This Mexican Life

This American Life is an American weekly hour-long radio program produced in collaboration with Chicago Public Media and hosted by Ira Glass. I used to listen to it on Sunday afternoons if I was driving around town.

I used to listen to public radio in my car all of the time back in the States. I like classical music, and the shows on the weekend were entertaining. Car Talk. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! The ubiquitous news and talk shows. I kind of miss it. At least I understood what they were saying, even if I didn’t always agree with their point of view.

My favorite show on public radio was Radiolab. It’s a program produced by WNYC, and hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. They’re a couple of spooky smart guys. The show focuses on topics of a scientific and philosophical nature in a light-hearted manner, with a distinctive audio production style.

It was amazing! Always informative and enlightening, and sometimes very funny. If you don’t have anything else to do on a lazy Saturday afternoon, check it out. You might be surprised how much you like quantum physics.

* * * *

There is a classical music radio station here. I listen to it when José Jimenez, the only disc jockey at Señal Noventa plays one of his repetitive playlists while he tries to fix the kitchen sink. Or whatever it is his wife wants him to do.

For all I know, there’s a radio program called, This Mexican Life. Even if there were, it’s doubtful I’d listen to it. It’s the whole language thing…

There are a lots of TV soap operas about Mexican life. They’re called telenovelas. The featured image for this post is from La Casa de las Flores (The House of Flowers). It’s  described as comedy/drama about the dysfunctional upper class de la Mora family.

If I ever get to the point where I can understand spoken Spanish, I might watch it. It sounds interesting.

* * * *

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We completed our final home improvement project for Lord Mark, the guy that owns the house we’re living in.

We painted the interior rooms of the casita and set up a guest suite on the offhand chance that anyone ever wants to come visit us here. We hired Francisco Flores Bernini again to paint the casita. He’s very good and he’s also very reasonable with his pricing. He painted the entire interior of Casa Tara — roughly 5000 square feet — plus the casita, for about $1000 US.

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Yeah, it did turn out nice

Our casita consists of two rooms. A spacious bedroom with queen size Sleep Number® bed and an attached three piece bathroom, and a complete kitchen.

We’ve discovered that a lot of people say they’ll come visit, but they never do. They probably think they’re going to get killed to death if they come to Mexico. Good thing they don’t have to worry about that happening in the US…  We’ve been here for two and a half years. I feel safer here  than I do when I travel back to the States.

* * * *

I’m in the middle of the bowel prep for my colonoscopy tomorrow morning. It’s easily the worst part of the whole thing. You can’t eat anything, and you have to drink a couple of gallons of not-very-tasty electrolyte/laxative solution. The end result is something like unto cholera, except you probably won’t get dead.

Cholera is a bacterial disease usually spread through contaminated water. Cholera causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be fatal in a matter of hours, even in previously healthy people.

Diarrhea is usually loose, watery, sometimes more frequent stools. A slang for diarrhea is the shits. Do you want to know the real difference between diarrhea and the shits?

If you make it to the toilet, it’s diarrhea.

* * * *

I’m writing this in-between trips to the bathroom. It’s going to take awhile…

trump-tweeting-on-the-toilet-mini-statue-0

See? I told you it wasn’t pretty

I had my first colonoscopy in 2013. It’s one of the many things you can look forward to if you live long enough to become old. I met the anesthesiologist before the procedure and I told him if I remembered anything about it, I was going to sue him for everything his first wife didn’t take when she divorced him. 

“Count backwards from one hundred.” he said, as he injected the propofol into the IV tubing. “Good luck getting to ninety.” I think I made it to ninety two. He remembered me when I had my second colonoscopy in 2016. I don’t think I made it to ninety five. 

If I have to count backwards from hundred in Spanish this time, I won’t make it to ninety eight.

* * * *

Updates!

I completely rewired my home theater surround sound system while Lea was in the US last month. I now have ten sets of speakers and two subwoofers connected to my receiver, which is connected to every other entertainment gadget I have in the living room.

I thought it sounded good when I set it up when we moved in, but it’s been taken to a new level now. I think it needs at least one more set of speakers. Lea thinks I need my goddamn head examined.

She’s probably right. I doubt that I actually need more speakers. But there’s no doubt that I want more.

* * * *

Speaking of entertainment gadgets, when Lea returned from the States, she brought the Zoomtak box I had purchased to replace the XBMC box that died earlier this year.

If you’re even less tech-saavy than I am, these are devices for streaming TV shows and movies on a KODI® platform. At least that’s what they do here. They might work on other platforms, but I have no idea what they might be.

At any rate, I happened to be in the Telecable office last week, and I noticed they had been bought out by another company, and are now called Izzi.com. Unlike their predecessors, Izzi offers a range of services heretofore unavailable in the Lakeside Area, like, modems with speeds up to 10 mbs.

