Tag Archives: life

Migraine and Yet a Beautiful Day

27 Aug

 

7.30h and I wake up with a migraine. Immediately I send a whatsapp to the group of friends/co-parents:

Migraine! Can anyone take care of Elena today, please?

and I put my daughter in front of the tv to watch The Last Unicorn.

By the end of the film, Irene has told me she´ll be taking Elena out for lunch to eat pizza with her son. And Olga says she´ll take care of her for the rest of the day and that she can even stay the night.

Fernando and Teresa say they can take her out on an excursion with their sons, but I tell them : thank you so much, but I´ve already got it covered.

So at 12:00h Irene comes to pick up my daughter, and at 16:30h she passes my house again to pick up a mermaid doll and drop off a pizza for me (which I didn´t even ask for). Then she takes Elena to Olga.

At 18:30h Isabel comes over for a short chat and brightens up my mood with her warm and energising stories. She leaves at 19:30h.

Half an hour later Olga passes by my house with Elena, her daughter Anastasia, and a dog she´s taking care of. She´s come to pick up my dog to take him for a walk, and she won´t take no for an answer. I walk with them until the orangetree fields, and there she sends me back home. Forty minutes later she brings back the dog, and takes my daughter to her house where she will stay the night.

Okay, I have migraines.

But I have the best friends in the world.

 

 

 

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Life lessons on the road

10 Aug

When my dad decided he would teach his children how to drive, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

The day I took my place behind the steering wheel marked the beginning of a very stressful period in my father´s parenting career. Teaching his absent-minded seventeen-year-old the ropes out on the road would entail a lot more patience, use of the handbrake, and partly held- back screaming (“There´s a TRUCK, didn´t you SEE that?”) than he had previously imagined.

Apparently I had a tendency to concentrate only on what was right in front of me. This annoying habit would become properly compensated two years later by my brother, who would develop an amazing skill at looking in all the mirrors almost simultaneously, but neglecting what was going on right in front of him.

But we both got our driver´s licences, and when my youngest brother got his license as well, I´m sure my dad must have patted himself on the shoulder for a job well done, rejoicing in the fact that he would never have to go through such an ordeal again.

During that training my father taught me something about skidding that I want to share with you. It is an advice that I have never forgotten, although I use it in a very different way. He told me that when people lose control over the car, they usually focus on the obstacle that they don´t want to hit, in an attempt to avoid it. But this is exactly what makes them drive into it.

What you have to do, my dad said, is focus on the place where you want to go. The space next to the tree. The exit of the bend. If that´s where you direct your attention, your chances of maneuvering towards that space are a lot higher.

I have found this to be a very useful piece of advice when things go wrong in other places too. When the wheels of a relationship lose their grip, when my own steering wheel doesn´t respond, when I want to push the breaks but I just keep skidding. When that happens I force myself not to look at the trucks, the trees, the precipice. With all my might I focus on where I want to go.

It´s the only way to get there.

 

 

 

The Secret of a Successful Marriage

28 Nov

On their 50th wedding anniversary, the celebrating couple was asked what the secret was behind all those years of happy matrimony.

“Good wine,” said the husband.

“And a bad memory,” the wife added.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bad Parenting Prerogative

30 Apr

All my daughter has done today is watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the only time she´s been out of the house, is when I took her to the supermarket. There we bought popcorn, which we had for dinner.

 

In my world, that counts as some pretty bad parenting: no museum visits, no theatre plays, no park, no nutricious three-course meals.

Of course I am not raising my child solely on ninja turtles and popcorn. But today was just one of those days, you know, where you use 15 minute naps to muster up the energy for half an hour of administrative chores.

 

And you know what, I think that´s totally okay. We don´t need to be Super Parents all the time.

 

Besides, on the bright side:

* she spontaneously asked for a tomato after all that popcorn

* she has undoubtedly picked up a lot of (American) English today – and is there anything cuter than a Spanish five-year-old who knows the word “dude”?

 

 

 

You´ve Been… Alfonsified

19 Mar

So I´m working on the computer, while my husband is chasing bandits on the Playstation.
Suddenly he says: “You know, I was thinking…”

“Yes?” I say.

But no answer comes.

I take my hands from the keyboard and turn my chair towards him.
“What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking,” he resumes, his eyes still fixed on the tv screen, “I might go to the supermarket to…”

Then silence again.

“…to…” I prod.

“… to buy…”

“…to buy what?”
Now that I´ve interrupted my work, I might as well get to the bottom of this.

His fingers keep clicking away at the controller, and he´s still intensely gazing at the screen, when he makes another attempt at finishing his sentence.

