Sunday, May 29, 2011

Taxi Wars

Have we mentioned the taxi drivers here are a little passionate about their work?

If you’re picturing a nice, spacious New York city yellow cab – adjust that visual to slightly more of a mini-bus...van’ish thing– that holds about 15-18 people.

Apparently it’s an extremely competitive market. The taxis have been known to bomb other taxis for being on their “turf” and start open shooting at full taxi’s with people in them. I gather they are a bit annoyed when you don’t ride in their taxi.

Although quick tempered and impatient, with a slight tendency toward terrorism, they do appear to be quite resourceful.

On occasion they will make space for extra people by putting a crate in the middle part between the driver’s seat and the front passenger seat...and they’ve even been known to pull out the steering wheel and drive WITH A WRENCH in place in order to squeeze in one more passenger.

The government frowns upon this sort of ingenuity.

The Taxi Bosses (that’s really what they’re called) also don’t like to have their taxi impounded for being a teensy bit unsafe. They responded last month by burning tires in the street to protest the unfairness of the government to require that their vehicle be “road worthy” (similar to a car inspection in the US to prove your vehicle is safe to drive). I guess the police prefer that when you drive a dozen people around – you do so with a properly installed steering wheel instead of a rusty ole wrench. Picky, picky, picky.

The whole thing is a bad combination of the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine meets the Sopranos.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It’s Complicated

Ahhh...being a woman. Men often say they don’t understand us – but the truth is we rarely understand ourselves. It’s complicated being us. Very complicated.

I’ll actually say to my husband, “You know me better than I know myself – what’s WRONG with me?” Most of the time he can tell me.

We are always thinking...always calculating...then rethinking and recalculating.

When we’re not talking (IF we’re not talking)’s because we are thinking, thinking, THINKING. Don’t mistake that blank stare for a serene mind of nothingness (a skill many men posses – I’ve heard they can actually do this – sit there and think about NOTHING!).

You might be impressed we’re multi-tasking by making dinner and talking enthusiastically to one of our kids about their latest school project and checking Facebook simultaneously – but you have NO idea. We are really taking multi-tasking to whole new level by thinking...

• Are my kids eating enough vegetables? The answer to this is always NO. Bust out some more frozen broccoli. Quick!

• Am I paying enough attention to my kids? NO! Is it even possible to pay too much attention to your kids? I’ve never heard of that!

• Did I permanently damage my child beyond the point that any amount of therapy can fix when I did that? Most likely! How much is that going to cost me in 10 years?

• Did I forget to get that at the store? Yes!

• Did my HUSBAND forget to get that at the store? Yes! Yes!

• When can I go get that at the store? Who knows? My schedule is too full already!

• Do my friends actually forget ME or does it just seem that way? (Quietly) I hope it just seems that way.

• Did she take it the wrong way when I said blah blah blah? Lord, please let that not be the case!

• Did everything seem OK last time I saw her – or was she acting “funny?” I really hope she’s OK and I imagined the “funny.” Yes...I MUST have imagined the “funny.”

• Should I ask her? How the heck do I do that?

• Do we have any money? No!

• How can we get more money? Not sure!

• Should I take that back to the store to get some money? Probably!

• Should I get a different job? Can’t think about that – quick think about something else!

• Should I cut back? Yes! But I already cut back everything!

• Can I possibly take on more? Not really!

• Can I squeeze in ONE SECOND to exercise today? No!

• Can I make up for not exercising by eating another pound of vegetables? Yes! Of course! I think I read that somewhere.

• Should I have said (here is a review of about a million things we should have said)? Yes to about 17 things on the list of 100 possibilities.

• Am I dying of a strange disease? Probably!

• How do I feel about Bin Laden? Can you actually get Princess Kate’s dress at Nordstrom’s? Will this economy ever recover? Will the price of gas ever go down? Who knows!’s true. We are actually thinking ALL of these things in the 10 minutes it takes to boil some noodles.
I must say...if it seems like a lot- it’s because IT IS A LOT.

I thought things would be different in Africa – but let me just put your mind at rest. It’s not. If you’ve ever thought, “Maybe I should run off to Africa like Julie- then I wouldn’t have to worry about this...” rest assured that I am probably thinking at the same time, “Maybe I should run back to America, then I wouldn’t have to worry about this...”

I recently had some issues with girl friends. Imagine. I was asking myself about 100 times a day (instead of the usual 5-10), “ Did everything seem OK last time I saw her – or was she acting “funny?”

Although I was REALLY hoping she was OK and that I just imagined the “funny,” I was not imagining it.

Turns out...I disappointed her (one of my top MOST UNFAVORITE things to do is disappoint someone). I hurt her without realizing it. I miscalculated a few things. Said the wrong thing...did the wrong thing...thought the wrong thing.

So we had to talk about it.

As in telling each other what was bothering us. Actually saying it out loud.

I’ve discovered, if it’s a little thing that bothers you – it’s tough to share. You don’t want to bring it up – after all – it’s just a little thing. If it’s a big thing that bothers you, that’s worse. To share a big thing – something that hurts you to your core and shakes your very depths – you have to become very vulnerable. You give people the ability to look deep down inside you and see you at your most vulnerable, naked state – and it’s entirely possible they could dismiss, misunderstand or worst of all - reject you.

So we talked and talked and talked some more. I saw her side, she saw mine. Just a little at first and then some more.

I told my friend – once we had thoroughly gone over all the details and apologized where necessary...“Listen, I have misunderstandings with my friends back home who come from my country, my very same Nebraskan culture...that are the same colour, speak the same language, come from the same religious background and have the same economic resources as me. I AM going to disappoint you. I disappoint them. I will do it again. We HAVE to talk about it. Every time. Every single time.”

So after we got to the bottom or our INDIVIDUAL issues – we then had to get to the bottom of some other issues in our GROUP. So not just 2 women having a real discussion – but now 5 women! Have you ever done this? Is this something you can imagine doing?

We read the verse together... "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Matt. 5:23-24).

Then we had to ALL hear each other. Really hear each other. We were defensive, we raised voices, we cried, we agreed, we disagreed, we apologized. We were real. This is life.

I’ve learned if you haven’t had to have a hard conversation with someone, it’s only because you haven’t known them long enough or spent enough time together. Period.

So that said...let me encourage you. Go ahead and ask your friend - ask if everything is alright between you. Admit to being jealous and angry and hurt and disappointed and frustrated. Listen. Understand. Listen again. Apologize.

And then afterwards –get some nachos together. Talk about Jesus and his overwhelmingly shocking goodness. We did. Everything looks a little brighter with a plate of cheesy goodness in front of you. Even if you are nowhere near a Nordstrom’s, are tired of hearing about Bin Laden and just spent too much in gas to get there - order the extra guacamole and sour cream.

BONUS: You can cross two questions off your list: “Is she acting funny?” and “Am I eating enough vegetables?” (Guacamole counts as at least three veggies)