7.19.2008

No lo comprendo pero me gusta mucho

One of my massage appointments today was a woman who recently moved to Texas from Colombia, to spend two years studying English (immersion classes) in order to obtain her master’s in psychology. She was telling me (in halting English) how stressed she is this week because she needs to decide whether to move to Houston or Tampa for the second year of her studies. She would choose Houston, but she thought Tampa would be better for her young daughter. I (in rusty Spanish) debated the pros and cons of each city with her for a few minutes and talked about moving in general, travel, trying to communicate in a foreign country, etc.

The woman asked me if I had any children. I hesitated. Usually this is the moment my professional persona takes over and murmurs a vague (safe) “Not yet…” But for some reason (perhaps because I couldn’t in that second remember the word for “yet”) I simply replied “No.”

The woman fell silent for a few beats. Then, from somewhere deep in the face rest came the following response:

“If I did not have my daughter I would close my eyes and jump to Houston. But because I have my daughter I will be choosing Tampa. Life with no children is more free, sometimes more interesting, and maybe stress, but not the same stress. So. Maybe you will choose to live with no children and maybe you will have children. If you choose to live with no children I would say to you-“

And this is where I closed my eyes and braced myself for any or all of the following:
*You are missing out on the greatest achievement of your life.
*You HAVE to have kids! They're hard work but they are so, so worth it.
*You will regret it when you are old and there is no one to take care of you.
*That’s pretty selfish.
*But you'd make a great mother!
*Your life won’t have as much meaning without children in it.
*You’ll change your mind someday.

Instead, I heard “Congratulations.” And then she laughed and fell asleep before I could pick my jaw up off the floor.

I’m not even sure what she meant. Maybe the language barrier between us was larger than I thought and she actually meant to use a completely different word with a completely different meaning. I confuse ABOGADO (“lawyer”) with ABUELO (“grandpa”) all the time, so perhaps instead of “congratulations” she meant to say… “condoms?” And I was supposed to thank her for this advice on how to remain child-free? I don’t know. And there’s no point to this story except that I’m thinking of using “congratulations” as a standard response to people from now on, no matter what they tell me.

“Traffic’s a bitch!”
“Congratulations.”

“I have a headache.”
“Congratulations.”

“I think I’ll go with the toasted bagel, instead of the wheat toast.”
“Congratulations.”

Kind of refreshing, no?

7.04.2008

Land of the Free

So it seems I have this blog thing that I haven't updated recently but wahhh, I've been so busy doing... nothing.  And "nothing" makes for a pretty boring post, let me tell you.  This past week Monk and I have been riding the wild ride of not having my brother in our house for the first time in almost a year.  (A YEAR, people.  A year of essentially being the parents, caregivers, cheerleaders, physical therapists and mentors to a mentally ill, seriously unmotivated, messy, hygienically-challenged, completely dependent 23-year old with barely any life skills and the emotional maturity of a 15-year old.  Whee!  This was so not in the plan!)  He's currently visiting my parents up north for a week and we are currently staying out all hours of the night, blowing off meal planning and the gym, running around the house naked (well, half-naked at least- do you have any idea how liberating it is to be able to run downstairs barely dressed to grab clothes out of the dryer without worrying about traumatizing your always-there roommate?), waving our arms and yelling things like "Look!  We've been gone all day AND the kitchen's still CLEAN!" and "I had no idea how nice it was to come home and not have anyone staring at you expectantly or asking what's for dinner!"  or "What is that smell?  Oh, it must be the ABSENCE of smell coming from my brother's room!  What a concept!" Also "I can take a shower WHENEVER I FEEL LIKE IT!  AND DO LAUNDRY!  AND NOT HELP ANYONE PLAN THEIR DAY!"  There's also been a hold on attending mental illness support group meetings and stressful conversations with my family...  Man, it's going to suck donkey balls when my brother returns Tuesday evening.

So, in the absence of 24/7 Brother Rehabilitation, there has been a return to the land of freedom and drama-free existence Monk and I have spent years creating.  I've worked a little, played (climbed) a lot, and slacked off from the Responsible Life to my heart's content.  The only serious conversation that occurred this week took place with a friend after climbing Tuesday night and it involved broad topics (auras, cosmic significance, pursuit of happiness) and shared stories of past tragedies; not once did I talk about my brother, the Situation, or the Stress.  And, after an evening of beer-fueled conversation, my friend thanked me for my words, my empathy, eloquence and our friendship.  I went home feeling flattered, content, emotionally full, and more like myself than I've felt in a long-ass time.

I worked a nearly 10-hour day yesterday, skipped out on a fireworks show, then relaxed outside with a book and a glass of wine while Monk enjoyed having the tv all to himself.  I finished a chapter, set down my wineglass and tipped my head back, enjoying the muggy air, the distant booms from the next town over... when something WHIZZED past my head.  Assuming it was yet another Texas beetle (that I have finally, after almost four years, figured out how to tolerate- Texas nights are very, very buggy) I was... surprised to see that it was instead a gigantic cockroach flying around in drunken, increasingly-larger circles, over the patio.  And I thought (because I HATE cockroaches with a burning, seething, terror-tinged rage) "geez, that would really suck if the thing landed on my..."  BOOK!  It landed on my book right then!  Which was on my lap!  And then just perched there, waving it's huge, insolent antennae at me!  So of course I calmly freaked out, swinging my book up and out from my body and with a grand flourish SHOOK the book to dislodge the beast, hitting my wineglass in the process which shattered all over the patio, spilling what had been a full glass of wine all over the concrete...  And that damn cockroach just kept circling, circling...  RIGHT INTO MY FACE!!!  I shook my book (read: brandished it in front of my face like a battle shield) at the thing and exclaimed "Get the fuck OUT of here, you fucking... FUCK."  And, perhaps impressed by the triple profanity, the cockroach got the fuck out of there.

I guess I'd already used up my propensity towards eloquence for the week.

On the upside, if a giant flying cockroach is the only drama I have to deal with this week, I'll take it.  You fucking fuck.