Day 6. A new outfit for Reme #SOL19 #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individualMarch 6th:

Here I am. Two hours already in front of my computer and no slice yet. I have too many ideas but nothing. I still have to write my assignment for my Thursday writing workshop. We have to write a thriller, mystery or murder story which is very challenging for me. So far I have only the title : The Japanese Soprano.

Finally, I think I am going to settle on writing about something that I wanted to write about for a long time. After you read it, I will explain the events that inspired this slice.


A new outfit for Reme

That morning Reme woke up as usual. Very sleepy.  Her dad tickled her, so she would get up quicker. She had mix-feelings about this early routine. She didn´t know whether to burst out laughing or start crying like a baby. Eventually, after some roughhousing, she slid out of her bed. Her feet were surprised by the coldness of the floor.

— Don´t forget to go to the bathroom and pee, Reme!— yelled her mom from the kitchen while preparing breakfast. Actually, it was not an angry yelling. It was a loud but a gentle reminder, since Reme always got distracted and forgot to go to the bathroom first thing after getting up.

Reluctantly, she ate her breakfast and let her mom squeeze her with hugs and kisses that sometimes took her breath away.

— Be careful when you walk down the street. Remember to follow María´s grandma to the bus stop — Those were always the last words of advise her mom repeated every time before jumping in her car and going to work.

— Yes, mom, we will.

Reme was in second grade now, and her parents started to allow her and her little brother to stay alone until it was time to walk to the bus stop with María and her grandma. She was the one who requested it. Before, when dad and mom were getting ready to go to work, Reme and her brother Julio needed to go to one of the neighbors and wait with annoying Sandra until the bus arrived. They hated it. Sandra lived in a messy basement, and the only thing her mother did all the time was spoil that little brat. By the time the bus arrived it seemed that an eternity had passed, even when they were there only ten minutes.

—Mom, please? Can we stay at home? It´ll be only ten minutes. We promise, we will be good and won´t forget to lock the door.

Julio nodded with his big brown eyes and a grin on his face. Reme gave him a stern glanze. “Oops, maybe I should put on my responsible face” he thought.

Reme´s mom looked at her husband, then at Julio, and finally at Reme.

— Ok. Let me talk with grandma. I will give you a copy of the key of the house. You need to put it safely in your backpack, or maybe wear it around your neck. Don´t loose it. I will set an alarm that will tell you when to leave the house. I will ask grandma to come and get you if you don´t show up. I probably should get her phone number also.
———————
Room 22 was quiet. Reme knew that when the teacher was talking she needed to listen but her friend Lola told her a joke and she started giggling. Ms. Ramos caught her, and used a much angrier voice than she would have liked.

— Reme! How many times do I have to tell you to keep your hands on your desk and be silent!

The scolding caught Reme by surprise. Her teacher was never mad at her. She was always sweet, and with a smile on her face. She let her class read any book they wanted every morning, and if they couldn´t find one in the classroom, they were allowed to go to the library and ask the librarian to let them pick one.

Her giggling stopped. Her face got paled, and her startled body shook. Then, with no warning, a warm trickle of pee started to flow down her seat. She tighten her legs and flushed.

— Is there something wrong,  Reme?

— Yes, Ms. Ramos. I peed my pants.

The class was not quiet anymore and Reme knew it was her fault.

— Oh, Reme, so sorry. Go to Ms. Pinto´s room and ask her for some dry underwear and pants.

Reme walked towards the door like if she was walking on a blanket of eggs, so afraid to wet the floor. Twenty pairs of eyes followed her tracks. Once outside she felt relieved. At least nobody was staring at her. She ran to the bathroom. Quickly she took her underwear and put them on the sink. She opened the faucet and rinse them with hot water. She started to feel much better. She sighed, straightened her dress, and walked sheepishly to Ms. Pinto´s room.

— Hi dear, may I help you?

Reme nodded and showed Ms. Pinto her wet panties.

— Oh, I see. You need a new set of undies, and probably another dress.

Ms. Pinto´s room was amazing. A little bit chaotic but still amazing. Tons of books, clothes, toys, and the most absurd things were all around. She also has a picture of two children on her desk. They looked exactly the same age as Julio and her. After she looked for a bag where she could put Reme´s underwear, she opened a box  filled with clothes: pink and floral briefs, big and small shirts and several leggings.

— Pick whatever you want— Ms. Pinto told her while tossing the contents on the floor. The two of them kneeled down. Ms. Pinto started playing dolls. Or at least, that´s the way Reme felt. Yes, she felt like a beautiful doll whose owner was going to get her to look astonishing.

