Friday, December 28, 2012

Books, glorious books

Please sir, may I have one more...

Books have always been special to me. I vividly recall favorite books from my childhood, most of which have been lost in the many transcontinental moves we made, some of which I am able to easily replace, many of which I cannot. I recall the colors, the stories, the illustrations the words. I know who gave me which of my books or if I purchased it myself. Often, I am not able to recall the titles or authors. This deeply embarrasses me, but I would hope that the author would be able to recognize how much I love the book and not worry too much about their own recognition.

They have kept me sane in an insane world. They gave me glorious information and beautiful dreams.

I do so love books. I am fiercely protective of my books. I have books I would never lend out, some I would lend to only people I trust (which reminds me, Anne... I still need Damned back) and some that I hope are part of lending chains. I have asked for some of them back when I felt the borrower did not respect the book in a manner I felt fitting, thinking to myself that if they really want to read the book they can go out and purchase a book themselves which gives them the right to treat it any way they choose. I recognize they are not living, breathing things... but they are supremely special to me. Especially those books that hold any form of memory or association.

I usually have about 10 books that I am reading at any given time. Some I read extremely slowly; possibly to digest the content and ponder it carefully. Some I read quickly, they are usually light, often children's and young adult stories. Some I just can't get into and keep giving them a try. Rarely do I pass on a book entirely, as I tend to think that the time will come in which I am able to read the story... that some stories require me to be in a certain mood, state, something in which I can experience it.

I am sure that most people who love me have had to bear the burden of my love of books. Moving my boxes and boxes of them across towns, cities and countries. I can't apologize for this, they are as much a part of me as my pets and family China would be. I would cover ever wall with a book shelf if I could. I had a professor in college who had a child's reading alcove/loft that had been made, it appeared, entirely out of bookshelves... the bookshelves extended into the kitchen, through the hallway, into the living room and even in the bathroom. I recall spending the entire get together walking slowly past each and every bookshelf looking at titles and being incredibly envious. There were all sorts of books, categorized by subject, often in relations to where int eh house the particular bookshelf happened to be in... it was a dream to see books hold such a place in a home. I dream of having more bookshelves in my home... something like these images... but everywhere...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My mathematical constant 2

My mother turned 70

Actually, as I write this, she hasn't yet.  I am not going to publish this until after her actual birthday... she should get to see it first. So, if you are reading this, she is now 70!

I can't even begin to lay bare my soul as to just how deeply I am grateful for my mother.

I just can't.

She has given me so much. Selflessly, gladly, joyfully, painfully, gleefully, happily, guardedly...

She has just given, and given.

I try to wrap my head around the multitude of sacrifices she has made for me and I just can't... I can begin to appreciate it more now that I am a mother myself and have been touched by that visceral protectiveness that I had hints of when I became an aunt.

I think back on her and I think the first tell for how deeply she has given to me comes from an experience I was barely even at. I hadn't been born yet, though she was pregnant with me.

She told me of a time once that happened just before I was born. She and my father were walking down a street market in Colombia. Her pregnancy was not easy, she was nauseous and fainted a lot and happened to faint and drop straight unto the street. Her water broke. My father, being a male and unaccustomed to these biological matters was embarrassed and thought she had urinated... he seemed distressed and upset, and knowing him it might (I hope) have been a way to cope with the helplessness of the situation. My mother came to and there was an indigenous woman at her head, making sure she was OK. This woman spoke no Spanish and certainly no English. But, as my mother tells it, their eyes met and held. This woman whose only way to communicate with my mother was non-verbally managed to do so. My mother tells me that when their eyes met, she could tell that the woman knew what was actually happening and a shared moment of motherhood happened. I like to think that this small gesture was a human connection that transcended everything we know. I would like to think that woman became a conduit between the world of science and the world of faith. I would like to think that woman knew what my mother had gotten herself into and was sending my mother her deepest and whitest of thoughts and wishes. I want this event to have more meaning than it probably does. Because I see that exchange as having a deep influence on my life.
That story... the indigenous woman who dared to meet my mothers eyes.... I can't impart how out of the norm it would have been for this to happen... even when I first heard it , it resonated so deeply with me. I am not completely sure why. My best guess is that it gave significance to my actual birth, about the woman I was to become. That I was blessed by that visual exchange with a capacity to see beyond that which is right in front and to understand matters which can not be spoken... the communication that is passed from woman to woman and has done so for time immemorial.

My mother was whisked away to the hospital where I imagine she was taken care of. Where I was born and where my mother and father began to adopt a when in Rome attitude about raising their kids... and give in to the nurses that so desperately wanted to pierce my ears. Thank you for that, mom.

My mother is a harsh task master. I have disappointed her more times that I care to tell. She set the bar high for me and has never let it fall. How she managed to communicate that she still loved me when I fell (and continue to fall) short is beyond me. I do the same with my son and with those I love. I am the same harsh task master, but I am just not sure my ability to let my son know that it is not conditional stretches as far as it should to allow him to feel loved in spite of failings. I try, but she is so good that I feel I can’t emulate some things as well as she does them.

One of my earliest memories of her is when I was deep in a bout of three year old sibling rivalry. Living in Spain now. I was terribly, horribly jealous of my brother. One evening I managed to lock myself in his room. His crib was hand made by master craftsmen, beautiful but not without a flaw that I somehow figured out. His crib had a pin that when in place would hold the crib still and when removed allowed the crib to be rocked. However, the way that it was made actually would have allowed for the bassinet portion to make a complete rotation. So, I had figured this out, I was locked in my brothers room and I removed that pin, and I moved to the side of the crib and with my tiny little arms I tried to push it so that he would fall out. I don't recall wanting to hurt him any more than I thought it would be if I fell off of a low chair. The "what could have happened" frightens me now.. but then, I just wanted my mama back. I am thankful that my age and stature would have prevented anything terrible from happening, but oh how jealous I was. So, I am pushing his crib and he begins to cry and our nanny and my mother come to the door to his room to check on him. I recall them pounding on the door yelling at me to let them in...  in moments, they rush in and my mother grabbed me and I saw in that moment the seriousness of how I felt and what it meant to her. I was terribly ashamed but that is a complex emotional valley for a three year old to navigate and I threw myself in her arms as she picked me up and went to my brother. I recall that moment as the time when I became his fiercest defender and loyal advocate.

