You want me to tell you what?!?!

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Is there a polite way to tell people to back the frack off and that what they’re asking is none of their business?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.

At a breakfast this morning someone I barely know grilled me for 10 minutes on the retirement plan at work. And I was polite, I really was. I answered her questions as vaguely as I could, growing increasingly irritated at her more pointed and less polite questions as they came my way. And at no time did she realize that she was being intrusive and offensive.

The most important thing here to note is that we were having breakfast so she could ask me to do some committee work for her group. She was asking me for a favor, which I’ve already declined once, and the way she did that was to make me irritated and upset.

I honestly don’t think she knows that she essentially guaranteed that I would not take her up on her invitation to be on the committee and that she’s also ensured that we never become any closer than we are today, which is not at all. I’m petty that way.

When did it become OK to ask someone whether they have a retirement, what they pay for it, what their employer pays, and how long you have to be there to be vested? Unless I’ve made an appointment with you to review my retirement plan, these questions are out of bounds. And, for future reference, if you ask me intrusive questions on a day when I’m not feeling polite… well, the dislike will go both ways.


After a few hours in your presence I am struggling for air
blinking furiously
trying to keep the moisture in my eyes
from becoming drops that will break me

It’s my fault, really
I became distracted
I forgot who I was with
I let too much of my real self shine through
I let me be me in enemy space

Your reaction was predictable
a blast of destructive cold
leaving an unforgettable aftermath
wondering if today’s scars will heal
when others haven’t

That I love you truly is not in doubt
I would give you my life
I would take someone else’s in your defense
I would not choose you, did not choose you
I do not like you
You do not care


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The war of the dirty dishes

2014.03 tableware“I haven’t been able to eat at home for days,” my friend tells me over dinner.

“Too busy?” I inquire politely. It’s a common theme in our conversations, discussing how busy we’ve been.

She smiles ruefully even as she’s shaking her head, “No, it’s not that. I just can’t dirty any dishes right now.”

Feeling a little bit like she somehow spoke in code, I mentally go through what she just said. I understand the words, but somehow the meaning was just out of reach.

“Why can’t you dirty dishes?” I finally ask. Based on her answering grin, that’s exactly what she wanted.

This is her story, told through me:

My roommate and I have a dirty dish war going on.

It started when she began to leave the clean dishes piled in the sink. Not a big deal. A pile of clean dishes doesn’t bother me. And when I cooked or had dishes of my own I just cleaned them then put then on top of her pile to dry.

Then she started to leave a pile of clean dishes and a small pile of dirty dishes. So, when I cooked or dirtied my own dishes I had to put away the clean dishes, clean her dirty dishes, then clean my own dishes. This happened enough times that I finally decided that if I was putting away her clean dishes and cleaning her dirty dishes, that it was only fair that she wash mine. So I started to leave my dirty dishes piled up for her to wash. And she did wash them, for a while. Then she stopped.

I clearly remember the first time I saw the dirty dishes piled onto the counter next to the sink. So there was a pile of clean dishes on one side of the sink, a pile of dirty dishes on the other side, and a pile of dishes on the counter. My first reaction was disbelief. Surely she wasn’t so busy that she hadn’t been able to do the dishes at all! So I washed everything, put everything away, and forgot about it. Until the next time.

Suddenly it seemed like she never got around to washing her dishes. I would see the piles of dirty, and clean, dishes take up the sink and the counter next to it, and I would wait for her to clean them. And she never did. Eventually I had to clean them myself because I had to cook. So she was basically waiting me out.

One day, about two weeks ago, I got home, cleaned all the dishes, and put everything away. And I stopped dirtying dishes and I stopped cooking. If I make a cup of coffee, I clean and dry that cup immediately. I bought a bunch of frozen dinners and plasticware for lunches. I pick up to go food or drive thru meals for dinner, when I don’t actually eat out.

It’s costing me a fortune.

Her dishes stayed there for five days before she realized that this time she was just out of luck. And then her next batch stayed there for four days… which she eventually cleaned. Right now there’s a big pile of dishes again.

I think I can’t actually eat at home until I see that there aren’t any dishes piled up in the kitchen for more than one day straight. Which hasn’t happened in months.

I think I need a new place to live.

I think she just needs a good voodoo doll.


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Retail therapy that’s a family event

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Today, almost every female in my immediate family will be descending upon a shopping mall. More specifically, we are all going to one particular dress shop in a mall on the other side of town for a special shopping trip — my niece is picking out her prom dress(es).

I remember doing this with both  my sisters — going to the shops and trying on one dress after another. Driving the sales clerks to moments of panic and frustration over the thought that we’d never find that perfect dress. Eventually, the one dress that was “the one” would emerge from all the others. And it would be exceptional.

I think all the tías and abuelitas are going today/ My niece knew that, despite her recent tendency to keep her aunts and grandmothers out of the loop, today we all had to be included. There were two main reasons for that:

  1. we would have never forgiven her for “forgetting” to invite us to today’s outing
  2. with all of us here, she can fall in love with a dress in a higher cost bracket, secure in the knowledge that someone will say “don’t worry about, I’ll pay for the rest”

Regardless of the reasons why, today’s little shopping trip is one of those things I will remember when she grows up and becomes and adult. We’ll wax poetic over the “remember when” moments of today, adding them to when we helped shop for my sister-in-law’s wedding dress, my niece’s quinceañera dress, my outfit for my first TV appearance.

Pray for the poor sales clerks. There are a lot of us, all trying to help one teenager pick a dress.

* * *

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A good daughter… and a bad daughter

2014.02 heartI got tired of being subtle… I volunteered to take my mother to see her mother. I can’t say the words, “You need to see your mother in case the worst happens.” I can’t tell her that she needs to see her mother before she dies, in case she dies. The words just will not erupt from my mouth. There’s a kind of block between what I want to say and the words themselves.

A visit to my mother’s hometown is not on my list of things I want to do. I am well acquainted with my inner selfish tendencies; I have long since accepted my inner voice. In this case it’s telling me that the timing is all wrong… I won’t enjoy the visit at all… I don’t have close emotional ties to that part of my family… I can’t afford the trip… I will be the only person there to provide emotional support (which isn’t my best thing)… I know, in advance I know, that I’m going to regret the trip.

The list of things running through my mind is endless. I hear each and every reason why I don’t want to go, very clearly. I just don’t say them out loud.

It was my idea. I’ve known for weeks that this trip has to happen. I’ve known that my mother won’t go on her own, that I can’t send her by herself. I know that I have to make sure that she goes. I volunteered. It was my idea.

I’m not a bad person for acknowledging that I don’t want to make the trip. But I never considered not making it. I never thought even for a moment that I wouldn’t go. I always knew that I was going to make this trip.

There is a part of me that knows that I want to make the trip for me too… in case the worst happens.

Garage wars

2014.02 mirrorDear roommate,

in what world does it make sense that all of us have our cars parked outside overnight in 35-degree weather just because you had to park in the driveway in such a way that not only could no one park in the garage (which was empty overnight) but no one else could park in the drive way either?

And, of course, the spots to the left and the right of the house on this side of the street were taken with your “spare” truck and our other roommate’s car. I can’t park in front of a neighbor’s house because you have yelled at some, and threatened to poison the pets of others.

That is why I parked half on the driveway and half on the grass, ruining your lawn. Maybe next time you won’t be so selfish.

That is all.

Yours truly, Paloma.

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