—There you go! You look perfect. Now hurry up, before you miss recess.

Reme muttered a shy “thank you” and returned to room 22.

When her mom picked her up after school, she noticed the new outfit. While holding her in her arms, and pushing her nose with her finger, she looked into Reme´s eyes and said: Let me guess, … You forgot to pee this morning!


 

This slice of life story was inspired by events that happened when I worked as a resource assistant and parent liaison in an elementary school in Arlington, Virginia between 2002 and 2006. One day a girl showed up in my office asking for a dry set of underwear. She was really ashamed. She knew she was old enough to know how not to pee on her pants. I always wondered what happened to that girl before she ended up in my office. During that time, I was studying to get my master in library science, and occurred to me that I should write a children´s story about this event, that maybe could help little, but not so little kids to cope with a situation like that.

I have neglected for almost 15 years to write the story and today it showed up again in my memory. It was about time. While I was writing it, it occurred to me that I needed to give a background of who was that girl, where did she come from. At the beginning I was trying to imagine the real girl that came to my office. It was difficult to paint a picture of her that was genuine since I didn´t know her. All of the sudden the story started to take shape easily but in another direction. I remembered my own daughter when she was little. She could wake up at 6:30 in the morning and not go to the bathroom until 11 am. I always had to remind her to pee not because she wet her pants but because she held her pee too long. The rest is history…

 

 

My real office in Arlington, Virginia c. 2004

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Las cosas que perdemos

Hace cinco días he perdido mis gafas para nadar en alguna parte de mi pueblo. A las nueve de la mañana fui a nadar a la piscina del polideportivo. Había ido en bici, por lo que llevaba las gafas colgando de una mano. Al salir de la piscina me fui a tomar desayuno a un bar y se alargó tanto la conversación que tuve que irme directamente a una cita de rutina que tenía al doctor con el bañador mojado y las mismas gafas junto con la toalla colgando al cuello. Al volver a mi casa, me di cuenta que ya no las tenía. Me dio mucha pena, pues eran unas gafas que me había comprado en un outlet en EEUU por 12 dólares y que al fin me quedaban bien, es decir, que no tenía que parar en cada brasada porque me entraba agua a los ojos. Debo confesar que nunca había gastado tanto en unas gafas, pues mientras mis hijos y mi marido siempre se compraban lo mejorcito, yo me contentaba con las gafas que ellos desechaban y bueno, siempre resultaban un poco mierdecillas. Por lo mismo, me sentía orgullosa de finalmente haber dedicado parte del presupuesto familiar a la compra egoista de unas gafas para mi. Además tenían un plus, el diseño del marco tenía la bandera de EEUU, cosa que me hacía sentir parte del equipo de natación estadounidense de los juegos olímpicos y estar nadando a la altura de Michel Phelps. o Katie Ledecky .

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Ahora que veo en TYR Sports que el precio de esta joyita es casi de US$30, más rabia me da

Repasé todas mis vueltas en bicicleta desde las nueve de la mañana, pregunté en el bar donde desayuné, y en el ambulatorio y dejé encargado en la piscina a los monitores que si veían a un seudo Michel Phelps por las inmediaciones, lo interrogaran. En fin, en el bar me miraron con cara de que estaban escondiendo las gafas debajo del mesón, en el ambulatorio el doctor que me atendió me dijo que el ponía en venta todo lo que dejaban sus pacientes en su consulta y los monitores, cuando les dije cómo eran las gafas, me dijeron que si eran “chulas”, me olvidara de ellas.

Volví a la casa muy desalentada. Cuando estaba abriendo la puerta de entrada se me vino a la cabeza el pensamiento recurrente que tengo cada vez que pierdo algo, que es un vivo deseo que me gustaría que se me cumpliera cuando me muera. Una vez se lo comenté a mi familia y consideraron que yo le pedía muy poco a la muerte. Pero no sé por qué, a mi me gustaría, en el momento de mi muerte, que me pasaran una película no de mi vida, ni de lo que hice o dejé de hacer, sino más bien de dónde fueron a parar todas las cosas que se me han perdido o, para asumir mi responsabilidad, que he perdido y que recuerdo vívidamente su pérdida.

¿Dónde fueron a parar los múltiples aritos que he perdido y han hecho que en los últimos cinco años haya decidido ponerme aros diferentes en cada oreja y que la gente me mire  y me diga, perdona, se te ha perdido un aro? ¿O que la ayudante del laboratorio de ciencias del cole donde trabajaba, cuando le dije que me gustaba usar aritos diferentes, me dijera que era muy rara? Esta última observación francamente me hizo pensar en lo aburrida que debía ser la vida de esta persona, si me encontraba rara por esta nimiedad cuando en la calle circula gente con unos tatuajes enormes, aretes gigantes en los labios, la lengua, los pezones y la nariz y vestimenta muchísimo más estrafalaria que la mía.