I recall Spain as the most domestic of times. She taught me how to cook when we lived here. I would make tiny pies out of jar lids for my father. I would sit on the counter next to the bowl and mistakenly pour copious amounts of salt into a cookie dough. I recall my first sleep over and miserably kept up the mother at whose house I was staying with desperate pleas to please get me home only to feel completely at peace once I felt my mothers arms around me. I recall train trips and injuries. My pink Keds and getting car sick. I remember being on the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela when I went to visit our nanny's family home in a village so small that there was no electricity or indoor plumbing. Her patience, as I explained my enchantment with the chamber pots that served as their indoor plumbing and their fridge, a gift to her parents by our nanny, that had a doily with a fake rose  in a beautiful vase in it since it served no other function.  I remember telling her about these adventures and how, rather than redirect me, she allowed me to feel that these things were the absolute luxuries that I perceived them to be. I recall her delight, on a visit to Ireland, when I insisted that they did NOT speak English and I spoke to the Irish in Spanish.

I can understand that all so much better now that I have a little boy that delights me in such a similar way.

Ecuador was a special place. I developed a deep devotion to it and consider myself loyal to the country. In so many ways it raised me. Ecuador brought us so many adventures; both good and bad. Both joyous and horrid. I learned my own resilience there. I actually recall one of my mothers birthdays there. The first of HER birthdays that I remember. My father had taken me out to go find her a present. We were in a record shop and I was attracted immediately to the vinyl records molded in bright colors with half nude young women on their cover proclaiming something about "La Music Del Siglo"... those vinyl records were so pretty with their pinks and oranges and blues... I was convinced my mother would love them.  My father, thankfully, told me that my mother was not a fan of the kind of music those had and took me over to a section where he handed me an album printed by  Deutsche Grammophon. It was Mozart or Handel - Eine Kleine Wassermusik... I can still vividly recall the album. It was so boring, the record black, the cover shades of brown except for that yellow logo for DG. I could not believe that this would be something my mother would love, but decided my father would know. So, that is the first birthday gift I can recall giving her. Classical music, and especially opera, filled our home. I grew to especially love Die Zauberflute. I can recall that when she opened the album I gave her that she went to play it. She seemed delighted and as the music came out of the speakers I recall thinking that my mother knew and understood beauty in a way I had yet to appreciate. The sounds were magnificent.

Ecuador brought me so much that was new yet so familiar. I saw my first millipede. I hung out with writers , musicians, and poets that were friends of my mothers. We visited towns all over the country that had specialized art forms. We visited the jungle and I rode in dug out canoes. Ecuador brought to me many life lessons. Significant moments and experiences all directly linked to my parents, most with my mother. The most significant, though there are two that fall in this category, was when my grandfather passed away. My maternal grandfather. Grandpa Honey.

We were on a family tour of the Galapagos Islands. We had chartered a yacht to take a bunch of us on a tour.  He died on that trip. It was a devastating time. There was a shift in the world as I knew it. I have written about it, as has my mother. Her story appears in a book about what happens when humans die. It was THAT moment. The moment when I knew my world would never be the same. The whole story involves so many images. A rainbow around the moon. A man I believe became a Greek god that night. Arguments. Faith. Sleep. Feelings of utter helplessness. Military whores. The difficulty of a forced laugh. Bribery. Even Barry Goldwater figures into that story. I am not able to fully tell that tale. Yet. I have tried. It has so many parts. It is still such a gaping wound. And it was the beginning of what I believe is that second significant moment. This was the only time I every saw my mother slump, but she stayed strong.

My parents separation. A tale even more dramatic and painful. The first time I saw my mother cry. The feeling of being given the divine task of being my mothers most loyal supporter. Watching my mother navigate being separated in a country hostile to that situation. Moving to the United States and being completely culturally lost. Watching my mother put my brother and me first and foremost through what I know now were amazing hardships.

So we reach gratitude. It is so easy to shirk the responsibility of being a parent and giving in to ones selfish ego. I see people do it all the time; allowing their weakness and self-pity to overrule parenting choices. I struggle to try to not do the same. My mother, I don't know how she did it. I know she worked as many as eight jobs at once to make ends meet, to do that while caring for two children and getting her masters and PhD. I am just in awe. I am completely sure that I could not pull the same situation off as she did, with the same grace and strength.

On occasion, she laments that she failed my brother and I. My heart breaks when she says this. Not because I think she failed us, but because I have been unable to prove to her that she didn't.

Mother, you never have failed us... if anything, it is us that have failed you...

I love you mama.


Photos from her party:

Her place of honor at the table
Enjoying the lovely weather

Posing with "THE SUNGLASSES" from the painting

My mathematical constant




Auntie A
Uncle Squid

Love the new iPad

The cake
Her father named her Foodle, it is short for Confucius 

Watching the steak master

The box with the book of letters

Accidental horns on Mom


Auntie A with horns

My turn for horns

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A bullfighters daughter

I was born in South America. My fate set in motion by my parents. My mother, intrigued by Latin America. My father by Bullfighting. Though they both are from the American Southwest, they both have a wandering foot (to invoke a metaphor that I am unsure if it even exists). My father went to a fancy schmancy international business graduate school and as such he was given a job that would put him, my mother and all of his offspring on a magic carpet ride that traveled well. However, that business was not, in my opinion, his true passion. His true passion is bullfighting. It is what I remember him doing. It is what I have seen drive his soul.

I grew up in Spain and Latin America because of this passion of his. I would not trade it for the world. I have learned to embrace this passion of his. I have suffered for it, but I would not trade it. I am a bullfighters daughter.

