Monday, January 30, 2012

Penny for your thoughts...

I don't particularly care for unsolicited advice - I think no one does. I do appreciate people who care enough about me to give me such unsolicited advice anyway, but they do it in such a polite manner that I feel as if I asked them to advise me. Like my friend H, who sent me an email regarding my name, or my friend J who sends me pics of what dress I should wear. I like that. I like that because they are both just saying what they think while fully respecting whatever I choose. My friend J also happens to have the same taste in dresses as I do, so her advice is much more like SOLICITED help.

But then come the people who express their opinions in ways that make you want to kill them. Seriously. I am no murderer, but sometimes I can see why murders happen. Phrases that begin with, "It is so stupid to [insert MY personal opinion about the subject at hand]" seriously bring out the worst in me.

Dude, I think, if you want to persuade me to think like you and to agree with you, you *might* not want to begin your statements with how stupid I am.

But they don't realize what they are doing. They don't realize that they are messing up real bad. They don't notice the veins in my neck swelling up, my face reddening, my fingers twitching, my breathing getting heavy... no. They don't notice. They are so enthralled in their arguments as to why *people* (but they really are referring to ME) are stupid when doing such and such, that they don't notice my desire to shoot them. Or hit them. Or both.

You know what? They might even be right. When I think about the subject from a completely detached POV, I kinda tend to agree with them. Even their arguments are good. And when I try to be absolutely objective, it IS kinda stupid in the end.

But, you know what? I am the 99% - the 99% of the people in the world who get pissed off when someone else calls them stupid! Especially when the *someone else* at hand has no moral, legal or affective authority to do so! And even more - or, rather, even less when THEY are stupid. They breathe stupid, they walk stupid, they talk stupid, they live stupid.

(Ok, I may just be a little immature right now.)

The thing is, there are several topics that call for opinions, and others that don't. There are certain things that are to be decided by ONE person - by the ONE person to whom it pertains. Say, for instance, that you are invited to a very nice, very elegant birthday party (J, you get it?!). Say that you are the birthday girl. Your parents, especially your mother, who hosted you in her belly and gave birth to you, get to say something about the venue, the food, the guest list. Yes. It may be annoying at times, but they do get to say what they think. They also get to overrule you at times. Then you have your boyfriend (or girlfriend, in these modern times one never knows...), and he gets a say, too. He's the person with whom you spend the most time, so he has earned the right to *think*. He gets a say in what to offer the guests for drinks, and maybe even some kind of say in music and other details. If you have a good relationship with his parents maybe even they have the right to an opinion. They may suggest a good wine, or the most appropriate time or date. Maybe. Your best friend(s) totally gets a vote, and gets the power to veto, too. Not many people have veto power. Best friends do.

There is, however, one thing, one tiny little detail that only you, YOU as birthday girl have power over. The littlest of all things, for which no one, NOT ONE PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE can protest. Not even your mom has a say in this issue. Not your life-partner. Not your best friend. Not your amazing little sister. Not your dying aunt or grandmother or god-mother. No one at all. That thingy is...

Your dress.

You can wear whatever the heck you want because it is your birthday - and you will cry if you want to, cry if you want to. You want to wear a skanky little black dress? Go ahead. You want to wear a huge white snow-monster type of dress? Knock yourself out. You want to wear a tight kinky scarlet red dress? Be my guest. You want to wear a summery sun-dress in winter? Just do it. You want to wear a thick and warm wooly suit in summer? I dare you.

No one, NO ONE can tell you what to wear. Not on your day. And that day comes only once a year... unless I am using "birthday" as an allegory for something that happens only once in your lifetime. In which case seriously, absolutely no one has a say other than you.

So, for all the people out there who have thoughts on what I am going to be wearing on my birthday, I will give you a penny for your thoughts. Not a penny to tell me your thoughts, but a penny to put your thoughts in a little bag, fill it with rocks, and throw it in the far, deep end of the body of water nearest to you.

It's my dress. It's my problem.

(And I will look amazing, if I may say so myself!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Say my name, say my name

What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet - right? But then, when remembering who you are, you need to know where you come from, or so said Mufasa. And both of those require your name. So your name is you. And changing your name changes you. Right? If a rose were called "violet" it would not be a rose. Yes?

I don't know. I'm not even sure what side I'm arguing for. Or against.

All I know is that right now I am faced with making the decision of what the heck to do with my name.