I talked to the beautiful and talented Carmen, with the really big eyes, and switched over to the new service. I thought it would give us faster download speeds for my streaming devices.

My lovely supermodel wife, who knows way more about this stuff than I do, said switching to 10 mbs would give us more data, but not faster download speed. Based on the few times that I’ve tried streaming anything since she’s been back, it seems to depend on the day. But she’s right. Zoomtak or Firestick, they don’t seem to load any faster. At least they’re not any slower…

I don’t stream a lots of TV or movies most of the time, but that could change, if I ever figure out how to pay attention to anything for more than five minutes. If I end up getting really frustrated by this situation, I’ll go talk to the ILOX people. They’re the fiber optic communications company down here. They might be my only hope.

* * * *

The magic lights in our hallway are working again! The motion sensor in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms died, but I couldn’t find a replacement sensor that worked because of the way the hallway is wired. Thank God for Francisco. Not only is he a great painter and golf caddy, he’s also my very good friend.

He went to a few different hardware stores in the Lakeside Area until he found one that would actually order the part for him.

Little Known Fact About Mexico: for whatever reason, the Mexican people generally hate to say No. So they’ll probably tell you anything until you get tired of asking them to do something they can’t.

The first couple of hardware stores said they could order a new sensor, but didn’t. The third one came through. Francisco came over and installed it in ten minutes. I absolutely love it. I gave him the replacement sensor I had purchased that didn’t work in the hallway. It works great in his bathroom because his house wasn’t wired by a moronhead.

* * * *

Somewhat surprisingly, our refrigerator is still working, and it seems to be working more better gooder than it ever has before! We even moved everything from the old refrigerator in the casita back into kitchen. And the refrigerator still works!! Maybe the fifth time is a charm…

* * * *

Damn. That was the shits.

* * * *

Tacho was here last week to install the water diversion devices he built for the eaves by the swimming pool. I wanted something done to diminish the amount of water that ended up on the patio floor when it rains. The polished ceramic tiles on the floor of the patio are more slippery than glare ice when they get wet.

I contacted Jaime Mendoza, our property manager, and he sent Tacho over to take care of everything. Tacho is a busy guy, plus his dad has been in the hospital. It turned out that Tacho would get here about a week too late.

In my mind, this was a potential safety issue. Last week, Lea fell on the patio, and then it became an official safety issue. She hit the floor hard. Thankfully, she didn’t break anything, she only feels like she broke almost everything.

Tacho’s devices work. The runoff at the inner corners of the roof shoots into the pool instead of pooling on the floor. There’s no way to keep all of the rainfall off the patio, so we have to be very cautious out there whenever it rains.

Yeah, I don’t know why anyone would install tiles like that outside either, but it is was it is. It’s the price we have to pay for living an almost perfect life in Paradise.

* * * *

And, finally, let’s talk about golf.

I haven’t been golfing as much lately, mostly because the Rainy Season turns my golf course into a waterlogged morass. I’ve been trying to find some waterproof golf boots, but I haven’t had any luck with that yet.

I’ve shot a couple of sub-one hundred rounds lately, so that’s been encouraging. Not great scores, but better than I usually do at the Country Club de Chapala after it turns into the Mexican version of the Okefenokee Swamp.

After I finished golfing last Sunday, I wandered into the Pro Shop to turn in our score card, and I noticed a whole lots of golf clubs lined up along one of the walls. Three clubs caught my eye.

Two hybrid fairway woods, and a chipper.

I asked if they were for sale. Yes, they all were, but I would have to talk to Ramiro about the prices, and Sunday is his day off. Ramiro is the golf pro at CCdC.

No problem. I went back to the course on Monday, met with Ramiro, and bought the three clubs for $1700 pesos. About $80 US.

New golf clubs don’t guarantee that you’ll suddenly play any better, but they probably aren’t going to hurt either. If eighty bucks solves the problems I’ve had getting to the green, and I can start chipping more better gooder, it’ll be worth it.

The chipper could make a huge difference. Several of the people I’ve golfed with use one, and they were deadly with their chip shots. I should probably go out on Saturday and practice with it so I have some vague idea of what I can do with it before Sunday, which is the next time I’m planning on playing.

I’ll keep you posted.

The House of Diez Doors

¡Hola! Buenas tardes, y’all.

Now that we’ve finally completed the moving process, I can sit my ass down and try to write something. Until Mollie or Mika decide to help me edit this post. The kit-tens are getting so big! They’re still cute and adorable, except when they’re getting into mischief, and they’ve gotten pretty damn good at that. Mika has shown herself to be the leader when it comes to getting in trouble. That darn kit-ten!!