One of my earliest memories of him is in that photo above. What do you see? A crying little girl in a man's arms while he seems to be going through some bullfight moves with a calf? If that is what you saw you are absolutely right. What you may have completely wrong is a possible assumption that I hated being there and wanted him to put me down and get me out of that ring.
That is wrong. I was crying because my clogs had fallen off and I was convinced that the dreadful beast was going to eat them. I kept crying "Mis zuecos, mis zuecos.. el toro los va a comer. Yo quiero mis zuecos" (Mi clogs, my clogs, the bull is going to eat them. I want my clogs). The thing is that I felt very, very safe. The event where this happened was a no-kill situation (in case you were wondering). I can recall, that my only concern was about my shoes.

in 2009 my husband, son, and I traveled to see my father and as one might expect he was planning a tienta (that is what you see in the picture above). It is an afternoon of using capes on some calves. I recall spending the afternoon passing him his capes and such as he maneuvered around the ring. And then, at one point... he looked over his shoulder at me... and I knew what he was going to ask, it was what I was hoping would happen. He turned to me and asked if I would let my son in. I was delighted. I had watched him move around the ring and saw that there was still this grace that I had always witnessed in him while he was in a ring... and as I was about to say yes.. I stopped. I was married and this was not a choice I could make without involving my husband... even though my whole body was saying "yes, this has to happen".  I told my dad that while I was a complete go, I had to ask my husband how he felt about this.

I recall running to look for my husband and when I found him I looked him in the eye and asked "Can my dad take Squink in to the ring with him?"


My husband looked at me, and asked what I thought. I told him that I thought it was perfectly safe. That it was something I really wanted to have happen.


"I trust you to make the right decision", he said to me. I know he knew I was going to go through with it.

Without a second thought, I ran and picked up my little son, and carried him towards the ring. My husband walking next to us. I was whispering in my son's ear that I was going to hand him over to cowboy grandpa and that he was going to get to do something that I got to do when I was little. He seemed intrigued.  Excited even.

We arrived at the fence barrier. I held him close, and kissed his check and handed him over to my father. 

I could tell right away that my little boy felt safe in those same arms that had held me. I could hear him him tell my father to "get him, get him", leaning forward to get a better look at what was happening between my father and the calf, completely at ease in a situation that felt so familiar to me. I stood at the side of the ring, joyful at watching my father hold my son in the exact same way he held me at that age.

Dining with Doralice

The last time I shared any food with Doralice was when we both happened to be back in Ecuador about fourteen years or so ago. I sat in her childhood home drinking some wine and eating cheese and some other such finger foods with her, her father and step mother I think her sister was due to arrive shortly. I had stopped by to be taken out to dinner by them and to enjoy some of her fathers wine. I remember it quite well, I recall looking out the big window to her back yard and saw the play house she and her sister shared. Oh, that magnificent playhouse. The first time I think I ever got to witness the splendor of that wonderful playhouse was at a birthday party, either for Doralice or her sister. It was a dream house. A pretty pale girly color that in my mind was a pink/lavender with white gingerbread trim. It sat near a tree and seemed like a house built specifically for wonderful little girls.

The magic of that house was that it had actual running water. I recall standing in the house as a little 6 or 7 year old and marveling at the house and then... when I turned the knob for the water... and real water came out... I thought I was going to cry from pure delight. How magnificent that was... to be in a house that fit my body that seemed to have the most essential thing for me to be able to live there. I was entranced. I recall turning to Doralice and saying "you have water, real water" and she told me her father had had it put in.

I was stunned again. I thought that this never would be something that my father would consider but that I was so impressed that her father did. That is the thing though, even as a small child I knew pretty certainly that her father adored her and her sister. There were not a lot of fathers who put that out there for people to see and it was striking.

I turned my face away from that house that day I shared a meal with Doralice. I smiled at her, this grown up and beautiful Doralice, she and I chatting as friendly strangers who had these vague recollections of each other as little girls as we made jokes about trying to outrun body guards and driving in the crazy city... I asked her if it still had running water and we walked out to see it.... chatting and revealing these tid-bits of the women we had become.

I was delighted by her, I found her funny and raw and real. The feeling of being uncomfortable at being with her after all these years (and not knowing what to say to someone I had shared but a few playdates with before our parents went on to make choices that would separate this burgeoning  childhood friendship for almost twenty years...). well, they dissipated like the mists that cling to the city were were in and lift in a moment of glorious sunshine... 

So, I left that country and she returned to New York.. and I heard news of her and her sister, through my mother, as she finished culinary school and her sister graduate school. Then Facebook came along and I saw her name attached to my mother and so, began the continuation of a burgeoning friendship with someone I have seen twice in the last 30 years... and who is responsible directly for my writing this story.

Our ties to each other are crazy, if we sat down and talked about them it would be like an Argentine telenovela but about us, and our families and the women we have become. I think we make a great story.

And I still love that play house.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Raggedy Anne

One thing about growing up to American parents overseas is that you feel a disconnect to their stories in a way. Oh, don't get me wrong, they are utterly delightful and coveted but when you don't see those images in anything other that your visits there they have this essence of being supreme and sublime, that sought after and completely elusive golden apple.

However, one of the lucky things I did have were grandmothers that were excellent seamstresses. I don't know which of my grandmothers made it for me, but I was given a gift of a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.

I had the tendency to anthropomorphize my dolls. They were a huge extended family with complex relationships and roles. My French dolls (understandably) served as the Adam and Eve and were the parents and the pair that would populate new lineages of dolls. My pre-colombian doll was the grandmother crone, the one with wisdom. Each doll had a specific role and duty.

Raggedy Ann and Andy were something quite special though. I believed them to be the dollified version of my aunt Anne and her then husband Dennis. SO, I called them Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Dennis.

Shortly after I was gifted the dolls my aunt and Dennis came to visit us in Ecuador. I remember going to the airport and seeing this absolutely stunning woman get off the plane with the most flaming ball of red hair. She was a hippie of the time, and was both stunning and shocking. I was delighted. She was exotic and wow did my doll of her just seem so tame when faced with the real deal.

I am sure that there was not much Anne knew to do with my brother and I at that time. But here was this artist with this mane of fiery hair that just awed me. I don't recall much time with just her and I except for one time. I was sitting in our yard in our home in the then wonderfully quiet neighborhood of Mariscal and she was doing my portrait. I remember she wearing a ruana as Quito had a tendency to be colder that the southwest from which she had come.  And she looked so beautiful and as she put her pastels to paper I was so delighted that I was chosen as a subject. Only beautiful people were the object of paintings, right? Of course it turns out that I was a commission my mother had requested... but thankfully I learned that later and was able to believe that I was worthy of being an artists subject. We chatted a bit while she put my image to paper. I recall it as being a rather adult conversation all things considered.  The evenings during her visit I recall with a lot of laughter, like she and my mother enjoyed each other. I remember them coming by my school and just being so proud that my  beautiful aunt was there to pick me up... and thinking just how exotic and she was, how as she stood there next to my beautiful mother that there was hope that my gangly tall self would become beautiful like them.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My very own personal Mathematical Constant - 1

A Mathematical Constant, according to Wikipedia is "a special number, usually a real number, that is "significantly interesting in some way". Constants arise in many different areas".
I suppose that if there is something that reminds me on a daily basis just how lucky I am, it would be what I am referring to as my mathematical constant... My mother.

