Botox anybody?

Recently, I went to see an ophthalmologist. He’s a nice guy, and we were talking and laughing – and then it happened: He took a step back, squinted, and suggested botox injections around my eyes. Say what? I was flabbergasted. Not because I had been unaware of those dozens of laughter lines around my eyes, but because I kind of like them and never thought that anybody would actually find them ugly. I replied that I didn’t mind the lines, and now it was his turn to look confused. Then he shrug his shoulders and said, well, yes, Europeans always went for a more natural look.

However, this conversation got stuck in my head. As you can imagine, I spent a good amount of time in front of every mirror I came across, squinting, smiling at myself, looking at myself from every possible angle and in various lights and came to the conclusion that I still like those lines and would never consider botox. Don’t get me wrong, I am all pro plastic surgery. If I was married to a plastic surgeon, I would by now look like Angelina Jolie. At least if I managed to move to a different continent and not see my family for a while because having a new face must be worse than wearing a new sweater. I already hate it if somebody asks me, “Oh, is that new?” And I always go like, “Oh no, I’ve had that forever. Really, just an ugly old thing lying in the back of my drawer.” Silly, huh? Are you the same? So just imagine me being asked, “Oh, is that a new face you are wearing?” I would probably photoshop a few old pictures to back me up when I say, “Oh no, I’ve always looked like Angelina Jolie, you just never noticed.”

So, yes, I would change probably everything about me if a plastic surgeon fairy turned up and all it needed was a tip of her wand. But that’s just because I would want to be prettier, not younger. If there is one thing that I never really understand it’s why people are so obsessed with youth. Doesn’t it say a lot about our society that it appears more desirable to be young than to be experienced? People would rather be 20 and stupid than 60 and experienced.

I know, they say it has something to do with fertility. Men would rather jump women who look like they could be the mother of their child. But which woman in her right mind would like to get jumped and impregnated by strange men? So what is our obsession with youth? We all fall prey to it at least every now and then otherwise we wouldn’t spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on anti-aging products. You can hear delighted giggles and see blushing cheeks when a woman gets a compliment on how young she looks. And yes, I admit when I look at pictures on FB of friends or classmates I haven’t seen in a long time, I kind of feel relieved when I can see that they, too, have gotten older. Of course, we all want to look our best as long as we can, but do we really want to get mistaken for a younger version of ourselves? Shouldn’t we rather be proud of the fact that we have survived until now?

I remember when I turned 30, I was so relieved that finally I had crossed this “age line” for saying that I was 29 always felt like saying, “I am still a baby”. However, I know a few women who almost had nervous breakdowns when turning 30. Back then I thought that maybe I would feel that way when I’d turn 40, for in my mind 40 was quite a big step for a woman. Now that 40 is  just around the corner, I couldn’t care less again – but maybe my 50th birthday will bring me to my knees? Maybe then it will be time to go for some botox?

Just in case, though, I came up with a few strategies to feel younger longer:

  1. Surround yourself with people older than yourself. My grandma who will turn 100 this year refers to her 90-year old neighbour as “young woman”. No further explanation needed, right?
  2. If you fail at No. 1, get the people around you drunk. It’s a fact that we find others (and ourselves) more attractive when we are a little tipsy. What other excuse do we need?
  3. Move to a sunny place where you can wear big sunglasses all the time. No wonder old people are all moving to Florida.
  4. Become a rockstar. Rockstars are never ashamed of their wrinkles.
  5. If you fail at No. 4, wear a shirt that says, “I slept with Mick Jagger.” Then nobody will mind your wrinkles, you’ll be cool anyway.

Happy Aging!

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Not a real post…

…instead I would like to simply announce that Expatially Mexico has its own Facebook page now. What? She cannot even keep up a regular posting routine and now she is on Facebook, you might ask yourself. Well, that’s exactly the point. On Facebook I post little things and pictures that don’t make it into a big WP post.

So go ahead, and take a look: https://www.facebook.com/expatiallymexico. See you on FB!

Happy New-ish Year!

Happy New Year, Everyone! I was very determined to write something funny and witty to kick off the new (blogging) year, but humhum, I’ve got nothing. There was a an idea, some thought for just that kind of post, but it’s gone. I am getting old. And no, I did not suffer from a hangover this year.

