Monday, December 27, 2004

A Tree Story

I wanted a real tree, Amanda wanted a fake tree. So I said, "then I want a pink aluminum tree". To which she replied "No! I want a real-looking fake tree".

I was told that relationships, specially marriages, are all about compromises. Yet it really seemed unreasonable for me not to have a real Christmas tree in our new house, on our first Christmas together as man and wife. After all, growing up in Peru, I had watched many American Christmas movies were entire plots were about picking the "right tree". Even Charlie Brown got a real one!

Never mind the occasional critters hiding in real trees, or the sap or the smell or the occasional house burned down by a dry Christmas tree victimized by malfunctioning lights. I wanted a real tree! Here is where I need to tell you to ignore my failed pink aluminum tree attempt to use reverse psychology.

The debate went on for days. It seemed hopeless. I told Amanda that, at this moment, after buying the house, we had very important things to buy, like furniture, to be worrying about Christmas trees. If we really wanted a tree, I offered as a solution, a "real tree" was usually cheaper than a quality fake one. Very reasonable argument, but, Amanda countered by pointing out all the mishaps that the Griswolds endured with their Christmas tree in that famous "Christmas Vacation" movie she had very cleverly arranged for us to watch. Not good.

Enter the Gadget-freak

A couple of weeks before Christmas, while Amanda slaved away with Christmas-season chores at her retail job, I got Dad and Mom Christopher, my parents in law, to help me spend the day U-Haulin' Amanda's stuff from her old room to the new house and haulin' it up the stairs to our spare and master bedrooms. At the end of the day we were very tired. Before they drove back home, since Amanda was not going to be home for still a couple more hours, I convinced them to have dinner with me at Longhorns. Dad Christopher and I agree that there is nothing better than a piece of cow after a day full of work.

During that dinner, in another display of my split second decision making abilities, I casually announced I was going to give-in to my wife's request for a "fake but real-looking tree" and that I was going to stop by Wal-Mart to get one right after dinner. I suppose my subconscious had been working on the "tree problem" all day long and the exhaustion of my conscious self had finally given up to the demands of my inner self. Makes sense?

Mom Christopher's face lighted up and ignoring Dad's tired face dragged him along to Wal-Mart to see what kind I was going to get. In "Wally-world", we browsed the meager selection of trees still available, considered the different tree sizes, tree types and even got to deal with an overzealous shopper who thought we were going to "steal" the tree he had already decided to buy. All of this while the real-vs-fake debate was still not quite finished in my head.

Then it happened. There it was, two selves up, middle of the isle display, in all its made-in-China plastic splendor. A perfect compromise tree: pre-decorated, pre-lighted. Not to bad for a fake tree. This would be a very nice surprise for Amanda, I could even have it up and ready by the time she got home. Mom Christopher liked it pretty much. Or perhaps she liked even better the fact I was doing all this just for Amanda. Christmas tree magic? Even from a made-in-china box? You bet!

Off we went back to the house. I boldfaced the "we" because Mom Christopher once again exerted her wife influence to get exhausted father in law to drive her back to the house to get to "see the tree".

Opening the box took us about 10 minutes. Out came this heavy mass of green stuff. After a little debate to pick the right spot for the tree, we moved the compressed tree to its selected spot and plugged it to the wall. I am not particularly fond of reading manuals and, of course, I didn't this time. We saw the lights come on but a two foot pile-of-green stuff didn't look very promising. I grabbed the top of the tree and pulled it up, but it just came crashing down. We scratched our heads and after some frustrating figuring it out without the manual, we found this little button. Pushing it produced this loud mechanical whirl as the tree pull itself up to a full 7 1/2 feet tall and our jaws dropped. Now I really, really, really liked this tree.

Mom and Dad finally got to go home not before mom made me promise to tell her how surprised Amanda was. I lighted up the tree and went upstairs. Amanda came back from work and I heard her open the door and yell... "Dam Hak, you got a tree!!!". Of course she loved it.

In the end what matters is not the kind of tree or even getting a tree. It is the opportunity to get to share, to experience something special to mark the passing of time. Little things that serve as milestones reminding us what is really important. In this case the tree is the reminder of our first Christmas together as a married couple. What is important is that we are together this Christmas.

Now for next Christmas maybe we can get another made-in-China mechanized Yule-time contraption that not only comes pre-decorated, pre-lighted and pulls itself up but that also rotates and blows artificial snow. I am already researching it on the net.

(my gadget-freak alter ego is grinning intended...)

Monday, November 22, 2004

Countdown to the new house

Well we are now down to the wire. About a week left on the lease for our appartment and we are closing in our our house in the next few days. Worse case scenario we'll have to live with my parent's in law for a few days... Nothing like being homeless to get the sympathy to eat my mom's in law cooking for a few days... She wouldn't mind (I hope).

I am sure this is the beginning of a love-hate relationships with that piece of the world we get to call our "own home" now...

Of course, it is all an illusion. Don't believe me? Just stop paying that mortgage for a month or two and you'll find out very fast who really owns that house!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Ivan is gone. Now to pick up pieces.

