Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stoic Maxim

I am reading a novel by Norman Rush. It is slow and cerebral and is written in a way that I have never encountered. It was hard to read at first, but has grown on me. I came across a line, what the protagonist/narrator calls a Stoic Maxim: Of all things in existence some things are in our power and some are not. It is defended as "different from the pop variant" which is chanted at AA meetings. Nothing against AA meetings, or the idea behind the serenity prayer, but I like this one more... less trite, somehow.

"some things are in our power and some are not." Yes, I am feeling that.

The contract on our house fell through. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it is not to be considered a tragedy. I am disappointed though, and it definitely means a delay, which will seem trivial, I am sure, years from now.

I was chatting with a Chilean friend the other day who gave me some advice: when you trumpet things, sometimes they do not work out in your favor.

Apparently, I trumpeted my success selling the house too early on the infamous facebook status update and now I am paying for it. It is not the first time I have tempted fate, at any rate.

I told him to suck it, because I am mean and was in a foul mood. Plus, he harbors some resentment towards me and it seeps out sometimes in his commentary, and really, that is not a very sympathetic thing to say.

My perspective is a little less romantic, perhaps. I am more of the mind that things may or may not work out regardless of whether or not you share the news, but occasionally you feel a little sheepish (I don't) sharing seemingly-good news precipitously.

It has been a frustrating few days. After several fits of rage, including several aimed at our realtor (mostly deserved), there is nothing left to do but accept that some outcomes are out of my control and move on.

Also premature, perhaps, has been my preparation for a winter arrival in Santiago. I have searched high and low for winter clothes (in Texas, no less) for the kids, sweaters for me (who wears them here?) I even bought two of these cute little kiddie hot water bottles... (guatero con cola!)* or (guatero con patas?)

Don't you just want to cuddle up with one of those at night?

At this rate we will be filling them with ice cubes at the beach.

*Guatero is the Chilean word for hot water bottle. They have a term "guatero con uñas" (water-bottle with fingernails--referring to your significant other who keeps you warm at night. I am officially coining (don't really know if I am the first) the term "guatero con cola" water-bottle with a tail (or with feet (patas))


mosey said...

I hardly call what you did "trumpeting" your success. Or even tempting fate. But I do like that quote from Norman Rush, which goes nicely with something I've always called the "sphere of influence" - meaning that anything outside what I can physically reach is beyond my control. It's made me take a step back and a deep breath on occasion when I need it.

As I said to you earlier, I'm so sorry that things fell through and I'm going to send a shout out to the universe for a quick solution.

(p.s. my word verification is "SONSHNIT" which is close enough to sonuvabitch which seems appropriate....)

Eileen said...

this thing that your Chilean friend said is indefensible. It is like saying "I told you so." Where is the dislike button?

I'm very sorry that your house sale didn't work out. You must be gutted, as the British say. Ugh.

Also, you might want to reconsider guatero con cola, because cola is a really old fashioned (possibly offensive) word for gay. Maybe make it colita? Though that's Mexican slang for a joint. Oh dear. Can't win for trying, can you?

And my verification word is windist, which I guess just means we'll all have to go where the wind takes us.

Strength to you! Better contract to follow! Trumpet whatever you like, superstitions be darned.

Abby said...

Awww sorry! That blows. But I really like that quote. It's super hard to remember sometimes, especially for me who is a bit of a control freak.

I hope a new buyer comes your way quickly!

Heather said...

So sorry to hear that the contract fell through Annje. I can relate to what you are saying since I am experiencing similar frustrations with my townhouse. Yesterday I was all ready to update my status and shout from the rooftops that I had found a tenant and then the lady told me she needed a few more weeks to decide. What?!?

So now it's in the hands of a realtor to deal with and I'll just sit back and try to work out my control issues...

And I am not superstitious either and do believe that if something falls through it is for a good reason, but I like to be the one giving out that advice, not the one on the receiving end of it!

Margaret said...

Sorry Annje! For you and for us too! You know how impatient we are for you to get here!
Independent of the whole "trumpeting" comment... remember that Chilean expression that goes "no hay mal que por bien no venga"... Let's hope that the next buyer turns up with an even better deal!
And about the guatero... Eileen's right- you may get some funny looks if your kids tell friends at school that mom has them snuggle up with un guatero con cola...
how about focusing on the other end and say "guatero con carita"!!

