Monday, September 26, 2011

The Culture Thingy

I'm one of the most jealous women I know. But (I like to think) I also have some class, so I'm not one to make a scene. I'm the type of jealous person who will disappear. Move to a new continent, perhaps. *hint hint* Also, I'm no longer a big party girl... two things which don't go very well with my party-loving-beer-drinking-salsa-dancing-flirty-boyfriend. Lately, though, in order for us both to  be happy, I have decided that, for me, the party is over when I want it to be over; and, for him, the party is over when he wants it to be over. That means that, in party days, I come home at 10 PM and relax and enjoy me-time (which lately means blog-writing-time), and Honey comes home sometime in this lifetime and falls dead asleep.

It's a very German lifestyle, and I'm not sure I like it very much. But I sure do appreciate having a little me-time, and not having to endure situations I don't want to endure. He comes home every night, mostly unharmed (I have to ask his permission to explain that), and we're both happy. (Sort of.)

I guess I'm growing up, right? Learning to trust and accept and all. Right?

Wrong.

There are many things about the German culture that I do appreciate. Like the fact that both subjects in a couple help out with the house up-keep, very much unlike my latino-macho culture, where a guy anywhere near cleaning utensils is immediately emasculated. But, at the same time, I dislike that the Germans do everything 50-50 style, like paying for rent and utilities and anything else together, half and half, much unlike my latino macho-culture, where his money is our money and my money is my money. I like that the Germans have plenty of friends and enjoy social life and have many extracurricular activities - so many, in fact, that you'd think the extracurricular activity is actually their job, and everything else, all the fun stuff they do, is their actual life. How do they have so much money all the time? But I do dislike that the Germans do things on their own. That is, one subject in the relationship goes out with his/her clique, and the other does the same with his/her group. (Do you like how I'm trying to keep this totally PC?) I hate that. And Honey strongly dislikes it, too. We enjoy each other's company, and we want to have fun together. A relationship doesn't work if I am nagging all the time because he came home late or didn't put the dirty dishes in the sink, or didn't bother to wash the darn dishes. I hate nagging. Everyone hates nagging. And so we try to have some fun together, as well.

That does not work out very well with our German friends, you know? They like the occasional double-date thing, but more often than not, they want a Guys' Night Out, without girls. Or at least without girlfriends. And forgive me if I sound a little old-fashioned, but I don't want any other girls around my guy, German or otherwise. To be perfectly honest, that last part was just my normal-girl-imagination kicking in. A German Guys' Night Out does mean only Guys. That's weird about the Germans - they don't lie. If their going to a strip club, they say it. I guess I gotta give them points for honesty...

We're settling in. We're doing our best. We're Colombian, but we live in Germany. We try to bring the best from both cultures into our lives and make it work for us.

Tonight, for instance, we have a private party. And next week, I have a girls' night out. We're thinking about going salsa dancing after some cocktails and appetizers. Honey said he'd show up later... which I think will be the best closing for my fun Mädelsabend. It might be time for our German friends to start getting used to our Culture Thingy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

If you want something done...

I know I shouldn't write when I'm bitter - especially when I'm bitter now, today, as I write this, and who knows when you'll read this. And then you'll think, "OMG, what a bitter person!" and that day, the day you read this, might be my most charming day. And you'll have completely missed it.

So just trust me on this one: I'm super charming.

But right now - right now, I'm kind of glad I am 8,765 km away from the people who I kinda want to hurt for being such careless, self-centered, selfish, mean, evil, stupid people.

*Whew* I feel better already.

We're all heard the phrase before, If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. I know it exists in English, Spanish, German, and some sort of version in Thai (which I, of course, can no longer pronounce). I bet you have it in your mother tongue as well (that might be interesting: write a comment on how YOU say it!). And we (or I; yes, I. I will take responsibility for myself and my silly actions) tend to just ignore it. I ignore it because it's one of those sayings, one of those sayings with everlasting and undying wisdom, but so clichéd that it is easily dismissible.

But it's true. And you know why it's true? Because no one will do something for you with as much love, care and attention as you would do it for yourself. Because only you care. Because it will benefit (or hurt) you. Because it matters to you. Because it's yours.

So let me tell you what happened... kinda. Because I want no hard feelings, so I will change places, names and events to protect STUPID PEOPLE's identities.

