Friday, June 29, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

News in My World

No, I really don't care that Paris Hilton is out of jail. Personally, I find the following stories a bit more interesting:

* PETA has given out its year's World's Sexiest Vegetarians awards, top honors going to Kevin Eubanks (of the Tonight Show) and Carrie Underwood (who knew?). Personally, I'd give it to my man Bob Barker, because he's the bomb and you know it. But it's great to see more people giving up eating the flesh of dead beings. If more celebs get the word out, more power to 'em.

* Grist Magazine lists 15 green politicians and asks who you (or I) would vote for. I was surprised, frankly, to see Ahnold at the top of that list. Who knew (again!) a Republican could be considered so green by a green mag? Thank God for Ms. Shriver, is all I can say about that. Also surprising, the lack of people of color. Only three were named, Wangari Maathai of Kenya, Xie Zhenhua of China, and Marina Silva of Brasil (and if you don't know about her, read up! She's incredible!). Where are the rest? Only one politician in all of Latin America? Only one in all of Africa? One in Asia? Give me a break. I propose that it's easier for a Schwarzenegger to get his green ideas passed in a place like California (I used to live there, so I'm speaking from experience) than pretty much anywhere in Latin America, so what Marina Silva has accomplished has made it all that more impressive. And I know there are LOTS more green politicians of color out there -- come on Grist, do some digging!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Que Felicidaje

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend who is going through some amazingly awful things in her life, which I won't spell out here, but needless to say, it's rough. On top of all the other stuff, she's a single mom and trying to find a job to support herself and her daughter, and it's not easy to find something you enjoy doing here and get paid decently for doing it. When she started asking me about what I do for a living, I realized, maybe for the first time in a long time, how super fucking lucky I really am to be living the life I want to live.

I get to write for a living. I also get to edit other people's work. How great is that? Sometimes I'm not thrilled about what I have to write or what I have to edit, but J Su Christo, I bet there are (in relation to the general population) very few of us who can say they make their living as a writer. I get to work from home, and be with my family all day. Some people might say they'd go crazy if they had to be around their kids and husbands all day, but I truly enjoy it. In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way. Desk job? 9-to-5? No way, Josefina! I do have a sort-of regular job here as the editor of a travel magazine, but I still work from home and on my own time. I sometimes write for the local English newspaper, but they pay terribly so I only do it when I really need the money. I just started writing for a website about Costa Rica. My background, strangely enough, is in graphic design, and when I get to do that, it's less like doing a job and more about just having fun, I love it so much. I began working in graphic design in a big huge publishing company, and my boss saw that I had some modicum of talent for writing, and started me in writing there, where I worked my way up to content editing. Can you believe I've been doing that for almost 15 years now? Sometimes it sucks, sometimes it's great.

But in the end, I am writing for a living. This is what I always dreamed about when I was a little girl. I'd make up my own newspapers with stories about my pets, school, my toys, anything I thought was halfway interesting, even adding in photos and captions. I'd write songs and plays, singing and acting out all of the parts. I read everything I could get my hands on. In high school, my English teacher (thank you Mr. Palmer, wherever you are!) was the first one (besides my mother) who seemed to appreciate my writing, even though I was a smart-ass little shit who wrote expository pieces on how to shoplift and poetry about having sex with lots of different guys and the finer points each of them brought to the table. (Inner city school, what can I say.) Mr. P. never batted an eye at the content, but always lent a helping hand with regards to grammar and format. He saw right through my ruse. He believed in me, and I began to believe in myself. (Boy I wish I could find him and apologize for that girl that I no longer recognize! Thank God for those special teachers, eh?) And here I am today, a writer. Life is good. If you hear me complain about my job, slap me.

Que felicidaje.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I have been DENIED

Remember that credit card commercial, I think it was for American Express, where the couple are out at a fancy restaurant, he goes to pay with the card, and the waiter comes back and says, "I'm sorry sir, your credit card has been DENIED," while the rest of the diners look on, gasping in the horror of it all? I am that diner, though the only gasper was mi esposo, and it was not credit that was denied, but my beautiful quilt.

So you know how I've been working on this thing for a year, and one of my goals for this year was to get in a quilt show? I thought I was in like Flynn, since I'd spoken with the president of the quilt guild, described my quilt, told her it was not on the theme (coffee -- bleah, as much as I love the magical bean, I have no desire to include it in a quilt). She didn't think it would be a problem at all, as quilts didn't, apparently, have to be on the theme.

Then, at the guild meeting in April, one of the women on the jury (it is a juried show, after all) said that indeed the quilts had to be on the theme, even if it was a loose interpretation of said theme. Esposo suggested I stick a coffee cup in there, or quilt some coffee-related thing into it. But that was not my artistic vision for the quilt, and anyway, the other person said they didn't have to be on the theme, so I figured I was probably safe with what I'd done. I went ahead and took the quilt to the shop, bought tubes for it, paid my entry fee, and waited for the show.

