On the weekends, either Saturday or Sunday, a lady comes to clean the house, and I have a five hour break to do whatever I want. I usually grab a bike from BIXI and bike around the city, making stops to have lunch, visit a library or a park, and so on.

Yesterday the weather forecast was disappointing for my break, the first half of my five hours was going to be sunny, the second part it was going to rain. So I headed for a calisthenics park and stretched the hell out of my body, did some body weight exercises, and enjoyed the sun.

After a while the sky turned gray, and the clouds warned that they were going to relieve themselves, so I biked to the YMCA. I parked the bike at the nearest station and begun walking. On my way there I thought "I should try making conversation, however brief, with receptionist. I only speak with my grandmother". But then I recalled that this never fails to produce awkward conversation, I guess because the other person senses that I'm not really comfortable conversing and yet I force myself to do it.

When I arrived a young guy asked the receptionist change for a $50 dollar bill. She replied that she didn't handle cash, sorry. The guy was about to leave, dejected, when I said "wait a minute, I may have change". I got my wallet out of my backpack and found the change. The kid thanked me profusely "thank you very much, sir". I'm ambiguous towards the sir.

"That was so kind of you", said the receptionist
"Why, it's just changing money", I replied shrugging my shoulders.
"Well, not many people do that", she countered.
"Perhaps people don't think about the money they're carrying when people need change", I answered.
"And there's the kindness", she said.
So I took the compliment and smiled wide.

These little interactions seem insignificant, but in my current situation they are sunshine for the soul. I no longer attach to anything my grandmother says about the quality of my actions, they reflect her own state of mind rather than my competence at carrying them out. I know she's having a rough time or in pain when she's demeaning and exceedingly controlling. When relaxed there is no praise. I sense this is good training for something which I have not experienced yet, and I will look back to this period with gratefulness to my grandmother and to myself.

Meanwhile, I treasure every bit of praise that comes my way.