If there is something that has be a constant in my life it is my mother, an d if there is o be a true definition of her role in my life it is certainly that she is special, real and significantly interesting... and if you consider how I was raised she certainly arose in many different areas.  I can recall from a very young age just how beautiful I thought she was, what with her wavy dark hair, her tall frame and her brown eyes and then how I continued in that awe of her beauty as she moved from youthful beauty to one that included learned wisdom.

But how does one write appropriately about the gift of their own mother?

She has been a constant in my life. I have never really ever thought that she was not at my side... and that double negative comes from Spanish, it is good... deal with it, it is a part of one of her gifts and I lay that at her feet in a disgraceful misuse of English... in this case, I will let it stand as an homage to her facilitating my learning of languages.

I have such vivid memories of her through-out my life.. how I was convinced she was a model as I saw her go out one evening wearing a black velvet dress that was embroidered with gold... she was so stunning.

I remember once her taking me to go buy my uniform for the German school I attended. I was taller than your average child so perhaps there was something special about this. I remember going to this store that must have been a fabric store, which leads me to believe she was buying the correct fabric that my school required.. a houndstooth skirt or pant, a white button down shirt and a green sweater. So, I remember her going through this fabric and finding a bunch of hounds tooth and her buying u a bunch. Now, I don't know if this following event is related but I do recall coming from school one day and being handed new uniform items. Now the skirts usually looked like this:

  But I was handed something like this:

And this:

I recall being taken aback by how much these items did not look like the ones the other students wore and being terribly worried and so she sat me down with the student manual where it described the dress code and seeing that indeed, there was no specification. as to how long or short a skirt was to be, or even that girls could or could not wear pants.

And so, in that act my mother taught me all about rebellious conformity. I would have been in fourth grade, so about I would have been about ten years old.  I wish that I had been able to keep that spirit of fashion sense though.  She was such a wonderful dresser and taught me about fabrics and what excellent sewing looked like... I can spot a non-couture pleat a mile a way based on her teachings.


Treasure (+ y)

That is what the word means, and in my prime Latin self I made it a diminutive and roll it off my tongue for a very special person. MY Schatzy!

In February 1999 I was back in the USA on a medical school sabbatical trying my best to avoid a volcanic eruption and failing economy. I managed to succeed. More than I even thought possible as I cried my way on to a "full" flight back to Arizona... except for that one space in First Class (that had sadly run out of champagne by the time I got on, yeah right...).

Within two weeks I would find a friend on-line. His handle was Tintin and he seemed delighted that I could recognize the name and that I was familiar with Asterix and Obelix. 

The family I had lived with in South America was Swiss. The father spoke German and he and his German speaking friends made fun of my feeble attempts to join them in their Germanic jocularity.

So, I proposed to my new friend, Tintin, that we exchange language lessons. He had mentioned being interested in learning Spanish. It sounded like a swell deal to me... I would return to South America with a lovely German language repertoire and he would reap the benefits of my native Spanish skills.

So, we arranged to meet. On Valentine's day.  I recall thinking, as I was sitting across from him and heard him talk so lovingly about his family, that I would end up marrying this man. It was an interesting thought to cross my mind. This stranger, from a land far away. A land that I had not particularly cared when I had had a previous chance to visit... what with them being practically closed on a Sunday, to such an extent that I felt lucky that the train I had taken from Budapest had even graced us with a willingness to stop... even though I wanted so desperately to return to Hungary.

So here I was, in a Mexican restaurant, listening to this young man tell me about his life in Austria and Germany. Tell me the tale of how he found himself in Arizona and just completely accepting that I would, indeed, marry this man... even if he did not know it.

So, we began a courtship... two very different people enjoying each others company, being charmed by the others non-american peculiarities.

Three and a half months go by and I am standing in a friends back yard saying I do. To him. A Tintin that would become my Schatzy. That was over 14 years ago.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

unsuspecting brushes with a darker underworld

Being born and growing up in a third world country has many blessings. More than I can even put words to. There is a gentleness... perhaps something in the air of a country that slows down when compared to places like the USA, a place that takes time to taste their lunches which can last for two hours and can still feel rushed, that will call grown women by a diminutive and it is appreciated and enjoyed, where hugs and kisses on the cheeks are typical and expected greetings.

But there is a dark underbelly in this part of the world. There is the drug trade and then human trafficking to name but just two. My mother had my brother and I share a room until I was 11 because she figured we were at a high enough risk of being kidnapped that if one of us were taken that the other would be there to scream and yell and that it was as good a chance as any at preventing this from happening. Some of our friends had body guards and armed drivers... the country, while gentle and beloved, has a very dark side.

When I was little there was a man I recall as Emil, came from the US somewhere, the north east I assume for some reason. A tiny diminutive man, especially by North American standards. I overheard adults talking about how he was found in a hotel room with his limbs cut off and a part of his anatomy was found in his mouth. I am guessing that he upset someone quite a bit, though that is all I can remember about him. He had a mean streak and the one time I recall meeting him I remember him saying cruel things to my brother and I. I am not even sure how he stopped in our lives and why I would have met him... other than to guess that Americans expatriates would somewhat seek each other out and both my parents were that so he must have sought them out. Little did he know that between them we lived more as a part of the culture than that what would be seen on average.

When I was older and had returned to the city that raised me to attend medical school, I took a side "under the table" kind of job at an internet cafe. It was a good arrangement. I worked there in exchange for time on the VOIP computers to call home and friends and was able to start a small business selling chocolate chip cookies that the homesick American customers would buy. It paid for my entertainment and bus rides. It remains one of my most favorite jobs.