It’s like my crazy Polish grandmother used to say, “If I had two assholes, yous kids would climb in one to see what was up there!” Those old Pollacks, they had a way with words, not?

Mika and Mollie have been busy exploring their new home, and racing around the rooms playing kit-ten hockey. It’s a game I invented. All you need is two kit-tens and a ping pong ball. It’s seriously fun to watch. I’ll try to take a video one of these days, if I can stop laughing long enough to hold my camera steady.

Or maybe I’ll think of something I was going to do until I got distracted by another thing and forgot to do the first thing. Then I’ll have to quit writing and take care of that dangling thing immediately before I forget that I remembered that I needed to do something. Whatever it might be.

That has happened a lots the last few weeks. And it’s likely to continue for awhile.

And there was this, too: Where did I put the hammer?!? I have five hammers. I’ve used every fucking one of them putting this house together because I couldn’t find the one I was just using. I don’t know if that’s because I’m getting older and can’t rememberate stuff so good anymore, or because I have a very diffuse attention span. It might be both.

But another part of this equation is the sheer size of this place. I’ve posted a lots of pictures of our new house on my Facebook page. Many people have commented that our house looks like unto a resort. Yeah, it really does. But the photos fail to convey the scope of the space, and the layout. I’ve actually called my lovely supermodel wife on her cellphone when we were both in the house to ask her where she was.

I couldn’t find her, and I probably thought she had taken my hammer…

* * * *

We had no idea we’d be moving into the largest house we’ve ever had when we started our home search. Our last house was roughly 2200 square feet. This house is easily twice as large.  In Mexico, anything under a roof is considered indoor living space. Like, you know, a patio. If you use Mexican math, it’s probably closer to 5000 square feet.

I suppose the yard is bigger, too. But 90% of the lot is filled by the house. And the casita. And the swimming pool. Our backyard runs parallel to the first fairway at the Chula Vista Golf Course. It’s the other golf course in the Lakeside Area. The one I’m not a member of.

* * * *

I could say we have a great view of the golf course, but we don’t. There’s kind of a forest growing on the hillside below our house. And there’s a verdant garden growing along the fence line. You actually have to look pretty hard to see the golf course.

There are a couple of downsides to the Chula Vista course. It’s carved out of the side of the mountain, and the fairways run over hill, over dale. That in itself isn’t a deal breaker. There are no golf carts at Chula Vista. If I wanted to walk that much, I’d sell my car.

That’s not gonna happen.

On the bright side, I have found two golf balls in the backyard. I may never have to buy another golf ball…

* * * *

There aren’t many long-term rental houses available in the Lakeside Area this time of year. It’s Snowbird Season! We didn’t think we’d find a new place to live until May or June of next year. Then a kind of funny thing happened. Our friend, Cheryl, alerted us that this house was available. That wasn’t the funny part. Several of our friends had told us about available rental houses they knew of, and suggested we check them out. The funny part is Lea contacted  the property manager, Belva, immediately. Lea never does that. She has to think about stuff for awhile first.

We were the first people to contact Belva, and arranged to take a tour of the place. When we arrived for our walk through, she informed us that ten other couples had contacted her expressing interest in the property. But we had been first; we had dibs.

Belva had a fistful of keys in her hand. And she needed all of them. Two of the three exterior doors in the kitchen were on the same key. All of the other lockable doors, exterior and interior, were on separate keys. And you needed two different keys just to unlock the huge hobbit door that is the grand front entrance, that hardly anyone will ever use.

It’s an old house, probably twenty years older than our first Mexican house. It’s a classic Mexican style gringo mansion. The decor and furnishings were straight out of the 70’s. If The Brady Bunch (El Grupo de Brady en español) had been set in Mexico, this would’ve been their house. An elderly British couple had lived here until they got dead. Their son, Lord Mark, the Duke of San Antonio, inherited the place and has been renting it out as an income property.

This is The House of Ten Doors, not counting the two main gates. One gate leads to the grand main entrance. The really big gate secures the carport. There’s actually thirteen exterior doors here, but the title of this post is an adaptation of the title of the novel, The House of Dies Drear, and I hope at least one of my readers caught that. The number thirteen just wouldn’t work in my title, no matter which language I used. I suppose I could have used Gone With the Wind because the name of our casa is Tara, but that title didn’t make any sense. Not even to me.

“Well, what do you think? If you don’t want it, the next couple I show it to will take it.”  Belva said, after we saw the house. If she was bluffing, I couldn’t spot her tell.

Lea and I had a quick discussion. The place was old. It wasn’t move-in ready. The interior needed to be painted. We’d have to install a water filtration system. And there might be other surprises. It’s an old house…

As renters, that was money we’d be spending on a property that we were never going to purchase.

