Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Trust me, you'll want a diamond!"

When J proposed, on the first morning of 2013, knee on the ground by the Prinsengraacht in Amsterdam, he did not have a ring to go with the “will you marry me?” part. So we went to breakfast without any external (sparkly) sign of the sweet moment we had just lived. In our celebratory mood, we rewarded, J’s black lab mix with croissants and smoked salmon (he never had such dog-inappropriate-decadent food again). The poor guy had been milling around, hungry and surprised that he hadn’t been fed yet so he deserved that special engagement treat.
That there was no put-ring-in-the-finger moment didn’t surprise me, after all I actually knew J’s thoughts on that infamous line “nothing says I love you like a diamond ring” touted by the tacky commercials of mall jewelry stores. I had seen my share of engagement rings as plenty of my friends had tied the knot recently; from a big rock to a beautiful yellow diamond set on filigree to a more conventional solitaire diamond on platinum… I admired them but I didn’t aspire to the same, it was just not my thing (or so I thought). But I surprised myself by feeling a little bit of disappointment for not having a cool ring to mark the event. Something modern and special and unique…definitely not conventional nor multifaceted…certainly not something that cost (I had heard) the prescribed 2 ½ months of salary.
Later that day I had an epiphany…I actually already had my engagement ring. It was sitting in my shoebox in google town, back in California: a white gold double band with a single pearl, perfectly imperfect like all fresh water pearls are. I had bought it in Portugal many years before, for no particular reason other than its simple and understated beauty. The first time I wore it, my mom and sister mentioned that it looked like an engagement ring so I never wore it again. It went back in the box and was almost forgotten. Until the engagement day.
I came back to California ahead of J and immediately put it on my finger only to realize it was was too big – either I had lost finger weight or had I planned to wear it on a different finger? Still, it stayed on my finger until I found some time to go to the local jeweler to have it sized. The first person to see it was my friend A as she was literally getting ready to deliver her second son. Her parents, having recently arrived from overseas, were sick and at home with A’s other son (still a baby himself) so I offered to come to the hospital for the last part of labor. In fact, my biggest contribution was to keep her company as her husband took frequent cigarette breaks. In between contractions I told her that J had proposed and showed her the ring. She cried, truly happy for me, pumped with hormones and welcoming a distraction from the crowning baby. She said the ring was beautiful. Having no engagement ring nor wedding band herself, I guess dabbling in the story or provenance of mine was a non subject for her.
With time I started sharing the news with my friends, not as a big announcement but more like a matter-of-fact thing. And milliseconds after I had finished telling them that I was engaged, their eyes invariably zoomed, in no discrete way, on my ring finger. The comment “aww, a pearl, how different, how unconventional” from my friend with the rock sounded like “oh dear, you got ungagged to a poor man”. It was hardly unexpected from someone who, years before, suspecting her own impending engagement, told me to advise the fiancée to-be, if he ever sought my advice, to “buy the biggest diamond he could afford”. “It is an Asian thing” she later said when pressed to defend her desire to get a big rock. Then there was the husband of the friend with the yellow-diamond-on-filigree who asked J how did he get away with not buying me a diamond. We had a good laugh when J told me his answer “I didn’t have to bribe her with fancy rings like other men have to”. They are still friends so I don’t think my friend’s husband took it personally.
But the funniest ring-related situation came from a dear friend, a happy and outgoing no-nonsense mom of three, born and raised in South America and married to the sanest psychiatrist I have ever met. J was out of town and I was having dinner at their house, kids around, when the conversation shifted to the engagement ring. Her husband said he loved pearls and complimented our choice. My friend didn’t really say much about the ring. But when her teenager daughter, undoubtedly influenced by her dad’s approval and in one of those sweet day-dreaming fueled moments said “I’ll also want a pearl on my engagement ring” her mom, until then mute on the appropriateness of a pearl, let out an emphatic “No, trust me, you’ll want a diamond”.
One of my gym teachers, herself currently engaged, asked me “is this your engagement ring?” and after hearing the affirmative answer said “it is so you” which by now I was quite used to hearing. In fact, it was kind of the go-to comment. And I believe that, in many cases, it was a genuine one…because most friends didn’t know the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the ring, they were actually giving undue props to my fiancée for picking such a “me” ring! So, in the end, I am actually quite proud of not having a diamond. I like this “I’ll be a bit different”, and I take some sort of weird pleasure of not keeping up with my girlfriends. But then again, I remember that as a teenager, I (and others) always wanted to be different, unique… to “fit out” was the cool way to be those days.
Anyhow, this whole thing about diamonds and engagement rings is hardly interesting but somehow at the time I saw it as providing a sort a glimpse into the values and beliefs of my friends from a totally unexpected angle…but of course, it has all to do with De Beer’s greed that made up the “A diamond is forever” tradition (and the peer pressure it created) that lasts to this day. Although J is hardly cheap and could afford a diamond ring, I respect his personal convictions regarding the (tainted) life of diamonds: their connection to child labor, war, nepotism, slavery, so far from the thoughts of beauty, happiness and joyful commitment that they are supposed to represent. Plus, diamonds are not even rare! I am sure there are plenty of people out there that believe that a diamond, no matter how big and how clear, does not define the depth of love. Including my friends.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Livros sem cheiro

