Two more sleeps and it will be “wheels up” for me. Buh-bye, New Mexico. I’m returning to Chile, two days after my permanent residency visa has expired.
I’ll be entering Chile as a “tourist” for the first time in six years. Whew. How’s that gonna feel?
I guess I’ll find out on Wednesday morning. Since there’s no one renting the AirBnB apartment the day before my arrival, the owner is graciously allowing me to check in early that day with no extra fees.
Guess where I spent last weekend.
In case you don’t recognize the location, I was in beautiful Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That’s a photo of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
I was in Milwaukee to attend the Women in Travel Summit, #WiTS17, produced by She’s Wanderful. I’ve attended various conferences over the years, but none that amazed me like this one.
It’s 5:30 on a Friday afternoon. I’m doing laundry upstairs and, in between washing and drying, I decide to have a snack. So I pour myself a glass of wine and open the jar of salted nuts. A delicious, crunchy snack, I’m munching away when, suddenly, I bite into something that’s hard. Harder even than the toasted almonds in the nut mix.
With a sinking feeling, I’m spitting out semi-chewed nuts, along with half of my tooth. Most of us have been there. It’s like having a mouth full of shrapnel.
It’s my original, penultimate molar on the bottom, left side. The ultimate molar fell apart a few years ago. All efforts to save it failed, so it was removed, and I opted not to replace it. Uh-oh, is it too late to rethink that decision?
I reach for the phone to call the dentist’s office, reminding myself that it’s 5:30 on the Friday of a holiday weekend. What are the chances of getting hold of the dentist now?
But I am in Chile, where people work late. The kindly receptionist, who answers on the first ring, “Hola Sally,” takes my information and promises to consult with the doctor as soon as she finishes with a patient. She calls me back minutes later.
I’m going in at 6:45 for whatever temporary fix they can give me to get through the weekend. Next week, I guess she’ll fix it for real, or at least give me the bad news that it’s irreparable and I need a root canal and an implant or a bridge or some other such apparatus.
It feels like falling dominoes, losing one tooth after another, Makes me wonder if I’m going to end up eating only gruel and pudding in my old age. Note to whoever might be feeding me: I dislike gelatinous foods, particularly tofu and jello.
Today is my birthday. Like the old vaudevillian Jack Benny, who never admitted being older than 39, I’ve stopped counting.
People who know me best, know that my cake will be chocolate, but I couldn’t resist posting this photo of a Cherbluble.
It is pie, baked inside of a cake. Actually, it’s three pies, cherry, apple, and blueberry, baked in red, white, and blue cake layers. This indulgence only sounds appropriate after a dinner of Turducken, another over-the-top gastronomic creation. Think I’ll stick with my chocolate cake.
On one of my birthdays several years ago, my son sent me this poem, author unknown:
“Count your garden by the flowers,
Never by the leaves that fall.
Count your days by golden hours.
Don’t remember clouds at all.
Count the night by stars, not shadows.
Count your life with smiles, not tears.
And with joy on this, your birthday,
Count your age by friends, not years.”
I have received cards, calls, messages, and notes from Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, Chile, Canada, and from sea to shining sea. In friendships, I am “old” and very, very rich.
But I’m still only admitting to 39!
Recently, I was reading one of those articles that floats around on Facebook. It was called “7 surprising things that make you live longer.” That got my attention. I discovered that:
1. According to researchers, smiling in photographs is good for you. The theory is that people who smile in photos are genuinely happier than people who don’t, supposedly a reflection of well-being. These animated people tend to live up to seven years longer than non-smilers. I don’t know how much I smile in daily life, but I can smile when someone says “Cheese!” or “Whiskey!”, as they do here in Chile. Does that mean I’m actually happier or just a good at smiling on cue?
2. Next on the list was having “positive” initials. Huh? My initials, “SR,” seem neutral. They don’t indicate anything negative, but neither are they positive, whereas initials such as ACE, WOW or VIP can allegedly add over four years to your life. I might have to reconsider my nom de plume.
3. Number Three is getting married. While they claim that married people live longer, I’ve been there-done that, and I’m certain that and the divorce that followed took a few years off my life. I’m in the minus column on this one.
4. Being slightly overweight is Number Four. No problem. I’ve had this one licked for years.
5. Having religious beliefs helps deal with stress and often creates beneficial social bonding. No argument.
6. It’s no surprise that Number Six is also about being social. People who have a strong social network tend to feel less stressed and depressed and often live longer than those who do not. I’m seeing a pattern here.
7. Last, but not least…laughter. Studies have proven that laughter can lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and boost your immune system. I once took a laughter class where the teacher explained it all to us. Laughter suppresses our fight-or-flight response and stimulates the vagus nerve which promotes healing.
In Santiago, there is a laughter group which meets once a month in Barrio República. The facilitator leads games that encourage the participants to laugh. At first, you feel ridiculous, then only silly, and afterward lighter and happier. If you’d like information about this laughter group, you can visit Alex de la Risa’s Facebook page.
Let’s see. It looks like I need to be silly, social, and smiley, even if I have to fake it until I feel it. When I add up the above and subtract out the minuses, I might gain a few years, if the Santiago smog doesn’t get me first.