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!

Last Year was just 5 Minutes ago, or: Mexican Yip Yips

Even if some people will hate me even more for saying this, I claim that time specifications of any kind should be considered redundant in Mexican Spanish, hence could be deleted from the dictionary. Let me explain:

Everybody knows that the Mexican “mañana” can actually mean anything from “tomorrow” to “never”. I also learned that there is a difference between “en un rato” and “en un ratito” which may be translated into “in a while” and “in a bit”. At first, when someone told me “I’ll be there en un rato” I expected that someone to show up within the next hour. But in fact, “un rato” is not much different from “mañana” as it can mean “in a few hours” or “never”, whereas “un ratito” seems to mean at least “today”.

Well, time is relative anyway, isn’t it? I was reminded of that today when a friend of mine announced she’d swing by for breakfast for all of a sudden I remembered that our doorbell is broken so she had to call me upon arrival for me to open the door. You would think a broken doorbell could easily be fixed when in fact, I’ve been waiting for those repair guys for 5 minutes now.

It all started when we moved in here in October and I quickly discovered that our doorbell wasn’t working. So I talked to our property management and they promised to send handyman R. over. He came en un rato which in this case meant the next day and uninstalled the interphone unit. He then said he needed to go and buy a missing tool in a shop that’s just down the street, so he’d be back in half an hour.

At 9 pm I sensed that R. probably wouldn’t show up again. Yes, sometimes I am a bit slow. 2 days later I decided to phone the office again, maybe there had been a misunderstanding of some sort. The lady told me to stay in for she would send him over again. En un rato.

To cut a long story short, he showed up a few days and many phone calls later, installed a new interphone and as that didn’t work either, he shrugged his shoulders and told me the system was faulty in the entire building. Nothing that could be done about it. We both sighed, and to me that was the end of the story.

However, a few weeks later I got an angry text from the lady at the property management company asking me why I wouldn’t open the door. As I was driving on the highway at that time, I called her a little later and explained to her I was out. Bummer. Apparently, some other handyman had decided to stop by and take a closer look at the matter. We made a new appointment for the following day which I didn’t take too seriously, but sure enough at 7pm somebody knocked on my door. 2 guys entered, examined the interphone and told me that it was the wrong device, that we were the only apartment having this problem, and could I please hand them the old unit. When I informed them that R. had taken that one, they deliberated for quite a while, very much to my delight bearing a striking resemblance to the Sesame Street “yip yip” Martians. Finally, one of the yip yips told me to stay put, they’d be back in 5 minutes.

Well, I am waiting. Boy, those are the longest 5 minutes of my life!

 

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.

IMG_2225

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!

Hemhem… Hullo!

In case you missed me – I am still here! But oh well, probably you haven’t even noticed my absence.  Let’s pretend you did, though. (And while on this subject: Thanks to those who checked in on me!)

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

My good old friend Liz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, I had so many things going on: tea appointments with the Queen for example. We had the most delightful chats, but yesterday, just when I had finished my third scone (and feeling bad about it, you shouldn’t eat three scones when teaing  with royalty) and was wiping off some crumbs I said to her, “Liz, listen, I need to get back to blogging. My readers need me.” And she nodded her head, although it was clear she didn’t know what blogging was, and said, “Well, as always, my Dear, it has been an absolute pleasure. Please come and see me again when your time allows.” She’s so classy. But then, she’s the Queen.

Yes, that would have been my daily life had I been on Prozac. But I wasn’t. Instead, I was fighting a battle with the beloved rainy season. In a way, we got lucky as we had not one hurricane this season and since hurricane season is over, I don’t even have to knock on wood. On the other hand, we got plenty of rain.

Some of you may remember that we had just moved last year. Well, we should have known better than to move into a new construction… Let me tell you: Never a good idea in this country. And even if you think that a 2 year old building might not count as new, make no mistake! The problem is, that people are in it for the quick money, so they build up everything really fast and really sloppy, a bit of paint and it looks all shiny and fancy, they ask for a high rent because, hey, it’s all marble, right? Which is good, because you see, when the indoor rain starts you can just mop it away. A carpet wouldn’t work.

Well, we did a lot of mopping this season. I got used to the sound of water dripping into the buckets we put everywhere. I also got used to the sight of colourful beach towels on the floor in all the rooms. Mrs. P. got used to getting wet feet and we didn’t have to carry her outside anymore. We got into the habit of having self-made stilts ready to lift the furniture. But then the mould started. Our walls turned black, so we washed them with chlorine. Two days later the mould was back. It was bad. And then we learned something fascinating: where there’s mould, there are booklice. Never heard of them? Nor had I, but now I am a booklice expert. Our walls were covered with them, and if you took a closer look you could see them crawling about. It was horrid! In my mind, our home turned into one of those nightmare places that are eating you alive. At night, I was sure to hear the  booklice munching, and I could feel them getting under my skin and into my ears and nose… Luckily, our lease was up anyway, so I contacted our realtor and within 10 days we had found a new home and arranged for our 3rd move since coming here. Yay.