Well, the show started a week ago Monday, so we went over on Friday to check out the quilts. I was really excited -- my first show! Woo-hoo! I started looking at the quilts, getting slightly disheartened when I didn't immediately see mine. So then I looked around the whole show, slight disheartenment turning into severe disappointment, when it turned out mine wasn't there at all. WTF? I asked someone working there if these were all of them. Yep, that's it, she said. I will admit that I cried in the elevator back down. Esposo was angry, even more so than myself (how lucky am I to have found someone who knows me so well?). When I am depressed, I either eat or shop, and since we were all hungry, it was eating that was on the agenda -- Boca burgers at the airport Denny's (note: WHAT A RIPOFF! $40 for three people, one of whom had a child's meal? Won't be doing that again!).

After thinking about it for a while, I realized it was not the fact that my quilt wasn't in the show that bothered me so much (though I won't say it didn't bother me, of course it did). It was that absolutely no one bothered to call me to tell me that my quilt wouldn't be in the show, for whatever reason, and that I could come pick it up at the quilt shop. So it sat there for almost three weeks with no one bothering to have the least bit of common courtesy to say anything to me? Can I be the only one whose quilt was denied? I know that at that April meeting, several of the women were very upset that quilts now had to be "on the theme," as they'd obviously worked on quilts that weren't. Did they enter those quilts and hope, like I did? Or did they not bother? Maybe I was the only one? Even if that were true, it does not excuse their behavior (or lack thereof). Did they not think what a disappointment it would be to someone (me) to show up at the quilt show and see that their quilt was not in it? Or did they simply not care?

To ice the cake, when I went to pick up my quilt, they couldn't find the rods I'd purchased for, apparently, no reason whatsoever. Fuck me, anyway.

And for the record, I love my quilt, no matter what anyone else thinks about it. But compliments are, of course, appreciated! (Not that I'm fishing for them, don't take it that way!)

And also for the record, I'm very glad, even though my quilt wasn't in the show, that I didn't have any coffee-related anything in it. It just wasn't what I wanted to do, and afterwards I realized I could have changed the title to "Caffeinated Cats" or something to have a "loose interpretation of the theme," but in the end, I am the one who has to live with it, and I am the one who has to be satisfied with it. And I am. Very. Just not with them.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quilt Pink for Breast Cancer

A plug here: Check out the eBay store for the Quilt Pink quilts. The two that I submitted blocks for have been sold, but there are LOTS of beautiful quilts available made by many loving hands. In particular, click on the Going, Going, Gone and Submit Best Offer sections -- right now there are about 115 quilts you can pick up for less than $100, many less than $75. Considering the amount of time and effort (not to mention cost of materials) that goes into making each quilt, you are getting a fargin' bargin, believe me! Plus all the proceeds go to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Research organization.

Here's a nice one going for $47:

And I like this one made by high school students in NJ, currently at $45:

Or how about this huge quilt with fans?

And I'd love to buy this one myself (though I don't know why they turned the picture sideways):

Friday, June 08, 2007

Peaches, Not Pichas

So esposo and our son walk down to the local supermarket to pick up a few things. They are picking out cereal, and son says, "Daddy, I want the one with the peaches!" "The peaches, huh?" says esposo. Meanwhile they are getting a very nasty look from a woman, who appears ready to have a heart attack at any moment. Every time son says "peaches," she puts her hand to her mouth and looks more and more aghast. Finally, esposo figures out why the woman is so troubled over this little cereal-choosing scene (with son all the while yelling, "Peaches! Peaches! Peaches, Daddy!" So esposo picks out the cereal with peaches and says loud enough for the woman to hear, pointing at the words on the box, "Here it is, cereal with PEACHES."

Peaches, especially as said by a three-year-old, sounds a lot like pichas in Spanish, which is slang for penis (as in "cara de picha!"/dick face). So now you know. And so does the woman, God bless her!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Landlords Suck Everywhere

I thought I'd had the worst of the landlords when I lived in California. There was the guy who left a leaky toilet and roof for a year, then evicted me when he sneakily discovered my now-esposo was staying with me (not living, just visiting for a while). And he did this by copying a generic eviction notice out of one of those do-it-yourself legal books; had I had more balls at the time, I'd have taken him to court (you go, L.!), or at the very least gone to the tenant's rights association while waiting for the six months it legally takes someone to evict you in California. Then there was the woman who said I could have cats, so I got two kittens (this was first moving to CA back in 1989, one of the boys is still kicking it here in Costa Rica!), then got mad when she left all of her doors and windows open and my cats came in her house and ate her bread. Then got mad when they peed on a disgusting carpet she bought at a yard sale and NEVER HAD CLEANED, because 1) it smelled, and 2) they were mad that they had to stay indoors all the time. The best landlord I had in California was in Santa Cruz, and that's mostly because he just left us all alone to do as we pleased (I heard the main house was a crack den before we moved in there).

