I WAKE ON MY OWN two minutes before the alarm goes off at 6 a.m. Do I have a built in clock or am I anxious about an interview with the Immigration Service in Baltimore? After 45 minutes of "modified yoga" exercises. I fix my carrot and beet juice, eat my papaya, swallow an alphabet of vitamins. I must be in my top form as an interpreter. Monday
At the Federal Building in Baltimore (where I have to go because I live in Bethesda), I am a bit baffled at my interviewer's few questions and his attitude. He wants to know why I travel abroad so much. I tell him I attend international conferences as an interpreter or translator. He is unimpressed, takes a new photograph of me. later, my attorney tells me the interview has gone very well. He is talking from obvious experience, but I don't see it.
Back, home, I put on my second hat, as a correspondent for a Brazilian newspaper. My editor wants a recap on NASA's story about Venus explorations. I get from NASA a set of photographs and a mass of basic data. The rest of the day goes into writing and rewriting the story and checking it on the phone. If mine were a rich paper -I- wouldn't have to do anything else. But it isn't, so I am thankful to be able to work as a linguist. Tuesday
Out of habit I get up at 6 again. I call it "discipline" and the family is duly impressed. The real reason is that I want to get to the kitchen before them. My exercises go more slowly than ever. Since I had a rear-end collision two years ago (a sitting duck in a stalled car), I have neck and back pains, so I avoid "real" yoga, concentrate on low-level "asanas."
As I make the juice, I feel despondent. At my age, is it worth going through all this, denying myself eggs, pancakes, toast, marmalade, coffee? In a few days, my father will be 91. My grandfather was 94 when he died. It's a long-living family, but I think of dad's aches and pains and decide I don't want to follow in his steps. Wednesday
The day's work is cut out for me. After sending the Venus piece off, I dive headlong into articles for the Air Force University journal.
I take two hours boning up on ear and hearing terminology. Today I am escorting a lady from Argentina on a visit to Gallaudet College for the Deaf.
At the college, they wonder whether in Brazil we speak Portuguese or Spanish. I explain that I am a hybrid, a Spanish Jew who was born and reared in Brazil, so I have two "mother tongues." Later, I picked up Italian, French and English.
A very interesting visit. The hosts were delightful, informative, patient. My client asked objective and to-the-point questions. She was happy with the replies. Thursday
My mail is mostly junk. There is a press release about an agency that is offering material in Spanish and another about a visiting soft drink dealer, with photos. Do they expect correspondents to use any of this?
Spend half the day as an interpreter for a couple who come to see an orthopedist about their daughter's severed toes. In the afternoon I mostly help a friend to edit and proofread a booklet on economic development.
An urgent appeal on the phone when I get home. A woman from Brazil implores me to pick up an airline ticket that she had ordered by mail. She says she's being kept prisoner in District Heights by her pregnant daughter and son-in-law. Says they want a free baby sitter. She doesn't tell me how she learned of me. I have only 20 minutes before the airline office closes. But the ticket is still there. I go and pick it up. Friday
No answer from the lady's phone. I'm getting nervous because the ticket is for Saturday evening. At last she calls from a neighbor, says the son-in-law disconnected the phone. She asks me to take the ticket to her on "the other side of the world" from Bethesda. Minutes later the son-in-law phones me, calls me names, accuses me of butting into a family affair. I refuse to deliver the ticket to him.
I dig up some background on the story and, more sure of my ground, drive to the woman's home. The whole family is there. I refuse to argue the merits of the case but tell them that even if the old lady is their "dependent," unbalanced" and "deranged," they cannot force her to stay, that is unlawful. After an hour he relents, promises to drive his mother-in-law to National Airport Saturday.
But just to be on the safe side, I ordered a limo to pick up the lady. Saturday
Work on medical terminology to do an English version of a dentist's scholastic papers. It is tough but my mind is not on it. I sense something is going to happen. It does.
Around 5 p.m., the Brazilian woman calls me from National in desperation. She says her son-in-law not only refused to take her but cancelled her reservation to fly out. As she speaks very little English, the attendants cannot understand her. Fortunately, I manage to persuade them "it was a mistake." Then I call J. F. Kennedy airport and tell the same story to the overseas airline people. They reinstate her reservations. She departs. Sunday
I skip the service at the Unitarian Church so that I can be near the phones. Around 2 p.m. it rings. It's the old lady, calling from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She is so grateful she sounds incoherent her voice sings with joy for "freedom." I thank her for calling. It feels good to see a kind act come to fruition.