My name is really long (last name, that is), because in Colombian culture people use both their father's as well as their mother's last name. It used to be that when women married, their name would be legally changed: They would lose their mother's name, keep their father's, and become "of" the husband.

For example: my aunt was born Graciela Murillo Salazar. But when she married (a half a century ago) she legally became Graciela Murillo de Araújo. And that was ok, because that was the law, and that was what everyone did. There was no discussion.

But then feminism came along. Feminism came along and ruined everything because it gave us CHOICES. Now we can CHOOSE. Oh, shoot! Now we have to THINK in order to make CHOICES. OMG!

Ok, I'm being sarcastic. I am very pleased that feminism made it OK for me to further my education and to have a job other than secretary/mistress.

I like what post-feminism women did, like my mom. For all legal intents and purposes, she IS and remains Irene Chegwin Vergara (daughter of Alfonso Chegwin and Alycia Vergara). But for social situations, like dealing with schooling issues for her children or when introduced to my father's friends and acquaintances, she was Irene de Delgado Chegwin. That was all nice and cool and wonderful. She kept her "identity" (assuming that your identity is solely dependent on your name) and was still able to be someone's other half, at least socially.

The Americans and Germans (perhaps many others too, but I only know of these two for a fact) have come up with the wonderful idea of hyphenation, where both parties change their name legally. I don't actually know any couple in which the man has also changed his name to include the hyphenated addition of his wife's name, but I do know of a couple here in Germany in which the guy legally changed HIS name to take his wife's name. Cool! (That might have to do with the fact that her last name is really sophisticated: Proietto-Plaza.)

In many instances, the girls will just add their husband's name to their own: Woodell-Aller, Hardy-Perron, McGowen-Hudson, Bresch-Stills.

That's very nice.

But look at my situation.

My name is Delgado Chegwin. Not hyphenated. Two words. So not only is it foreign and hard to pronounce for the Germans, it is also very long. And now I'm getting married. (OMG I'M GETTING MARRIED!! Check out our wedding website!) And I have to decide what my new legal name will be. Because I will be someone's wife. OMG. I'm going to be a wife! So, do I remain Natalya Delgado Chegwin?

But that is oh-so-long! It would be easier to take Honey's name. Natalya Hergett.

Because for me there is no middle ground in Germany: I can't be Natalya Delgado Hergett (with or without hyphen) because my legal last name is Delgado Chegwin - not Delgado alone, not Chegwin alone.

So it's either ME, or NEW ME.

I have six months to think about this.

In the meantime, I have Destiny's Child's old song, Say my name, stuck to my head.

Monday, January 16, 2012

This is how scary movies are made

My situation this morning is what people make movies from. Scary movies, that is. Dude, if you don't find a new blog by next Monday, or if you don't notice me on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or BBM, it might very well be because I got murdered in the lecture hall. Olsenhauserstraße 75. And my bet is, it was the janitor lady who murdered me. 

I was the ONLY ONE at the bus stop at 7:27 a.m., and there are always more than 20 people waiting with me. There were less than 10 people (including me and the driver) on the bus, when I generally cannot find a free seat. I was the only one who got out on my stop at 7:32, which is one of the three main stops for a university catering to over 23,000 students. 

The bus driver asked me, "Why so lonely?", which of course creeped me out even more, making me for the first time realize, OMFG, I'm actually alone... 

I smiled, managed some sort of answer (which I later realized was wrong, because I should have use the getrennt form of the verb, and it should have been mit Dativ and not mit Akkusativ... so he probably figured I was the dumb blonde who deserved to be murdered) and continued on my way.

I got off at Leibnizstraße 4, like I always do, crossed the street and walked into the Olsenhauserstraße 75 building. It was alone, all lights turned off. Not even the main doorman was there. 

Upon opening the lobby doors to the lecture halls, I stumbled upon a janitor lady. By "stumbled" I mean I shrieked hysterically as soon as I saw her. She scared the bejeezus out of me, and with a freaky laugh said, "Guten Moooooorgen!" and continued to mop, giggling occasionally. 

I hurried my pace - if she was out to kill me, at least I'd make her run for it. I opened yet another set of doors into the lobby of the lecture halls, climbed up the stairs and tried to find my way around, using only the backlight of my BlackBerry - which shuts off every 15 seconds, apparently. That, or it was scared, too. 

I opened the door, and I can swear I heard it "click" on the keep-it-open feature thingy. I turned on all the lights - ALL THE LIGHTS - and found my place right in the middle. Dead center. 

Ha ha. 