It had everything we were looking for, plus several things that weren’t on our list. Like, a casita, an attached exterior room that defies conventional description which could easily be converted into a workshop where I could play with my power tools, and it had a solar heated swimming pool.

* * * *

Okay. The Unconventional Room. It’s attached to the back of the north wing of the house, behind the kitchen. You can’t access the room from the inside, you have to go outside to get to it. Seeing how the only entrance to the Unconventional Room is an exterior door, it can be locked.

There were bunk beds in the room when we took our initial tour. Okay, it was a kid’s bedroom suite with a full bath. A bedroom with an attached bath that could be locked. It looked like a seclusion room to me. That’s what I called it until I converted it into my workshop.

* * * *

Back to the discussion Lea and I were having.

The house was huge, certainly much larger than anything we needed. Three bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms. Plus the casita. And the pool. And, well, everything! And it had so many goddamn doors! We were going to have to be on double secret alert for the rest of our lives to make sure we didn’t accidentally lose the kit-tens. But it wasn’t any more expensive than our first house. Plus, it came with a maid, and a gardener, and a pool guy, all of which were included in the rent.

A bird in the hand…  Yeah, we took it. Brady Bunch decor and all. It’s probably the only two times in her life that my lovely supermodel wife has made two decisions in less than ten minutes.

* * * *

By the way, Monica is our maid. She’s the best maid we’ve ever had. Miguel is our gardener/pool guy. They are both great at what they do, and we’re fortunate to have them.

* * * *

Our painter, Francisco Flores Bernini, had all of the interior rooms prepped and painted in less than two weeks, except the kitchen. Lea’s boyfriend and my golf wife painted that room. Thank you for that incredible gift, Todd and Phyllis.

Lord Mark had upgraded the kitchen appliances and had moved the old stove and refrigerator into the casita. In the process, the gas line to the stove in the casita had developed a leak. It took Moses the repairman three visits to fix it.

We moved fifty loads of the smaller household items in our SUV from our old house to our new house over a two week time period, with more help from Todd and Phyllis. The moving crew took five hours to transport the rest of our furniture here.

I spent something like unto fifteen hours setting up my home theater system. It sounds so good!! It was built for this house. It took two days to install the water filtration system. It took the satellite dish guys three visits to get our two TV’s up and running.

The locksmith we hired had to make two trips here to rekey four locks on the kitchen doors and the main entrance to one key. It took us about a week to find the key to unlock the third patio door.

* * * *

That mountain of keys! We threw them in a pile on the dining room table, and every time we needed a key we had to dig through the fucking keys until we found the one key we wanted.

Several years ago I had bought a whole bunch of oversized decorative keys. They look like the skeleton keys the head jailer might carry around in an old prison. I hung a decorative key by every exterior door, and the corresponding key to each door.

Mischief managed.

And then there were the light switches. There are a whole lots of those, too. We had to replace at least fifteen light bulbs, but now we know what what most of the switches operate, and the coolest light switch ever is in the hallway running along the bedrooms. It’s a sensor. The lights turn on and off automatically as you enter and exit the hallway. There are two switches we’ll probably never figure out. For all I know, they might turn on the lights at the neighbor’s house. Or, possibly your house.

* * * *

All in all, it took only nine days for Lea and I to put the new place together. We finished today.

Casa Tara, the House of Ten Doors, looks cool. It also feels cool. Literally. It’s like living in a cavern. The high ceilings and the brick and mortar walls make the interior feel as though it’s air conditioned, which will be very nice in the summer. But it’s actually kind of cold inside this time of year.

There are three gas fireplaces; one in the living room, one in the den, and one in the master bedroom. None of them are functional. Yeah, we need to fix that.  ¡Pronto!

There are hundreds of small jobs still left to do. I’ve completed several of them while I’ve been writing this. It’s one reason why it’s taken me so long to finish. It’s also one reason why I need a workshop.

Pretty soon I can start to get back to playing golf three times a week and doing as little as possible of anything else. I was getting really good at personal energy conservation.

Speaking of golf, Phyllis and I are playing in a tournament tomorrow. I need to visualize my one, true, authentic swing. Maybe I’ll be able to do it once or twice when the spotlight is on me…

* * * *

We’ll be taking reservations at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa soon as the Casita/Guest House is ready. Please call ahead to check availability before showing up at the front gate. Ring the doorbell if you arrive unannounced. It’s a big place. We might not see you otherwise.

Mexico

Hey, loyal reader. How’s it going? I hope all is well with you.

I’m a bit more focused of late, I think. It’s hard to tell with me, even for me. I’ve actually been busy for the last week, so I haven’t had as much time to idly ponder the vicissitudes of life. Or kumquats. I haven’t even been thinking about golf!

