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Showing Up When It Hurts


When you’re three years old and King of the Tree House, there’s nothing better than slamming the trap door shut to keep out your big sister. I’m pretty sure that’s what my son Isaac was doing when his finger got in the way and he nearly took the tip clean off.

Over the next few hours, I learned a lot about motherhood. Things like, “Stop panicking. They are reacting to you. BE THE MOM HERE.” But I also learned valuable lessons about community and solidarity in the midst of pain.

SheLoves Magazine has been focused on the theme of solidarity this month, and they graciously allowed me to tell my story, even though it involves dangling finger tips. Okay, I left out the gruesome parts! But solidarity is such an important concept to me, and this experience allowed me to witness the impact others' acts of simple compassion on my own family. 


American Girl's Guide to Kissing: An Addendum

All the kissing. Saying hello. Saying good-bye. And then there's me... making it as awkward as possible for all involved.

My original American Girl's Guide to Kissing included gems like "The Smoosh Face" and "The Mrs. Robinson." But recently, I added my latest addition by personally crossing all lines of social boundaries. I affectionately call this kiss "The Line Crosser."



Our flight to New York was delayed a gazillion hours before eventually being cancelled. Then we essentially entered a foot race with everyone else in the Delta wing of the Atlanta airport as scores of flights were cancelled and everyone was rushing to customer service to rebook.

Essentially, it was madness. Oh, and did I mention it was perfect, sunny weather outside? When we'd arrived at the airport that fine morning to fly out for a weekend getaway, we were stunned to find zombie-like people wandering the terminals and sleeping on the floor. Apparently, we were all supposed to understand because it had rained two days prior. Oh, and this insanity only impacted Delta flights and was described as a major meltdown. But I digress.

When I accidentally commandeered a gate agent who graciously got us on an afternoon flight, I asked about our luggage. "Oh, we're not worrying about luggage," she told me. How nice for you, I thought.

So when our flight finally landed in New York around 9 p.m., all the passengers rushed the little office near baggage claim. The customer service rep was unaware of the foolishness happening in Atlanta, and was overwhelmed and unprepared.

Now enter the Honduran couple. I recognized them from the Atlanta airport because Billy had jumped in a couple times to translate the repeated delays for them.

"Oh, I don't speak Spanish," customer service lady proclaimed loudly and leaned back in her chair as they stood patiently at the counter. It was clear she would be serving these customers.

I was alone in line while Billy scanned the carousel, eeking out our last vestiges of hope that our bags might have miraculously arrived. What choice did I have but to get involved? I started speaking my pitiful Spanish to this couple.

"Are you fluent?" the airport employee asked me.

"No," I told her. "My husband is." As if she cared. 

"Well, can you ask them when they last saw their bags?" Seems like the very question we should be asking you, but whatever. I butchered some approximation of that question. Then, I erroneously told them their bags were still in Honduras until they reminded me they saw them at customs. Finally, I communicated the essence of wherever they are, they aren't here when I heard the wife start talking about medication.

Cue me frantically texting Billy to abandon the carousel and come help! He arrived and got everything as straightened out as it could be. As we all began to exit the little room of baggage doom, she thanked us for our help.

Naturally, I assumed she wanted to kiss me. AS WE ALL DO.

I leaned towards her, cheek first, and I saw her adjust her expectations of our farewell and realize that it was going to be hard NOT to kiss me. I heard myself thinking, "What is wrong with me?"

And that, my friends, is when I became a line crosser. She graciously kissed me because what choice did she have? I'm pretty sure I kissed her, too. People in line were definitely looking at me weird. And I just wanted to get away from it all.

She must've not been too freaked out, though, because we then proceed to do the awkward "exit together." Where you've already said good-bye, but then you squeeze out of the same door. And then they ask you where ground transportation is. And then ask you to please call their niece on your cell phone and talk to her and tell her where they are.

Come to think of it, typical lines of social interaction were being crossed left and right. I don't feel so bad about my potentially line crossing friendliness. It happens.

I did at some point refer to this encounter as "our double date with that Honduran couple," though that's probably just me taking it too far. What can I say? I see lines, and I cross them. 

How To Be A Latin Lover: Juvenile and Forward Thinking?



How To Be A Latin Lover. To be honest, I cringed when I first saw the title. Billy and I are coming up on ten years of marriage, and every once in a while I still get the "Latin lover" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) stuff. How can I say? It's not my favorite.

But then I became intrigued. The star of the film is Eugenio Derbez, a Mexican movie star. In Billy's words: “He’s so famous. He’s so funny. I mean, he’s the Spanish voice of the donkey in Shrek!” And I really loved his 2013 movie Instructions Not Included, which became the highest grossing Spanish-language film at the U.S. box office.

How To Be A Latin Lover, however, is an English release with plenty of Spanish and subtitles in the mix. According the IMDB, it's the first American film to be simultaneously released in English and dubbed in Spanish. A fact we discovered when arrived for our 5:30 pm #datenight to the theater, only to discover it was a Spanish showing without English subtitles. So we had to wait until the next English presentation because I don't know enough Spanish and Billy is not a fan of dubbing.

So what did I think?  I think the movie was fine. (How's that for a raving review?) There were definitely funny parts. Autocorrect and its effect on text messaging threats being one of my favorites. ("Give us the money or we'll lick your a$$" *kick) And we shared the theater with a loud laugh-er, so it made the movie's humor even funnier.

But I also can't say I loved it. It relied on crude humor (farting, crotch-grabbing, man in wheelchair being hit by a car, etc) in many places, which is not really my style, though I know many people love it. And the plot overall was about an adult man who seduces wealthy women-of-age to support him. Probably not a movie I personally would've chosen had it not been for the cultural elements.

However, I'm still glad I saw it. First of all, I am impressed with Derbez's ability to marry the humor and the heart-warming. Similar to Instructions Not Included, his relationship with the child actor was touching and precious without being cheesy.

I also think there's something ahead of its time about the movie. At a moment when the national narrative seems to be "Immigrants aren't welcome" and "English only," this film told a different story. Though the headliner was a Mexican moviestar who may be unknown to many U.S. moviegoers, the cast was full of familiar names for U.S. audiences, including Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, and Rob Lowe.

And bilingualism was on full display. There were definitely jokes I didn't fully get because of my limited language. At one point, I heard Billy muttering during a subtitled conversation that a joke wasn't translated well. Which, can we just pause to acknowledge that this observation means that he was listening in Spanish and reading in English simultaneously?!?! My mind is just a little bit blown.

I love seeing a film break out of the racial and cultural silos to include a diverse cast and a healthy mix of languages. And even though the content of this one may have not been my favorite, I'm glad I spent my money to support it as I hope to see more movies that bridge these gaps coming to a theater near me!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.