However, it too had brushes with the dark side of human nature. The one thing that one notices is that countries have a season for travel. There will be times when you find you are dealing with more French (oh, those French), or Israelis, Brits, and Germans (which is to say anyone from any country that speaks German, and wears a particular kind of pants). There was a time in my days at the cafe that there was an unusual number of men from what I thought could be Turkey or the middle east... they looked almost Spanish, but not quite and most definitely did not speak the language. They would wait to use the VOIP for phone calls, and we would assist them. Often, they would sit drinking coffee and at a specific time would stand up and demand immediate usage of the internet phones. So, I would set up the account for them and allow them to make their calls. In retrospect, I can say that it seemed like they disappeared overnight... though that was how it usually went.

Months after this, I arrived at work for an early Saturday shift and my boss calls me over to show me a Florida newspaper (I do not recall which one) article about a recent international sting operation regarding human trafficking.  Apparently a multi-agency crack down had occurred that had brought down a group of people that were kidnapping girls and women in North American and was funneling them through Central and South America only to end up in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia was specifically named as I recall). The general time frame in the article matched the time frame we had experienced with those customers and so we assume that they were a part of that operation. We had met those faces of the men tasked with kidnapping and transporting these women far, far away from their homes.

This still makes me sick to recall.

I recall holding that newspaper in my hands. Thankful. Thankful that I am a tall awkward American who would not be picked up for something like this. Thankful for the Interpol office we knew was down the street though how we did since there was no sign was interesting. And then, I was so sad, very deeply sad that these girls and women had been taken so far away and put in to these awful situations. It was a very powerless feeling. How can this be right anywhere in the world? How can these lives become such a commodity to have such an intense system of capture and delivery.

I suppose it is with that experience in mind that I so fully support the efforts by The Association of Junior Leagues International to tackle things like Human Trafficking. The League I belong to will be working with other organizations to put on a community forum at the start of the new year about this issue. I am glad, it is about time that we made this more real. It has so many faces and so many aspects that this is such a huge story to tell.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Less concerned about being beautiful

I was walking with my son to the car after a community meeting when out of the blue this wise little not quite eight year old boy says "Some women need to be less concerned about being beautiful".

I pondered this for a few steps and asked why he said that.

He said that some women only think about being beautiful but that they need to think about other things too. I asked him what kinds of things. He said "They need to think about being nice, and doing good things, things like that mommy".

He had spent the whole day dealing with a pretty high fever, though completely in the absence of women who might provoke such an observation, meaning that I had not been near any women whose main concern was being beautiful.

I asked a few more questions. No, mommy was not a woman concerned about being beautiful, mommy was concerned about a lot of important things. He wasn't thinking about anyone in particular. He just thought some women could be nicer and more helpful is all.

I walked to my car pondering this rather out of the blue statement of his.

Since he was born he has, more often than not, gone to board and community meetings with me. He learned how to crawl, really quickly crawl, at a board meeting... he made the transition from a rolling baby to a crawling one as I helped define a mission statement and chased him down the hallway.

When I was a new mom, I read the book Freakonomics. In it there was a discussion on raising readers and the suggestions based on some data that perhaps reading to your child was not as important as it was to model reading behavior. I figured if that was the truth, then modeling behavior was very important and at that point I must have made a mental mind note to make sure to impress upon him things that were important to me.

One thing I value very highly is service to the community (both the one in which I live and the ones I love) and with that in mind, I took him to everything with me. Many times to the disgusted looks of a few other women; you know the kind... the ones who see volunteering as a means to escape family obligations and have a chance to drink wine and complain about others. Thankfully, a few have been considerate to my doing this. It also helps that he is rather well behaved and does not mind sitting aside and playing on a computer.

What has really become the most important thing to me is that my son understands what it means to make things happen around him.  I know he understands that he is very lucky and I can see that he is starting to understand that he has a moral obligation to the community he lives in to try and make a difference. I know he is a child and this is pretty heavy stuff. But I don't force him to handle this as if he were an adult. I allow him to come to these experiences as the child he is.

I am excited to see how he takes this knowledge as he grows up and develops his own passions.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hula hoop champion of the world!!!!!

OK, of a third world country.  Same thing right?

When asked what about me might surprise people...

I answer with "I was an Ecuadorean Hula Hoop Champion".

There was some contest at school and on a whim (or because hula hoops had become popular) I entered it. I was a lithe young girl and had some skill.

On the day of the contest I recall getting into a fight about my "invisible" twin sister with the person who would become my future step mother. I was seething. I was very angry when my turn to go out and hula hoop my heart out.

So, I went out... and hula hooped. I moved the hoop from my waist to my neck, to my leg, to my arm, and back again. I added hoops and though I don't recall how many I was able to add, I do know that it was significant enough that I was awarded something. That something included the chance to show up on TV.

I recall my mom taking me down to the station, and standing with other fantastic and older hula hooping gods and feeling like I was on a Latin American version on a hula hoop American Bandstand.

And that I was to return to the TV station another day.... and that I never did. I, apparently, forfeited my hula hoop crown to some nameless person...

My memories are so fuzzy about this event now. So, I stick with my statement that I was an Ecuadorean hula hoop champ.

And I hula up to that!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thoughts on meeting new people

Over at Ze Frank's A Show he talked about how he teaches his interns to get to the meat of a story.

It has some very good advice.

 William the Intern is making a video about meeting people for the first time.

So Ze put out a mission to his viewers:
Don't give him advice. Instead tell him what you feel like when you meet people for the first time . Show him how specific you can be about your experience. What you fear, what you hope for, what it feel like.

Maybe you will help him find words. 

Here is my answer.

My biggest fear, when I meet someone new or in a room with people I have meet briefly but never spoken to is that I will end up talking about myself too much.

If I talk too much, then I worry that I will reveal too much.

If I reveal too much, then I worry they will judge me and find me lacking.

The main thing people focus on when they meet me is learning that I am a bullfighters daughter (I find it hard to avoid getting asked this question, though I suppose I could lie but that seems like an extra disingenuous thing to do when you meet someone new). 

Once that gets revealed, they tend to dominate our introduction by asking questions about that.

Once they ask a lot of questions about that, I am often (enough that I worry it will happen again and again and again) subject to a lengthy castigation of animal cruelty...

I have been spit on and called disgusting and this is about what my father chose, not me.

So, I tend to avoid meeting new people... because I don't want to get asked the questions that leads me to answering some question about something my father does.

I don't know that I provided any clarity for William the Intern, but at the end of the "mission" I realized this was a story.