I played golf last Saturday with Todd and Phyllis, and I shot the best round of golf I’ve had in probably twenty years. So, I figure I just have to keep doing whatever it was I did on Saturday and in a couple of years I probably won’t suck at golf as much as I do now.

It may not sound like much of a plan, but that’s pretty elaborate for me.

Todd is my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend, and he’s back in town. I should probably qualify that statement. Todd and Lea have known each other since junior high. And as Lea pointed out, if I can have three wives, there’s no reason why she can’t have one boyfriend.

Todd and Lea have been good friends for something like unto forty-five years. They never dated each other, which might be one reason why they’re still very good friends. At any rate, Todd came down to visit us last year, and we all had a blast. I told him he was welcome back anytime.

Todd has been here for a week, and he’s staying for at least one more. Lea and Phyllis have a lots of fun things planned for Todd while he’s here. Todd and I are ready to jump into action whenever Lea or Phyllis tell us we’re going somewhere. In the meantime, we watch the NHL playoffs in the evening and talk about Guy Stuff.

It’s something I don’t get to do much of anymore, so that’s been a lots of fun.

Todd lives in Northern Idaho. He’s almost a Canadian, eh. The weather in the Lakeside area has been a welcome change for him from the everlasting winter of 2018. It was 28° in Idaho last Wednesday, the day he arrived. It was 82° here.

Todd has been smiling a lots for the last week.

He brought a lots of goodies from the States. Stuff for Lea. Stuff for Phyllis. And he brought me a Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit, which performs perfectly, and balance has been restored to the Force once more. My stereo actually sounds better than it did before.

And there’s one more thing Todd brought back to Mexico. Hummingbirds. We had thousands of hummingbirds at this time last year. My lovely supermodel wife loves hummingbirds. We were refilling two feeders three times a day. Lea thought she was going to spend all of our savings on sugar to feed her hummingbirds.

Then, one day last year, for no apparent reason, damn near all of the birds vanished. We were down to maybe four birds for several months, and my lovely supermodel wife was bummed to the max. But when Todd returned, so did the hummingbirds. We’ve had hundreds of them at our feeders for the last few days.

Todd isn’t the only one who has been smiling a lots of late.

* * * *

In 1975, James Taylor sang a song about Mexico. Maybe you remember it. I do. It was called Mexico. Imagine that. It got a lots of radio play back in the day. I played it on my new and improved stereo system the other day. Unlike Sweet Baby James, in 1975 I wasn’t thinking about Mexico. I wasn’t planning on ever moving here, or remotely contemplating even visiting the place. I don’t think I was even planning on doing either of those things as recently as 2015, and yet, here I am.

Someone at the golf course explained it this way, “Ajijic calls to certain people, and if you’re meant to be here, everything just falls into place for you.”

That was certainly the case for my lovely supermodel wife and I. The opposite appears to be equally true. We’ve met a few people whom Ajijic didn’t call, but decided to move here anyway. They hated it here and are leaving or have already left. Those people are the exception, not the rule. I almost wish Ajijic would stop talking to strangers, but she is a very friendly village…

Mexico is both more and less than what I originally thought it would be, not that I had much of an idea of what it would be like before we visited here the first time. It’s much more diverse than I imagined it would be in population, culture and landscape. It’s a melange of color, music and gastronomic delights. Mexico is like unto the Minnesota State Fair, except it’s like that everyday here.

The image I chose to illustrate this installment is an accurate depiction of the festival life here. Mexico can party with the best of them, and with a style and class that is truly second to none.

But if you think this is going to be a promotional essay on why you should move here, it’s not. You shouldn’t move here. Don’t even come to visit. The roads are terrible. The weather sucks. Everyone speaks an incomprehensible language and they hate foreigners.

Stay wherever it is you are. You’re better off there.

* * * *

We’ve been showing Todd around the Lakeside area, going out to eat at some of the fine dining establishments. You know, actually getting out of the house. I’ve been posting a lots of pictures of the places we’ve visited and the restaurants we’ve patronized on my Facebook page. As a result, I’ve accidentally become a local Google Maps guide, and my photos have been viewed almost a quarter of a million times.

Yes. It’s true. I’m kind of a big deal. Kind of. Maybe.

Being virtually famous hasn’t changed me in the least. I’m still the same self-absorbed, superficially introspective mystic that I’ve always been. That’s because being virtually famous is essentially the same thing as not being famous at all. I don’t have crowds of adoring fans. I don’t have to wear a disguise if I decide to go into the village. I have yet to sign so much as even one autograph!

I should probably thank Social Media for making me the semi-legendary non-sensation that I’ve become, but why?