The move was a freakin’ disaster. We had asked for two days of packing and moving, yet the moving company convinced us to do all in the same day. Never listen to moving companies, honestly. After 12 hours of packing and schlepping they were not nearly done. More trucks were ordered but there was none available. Paco and Jose showed up with their little family vans where they tried to squeeze in the rest, but it didn’t work either. New permissions for our fenced-in community were required, we were running back and forth, the new apartment wasn’t ready yet, so we had to cram everything into the living room, all furniture, all boxes, it was a desperate sight. Then the movers had to come back after the weekend to carry the rest over into our new home, and still, we had to stuff everything into the living room so in the end, we couldn’t even set foot into it.

That was about one third of our moving disaster. Looks like fun, huh?

That was about one third of our moving disaster. Looks like fun, huh?

Mr. R. was all busy those days and couldn’t get away even for an hour to help me sort things out what with a baby is a bit of a hassle. So I arranged for some strong helpers who agreed to meet me at lunch time. In the end they showed up at 5pm, but finally, things were moving and we were glad when we actually were able to sleep in our new bedroom.

The next morning we found our adjacent bathroom completely under water – the air condition was leaking. The next day, I almost blew up the entire building due to wrong insulation material behind the oven. Luckily, Mr. R. was at home to pull the oven out and discover a cosy little fire. Soon after that, we left for some family time in Europe, and ever since we got back, everything seems to be more or less under control. We now live downtown Playa which I enjoy so much more than living in what my mum called “the ghetto”. True, we sometimes cannot sleep because of mariachi music outside. When you open the door you take a bath in fried chicken smell thanks to the restaurants downstairs. But the beach is one block away, so far we haven’t had any tarantulas, nor cockroaches, and more importantly, it stays bloody dry in here – when the A/C is working properly that is! (Oh, and if you are still there, Mrs. Cakelady: I have a French patisserie just around the corner, so I can stuff my face with croissants and cake all day long!)

So that’s my little and long overdue update. Thanks for still hanging in there, and I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas!

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!

It’s all fun and games at the Mayan Riviera – or is it?

I’ve just come downstairs, sweaty and exhausted. It’s a good thing you can’t see me, believe me. Why am I sweaty? Not because I did some kick-ass workout, let me tell you. No, I was mopping up water. You see, it started raining again. After our last rainy adventure, Mr. R. discovered that those geniuses of builders built in the door leading to the roof top the wrong way, so the outside is on the inside and vice versa. So the little thingy that is supposed to keep the water out is on the inside. How very convenient. At least the house is waterproof from the inside.

That's the paradise part of the deal!

That’s the paradise part of the deal.

And while I was merrily mopping and moping, I was thinking of a conversation I recently had with a friend of mine,  a Mexican lady who also used to live abroad, but came back with her European husband to try how they’d like living here. She surprised me by telling me that she would actually prefer to live someplace else, but that her husband is the one who refuses to leave. And I can see why, I mean, it is just stunning out there with the turquoise sea, the white beaches and all. People are genuinely friendly, everything and everyone is pretty relaxed. If you are into golfing and water sports, you can’t go wrong either.

What I understand is that this area is unlike every other area in Mexico – at least, that’s what everybody tells me. When I ask people from different parts of Mexico how they like living here, a lot of them say, “I like it, because I have a job.” Or, “I like it, because this area is so safe.”  It all seems pretty welcoming at first glance, and there are most certainly beautiful things to enjoy here. But like everything and everywhere: Nothing is perfect!

Another friend of mine put it in a nutshell when she said, “This place is paradise – if you get the chance to get away on a regular basis.” And yes, I do know a lot of expats who spend about 6 months of the year abroad and just come back to relax.

I remember when we got here, I felt like this was going to be one big vacation. And I was joking around that my husband’s company now made up for our honeymoon we once had to cut short in order to move to Seattle. Well, we had our honeymoon here for about 2 months – which definitely made up for the lost time on Hawaii. Then we moved out of the resort and into our new home, and that’s when I got a first glimpse of everyday life.

Yes, there are things, nobody tells you before you move to the Riviera Maya.

So if you consider living here, this checklist might help you to determine whether you are ready for this Caribbean adventure or not:

A bit of water.

A bit of water.

Play rainy season:

  •  Set your entire house under water and let the water stand over night. Remove water in the morning. Repeat for a week and see how you like the experience.
  •  Put on a cocktail dress, squeeze your feet into high heels and put on lipstick. Then head to the nearest spa and request access to the steam room. Stay in there for at least 3 hours. Maybe you can persuade someone to pour you a glass of white wine so you get the full cocktail hour experience.
  • Take your car to the next public open air pool and drive through the water for an hour. Maybe you can get some mariachi radio station to keep you entertained?

Test your patience muscle:

  • Ask a friend to cut off your electricity and then make a plumber appointment for you within the next 3 days without telling you when. Sit around and wait and see if you like it.
  • Do the same thing with the water supply.

Ready for some fun?