Dead center.

At that moment I analyzed what was going on - you know, that little epiphany moment before you are brutally murdered... I was alone on campus. Completely and utterly alone. The lecture hall I was in was for 300 people, and the whole left wall were windows leading to a forest. Although it was almost 8 o'clock in the morning, it was pitch black. Ah, winter in Germany. It could have very well been midnight. I heard a noise. Of course I heard a noise. I think it was my heart exploding, trying to burst out of my chest. At that moment I jerked, turned around, and saw the freakin' door closed. The same door I had "clicked" open. It was closed. 

My murderer was there. 

I texted my friend Bobby (who happens to live more than 8,000 km away and was dead asleep by that time) and told him where I was so that he could lead the search party. He didn't reply...

I hear a noise again. Door closed. Something moving in the woods outside. Looking at me. Watching me. Waiting. Waiting...

*  *  *  *  *  

10 hours later, Bobby sent this message:

You entered a parallel twilight universe set in limbo where only the souls of the restless dead wander about...

His brilliance made me realize my murder would have made an amazing story. He could have totally written it. And shot it. 

But, his brilliance also made me realize that, oh, yeah, btw, I didn't get murdered.

At least not today...

Monday, January 9, 2012

I hate marketing

I hate marketing. I hate it. I hate it -- because it works.

You see, I'm getting married in seven months (yay me! Check out our wedding website), and I need to do all the planning here in Germany for a wedding taking place in the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It does seem like a challenge, but I am an amazing planner and I can do it. Also, my mom and sister/Maid of Honor have it all under control.

But, as I said, since I'm in Germany, there are many things I need to do online. So I have to rely on websites to kinda figure out what I want.

Before I went online, I took advice from my good friend Hope (who also recently married) and closed my eyes and imagined my perfect wedding. This is what my perfect wedding looks like:

At the beach, hopefully getting our feet wet while saying "I do", at sunset, with only our closest family and friends (so, no more than 20 people), drinking piña coladas and eating fish and coconut rice, listening to soothing background music and laughing, laughing because we are all so deliriously happy... and because we have had too many piña coladas... The decorations would be the palm trees and the stars, and a full moon would be cool. Nothing more, possibly less.

So I requested quotes from ALL the hotels and resorts on the general vicinity of where I dreamed this wedding. There was one website in particular which caught my eye, because the pictures are so amazing and the site is just so well made. In fact, look at it. When looking at the other websites, this one really became my favourite. But, as we all know, webmasters only post the BEST pics, right? So websites are not really trust-worthy...

They replied first. Like, the replied within the 24 hour thingy that everyone claims and no one manages. My first impression of them was already getting better. And things only improved from that moment on: impeccable writing skills (I am one of the mean people who ALWAYS correct others), perfect use of font size, and a wording that made me feel like royalty:

Dear Miss Delgado Chegwin:
Congratulations on your wedding! It would be for us the greatest privilege to be able to host your event. We would very much like the honor to make your special day even more special. You deserve it after all. Our expert staff is at your discretion. Please see the attached quote, and let us know how we may contact you for further details.
Please allow us to reiterate our congratulations for your and your Fiancé. May you two have a wonderful beginning on your own personal "forever".
--Hotel Staff

If that wasn't enough, their quote was more than complete. 

Reception venue. Catering with exotic sea food. Open bar with national and international options. Decorations by a renowned professional decorator. Music, live band and DJ (including all the sound set-up). Professional photographer and videographer. 

Not only that...

They have their own Priest, so the actual ceremony CAN be held ON THE WATER (well, at the shore at least) like I wish. 

The quote included a violin duo for the wedding march, an organ for the ceremony hymns, fireworks for our first dance, a group of professional dancers to "pump things up" a little before midnight, a little midnight dinner treat, 2 minutes of fireworks after midnight, and then again the violin people to give us the farewell as we leave the reception (at 2 a.m., when by law the party has to end) and go enjoy our first night together as a married couple in the honey moon suite, courtesy of the hotel.

The quote also included pampering of the Bride PRE-wedding, so Spa, manicurist, and blah blah blah. 

It was far from my dream wedding. Faaaaar from it. But it sounded amazing. Seriously. Doesn't it sound amazing?! I mean that is just one step short of a Disney wedding.

It was not what I dreamed of, definitely not what I needed for my 20 friends laughing at my beach wedding... 


That just became my dream wedding - BOOM! I want the 1000 guests and the violin and the fireworks and all that crap. I want it all. I WANT ALL THE THINGS!