“… to buy a thing…”

At this point my frustration turns into fascination.

“Really?” I tell him. “You want to go to the supermarket to buy a thing?”

He grins, but the mystery remains.

It takes me three more questions (“What do you want to buy?”, “What´s the message here?” and “Can you please finish your sentence?”) to lead this Echternach conversation to a satisfying conclusion.

“… to buy some wine,” he says at last. “I was thinking a glass of wine would be nice.”

“Yes,” I say. “That would be very nice indeed.”

They say that to keep a marriage alive, you have to keep talking.
Score for us.

 

 

Aiming For The Bicycle Guy

13 Jan

Do you know that song from Hozier called Someone New?

I fall in love just a little, oh a little bit
every day, with someone new

Keep that in mind, I´ll get back to it in a second.

Today I decided to finally get that rattling front light on my bike fixed, and get something done about the chain falling off all the time. So I went to the bike shop of an ex-student of mine. I arrived there at 10.55 am to find the lights on but the door closed. There was another customer waiting, saying he´d been there for half an hour. A note on the door said the shop owner was out for breakfast (well, almuerzo) between 10 and 11.
“He´ll be right back,” I assured the other customer.
“Well, he´d better be. And I hope he´s got my bike fixed,” the man grumbled. “Next time I´m going to another bike shop. I know one just a few blocks away.”
By 11.10 am I decided to choose pragmatism over loyalty (yes, that took me only 15 minutes, shame on me). I asked the grumpy guy where that other shop was, hopped on my bike and took off.

The other bike shop appeared to be a lot closer to home and a lot bigger. In front of the counter a few older men were engaged in little-village-conversation, and behind it stood a man who I assume was the shop owner. He called to the back: “When you´re done, can you take a look at that girl´s bike?”
A few minutes later a slender young man emerged from the workplace in the back. Thick black hair, brown eyes, energetic gait. But the most notable thing about him was how he seemed to radiate peace and happiness.
He studied the bike, asked me some questions, and told me to come over to the counter, where he literally pushed one of those older men aside to make some space for me. I wrote down my name and gave him my phone number. “We should have it fixed by Friday,” he said, with the friendliest smile in the world. And then he gave a thumbs-up with both hands as I said goodbye and left the shop.
That´s how today I fell in love just a little, oh a little bit.

And I wondered, as I have done many times before, why so many people look down on vocational education. Why they tell their children to “aim higher”. I thought of all those doctors I´ve seen these last few years, locked up in their little offices, frustrated, burned-out, prescribing me the wrong medication (no joke), failing to diagnose just about everyting that was wrong with me (unfortunately no joke either), snapping at me, trying to get me out of the door within 5 minutes because they were behind schedule, etcetera, etcetera.
How´s that for aiming higher?
I´ve come across some marvellous, decent doctors too, of course. But you can tell the ones who chose medicine out of vocation (there´s that word again, see!) from the ones who were told to “aim higher”, while their heart was with something else.

How can you possibly aim higher than being like that guy at the bike shop, who happily goes around making money doing what he likes? Who, maybe one day, will have his own shop and avoid a burn-out by going out for long almuerzos, who knows.

 

 

 

Why It´s Never Too Late

16 Oct

I wonder if it is possible to read the text below without having your perspective changed. It´s not fictional, it´s a true story that I picked up from Elizabeth Gilbert´s latest book on creative living. Read and enjoy:

“I knew Winifred back in the 1990´s, in Greenwich Village. I first met her at her ninetieth birthday party, which was quite a wild bash. (…) Winifred was the most vividly alive woman I had ever met in my young life, so one day, looking for inspiration, I asked her. “What´s the best book you´ve ever read?”

She said, “Oh darling. I could never narrow it down to just one book, because so many books are important to me. But I can tell you my favourite subject. Ten years ago, I began studying the history of ancient Mesopotamia, and it became my passion, and let me tell you –it has totally changed my life.”

For me, at the age of twenty-five, to hear a ninety-year-old widow speak of having her life changed by passion (and so recently!) was a revelation. (…) But as I learned more about Winifred´s passion, what struck me most was that she was now an acknowledged expert in the history of ancient Mesopotamia. She had given that field of study an entire decade of her life, after all –and if you devote yourself to anything diligently for ten years, that will make you an expert. (That´s the time it would take to earn two master´s degrees and a doctorate.) She had gone to the Middle East on several archaeological digs; she had learned cuneiform script; she was friendly was the greatest scholars and curators on the subject; she had never missed a related museum exhibit or lecture when it came to town. People now sought out Winifred for answers about ancient Mesopotamia, because now she was the authority.”
(Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic, p 144 -145)