Tuesday, January 1, 2008

P.S. Happy New Year!

Mr.RipeMango were riding the free airport shuttle to the long-term parking lot when the clock struck twelve. It was rather romantic, I know you're jealous. We expected to be home with our dogs (we desperately missed them) by midnight but unfortunately our flight ran 20 minutes late. We got home at 12:15. Le sigh.

Visiting the Motherland

I'm back from Mexico. I was not prepared to experience so many mixed emotions upon visiting. I visited a different town (though same State) than where I grew up. This wasn't really meant to be a "coming home" journey, but it also couldn't be a mindless tourist visit.

There is too much beauty and gritty ugliness to be seen in Mexico. It is a horrible thing to witness a once charming little pueblo being improved and destroyed simultaneously by tourism. Puerto Vallarta will be gone soon. Its historic center has already suffered too much, it's expanded far beyond what that little bay can handle. The beautiful brand new boardwalk in the hotel zone made me sick to my stomach. And yet, I am perfectly aware that at this point if the tourists and their money went away this little town would collapse on itself having no other sustainable industries at this point.

We took our awesome new digital slr camera with us, and you know I couldn't bring myself to take pictures? It felt like an intrusion. I have pictures of my little romps through Rome, Firenze, Paris, Sydney, but I literally couldn't do this in Mexico.

We did manage to get away, and into a little hillside pueblo- I felt better but I also realized that the ghost still aches too much- the poverty, the memories of poverty are too overwhelming. The guilt and feeling of relief, and the questions of what life might've been had I stayed in Mexico are all too much to consider.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Privilege and Guilt

Ever have one of the those days when you question, "is this seriously my life?"

Today I did. Nothing truly extraordinary happened, we spent most of the day cleaning. But we were not cleaning to get ready for family coming over for Christmas, we just wanted to leave the house in the decent shape for the dogsitter and dogs to enjoy over the next few days.

This is one of those times where I have to kind of just stand back and be both thankful and disgusted at the life of extreme privilege that I live. Mr. RipeMango and I are off to Puerto Vallarta for a few days, and a young woman, who works with our dog groomer, will be sitting our dogs and house. How's that for pampered pooches?

Well, at least we managed to hold back on Christmas shopping when it came to the dogs. All 3 will be sharing this woman figurine, they already own and love to bite on the man.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Am I 13? Peer Pressure sucks!

I looooooooved my old place of work. More specifically, I loved my co-workers. I sometimes suspect that I'm not giving the new place of employment quite a fair shot. But I've decided I'm going to try harder, and so I decided to attend the holiday gathering at a local restaurant.

However, I decided to opt out of the white-elephant gift exchange. My reasons for opting out were: #1 I do not need to bring more clutter into my home! #2 My family is not even getting presents. But then, my peers told me all the cool kids were doing it, and I gave in and went last-minute shopping. I went out and bought movie tickets and raisinets and put it in a nice little bag, I thought it was a great gift and was happy not to add clutter to someone else's house.

So the gift exchange was fun and I ended up with a gift card to Victoria's Secret, not too bad, except I don't really shop there, and I'm not sure if I can get anything for $15 or so, but all things considered, not bad. I'm just happy I didn't end up with the giant tub of 100 plastic cookie cutters (yes seriously!) or the decorate-your-own-piggy-bank arts & craft set (piggy bank included) Phew!

All was well and everyone was having a good ol' time, then the check came.

I am almost 28, and it's been at least 8 years since I've gone out with a group of people who either aren't very good at math (so they can't calculate cost of meal & drinks+tax+proper tip), or worse are just plain cheap. It was awful, the bill came up short and the server was going to be seriously stiffed. Everyone at the table had ordered a million refills, and because we didn't walk in together she took our orders at different times and was generally very attentive. We were going to leave her a $16, so just about $1 per person! Although I'm the new girl, I couldn't stand it and became the tip police, insisting that this girl get at least 20% for serving a group of 14!

This event really made me miss my old co-workers. In my entire 4 years of going out to various dinners and events with them, there was always, ALWAYS a surplus of cash when the check came. Sigh, now it's like being a teen with broke-ass friends again.

Fresh and Fruity

I have been in complete denial but there's no more stalling it, Christmas must be deal with...

I used to take such pride in hunting down just the *perfect* gift for everyone on my list. I use to scour Robinson's May, Macy's, Target hunting just the right item with a personal touch for the each of the dozens of people on my list. But honestly, I'm way over it. Luckily this year my side of the family decided not to do gifts at all.

But the poor in laws are now signed up for the Fruit-of-the-Month club this year. I can't believe we've become the people that gift the fruit-of-the-month. Now don't get me wrong, I love fruit, the in-laws love fruit but I can't believe we're going to pay so much money to ship fruit that probably would've cost $10 for the entire year if just picked up at the grocery store instead. And oh my god let's not even talk about what they must add to that fruit to keep it fresh through so many levels of shipping. Oh and the fuel cost to ship small batches of fruit. Oh well, at least we're not sending yet another gift card, or some nonsense to add more clutter to their home.

In return Mr. Ripemango and I have received 2 gift cards from them in return. I'm just glad we're not getting small crystal figurines or some other useless stuff :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Jimbo & Janin Mo are among our longest-time friends who just happen to be a happily married couple (is that even a phrase? or am I having ESL issues again? it really does sound weird to me), we have always enjoyed their company (individually or joint) and laugh until it hurts when we hang out. These two are 2 amazing people. Then one day almost 5 years ago, the Mo's became 3, then 3 years ago the Mo's became 4, and much to everyone's surprise this August the Mo's became 5!

Sadly we don't see the Mo's quite as often, but today we had the whole squad over for Sunday brunch and kind of all day hangout session. Since the RipeMango pack is also made up of 5 (but 3 are the canine variety), our household was alive with craziness today.

My favorite moments today include:

1. Teaching a 4 year-old boy how to say "scones with lemon curd" so that he can tell his teachers about his weekend dietary affairs.

2. Bringing out our tea set and nice dishes to play grownup hostess.

3. Watching a re-run of A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila with the Mo's. Ummm yeah :) I guess it's obvious we're grown up and classy.

It was fun having them over but we were left feeling so exhausted that it once again reminds me how being a parent on a full-time basis seems like the absolute most insanely difficult thing ever. I'm almost 28 but I still can't shake the suspicion that being a parent, a good one anyway, requires one to have some sort of special gift and and I think I may have been skipped when that talent was handed out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I still wish Atticus was my dad.

Do you think that pretty much every 9th grade girl who ever read To Kill a Mockingbird wishes Atticus Finch was her dad? I'm currently reading TKAM with my freshmen, and I'm falling in love with Mr. Finch all over again.

In my case, I did not fantasize about having Mr. Finch as my father because my real father was somehow inadequate. To the contrary, my dad was perfect, entirely too perfect.

My father was an amazing gentleman. He raised my 3 (half) brothers as his own, and even got my oldest brother, whose heart had been shattered by his own father, to eventually call him dad, and mean it. My father, who despite his clown-like presence got caught up in the entrepreneurial spirit and succeed, if only for short while. The only thing he ever did wrong was he died too early. He passed on exactly 3 months before my 4th birthday.

And during the last year of his life he knew he had terminal cancer.

Can you imagine the choices you would make if you had a 4 children, one only 2 years old, a loving wife, a thriving business and only a year to live? Yep, my father was perfect but for too brief a time. And so Mr. Finch filled in the gaps for my fantasies of what it might've been like if I'd had my father for just a few more years. What would he have taught me? Would my values be any different? Would I be a different person?