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What I did over my “summer vacation”

25 September 2007

Many thanks to those that have stuck by the Mex Files during our enforced hiatus.

Even with donations, there is no way to make The Mex Files a full-time commitment — not if I want to eat, let alone keep the phone connected and my car on the road (alas, a necessity out here in the boonies). Small-town reporting wasn’t paying the bills (one late paycheck was enough to get my phone — and internet service — shut off) and I had to do something.

For the last month, I really haven’t been following the news and have some catching up to do. I’ve just been driving a van for the railroad (and grossly underpaid, but what can you do in Alpine, Texas?) between El Paso to the west, and Del Rio to the east. Other than collecting some border folklore (I’ll have to post on this, but it looks as if both the chupacabra and la llorena crossed the border hereabouts), and taking some photos, not much in the way of Mex Files research.

I did manage to get out my short book on Gilberto Bosques, which should now be available from Mazatlan Books and Coffee. I’m trying to set up distribution here in the U.S. I’ll make Mazatlan’s books available through the U.S. Postal Service, as soon as we can work out a distribution system across the border (in other words, my 20-year old Volvo is going to have to drive back and forth across the border). As a sort of PBS-style come-on, I’ll give away a free copy with a $30 donation (as soon as I get my copies… hopefully later this week).

I’ve also been working on my Mexican History, Gods, Gachupines and Gringos, which should be published by early 2008. I’ll leave it up to the publisher to send out excerpts to reviewers. The enforced time off was good for editing, and I’ve still got a bit to finish up (I was writing about Tlatelolco and the 1968 Olympics when I was so rudely interrupted).

I don’t work for the railroad, but for a contractor to the railroad. In other words, no union benefits (or health insurance), and a really low wage (though better than I’d make writing for the local newspapers). However, I have to work by the railroad’s crazy schedule, which sometimes means driving the 8-hours to and from El Paso at an inconvenient time like 2 AM. None of that materially affects writing on the internet (which can be done at odd hours), but sometimes I’m just too tired to think, let alone type.

The “new” phone bill will be about $80.00 US a month (this includes internet service and flat rate calls to Mexico). My CD drive has finally given up the ghost and needs replaced and there are a few miscellenous Mex Files expenses that are on-going, even as I try to whittle down the expenses. I’m trying to balance the Mex Files with making a living (and paying off a year’s accumulation of unpaid bills), so bear with me — and scarf up a free book.

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