I am not sure what got me to thinking about this today. I had just dropped off Squink at school and I was driving to work, NPR was on talking about the presidential race and more fighting somewhere. I was driving past where I went to high school and...


The image of Squink's oxygen mask landed right smack in the middle of my thought.

And I was left feeling powerless.


I revisit Squink's stay in the NICU about once a year.  It always happens like this; I am going on with my life when something, anything, will provoke the BAM and an image will jump into my head.

There are many. they all look alike in a way. I think it is because there was very poor light in the NICU, with the exception of his glowing bili-blanket that cast a ghostly neon glow over things. It might be of him wearing protective eye covers, or with a needle in his head, the feeding tube in his nose, the APAP covering his face.

It is interesting that when that BAM image happens, that my whole body just goes back to those days and I feel helpless and scared. Even if I can see him right in front of me as a delightful seven year old, running and jumping,  laughing, and astounding me with his wisdom... I feel the same way I felt those first few weeks of his life when I thought that maybe if I held my breath that he would be able to begin breathing on his own.

If I am home when the BAM happens. I pull out a box of things I saved from that experience.His oxygen mask, so tiny and little, the heart monitor stickers that let us know how strong his heart was beating, the oxygen sensor that let us know if he was breathing enough, his little itty bitty hospital issue hat, or the eye covers he had to protect his eyes from the bili-light. I even have a piece of his feeding tube and the two stitched up strings that saved his life among his ultra sounds and, thankfully, his discharge papers.

I also saved a lot of things that did not fit in that box, things that were these gestures from strangers that still bring tears to my eyes.

Squink was in NICU over Christmas. Special items knit and sewn by church groups were handed to us on a regular basis. I treasure each and every one of those items. Some are made well, with beautiful straight stitches and evenly knit blankets. Others, are made as if the maker felt like they had to make sure that a blanket was available immediately, seams showing, awkwardly placed prints.... That doesn't matter though. I treasure each and every one of all of those blankets and hats. I picture groups of women sitting at home or in a group at their church; talking and laughing while they made these items that my son would some day use. That blanket that would cover his incubator, that hat that helped keep the needle stay put... In my mind these are the same women that fill craft bazaars at churches with their hand made goods. So, I seek them out. As I walk the tables with their wares on display I ask if they also help out hospitals with their goods and if say that they do, I buy something from them. I tell them that I am grateful. And that the unknown faces behinds each of those items I have saved in my armoire come from a woman like them and that this the only way I know to show my gratitude.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

the dead and the most humble 13 cents of my life

I love day of the dead festivities.

However, I have a tough time adapting to the ones we have here in Arizona. They are fun and everything... but they just aren't the exact same dia de los muertos rituals I experienced growing up.

First of all I grew up calling it dia de los difuntos... which stylistically translates more into the day of the deceased rather than the day of the dead. Which in my Andean native cheekiness just sounds more reverent and polite... though, in all honesty I don't really prefer calling it one over the other.  The effect and sentiment is the same.

The general idea is that at this time of year, the veil between life on this earth and life in the "other world" is at its thinnest and that there is a chance for us to visit with loved ones that happen to be on the side opposite which we currently reside in.

I love the smells and colors and sentiments that seem to prevail during this time of the year. 

Where i grew up there are two principal items in terms of food. One is something called pan de guagua and the other is chicha morada. The pan de guagua is "baby bread" or "child bread" and they are bread rolls fashioned to look like bundled babies with colored sugar icing on them. The shape reminds me a lot of the pre-colombian dolls from that part of the world so I like to imagine it is a pretty ancient holdover that managed to survive those pesky conquistadores. The other, chicha morada, is a thick berry based juice-like drink. I have had it warm and I have had it cold. Its base is black berries, blue berries and cinnamon. In Ecuador there are a many other ingredients that one uses to create the beverage, my favorite of those being something called ishpingo. 

The last time I lived in Ecuador I talked the gardener/guard into helping me figure out how to make chicha morada. He arranged for me to go with him to the local street market to buy the items I needed. He walked me from stall to blanket to basket pointing out each item I would need asking about each deal he could get for me for the items, bargaining on my behalf in a rare form of quick Spanish. I certainly could have handled this myself, but there was just something about his demeanor and like he was so proud to be showing this semi-gringa the chicha morada ropes. When we went to buy the ishpingo, he became livid. He was violently angry and pulled me aside to tell me that I should go home because they refused to go down in price and they were charging me way too much. When I asked him the amounts in question it resulted in what would be a .03 cent difference. I am still so touched by how he needed my relationship with the Ecuador he knew to be fair, at least financially. This kind of event happened a few other times, once on the bus when I was charged about 10 cents more and the whole bus was about to mutiny and every other passenger yelled at the fee collector that he looked scared and gave me the change. I have been humbled by a collective 13 cents. It remains with me to this day.

but I digress.

So, we purchased everything and went back and I must have made what is equivalent to 30 gallons of the stuff. I have never been patient with thickening agents added in to food and it got to the point where I had such a thick slop of chicha morada that I had to water it down with more juice.

I returned the kindness by teaching the gardener how to make chocolate chip cookies. I used to make and sell them to tourist hangouts to make money, but would feed left overs to my family and the all servants.

And I confess, it is still hard for me to use the word servants in English... somehow it makes more sense to me that I was waited upon when I am thinking in Spanish.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012



It was what I called my maternal grandmother. It was what many people called her. It was given to her by her husband, the man I call Grandpa Honey.

No one knows what Zun means. My grandfather, as far as I know, never provided an origin story of how he came to give it to her.

I have never thought to consider it to be anything other than that which encompassed her very nature. The name Zun fit her. She had plenty of other nicknames; Jackie was one I heard her called that was based on her maiden name and was used by those who grew up with her.

She was pretty wonderful as a grandmother. She saw fun and adventure everywhere. She traveled well, she enjoyed people, she was bright, and curious and was a wonderful seamstress. She had a joie d'vivre that was pretty catching.

Much of my life has her at its center.

She visited us regularly when my parents lived overseas. She gave me a doll once, and she had made all of her clothes and even the shoes. They were beautiful doll clothes that I played with until they were shreds of the grandeur they were.

One of the things that I most strongly associate with her is a set of sheets she had. The closest I can come to find are the one pictured below, but that is not it. Her sheets had a dark blue background.  I loved those sheets.