I know, you probably think that I put on my dancing shoes and went to some glamorous party, and I wished I could say I did. But then I called my good friend Liz and asked her about her plans, and she told me she had decided to stay in, toast to her family (not sure, though, whether William and Kate stayed in, too. Have to ask her next time.) – and she said that anything else would be very un-Queenly. Well, if the Queen stays in, so can I.

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As you can see, we were clearly having a ball.

So my Mini Mexican and I put on our fancy party sombreros, took some silly pictures, and when MM went to bed at 7, I poured myself a glass of champagne as I thought that it must be midnight SOMEWHERE, ate about 4 pounds of pasta al gorgonzola, and since there was nobody except the Gilmore Girls to hang out with until midnight, I cuddled up next to MM at 10 pm and thought I would just sleep through midnight.

However, the infernal noise from a nearby beach club kept us awake until 4 am, even the bed was shaking from the beats, and when I got up at 6 (MM says holidays are overrated) I even felt hung over solely from lack of sleep. And still full from all the pasta.

We then went for our first walk in 2014 which I had been looking forward to as I was certain streets would be deserted and I might greet the new year on an empty beach. Well, not quite. I bumped into a few last, very drunk party people (or rather: they bumped into me. Literally.), and then the large queues outside some breakfast restaurants reminded me of how hungry one gets on the morning of a hangover.

So, ok, the new year didn’t start quite as expected, but there are so many days more to come. And as every year, I keep thinking about all those people who enter a new year with fresh hope, somehow everyone thinks that things might turn around just because the calendar shows us a new year – and then nothing changes. Or things do change, just not the way we had hoped for. I found that 2013 had been a year of change for many people. We had a lot of weddings, a lot of babies or beginning pregnancies in 2013, but also quite a few of my friends were diagnosed with serious illnesses. Some have recovered, some are still fighting the battle. For us, 2013 was wonderful as it marked the birth of our little MM, and for 2014 we are hoping it might be time to move someplace else again. We are getting a wee bit itchy…

Even though the year isn’t as fresh anymore (January is half gone already!) since well, as always, my post has been dozing in the “Draft” corner for quite some time, I would still like to wish you a very happy 2014, and I do hope that your dreams and hopes might come true!

Do Royals Fart? And: How little George Alexander Louis brings out my inner feminist.

So we have our new prince in good old England! Yay! Not only should we be happy for the lucky parents, but we should all thank them for providing us with an excellent new small talk topic. A topic my mum and I extensively discussed during one of our last Skype conversations.

I expressed my concerns about the amount of pressure that is weighing on that poor young couple. I mean, if you see pictures, they both look like normal happy parents – only a little prettier and conspicuously well-dressed. Will we ever see lovely Kate with spit on her silk blouse, I wonder? Or tousled hair because little George discovered the joys of hair pulling? Will the little prince burp and fart in public? Or do royals have entirely different bodily functions, I ask myself?

I think it might make for a delightful anecdote if they took the baby to let’s say some glamorous dinner and in the middle of a speech, the little prince noticeably soils his diaper. Or blurts out, “Mommy, who’s that fat guy over there?” Are royals BORN well behaved? Oh, no, they are not, how stupid of me. We all know that e.g. Prince Charles can be quite a naughty boy.

Will the press be searching for dark circles around Kate’s eyes? Will they monitor her post pregnancy weight loss?

Being part of the royal family can’t be fun, I think. That’s why I gave up my dream of becoming a princess when I was…hum…32. But just imagine, for Kate this dream (if it ever was a dream) came true. But then, she is ridiculously pretty, and as we all know, the prettiest girls always get the prince.

In honour of little Prince George Alexander Louis I’ve been reading a lot of fairytales lately, so my daily life has been filled with princes and princesses. I tend to believe though that times have changed. Back in the days, if you choose to believe Hans Christian Andersen and other storytellers, the king came, saw the pretty (mostly weeping) girl, lifted her up on his horse, took her to his castle and made her queen. Bam.

