Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Feliz Cumpleanos al amor de mi vida! Espero que tengas un cumpleanos fabuloso. Que es mejor que un cumpleanos? Un cumpleanos con fajitas y postre! Mmm.. que rico, no?!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Family Football

I know I've talked about sports a lot lately, but I promise not to mention Zinedine Zidane, if that makes you feel any better. No, today it's about football (the American kind) played the way I like it best: by 8-year-old girls. My parents have been in Vegas the past few days, so Cory and I have been the substitute care-givers. Like any good adult, when one of my sisters asks when I'm going to make dinner, I respond with, "Why don't you go outside and play?"
We played a few different games throughout the week with Cory as the all-time quarterback. Having a different sister on my team completely changed the strategy each time. Bailey gets right down to business. She wants to "go far" on each play. After she explains the plan to us, Cory recaps by saying, "Ok, so Bailey's going deep and Jess is going for a short pass. Ready?" She looks at him with a blank, don't-talk-fancy-football-terms-with-me stare and replies, "So I'm going far?" Far. Right. When Cory's pass get's hung up in the tree at about mid-field, she screams at our quarterback, "What kind of a pass was that?!" This girl means business.
With Andrea on my team, it's a completely different game. Although she is just as concerned about scoring, she makes every play as fancy as she can. If the ball hasn't changed hands at least 4 times, we're not trying hard enough. I fought to keep a straight face when she was explaining the play to me: "Ok, I'm gonna spike it to you and you're going to throw it to me. Then you run back up and I'll hand it to you. If we still have time, I'll run back and forth in front and block the other team while you score a TOUCHDOWN!" As she says this, she holds it out until she runs out of breath and bobs her head menacingly at the other team.
After two touchdowns each for both the Ball Babies and the Hot McChicks, Bailey and Lacey are starting to get rough. They've talked too much smack ("We're going to change our names to the Hotter Mc Chicks because we're way better than you!" "Oh yeah, well, we don't have to change our names to be cool!") and now they're both mad. When the shouting match turns to shoving, I have to step in as the responsible mediator. "If y'all are going to start fighting, then we're not going to play anymore."
Lacey storms into the house, but the twins appeal to my competitive side, "We can't quit now. The game's tied! Someone has to win!"
I look at Cory, a little bewildered, thinking, "They're right! Of course someone has to win." I start to give in but magically the resonable side overcomes the competitive side, and I stick to my guns. "Nope, sorry....Last one in the house has a stinky face!"

Friday, July 07, 2006

Lessons and Reflections

We've been back in the States for a week now, and the Guatemalan experience is already seeming distant. It seemed wrong to just leave the experience hanging as is, so I wanted to reflect on some of the things that I learned:

  • Slough it off: Everyone has something to say about the United States, the president, or the policies, and usually it's not flattering. Inside the U.S. I usually am happy to hear any sort of political opinion, and applaud the fact that someone has actually cared enough to pay attention to what's going on in the world. Even if I don't agree, I can usually acknowlege their standpoint and relate my own. In Guatemala, I was surprised by my defensiveness, about how quickly I could become indignant that someone was criticizing my country. It took me several conversations to finally get it right, but I learned to slough it off and take it in stride. People are frustrated, and need someone to listen to their concerns- especially on issues they feel they have no control over. I wanted them to know that the US occasionally does helpful things, and that the president does not consult me with his decisions, so I don't know why he did this or that. Usually, they weren't trying to attack me personally and instead were genuinely interested in what I had to say. I had to learn that it wouldn't hurt me to apologize for the sins of the United States that I had inherited simply for being born here. As long as I could avoid becoming defensive, the conversation usually progressed and turned in a different direction, and we could go on being friends. ("There, now we can be friends again." -Doc Holiday) (Speaking of friends, my friend Nate put into words what I felt then, and you can check out his blog here.)
  • I'm a sissy. I felt pegged in a stereotype that I normally try to avoid: The spoiled rich arrogant ignorant American. I don't know if anyone else thought this of me, but I thought it of myself more times than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I fancy myself rather hard-core, and I think I might be able to kick it in a third world country for awhile, bringing food or clothes to the poor or advocating some similar noble cause. But I whined like a baby when I didn't have hot water. When I did have warm water, I showered as fast as I could, knowing that it would run out at any moment. It was like a game we played, me and the shower.
  • Size is relative. We all know that everything's bigger in Texas. I had just never applied that saying to my actual person. I'm about 5' 7'' which I think is pretty average for a girl in the states, but in Guatemala, I was a giant. Cory and I couldn't even walk side by side on the sidewalks because they were so narrow. It was like being in some alternate universe...or back in junior high.
  • Futbol! I'm pretty excited that I was forced into the World Cup culture. I picked Italy to win early on, for no reason other than Italian is my favorite food, and now they are in the finals. However, I wouldn't call myself a sports aficionado just yet as I always seem to miss it when a team makes a gooooool. I get distracted when the players are just running around or flailing about on the ground in hopes of a card. I do have enough sense to pay attention when they're kicking penalty shots, though, so I've got that going for me.