We lived with her after my parents separated and my mother brought my brother and I to the USA. I was terribly homesick for the country I grew up in most, I missed so many things. Those sheets helped soothe those feelings. I would lie in bed with Zun and watch television. She had a king size bed which felt huge to my little body and I would stretch out and put my fingers out flat and I would imagine I was back in the jungles that I was able to visit often. It was as if the caricature ferns on the sheets transformed into the real ones. The big leaves I used to pretend to be an elephant with  would magically appear in my hand as if just pulled off the plants that were pictured on the sheets.

The irony is that I did not live in the jungle, though we were able to visit often.

Those sheets reminded me of my old home as I was trying ever so desperately to get used to my new one.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Walking on broken glass

When I was growing up I loved to play outside. The house we lived in that I most fondly remember sat in the middle of the property with what seemed like huge yards on each side. As this house was in the capital city of a third world banana republic there were some very interesting protective measures that were used to prevent thieves, robbers and even the possible kidnapper (as this was another concern my parents had and seems so much more real as it was about my brother and me, I may return to this later).

On the wall that separated our home from the street were these huge shards of broken glass. They were similar to the one pictured above, though that is not the wall I am referring to. I would often walk the long potions of the wall, maneuvering my small, child sized feet around the broken bottle tops and bottoms, as well as the pieces of plate glass mixed in with other random sharp projectile objects. It was beautifuly made. The cement they were inbedded in was surprisingly smooth and easy to walk on, considering the glass shards that were decorating its surface. Even all these years later, I can still vividly recall moving my feet, gently, slowly, carefully around the pieces. watching my lanky legs poke from under my skirt as I moved one foot in front of the other. I loved doing this and would do it every chance I could, often making sure my parents were not around as they would stop me from this adventurous activity.

All these years later I can recall those images  of my feet and how I placed my foot around each shard of glass and have come to believe that I was performing some form of a walking meditation, a walking prayer, as I navigated the sea of glass on those walls. It felt so pure to do that, I have no recollection of fear nor of worry.... just, that I found deep solace from the upheavals of my youth in navigating a sea of multicolored broken glass.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Teen Age Angst

When I was much, much younger and fancied myself as a quirky intellect deep in the blush of my first blossom into a quirky artist intellectual adulthood. I would have adored this photo and placed it upon my bedroom wall next to this portrait of  Mastroianni and above a picture of a young Sophia Loren, looking simple yet glamorous in a pair of capri pants and perhaps below a picture of Lou Reed. In rather close proximity to a picture of Ziggy Stardust... most of which were ripped from the pages of Vanity Fair magazine. You get the picture?

All my youthful pretentious glory; a high school girl with her wall covered in posters of European Actors, book covers of French existentialists, and random objects, found and loved; like a feather found while walking with a cute boy, a plastic necklace worn to a particular party, prints that I somehow loved. This photo of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir somehow escaped the honor of my high school bedroom walls.

There are times when I reflect on the younger me and wonder where I steered so off course from the me I seemed to have been. I no longer really look at Vanity Fair. I find the French existentialists to be more amusing than provocative. Sophia Loren is still considered beautiful, but somehow it seems that it was at some cost and the beauty is ever so slightly tarnished in my eyes now. The musicians still intrigue, but they grew older as I did, and my youthful impressions of them are tempered now as well.

And after all this, I am left to wonder why I never placed pictures of Scott Baio or John Stamos or other cut outs and "free posters" from magazines like Tiger Beat?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And my favourite line is...

Cid Corman, "It isnt for want" 

It isnt for want
of something to say--
something to tell you--

something you should know--
but to detain you--
keep you from going--

feeling myself here
as long as you are--
as long as you are
I often feel this way when I say good bye to my mother at the airport... 
That searching for something,  a what can I say or do to keep you near me. 
As seen here.  and learned about here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

And my favourite line is...

Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

Yes, the whole darn thing... as discussed in my coursera class.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Grandpa Honey

Growing up ex-pat, as they say (and which I feel is not the true nomer for children like me), has many wonderful and interesting dynamics. For example, you most often do not look like the people who are your neighbors and go to school with, your parents have different comfort foods than you are developing, you have to navigate through social situations with different languages and accents. One of the most striking things is that family tends to be far away and are more like visitors. I know that in many places, such as in America, family live in different states but what may be different is that when there is a divide of country that there is not a shared similarity of existence. Once I lived in the US I had an uncle that lived in California and even though we both lived in different places with different cultures, the truth is that the cultures were not all that different and there was some sort of unifying sense... we were both in the same country and there is an amazing comfort to that.

When you live “overseas”, the notion that you and your grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins live elsewhere, is built in. Some people can navigate this well, and I am sure that others have a difficult time learning to visit those they love in their respective homelands.

One of the very first visitors of a familial sort that I can recall are my maternal grandparents. They were an amazing duo; they traveled voraciously and had wonderful adventures and loved doing those things and meeting new places. I think it is unbelievably fortunate that they were the first family I recall visiting. They were able to cross that unseen and unspoken continental divide and make me feel like my grandparents were visiting from  the next closest big city. As is often the case in my family they were called by names that were not their given ones.

My grandmother went by the name of Zun; or as I called her grandma Zun. No one knows where this name came from, it was given to her by my grandfather, her husband, and it became so commonplace that even her friends would call her that (though, my family has a delightful penchant for nicknames and she (and the rest of my family) had many others as well). She was a beauty queen and well loved by all who met her. Her father had TB so she grew up in an Arizona TB sanitarium just a month after Arizona became a state, living in a community of half tent houses so those afflicted could breathe in the (at the time) healthy Arizona air. Her mother was a nurse and a very skilled seamstress and her father had been a railroad conductor, though he left behind wonderful poetry written in amazingly beautiful handwriting  .

My grandfather was called grandpa Honey. It is a name that I apparently gave him. I imagine that in the times we visited as I was learning to speak that I heard my grandmother call him honey and as such I assumed it was his name and added that unto the word grandpa. He was an engineer in every sense. He worked in mines and with water systems. He helped with what we call Boulder Dam but others may know as Hoover Dam during the war. He had tried to enlist, but was colorblind and not allowed to join. It also seems like his skills were needed in Nevada as that is where he worked during the war. He loved his work, and he might have loved mines the best, though my mother says he helped build many bridges in Arizona over his lifetime. He died when I was very young. I have written a bit about that here and here. My memories of him are nebulous, I can’t remember his voice or even of him speaking much.  I do remember his laugh and that he was unbelievably handsome.