I’m sure I spend more time on Facebook than I need, but a few of my virtual friends are massively pregnant, and will probably deliver any day now. I wouldn’t normally describe a pregnant woman that way, but I don’t think any of them read my blog. Not on a regular basis anyhow. If I’m wrong, I’ll probably find out very soon…

One of my work daughters and all time favorite people just got married. Congratulations to Nancy and Jake. She was radiant on her wedding day. And that dress…  Holy mutha!

A couple of my friends and former co-workers are going to nursing school. They’ll make excellent nurses once they graduate. I’m happy for them.

I’m becoming less tolerant of the posts I’m willing to be exposed to on my FB page, and I’ve been making the really annoying people disappear. Too much drama. Too much use of the word nigga. I really can’t handle that shit. My generation grew up during the Civil Rights movement. It was a time when a whole lots of people were willing to risk their lives because they were sick and tired of being called that name. It was a traumatic time for my generation and the entire country.

It’s sad to say, but I don’t think some young people now are aware of that fact. And if they are, they don’t seem to care. I find that thought to be even more disturbing than my original disturbing thought.

Be that as it may, I haven’t had this many best friends that I’m never speaking to again since I was in grade school. Given the times we live in, I’m not sure if that’s weird or just the way things are now…

* * * *

For reasons that I will never understand, I’m still semi-popular with single, unemployed, seemingly clueless, attractive young ‘Christian’ women of high moral standards who want to have a deeply personal relationship with a married grandfather figure that they’ve never met before. I hear it’s because of the hat I’m wearing in my profile picture.

I’ve become convinced that all of these girls are actually the same person because their stories are all the same. Seriously. Their parents are dead. Their last boyfriend cheated on them, and they just quit their job because their boss was sexually harassing them.

I don’t believe in coincidences, so I’m pretty sure one person is behind all of this, and that person is really a thirty-eight year old guy named Stewart who lives in his parents’ basement in Dubuque. He probably doesn’t have anything better to do. After all, it’s Iowa.

I’m from Minnesota. When we don’t have anything better to do, we make fun of Iowa…

* * * *

Perhaps you’ve noticed this: Life is a series of routines that change somewhat from day to day, year to year, decade to decade. School routine. Work routine. Weekend routine. Marriage routine.

Like it or not, we are creatures of habit. We find comfort in familiarity. We might complain about the monotony of our daily rituals, but deep down inside we’re not dismayed by them. We tend to like our routines, most of the time. Some of the nurses I used to work with actually worshipped them. Those nurses tended to work on the Night Shift.

“How was your day?” My lovely supermodel wife and I had that conversation almost every day for almost thirty years. It’s something we rarely have to discuss anymore because we spend pretty much every day together, so there’s not a lots of mystery regarding what either one of us are doing at any given time. It’s a good thing that we still like each other.

I’m sure I’ve fallen into a daily routine even in retirement. Granted, it’s much less regimented than it was when I was working. And that was mostly because of work. Employers are so unreasonable sometimes. They hire you, and then they expect you to show up and do your job, like, every day!

Almost everything I do now is dependent on whether I want to do it or not. I’ve never been my own boss before, so I’m really liking this new approach to doing stuff or not. I’m married, so, technically, I may still not be my own boss. Spanish lessons and doctor appointments are just about the only things I  go to no matter how I feel about them.

I’m not sure if learning a new language is ever easy. I have never been a slow learner before, but I am when it comes to Spanish. I took three years of French in high school, and I’m not sure I would’ve been able to speak to a French person and be understood, even back then.

I’ve been living in Mexico for roughly a year and a half. I can speak about ten sentences in Spanish now, and I have a buttload of random Spanish words bouncing around inside of my head. I’m getting to the point where I’m forgetting words in two languages. I’m becoming Byelingual.

Like unto my golf game, I figure the whole Spanish thing will fall into place if I don’t try to force it. Everything clicks at it’s appointed time. And if Ajijic called me here, it did so for a reason.

Perhaps someday that reason will be revealed. Hopefully, not in Spanish…  If someone comes up to me and starts rattling off a torrent of Spanish, and that happens more often than I like, I still get that Deer in the Headlights look in my eyes. But now I can tell them, in perfect Spanish, that I have no idea what the hell they’re talking about, which is probably kind of confusing to the person talking to me, now that I think about it.

Oh well, we’re at least on the same level then.

For good or for ill, I’m in Mexico for the long haul. I’m planning on leaving here the day after I die. And even then, I might hang around for awhile. There’s a huge City of the Dead in Mexico. The only downside I can see is you have to got dead to live there. Other than that, it looks like a nice place. I could live there, I think.

Unless you have to be able to speak more than ten sentences of Spanish in order to be admitted…

I hope I don’t have to discover the admission criteria anytime too soon. I’m kind of loving it here right now.