That’s the picture girls (and boys) grow up with. The only thing girls have to be in those stories is pretty. And I do remember that that really influenced my view of the world. Now you should know that I am a terribly vain individual. Which is a good thing, otherwise I would be stuffing my face with pie all day long. Would I be less vain if fairytales had focused more on other qualities in women? Or are girls in general and by nature more vain?

When I wouldn’t stop crying when I was little, my mum would say to me, “You look so ugly when you are crying, you should really stop.” Now of course, I was torn – my vanity told me to stop crying, but at the same time my stubbornness forbade it. I daresay, I still was more stubborn than vain and continued crying, only this time more forcefully. Also, I already suspected that that was only a trick my mum was playing. You know how princesses always get prettier by crying? The tears falling down always create the illusion of diamonds on their silken garments, and if he hadn’t done so before, now is the moment that the prince realizes that that’s the girl he must marry. So yeah, sorry Mum, that move didn’t work on me. (Although she was right. Have you ever seen a boiled bagel before it’s getting baked? Well, that’s what I look like when I am crying, a doedough-eyed, red-nosed mess.) But I still find it interesting that my mum thought it would work. I am sure she never tried that on my brother.

I too tend to compliment little girls on their looks while I’d never do such a thing with a boy. Isn’t that terrible? Shouldn’t our generation be smarter? Do we create little princesses, thus stand in the way of real gender equality? There we have all those great role model women, and I still stupidly remark on how pretty a girl is?

Apparently I, too, am to blame that TV shows like this exist.

 

Well, I promise to better. That’s why now I’ll kiss my little boy and tell him how handsome he is! Although… Nowadays, the emancipated handsome guy might get the princess, and I am just not up for this!

Most Influential People, Today: The Taxi Driver

Recently, I had to take a taxi and happened to make the acquaintance with Henry, a Mexican taxi driver / sandwich shop owner who – I couldn’t believe my ears! – used to live in Seattle before he moved back to Mexico last year in order to be closer to family. What are the odds?

It was a lovely and very unexpected surprise that brightened up my day, and I came to think of all the taxi drivers I have encountered over the years and how actually an apparently unimportant chance meeting can set the tone for a whole day.

Taxi Driver

I mean, if Robert de Niro were your taxi driver, wouldn’t that have an impact on your day?? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my previous job I had to take a taxi to the airport almost every day, so yes, I have met plenty of taxi drivers and had many surprisingly meaningful conversations – as well as many meaningless ones! (Luckily, most of my work places came with a rain guarantee, thus, I didn’t have to look far for a small talk topic.) For some time, whenever I met an exceptionally nice driver I tried to make him my “regular driver”. However, that didn’t always turn out the way I wanted. There was A. e.g. We shared the same interest in the arts and it was a pleasure chatting with him. But after a while A. turned up with breakfast when I had to catch the red-eye, and though it certainly was a lovely idea, I felt awkward accepting it – after all, I was the one paying him, right? Then one evening when he picked me up again from the airport, he showed up with theatre tickets, and when I declined, he was terribly offended, so I had to break it off with him. Yes, I dumped my sweet, lovely taxi driver!

A similar thing happened with taxi driver F. One night he showed up not in his cab, but in his private car. As he explained to me, it had been his evening off, yet he wanted to pick me up from the airport and he didn’t even accept money. I felt obliged to do something, so I invited him to a pub for a glass of beer where I then told a lot of stories about my then inexistent boy-friend – he was a hell of a guy, I can tell you! (Well, him I dumped for Mr. R. who is even a heller of a guy!) Needless to say that things were over between F. and me…

After this incident, I was cured so I shied away from asking P. to become my regular driver. Pity, though. P. was full of good stories for as luck would have it, he picked me up numerous times. I will never forget the story he told me on our first little trip: He and his friend spent a weekend on his friend’s boat. As a special treat they had mixed their own schnapps – they had simply put a handful of liquorice sweets in some vodka and voila! their liquorice schnapps was born! A few boats further down the two guys had spotted two single ladies whom they then invited over for a drink. Late at night, after enjoying various bottles of wine and beer, they all had some schnapps to round the evening off. On their way back to their boat, both ladies lost their balance and fell into the water whereupon the guys came to their rescue. They then gallantly offered both ladies their strong arms and intended to walk them back to their boat, but they couldn’t stop laughing and so splash! they all fell into the water together! P. swore to high heaven that they repeated this process 4 times until the ladies finally made it to their boat. Quite an entertaining story I thought, and I had to promise him to try his famous recipe. I haven’t yet, but you never know, I might one day. 🙂