Ainda nao li um e-book. Nao tenho Ipad nem Nook nem Kindle. Leio menos livros mas os que leio sabem-me bem. Ja nao sei onde, mas quase que aposto que foi num blog que li que nao nos devemos forcar a ler livros que nao gostamos. Agora concordo. E entao vou lendo devagarinho ou relendo livros e frases e coisas que gosto. Sem a voracidade antiga mas com mais deleite. Eu acho.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Running playlist

Nestes dias que passam sempre a correr, eu entro em competicao com eles para ver quem cruza a meta primeiro. O nike+ diz que ainda nao chego aos calcanhares dos dias, que sao mais velozes e nao se deixam ficar para tras, sabem muito bem o que aconteceu a lebre tonta e vaidosa. Sao espertos os dias, nao se deixam enganar pelos meus passinhos de tartaruga coxa (ou de pelicano ferido). Sacanas. Ainda havemos de nos encontrar e nesse momento juro que lhes vou passar tamanha rasteira que os ponha fora de comissao por 72h (no minimo). O objectivo supremo e 1 semana no hospital dos dias, com ambos os tendoes de aquiles inflamados.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Clarice Lispector

Foi atraves da Luisa e do Juan que cheguei a escrita da Clarice Lispector – it will blow your mind disse o Juan e a Luisa transcrevia pequenas frases no mural do facebook. Li o meu primeiro livro “Lacos de familia” e achei que aquilo era a Clarice. Nao era. O seguinte “Perto do coracao selvagem” custou-me mais e o terceiro “A paixao segundo G.H.” e claramente dificil. Mistico, denso, quase impenetravel. Desisti e comecei a ler a fabulosa biografia escrita por Benjamin Moser “Why this world”. Nao tenho por habito ler biografias mas esta e incrivelmente eficaz a “traduzir” os varios momentos, contextos, traumas, duvidas e paradoxos que definem a Clarice Lispector e que ela destila numa escrita peculiar em acentuacao e sintaxe. Quando acabar, volto a carga e hei-de perceber, assim as sinapses me ajudem, um centesimo da obra dela.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The secret life of bees

Hoje fiz bolachas. Daquelas que tem uma covinha onde se poe um pouco da compota preferida. A minha e de abobora porqueira. Com nozes e pau de canela, receita da mae da Gracinha. Mas aqui nao ha aboboras dessas por isso usei compota de alperce do safeway. E basica mas serve. As bolachas ficaram boas. Resolvi escrever. Nao porque as bolachas tenham ficado boas mas porque ja nao fazia bolachas ha seculos. E tambem ja nao escrevia ha muito tempo.
Kiss kiss


Friday, September 03, 2010

Not mesmerized...

Pior do que ignorancia total e ter um conhecimento tao vasto que se torna quase doloroso explicar porque quero continuar a ler Amis ou que nao gostei do “Travesulas de una nina mala”, e que insisto em encontrar frases fantasticas em Saramago…e que tambem nao me incomodam nem a densidade pastosa do Lobo Antunes nem o declinio da Isabel Allende (chicks like her). “O velho que lia romances de amor” tem um lugarzinho cativo no meu coracao mesmo que seja considerado mediocre pelos senhores entendidos com doutoramentos em Jorge Luis Borges.
E agora, so para meter nojo, vou continuar a ler o "Time's arrow", que tedio. Mas no dia em que ler um e-book, please take me out of my misery.
Ja agora, fica aqui a confissao de que tambem nao posso ouvir o Pedro Aznar em Dream of the return sem me emocionar.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lullaby, kiss goodnight

Hail to the Goddess. Enough said.