Keep the Customer Satisfied

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been playing a lots of golf. I don’t think I’ve gotten any better, but I haven’t gotten any worse. Golf, as I like to say, is like being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back.

If you’ve dated more than one person in your life, you might have dated someone like unto this. That kind of crazy person who gave you incredible thrills and lots of laughs one day, and then treated you like a homeless person with Ebola the next.

I have yet to meet anyone who plays golf that disagrees with my analogy.

I’ve been getting some positive feedback from the people I’ve been playing with lately, and that’s been a bit of fun.

“You have the most beautiful swing.” 

I heard that about a month ago when I played in my first Go-Go tournament. I finally started listening to my golf coaches, well, some of the most of the time at least. I’ve slowed down my backswing, so I sometimes make better contact with the ball I’m trying to hit. When it all comes together the results are are very gratifying. And, apparently, very pretty and graceful.

I still lack consistency, and I may never achieve that. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to get more better gooder. I asked my doctor to write a prescription that would improve my golf game.

He wrote me a prescription for Haldol.

I think the only thing that would help me improve would be to play more golf, and I’m not sure I want to make that kind of commitment to something that loves me not in return. Too bad I just can’t download a program from The Matrix. Then I’d be able to golf, and karate the hell out of bad guys at the same time.

“You’re the most relaxed golfer I’ve ever seen.” 

That was from yesterday at the Amigo Tournament. The team we played against was impressed by my equanimity and casual, Zen-like coolness. I attribute that to being a psych nurse for three decades. My affect rarely changes. I look about the same whether I hit a drive twenty feet or sink a twenty foot putt. And I did both of those things yesterday.

However, I’m not sure I want a bunch of people down here knowing that I used to be a nurse because they’ll start showing me body parts and asking me if I’ve ever seen anything like this before. So this is what I told the team we played against yesterday:

“It’s the heroin.”

* * * *

If you know me personally, you know I love four things above all others in this world. My lovely supermodel wife and her darling daughters. My Sleep Number® bed. The heated seats in my Buick Encore. And my stereo system.

Well, maybe you didn’t know all of that. I don’t like getting overly emotional about anything, and bursting into tears talking about my bed…  Well, it’s kind of awkward and embarrassing.

I have an awesome stereo system. I have eight sets of speakers, and two subwoofers. It’s a beast. That might seem like a lot, but I had fifteen sets of speakers when we lived in Minneapolis. That one was a beast on stereo steroids.

When I got drunk and cranked up the tunes back then, my whole block was rocking. I don’t do either of those things anymore. My neighbors here will never know how good they’ve got it.

I’m not sure how many CD’s I own. A couple of hundred at least. Everything from ABBA to ZZ Top. Classical to Classic Rock. Some Country Western. Jazz. Blues. I think I even have one Rap CD.

Given my deep and abiding love of music, I should have been a rock star. I probably would’ve gotten dead years ago if I had become a rock star, so it’s probably not the worst thing that didn’t happen to me.

The biggest reason I didn’t become a rock star is I don’t play any musical instruments. Not even the tambourine. Luckily for me I can play the stereo, and it has all the other instruments in it.

Back in Minneapolis, I must have run a half a mile of speaker wire throughout our cute little bungalow house. But when we moved to Surprise my lovely supermodel wife didn’t to see any wiring. So I went to the nearest Best Buy® and bought a Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit.

I didn’t have to run a bunch of wires throughout the house. My wife was happy. I had surround sound for my home theater system. Life was good.

We moved to Mexico seventeen months ago. About two months ago my Rocketfish unit died to death. And that’s when my troubles, if they can be called that, began.

There are Best Buy® stores in Guadalajara, three of them to be exact. However, the Rocketfish unit I want is only available in the US. So I ordered a replacement unit on the Best Buy® website and had it shipped to some friends in Arizona. My golf wife, Phyllis, picked it up when she went there earlier this month, and gave it to me last Saturday.

I hooked it up, and nothing happened. The sender unit was defective, and I was essentially screwed.

I decided to call the Best Customer Support Team. I had a very nice conversation with Cindy in Virginia. However, given the fact that I live in Mexico, there wasn’t much she could do.

So I wondered if someone higher up on the Chain of Command might be able to do something that Cindy couldn’t. You know, like, the CEO. So I Googled him. The CEO of Best Buy® is Hubert Joly. And I found a website with the contact information of every executive officer in the Best Buy® Corporation.

Any guesses what I did next? This is the email I sent to Trish Walker, President of Services:

Dear Trish,                  

I hope you’re having a good day. I thought about writing to Mr. Joly, but I decided he’d probably send my email to you and ask you to look into it. So here goes…                       

A brief back story. About ten years ago, I bought a Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit from one of your Best Buy stores in Arizona. About a year ago we moved to Mexico, and about two months ago my Rocketfish unit died.

