Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mark Saunders - Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak - Guest Post

My thanks to Mark Saunders for stopping by The Plot Thickens for a guest post during the blog tour for his book, Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak.

Guest Post

My wife, Arlene, and I were beyond 50, living and working in high tech in Portland, Oregon, with no immediate plans for retirement other than dwindling 401ks, because, we thought, retirement was several years away and, after all, life was good. All that changed, when in early 2005, we learned our jobs were going away—different companies, different circumstances —and we were not sure what to do next. Life was suddenly not so good.

The abrupt change in how we saw our future reminded me of a book illustration from years ago. It was, I think, by the fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, and the caption declared: “One day it was the Middle Ages.” I had always enjoyed the suddenness of that concept, a seismic shift in history with the rise of the morning sun. But when applied to my own life, I wasn’t so keen on it.

That’s when the chief thread, the single most important catalyst, what in screenwriting is often called the “inciting incident,” happened.

We visited a friend in Guanajuato, Mexico, over what amounted to nothing more than an extended weekend, and immediately fell in love—hook, line, and guacamole—with the colonial central highlands. A solar-powered light bulb went off and we decided to pursue a more proactive course: we chose to drop out, sell almost everything, and move to Mexico, where we didn’t know a soul and could barely speak the language.

Not quite unplugged, but clearly disconnected, we lived in the town of San Miguel de Allende for two years. Daily, the plot didn’t just thicken, it oozed and bubbled. No matter what I might have planned for a day, something or someone always popped up, taking me in a different direction than originally planned.

Yet after more than eighteen months, I realized a sad fact about my situation. It wasn’t working for me. I should have been big-musical-number happy with my new life in Mexico. The people were warm and friendly. I was no longer working for the man. And there was no point to Little Orphan Annie singing about the sun coming out tomorrow, because it beamed every day.

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what I was doing there, besides soaking up sun. More and more I began to feel like the Martin Short character in the film The Three Amigos, when, after learning they were shooting real bullets at him, cries out: “What am I doing in Mexico?”

But the only thing shot my way were glances. I felt perfectly safe.

Yet we packed our things and pets and returned to the United States, where the plot thickened once more. Returning to Portland, we realized our mistake. Our hearts were still in the highlands. Three years later, we found ourselves, incredulously, perhaps miraculously, crammed inside another small car, with a dog and a cat and whatever we could fit of their belongings and ours, driving back to Mexico.

The arc of my humorous memoir, Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak, is a simple one: we lose our jobs, drop out, and move to Mexico (Act 1); we experience conflict, both good and bad, before moving back to the States (end of Act 2); finally, we resolve our biggest conflict by moving back to Mexico (Conclusion), where we hope to stay longer this time.

Or, as the Joni Mitchell song goes, “… you don't know what you've got
till it's gone.”

About the Book
Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak

Book Details:
Price: $14.95 paperback, $9.99 ebook
Format: Paperback, ebook
Publisher: Fuze Publishing
Published: November 2011
Pages: 298
ISBN: 9780984141289
Genre: Memoir, Humor
Buy Links: Amazon, Fuze Publishing, Kindle, Nook

Ay, chihuahua! Ay, caramba! Oy vey!

In early December 2005, Mark Saunders and his wife, along with their dog and cat, packed up their 21st century jalopy, a black Audi Quattro with a luggage carrier on top, and left Portland, Oregon, for San Miguel de Allende, three thousand miles away in the middle of Mexico, where they knew no one and could barely speak the language.

Things fell apart almost from the beginning. The house they rented was as cold as a restaurant’s freezer. Their furniture took longer than expected to arrive. They couldn’t even get copies of their house keys made. They unintentionally filled their house with smoke and just as unintentionally knocked out the power to their entire neighborhood. In other words, they were clueless. This is their story.

About the Author
Mark Saunders

An award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and cartoonist, Mark Saunders tried standup comedy to get over shyness and failed spectacularly at it — the standup part, not the shyness. He once owned a Yugo and still can’t remember why. Nearly 30 of his plays have been staged, from California to New York - with several stops in-between - and two plays have been published.

With three scripts optioned, his screenplays, all comedies, have attracted awards but seem to be allergic to money. Back in his drawing days, more than 500 of his cartoons appeared nationally in publications as diverse as Writer’s Digest, The Twilight Zone Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post.

As a freelancer, he also wrote gags for the popular comic strip “Frank and Ernest,” as well as jokes for professional comedians, including Jay Leno. Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak is his first book.

Connect with Mark:
Web Site

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