Today we got one major step closer to finishing the nursery. There’s an unlovely futon that we can’t really get rid of — about 3-4 times a year we have so many guests at once that we need the sleeping space. (Plus, I thought that it would be a good nap spot for this mommy!) The biggest reason we can’t get rid of it: under the futon mattress is a storage space. In a land where there are no closets, you don’t get rid of any storage that you can find.

To make this unlovely futon more palatable, I found fabric that coordinates with the bedding in the room. Then, I took this fabric to a seamstress and asked her to make a cover. I also asked her to make a sort of dust ruffle to go around the bottom. But, I am able to attach that myself. So, I really asked her to make a huge, long ruffle. (That really freaked them out.) The cover is yellow and the ruffle is blue with a green gingham trim. Then, I asked them to cover the pillows that came with the couch in blue. I didn’t want anything fancy for those. Why not? Because I had plans to fancify them myself. I’m not a super seamstress, but I can handle quite a few tasks myself. I only farmed out the stuff that I couldn’t do.

Today my hub went to pick up the stuff and he called me to tell me how it went. Apparently, the women told him that my designs I gave them were too plain and they took it upon themselves to make it “prettier.” In a land where orange and pink are considered complimentary colors, where an abundance of lace and frills adorn every living room, and where any dollar-store decoration is encased in gold or silver glitter and prominently displayed in homes, this is a scary statement. I actually started hollering: “What did they do? What did they do? What did they do?”

When I got home, I rushed in to see the damage. Fortunately, all they did was add a ruffle and some of the green gingham trim to the pillows. Oh, and they added green gingham bows to the back where the zipper for the pillow is. This wrecks my plans for fancifying the pillows, but at least it’s not hideous. I will have to make more pillows that have no frills because this is going to be my nap couch. You can’t nap on frilly pillows.

So, no real damage…. except that they didn’t listen to me! This aspect of the culture is really driving me crazy right now. I don’t think it happens to my local friends very much. I think it just happens to me and maybe the other foreigners. There’s a cartel of sweet, middle-aged women in stores and shops all over the city that refuse to listen to me. While I was giving my instructions to the seamstresses, another middle-aged lady friend of ours kept telling them different directions and confusing the matter. Why? Because she didn’t think that what I was suggesting was good. This past week my housekeeper completely rearranged my living room furniture. Why? Because she wanted to. She also took all of my organized piles in the baby room that were waiting on this or that and completely re-organized them. It took me a long time to find everything. Why? Who knows. I’ve learned that when I buy fabric, I have to lie. I can’t tell them what I’m really going to make or they won’t give me the fabric I want. I’ve already told y’all how the lady in the yarn shop won’t give me certain colors of yarn if she thinks it doesn’t match. If I ask for ice in my drinks or cold water, some shop keepers take one look at my big belly and balk. (Remember that anything cold will cause me and/or my unborn child to get swollen lymph nodes and an immediate infection.)

My language is ok, but not fluent. My cultural knowledge is good, but not vast. Therefore, until I am vast and fluent, I can’t say to them what I’d like to say: “TRUST ME! I MAY BE A FOREIGNER, BUT I AM NOT AN IDIOT!!!!”

Now I gotta get a sewing machine and learn how to sew much better. Why? Because I’m not trusting any more seamstresses over here. The next one may add shiny gold trim and orange lace to the edge of whatever I’m making.

Sigh…. thanks for letting me vent…..