Busy Days

Fifty people came to my house last night. For a wedding rehearsal dinner. I’m singing in the wedding. And I cleaned, made flower arrangements for 10 tables, found 10 new tables when original table deliverer called to say that he would in fact, NOT be delivering the 10 tables he had promised and been paid to deliver, baked and frosted a carrot cake, made 50 servings of lemon pie, and practiced for said wedding. The wedding is today. It’s also my son’s birthday. So today holds forth shopping for a bike and various goodies for presents, making ANOTHER cake and frosting, having a semi-rushed party, showering, shaving my legs, fixing my hair into some interesting, attractive coiffe that’s a bit more dressy than the normal way it just falls nonchalantly to my shoulders, putting on the dress (shopped for and mentioned last week in my blog), practicing the music again for said wedding and then finally actually being a part of said wedding ceremony.

Oh, and did I mention that I woke up this morning hoarse and with a raging sore throat? Anyone have any suggestions?

Beautiful disagreements

I have a friend. In fact, I have several friends but I am thinking of one in particular. We are as different as water and syrup. Not so different, you say? I concede that one is essentially made up of the other with a lot of sugar thrown in and then heated until thick. But I’ve still got a point.

My friend is the water: a clear, life-sustaining, thirst-quenching kind of person. I’m the syrup: a sort of sticky, sweet, slightly dark substance that is an absolute MUST with some things but that to be honest, too much of makes you sick. Pancakes with water poured over them are mush. Pancakes with syrup are to die for but not exactly something you want to eat for every meal. Or you might. But then you’d get tired of them after a while. Either that or your arteries and pancreas would stage a rebellion.

Here’s the thing. Together my friend and I balance each other perfectly. Her clarity balances my slightly sticky darkness. There is almost nothing I enjoy more than getting her opinion on things. We almost always disagree. It’s fun, really, to find things, the most basic of things, about which we can find a way to disagree. The subtleties of difference in our opinions fight their way to the surface to sun themselves in the light of day. It makes our friendship so satisfying. It’s impossible to be around her without being challenged to think.

We’ve changed each other, I think. And no, I don’t think I’ve become a watered-down version of my syrupy self. But I think we’ve both grown to appreciate the properties of the other. We call it disagreeing beautifully.

If you look back through my water/syrup analogy, you’ll find places where it doesn’t hold up. Don’t look too hard. I really should have used two more opposite things. Things which both have negative properties that could be drawn out to make my point in a more umm…pointed way. Truthfully, if you go back and read this again, my analogy doesn’t hold up at all. You’d probably disagree with me.

But I rather enjoy that. 🙂

twisted words

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to twist someone’s words because of your own experience? You know, where you think a person is saying one thing…you’re just dead positive they’re saying one thing…but another person, because of their different life experience hears it differently.

I’m going to a wedding on this coming Friday. Weddings are very formal in Brazil…long, flowing Oscary red carpet entrance type formal. So I needed a new dress. (Complication number two is that I’m singing at the wedding so I wanted something attractive but not gaudy.) So during my search these are the comments I heard from salespeople:

Literal translation from the portuguese:  “You know, a woman like yourself who is large all over wears that style dress very well.”

What she meant: “Your hips and bust are well-proportioned.”

What I heard in my insecurity: “You are large all over.”


Literal translation from the portuguese: “You will be able to wear this dress again and again because it will not ‘mark’ the occasion.”

What she meant: “You’ll get a lot of use out of this dress because though it’s beautiful there is nothing gaudy about it.”

What I heard in my insecurity: “Honey, you really should choose a dress that doesn’t call attention to yourself.”

I’ve learned how to read comments from Brazilians that are really, truly meant as compliments but at literal value feel very backhanded. But sometimes my insecurity still shows…at least to me. I try not to let it show to those making the comments. After all, I know how much it hurts to be misunderstood. They’re just trying to get me to buy the dress, not offend me. So slowly but surely I’m learning not to read too much into people’s comments. After all, it’s my life experience/culture vs. their life experience/culture and how much can I truly expect for those two sides to be fully compatible and understood in the span of a 10 second comment.

What I don’t get is when people are snarky and deliberately degrading in anonymous comments in response to certain blogs. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen some attacks in the comments section of others’ blogs. I guess it goes both ways. You still have to give grace and consider the other person’s life experience when reading their comment. But it seems that if the commenter had considered the blogger’s life experience in the first place rather than just assuming they knew it, it might not have gotten so ugly.

Katrina victims

As desperate as the situation is and as responsible as I feel to do something, I object to the word some on the news have used to describe what people are suffering there: “holocaust”. It is a terrible tragedy, conditions that millions around the world live in everyday and I despise the fact that it is happening and dragging on in the country I love. But it’s not a holocaust. It’s not deliberate annihilation of a group of people by another. It is desperate and uncomfortable and yes, deadly for some and definitely an inept effort at relief but it is not holocaust.

Mabye I’m a little sensitive to that word.


It’s been hard for me to put into words what I am feeling about the catastrophe on the Gulf Coast. Some of the images have reminded me of things I see here in Brazil on a weekly basis. It’s like it’s not even America. I’ve really missed my family during this time, I’m sure because of the emotional nature of the things I’m seeing on the news, but then also because it makes me feel like that’s not the country I know and love. At times like this everyone turns to their own preconceived ideas in order to blame someone.

I’m tired of thinking about who is to blame. It’s a tragedy.

WE weren’t prepared to respond.

WE didn’t anticipate all the damage.

WE have to take action.

WE are responsible for the lives of those people at the convention center.

I’M responsible and I need to figure out what I’m going to do about it from 5,000 miles away here in Brazil.