Una de mis cuñadas muy queridas siempre me ha regalado aritos de gran artesanía y de lugares donde ella ha vivido. Uno de estos pares fueron unos aritos de la República Checa. Era julio del 2009 e íbamos a San Francisco al consulado español, para conseguir nuestras visas para mudarnos a España. A mi se me perdió uno de los aros checos en nuestro coche, un Nissan Pathfinder rojo, durante este trajecto. Sé que fue adentro del coche durante el viaje, quizás en una de las paradas a repostar o comprarnos un balde de coca-cola o café para seguir conduciendo. No hubo caso que revisáramos los asientos y el suelo mil y una vez; el aro nunca fue encontrado. En recuerdo de esta pérdida que me recordaba tanto a mi cuñada, nunca me saqué a su pareja de la oreja, hasta hace unos meses, en que no sé dónde ni cómo lo he perdido. Cuando mi cuñada supo que ya no tenía uno de los aros, me regaló otro par, también muy bonito, de una piedra y técnica peculiar de Georgia, el país donde estaba viviendo el 2011 y dónde habíamos ido a pasar la Navidad. Uno de esos aros lo perdí al año siguiente, en la habitación en la que alojábamos en la casa de mi otra cuñada cerca de Seattle. Recuerdo que también pusimos todo patas arriba, desarmamos la cama y buscamos en la alfombra sin éxito. Decidí decirle a mi cuñada que desistiera de regalarme aros, pues era un caso perdido.

Arito
Sacarse un selfie de un aro es muy difícil

El año pasado, otra de mis cuñadas que es profesora de arte y muy artista, al oir estas historias y saber que yo siempre llevaba aros desparejados, me regaló uno suelto hecho por ella y que nunca había tenido pareja, por lo que a las dos nos pareció la combinación perfecta. Ahora lo llevo puesto. Ya llevo un año sin sacármelo ni perderlo, pues ese es el truco y la condición: solo puedo usar aritos que no necesite cambiarme ni sacarme nunca, ni siquiera en la ducha, la piscina o en la práctica de algún deporte. Creo que solamente me he sacado los aros cuando he presentado una obra de teatro o me lo ha pedido mi propia instructora de teatro, o hace poco yo misma, cuando aprendía a hacer surf, pues después de haberme doblado el dedo meñique con la tabla, no me pareció muy alentador circular con un lóbulo sangrante.

 

 

Hace muchísimo tiempo, ya casi 25 años, cuando Steve y yo vivíamos recién casados en Arlington, Virginia, decidimos ofrecernos de voluntarios para ir en kayak por el río Potomac a limpiar parte de sus riberas. La verdad es que quedé tan impresionada de la cantidad de pelotas de tenis que encontramos que le dije a Steve que desde ese momento ya sabía adónde iban a parar todas las pelotas del mundo. Recuerdo que nos sacamos con el grupo una foto con una montaña de basura consistente en su mayoría en un montón de neumáticos, desechos varios y las mentadas pelotas de tenis. Veinte años después quise replicar esa iniciativa en el cole donde trabajaba, para que los estudiantes crearan consciencia de la cantidad de porquerías que producíamos, a través de una excursión a las playas de la costa de la luz en España, donde recogeríamos basura en las playas. Quedé impresionada de la poca aceptación que tuvo mi iniciativa entre alguno de los alumnos. Yo creía que todos iban a saltar de alegría al saber que estaban cooperando con un granito de arena casi literal a hacer de nuestro planeta y espacio un lugar menos sucio.

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Una foto muy similar a ésta nos sacamos en 1994, cuando fuimos a limpiar el río Potomac con Steve y nuestros vecinos de Arlington, Seth y Julie. ¿Qué será de ellos? Esta foto, sin embargo, es de una limpieza en kayak que organizó el Northern Virginia Conservation Trust en el arroyo de Hunting  en septiembre 2017

¿Y no les pasa, cuando recogen la ropa después de lavarla, y se dan cuenta que tienen millones de calcetines perdidos, solitarios incapaces de reunirse con su pareja, y ustedes son incapaces a resignarse a tirarlos a la basura? A mi me ocurre todo el tiempo. En alguna ocasión, ante la alternativa de contaminar aún más, se los di a mi hija para que los convirtiera en unos títeres muy tiernos.  Hay calcetines que guardo con la esperanza de encontrar su pareja veinte años después, cuando ya mis hijos se han ido de la casa y el calcetín no les cabría ni en el dedo gordo del pie. ¿Y no les gustaría saber dónde se han ido? A mi si, me encantaría que estuvieran incluídos en la película que me va a mostrar cuando me esté muriendo una directora como la Sofía Coppola, quien me explicará con imagenes contundentes el paradero de estos objetos pertinaces.