But ALL THE THINGS cost 30 million pesos - that's 15K in US dollars. It may not sound like too much to you, but our budget is that amount divided by 3. So, no. 

The thing is, when I sit down and look at it from a rational perspective, it's a real NO, because I don't want that fake fairy tale wedding. I don't want it. I have never dreamed of that. I don't like fireworks. I don't like people prodding my fingers or toes. I don't want a Honey Moon Suite. I don't want a pro to decorate my wedding and my cake and me and tell me how I should look on my day. 

But marketing... ah, you evil, evil thing. You make me want it.

So I turned down their offer with a bittersweet feeling. I turned it down rationally knowing that even if I had the money, that is NOT what I wanted. But I also turned it down painfully, because, I ask myself, Really? If you had the money, would you really not want it?

Marketing, I hate you. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

My sister doesn't read my blog because she knows all the stories already

I couldn't sleep a couple of nights ago. I must have eaten too much. But that happens more often than not. I try to finally "go to bed" (as in, go to sleep) when I can no longer keep my eyes open. But that takes a while. I have been known to surf all the things on imgur on my iPhone until the battery runs out, which really bothers Honey. He says that we should sleep together, at the same time. I try not to think, I try to free my mind. But that doesn't always work. And, like I said, I really couldn't sleep the other night.

I "went to bed" at 10 pm, but I was really, really tired. I could hardly keep my eyes open, I could not focus on anything, I could not stop yawning. So I figured it was about time.

Of course, as my friend Murphy would have it, it was only when I turned off all the lights, hit the mute switch on all the phones, turned off the TV and the laptop, found the perfect pillow position and sighed what I expected to be the last sigh of the day, that my mind woke up and began working.

Tomorrow is Tuesday. I have my Alamo class tomorrow. I have not done the reading for tomorrow. Today was a holiday, that kinda threw me off. I'm not complaining, though, I salute the Germans for having holidays. I read somewhere that Colombia is one of the top 5 countries with most holidays per year. The Germans have a few, but the northern Germans, where I am, have fewer, because they are not catholic. And you know us catholics, we love our Saint days. There are also other things catholics like, such as sin. Oh, that was inappropriate, even for my private stream-of-consciousness soliloquy here. Soliloquy - how is that spelled? And what is the difference between that and a monologue? Or a diatribe? I have always found it difficult to make metaphors. Do you make a metaphor anyway? Like you make a cake? No, you don't make a cake. You bake a cake. The Germans have such specific words for cooking. I guess we have them in Spanish too, but since I don't cook, I don't use them often. I need to read more. I need to have done my homework. I also need to get ahead on the Colombia trip with the Germans next year. I need to lose weight for next year. I need to get the excuse to miss two weeks of class next year. I also need to --

And then I got real mad at myself. Seriously, Myself. Seriously. Why couldn't you discuss all this with yourself before I shut everything down? No no. This is not allowed.

We shall sleep. All of us.

Sleep is good. It's almost midnight now. I'm hungry. I'm always hungry. I wish I could have turkey. Turkey is good. The Germans eat a lot of turkey. The Germans eat duck, too. I don't like duck. I had duck in Thailand and once here in Germany. I really don't like duck. I do find them pretty, though. Especially the ones with the green heads, mallards. They remind me of Dorian. Ha ha, Dorian and Sir Daddy. That always makes me giggle. I remember --

No no. This is not good. I shall prevent myself from thinking by singing a song.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
a partridge in a pear tree --

What's a partridge? And why is it on a pear tree? Have I ever seen a pear tree? I don't much care for pears. I do like apples. Apples and oranges. Ha ha, the Spanish equivalent for the "apples and oranges" phrase is "el arroz con mango" or "el caldo con la tajada". That's cute. I wrote a blog about that. I wonder if I should re-post. It was not that good. It was witty though --


On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
a partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree --

Turtles - teenaged mutant ninja turtles! I used to really like that show! I also remember thinking that it was funny that the girl's name was a month. Ha ha. And also --

Cut it out.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
a partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree --
On the third day of Christmas my true love game to me
two turtle doves and partridge in a pear tree --

Three what?
Three what?


And at some point I finally fell asleep, being puzzled by nothing other than three somethings... followed by 

fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive golden rings!
four mocking birds (?)
three red hens (?)
two turtles doves
and a partridge in a pear tree!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! And happy new year. OMG it's 2012 already!