In Austria of all countries (as everyone might or might not know, the Austrians are not terribly fond of Germans), in Salzburg to be more precise, I met the maybe friendliest taxi driver of all times. My meeting at the airport had ended just in time for a little shopping spree downtown before I had to catch my next flight. So I grabbed a cab and lucky me: The driver’s shift was just about to end, and he volunteered to do a little city tour with me – for free! And though Salzburg surely is a beautiful city, he might be the reason that I am even more fond of it.

In Istanbul, every cab driver seems to be a race driver in disguise. I tried to play it cool (for heaven’s sake, we invented the autobahn, didn’t we?), but it is hard to appear cool while covering one’s eyes with one’s hands the whole time. So I was very glad when just one day I encountered an elderly taxi driver who wasn’t in such an awful hurry, so for the first time I actually could see where we were going!

But the funniest incident happened in Norway. I was travelling with my very favourite colleague L. and we had to give a training in some meeting facility in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. In the morning, we ordered a taxi before we enjoyed our hotel breakfast in good spirits. However, come the agreed time, no taxi showed up. After waiting for a while, we addressed the receptionist who cheerfully told us that the taxi driver had honked but when we didn’t step outside, he left again. But she would be happy to order us another taxi, would we kindly wait by the door. The minutes went by, and we got increasingly nervous. After waiting for half an hour and by this being delayed already by 45 minutes, you could see little beads of sweat pouring off our foreheads, and our smiles got a little frozen… Finally, the driver showed up, we hurried outside, threw ourselves and our bags inside the car and told the driver to please, please hurry up! He stepped on the accelerator – and immediately stopped again. L. and I looked at each other and decided that Norwegian taxi drivers were not our friends, when the driver got out, opened the door and pointed us towards the entrance of that meeting facility! We had had no idea that the hotel was just around the corner, I mean, literally just around the corner! L. and I were hysteric, we couldn’t stop laughing all day long, and the participants of our training might have written in their diaries, “Just experienced the funniest and weirdest training of my life. Those trainers were bonkers!”…

Taken any taxi lately?

English: Coco-taxi driver, Vedado, Havana, Cub...

Those cute taxis might be a good reason to go to Cuba! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spam Alert, Part II

Time to empty my spam file again, but not without acknowledging the most creative approaches, of course:

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Life is so much more fun with a little bit of spam, isn’t it?

spam

spam (Photo credit: Vince_Lamb)

Pessimists rejoice!

Recently, I read an article about life expectancy of pessimists vs. optimists – maybe you read that, too? Surprisingly, pessimists tend to live longer than optimists. By the way, we are talking about a German study. It’s not hard to find plenty of pessimists in that country, but where did they dig up the optimists? (Just kidding, in fact I do know a few German optimists.)

So, ok, up to now I always strongly believed the opposite to be true. Why isn’t it? According to the studies, it might be due to the fact that pessimists live more carefully, in that they e.g. visit the doctor more frequently. I know this very cheerful type who runs to the doctor all the time hoping to be diagnosed with some terminal illness that would once and for all justify his / her constant grumpiness. And of course, it is most desirable to become 106 having spent years in a doctor’s waiting room.

On top of that, scientists found that people with good health and a stable income are prone to suffer a greater decline than people with low income and poor health. Oh, really? Well, isn’t that logical? If you are already struggling to survive, how much deeper can you fall?

So what are we supposed to do now? Should we all become pessimists and mope around for decades to come? And when are we then supposed to celebrate our grumpy victory? When we turn 100 or only when we turn 105?

I think scientists should be more careful about spreading the news. After all, what happens if all pessimists now jump with unexpected joy and as a consequence suffer a heart attack?

Are You Optimistic About The Future?

Are You Optimistic About The Future? (Photo credit: SomeDriftwood)