Someone needed something, and I was, apparently, the only one who could get that something for that someone. Actually, I was the only one who cared enough about that something, along with that someone, so that I would do it, and I would do it well. The thing is, I'm in Germany. The "something" was in the USA and the "someone" was in Colombia.

Oh, shoot. I'm doing a terrible job at changing places... Anyway.

You see, logistically, the situation was complex. But not impossible. Not impossible for me, because I cared. Because it mattered to me. Because it was important to me. So I bought the something, paid for it myself (that was before my Swiss Bank Account situation...) and asked for it to be delivered to people of my entire trust.


Those people are now the most untrustworthy people in the universe. Those people are just mean and evil and bad and irresponsible. And liars!


That was back in July this year. Because I trusted the US mailing system, and because I trusted the people, and because I knew they would fly to Colombia and give the something to the someone with no trouble, I relaxed and forgot all about it. That was entirely my fault. I will take all the blame. I am an idiot.


Today I remembered, so I sent a message to one of The People who were supposed to deliver the something to the someone. He said, "What?" And I was like, Oh, crap... And then I refreshed his memory and he said, "Oh, crap." Ha ha. Can you tell we're related? He said he did remember receiving it, but that he had no idea what that was, and that he had mailed it to his brother, in Ecuador. (Such an international something, don't you think?) I emailed his brother and he said, "What?" And I was like, Oh, crap... When I explained, he (the brother) said he had never seen nor received such a thing. I email one of The People again, and he said, "Oh, crap..." And I was like, Oh, crap... He said he'd lost it. I then asked, "Could it possibly be anywhere in your office or in your house?" He said yes, and told me to contact his other half, the other one of The People. I did. Can you guess what she said? She said, "What?" and I was like, Oh, crap... and then she proceeded to say that the something had actually never arrived.


So, which is it? Did you lose it or did you ship it to the wrong address or did it never arrive? I mean, pick   a story and stick to it. Right?


Dude, you might be thinking this "something" is either extremely big (a big huge marble statue as an anniversary gift to my parents) or extremely illegal and dangerous (an explosive device of some sort) or somehow immoral (a vibrator) or somehow embarrassing (my dirty underwear). But no. It was a manual. A plain, simple, boring, poorly translated manual that cost me $20 and that is now lost.

Lost because I didn't oversee the whole process myself. Lost because I trusted The People. Lost because when you don't do something yourself, it doesn't get done.

So now the Someone thinks I'm terribly irresponsible, is disappointed in me, and I have all the blame to bear. Which I do, I do deserve all the blame. But then again - why would Someone give such a simple task to a person living in another continent? I think Someone should share some of the blame with me.

In any case, let my disaster be a lesson for you. If you want something done, you really just gotta do it yourself.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What it will be like

Since I turned 23 for the fifth time, I have come to think a lot about what it will be like. What it will all be like. In the future, tomorrow even. What will it be like when I finally turn my real age (which, fyi, I have decided will be next year in Barranquilla. Stay tuned to learn what that "real age" is!), what will it be like when I turn 30 or 40 or 50... if I ever turn 30 or 40 or 50.

So far, I've come up with this:

I will be a tea-person. Not an Earl Grey sort of person, not a Darjeeling sort of person, never ever a Cinnamon spice type of person. But a tea-person nonetheless: peppermint, apple, cherry, wild fruits, but maybe not a mango-tea sort of person. I will be a tea-person, having one for every occasion, before I sleep, when I awake, when I face writer's-block (which is more often than I am willing to publicly admit), when I am stressed (which, thanks to my new life, is, like, never), and when I need to lose weight - which, if a woman is truly honest, will admit that it is every single say of her life. I will be a naked-tea-person, drinking my tea "naked", that is, no lemon, no milk, no sugar. Depending on the company, I may or may not be clothed. I will be a funny-tea-mug-person, and I will refuse to drink tea in old, grandma, expensive, embedded with gold, kinda cups. I want funny, cute or crazy mugs. And they shall be big. And I will be a hot-tea-person. Not sure if I will ever get into the whole Nestea deal or not...

I will be healthy. I mean, I will not be obese, but I will never, ever be skinny. I will always stay within my allowed BMI or whatever, and I will try my very best to not buy clothes that are too big or too loose, because then I will become "comfortable" and I will not be the healthy person I claim I will be. I will be healthy, because it seems as though I am unable to lose weight. And since I am OK with where I am today, I think this is what it will be like.

