I was thinking about them yesterday as I walked the beach.

The first time I met Carlito (who said his name was Charlie) he gave presents to my friend and I. Turns out Charlie did that a lot, giving presents of wood carvings, baskets, boxes covered in shells. He was a pretty good actor, miming parts of his conversation when trying to get his point across to us non-Spanish speakers. And he was very on top of things when our Margarita Monday got out of control.

One day Charlie showed up at my door with a sad story. (I didn't put too much energy into wondering how he knew where I lived.) His daughter was in the hospital in Hermosillo. She'd been hit by a car in front of school and he needed money to pay for her leg brace. Of course I would help but I couldn't give him much and he said that was okay, he was grateful for anything.

Turns out that was total b.s. When I asked the other meseros about Charlie they said he no longer worked there, that he had no wife and no kids. I saw Charlie not too long after that. He was on the pier with a puppy. He didn't look at all like the vibrant waiter who gave us presents.

Little Juan hit bottom hard. A handsome kid with a pretty wife who seemed way more sophisticated than he, when he left his waiter job he did odd jobs for some of us at the trailer park but mostly he worked as a diver. I saw him on the beach one evening and I nearly didn't recognize him. He was drunk, crying, his eyes swollen. "Muchos problemas," was all he said. Not too long after that his wife beat him up, kicked him out of the house, then got a restraining order against him so that he couldn't even see his kids.

Around that time things were disappearing from the park. One night as I sat at the computer, door wide open, someone cut the screen in the kitchen window, reached in - their hand only a foot or two from where I was sitting - and took the notebook off my kitchen counter. I was oblivious to the whole thing until I wondered where my notebook was. The next morning I found it outside the kitchen window on the top of the ladder the pinche ladrone had used to reach the window. He must've thought the notebook was a purse. Small items were missing from my porch - scissors, sunglasses, Bic lighter. I never felt threatened. I thought maybe it was someone I knew.

Jesus who had the greatest smile had been deported from the U.S. after a stint in prison. I knew he wouldn't make it in Kino. There's nothing for an L.A. boy to do here but get a girl pregnant, which he did. His smile faded, he got very thin, then he quit his waiter job and moved to Calle Doce. I can't imagine what he does there to make money. Work in the fields? Process shrimp? Maybe he moved on to Hermosillo. Maybe he deals drugs.

It breaks my heart. The downward spiral happens quickly in a town like this, a town without much in the way of work options. A town where a lot of people still live without electricity and running water, who live with too many kids and not enough food. And yet there are those who manage to live quasi-middle class lives. They work at the hardware store or they own the bakery, the flower shop, the meat store. But for the rest, for the young men and women, their futures are bright only if they can get to a big city. And without money, even that is out of reach.