Though they both came to visit, I recall my grandfather most, probably because my brother had just been born and my grandmother was busy helping my mom.

We lived in Spain and I must have been very young and I had been in a series of preschools, one of which was a Montessori school and another a Spanish one. The first preschool I had gone to was the Montessori where I was taught self sufficiency and the notion that if you can’t do something the regular way that you can figure out another means to accomplish that goal. The Spanish school was very formal and I was taught to cursty, a lot. Between these two schools I was given an ability that would enchant my grandfather.

When I was in Montessori I was too little to put on my coat effectively, the struggle with little bodies with little arms trying to slip their arms into their coat sleeves. So, I was taught to do somersaults into my coats. I would place my coat on the floor in front of me, the neck at my feet. I would tuck my hands just inside the sleeves and would do a somersault where upon at the end of which I would appear before all well coated.

For some reason, my grandfather was charmed by this. I don't recall being taught how to do this, but I do recall how he marveled at my ability to put on my coats at this tender age. I recall our apartment in Spain, it seemed huge and grand with a lovely balcony and a very Spanish European look (that is, a Spanish rendition of Scandinavian minimalism, so think dark hand carved  wood instead of light smooth woods). My grandfather would be seated on one of our wood and leather chairs, drinking red wine and I am sure talking about something wonderful and interesting.  I would be playing on a rug at their feet, and a request for me to show how it is done would ring out I would shortly return from my room with one of my coats in hand. I would lay it on the ground facing him so that when finished and standing in front of them I would be there with my coat on and I able to finish the grand performance with my customary curtsy.

There is one other thing I recall pretty distinctly about my grandfather, and a trip he and Zun took to Spain. As one should do when people come to visit, we traveled to other parts of the country.  One of those trips was to go see Granada. Granada is a beautiful city, but of course my  living in the country in which it existed gave it a certain familiarity and I continued the customs I kept in Madrid. We had stopped for lunch at restaurant there. Restaurants can be the kind many are familiar with in the US (and especially my beloved western part) with small tables usually for 4 an, but in Spain with older buildings and smaller spaces, many smaller places with what a traveler might call “rustic flavor” includes high bar tables and the chairs that go along with them. So, we all stopped into a restaurant with this kind of seating and my small little body climbed up into one of these chairs, it was familiar I suppose. But, in some form of youthful exuberance I managed to fall off and split my chin open. I was taken to the nearest clinic, though it may have been a doctors office and was given stitches and these were covered by what I still recall as the biggest band-aid ever to have existed. My grandfather in a fit of grandfatherly indulgence took me to the nearest tourist shop and promptly purchased a complete flamenco outfit for me; the white dress with red polka dots, the special plastic tortoiseshell hair comb, the fan, the lace mantilla, the castanets, and most likely also the shoes to go with them. Oh, how I loved that dress, and I am sure I wore it every day for the rest of that trip, smiling youthfully at all who seemed to stop and chat with the little girl with a huge bandage on her chin. What I recall of grandpa Honey from this was his delight in seeing me traipse along the Spanish countryside in a long dress with folds of fabric swirling about my legs and treating it just like I would have if I were wearing my pants or a play dress. He would watch me climb the walls of a castle in my dress and just laugh, he had such a happy laugh when he was in Spain.

Grandpa Honey and Zun traveled enough that it is entirely possible they visited us more than once in any of the places where I grew up. How unbelievably lucky for me that they were like that. It was as close as I was ever going to get to having the experience of the nearby grandparents... They both fit in so neatly into my memories of them in terms of the places and spaces I occupied, especially as compared to my paternal grandparents who I don’t think liked to travel as much, that I may have been taking them for granted all these years.

There are many kinds of travelers, most of which appear to travel as consumer tourists. Consumer tourists are the tourists that visit the location for the sake of visiting it; to cross it off a list of places just to say that they have been there. They may often get stressed because the food it too different and they can’t find a restaurant that serves foods they know and are comfortable with so as to help them maintain ot regain a sense of place. While interesting to talk to, they at best are encyclopedic about their experience and at worst have nothing to take back from the country they were in other than their airline ticket. Most people travel like this, and really there is nothing wrong with it, it has fueled the economy of the tourist industry for ages and I value that contribution.

There is a term I have heard many military people use;  “living in the economy”, and while it took me some time to understand what this meant I thought that there was an application for travelers and expats (non-military ones even). Living in the economy, as I have learned from speaking with people in the military, are military personnel and possibly their immediate family that are stationed abroad that live off base and do not buy their groceries solely at the PX, or frequent socials at the on the military base. Rather, they had a life that was not centered around the offerings that the military offered them. I am sure this can take on many forms and I have to admit that I don’t recall going to school with many children of military soldiers stationed abroad unless they were officers or affiliated with the local embassies, granted, there wasn’t a huge American military presence in any of the countries I grew up in.

There is another kind of traveler; one who is seems at ease being the foreigner in the country they are visiting and who manage to look at each occurrence during their trip as a chance to learn about the place and its people, history, culture in a very intimate way. Who has a deep interest in what is happening and the social structure the county has developed through time. They try the local foods, listen to the music, admire the local handicrafts and arts, enjoy the sights and sounds, but much more holistically. This is probably due to intent; they want to learn about the country, to let the country make some impression into their meaning of life. Some expats live like this, some travelers travel like this. I think my grandparents had this mindset.

My moving around so frequently really served to instill that in me, the need to find the place find a certain comfort in my place in it and lastly to learn from it. I meet well traveled people and look for that in them; I ask them questions to see if they were merely observing the country or if they were curious about the country. There is a huge difference. How lucky that my maternal grandparents were so curious. Their being this way allowed me to have grandparents that not only do I feel I got to know well, but that could understand my life, my sense of trying to navigate between cultures, my difficulty at finding the words in one of the languages I speak to communicate something and how wonderful to be able to recognize that as a gift from them.

Today would be his 97th birthday .He died from complications related to colon cancer. Today I had my first colonoscopy. I feel closer to him for this, for some reason. Hi grandpa Honey, I love you!