Thanks for starting this, Lisa! I've enjoyed reading others' answers, so I thought I'd jump on this train, too.
1) How long have you been with your husband?
We started dating 12 years ago, and got married 3 1/2 years ago, finally ending 9 years of long distance relationship. There's a lot to be said for long distance relationships--I recommend that all people dating do it for awhile. But 9 years is a bit excessive.
2) Can you remember a funny miscommunication due to language barriers?
I think most of our miscommuncations that triggered real responses were more due to the fact that our personalities and world views are so different.
However, he always made me giggle a bit (to myself) when we were dating and instead of saying, "You had better not do that", he'd say "You better don't". I never corrected him because I thought it was adorable. Then he spent a year in Sweden, speaking nothing but English, and all his cute, little not-quite-right phrases were erased. I miss those.
3) Where have you relocated?
Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. We had known for years that it would be inevitable that we'd spend at least a few years here, but neither of us was real thrilled with the prospect. I think we both viewed northern Mexico as a huge, cultureless, icky wasteland. And really, that stereotype probably isn't too far off the mark. But I've come to learn that northern Mexico does posses a number of charms, and Saltillo is one of them. While part of me daydreams about moving back to either the US or central/southern Mexico, part of me knows that in a number of important ways, we've got the best of both worlds here.
4) Do you have any children?
For all intents and purposes, I've got two kids (unless something goes very wrong in the next few days). Clara just turned 2 1/2, and I probably talk about her way too much on this page. The boy-child is welcome to get his tiny toushie out of my womb any day now.
5) What is one thing your blogger friends don't know about you?
Despite the fact that I probably share way too much personal information on this blog, initiating a conversation on the phone (except with very close family and friends) just terrifies me. I spent the better part of this afternoon psyching myself up to call our babysitters so Mario and I might be able to spend our last baby-free weekend watching Harry Potter on Harry Potter's birthday (yeah, I'm that kind of cool). Of course, talking on the phone in Spanish is, admittedly, a little scary, but one of my babysitters is a native English speaker!!! And they're both lovely, lovely young women, with whom I have no problem speaking in person. What is the matter with me?!?
6) How did you stumble on this blogging community?
Blogger has this neat, little feature at the top, left-hand side of their pages that reads "Next Blog". One day, I was clicking away on that, weeding through endless mommy-blogs and Portugese poetry, eventually stumbling on Teresa in Merida's blog, "What Do I Do All Day?. She linked to a number of other ex-pat-in-Mexico blogs, and I spent most of that night up reading . . . best night of next-to-no-sleep ever! Up until that point, I felt like a number of you, wondering, "am I the only one out here?" It's been such a godsend to know that's not the case.
7) Have you learned something new about this whole process that has changed all our lives?
a) moving to Mexico: had you asked anybody that knew me in high school (or especially before) I'd had to have been one of the last people anyone would expect to move to a foreign country. Super-shy, anxiety-ridden: no way would I leave my comfort zone. Those four months I spent here as a study-abroad student in college changed me in ways that four months have no business doing to a person. I found that I had many more personal resources than I ever imagined. I realized that no matter where I was, there I was. Sounds simple enough, but when I found myself unexpectedly sleeping at a friend's apartment--not part of my plan for the night, no clothes to change into, no contact solution, no one else knew I was there--I realized that I was FINE. So what no one else knew where I was? I knew that I was fine, and what else really matters? Sometimes I got lost. I'd get un-lost. I was FINE. Go with it, Jill--go with it.
And boy, did I!
b) While I haven't had to deal with immigration issues personally, in getting to know the many of you who are here because of such issues, my eyes have been opened--profoundly. When I first became acquainted with some of your stories, especially those of you who packed up and moved to Mexico, having never been here before and speaking no Spanish, I was challenged to my core. Do I love my husband that much? I really don't know. Your stories, through sharing your daily struggles and triumphs of living in a foreign land just to keep your family together, have made those vows we all took to love our spouses "for better and for worse"--a concept that was once an abstract for me, is now understood (through your stories) as a concrete reality. Thank you for sharing, thank you for your honesty, and for challenging me in your own ways, whether you know you've provided me with such an influence or not.
This is not AT ALL to knock the struggles of those who must be separated from a spouse, thanks to immigration. That journey is equally difficult, and all who undergo it have very legitimate reasons for remaining in the US. We all have different stories, and yours--while heartbreaking--are also inspiring.
8) Something you love about Mexico and something you can't stand:
I've probably said it before, and it probably sounds naive to say it, but living here often feels like living back in time a few decades. When life was simpler. This does have its advantages and disadvantages, but overall, I prefer it.
When I was fresh out of college, I volunteered for a year with the Border Servant Corps. One of the focuses of the program was for volunteers to spend some serious time thinking about what it means to "live simply". Given our monthly budgets, living simply was a given. But we were forced to look beyond our budget. For good or bad, how were our spending choices or lifestyles affecting the environment and our communities? How could we re-align our habits to coincide with our values, making sustainable choices and strengthening our communities? Although rewarding, this was exhausting work. It felt like we spent so much time and energy "fighting The Man". However, after I moved to Mexico, all the little, "radical" choices I made to realign my habits with my values just seemed to come naturally. Living a simpler life in Mexico is often the only option. I don't feel like I'm swimming against the current here.
Then again, in Mexico,"The Man" is just so big and so powerful and so out-of-touch that there's really no fighting. Conversations with successful people and any number of newspaper articles just seem to throw in the towel when the conversation turns to enacting real change. After living here for years, I'm beginning to understand. Sometimes I almost get the feeling that I could be turned into a cynic here. The US still gives the illusion that ordinary people do have the power to change things. And, in some respects, I believe that is more than an illusion. For me, that's the real draw of the US.
9) Did you know your in-laws before moving? Has it been a big adjustment being closer to them?
I was well acquainted with my in-laws before moving here permanently. Two or three years after I met Mario, he finally took me to meet his parents (I was the first girl he took home). Meeting them helped me understand Mario so much better. He's still an odd, odd guy. But to see him with these people who molded him into the person he is, who love him more than the sun, moon, and stars (and, despite that, all agree that he has always been an odd duck) made me appreciate him so much more than I had up to that point.
They're wonderful, wonderful people, and when we lived within an hour or two of them, it would often be me that would suggest, "why don't we visit your family this weekend? I miss them!" Unfortunately, now that we live halfway between my family and his (or would, if it weren't for the Great State of Texas), we're no longer close to them, geographically.
10) If you were to go back to the US next week, where is the first place you'd go after seeing friends/family?
The library! Oh, how I miss free, quality books in English (in, essentially, unlimited quantities). And now that I've got a kid old enough for story hour . . . ooo--how that dream teases me!
Then again, I'd love to visit a park. A park with a lot of trees, bordering flowing water (Foster Park, Metea Park--I'm not picky). Or I would walk the public trail behind my parents' house to the county park, complete with playground, at the end of the trail.
I guess I just need to commune with trees, whether alive or mashed into processed pulp. =P