We are back home. Everything is alright except for a damp carpet near a window. Not bad. Our appartment survivied and so did our new home.

So many other people lost everythign. Our sympathies to Liz who lost her house on the beach. Our sympathies to Linda whose home got flooded.

I can't believe how lucky we were.

How lucky.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Still Dealing with Ivan

Another day as an evacuee. Now I know how refugees feel. Amanda got a free hair cut when she told the hair dresser that we were running away from the Hurricane.

The first reports from back home don't look good. The road between FWB and Destin is gone and the place where we had our wedding reception is under water. Even the weather channel people haven't made it back into Destin.

When will we go back... at least we have power where we are. My brother in law has no power at their hotel.

Hopefully this will be over soon... one way or another.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Dealing with Ivan

I am not talking about dealing with my ever present inner-Peruvian-child, but of the horrible storm that is now around Cuba trying to decide where to go next.
While some of my conspiracy theory prone friends spend their time trying to find a relationship between hurricane path predictions and the sales of batteries or plywood at Home Depot, Amanda and I are going through our things deciding what we are going to take with us and what we are going to leave behind in the possible event of an evacuation.
Is there is a place in the world with no natural disasters?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Surviing Hurricanes

Well hurricane Frances is gone. Again we got spared. Unfortunatelly the people in central Florida don't get to say the same thing.

A guy I know in Orlando was saying "what the heck is with this hurricanes..." I said it is called "Florida". There is a reason the state is flat. Of course real-state agents making money of your northerners do not tell you that.

In any way I rather have hurricanes than the earthquakes we used to get in Lima. At least with hurricanes you know the thing is comming. And if you are stupid enough to stay in their path, whatever happens to you is your fault.

Friday, August 27, 2004

So it seems

What should I tell you?
What about this.
Finally after 8 years working as a consultant I am finally an employee.
Changes never come easy. I even tried to move on an get a different job. Naaa. In the end you stay where you feel confortable. Yet the more we try to keep things the same the more they change.
Gotta be ready for change and got to have faith in the future.
Just a thought...

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Isn't it funny?
Just when you have figured out how to be a toddler you become a kid,
when you know how to be a kid you become a teen and when you have the teen-thing perfected you become a young adult. Of course once you have managed to learn how to be single you marry.
But the most disturbing thing is that just when you have managed to love your job you find out you need to move on.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Todo a pulmon (With all my breath)

Que difícil se me hace
mantenerme en este viaje
sin saber a donde voy
en realidad.
Si es de ida o de vuelta,
si el furgón es la primera,
si volver es una forma
de llegar...
How difficult it is
to advance
not really knowing where I'm going.
if I'm going or returning,
if I'm on first class or last class,
if returning is a way to arrive.

Que difícil se me hace
cargar todo este equipaje,
se hace dura la subida
al caminar.
Esta realidad tirana
que se ríe a carcajadas
porque espera que me canse
de buscar...
How difficult it is to me
to keep on draggin all this bagagge,
up the hill.
This tyrant reality
that laughing at me,
wanting me to
stop looking...

Cada nota, cada idea,
cada paso en mi carrera
y la estrofa de mi ultima cancion.
Cada fecha postergada
la salida y la llegada
y el oxigeno de mi respiracion.
Y todo a pulmon,
todo a pulmon.
Each note, each idea,
each step in my carreer
and the lyrics of my last song.
Each posponed date
Leaving or arriving
and the oxygen in my breath.
With all my breath.
All my breath.

Que difícil se me hace
mantenerme con coraje
lejos de la tranza
y la prostitucion.
Defender mi ideología
buena o mala pero mía,
tan humana como la contradicción.
How difficult it is
to have courage
away from selling out and
To defend my ideology
good or bad but mine,
so human like contradiction.

Que difícil se me hace
seguir pagando el peaje
de esta ruta de locura y ambición.
Un amigo en la carrera
una luz, una escalera
y la fuerza de hacer todo a pulmón.
Cada nota, cada idea...
How difficult it is
to keep on paying tolls
in this road of crazines and ambition.
A friend in the race
a light, a ladder
and the strength to do everything
with all my breath.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

How is married life?

Over the past few weeks, ever since we came back from our honeymoon, "how is married life so far?" seems to be the question I get asked the most.

"So far so good." comes naturally as my standard answer. Yet a bit of reflection makes me understand that this is not just a simple cliché comical commentary on the current situation of marriages in the country. This answer has slowly been brewed over years by watching other couples get together, split or sometimes live happily together. The cruel reality of our time.

Yet the cold uncertainty suggested by such an answer is a constant reminder that, in the words of uncle Cesar, relationships work only as good as the work we put on them. Our marriage is “so far so good” not because an inevitable malady has not yet arrived but because we have worked hard, so far, to make it be “good”.

As we move into our second month of marriage all I can hope is that the word ”we”, will keep on creeping into my writing so that the "so far so good" answer keep on comming, naturally, making people smile as the years go by.