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Okay, you have me thinking. "some things are in our power and some are not." I don't know. Interesting, yet the spectrum offers so many variations I'm still confused. 90% in our power and 10% not...10% in our power and 90% not. Hmmm. Are we held accountable in both instances? Maybe 90% in one and 10% in the other, if accountability is = to power. Anyway, I think you are handling your contract situation so well. It's difficult to be able to think of how trivial something will feel years down the road in the present, when it is all taking place, but you are already there. Very wise. Very healthy perspective. Bravo! The way we frame our experiences makes all the difference. To trumpet or not seems irrelevant, to me. My word verification is "prits". This means nothing to me.

Annje said...

Thanks for all the sympathy and well-wishes.

Eileen and Margaret, yes I know about "cola", but perhaps this will be my one-woman opposition to the way in which simple, ordinary words are hijacked for purely degenerate purposes. Why can't a tail just be a tail sometimes?

Marmo said...

That line "some things are in our power and some are not", makes me remember the Chilean general response to the earthquake, like "ok, that was terrible, let´s move on."
As you say, that delay will be less important in the future; maybe there´s something you need to do yet, and you haven´t, who knows.
And about the water-bottle-with-a-tail, when I read it english I thought it was cute, but in Chilean Spanish... Let me tell you, that tail could be anything that our Chilean minds can imagine.
If you tell someone that you have a "guatero con cola" in Chile, that would be definitely out of your power to stop the laughs, much like the "I don´t do wet balls".
I have the bread recipe, I´ll post it soon, I promise. xD

Margaret said...

Annje- Ok, I was ready to go with your call for a return to simple words--until I read Marmo's comment... and yeah, then I remembered that I can feel pretty, oh so pretty and witty and gay... or, um, wait... is that what I really meant you to understand? So certain words get usurped and while WE may want to champion their roots and causes, maybe we shouldn't put that on the shoulders (or guatitas) of our children...
And what's wrong with a guatero con carita anyway?
Soooo looking forward to these conversations in person!

Annje said...

I love how concerned you all are for my social well-being! No worries, I won't be using guatero con cola, nor will my kids. I just like how it sounds. And I won't really be fighting for a return to the innocent use of "tail". But it is fun to think I have that kind of energy.

Maggie May said...

what an irritating comment from your 'friend'

i like how you brought that quote into your life. i do that all the time. a reason i love books.

hang in there.

Bex said...

I will never understand why some people who call themselves our friends feel the need to make cutting remarks for no other reason than to make us feel bad. It just makes no sense to me whatsoever.

And I completely disagree with what he said anyway. I have just a tiny suspicion that what happened would have happened even if you'd not told a soul. Like, duh. Furthermore, the entire concept that fate, if their is such a thing, could be that capricious that should we show too much happiness it would take it away makes me want to throw things. Wouldn't want to live in that kind of reality!

I'm so sorry that it fell through. What a huge disappointment! But as you quoted, some things are just out of your control. There is a sort of peace in knowing that.

Hopefully it will all turn out for the best. See, that's what I prefer to believe about fate. It's working things out for good, eventually, somehow.

staceyd said...

I with you, sharing our joys and sadnesses when they happen isn't "trumpeting," it's sharing. It doesn't effect outcome. The world's too random for that. Fingers crossed for another contract very soon.

Danielle said...

Man! That sucks about your house! I hope it works out well in the future. Good attitude about it though. It probably won't matter in time...

mrs.notouching said...

This "trumpeting" nonsense is very strong in my family... I made a mistake and framed my ultrasound picture of Leila as a gift to my mother. She gasped in horror and immediately gave me a lecture on not "trumpeting" and showing things off and speaking about how quickly I got pregnant... The day she finds my blog or my Facebook account will be the day she gets a heart attack.
Sorry about the house, but I truly believe that it had nothing to do with you sharing... it was just a way for a universe to point out some ignorant "friends" you have on FB.

teamawesomesquared said...

There is no shortage of winter clothes available in Santiago right now... I was just there and there are some decent sales going on. I saw more boots than I've ever seen in my life. Just in case you don't find any luck in Texas....

Jack said...

There is another old saying.
"I will try to change the things I can change and leave alone those which I cannot change. All I need is the wisdom to know the difference.'