A is for Apuntarse

Costarican idioms from A to Z (loosely interpreted)

A is for Apuntarse: to join, as in join in an activity, or a club (or a blog challenge). The verb matricular is also used here, but that is better translated as “enroll.” The informal is apuntarse (¿Alguien se apunta a escribir una blog A a Z?).

I’ve never been much of a joiner. Perhaps that is one reason I am an expat living along these Caribbean waters. It might also be because I lived a nomadic life in my youth;  my parents moved almost every year while I was growing up. No, we were not a military family, instead we were a political family. My father was a back room politician with the Democratic Party, a mid-century James Carville if you will.  In any event, I went to eight grade schools in eight years. So I guess I never saw the point of joining anything or even making close friends, because I was sure we would move. And we did. Outside my brothers and sisters and extended family of cousins, I can count only one friend  who I’ve kept in contact over the years. We moved a lot.

Being apart became a way of life for me, so being an expat is a natural extension of that. People always ask if I mind being a stranger in a strange country, and really the answer is, no, I don’t mind. In some ways it is easier because here I know am different. In my own country friends expected me to join book groups and other social groups, and I did do some of that when my two children were growing up,  but it has never really interested me.

Until now.

Recently I have realized the importance of joining a group of some sort. I am watching my father, also a non-joiner, in the last years of his life. He is now adrift in his late nineties, living in a memory unit in Oregon. He does not want to do crafts or join discussion groups, he does not want to go to the wine and cheese parties the staff plans or take a drive to the country. He sees no point in exercise clubs unless, like he did in his youth, you are training for the Olympics. Instead, he sits.

As he has always done, he sits in his chair with the newspaper or a book, but now he has no idea what he is reading and carrying on a conversation about politics is pointless and frustrating for him. When I visited him last January I looked at him and thought, this is what happens to isolated people in their old age. It frightened me because I see so much of myself in my father.

My mother, in her mid-nineties, is a cat of a different color. She joins book groups, tai chi groups, exercise groups, gardening groups, and is gregarious to a fault. I think sometimes she would rather be distracted by a social encounter than to seriously look at her own situation. But her mind is fully intact. So, those are my role models. One who is an introvert (and  a bit of a misanthrope), and the other could be called a gadfly. I think I need a balance of the two. I treasure my solitude and do not wish to give that up, but I do need to create a social world for myself. And I have to a degree, the Internet being what it is.

I belong to several online venues. I have an online critique group that I adore, The Internet Writing Workshop. I have participated for the last five years and developed friendships that are very close; a recent illness of one of our members caused a flurry of emails across the globe.  There is always Facebook, and it surprises me how much I really enjoy belonging to Facebook. And, I just joined a writer’s corner of the Internet, Backspace.  Now here I am in this A to Z blog challenge.

I am coming out of the woodwork. My mother always said I was a late bloomer.



  12 comments for “A is for Apuntarse

  1. 02/04/2012 at 11:46 am

    Glad to see your post, Sarah. And good luck with the challenge. I feel I’m going to learn something about Costa Rica this month. Tying “aputarse” to your parents is great and a very interesting read!

  2. 02/04/2012 at 7:10 am

    Nice post, Sarah. I totally understand how you feel. I have to force myself to be sociable. But the medical community recognizes the importance of socializing for memory, so I force myself a bit.

  3. 01/04/2012 at 4:24 pm

    Sarita, I loved your post and I share your sentiments about being a non-joiner/joiner. I love being the lone wolf, but I am concerned of what my life will be like when I reach your father’s age. I guess that’s why I’m trying to be less anti-social and get more involved with groups (albeit in online). 

    • 01/04/2012 at 5:59 pm

       Thanks, Rebeca. I’m beginning to look around at yoga and other group-type activities for the long haul.  And if I live as long as my parents it’s very long.  😉 

  4. nothought2small
    01/04/2012 at 10:49 am

    I’m glad you joined the A to Z challenge.  What a beautiful start to it!  
    Konstanz Silverbow
    A to Z co-host

    • 01/04/2012 at 11:20 am

       @nothought2small Enjoying the challenge and very happy to be here. Thanks. 

  5. wedsong
    01/04/2012 at 9:07 am

    I’m  so happy to find you. A couple of my “older lady friends” are thinking seriously of moving to Costa Rica. Can we talk about CR after April? I’m in the midst of getting rid of baggage right now. Love, Manzanita

    • 01/04/2012 at 11:19 am

       @wedsong Happy to connect after April. Costa Rica can be a wonderful place. Like anywhere, though, there are pitfalls. But that is true of Omaha or NY or Portland, Oregon.  😉

  6. francene
    01/04/2012 at 8:59 am

    This is so relevant to me. I moved a lot in my youth, then my first husband kept me isolated in Australia under the heading of mysogony. Yet I love people. Now living in the U.K., it seemes to be too late to connect with other real people around me–only the real ones on the internet are available. God, keep me from being unable to listen to others.

    • 01/04/2012 at 11:18 am

       @francene Thanks for stopping by, Francene. Those of us who moved a great deal find it hard to connect, but I’m thinking more and more about yoga groups and the like. As I said, I’m poking my head out and looking around. I don’t want to lose my brains and I think isolation is a killer. Best to you and your new life in the UK. It’s ALL better without a misogynist for company! 

  7. 01/04/2012 at 8:18 am

    I think this A to Z challenge is going to be fun. Your essay helps me understand why I feel comfortable living outside the United States, connected to the local culture, yet distant from the expectations of those who live in the United States. Here, the contrasting portraits of your parents, and your reflections about how they approach getting older, offer simple truths. Both seemed to have lived passionately and well. Ah, but when you go to the market, please have a mango. I miss those fresh mangos.

    • 01/04/2012 at 11:14 am

       @bluebethley I have mangoes in the yard right now, Beth. There is nothing like one right off the tree.  I think a lot of expats are loners, introverts, and misfits. It’s easier for us. I imagine a person who had a tight-knit group of friends would find it hard. In fact, my mother, who lived on a sailboat for 20 years, always said it was the women who had a hard time with boat life. She did not, and her current foray into “joining” is an answer to aging. Smart, too, I think. 

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