Saturday, November 16, 2013

Make 'Em Laugh

Sometimes, it's quite the challenge to get a hearty laugh out of the locals here in Cuenca. It isn't that they aren't friendly; I just don't think laughing out loud in public places is a cultural concept here, which is simply mind-boggling to this giddy gringa.  Therefore, instead of feeling frustrated by the lackluster, I am determined to infuse, enrich, and instill this population with a bit more joy, a bit more laughter, a bit more love of life.

Most of the time my cheesy jokes don't quite achieve the full-on laughter I seek -- you know those deep belly laughs that make you laugh in return.  For this precise reason, I have had to resort to more extreme measures lately.  Today was a great example of such.

*At the open-air market 10 de agosoto*

We were looking for some beautiful, plump oranges today, and by golly, after walking up and down a few aisles we spotted the perfect ones.  More importantly, this particular lady selling the oranges obviously had some impeccable taste in music, as her Salsa music animated my feet into motion.  I looked at my dear three American friends who I was with, and I said to them, "Okay, I think I have a great idea to get a laugh out of this vendor."  So, I went right up to her and said, "Good afternoon!  How much are your beautiful oranges?"  She replied, "They are three for a dollar."  I said, "Uff. That's a little much.  Couldn't it be four oranges for a dollar?"  At this point in our interaction, I poked her side gently a few times with my elbow as I stated, "Listen, if you give me the four oranges for a dollar, I promise to give you the best Salsa dance right here at your stand."  There was that hearty laugh!  There it came!  But no, it doesn't stop there. I convinced my girl friends to dance Salsa with me right there in the market.  And so we did.  We even did side-to-side, front-to-back, and some lovely turns just to add to the zest of our show.  My friends rock the world.

As she handed us our four oranges, she said, "You ladies dance so wonderfully."  We smiled and said, "Have a great day,"  with the last phrase coming from my goofy mouth: "Stay tuned for our next show. Coming soon."  Yet another dynamic laugh resounded! :)

So in the wise words of Donald O'Connor from "Singin' in the Rain"....  
MAKE 'EM LAUGH. Enjoy life a little more.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Equilateral, Isosceles or Scalene?

A very wise friend told me something recently that ended up encouraging me during my visit back home to the USA and my subsequent arrival back to South America. He said, "Let's pretend that the United States is a square culture.  You were born, raised, and drenched in being that square.  Now, you decide to dedicate your life and passion to the Latino culture; we'll say they are the circle culture.  You have been in-between these two cultures for the past 10 years -- whether in your studies, friendships or travelings. Finally, after all these years, you feel like you are not completely a square anymore and yet you will never completely be a circle either.  Therefore, because of the progression of events, you all of a sudden are this unique triangle, trying to constantly figure out your place between the two cultures."  And you know, the most encouraging part of this real-life analogy is that I've come to accept that it's okay to be that triangle. Actually, it's quite a beautiful thing, although rather challenging and confusing at times.  I am a triangle. I accept my triangle-ness.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Great Reminder

“The truly patient man neither complains of his hard lot nor desires to be pitied by others. He speaks of his sufferings in a natural, true, and sincere way, without murmuring, complaining, or exaggerating them.” 

In my 10-hour layover in Miami, I finished reading a book about the 18-year kidnapping & imprisonment of Jaycee Dugard, who only was 11 at the time in which it happened (“A Stolen Life”).  It expounded upon her continual sex slave status, her two pregnancies during being a captive, and the overall mental manipulation endured.  After finishing this heart wrenching book and bawling my eyes out in the airport cafe, I am convinced of three things:

(1)   There are some SICK people in this world.  No apparent logic.  No conscience.  No heart.  Of course, I knew this, but this book only illustrates this point further. 
(2)  I am amazed at how much the human spirit can survive such inhumaneness.  You should read this woman’s story, if only on Wikipedia.  She has moved ahead, written this successful memoir, and is trying to regain strength to enjoy life in a whole new way. 
(3)  I am ashamed about how much we complain about not-life-or-death matters.  “OMG, my cell phone isn’t working” (at least you have a cell phone) or “My teenagers are so misbehaved all the time” (at least you were able to conceive in the first place, at least they are still safe in your arms) or “This food is disgusting, makes me want to gag” (you probably have three meals a day, no?) or “I can’t believe I have so many essays to complete.  No social life possible.” (SO guilty here. But at least I had a chance to pursue an education – I had the financial support, the time, and the opportunity.)  Humans as a whole need to learn to be content right where we are, with exactly what we have.  We must live life without grumbling or complaining, especially when so many others in the world live with much less and in much worse, unimaginable circumstances.  Before negativity and pessimism overtake my words, I really need to weigh my problem.  Life or death?  Just breathe, Kerrie Isabel, no words necessary. Just oxygen.

Great reminder to me, my life & my current obstacles.
May I have a heart of compassion.  May I see the needs of others.
May I not complain about the minor problems that invade on a daily basis.
May I continually cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Melodious Howling?

Written: 05-12-2013

So if you're not even slightly okay with noise, it isn't recommended that you live in a Latin American country. Perfect example is as follows.  Today is Mother's Day, and to welcome in the day, at 12:30am until 1:30am, there was a loud speaker set up two doors down, conducting the traditional serenade in honor of the special day. I cannot begin to express how painfully flat the daughter was in the midst of her musical dedication.  It progressed to the point where my physical cringing transformed into laughter.  It wasn't necessarily that I was laughing at her; it was more of a laughter of utter pity for the three block radius that had to endure such loud belting. I will not negate in the least that each word was sincere and heartfelt.  She, indeed, was expressing such immense appreciate and gratitude for all that her mother had done in her life.  However, can we not express this at a more conducive hour to my bedtime? Neither the pillow-over-my-head technique nor the two hard-core earplugs could deter those sound waves.

This morning, dead on my butt may I add, I was still giggling to myself about the Mother's Day insanity.  And then I was humbled all of a sudden, at the breakfast table nonetheless. In the Bible, it simply states to make a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psalm 98, 100). Nothing more, nothing less.  It doesn't declare being in tune and melodious (to the human ear); it declares sincere and pure intentions (for the Lord).  The Lord clearly spoke to my heart that we must develop a profound appreciation for His goodness, faithfulness, and provision --  that same gratitude unfolded in the daughter's song.  The same vulnerability and wild abandonment to sing of the Lord's works, no matter how it may sound to those around us.

So, instead of me laughing to no end about her horrendous vocal cords, I should instead take last night as a lesson to my life.  To end the morning's epiphany, it was if the Lord said, "Hey, Isabel, I hear your heart, and nothing more.  If I were to merely listen to the musicality of your song, how could I even begin to compare it to the choir of heavenly angels around me? Hmm?  I want your heart. I want you."

Thank you, horribly off-key woman, for the revelation.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

El beso de la mujer araña

The Kiss of the Spider Woman

Though she didn't like the Puig novel,
Maybe she will my poem.  The Amazon 
Does strange things to those who visit her
For any length of time. Holy patch! No pirate
Ever was so daring as the Amazon Queen from the Midwest, 
Queen Isa from the Illinois country,
By the vast Mississippi.  Her kiss will not kill you.
Believe me, 'twill heal you.  Hers is of honey, not poison.
The tarantula is real, as is the eye it conceals. 
Not to worry, grandma! She'll come home as she left.
I assure you. Right, Kathie?  A mother always knows.
As do I.

Written by my dear & divine professor from Evangel:
Eliezer Oyola