I will be a Ph.D.-holder. I will be. I promise. And although in my younger years (even today), I have sworn that when I get my Doctor Title I will tattoo it to my forehead to let everyone know what the proper way to address me is (Frau Professor Doctor Natalya Delgado Chegwin, fyi), I think I will have reached a point in my life when it will no longer be necessary to have that long, exclusive title. I think that by the time I get there, I will be happy to have people call me Nat. Or Nattie. Never, ever Nata.

I will be pleased with my life, and with myself. But I will continue to dye my hair. I will be a red-head, a blonde, a very dark brunette... I will be crazy with my hair because it will grow again - until it doesn't anymore. And then I will have learned my lesson. I wonder if I will then be a wig person. But as far as hair goes, I think I really don't have to worry about what it will be like. I know what it will be like. And one day, when I wake up and stare at myself in the bathroom mirror (which is made for Germans, so even if I am standing on my tippy-toes, I can only see my forehead!) I will have the same reaction I had yesterday:

"Oh, crap. I have a gray hair."

Oh, crap. Yup. That is what it will be like.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Secret Swiss Bank Account

I've been privileged, I can openly admit that. I have been free and independent and, yes, even a little crazy and wild at times. But I have been free and independent and crazy and wild because I've always known that I have a "pillow" to fall upon, should I ever need such a thing. Let's say, for the sake of simplicity, that I have a secret Swiss bank account. This is not a bottomless bank account that I access at any time; this is, rather, my safety net. I have only used it twice. Well, three times, really. The most recent time was earlier this year when I had an insurance "situation". This situation shall be another post... In any case, it was good to know that my secret Swiss bank account was there, ready to help at any moment, ready to be used. Since it's in Switzerland I pay no taxes, regardless of where I live or regardless of how much I withdraw. It is set up in such a way that it requires no deposits to be kept active, only a sporadic online check to make sure the account is alright, and for the bank to know that I have not died or anything. I have always known that if something terribly wrong happens, if my life is just completely gone to waste, if I one day find myself sitting on a sidewalk with my two suitcases and my passport with nowhere to go, this secret Swiss bank account was there to save me. This secret Swiss bank account was not meant to be used as a "cash card" - the withdrawals, although simple, fast and effective, require much paperwork and signatures and proves that I am me, the bank account holder, and that I do in fact need this money. Should I need a new coat, the secret Swiss bank account was not available. But when I needed help in paying for my colicistectomy, the very manager of the bank called to make sure I was ok and needed no extra help. And he called free of charge.

I've been privileged, and I admit it. It is easy to be free and independent and wild and crazy when you know you have such a wonderful safety net.

As of today, my secret Swiss bank account is closed. Whatever money I saved disappeared. The Swiss are weird like that. All my interests are gone. I spoke to the bank manager and he said, "Sorry," and hung up with no further explained. This time, the call was charged to my non-secret and tiny German account.

OMG.

As of today, I am poor. As of today, I have nothing. I think I have almost 10 Euros in my wallet, most of it in coins. I have a little money in my German checking account, but that covers only my insurance for the next 3 months and some "basic" needs.

As of today, I no longer have a safety net. I can no longer be free and independent and wild and crazy. I mean, no, yes, I am free and independent, but I can no longer be wild and crazy - because that just spells recklessness. And when you are poor, you don't get to be reckless.

OMG.

If something goes wrong in my life, I am alone. And don't roll your eyes at me, mother. I don't mean alone as in "I'll die alone". I mean financially alone. I have what I have, and nothing more. Yes, I have friends and I have a family and I have love and I have food in the fridge (because Honey is awesome) and I have clothes to wear (thanks to my mom I have a SUPER awesome winter jacket), I have certain luxuries (a MacBook Pro, an iPhone and a BB). I have many things, I have many people, but I have no financial security. I am, in fact, poor. And that freaks me out.

The bank manager kind of hinted that I was the one who chose to close the account; but I don't recall saying, "I wish to close my account, please." Not at all. I recall my account being closed. Certain actions of mine may have led to this situation, of my secret Swiss bank account closing, I mean. But I don't quite get it. And, well, because it was a secret account, I can't just file a complain, you know what I mean?

I am afraid. I really am. I have never thought of myself as a material girl. I have never defined myself based on the amount of money I have or don't have. I have never actually thought about "the future", financially speaking, because I have always known that was covered. That was the one thing in my life that was stable and good and clear and set. And now it isn't.

OMG.