Friday, January 22, 2010

A Mexican in Switzerland

Let's face facts. If life were fair, I would have been Mexican. If I were Mexican my life would have many aspects that it now lacks. If I were Mexican, I would know what it's like to be TAN! I wouldn't have to put SPF 10,000 on every time I go out under the sun. I wouldn't always have these super red cheeks. I could have long-brown-soft-thick-straight hair. People would actually be able to see my eyebrows without me having to paint them on (though, in regards to leg hair, it's been pretty nice to be this fair!). I'd speak Spanish fluently. My hips might be more appreciated. I'd probably be just a little shorter, which would be cool.....and maybe, just maybe I'd finally have that penchant for latin dancing that is missing in my blood. Plus, I could roll my Rs like Charo.

But why I REALLY think I should have been Mexican is because tortillas are what I dream about at night (even more regularly than Hugh Jackman). A good enchilada (and even a bad one) wins my heart over any boy. Rice and Beans are like Air and Water to me. I would eat this kind of food all day, every day, and then some. I would bathe in Sour Cream if I could. I would shower in Salsa. I would wash with Guacamole (these are not appetizing metaphors I'm using, so I'm gonna stop!)


THERE IS NO MEXICAN FOOD IN SWITZERLAND. I have found ONE section of ONE store in ONE tiny town that has some SALSA. It's called, as you can see from the photo, "Chunky Salsa Dip", did anyone ever think that salsa could sound unappealing? Yeah, me either...but there you have it. And let me tell you, it is NOT good. I don't know what it is made of exactly, just some stewed tomatoes or something? It's a tragedy really. AND IT COST ME 6 DOLLARS FOR A SMALL SMALL POT. If this country didn't have chocolate croissants I'd....And yeah, I have a feeling that my semi-annual trips home will be spent sleeping in the Cafe Rio parking lot....

As a new health blog is up and running....

Speaking of's a GREAT little sketch from The Carol Burnett Show

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Yellow Orphan

When I was 27 I met my first orphan. She lived in Brazil. She was in a bare room with dank yellow walls. She was in a yellow crib. She had a yellow t-shirt. She had a yellow cloth diaper. She ate yellow milk. She only had yellow.

I never thought that yellow could look sad, but sad it was. The yellow was sobbing quietly because it was conserving it's energy...and, well, it had learned long ago that no one listened if it cried out loud, so it cried quietly.

I was ushered into this clean and yellow orphanage by nuns dressed like Mother Teresa. White robes with two blue lines around the edging. They had, in fact, been trained by Mother Teresa. This orphanage was one of her legacies. It was one of the best run and cared for orphanages in the vast favela of Rio de Janeiro. My shoes, nice ones I had bought in New York City without thinking twice about them, echoed down the cement hallway. I followed the nun to the room with the babies.

That's where I saw her. She was lying in her yellow crib, dressed in yellow and looking at me with more intensity than I thought possible for a eight month old baby. She was quite. Her eyes latched onto my blond hair and I wondered if she'd ever seen that color before, then I smiled at myself, she LIVED in that color. I asked the nun if I could hold her.

The nun paused. She thought. I felt immediately awkward that the answer wasn't a certain "yes". She was hesitant. Why? I wondered why? It was the normal thing to do with babies, isn't it? To want to hold and love and care for them? At least, for me, it's always been like that. I simply adore bringing a child's cheek and resting it on my chest...delicately putting one hand on the back of her head and the other cradles her body. our hearts touching. There's nothing so fully comforting as that.

The nun, still, looked at me. I wondered at the pause. She wanted my money, I knew, and so she didn't want to offend me. She gave me a tiny tin necklace with a patron saint on it when I entered to get God and myself on her side. And yet, she didn't want me to hold the little yellow clad baby either.

It dawned on me.

It would make her job and the baby's life more complicated. Generally, the babies weren't held or cuddled very much. When babies get used to that, they want it, we all would want it. If the babies in the orphanage got use to that...then they would cry more, they'd be dissatisfied more...they would, in a sense, learn what love is and then learn to miss it when it was no longer there.

If I held the baby, she might love it for the hour I got to spend with her, but then what? What about the next month where no one paid attention to her like that. No one sang or rocked her or hugged her or put their heart to hers.

I looked at the nun, "Nevermind, " I said as I made my decision. A hard decision because I desperately wanted to hug this little one. Instead, I leaned over her crib and rubbed her tummy and sang her a song all while making eye contact. I did this for an hour.

Then I never saw her again.

I felt pretty dang useless that day.