No one I know has moved more frequently than I have. It's pretty much, on average, once a year. That's crazy, right? No one does that! Well, at the end of last year, after having a showdown with our landlords about the cats and the condition of a really horrible carpet (who in hell's bells has carpet in Costa Rica anyway?), which, I should add, we completely agreed to replace, we moved somewhat hastily into a great place that we could not really afford. When the landlord (Carlos) began coming in the yard without letting us know (the 24 hours' notice works here, too), I began thinking the situation was not good. When esposo complained, he said that since we were not (yet) renting the apartment, he had every right to come in and check on it and the dogs, even though part of our agreement was that we would take care of the dogs and rent the apartment after four months. Then he made a comment about how the dogs didn't look like they were being properly taken care of, and the shite hit the fan. Accusing us of not taking care of dogs is like accusing the Humane Society of hating animals. So, we moved.

This time, we took our time looking around, and found what, by all appearances, seemed to be a great little house in the center of town. Three bedrooms, plus an office space and a quilting space (a little on the small side, but that's just my opinion!), a backyard, an extra "apartment"/bodega downstairs, car port, two bathrooms, all for only $600 a month. Plus the landlord seemed fine with the dogs (seemed being the operative word here). He knew how many dogs we had when we moved in (there are a lot, granted, and that's why we take care finding a house where we can have them all, because we are all together a family). So this guy, Carlos 2, comes by the other day and sees that the yard needs cut (it's been raining a lot lately and the gardener hasn't come by in a couple of weeks -- it's not that bad). And he wants to put sealant on the driveway for the rainy season. So he gets his panties in a twist about the yard and ends up doing it himself. (I don't know why, we were and have been perfectly willing to do it ourselves.) Then the next day, as he's putting the sealant on the driveway, he lets the big dogs out of the apartment/bodega where we'd kept them so that they wouldn't get in the way. When I see this, I get upset, and tell him that they cannot be let out as if they get the damn sealant on their feet and then proceed to lick them, they'll end up really sick. He's sort of taken aback, but damnit, I care about my animals and that made me angry. THEN, after one of our son's playgroup mornings a couple of weeks ago, we came back to see esposo's favorite girl, Chloe aka Booty with a four-inch long slice on her right forepaw that looks as though someone has taken a knife to her. We rush her to our vet, who has to do emergency surgery on her (necessitating an overnight stay). The vet also lets us know that if the incision was just an inch more to the front, she'd have cut her vein and would probably have been dead by the time we got home. Oh, and by the way, what did we think she got cut on? I checked the yard, and the only thing I could see back there was some old barbed wire at the very back of the property, the same barbed wire Carlos2 said he would have removed and put a new fence in front of, so neither a dog or, god forbid, a child could cut themselves on it. If my son had managed to cut himself on the wire, he'd have a lifelong scar from it. Obviously, we are more than a little upset.

The next Monday, Carlos2 proceeds to send a letter about how the yard was too long and we needed to take better care of it, because he has St. Augustine grass (really? I don't believe that. I'll take a photo and you can be the judge.) and he doesn't want it to get ruined. Fair enough. Then he goes on to say that we have too many dogs and we have to get rid of some of them, because our $600 deposit isn't going to be enough to cover the damage they are going to create. What damage? My dogs barely do anything all day -- they only time they even use the yard is to poo and pee, otherwise they're sitting on the back or front porch. Give me a break.

Well anyway, I ain't getting rid of my dogs for nobody. Fuck him is what I say.

Esposo writes him a letter back, copying the laywer as well, stating what happened with the barbed wire, and how he knew how many dogs we had when we moved in, which is why we chose this place in the first place, and how, by the way, neither of the toilets work very well, and weren't you going to replace that fence in the back so my son doesn't cut himself on it? We have not heard a peep from him. Surprise, surprise! Argh. I hate landlords.

There is a saying about when a door closes, a window opens. We are looking at this as our window of opportunity to buy a house. We think we can do it, even though money is tight, and we'll probably have to look out in the boonies a little way, but that's okay, because we'll have plenty of space for ourselves, our son, and our dogs, and no one is going to tell me what I can and can't do there -- if we don't cut the grass or our dogs dig a hole, FUCK IT! It's our house and we'll do as we damn well please. So wish us luck, we're going house hunting tomorrow. From what the realtor says, we can get a pretty big lot with a house for around $50,000, or just a lot a whole lot cheaper. We may go with option #2, and put up a prefab house on it (which will become our guest house) while we have our dream home (ok, first real home!) designed and built. And we can have a swimming pool, and a playset... I'm getting ahead of myself, but even for a high interest rate mortgage down here (they are usually quite a bit higher than the U.S., be prepared for that if you're going to buy here), we'll still be paying less than we are in rent. So we're very, very excited. Oh, and those prefab houses? Are made of cement and up to earthquake standards like homes in Costa Rica need to be, and they're actually kind of cute, and cost less than $10,000 for a three-bedroom house with kitchen, bathroom, and patio. Can't complain, you know?

I know I haven't posted in a while, and now you see why. Life has been a little hectic.