I really liked the product, so I went to one of the Best Buy stores in Guadalajara, but it seems these units are only available in the US. So I ordered a replacement unit online from a Best Buy store in West McAllen, TX in early February, and had it shipped to a friend in Arizona. Another friend picked it up and brought it to Mexico. I got it today.

Order Number: BBY01-805530149954. The price was $81.96.                             

That’s when I discovered the unit I had ordered was defective. The sender unit wouldn’t send a signal to the receiving unit. Therefore, my rear speakers still don’t work.

I am a huge stereo buff. Words do not suffice to describe my disappointment. In addition, I lived in Minnesota for thirty years, and am an avid Vikings fan. Unless you’re not. Then I can be flexible. I have no shame in trying to resolve this matter without having to fly back to the US.

I called the number listed on your website and talked to Stu in the Geek Squad Support team. He gathered information, then passed me on to Cindy, whom I must have spent at least an hour talking with.                                                                                               

It seems Best Buy has a deadline of fifteen days to return a defective online product, so in my case that time period expired before I ever actually received the product. Cindy suggested I return the item to the store in McAllen. That’s about 1200 miles from here.

I asked Cindy if it was possible to send another Rocketfish speaker kit to one of the Best Buy stores in Guadalajara. And if that had been possible, this email would simply be a lot of praise for your Support Team in general, and Cindy in specific. And I would care less about the piece of junk I just bought, as long as I could get a unit that worked.

Alas, I guess that’s not possible.                                                                                           

Then Cindy gave me the number to the Rocketfish Support Team. She said the product was under warranty, and the manufacturer should honor that.

Alas, I guess that’s not possible either.

I talked to Ed at Rocketfish, who told me it was his birthday. Twice. I wished him a Happy Birthday three times, then he transferred me to the department that was supposed to help me. Her name was Cassandra. She essentially said there was nothing she or anyone else at Rocketfish could or would do, warranty or not, then asked if she could help me with anything else.

I actually had to laugh at that.

And that’s the end of my story. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to surprise me by doing something to try to fix this, but not so surprising that I have a heart attack.If  you need additional information you can respond to this email or you can call me on my US number: (623) 234-xxxx.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

* * * *

Have you ever watched The Good Doctor? It’s about this autistic young man who becomes a surgeon. And he has a very…unique…speech pattern. Both of the people I talked to at Rocketfish sounded like that. I don’t know if that’s how they really talk, or if Rocketfish has voice altering technology in play.

This is the number for Rocketfish Customer Support: 1-800-620-2790. If you’re really bored, you can call them and check for yourself. Tell them I said Hi.

* * * *

I didn’t hear back from Ms. Walker. So I sent an email to Sarah Labbé, Senior Executive Resolution Specialist. With a title like unto that, you know shit is going to get done. What do I know, she never responded to me. But I did receive a response from Mr. Zar Kovalov, Best Buy Corporate, Executive Resolution Team.

* * * *
Hello Mark!
 
I am truly sorry that this has been such a frustrating process! Emphatically, perception is reality! It does matter how you feel!
 
I am sending you my direct contact information ( which is below). This the highest level of escalation. So always feel free to contact me if there are any questions, problems or concerns.
 
In sincerity – You are a Revered, and extremely Valued Customer!

My response:

Dear Zar,
 
Thank you for following up on my email. Clearly, the easiest thing to do would’ve been to ignore it. I’m not sure there will be much you can do to resolve this matter, but I’m glad you’re willing to discuss it. 
 
In addition, I don’t think I’ve ever been viewed as a revered anything before. I kind of like the sound of that. Given the fact that I live in Mexico, I’m not sure what solutions are available. I’m going to offer some possibilities. You can decide if any of them are feasible.
 
From my point of view, the easiest solution is to ship a replacement Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit to one of the Best Buy stores in Guadalajara, preferably the one at the Gallerias Mall. It’s about fifty miles from where I live. I don’t even care if I have to pay shipping and handling and pay for the replacement unit. 
 
I just want my sound system to work the way I want it to again. If you are able to do that, my problem is essentially solved, provided the replacement unit works.
 
Option #2: I’ll be traveling to the States in August. With your approval, I could return the defective unit I bought at one of your stores in Minnesota and then pay the difference on a new unit which I would bring back to Mexico. It’s a longer wait for me, but I’m a patient man. End result, my problem is solved and you become revered to me.
 
Those are the two solutions I have. My wife says if you can’t send me a replacement unit, could you at least refund my money. This is how single-minded I am. I hadn’t even thought about that. 
I hope you have a good day, and I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
 
* * * *
And that’s as far as this has gotten. Stay tuned to this channel for updates, if any, as they occur.