Surprise!


Twins are double the fun!

My twins are visiting me this weekend and I woke up before them. They’re still sleeping, but I like the feeling of knowing they’re here with me at least for the weekend.

Sometimes, I look in the mirror and think, “You’re somebody’s father!” Some days this thought totally surprises me. I have had a few surprises in my life–some pleasant and some quite horrific. I would like to tell you about one that left me quite speechless and changed my life completely. All for the better, of course.

When I was still married, my wife didn’t feel well. I suggested that she go to the doctor, which she reluctantly did. The doctor wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with her, so he did some blood tests. I didn’t like this doctor because he wouldn’t tell her the results of her blood tests unless she went to see him in his office. He insisted that she had to go to his office for the results. I had never heard of doctor requiring you to schedule a visit to get test results. They usually tell you the results over the phone. So, she begrudgingly went. He told her that something was wrong with her liver. Then he made another appointment so she could have more blood tests done.

That meant two more visits to his office–and two more billings. Well, after the second round of tests, the doctor was pretty sure it was her liver that was causing her problems. I wasn’t convinced. Then, my health insurance denies payment for the follow-up visits to get the results of the blood tests. I, too, refuse to pay. The doctor himself calls me up demanding payment. I had never had a doctor call me in person about billing discrepancies. Somehow he didn’t seem very professional and I also didn’t believe his medical diagnosis of my wife. He called several times demanding payment. Finally, I told him that no doctor charges a patient for an office visit just to learn the results of their blood tests! He insisted that I pay him. So I told him, “If my insurance refuses to pay for those visits, they must not be legitimate charges. So I’m not paying you either!” And that was the last I heard from him.

However, my wife was still not feeling well. She saw another doctor and underwent another round of blood tests. This doctor was fairly sure something was wrong with her liver. He would have to do more tests. Déjà vu! Immediately, I make an appointment with another doctor. Another round of blood tests and–Voilà! My wife is pregnant! Okay, I was floored because this was the last thing I was expecting. But, it was much, much better diagnosis than liver or kidney problems.

Let’s see. We had a seven-year-old son. She stopped taking the pill about three years before. She was convinced that she had gone through menopause. I wasn’t, but I wanted a daughter, so I didn’t complain at all. But after two years, I adjusted my expectations and decided I was happy with only one son. We were all happy together. I was very happy with my small, intimate family. But, no! Now my wife was pregnant again! Would I get the daughter that I always wanted? I truly hoped so!

We made an appointment to get an ultrasound at Mercy Hospital. The ultrasound technician’s name is Domingo, which makes me nervous. In Spanish, domingo is a gift given to children in the form of money on Sundays. Is this Domingo my domingo? Well, I know that my wife is very scared and nervous by the fact that she may really be pregnant. When I ask her how she feels, she says, “I’m scare-vous!” Well, she goes in the ultrasound room with Domingo while I wait outside.

Finally, the door opens and I’m allowed to enter. My wife’s face is completely pale. Okay, I think, she really is pregnant! Domingo asks, “Are you ready?” I nod. Domingo scans my wife’s womb and says, “Here’s baby number one.” I immediately panic, but quietly, inwardly. Then, he says, “Here’s baby number two.” I say, “You better stop that!” He says, “That’s it. You’re having twins!”

I felt relieved that it wasn’t quintuplets!

Vocations


Now that the summer is over and I’m back in school, I truly realize how much I enjoy having the whole day off to myself. The last two summers were very memorable because I didn’t have to work and I could do whatever I wanted. I really enjoyed spending time with my sons. We always have fun together. Now that I think back, I have never held a job that I liked. I don’t think that the working life suits me. Given the options of working for a living or staying home all the time, obviously, I would stay home and not worry about going somewhere else to work for someone else. Some people would die from the boredom of not working. Not me! You’d be surprised how little it takes to keep me busy.

I'm never bored!

English


I'm visiting! I plan on going back to Mexico!

I have met a lot of Mexicans in Chicago who talk about going back to live in Mexico someday. My mother always said she was moving back to Mexico, but never did. Because of their close proximity to the U.S., many Mexicans, even those living in Mexico, feel it’s important to learn English and know a little about their northern neighbors. How many Americans have such an attitude about Mexico and Mexicans? When I was in Mexico, a lot of people knew several phrases in English. Many Mexicans had studied English in school at some point in their lives. Several of my relatives were fluent in English and they spoke English quite well. I was actually very surprised by this. And it’s not like they’re ever planning on moving to the U.S. Actually, they’re quite happy in Mexico. In fact, I met several Mexicans who had moved to the U.S. and didn’t like living here. So they moved back because they missed their family and Mexico. Most Mexicans want to live in Mexico.

Speak English! You're talking to an American!