  • Visit the next funfair and hop on the bumper cars. Drive around for an hour to pretend it’s rush hour in the city.
  • If you intend to give birth in Mexico or undergo any kind of surgery, ask some friends to strip you to a bed for the amount of time that procedure would take and play some Mariachi music real loud.
  • Try to find someone who can set loose cockroaches, millipedes, geckos and whatnot in your home. Maybe in addition, they can throw in a tarantula as special surprise. Also, try to raise ants in your kitchen.
  • Invite your friends for a supermarket scavenger hunt: Everyone goes and hides products in various supermarkets in town. Then hand out and receive shopping lists and go look for those products. This might even add a more festive note to the Easter holidays.
  • And last, but not least, as we must not forget that this a touristy area: Go to a typical spring break location and mingle with the teenagers. Ask some random adults to come too and hand out free liquor. Lean back and enjoy.

Oh dear, have to rush. It started to rain again!

How I ended up in my nightgown under an umbrella in the garden in the middle of the night

Still I am trying to catch up on all the award stuff, but life in Mexico has been rather turbulent these past few months. You know, rainy season is in full swing. Doesn’t sound exciting? Well, it actually can be pretty exciting!

As a matter of fact, I always love those first few grey days that remind me of autumn. Finally, it’s time to cuddle up on the sofa with some hot chocolate and a book, a sleeping baby on my lap, and when I keep the A/C on, I can bamboozle myself into thinking that Christmas were around the corner. Might not sound tempting to you, but I am just not this eternal summer kind of gal. I miss autumn and winter.

So when the first heavy rainfalls started, I felt very content and was determined to get as cosy as possible. Until I opened our front door. You see, our front porch was gone and the water was just about to enter our hallway. That’s when we put our furniture on stilts and put a towel in front of the door to absorb the water – just in case. But so far, no harm done. Apart from the water that came in through the roof, but that’s an in-built feature in many homes here, and we are pretty used to it.

She does look like a princess, doesn't she?

She does look like a princess, doesn’t she?

But we have one family member who never gets used to the water: Our dog Mrs. P. Some of you may recall that I rescued Mrs. P. from the streets. Now you might think that a street dog should be used to rain, right? Well, poor Mrs. P. had been tethered for a long time and couldn’t get out of the rain, so naturally, she dreads getting wet. Or she is a princess. Whatever. Fact is, she won’t step outside as long as she only hears the sound of a light drizzle. And as long as we don’t train her to use our bathroom, this will continue to be an issue.

That very morning, we had an appointment and didn’t want to leave her at home. But there was no way, Mrs. P. would have walked the way to the car! Instead, Mr. R. took off his shoes and his shirt, rolled up his trousers and carried her to the car. (And I did the same with little F., only that I left on my shirt – those paparazzi are everywhere, after all.) What can I say? We didn’t look remotely as sexy as people on TV in these situations.

Late at night, Mrs. P. woke me up for she needed to use the bathroom. Apparently, she had forgotten about the rain, but when I opened the door to the terrace, she looked at me reproachfully and refused to step into the garden. So I grabbed an umbrella and a biscuit (mmhm, chocolate flavour, her favourites!) and went outside myself. I made a mental snapshot of myself: cowering under an umbrella in my nightgown in the middle of the night pretending to sniff at a dog treat in order to get my dog to pee. Well, Mrs. P. did what she was supposed to do, and we went back to bed.

Fancy a swim?

Fancy a swim?

When we got up the next morning, our entire ground level was flooded. I mean, the entire level. So we had to move all the furniture to dry the floor underneath and had to empty all our closets for there was water everywhere. Everything inside the closets was soaked, too. All the boxes and suitcases, and everything inside those boxes and suitcases, so we had to empty those, too… – you get the picture. So Mr. R. and I were running around in our night attires, hair unkempt, trying to keep the damage as minimal as possible. It was one of those glamorous moments that life hands you every now and then. Then we got aware of the state of our garden. Except there was no garden but instead, our house was in the middle of a muddy lake. The pool water had turned black, and there were frogs jumping about. No kidding.

Do you know these situations when you pause and think that this can’t be real? I was sure that I was in the middle of some bizarre dream. Or the Truman Show. Then little F. started crying in his nursery, and I ran upstairs – and whoosh, there I slipped and crashed on the floor for now the water was not only dripping through the ceiling but also came gushing in through the door leading to the rooftop terrace. And our staircase had already turned into a mini waterfall. Oh, the gadgets that come with Mexican construction! Well, my hair was still unkempt, but now my nightgown was soaked, and my ankle was swollen and blue. When I was little, my dad would say in these situations, “This will all be forgotten by the time you get married.” Now I am married, but I guess this will all be forgotten by the time I move into that nice nursing home in Florida.

Once the ground floor was more or less dry, I started mopping up the water upstairs. However, since the rain didn’t stop and little F. had an exceptionally hungry day, it seemed I could never finish this task, and I still wonder how I managed but I did.

The next day, the sun came out again. We removed the furniture stilts, all the big towels in front of all doors, the pool guy came and cleaned the pool and it would have almost seemed like a dream – had it not been for all those frogs still hanging out in the pool.

Some amorous frogs in our pool.

Some amorous frogs in our pool.

So when some concerned friends or family members ask me whether life would get boring, I have to say no. No, it doesn’t. Aren’t I lucky?