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Mis calcetines huachos

Como todas las películas buenas y marketeras tienen segundas partes, también me gustaría saber cómo han llegado a mi poder chalecos, camisetas, toallas y algunos adminículos de cocina que yo no recuerdo haber comprado o que me los hayan regalado.

Mi vida es una película constante. Creo que empezaré una serie y se la venderé a HBO.

PD: Steve quiere que añada dónde se van las tapas de las ruedas de nuestro auto, que según los amigos de Vincent, son de cani.

 

Mistakes, biutiful mistakes…

To the Beauty of Failure
To the beauty of failure

As perfectionist as I am, committing mistakes is part of my every day life. One of the reasons why I am not very good at writing blog posts is because I am scared of all the grammar mistakes I will commit. It takes time to write “the perfect post” in English. You don’t have an idea how many times I edit them, and how many mistakes I find every time I re-read them. I hate to commit misspelling mistakes. Even in Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp. I wish I were like those young adults that write in social media, with awful misspellings, almost as a new language, and enjoying it.

Even though, I am aware I commit tons of grammar mistakes while writing in English, I am starting to shake myself up, and grow a “who cares” attitude. That’s the only way I can improve my writing, by writing and committing mistakes, catch them, and correct them if possible, or move on.

busy libraryfussyBut that’s a mistake that doesn’t do any harm (but to my ego), and I might not consider those as biutiful mistakes. A biutiful mistake is the one that makes you grow as a person, and hopefully become a better one. One of these mistakes happen to me one day while I was working after school at the library. They have been pressuring us to finish a cataloging project, and I had almost three hours ahead of me for catching up on the project. So, I was happy to be on the late shift. But, oh well, nothing is perfect. The usual group of middle school boys showed up. I called them the ¨soccer boys” since they dropped themselves in the library with an attitude, with their laptops in hands only to be used to play shooting video games, and with a loud voices to call people out from one side to the other of the room. They were noisy, bored to death and in the library just to kill time until their practice started.  They were also, quick, sharp, and funny. I think that to certain degree, part of their thrill was to make the librarian in charge mad. The library was the only place in the school after classes that offered them tables and outlets for their laptops, and air conditioning that they can request to be turned on or off at their leisure.

That particular day, they were tons of other tired younger students in the library struggling with homework, and older ones that were studying for tests. Usually, the presence of the soccer boys was for the rest of the kids, a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they got to laugh and get distracted; the younger ones looked up at them and admire their corky personalities. For the older ones, by being observant of a situation that they didn’t approve, gave them an opportunity to judge. The curse was that nobody got things done.

Shushing librarianAnd I lost it. Yes, I was so frustrated that I started shushing them first, and then getting out of my desk yelling. After like 10 minutes of back and forth arguments, I kicked them out of the library. It was not a planned or controlled madness, and that upset me the most. When I was done yelling, I returned all flustered to my desk and started scoping the space. I noticed that in a corner there were a couple of very quiet parents reading, They had witnessed my tantrum from the start to the end. I freaked out. These parents were going to sue me. I was going to be fired.

Eventually, I apologized to all parties involved. The soccer boys, the parents, and the rest of the students that wanted to do homework, read or study. I made sure that everybody understood that even though the boys’s behavior was not acceptable, my reaction was not either. That day, I stayed 2 more hours after the end of my shift since I didn’t get any cataloging done before. The cataloging was a soothing exercise.

Now, I breath before reacting, and I ask students what is making them distracted. I reach them, instead of sitting in front of my computer all frustrated, I move around, I greet them with a smile as soon as they enter in the library even if they want to ignore me. I don’t get as much cataloging done as if I were alone, but I get the students involved in my chores, or I get involved in their qualms. And I do it with or without parents present. Besides, why we need to catalog books for? A school library without noisy students wouldn’t be a school library. #CCCWrite

BookFace
Boys helping me taking down an old collection of book that I needed to catalog
DominoEffect1
After they helped me, I let them do a domino effect with the books. The conditions were two: they needed to count how many books were in the collection, and none of the books could fall on the floor. They were 91 books, and none of them were harmed in the making of this.