Canas


I scared a lot of people when I looked like this! And I loved it!!

Canas in Spanish means gray hair. My gray hair started appearing in my early thirties. In some of pictures, my hair doesn’t even look gray. Sometimes it looks dark brown or black. Most of the time it looks like I have salt and pepper hair. In some pictures my hair looks completely gray. I’ve never worried much about my appearance. What you see is what you get! No hair dyes or plastic surgery for me. Despite the gray hair, I feel more energetic now than when I was younger. There’s a saying in Spanish: Con las canas vienen las ganas. This saying is difficult to translate, but it could be interpreted as, “With (gray hair) age comes desire/energy.” Okay, I did my best, but it loses something in the translation. I feel that I have more energy than my much younger colleagues, who seem to tire much sooner than me. Well, I just accept life as it comes. Life is a boxing match, so I’ve learned to roll with the punches. When I was younger, I thought that the best defense was blocking punches and punching back. However, no matter how good a pugilist you are, you will get punched. And quite often, too. So, I learned to roll with the punches.

Anyway, gray hair runs in our family. Or, so I thought. All of my uncles in Chicago had salt and pepper hair since their early thirties, and I followed the family genetic suit. But when I went to Mexico, I noticed that my male relatives in their thirties, forties, and even fifties didn’t have gray hair. And they didn’t dye their hair, either. So why do we Rodríguezes have more gray hair in America than in Mexico. Well, I’ll be honest with you, Gentle Reader. I don’t know! And it doesn’t bother me either. Except when I’m in Mexico and they ask me my age. I know that they’re trying to place me in chronological order among relatives, I being the long lost relative who finally returned to the mother country. I think it is only in these moments that I become self-conscious about my gray hair.

But I am thankful to have lived longer than I had ever expected I would as a boy. I remember watching all those old kung fu movies and fantasizing about becoming like the old kung fu master that is baddest warrior of all. You know the guy. The protagonist fights and defeats one combatant after another until at the end of the movie he confronts the deadliest warrior alive, who usually turns out to be a seemingly frail old man with long white hair and a long white beard. This was usually the best fight scene of the movie! Until the protagonist finally defeats him after a long and exciting battle. So this is how I thought I would become in my old age. Other than gradually getting older and older, I really don’t have much in common with the old kung fu master. Okay, I tried growing my hair and beard long, but no one really felt comfortable around me. So, I’m back to my short gray hair happy that, Con las canas vienen las ganas.

Con las canas vienen las ganas.

Free time


Barack Obama's house in Hyde Park.

Now that it has become quite apparent that Barack Obama will not select me has his presidential running mate, I realize that I will have a lot of free time on my hands. I’m not taking this political snub personally, B.O., because I understand that that’s how presidencies are won or lost. I don’t want to hold you back, B.O.! That will be my contribution to your presidential campaign. Trust me. My personal support for you is worth much more than my personal assets. That’s why I was kind of hoping I could be vice president. I could contribute a lot to this country as vice president, but since you have already chosen Joe Biden, I guess you’ll just have to make the best of the hand you were dealt–as will I. As election day rapidly approaches, I get this nagging sensation that John McCain won’t pick me as his running mate, either. I wish them both the best of luck with my name conspicuously missing from the slate. And, I am absolutely convinced that the independent candidate (Rafael Nadal?) doesn’t even know that I exist. Because of all the free time that I will now have from not hitting the campaign trail and pressing the flesh, I have decided to start playing chess again. Some students at UIC are starting a chess club and I am their faculty adviser. Perhaps our chess playing will help American interests at home and abroad. That’s the kind of guy I am! I always try to improve the world in my own little way!

Writing letters


My best friend!

I don’t know why, but Mexicans find it difficult to write letters to each other.

When I left Mexico, both times, I said I would write back and send pictures. Well, it took me a while took write back, but I finally wrote back! And guess who wrote back? One cousin to whom I didn’t even write. So, I felt guilty and wrote her a letter.

I wrote to my aunt and then she relayed a message to my cousin who e-mailed me telling me that my aunt said hello. This same aunt still had letters that I had written to her thirty years ago. They were tucked away in her picture box along with my Chicago Marathon medal, which I have no idea how she obtained it. Perhaps, I gave it to my mother before she went on one her trips to Mexico. Now it’s starting to come back to me. My mother said if I wanted to give something to my aunt, so I gave her my marathon medal. Actually, it was a lot easier than writing a letter. Even with the Internet we don’t seem to be writing to each other any more frequently. I still have a long list of relatives to whom I will write before my next visit. But even if I don’t, we’ll pick up the conversation right where we left off the last time. My cousin likes to IM me and that’s fine when I have time. It is a lot easier than writing letters.